Guitarists can be fiercely reactionary where their amplifiers are concerned. To their brains, buzzwords like innovative and groundbreaking, when used to describe an amp, suggest misguided attempts to embrace technologies and designs developed after 1972.
Jamie Scott of Nashville’s 3rd Power Amplification is all too aware of this psychographic quirk. That’s why he named the British Dream’s two channels ’59 AC and ’68 Plexi, in honor of the revered Vox and Marshall models. But under this classic cover, Scott has also incorporated unique features, like a proprietary Hybrid Master volume-management control that simultaneously controls AC signal levels, voltages, and current limiting. Think of it as a holistic Variac that you use to work the amp’s power stage into overdrive and then transparently attenuate the output.
The inside of the Dream’s speaker enclosure is designed with no parallel surfaces and with judiciously placed absorption. The rear of the enclosure also features 3rd Power’s very nifty Switchback, a removable triangular port cover that lets players change between an open- or closed-back cabinet feel and sound.
We tested the British Dream with a 1962 Jazzmaster equipped with Lollar P-90 pickups, a Fender Custom Shop Telecaster and a 1964 Gibson ES-335. The amp flattered each guitar and never sounded shrill or tubby. And while the British Dream conjures chimey compressed Vox-like tones and Plexi-flavored crunch that begs for gnarly power chords, in many ways it outperforms those classic amps. This is what you actually want a vintage amp to sound and act like — and at manageable soundman- and neighbor-friendly volumes, to boot.
The focused musicality, euphonious overdrive, and touch-responsive snap are all there, but in a practical package that makes buzzes, rattles and blubbery low end a thing of the past.
List Price: $3,099
3rd Power, 3rdpower.com
Photo: Massimo Gammacurta