Published by Phillips, July 2017.


A world away from the mass produced gear in the far east (well, the Pacific ocean away at least), a young, grass-roots company in the Panamanian rainforest of Central America have been building boutique guitar amps since 2012. Panama Guitars (who don't make guitars) are based in the beautiful mountain town of Boquete, in the jungle region near the Costa Rican border and Panama's highest point - the Volcán Barú – an active volcano.


With a development lab right on the slopes of the volcano (aptly named the Volcano Lab), Panama Guitars sound like too-interesting a company to ignore, so after hearing some of their amps were on their way to the UK, we jumped at the chance to check one out.




This is the Panama Conqueror 5, an all-valve, hand-wired 5W combo with 10” speaker. Cutting through the marketing waff (...Muddy Waters... Hoochie Coochie Man... blah blah), it is actually packed with interesting and unusual features whilst being refreshingly simple.


Panama Conquerer 5W Tube Combo



This amp is something different right from first glance. Its looks may divide opinion but it's certainly distinctive, and I think it looks very very cool indeed. It also stands out when compared to other examples on the market because of its size – a generous 18” x 12.75” x 18” lets the speaker cone breath whilst still being manageable to move around.

Furthermore, this is not your standard cabinet banged together with ply. Panama use the locally available woods of Spanish Cedar and Palo Mora, and brilliantly, the front grille can be removed, revealing beautiful gloss-lacquered timber underneath. It's a great feature that gives the amp a different, more 'refined' kind of look if that's what you prefer.


Panama Conquerer 5W Tube Combo




I love the simplicity of the controls – the Conqueror just has one input, a gain knob, a volume knob and a passive attenuator on the back. Great. No manual to consult, no brand-specific new EQ sweep new incredi-control USB interface system. Nothing. It's an actual amp. Just plug your guitar in.


The tone is intriguingly rich, almost woody in character, and has a loose, 'alive' quality to it that many mass produced amps don't achieve. It can get up to some very reasonable volumes whilst still sounding crisp, but (with a bit of experimentation with the gain/volume/attenuation levels) you can get classic tube breakup at very low volumes if that's what you're after. I found a great 'hot' clean sound after a little tweaking, and it doesn't take long to get to grips with how they work together.


My only minor gripe is that the attenuation control is on the back of the amp, so if you do need to adjust it often (which you probably won't) then it's a bit of a pain to access. For £479 RRP you also can't expect the greatest tubes in the world, so the Conqueror would probably benefit from a tube upgrade when the time comes to replace them. A great sound overall though straight out of the box.


Panama Conquerer 5W Tube ComboPanama Conquerer 5W Tube Combo





If you're after an all singing all dancing modern amp with a spider's web of effects built in, multiple channels, John Petrucci hologram button, laminating facility, telephone and a driving theory test simulator, this amp is not for you. If however you're after a great low wattage characterful guitar amp with an interesting story and seriously cool looks, then I thoroughly recommend you give it a go.


At £479, they also represent very good value for money for an all-tube, timber built, hand wired boutique combo. And it's made in Panama !!


To buy or try in the UK, check out: Knighton Music Centre


Watch this space for Guadeloupean Wah Wah pedals, 7-string guitars from Togo and the illusive plectrums of Micronesia...


Published by Phillips, July 2017.







Conqueror 5








(1) 12AX7 preamp tube (1) 6V6 power tube (1) 7-pin miniature 6z4 rectifier

Speaker (Combo)

Panama AV30

Speaker/External Out

4 - 16 ohms

Adv. Electronics

Built-in Attenuator


18 x 12.75 x 18" (Combo) / 18.5 x 10 x 11" (Head)


41 lbs (Combo) / 23 lbs (Head)

Part #



5 Years