Fender Bassman ’59 Reissue LTD Amp Review

59 bassman

There’s just something about those thick and bottom-end heavy tones that makes every guitar player satisfied. Whatever it is the genre that you’re into, every now and then, you really need to get some of that stuff going.

Sometimes even you might even feel like plugging into a bass guitar amp. Well, that’s nothing unusual since way back in the 1950s, that’s exactly what some of the 6-string players did in order to thicken their tone.

One of the most famous examples that we can remember now is the use of a Fender Bassman amp.

Initially intended as a bass guitar amp, it soon became more than just that. Guitarists, pedal steel guitarists, and even harmonica players began using it for their performances.

fender vintage reissue '59 bassman

But since this series of amps got the most attention from 6-string players, it began developing in that direction. One thing led to another, and it became known as one of the most popular and influential amps of all time.

Even to this day, you’ll find some models that replicate the old tones. And there have even been some solid-state Fender Bassmans over the years.

In this article, we will be focusing on the more modern version that we can find today, which is a recreation of the old 5F6-A model from 1959.

Introduced in 1990 and still produced to this day, you can find it labeled as Fender Bassman LTD or Vintage Reissue ’59 Bassman LTD.

So let’s dig into it and find out more about this great amp that’s a continuation of this legendary long-running and game-changing series.

Features

First off, it’s designed to be as true as possible to the original model from ’59. The first noticeable thing about it is that it’s a combo amp but with a configuration of four 10-inch speakers.

The speakers in question are Jensen P10R. The output power is at 45 watts, and the sound is shaped through three preamp tubes, the classic 12AX7 ones. As for the power amp section, we have the classic American configuration of two 6L6 tubes.

The whole thing is rounded up with one rectifier tube, the 5AR4 (interchangeable with the standard British GZ34).

The amp has two channels on it, “normal” and “bright.” It comes with the classic vintage configuration of four inputs, two for each channel. The No. 2 inputs are for higher gain instruments, or can just be useful if you prefer to have your own pedals instead of going directly into the amp.

Each channel has its own separate volume control. As for the other parameters, the 3-band EQ and the presence knob control both of the channels.

What’s kind of unusual, at least for today’s standards, is that the amp has the fuse compartment right on the front panel. While some might find it odd, it’s a really practical feature for changing the fuse when it goes out.

For those willing to experiment with different power amp tubes, Bassman LTD also has a special internal bias pot. But that’s mostly for advanced users.

Design

As for the design, we can see the classic “tweed” style finish on the Bassman LTD. Some would argue that it looks exactly the same as these original amps made back in the day. While there are some small differences, the similarities are pretty obvious and it’s a great tribute to the old original pieces.

What’s really unique about the amp’s front panel design is that all the labels of the control knobs go from 1 to 12 instead of the standard 1 to 10. We wonder what would Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel say about this.

Since this is an old blues rock (with just a dash of jazz) vintage-oriented amp, the looks definitely correlate to its tone and features.

Performance

Now we’ve come to the main part ñ how this amp actually sounds in action. Well, it’s a pretty convincing replica of the old models. However, it’s not the classic vintage-oriented amp with a very narrow use. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff that you can do with it.

Sure, it’s best known for its sparkling bright channel, producing those ear-piercing tones, especially if played through any standard Fender Telecaster with single-coil pickups. But tweaking the controls, you can achieve some smoother and even harder tones.

Pushing the volume over the limits delivers a great response from the preamp and power amp tubes. In fact, the amp can just scream when you need it to. In addition, the dynamic response when the tone breaks at higher volumes is just out of this world. All this while managing to keep heavy yet tight bottom ends in your tone.

Using it with your own pedals can be really interesting, although we would advise for you to go with an overdrive pedal and not a high gain scorching distortion. Softer clipping just goes better with this amp. However, you’re free to experiment and maybe you’ll be able to find distorted tones you need some other way.

Conclusion

As we said, this amp is a pretty convincing recreation of the old ’59 with just some minor differences, usually not noticeable by an average guitar player’s ear.

On the other hand, some more trained and experienced vintage lovers might point out some differences. However, this does not change the fact that it’s a great amp. It may be slightly different compared to the original, but it’s clearly a high-end professional guitar amp.

But with this being said, it for a specified target group only. Sure, it may be able to deliver some versatility, but Bassman’s true power lies in its classic blues-oriented tones.

The price in the area between $1,400 and $1,500 is most certainly justified, as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into. A great choice for all the vintage lovers who desire some versatility.


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Marshall JTM45 Review

JTM_45_MK_II_Reissue_1997

The guitar lovers usually go crazy for some of those good old vintage tube amps released way back in the 1960s, or even the 1950s.

Despite the technological advancements which gave birth to some really refined amps or even digital amp modellers, the fans of the vintage stuff still take the significant portion of the guitar-playing population.

