By Tom Beaujour
Faithful readers of Guitar Aficionado may have already noted that the new Sock Monkey is in fact the second offering from North Carolina’s 3 Monkeys Amps that we have reviewed in a relatively short span of time. This is not an oversight but a testament to how impressed we were by the sound and construction of the 30-watt Virgil head and cabinet that the company sent us to evaluate in TK.
Upon opening the box of the new 12-watt combo (the Sock Monkey is also available in a head-and-cabinet configuration), we were immediately struck by just how sharp and tastefully retro this amp looks. Featuring a trapezoidal cabinet covered in Regal Blue Tolex accented by a silver racing stripe, an off-white speaker grille, and a silver-sparkle control panel and logo plate, this little screamer would seem perfectly at home in Don Draper’s pad and will look equally sharp in your living room or music cave.
Controls are limited to four chicken-head knobs (volume with pull boost, bass, treble, and master volume), while two EL84 and three 12AX7s make up the tube complement. A 10-inch Celestion Greenback speaker completes the package.
Players looking for pristine clean tones and a generous amount of headroom will likely be turned off by the compression and grit that the Sock Monkey seems to gravitate toward. But guitarists who favor impeccably voiced classic rock and even hard rock tones will immediately fall in love with the tight bass, smooth overdrive, and pleasing overtones that this amp produces effortlessly even at whisper volumes. From James Gang quack to Van Halen crunch, this amp performs epically well and is both flattering and inspiring to play.
And while humbucker-equipped guitars sound grand through the Sock Monkey, it’s the amp’s performance with single-coil pickups and the warm, toothy, and never harsh way that it handles both Telecasters and Stratocasters alike that make it truly unique.
LIST PRICE: $1,499