Many internet gear heads have heard of a guy called Rob Chapman. Consider him a Youtube celeb, he is also in charge of Chapman guitars and is known for many gear reviews for Anderton’s, a music store in the UK.
Rob has been passionate about amps and guitars for ages and has in the past developed an amp at Victory Amplification together with Victory’s chief designer Martin Kidd, called the Silverback. Please find my thought on this amp here.
A couple of years ago, in 2017, Rob and Victory created the Victory RD1. RD stands for Red Dwarf, since the amp is very small in size.
This can be considered an ultra compact amp and is a single-channel head. It is all-valve, based on two EL84’s with fixed-bias power to provide you with 28 watts in full power mode and just 2 watts in low power. The amp is only 263mm wide, which is smaller than an A4 sheet.
The thought from Rob behind this amp were “I wanted something that was affordable, doesn’t compromise on tone and is made in England. It’s a straight-ahead, giggable, no-nonsense valve amp: clean to scream at the turn of a knob.“
The key features of this amp are:
Power: 28/2 watts RMS
Valves: 3 x 12AX7, 2 x EL84
Size (mm): 263(w) x 170(h) x 195(d) including controls, handle and feet
Weight: 6kg / 13.2lbs
Series effects loop with wet/dry mix control
High and low power modes
Padded carry bag included
I have bought this amp as a side amp. It’s very versatile and responsive, but it’s also a one trick pony, since it does not do cleans too well. It is however a very nice amp for playing blues, believe it or not. And when combined with an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano Reverb, it sounds just awesome. Also, you can use it for other, and heavier purposes, such as metal, when you would combine this with a tube screamer pedal in the front, such as the Ibanez TS808, this is undoubtably the best overdrive pedal ever made.
The best part is: the amp is so incredibly portable that once you start working with this amp on the road, you do not want to go back. That is, if the amp fits your needs. The amp comes with a bag around it, to just carry it to a gig.
Here is a picture of my RD1 on top of the V212S 2×12 Victory cabinet. It just looks awesome and works really well. This ia absolutely a gigable setup. I am also combining it with a 1×12″ Barefaced Reformed cab, for an even more compact setup. It is load enough for a 2 guitar rock band, live and in the rehearsal room. Power wise, this is all you would need. On bigger stages the cab will get miked up anyway.
Here are a couple of reviews of the amp. I highly recommend this amp, although initially I had a love/hate relationship with in. I even sold it once and thoroughly regretted it. It’s now here to stay.
There is also a non-signature version of the amp, called the BD1. It’s essentially the same amp, in black, with no Chapman Signature colours and fonts on it. I like the red one better. Rob’s philosophy behind the color was that it would be easier to spot. Also, after a gig so that someone just does not walk out the door stealing your small amp. You can spot it then. Well, dunno, but I just like the red. There is even a red 1×12 or 2×12 cab available from Victory
Anyway, I like I said: highly recommendable. It might seem tonally a bit dark to some people. It is however very versatile and you can alter the character of the amp using the Contour knob or the Bright switch or the Deep switch. Contour increases bass and decreases mids when turned clockwise (and vice versa), which takes you from mid-scooped metal tones to classic rock-approved vocal midrange. The Deep switch increases low frequency response in the power amp and the bright switch makes it brighter.
Here is an extensive demo by Rob Chapman
Here’s the official video
And here is Lee Anderton playing some awesome blues