But the one model we’re going to focus on here is really special. In fact, it takes us back all the way to the very beginning of one of the biggest companies of the guitar world.

In 1962, a guy named Jim Marshall started a small shop, not knowing that his name would be celebrated by all the coming generations of musicians.

The first product that came out of his shop was the almighty JTM45 amplifier that marked the beginning of the revolution in rock ‘n’ roll.

JTM_45

In this review, we will be explaining a thing or two about this legendary amp model and a few of its different variants that came out over the decades.

Features

First off, since it was originally made so long ago, the JTM45 has some pretty simple features. The total power of this amp head is 45 watts, although there are different versions with different wattage.

The newer model like the JTM45 2245, which was introduced in 1989 and is made to this day, features 30 watts.

Interestingly enough, the amp was made after legendary Fender’s Bassman. So the earliest versions of the Marshall JTM45 used 6L6 tubes in the power section or even the US 5881 tubes.

During the later years, these amps implemented KT66, KT88, and the classic EL34 after which Marshall amps are now known for.

The preamp section had the classic ECC83 valves, and some of them had the 12AX7 variants. The currently produced 2245 versions bear two 5881 tubes in the power section, three ECC83s in the preamp, and one GZ34 rectifier tube.

As far as the controls go, they have always been straightforward. And even the newer versions still have some of those intentionally vintage things to offer. The amp has two channels, each with high and low gain inputs.

Then we have the presence knob, as well as the 3-band EQ with bass, mid, and treble. Then we have two knobs labeled as “high treble” and “normal.” This “high treble” controls the first channel and the “normal” controls the second channel.

The controls and some of these basic features remained the same over the years with the releases of the new models.

On the back end, we can find the two standard 1/4-inch outputs for speaker cabinets. There is also a selectable load switch that allows you to choose between 16, 8, and 4 ohms.

Being vintage-oriented, even the present-day versions do not come with any kind of effects of effect loops.

Design

The initial versions of the Marshall JTM45 differed in design from the classic Marshalls we know of. They had the gold plexiglass front panels, with “Marshall” written in block letters.

marshall amp jtm45

It was only after 1965 that they introduced the Marshall logo as we know it today ñ the white plastic one in cursive.

But the overall looks changed as well and we got the well-known easily recognizable Marshall amp heads. The original ones had the so-called “offset” control panel, which was located in the bottom right corner.

The versions from 1965 and onwards had the classic golden plate located in the low middle part of the front face. It’s the same design we see on many other Marshall amp heads as well.

Performance

All that we can say – really vintage and really British. Even the newer versions manage to capture that classic old sound conceived back in the early 1960s.

However, if you do get your hands on one of those oldest models, like the aforementioned “offset” ones, you’ll be in for a treat. With volume control pushed over its limits, you can get some surprisingly great distorted tones with some fuzziness on top.

Of course, these amps came, and still come, without any reverbs or other effects on it. It’s the pure sweet organic distortion that comes out of it. Even the clean tones get some sparkle on it without “spilling” all over the place.

The bright “treble” channel does this perfectly. But if you’re playing the guitar with single-coils, you might want to get some of the high ends toned down a bit if you want to avoid those “icepick” ear-piercing tones.

It is probably easier to control with those vintage-styled lowe output humbuckers. This is probably why the Gibson Les Paul plus classic Marshall combo has worked so well over the years.

The moment you play the first notes through it and the moment you hear it’s tone, it becomes pretty apparent that the JTM45 and any of its versions are dedicated exclusively to vintage tone lovers.

Conclusion

While it is true that you’re allowed to experiment and do whatever you feel like doing in music, this amp is not exactly recommended if you want to play anything that’s modern.

It’s dirty, it’s fuzzy, it’s filthy, but all in a good way. As we said, it was designed to copy the legendary Fender Bassman amps, but it features a bit of a different twist.

Then we come to this amp’s price. The new models, which were introduced in 1989 as sort of a re-release of the original JTM45, can be around $2,500 or even more.

However, if you somehow have one of the old versions from the 1960s, then you’re in for a treat. The ones in good condition can reach staggering prices, even somewhere around $10,000 or more.

Well, this comes as no surprise as even Jimi Hendrix used these back in the 1960s. Now, we could argue whether these prices are overblown due to Marshall’s reputation, but one thing remains – their tone is still highly sought after by even the biggest professionals in the guitar world. So there must be something other than just simple hype.

 


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We Review the Best Amplifiers for Acoustic Guitar

best acoustic guitar amps

While playing electric guitar brings an abundance of possibilities with all the effects and the wide palette of sounds that you can make, there’s just something about acoustics that cannot be replaced. That true resonating tone coming directly from the instrument and not any outboard effect makes it so pure.

acoustic electric guitar

Of course, acoustic guitarists also want their tone to be amplified. Some might prefer to mic it up – a bit of a delicate process for an acoustic instrument but that brings great results.

