Reviewed: Positive Grid BIAS MINI Bass and Guitar Head
One of the most exquisite experiences known to humankind is the process of having an item of clothing tailored to fit your body. Often subconsciously we express so much of ourselves with the choices we make in our dress before venturing out into the wild each morning. Some people take more pride in their appearance than others that’s for sure, and if the old adage ‘clothes maketh the man’ is anything to go by, those of us who do take that care have a distinct head start over those who lackadaisically slap on any old garb. All ‘what side does sir dress on’ jokes aside, when you don a vestment that fits you and you alone and the fabric and colour suit your mood exactly, you feel it in your soul. You walk taller, address situations more confidently, and you take things in stride that would usually get under your skin. Interestingly enough, this peacock instinct rings just as true in the gear world. From the colour and wear of the finish of your favourite vintage Strat to the height of your stack, there are more variations on the theme of musical self expression than in most other facets of existence.
Reviewed: Fender Blues Junior IV Amp
What a weird and contradictory world the amp world can be. As a young player idolising people on the cover of Kerrang or NME or Mixdown itself, you are quickly lead to believe that in order to achieve tonal enlightenment you must have a monolithic wall of stacks behind you; however, at one time or another we all learn the horrible truth. Like finding out that your parents… gulp… enjoy sex, some of the loudest, filthiest and most stadium filling sounds in recorded history squeeze their way into existence from shockingly tiny amps. Half of Led Zeppelin’s back catalogue was farted out of a knocked about old, low wattage Supro box and bands today render vibrations binary in single channel interfaces before they even attempt to push any air whatsoever. The myth of Tonehenge is more akin to a Spinal Tap joke than a hard and fast rule, and this is why Fender’s Blues Junior remains one of the most loved amps of all time.
Reviewed: Marshall Origin Amplifier Series
These days, the guitar amp market seems littered with amps and simulators that can do anything your heart desires. With the introduction of amp modeling and digital technology, never has it been easier to have a one stop shop for all of the coveted sounds you want to recreate. That’s all well and good, but sometimes it’s an absolute delight to take your rig back to the studs and go back to where it all began. That seems to be Marshall Amps’ ethos with the new Origin line of amplifiers, their new range based on the look and sound of their JTM and Super Lead amps. Classic look, classic sound, but with little hints of modern updates that make for ease of use and a damn great time.
Reviewed: Positive Grid Bias 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. Positive Grid is a company that has been at the coalface of this technological tin mine for years now. Famous for creating some of the most user friendly and sonically advanced music apps on the market, their new Bias Head sees them take one almighty leap into the physical realm and apply the entirety of their tone-tech prowess in the real world.
Reviewed: DV Mark "Raw Dawg" EG amplifier
Many moons ago I was a starry-eyed, fledgling reviewer for this here magazine. The very first piece of kit I was asked to cast a critical eye over was a low wattage DV Mark guitar combo. Being as dewy as I was back then, I only knew about Marco’s inimitable range of bass gear having seen some of my more discerning four-stringed friends conjure brown sounds with various models as conduit. This little combo opened my eyes to the sheer voracity with which De Virgiliis and co. eek out the corners of guitar tonality, and since then I’ve had a certain soft spot for the company. There is just about every colour of the rainbow in their catalogue, each with its own celebrity signatory, and it seems like every issue since I’ve written about a DV Mark build that differs in degrees from the last.
Reviewed: Marshall Amplification DSL1C Combo Amp
Growing up, the only Marshall amps I ever saw were hefty 100 watt heads sitting atop a plethora of quad boxes. I guess I never thought it was obtainable to get that classic tone in my bedroom. Who wants to buy a JCM900 only to have it sit in the corner of your bedroom with the volume control not even on one? The answer is no one. Thankfully, Marshall have finally caught up with the modern trend of valve driven, low wattage amps for home and rehearsal use. The classic DSL line has been reimagined and reinvigorated in 2018 with amps ranging from as little as one watt through to the 100 watt stalwarts we’re all accustomed to seeing on huge stages across the world. With this new era of DSL, it has never been more obtainable to get the classic Marshall tone at a reasonable volume for the bedroom guitarist.
Reviewed: Jet City Custom 5 amplifier head
America is not a nation famous for downsizing. From the luxury sedans of the ‘50s and ‘60s to the serving sizes of today, it seems that everything is bigger not only in Texas but across the whole country. On the flip side, bucking the trend is in their blood, so it stands to reason that several American manufacturers are leading the charge in the lower wattage amplifier game. Several issues ago I reviewed Peavey’s range of 20-watt versions of their most notable builds and was suitably impressed, so I was wringing my hands with glee when the Jet City Custom 5 came waltzing my way.
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.