Palmer Fat 50H & PCAB112RGN – Test Report by

Palmer Fat 50H is a German tube-driven amplifier head. The speaker box PCAB112 is equipped with a 12″ Eminence ReignMaker speaker chassis with the smart function FDM attenuation.

As the name implies, the FAT 50H is a 50 watt amplifier head, and it has two 5881 tubes in the output stage. Since they wanted to avoid anything resembling a transistor in the signal pathway, even the loop is tube-driven.

With simple amplifiers, it is usually sufficient to refer to an image of the front panel in order to make everything crystal clear, but since Fat 50 has a number of very nifty construction solutions, I would like to go into it in more detail. The two channels more or less share the tone controls. In the Drive channel there is, in addition to Bass, Mid and Treble, a Drive Presence that controls the higher frequencies in the final output stage, as well as a Drive Volume that allows you to balance the two channels against each other.

The reverb is a spring reverb with a relatively long ring down time.

A footswitch with four buttons is included. One for channel switching and one for reverb. The two others make up part of what makes Fat 50H so versatile. Gain is a boost function that comes before the preamplifier. If it is used for the clean channel, it becomes a crunch channel, and if it is activated when the Drive channel is selected, it becomes a heavy lead channel. The fourth button on the foot switch is a boost function in the output stage, called Second Level. On the rear panel there is a wheel where a second master volume may be set, in order to, for example, have the correct volume when playing a solo.

On the rear panel you can find, in addition to fuses and speaker outputs, the tube-driven effect loop that has a mixing control that makes it possible to use it as a serial or parallel mixer, or anything else in between.

The amplifier is made in Germany, and all the positive prejudices we have about German industrial products hold true in this case. Both Fat 50H and the speaker box seem to have an incredibly stable construction, and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring them along on a strenuous tour. Considering the high quality of the construction, I feel that a gross price of 950 EUR for the combo should be considered extremely reasonable, and bordering on very cheap. The head costs 900 EUR, and the speaker box that was tested costs 340 EUR.

Sound and playability. I love to play a funky and catchy comp, which requires a lot of headroom. So I strapped on a strat and put in the clean channel without Gain, set the Fat 50 pretty much as I usually do, and started to play. What I then heard was a fast and crisp attack with a very muscular mid-register. I reduced the mid-register a little and increased the treble a bit, and then achieved a pure sound that could easily be used for funk, r’n’b, country, roots and most things pop, and with considerable headroom to boot. If this is not sufficient, the next step is probably to mike up the amplifier and get good hearing protection. If I had a choice between a Fender Twin and a Fat 50H for a funk, pop or country gig, I would, without a doubt, choose the Fat 50.

I was curious to know how the Drive channel would react with an EQ setting chosen for an optimally pure sound. It certainly doesn’t always work. But here I encountered a good balance between the frequencies, which suited the strata excellently. I don’t know what Palmer intended or did, but I don’t see the transition between pure and dist with a common eq as a problem here.

I went back to the clean channel and activated the Gain, which boosted the signal strength considerably, resulting in the channel becoming very touch sensitive, and I was able to easily control the amount of dirt in the sound by the force of the strumming. It was a lot of fun to hammer out riffing rock comps and blues. The dynamics made it feel as if the plectrum almost bounced on the string in step with the speaker cone. Then on to the Drive channel with Gain. Now it got really heavy, but still with a very unified dist. A single coil in neck position doesn’t sound spiky, which pleased me. With the Drive at 4 o’clock and Gain activated, there is a lot of dist. I had no problem whatsoever playing really heavy rock, but I suspect that those who play metal and the like might need a dist pedal all the same.

When I had gone through the two channels with and without Gain, I realised that I hadn’t even altered the tone controls once. It is often necessary to turn the wheel back and forth, compromising with one of the channels to make it work as a whole, but here it worked without me even thinking about it. Not bad at all! It’s nice and convenient to be able to set a pure sound that then works with all channels. It is, after all, possible to control a part of the head with Drive Presence, if necessary.

Second Level works perfectly and it ought to be mandatory for all newly-designed amplifiers to contain this function. Two channels with Gain and Second Level enables you to get the amounts of gain you want on two different volume levels, without using a programmable amplifier. For me that’s enough.

The speaker is, after all, very important for the sound, and the ReignMaker from Eminence is well suited to the amplifier for both clean and dist. The cool thing about this speaker chassis is that it is equipped with the so called “FDM attenuation”, an attenuation knob on the rear of the speaker chassis. It enables you to pump up the output stage of the amp in order to get a really fat and saturated dist, and then reduce the output volume of the speaker box with a wheel at the rear of the speaker driver. I tried this out, and it worked without any problems. I was initially somewhat sceptical, but that feeling was completely unjustified. The wheel is, after all, placed way down in the speaker box, so it is a control that you wouldn’t necessarily attempt to tune between songs. But that doesn’t matter, since Fat 50 has a good master volume, and in combination with the driver it makes this a very flexible solution.

Final assessment. These days, many established manufacturers are tackling the trend of small so called “lunch box” amplifiers, which are expensive, despite their small size. Therefore it is great for us guitarists, and challenging for the competitors, that Palmer is presenting in Fat 50 a functionally well-developed, affordable amplifier with a large sound that may be useful for a lot of people in many situations. I will keep a keen eye on Palmer in the future.

• Tube-driven amplifier head
• 50 watt
• 12AX7 tube in the preamplifier
• 2 x 5881 tubes in the output stage
• Two channels
• Gain boost
• Second Level boost in the output stage
• Tube-driven effect loop with mixing function
• Price:
Fat 50 Combo: 950 EUR
Fat 50H: 900 EUR
PCAB112RGN with Eminence ReignMaker and FDM Attenuation: 340 EUR

All information about the product can be found at:

Source:, Sweden,01/2012

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