Reviewed: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV
Even if you’ve never actually read Don Quixote I don’t imagine the blurb of Miguel Cervantes’ defining tome has escaped anyone; stately madman goes roaming the countryside on a hallucinatory quest accompanied by his donkey and faithful off-sider. What a strangely fitting metaphor for the relationship between a guitar player and their amp of choice. We are the lance-wielding maniacs off hunting imaginary dragons while dragging along humble wattage on whatever adventure we see fit. For the better part of a decade now I have had a Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 in tow as the Sancho Pança to my Man of La Mancha and it has yet to fail me in my battles against windmills. As 2018 sputters into life like an old tractor, Fender unveils the new and improved Hot Rod series, of which I respectfully introduce myself to its Deluxe IV 1x12.
Reviewed: Jet City Jettenuator
It’s a pretty un-rock-n-roll idea, really. For decades now, the burly king of modern music has made a point of embracing sheer, ear-splitting volume as its broadsword. As a company, Jet City is no different. Their designs are more often than not aimed at those of us who stand behind our noisy heroes like loyal foot soldiers. Why, then, would any rock-pig in their right mind want something that brings down the ultimate level? The answer is simple: Lemmy is dead, and not everyone has the ironclad fortitude to live and listen the way he did. For most mere mortals, attenuation is the key to achieving that blisteringly and blissfully loud sonic maximisation without replacing your eardrums after every rehearsal. I’ve had a rudimentary variation on this theme built into the back of my main amp for years, and I personally swear by the positive effect is has on my overall tone as well as the peculiar options it affords me where pushing tubes is concerned.
Reviewed: Vox Adio Air GT and BS
Once upon a time, there was a set sequence of events for those brave and/or dumb enough to venture into Guitar Players’ Grotto. First, you struggled to maintain interest as you learned Nirvana and Beatles numbers on a laminate nylon string abomination. If you made it through that mire, you went one of two ways; either you upgraded to a steel stringed acoustic, or you wandered blindly into the dizzyingly wide world of electric guitar.
Reviewed: Mooer Hornet Black Guitar Combo
Mini pedals have been a monster hit with guitarists the world over. Desperate to free up pedalboard real estate and have access to more sounds, brands such as Mooer offer a tonne of models to increase your sonic palette, all with a smaller footprint. Mooer have then continued to expand their slide into the guitar scene with this range of pedals and effects being supplemented by a number of amplifiers. Slotting into the small/practice amp division, the Hornet series offers modeling technology and effects in a grab and go type package at a reasonable price.
Reviewed: DV Mark Little 250M amplifier
Say what you will about DV Mark products, but there is no denying the company as a whole is a big name in the riff game. They pride themselves on producing combos as well as matched head and cab pairings that are consistently the ‘-est’ in whatever field they find themselves playing. Whether you’re after the highest gain structure imaginable, the smallest profile, the highest power rating in the smallest package or just the most affordable, Marco De Virgiliis and co. have at least one design with your name on it. They’re hungry for innovation in the DV research and development department, and it is this voracious longing for perfection that sees them pump out design after design like the goose that lays golden eggs.
Reviewed: Supro 1605R amplifier
Low-wattage amps are becoming more and more popular every year, thanks to their ease of portability and developments in sound. But can small amps really encompass the width, depth and versatility of their larger siblings? The Supro 1605R aims to answer that question, and does a mighty fine job of it too. In fact, this may just be one of the best low-watt amplifiers on the market today. Supro amps were iconic in the early ‘60s, and are now enjoying something of a renaissance.
REVIEWED: VOX VX50 AMP SERIES
Vox really seem to have made a push in the last few years, offering more and more models across a range of instruments alongside their classic guitar models (AC and the like). Modeling amps and effects, portable practice amps and their incorporation of their Nutube technology have seen them gain much momentum. Their MV50 range garnered much interest recently thanks to its small design and use of the aforementioned Nutube, and the VX50 looks like an extension of that thinking.
REVIEWED: ISP TECHNOLOGIES STEALTH ULTRA-LITE POWER AMP
As the free world becomes an increasingly smaller place, our ability to keep on rocking in it as Neil Young intended is limited only by our ability to enter in the first place. Long gone are the days when a container load of capacitors and transistors is required to get any and every job done. Simultaneously, the internet’s wholesale decimation of the dinosaur labels that dictated rock and roll history has meant that even acts whose star is rising are required to do much of their own heavy lifting on show day. The word ‘downsizing’ has become a big part of touring musicians’ lexicons, and I can only imagine the number of times the question, ‘What if I could just go straight into the PA?’ have been uttered in the past few years. ISP Technologies have the answer in their Stealth Ultra-lite power amp.