Review: Aer Compact 60/3 Tommy Emmanuel Signature Amp

April 7, 2017

Finger style wizard Tommy Emmanuel worked closely with Germany’s AER when they created the original Compact 60, and now Emmanuel has a signature version with a couple of key modifications and some groovy personalized appointments.

“My signature AER has Lexicon-based reverbs and a replica of the Alesis Midiverb II delay/reverb that I used for my Aboriginal tribute, ‘Initiation,’” says Emmanuel. “The line-out signal has all the EQ and effects available, so you can dial in what you need from the amp itself, and the tone circuit is also smoother and warmer sounding.”

To symbolize his Australian homeland, Emmanuel had Aboriginal art etched into one side of the cabinet. His initials are carved into the other side, along with the letters “C.G.P.” in tribute to the “Certified Guitar Player” designation that Emmanuel was given by his mentor, Chet Atkins. The gig-bag strap also features signature embroidery.

I took the Compact 60/3 TE out on two gigs, and despite having only a single 8" twin-cone speaker, it delivered a remarkably broad sound with several different instruments plugged into channel 1: an Epiphone Masterbilt Century Olympic acoustic archtop, a Taylor 512ce, and a Kevin Michael Sable carbon fiber acoustic. The acoustic tones were natural sounding and dynamically responsive, and each instrument sounded like itself, with little coloration coming from the amp unless I pushed the “Colour” button, which added significant top-end sparkle and a slight mid scoop. Emmanuel reports that he never uses the Colour function—he simply sets the three tone controls to 5.

Channel 2 is similarly voiced for guitar, although it’s a bit hotter and does not offer the Colour option or a Middle control. I found it handy for running a Fishman Blackstack passive magnetic pickup on the Taylor for a tone that complemented the guitar’s onboard Fishman Prefix system. The balanced input also sounded fantastic for vocals.

The Compact 60/3 TE provides four effects presets with a Pan control to favor either channel, along with a global Level control. The first effect preset is a longish reverb that compared well to an Accutronics spring ’verb in a Rivera Sedona Lite acoustic amp that I recently tested. The second reverb is similar sounding, but with some pre delay added, so you play a note and a split-second later you hear the effect. The third setting is a single, mid-length echo based on Emmanuel’s favorite Alesis MidiVerb II patch. It sounded great for fingerpicking, and you can get as many repeats as you want via the Level control. The Last setting is a room verb, which was perfect for adding slight ambience to strummed chords.

I appreciated having only a few practical effects with simple controls, and the way they are incorporated into the balanced output’s signal ensures you get a fully realized tone straight into the P.A. In fact, you could essentially look at the Compact 60/3 TE as a fantastic direct box and small stage monitor with effects. “When I’m doing in-store appearances, live radio shows, or workshops, I simply turn up my amp, take a direct line out, and the sound is just right with the EQ set flat,” says Emmanuel. “And in concert, this amp coupled with AER’s Pocket Tools preamp is a powerful combination when you send both signals into the P.A.”

Bottom line: AER’s Compact 60/3 Tommy Emmanuel Signature amp is a worthy performance rig that delivers everything discerning acoustic players need in a lightweight and ergonomically designed package.

Compact 60/3 Tommy Emmanuel Signature

CONTACT aer-amps.com
PRICE $1,299 street
CHANNELS 2
CONTROLS (Channel 1) 1/4" Input, High/Low button, Gain, Colour button, Bass, Middle, Treble; (Channel 2) 1/4"/XLR Input, Line/Mic button, Gain, Bass, Treble. (Global EFX) Pan, Select 1-4, Level, Master Volume
POWER 60 watts
EXTRAS Reverb (3 types); Delay (replica of Alesis Midi-verb II Delay/Reverb); Line, headphone, and tuner outs; FX loop; Send and Return; XLR D.I. out
SPEAKER 8" twin cone
WEIGHT 14.3 lbs
BUILT Germany
KUDOS Clear, responsive acoustic tone. Lightweight yet powerful. High-quality onboard effects with intuitive interface. Very quiet.
CONCERNS None.

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