Hayden has made significant inroads into the amplifier market in the last few years. The sister company to Essex based Ashdown Engineering, Hayden has carved itself an auspicious niche, appealing to guitarists who want boutique looks and sound but without the made-in-California-one-at-a-time price tag. Inevitably, some products have to be made in the Far East to keep costs down and to compete in a very overcrowded marketplace. Such is the Mighty MoFo combo, a handy little all-valve low powered guitar amp that Hayden describe as having “a whole lot of attitude”.
Designed for practice, rehearsal or recording, the Mighty MoFo puts out 5W of power courtesy of an EL84 coupled with a single ECC83 pre-amp valve. The top mounted panel includes controls for Gain, Bass, Middle and Treble along with a Mix knob for balancing your live guitar sound with any backing track or metronome you want to play along with which you can plug into the mini-jack Aux. input. Although lightweight at 11 kg, the Mighty MoFo has a muscular appearance, sporting rugged metal corners and a classy looking handle as well as white piping around the speaker baffle and white knobs. On the (closed) rear panel, there is an output jack for a 16 Ohm extension speaker. On the subject of speakers, Hayden has sensibly chosen to install its own Custom Vintage 60 12” driver which should be more than capable of handling the modest output even at maximum gain. There’s also an on-board Accutronics ‘Belton Brick’ reverb unit with variable control and you’ll also notice Hayden’s ‘Magic Eye’ indicator, which responds to the amps performance with a pulsating green light. Very cool.
As with all amps in its class, the first matter in hand is to find out how clean the Mighty MoFo will go without break up. With a suitable Fender Tele in hand and with the Master near on full and the Gain on about three and the mids defeated slightly, we were treated to some clarity and sparkle but with the gain pushed a bit more, the amp started to distort. However, it must be remembered that this is not really a gigging tool so for its designated purpose, the Mighty MoFo was deemed to have produced a credible performance. Reducing the Master and pushing the Gain and Middle control we start to cook the EL84 and we’re into some fat overdrive that works for chords and solos alike. Extreme Gain yields tones suitable for hard rock and metal but we found that apart from being useful to enhance the clean sounds, the Treble control needs taming to reduce what we can only describe as an unpleasant ‘fizz’. Swapping the Fender for a humbucker equipped guitar pushed the input harder and we experience fatter tones all round, the only downside being with this set up being there’s not much scope for any clean tones unless you turn the guitar volume down.
There are a lot of combos in the same price range of the Mighty Mofo that are fully loaded with amp modelling and endless effects which obviously cover a lot more ground and are huge value but they’re generally digital and usually have a ‘processed’ and artificial quality that can ultimately be unsatisfying if you’re used to tube tone. While fairly basic in features by comparison, the Hayden Mighty MoFo is at least a ‘real’ valve amp, well thought-out in design and nicely finished in construction with sounds to match. A little gem.