Five watts, spring reverb, and the Benson badge...a perfect trifecta for the modern tube combo
Benson Amps has amassed quite the following, and with creations like the Nathan Junior Reverb Combo, it’s not hard to see why. With pristine style that is both classic and modern, meticulous attention to detail, and a true talent for sonic craftsmanship, Benson creations speak for themselves. As one of Portland, Oregon’s finest groups of musical innovators, the team at Benson hits their mark every time.
Its beautiful simplicity and stellar sonic character make the Nathan Junior stand out, but as always, there’s more to the story.
Portland’s independent music scene runs deep. The Nathan Junior Reverb gets its name from Nathan Jr. Anderson, a longtime demo guitarist for Benson Amps and current non-profit organizer. Working together at a vintage guitar shop years ago, the question of Anderson’s perfect amplifier would come up in casual conversation with Christopher Benson. A pure signal path sound and a compatibility with fingerpicking became two pillars of this mythical amplifier. With the Nathan Junior, the concept came to form.
Anderson and his organization, Musical Independence, operates in Independence, Oregon and works to bring an enriching musical experience to the community with free music lessons for students of all backgrounds.
The Nathan Junior Reverb’s ties to Independence’s local music make the Nathan name known across the worldwide musical community. From the most humble of origins comes an outstanding amplifier.
Proper, Polished, Powerful
Like other Benson creations, the Nathan Junior is an amplifier to bring out the best in not only Benson design, but also your own musical abilities. The Nathan Junior Reverb outright is an excellent amplifier to plug into and feel out your own musicality. Switching the Nathan Junior on and starting out at a basic EQ setting without effects makes it a great musical mirror to reflect off of and get an audible print of your guitar and playing patterns.
The Nathan Junior Reverb Combo comes to life and opens up with a solid clean foundation. This exceptional cleanliness can become a quick platform for pedals to color Nathan’s canvas, but the basic clean palette offered from square one is a tonal trip in itself. When plugged in directly and played, the Nathan Junior’s unique voice is articulate and pick-sensitive. The sonic responses you’ll get from this amplifier when gently picking or while digging into your riffs with more force are stunning.
While the Nathan Junior’s cleans are quite impressive, this does not make it thin or a tonal pushover. Strikingly, the foundational sounds of the Nathan Junior are sturdy and solid, even with lower treble and bass settings dialed in. The volume knob plays a large role in pushing the Nathan Junior to drive and breakup. Intuitively, turn the volume up and Nathan begins to distort. Give a little bit of force behind your picking and strumming and the amp will give you that same loving kick back.
Guitar-wise, the Nathan Junior is marvelous with single-coil and humbucking pickups alike. In proximity to the amp, both types of pickups produce little feedback or hum. The resistance to unwanted noise only adds to Nathan’s rock-solid tonal foundation. The Nathan Junior Reverb is equal parts an articulate mirror and a reliable layer of bedrock.
The sturdy foundational cleans of the Nathan Junior are not without their own colorful flourishes. Onboard spring reverb brings washes of shimmering sweetness or slapping splashes when cranked up or dialed back. This small addition to tonal palette of the amp enhances and expands the experience exponentially with distinct audible glimmer. Pick sensitivity is highlighted with a touch of spring reverb with the slapback effect of the reverb adding that special dash of nuance.
A Rolling Stone
By now, you may have forgotten about the Nathan Junior’s size from its powerful projection and deep pool of reverberated tones. The Nathan Junior Reverb’s five watts are channeled through a single ten-inch Celestion Greenback speaker. This compact construction makes this Benson creation quick to move from place to place for recording setups or small venues – though rest assured, none of the tonal character is lost at lower volumes. Economic construction and ergonomic design make the Nathan Junior Reverb a travelable combo or a perfect mainstay among the home studio or collection. Wherever you take this amp, the musicality comes with it.
Benson Amps Nathan Junior Reverb Combo Final Thoughts
The Benson Amps Nathan Junior Reverb Combo doesn’t play like other five-watts. The crystal-clear cleans with feet firmly planted on the ground make the Nathan Junior Reverb Combo a distinct creation. Push it far and dig in for expressive tonal response – dial it back and gently pick and get a similar experience. Like a singer exercising their full range, the one-of-a-kind voice the Nathan Junior brings to the table comes alive however you need it.
When we first approached the Benson Germanium Boost back in September, we were head over heels for the single-dialed clean boost and were blown away by Benson’s mastery of amplification in pedal form. Since then, our admiration for Benson has only gotten greater with pedals such as the Germanium Fuzz and Benson Preamp. As you may expect, our formal engagement with the Benson Nathan Junior Reverb Combo was just as exciting.
Exploring Benson’s specialty – carefully handcrafted amplifiers – became a venture that we were saddened to see come to an end. “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Shakespeare wrote once – Benson amplifiers go to loving homes and we go back to our Word documents to detail the experience.
Needless to say, the Nathan Junior hit its mark.