Launched in 2007 by Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford, former Blockhead Amplifier Company guru Ossie Ahsen, and guitar tech to the stars Greg Howard, 3 Monkeys amps have already made their way into the rigs of players as varied as Elvis Costello, Buckcherry’s Keith Nelson, and Steve Miller. The company’s Grease Monkey head won Best in Show at the 2010 Southeastern Amp Show, and its new Virgil design, which we had the pleasure of testing out at Guitar Aficionado headquarters, is a jaw-droppingly satisfying tone machine as well.
Entirely hand-wired, and boasting a 30-watt, four-6V6 power section, this new 3 Monkeys offering was designed as a more manageable version of a 6L6-powered 119-watt amplifier called the BW119 that Whitford himself uses. The Virgil boasts a single channel (with footswitchable boost); controls for bass, middle, and treble; and a Vox-style defeatable treble-cut circuit. Additionally, a USA/UK switch provides a shift in the midrange EQ to produce tonalities favored by amp designers on both sides of the pond. The Virgil’s cosmetics are also top notch, and include thoughtful construction details like reverse laser-engraved Plexiglas control panels, super-cool silver Tolex, and braided PAF-style pickup wire cabinet piping.
Powering a 3 Monkeys cabinet loaded with a pair of 12-inch WGS speakers, the Virgil imparted a presence, girth, and wallop to single notes, and brought smiles to our faces. Response was lightning fast, with a spongy decay, adding confident swagger and depth to even the most timid licks. Chords were full, rich, and creamy throughout the overdrive spectrum, and low-end response was both abundant and tight. For classic rockers of any age, this is a serious must-try rig.
Head, $2,699; 2x12 cabinet, $1,099; 3monkeysamps.com