By Chris Gill
I own over 50 amps, but if I was forced to choose just one desert island amp, I’d be torn between my tweed 1957 Fender Deluxe 5E3 and my brown 1962 Fender Deluxe 6G3. Ideally, I’d want an amp with the wide dynamic range and harmonically complex distortion of the ’57, but without the sag and the Plexi-like roar and tight definition of the ’62. Perhaps the clean tone could be a little more sparkling and pristine, too.
That’s pretty much the definition of ToneVille’s top-of-the-line Beale St. model, which offers a few added goodies like bass, middle, and treble EQ controls (instead of the single tone knob on the Deluxe), a master volume with a push/pull switch for removing it from the circuit, and ToneVille’s proprietary negative feedback control. ToneVille says that the Beale St. is “based on a Sixties American circuit,” but with its 15-watt output, pair of 6V6 power tubes, GZ34 (5AR4) rectifier, and ceramic 12-inch speaker, I have more than a sneaking suspicion that the 6G3 was its inspirational platform.
The Beale St. is a first-class product through and through, from its handwound transformers to its finely crafted, finger-jointed hardwood enclosure and Space Race–era aesthetics, including a backlit logo plate. NOS RCA and Mullard tubes, which would cost $450 to $500 on their own, come stock with each amp, and the speaker is a custom-voiced Celestion G12H 30-watt 70th Anniversary with enhanced low-end response. Other features include an external speaker jack, four-/eight-/16-ohm impedance switch, a pair of 1/4-inch input jacks, and a standby switch.
Like a Fender Deluxe, the Beale St. sounds great no matter where you set the controls (and it has a lot more controls to play with). The ToneVille knob lets you fade from feedback to negative feedback operation, and with the knob dialed in to negative feedback and the midrange control turned past 12 o’clock, the tone stack is removed from the circuit to provide pure, unadulterated tone like the biggest, loudest, and gnarliest tweed Champ you’ve ever heard. The amp’s touch-responsive dynamics are phenomenal, allowing players to go from pristine clean to raunchy grind just by adjusting the force of their attack.
If you love raw tweed distortion, it can be dialed in, but unlike a tweed amp the Beale St. produces brilliant, tight clean tones with ample headroom. Like the brown Deluxe, this is a loud amp with output ideal for most gigs, but thanks to the master volume, you can tame its output for recording or playing at home.
LIST PRICE $2,495
ToneVille Amplifiers, tonevilleamps.com