Review: Carr Lincon Combo Amp

Carr has been on a major run with its lower-wattage offerings in recent years.
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Carr has been on a major run with its lower-wattage offerings in recent years. The Sportsman and Skylark are American-leaning combos that quickly won a broad fan base. Now the newly released Lincoln aims at EL84- powered British flavors. The inspiration for the Lincoln came from a 1964 Vox AC10 combo that Steve Carr recently acquired, but since this maker doesn’t copy anything, the Lincoln is in no way a clone. “I took all the vibe elements I liked in the AC10 and incorporated them into something brand new with lots of features that expand the tone palette by a huge amount,” Carr explained. “I wanted to retain the simplicity and ‘just the thing you need when you need it’ honesty of that old amp.” The results are presented as an 18-watt, dual-EL84 engine behind rhythm and lead channels, with independent Reverb controls for each, and a built-in attenuator to cut the output to 6 watts. All that, and it’s done with admirable simplicity, which is Carr’s trademark.

The finger-jointed, solid-pine cab is enticingly compact for a 1x12 at 24" x 16" x 9". Niftily styled, too, with an integral dual-fin speaker baffle and several options of basic black or custom two-tone covering (one of which we see here, at a $150 upcharge). The box houses a Celestion G12M Creamback speaker, which you should hear clearly on stage thanks to the use of high-quality Analysis Plus speaker cable, and to the slight tip-up provided by the use of smaller feet at the rear of the cab’s underside. Inside the chassis, the Lincoln displays Carr’s usual mix of point-to-point and turret-board circuit construction, all hand wired using topnotch components, with a few small printed circuit cards used for switching functions only.

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I tested the Lincoln with a Stratocaster, a Les Paul, and a Thorn SoCal C/S with staple-top-style GT90 pickups. The rhythm channel was crisp and bouncy when kept shy of breakup, and enticingly chimey and chewy when pushed slightly beyond, with a voicing that confidently roamed territory ranging from blackface to Top Boost (although its circuit topology isn’t precisely either). It’s an extremely agile performer in and of itself—especially with the excellent reverb dialed in anywhere from subtle to surf’s up splashy—but I think I enjoyed the lead channel even more. This option, which Carr says “makes the Lincoln the highest-gain amp we make right now”—packs a surprising roar for such an unassuming amp. Gain levels rolled easily from pushed-Vox to pseudo-plexi to JCM800 hair metal roar to floored-Vox Brian May-like vocal wail—all easily nailed on the fly thanks to the extra foot-switchable boost and a very usable Master control (which is dedicated to this channel alone). While the attenuator isn’t the most transparent I have tried, it’s still handy to have it there at the flick of a switch when you need it.

Perhaps the Lincoln won’t give you the gut-thump of a bigger combo or stack, but it’ll get you rockin’ just fine in a packed club on a Friday night, while delivering great dynamics at manageable volume levels in the process. The dual reverb controls also proved handy for dialing down the splash in hotter lead tones without having to switch it off entirely. All in all, the Lincoln is a cool and superbly functional amp, one that offers a boatload of fun for any player in need of a compact, versatile, and easy-to-use 18-watter.



PRICE $2,830 with black covering; $2,980 for two-tone covering

CONTROLS Rhythm channel: Volume, Treble, Bass, Normal/Bright switch. Lead channel: Drive, Tone, Master, High/Low gain switch. Reverb 1 and Reverb 2 (individual levels for each channel). 18/6 attenuator switch
POWER 18/6 watts
TUBES Four 12AX7s, two EL84s (solid-state rectification)
EXTRAS Two-button footswitch (included) for rhythm/lead channel switching and lead high/low gain. Built-in attenuator reducing output to 6 watts.
SPEAKER 12" Celestion G12M Creamback
WEIGHT 40 lbs
KUDOS Unique styling and superb build quality. A surprisingly versatile and great-sounding grab ’n’ go combo. Particularly good lead tones.
CONCERNS Built-in attenuator is not especially transparent.