REVIEWED: BADCAT UNLEASH V2 ATTENUATOR AND REAMP UNIT
As we delve deeper and deeper into the mammoth stockpile of weapons of mass tonal destruction, we uncover new and unusual combinations of need and want that deserve resolution, no matter how small the target market. Things like fuzz pedals with phase circuits built in, permanently cocked wahs, buffers, noise suppressors and any number of other left of center ideas litter the fringes of Tone Town like marauders at the castle walls. Some have proven themselves worthy of board space, others not so much, but occasionally an idea comes to life that is handy in ways that none of us necessarily expected to need. Enter the Unleash V2, a re-amp unit come attenuator come speaker simulation unit so useful it’ll just about play the song for you.
REVIEWED: FENDER MUSTANG GT40 & GT100 GUITAR AMPLIFIERS
Redesigned and revamped, the new Mustang range of solid state amps come to the table with tech-savy amplifiers produced for the modern age. As with its predecessors, the Mustang GT series is loaded with a wide selection of amp models, effects and tone presets. The major difference this time round is the addition of Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.
REVIEWED: POSITIVE GRID BIAS HEAD 600W MODELING AMP
We may not eat food in pill form or hoon around in hover-cars just yet, but we are well and truly living on the cusp of, if not smack bang in the belly of the future. There are people making music on computers that sounds like blips and bloops just like The Jetsons guessed, and we’re video calling each other on a regular basis just to tell each other that we’re minutes away on the tram. Fred and Wilma would be quaking in their loincloths if they knew half the things we can do these days. The advent of the internet and its expansion to the seemingly limitless world of hands-free technology has made it so that just about anything and everything you could possibly wish for is a swipe, click or tap away.
MARSHALL ASTORIA SERIES COMBO AMPS
For some, the best way to move forward is to first take a good, look at what’s behind you. That way you end up with a clear, objective view of your mistakes and/or take stock and garner confidence from a job well done. This concept is part of the reason why many people look to the classic, antique and vintage for tonal inspiration and why even the Goliaths of musical engineering faithfully recreate some of their oldest designs for generation after generation. Marshall Amplification has never been shy of their rich history and the new Astoria Series is a prime example of them using the past as a guiding light into the future.
MATCHLESS DC30 AMPLIFIER
For gear heads, musos and musical engineers the words ‘boutique manufacturer’ are part and parcel of their everyday vernacular. We see them regularly attached to new companies and products – stamped on everything from guitars and amps, to pedals and cables – often as a signifier for ingenuity, quality and care in make. Yet there existed a time when these notions of boutique innovation and excellence were only beginning to materialise. For amps this was in the early ‘90s and coincided with the launch of LA manufacturer Matchless Amplifiers. With their very first design – the Vox AC30-inspired DC-30 – they nailed classic British tones and, as such, put boutique production on the map. To this day the DC-30 still stands at the forefront of their meticulously refined range, a product of superb craftsmanship, time and effort.
SUPRO 1600 SUPREME
Once upon a time there was a guitar player. Having cut his teeth playing in a few notable blues and R&B bands around London, it came time for this particular guitarist to form his own group and stamp his name on music history forever. And so he did, that band holing away for months at a time turning lead into gold gradually until it was ready to put that alchemy on tape. When the time came, inspired by the heroes of Chicago’s South side blues scene, he plugged his ’52 Telecaster into an old tube combo amp and turned music history on it’s head. That player was Jimmy Page; the record was Led Zeppelin’s 1st and that amp was a Supro.
Kemper Profiler Workstation w/ Remote
Modeling effects is hardly a new idea; companies have been trying to replicate the nuances of tonal triumphs for decades, case in point the swelling market for clones of prized overdrive pedals. For years the use of professional digital imitators carried a stigma of philistinism around with it, largely due to manufacturers’ inability to overcome the indelible effect that digitization has on fidelity. It seems like players are realising the potential inherent in some of the more top of the line examples and utilising them in live touring rigs. Cue the rise of Axe-FX as one of the most divisive names in today’s riff game, and the engineers at Kemper have certainly come nipping at its binary heels.
VHT Special 12/20RT Combo
A lot of the time the pantheon of modern guitar amplification feels like a classroom full of kids on red cordial. There’s a lot of jumping around, vying for attention with flashy colours and loud noises, but very few willing to sit quietly and get to work. I get the distinct impression that the Special 12/20RT is an attempt at the latter, a clean slate designed to let come what may.