PLENTY OF GRUNT
Fire it up, and the mid range comes barking at you like a terrier at a picket fence. With everything at 12 o’clock, it’s the kind of spanking, compressed sounding tonality that country pickers and be-quiffed rockabilly kids plaster their walls with posters of. In all honesty, without the ‘boost’ button locked in there was no bluesy breakup. Once the switch is engaged however, it almost acts like a combination of other amps’ presence stages, and a deftly applied compressor, turning the screws on the mids even further and adding a bit of heat to the 2x ECC83 preamp tubes. It is exactly the kind of tonal response you expect from a company who made their name in bass rig territory; tight and brassy enough to cut through a mix with very little flab or wiggle room to get lost in.
It’s an argumentative little brat at times too! Though, once it met my Gretsch 5620T, the southern gentleman attitude of the guitar had the amp bowing at it’s feet. There was the give that I was after! Give it the slap and squeeze it’s asking of you and it’ll howl at the moon. Equally, faced with a few pedals it was even more malleable. I stacked a Wampler Hot Wired II, POG2 and other assorted stomp-boxes in the front end and not only did it not falter but almost rose to the occasion, belying more headroom than I initially gave it credit for. Gain-wise there’s not much to talk about here; this amp does not Djent! Push the gain and master pots as hard as you can and all you really get is a scornful, bristly woof. But that’s not what it is here for. Somewhere between 9 and 3 o’clock there is a sweet spot that has something of the charm of a much bigger amp being nudged ever so slightly in the direction of ‘Honey, can you turn it down!!’ and that is where the little gem shines.
Overall this is an amp that makes a set of promises and delivers them. Endearingly slab sized, lightweight and familiar on the eye, it’s all brazen mids and everyday, workhorse charm. If you’re looking for a clean, nuanced, home use tube amp, look no further.
For more details, head to cmcmusic.com.au.