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.
Most of the time the rubric with a Mark World design seems to be big power in small stature. The “Raw Dawg” EG seeks to apply this sensibility to the tube driven head arena. The overall result is one of the more interesting voicings they’ve come up with. First and foremost it’s a clean amp, as clean as they come, almost to the point of being a blank canvas. The unmistakable warmth and versatility of 12AX7 preamp tubes is plainly on display here, and it affords an extra sense of delicate sensitivity and class relative to the solid-state tightness and grunt of other DV models. Eric Gales, for whom this variant is named, must have secretly wanted to push the engineers for something they had sorely overlooked in many of their more high gain friendly blueprints, and the result is a pleasant surprise.
As guitarists, we all love the idea of relying on a head that has all the character and spunk of ancient tube amps. Everyone who has ever listened to Clapton wants a ’59 Bassman or a ‘70s Plexi, but few among us have the necessary cash nor the lumbar fortitude to utilise one for our many and varied applications. This is where builders like DV are meant to come in. The unfortunate thing until now is that so many designs that skimp on size sacrifice moxie in the process. I’ve played a few 20 watt head units that come close, but none that tick every box where any live, studio and/or home applications are concerned. It seems that with the “Raw Dawg” EG all of the tireless research that these engineers have done into sheer force finally finds its work station outside of the world of heavy rock and prog, which has been Mark World’s bread and butter for as long as they’ve had soldering irons in hand.
It’s been a number of years since I first wrote about a DV Mark product, and I must admit we’ve had a turbulent relationship. Sometimes the aforementioned soft spot is a bruise, others it’s a pang of hope. However, with its blank canvas simplicity, undeniable versatility, sky-high headroom and tasteful hint of all tube charm, I can finally say that the “Raw Dawg” EG is an amp that I could rely on in just about any situation.
Hits and Misses
Simple, versatile, small and spunky
What kind of a name is Raw Dawg?