“Yeah, right dude.” Click.
But then the phone rang again. “Hey, it’s really Dime, and I want to try a Krank.”
When the Krank folks realized it truly was the Pantera and Damageplan guitarist, they fired one of their Revolution amps his way post haste. Darrell was on the hunt for a tube amp that could deliver the severe solid-state tones he was famous for, and when he heard the Revolution, he couldn’t believe his ears. Figuring it might be a fluke, he called back and dared them to build another one that sounded just as good. The second Krank convinced him the company was capable of creating his ultimate amp.
“Darrell was a ‘gainiac,’ so in Dime’s own words, our chief engineer Tony dow ‘hot rodded the hot-rod’ to get what Dime wanted,” explains Krank’s head of artist relations and domestic sales Chris Catero about how the Revolution started its evolution into the Krankenstein.
Modifications included more distortion, a spunkier Kleen channel, and the addition of a Main Master control linked directly to the power section. Unfortunately, Dime didn’t live to experience his signature head onstage, having only played the prototypes for final approval at the Krank shop in Tempe, Arizona. He was playing through a Revolution when he was gunned down onstage in December 2004. The original Krankenstein was released posthumously at the 2005 winter NAMM show, less than two months after his death. Dime’s image and autograph appear on all Krankenstein heads and cabinets.
Now, Krank has upgraded both of its flagship amps with the release of the Revolution+ and Krankenstein+. The Plus model heads have a few significant changes from their predecessors: upgraded transformers, 20 extra watts of power, four 6550s in the power section (rather than the 5881s of the previous models), and a Boost button on the Kleen channel of the Revolution+.
“Upgrading the transformers allowed us to experiment with different tubes,” explains Catero. “At the end of the day, we went with 6550s because they had all the stuff that was there before, only more.”
I took a Revolution+ half-stack and a Krankenstein+ half-stack to a jam with Bryan Kehoe (M.I.R.V., Jerry Cantrell, Kehoe Nation), where we put them through their paces using a Fender Strat Plus (loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB Jr. humbucker in the bridge and two gold Lace Sensor single-coils) and a Schecter C-1 Hellraiser (bearing a pair of active EMG humbuckers). In an unintended test of the durability of these U.S.-made amps, we managed to knock both heads off the cabs as we wheeled them out the door, but the amps still worked fine. Road tough? You better believe it.
KRANKENSTEIN+ Warning: This is not an amp for the faint of heart. The Dime channel on this head has so much gain it’s almost laughable. It also delivers one of the edgiest sounds I’ve ever heard from any guitar amp. In fact, you could probably open a tin can with the Dime channel’s serrated distortion. But the Krankenstein+ also delivers mighty thud and chunk—even at lower volume levels. That’s a pretty remarkable frequency spectrum, and it will drive everything from old-school hard rock to detuned death metal—depending, of course, on how you tweak the tone controls.
Playing the Clean channel at anything less than full out produces a tone so clear and immaculate that it almost sounds like a direct signal. If you want some vibe in your sheen, this channel might not serve up your favorite clean sounds. However, given that the Krankenstein+’s main objective is unleashing scathing metal tones, the pristine Clean channel shouldn’t be an issue for Dimebag disciples who will likely park themselves on the Dime channel.
REVOLUTION+ The Revolution+ manual suggests settings for everything from country to jazz—which is a bit of a stretch—but the Rev’s Kleen channel is considerably warmer than the Krankenstein’s, while still remaining crisp, articulate, and open sounding. The Krank channel delivers a sound reminiscent of a Marshall JCM 800, but edgier. This channel has its own mojo, however, and, when playing around with the Strat (with its middle pickup selected), we set the amp to the recommended funk/blues setting, and discovered a killer modern-funk tone that was super snappy and tight, but with just the right bit of grit. The Krank channel also delivers great AC/DC and Van-Halen-during-the-Peavey- 5150-era tones. (It nailed the sound of the harmonics Van Halen gets in the big finish of “Somebody Get Me a Doctor.”) The Revolution+ is versatile for sure, but it’s at its best when belting out heavy, modern sonic artillery with the Gain cranked, the Midrange partially scooped, and the Bass and Treble bumped. The Rev+ truly excels when it’s flexing its muscles.
The Krankenstein+ chassis reveals mostly board-mounted components, including the sockets for the preamp and power tubes. The circuitry is rugged, however, and both heads survived a hard fall with no problems.
At the heart of Krank’s new fire-breathing Plus models are four Sovtek 6550 power tubes.