Ashdown’s new Woodsman line-up builds on the company’s long legacy and great experience in the design of acoustic amplification. In addition to the Woodsman Classic reviewed here, the range contains the smaller Parlour and larger Jumbo models, with more features and power appearing as you move up the range.
The Woodsman Classic is a small, lightweight, twin-channel, 40 Watt combo amplifier with an attractive brown cabinet covered in floral engravings. A cream control panel and gold striped grillecloth complete the presentation.
Channel 1 is designed to accept a microphone on either XLR or ¼” jack inputs, and Channel 2 handles acoustic instrument inputs. The Classic’s master volume control and its individual channel volume controls allow the musician to mix together instrument microphone and pickup signals or, alternatively, to plug in a vocal microphone and use the Classic as a mini PA system.
Alongside Channel 1’s XLR/Jack combination input, you’ll find the single Tone and Volume controls that allow you shape the tonality of your instrument or vocal microphone and to balance the result with the output of Channel 2.
This second channel has a more comprehensive setup with both Active and Passive jack inputs and a set of Volume, Bass and Treble controls. The Active input allows for the connection of acoustic instruments that utilise pre-amplifiers, whereas the Passive socket provides the higher impedance and headroom necessary for unpreamplified piezo pickups. The Treble and Bass controls have a shelving response and act at 10kHz and 100Hz respectively. Channel 2 also features a Notch Filter with variable Frequency and Depth over a range of 70-250Hz to eliminate feedback due to “body resonance”. The fixed “Q” (or width) of the notch has been optimised for acoustic guitar.
The amplifier’s Master section is made up of a level control for the on board solid-state Reverb and the amplifier’s overall Volume control. The control panel complement is completed by the XLR DI output and the ¼” jack and mini-jack connectors the Aux input.
A single 8” loudspeaker smoothly and confidently delivers the Classic’s 28Hz-28kHz (-3dB) frequency response and never sounds as though it is being stressed by the 40 Watt output power. Finally, a small panel on the rear of the cab carries the IEC mains socket, the On/Off switch and the Phase reverse switch that helps compensate for the phase cancellation that can sometimes result from the physical distance between amplifier and instrument.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the Woodsman Classic delivered a very good performance from my acoustic guitar during the review. It delivers a clean and clear performance at a very impressive volume and definition for its size. The controls perform as advertised, despite the fact that the guitar that I brought along didn’t deliver enough in the high end to allow the treble control to shine as it can.
Keeping the reverb level down proved to be a bit of a challenge as the control is pretty sensitive at its lower positions, but it can be done!
Ashdown’s experience in acoustic amplification has resulted in the Classic being a very good-sounding amplifier with the basic facilities required of an acoustic combo. To me, the absence of phantom power on the microphone input was a surprising omission in this day and age, but that was more than made up for by the excellent notch filter - so I guess that one can’t have everything.
Having said that, it’s a great little amplifier at an attractive price point that makes a lot of sense if you need a small but punchy amplifier for rehearsal or for those smaller club and social bookings.