Designed to be completely portable and easy to use, there is a deceptive amount of power in this super lightweight black box. Somehow DV Mark has managed to squeeze 50 watts of solid-state grunt in behind the 12” speaker that boasts their own “proprietary, neo-classic technology.” From what I can gather from the website, the idea is that by using neodymium in their magnets you get all the guts of any other magnet type at less than half the weight, which goes a long way to fulfilling the promise of ultra-portability.
With all the buzzwords on the swing tag out of the way, next step is to plug in and see what we’re in for. There is something just a little different about what comes out the front. Barely a tap on the clean level and I’ve got to admit I was surprised at the amount of unadulterated volume on offer – much more than it’s size would have you believe.
Tonally the clean channel is heavily weighted towards some pretty rich mid frequencies, almost to the point of being scooped and it felt like the mid control was more of a boost than a potentiometer. Wrangle that pony and you’ve got all the bell-like honk of Nile Rodgers’ best work without having to reach for that Excalibur of a white Strat of his. Another thing it surprised me with is how responsive it was when I rolled back the tone knob on my guitar. There’s so much clarity in the signal that it really lent itself to plonking away, trying to wrap your head around some jazz standards.
The drive channel on the other hand couldn’t have been further removed in character. There’s only so much original personality you’re going to get out of a unit like this, but what came out when I flicked the switch was a pretty keen representation of that classic Boss OD2 distortion sound. There was a fair volume dip between the two channels, with the drive losing out by a margin, but a bit of to and fro to balance it out and you’re back in the game. Like Mr. Hyde to the clean channel’s Dr. Jekyll, the drive is as dirty as you like and with a tonne of sustain that feels like the 90s coming back into your life like an old friend saying “Hey man, remember all those Tool riffs we used to flog to death? I do!” Roll on some of the built-in reverb, dig out some of your old tab books and you’ll never look back.
As with any great practice amp there are a few bells and whistles to help you along in the earliest upturn of the learning curve. There’s a 3.5mm aux input that you can send your favourite jam tracks through, snazzy blue LEDs and (some might say most importantly) a headphone out just incase you’re not quite ready for everyone else to hear what you’re capable of… yet.
All in all, there is a limit to what the DVC Guitar Friend 12 will let you do. Play within that field though and you’ll find a clear, mid-friendly, bell like clean that descends into riff rock heaven at the flick of a switch. Whether you’re learning the riffs for the first time or returning to them after ages there’s plenty of good things in this small package.
For more details on DV Mark products, head to cmcmusic.com.au.