IF YOU ARE A FAN OF TUBE AMPLIFIERS, THE L.A. AMP Show that took place on the first weekend in October was definitely the place to be to check out the latest gear from dozens of companies. The sixth annual event, which was held at the Airtel Plaza hotel in Van Nuys, California (adjacent to the Van Nuys airport where a very famous scene in the 1942 movie Casablanca was filmed), included not only many of the top boutique amp outfits, but also some larger companies such as Egnater, Fender, Line 6, PRS, and Vox. There were also a number of manufacturers showing guitars, stompboxes, pickups, speakers, amp components, and accessories.
The Amp Show is a fantastic way to try out lots of different amps— many of which would be impossible to find in stores—but bring along some quality ear plugs because all the action (aside from the panel discussions) takes place in adjoining rooms on the lower floor, and the roar of amplifiers being played at high volume throughout the day is significant to say the least.
The L.A. Amp show does a great service for guitarists by providing a unique opportunity to see, hear, and play a huge variety of amplifiers and other gear, and talk directly to the people who make these things. Whether you spend the whole weekend here or just drop by for a few hours, you’ll come away from this event knowing much more about your amplification options, and that’s probably the best reason to put the L.A. Amp Show on your calendar for next year.
BC Audio showed the new Amplifier No. 8, which offers 25 watts of class A power, an octal tube preamp, and a unique Drive circuit that is designed to provide singing sustain and rich-sounding clean tones without switching channels. As BC founder Bruce Clement states, “A common problem with many high-gain amps is that they don’t have good clean and semi-dirty sounds. The Drive circuit of Amplifier No. 8 solves this problem in a simple and effective way.”
The ZenTone 7 from Backline Engineering is a 7-watt amp that can store all of its control settings in 64 user definable memory slots for instant access via its included footswitch or by MIDI. You can select between three different preamp gain structures
Featuring faster processing and more memory than the Fractal Audio Axe-FX Standard, the Axe-FX Ultra offers 70 different high-grade models of vintage and modern tube amps, 70 effects, and 39 cabinet simulations along with ten microphone models. An extensive array of other features and functions are packed into this compact unit.
This is the rear side of a very custom amp made by Mark Sampson, which features two completely separate amplifier sections, each of which is driving a pair of custom 12" speakers. There are some 25 tubes in this over-thetop combo, which also features a built-in tuner and the ability to tilt back on its wheels for increased sonic projection.
The Jet City 20 is designed by Mike Soldano, one of three partners in this new company. Powered by two EL84 output tubes, the model 20 is a single- channel mid-gain amp based on the Soldano Atomic 16. Jet City also showed the model 100 head, a two-channel design based on the Soldano SLO 100. Mike Soldano says that Jet City is planning to debut more models soon, including a 50-watt head and different combo options.
The Bludotone Hi-Plains Drifter offers 150 watts of pummeling power and features reverb with send and return level controls, 6-position Hi and Low filter controls, FET and Normal inputs, and a footswitchable preamp boost function. Prices start at $5,750.