BOUTIQUE AMPLIFIER HEAVEN descended on Tennessee recently in the form of Creation Audio Labs’ second annual Nashville Amp Expo, which took place August 21st and 22nd at the Hyatt Place Hotel. More than 100 vendors showcased an estimated 300 handwired, tube-driven beauties ranging from the smallest 2-watt micro head to the staunchest 400-watt behemoths. Amps from the likes of Fuchs, Mesa/Boogie, Egnater, Reinhardt, Satellite, Ark, Metropoulos, Simple, and many more were available for gear-hungry attendees to test drive—and purchase! The amp-centric show also had its share of boutique effects pedal and guitar exhibitors, including Visual Sound, Mad Professor, Pigtronix, Modtone, Soloway Guitars, Redentore Guitars, and Peter Malinoskiart Guitars. The two-day event was highlighted by a series of informative seminars ranging from guitar recording to tube and speaker shootouts. The evening schedule was dominated by performances from local bands. Here’s a sampling of what the show had to offer. —Blake Wright
This prototype of Cornell Amplification’s Pedal Amp sports an EL84 power tube, two 9-volt outputs to power effects pedals, a 1/4" speaker out and a headphone jack. Controls include Gain, Bass, Treble, and Output. A second footswitch engages a boost.
Rockett Pedals showcased a prototype fuzz pedal tentatively called Stage 6, which features a six-position dial that notches up the tone from smooth overdrive to an insane wall of fuzz, a Boost switch, and a Tone switch that brightens the signal.
Visual Sound spotlighted its budget Garagetone pedal line, which includes the Axle Grease delay, Chopper tremolo, Chainsaw distortion, Drivetrain overdrive, and Oil Can phaser. The Drivetrain is based on the old Reverend Drivetrain II pedal, originally designed by Visual Sound’s Bob Weil.
Reason Amps’ 20-watt Grande employs two 6V6 power tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes, and it can be switched to run at half wattage. It also boasts a digital reverb, a series/parallel effects loop, and a global Master Volume control.
A prototype of the Nolatone Ampworks Black Tooth 50 head. The 50-watt amp features an overdrive channel with dual gain controls driving two differently voiced gain stages, and a clean channel with a Fat/Lean toggle switch.