STEVE CARR’S REPUTATION FOR developing inspiringly original circuits is highlighted by the new Bloke, which is designed to deliver classic Brit-rock tones, but without following any existing blueprint. This Bloke generates a stout 48 watts from a pair of EL34s run at a relatively low 320-volt plate voltage. “The EL34s will last a very long time in this environment,” Carr relates, “and the lower voltage sound is very rich in midrange. Also, this allows folks to run 6V6s in the Bloke for 22 watts if they want.”
The Bloke is laid out inversely to most “channel-switching” amps, using a shared Drive knob for the preamp’s first gain stage, but with two independent and differently voiced Loudness controls with a shared three-knob, cathode-follower tone stack following it all. The configuration might seem odd on paper, but is quite intuitive in use. You can also flip the “clean” channel’s Hi/Low switch to achieve gain levels equivalent to the “lead” channel, but with a different sonic character
A roam around inside the Bloke reveals a complex, hand-wired circuit constructed across several tag strips and true point-to- point connections, with silicone sealant applied on wires and components to aid rigidity and quell vibration. The power supply includes heavy filtering from large Sprague electrolytic caps—one of several steps toward low-end solidity—while popular Mallory signal caps populate the preamp and output stages. For all this, the Bloke is housed in an open-backed cab that’s about the same size as a Deluxe Reverb, and doesn’t weigh much more. The dovetail-jointed solid-pine cab sports a nifty floating grille that fronts an Eminence-made Carr Elsinore speaker. The speaker outs and 3-way impedance switch are located on the underside of the chassis, which is also where you’ll find the effects loop jacks if the amp is equipped with that $400 option.
Tested with a variety of guitars, the Bloke issued a mighty roar for such a compact amp, and proved itself to be a fine alternative to a half-stack for anyone seeking overdrive tones that wave the banner of the Union Jack. With Drive from 2 o’clock to max, it’s really a medium-gain amp by today’s standards, with a distinctly vintage-sounding voice. But even so, the Bloke offers delectable and extremely willing harmonic feedback even at lower Loudness settings, and it sounds chewy, rich, and toothsome throughout its wide spectrum of lead tones. Clean sounds are great at lower volumes but veer toward crunch very quickly—a compromise of that shared Drive control—but as Carr confesses, this is far more of a lead amp, and personally, I love it this way. Tons of fun to play, with a midrange body and low-end girth that belies its size, this is one Bloke I’d be delighted to hang with!
PRICE $2,450 street; $2,850 with optional effects loop
CHANNELS 1 (with two footswitchable Loudness levels)
CONTROLS Drive, Hi/Low Loudness, Lead Loudness, Treble, Middle, Bass
POWER 48 watts with EL34s, 22 watts with 6V6s
TUBES Three 12AX7 and one 12AT7 preamp tubes, two EL34 output tubes
EXTRAS Dual speaker outs with 4/8/16Ω switch, optional effects loop. Footswitch included.
SPEAKERS One 12" Carr Elsinore, made by Eminence
WEIGHT 47 lbs
KUDOS Extremely well built, powerful, and dynamic. Two distinct and footswitchable flavors of fiery rock tone.
CONCERNS Limited clean tones.