At NAMM 2018, 3rd Power introduced the Kitchen Sink, a 40-watt, two-channel head that offers Fender- and Vox-style voicings in one channel and two types of Marshall tones in the other, each with a pan knob that allows you to blend the two voices in any proportion.
The company has cleverly split this concept into twin 20-watt combos, with the Dirty Sink featuring the crunchy Marshall-style tones, and the Fender/Vox type sounds installed into the Clean Sink, reviewed here.
The Clean Sink actually features three voices: American, and, via toggle switch, either AC or AC Top Boost. Blending the American and AC sounds is done with the voice pan control, which offers full American tone when turned full left and maximum AC sounds at hard right.
The wide variety of sounds in between lets you tailor the amp’s tone to taste, much like running through a Fender Deluxe and a Vox AC-15 and blending the sounds at the mixing board. The Hybrid-Master control lets you bring the overall volume down to venue- or bedroom-appropriate levels, and the amp has treble and bass controls, as well as a high-frequency damping knob to tame shrillness.
Considering that the Clean Sink has one channel with relatively few controls, I was impressed by the range of useable and musical tones I could dial in. Experimenting with the interaction of the Top Boost switch, the high-frequency damping knob and the treble control let me sculpt the top end to taste through every voicing variable.
The full American setting offered that style of amp’s classic scooped sparkle, while blending in the AC at about 11 o’clock moved the tone to the mid-Atlantic, filling in the midrange with some British boost. Whether using a 1965 Stratocaster fitted with Suhr Vintage V60LP pickups or a Fender J. Mascis Jazzmaster sporting a pair of Kinman noiseless pickups, the Clean Sink began breaking up at about 11 o’clock on the amp volume.
Backing off the guitar’s volume slightly cleaned up the sound, even with the amp’s volume nearly cranked. Despite its name, much of this amp’s charm comes when you start driving it into distortion. It breaks up beautifully at every point along the voice panning control’s sweep, from American dirt to British grit.
On a full band gig, the Clean Sink cut through the mix to the point where the sound man wanted to put a plexiglass damper in front of it. Instead, I just turned down the Hybrid-Master, dropping the amp’s overall volume without sacrificing tone. The amp features an all-tube spring reverb, which comes on very gradually and is lush and non-metallic, even at heavily ambient settings.
Even in performance situations that require reduced volume, the Clean Sink delivers big sound at any volume that a singer, sound engineer or tinnitus may require. At 29 pounds, it just might be the perfect grab-and-go combo.
3rd Power amps contain point-to-point wiring on turret boards and use custom Heyboer transformers, so they don’t come cheap. But when you consider that the Clean Sink delivers sonic variety that would normally require a multitude of hand-built amps, it seems well worth it.
CONTROLS Volume, voicing pan pot, treble, bass, treble damping and reverb knobs. Top Boost/Normal toggle
TUBES 4 x 12AX7, 2 x 6V6
POWER 20 watts
EXTRAS Hybrid-Master volume control
SPEAKER One 12" Warehouse Green Beret
WEIGHT 29 lbs
KUDOS Astounding range of high-quality sounds for such a simple setup