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The So Flo Smart Aleck is a single ended (no center tap on output transformer primaries) class A guitar amp capable of delivering clean, fat tone at stage volume levels. Class AB amps with push/pull output transformers are pushed into class A by running the plate current well over design specs so the tubes stay on considerably longer than 50% of the cycle. They could be biased into pure class A but their life would be measured in minutes or less.

In what audiophiles refer to as "Pure class A," the power tubes stay on for 360 degrees of the cycle. In fact, the tubes are biased at peak current just waiting for you to play something. (Think of a dragster, revving up, waiting to dump the clutch.) This makes the amp faster to respond and very touch sensitive. Because the Smart Aleck is pure class A by design, it can never drift into class AB, and the valuable NOS 6V6 power tubes can be run closer to design specs, extending tube life.

The original goal of this design was to fill the gaps between the Fender 5F1 Champ, 5E3 Deluxe and 5F6-A Bassman. The Smart Aleck achieves that and more. The 5F1 is a killer bedroom/studio amp but it's not loud enough to use on stage and has no appreciable clean tone. The Smart Aleck delivers that 5F1 grind and clean fat tone ala vintage Twin Reverb at stage volume levels. The 5E3 is a bit louder, has great overdriven tone but again, you can't really get that clean bell like tone at stage volume. You can with a Smart Aleck. The problem with the 5F6-A is a little too much power. So Flo routinely does power reduction mods on Bassman's and other 40/50 watters for blues/rock players who want overdrive at lower volumes for smaller club gigs. The Smart Aleck gives you all the clip you want from crunch to full over-drive at any volume level. What's more, with the included two button foot switch, volume, treble, bass, mid and master volume controls, the player can shape the gain like vintage Tweed, Black Face or British tone.

The Smart Aleck is constructed using Sprague, Mallory, Switchcraft, Carling and other quality "off the shelf" parts which means in 20 years or so you won't go nuts trying to find a designated input jack or obsolete twist lock cap can. The Smart Aleck is hand wired on a phenolic eyelet card. With a Pure Class A circuit, noise is a problem so special attention was paid to the wiring and lead dress. All the grounds are bussed to the same location next to the power transformer and then grounded (no noise producing ground loops). Shielding is used on longer leads passing signal.

A lot of testing was done with the following popular speakers:

  • '60s JBL D120-F 1x12 and 2x12, JBL D140-F 1x15
  • '60s EV SRO 2x12 and 1x12, EV SRO 1x15, EV12L 2x12 and 1x12, EVM 10 2x10 and 1x10
  • '60s Jensen C12N 2x12 and 1x12
  • Celestion Vintage 30 4x12, 2x12 and 1x12
  • '60s Vox Silver Dogs 2x12 and 1x12
  • Eminence 2x12 and 4x10 Alnico's patterned after the Jensen P12 and P10R
With the results of the tests and the fact that it's best to keep the amp away from the speakers, it was decided to build heads instead of combos. Speaker selection can be very subjective and the OT secondaries have taps for 4, 8, and 16 ohms. All the speakers tested sounded good taken alone but when compared, the EV SRO 15 had the best tone. Nice and fat with tight bottom end and well-defined mid and high end when played clean. With all controls up full and all gain switches turned on, distorted to the max, the Smart Aleck retains its integrity. The tone does not turn to mud.

The Smart Aleck sells direct for $1,595. S+H included in continental U.S. The amp is guaranteed for two years providing we approve the tech that will be servicing the amp. Tubes for 90 days. If the Smart Aleck fails to "Kick Your Ass" within 48 hours of receipt, send it back in the condition received for a full refund.

Any references to brand names or model names/numbers are for descriptive purposes only. So Flo tube amps is not affiliated with any mentioned here.

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