I'm always intrigued by the idea of having an amp and effects rig that can fit into a briefcase. What I'm not so down with—at least yet—is playing live through my laptop. So what I came up with recently was partly inspired by the arrival of an Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum. This compact power amp takes up the same amount of space as an MXR Phase 90, yet it puts out a whopping 44 watts into an 8Ω or 16Ω load. I grabbed a Leprechaun pedalboard—which features a perforated surface and plastic screws that stick to the bottom of the pedals—and set about laying out the components.
The Leprechaun made it quick and easy to get the 44 Magnum and its large power supply in the right spot, and then arrange a Fryette S.A.S. (an EF86-powered boost pedal that I used as a preamp), a T.C. Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, and an EWS Little Brute Drive in a suitable order. Plugging into the EWS pedal first, and then getting a basic clean sound going with the S.A.S and adding some delicious TC reverb, I was knocked out by how good this rig sounded through an open-back cabinet with two ceramic-magnet Jensen 10s.
I could dial in a grinding rhythm sound with the S.A.S. that cleaned up superbly when I turned down my guitar, and for heavier distortion tones, all I had to do was click on the Little Brute Drive. Everyone who played though this sub-5 lbs rig thought it was killer, and even acoustic master Pierre Bensusan opted to use it for the video lesson he did last week at the GP office!
The best thing about the rig is that it packs into a nylon shoulder bag and can be easily carried along with my guitar and a small speaker cabinet ( I use a Bogner 1x12 for max portability). The setup time at the gig is virtually nil, and the 44 Magnum delivers plenty of volume to handle virtually any situation. The Leprechaun board also makes it super easy to add or subtract pedals as your needs change. This thing definitely works for me, and the concept is worth considering if you're looking for a way to scale back on what you haul to the gig. —Art Thompson