ROCK AMPLIFIERS HAVE EVOLVED TO A HIGH DEGREE SINCE THE DAYS WHEN TONY
Iommi and Ritchie Blackmore laid the foundation for heavy rock guitar tone
through their Laney and Marshall stacks. These English marques, along with
other British and American companies such as Hiwatt, Orange, Mesa/Boogie,
Peavey, and Soldano, paved the way for today’s high-gain, multi-channel heads,
most of which have features that were unimaginable in the late ’60s, when
Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin reigned supreme. As metal
became a style unto itself, more and more amplifier companies stepped up to
meet the demands of players who wanted heads and combos that could deliver
the two essential sonic qualities—searing sustain and massive chunk—that
are about as commonplace now as footswitchable channels, independent tone
controls, and high-powered output stages of up to 400 watts.
Look around most any music store now and you’ll find plenty of evidence
that the quest to improve and refine the tones created by overdriven tubes and
transistors continues. In terms of features, sounds, and price, Joe Six Pack never
had it better. Fact is, you could probably pick a new half-stack blindfolded, take
it straight to the gig, and be reasonably satisfied with its performance. To better
understand the state-of-the-art in rock and metal rigs, we selected 13 tube,
hybrid, and solid-state multi-channel amps and put them to the test using a
Schecter C-1 loaded with EMG 81-X pickups, a PRS Custom 22, a Fender Eric
Johnson Signature Strat, and a Gibson ’68 Black Beauty Les Paul reissue. Most
of the amps we received came with matching speaker cabinets, and the ones
that didn’t were played though a Mesa/Boogie Rectifier 4x12, a cabinet known
for its ability to stay tight and focused at punishing volumes.
We gave all of the amps a thorough shake out to evaluate the range and
complexity of their tones, the amount of sustain they could generate, and even
how loud they could get. For this last test we placed a RadioShack digital
sound level meter three feet from the speaker cabinet with its mic aimed
straight on at the speakers. Using the dBA setting on the meter, we turned
each amp up as far as possible (excessive hiss was often the only limiting factor)
on one of the overdrive channels, and banged out power chords until the
meter gave its verdict. Testing 13 big amps presents lots of challenges—not
the least of which was the potential for hearing damage when exposed to them
running at full volume. So for the loudness checks we went so far as to put a
video camera on our sound level meter, and played outside the sound lab with
the door closed—a method we’d highly recommend should you decide to try
this stunt for yourself.
Watch John Myung of Dream Theater on Ernie Ball: String Theory (VIDEO)
Allman Brothers Band To Release 8-CD Set "The Fox Box" with Oteil Burbridge
TWA Releases the DM-02 Dynamorph Envelope-Controlled Harmonic Generator
This Week in Free Stuff: Music Maker DAW & Field Recordings
Video: Mixvibes RemixLive 3.0 Brings Finger Drumming to Android
Drag-and-Drop Sound Effects from the Cloud to Your Projects with Soundly
The Art of Synth Soloing: Joe Zawinul
DISCOVERY – Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
How To: Chaos Rules
Prisma Accardo: A Boutique Beauty Built from Hard Rock Maple Skate Decks
Watch Chuck Berry Rock the Grammys with Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thorogood
Line 6 Introduces Echo Farm 3.0 64-Bit AAX Native Plug-In
Body Count Premiere New Song and Music Video, "Black Hoodie"
Papa Roach Announce New Album Details for 'Crooked Teeth'
Exclusive: Interview with Northlane Guitarist Josh Smith on Surprise Album Release, 'Mesmer'
Andy Summers Discusses His New Album, ‘Triboluminescence’
Night Ranger’s Jack Blades and Brad Gillis Talk New Album, 'Don't Let Up'
Reggie Young: Legendary Memphis Session Guitarist to Release Debut Solo Album
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470