D. KOWALSKI
Guitar Player|November 2021
Dark Gene Micro Amplifier
DAVE HUNTER

FOR MORE THAN 10 years, David Kowalski has been building and repairing tube amps in McAllen, Texas, just across the Rio Grande — and the U.S. border — from Reynosa, Mexico. Fairly recently, he came up with his own big idea in the form of the tiny Dark Gene micro amplifier. Available in Red and Green models, the Dark Gene puts out a diminutive 0.5 watt into your choice of four- to the 16-ohm cabinet, and is voiced and gained up to sound huge in spirit, if not in decibels.

Mini and microamps have become a popular way to achieve cranked-up tube amp fury without overwhelming volume. Unlike some of the mass-manufactured mini amps that have hit the market in recent years, the Dark Genes are hand-wired in genuine point-to-point style. A pair of 12AX7 tubes take preamp duties, and a 12AU7 — also traditionally a preamp tube — is conscripted as an output tube, wired in parallel for a dual-single-ended Class-A output stage.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dark Gene Micro Amplifier

CONTACT

dkowalskiamplifiers.com

PRICE

$349 direct, each

CHANNELS

Red model, 2; Green, 1

CONTROLS

Sensitivity, gain 1, treble, bass, gain 2 (with clean/lead push-pull on Red Model), switch for Top/Mid voicing

POWER

0.5 watts

TUBES

Two 12AX7 preamp tubes, one 12AU7 as output tube

EXTRAS

Low output for use as preamp. Uses a standard IEC power cord

WEIGHT

2 lbs

BUILT

Assembled in USA

KUDOS

Cleverly designed and well-constructed, they tunefully fulfill the need for low-volume playing

CONCERNS

Red overdrive can sound a little fizzy when pushed hard

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