Another way to amplify it is via piezo pickups, which is more practical but might not give as full of a tone as a miked up guitar.

NG-1-Kremona_b

Either way, whatever your preference might be, there are some great amps out there specialized for acoustic guitars.

In some way, they are like smaller PA systems designed specifically for acoustic guitars and occasional vocals.

Whether you’re a professional or an amateur player, here we will be taking a closer look into some of the best amplifiers for acoustic guitars that you might want to check out.


Marshall AS50D

marshall AS50D

We’ll start things off with AS50D by Marshall. This 50-watt amp has two 8-inch speakers and an additional tweeter for high-end tones.

There are two inputs on it, one of which is a standard 1/4-inch instrument jack, and the other one an XLR for microphones. What’s great here is that both of these channels have separate volume, bass, and treble controls.

The amp also features a solid chorus effect circuit integrated into it. You can apply this chorus either on one or both of the channels. As for other features, there’s anti-feedback control, reverb, and even an effects loop.

It’s a fairly simple amp with great tone and some useful features added to it. Most certainly worth the price.

Here’s a video demo of the Marshal AS50D Acoustic Guitar Amp by Wickham Road Music.


Yamaha THR5A

Yamaha THR5A

Okay, this is a bit of a smaller one, but we can’t help but mention Yamaha‘s THR5A on a list like this. Its 10 watts might not be much, but the amp can deliver enough power for practice sessions, street performances, and even some smaller gigs.

Just like on Yamaha’s small electric guitar amps from the same series, the tone goes through two 3-inch speakers, which impact the tone in their own way.

The strong point of THR5A comes with different onboard effects and digital microphone models. All this with the capability of powering it via eight AA batteries which give about six hours of playing time on average volume levels.

And not only can you add backing tracks via auxiliary input, but there’s also USB connectivity that turns this amp into a convenient little 2-channel audio interface for home recording. Pretty wild what this amp is capable of, despite having only 10 watts of power.

Here’s a demo of the Yamaha THR5A Acoustic Guitar Amp by Andertons Music Co.


Roland AC-60

Roland AC-60

Roland is a company well-known for their quality products. Their amps are famous for their clear tone that goes well with any kind of additional effects.

While we’re familiar with their Cube series for electrics, there are pieces like the AC-60, also known as the Acoustic Chorus amp. This one bears the power of 60 watts and two 6.5-inch speakers for stereo output.

There is also an onboard multi-effects processor with delay, chorus, and reverb, as well as the additional feedback control.

There are a few more useful features on it like stereo outputs, both for PA and for any recording device. In addition, there’s also a separate subwoofer output. The whole thing is rounded up with footswitch connectivity.

What’s more, the amp also has its own integrated tilt stand that offers some more acoustic positioning options. Overall, it’s a fairly versatile piece that gives some pretty solid and crystal clear tones.

Here’s a video demo of the Roland AC60 Acoustic Amp by Alvin Deleon.


Vox VX50AG

Vox VX50AG

While we mostly remember Vox for their electric guitar stuff, like the legendary AC15 and AC30 amps, they also have a solid acoustic amp like the VX50AG.

Although it’s a bit of a budget option, this thing can offer some serious tones for acoustic guitars. There are, of course, two inputs ñ classic 1/4-inch one for piezo and an XLR for microphones.

There’s also a phantom power feature in case you want to use a particular condenser mic.

Both of the channels have their own separate controls for volume, bass, mid, and treble, and the instrument input also has chorus and reverb effects.

It’s pretty easy to operate, it works well, it sounds great, and it’s fairly cheap. You can’t go wrong with the Vox VX50AG.

Here’s a video demo of the VOX VX50 AG by CKMusicOnline.


AER Compact 60/3

AER Compact 60:3

Now here’s a bit more serious amp for those who seek fully professional gear. Although expensive, the price here is definitely justified.

It’s designed to be a fairly simple piece that reproduces the natural tone of your guitar. However, this also means that you’ll need to have a quality high-end acoustic guitar in order to get the full potential out of it.

Although simple, you have some additional features, like the onboard effects, effects loop, and the tuner output.

Generally speaking, the pristine tone reproduction is this amp’s biggest strength. Whatever is the type of acoustic guitar that you have, it will reproduce its tone with all of its distinct features and nuances.

What’s more, the AER Compact 60/3 is pretty light to carry around, something that is pretty impressive for a 60-watt amp.

Here’s a video demo of the AER Compact 60/3 Acoustic Amp by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.


Boss Acoustic Singer Pro

Boss Acoustic Singer Pro

Another professional-grade acoustic guitar amp, Acoustic Singer Pro by Boss is a powerful little thing featuring 120 watts.

There are two standard channels, one with an instrument input and the other one with a combo line/XLR jack and phantom power. Both of the channels have completely separate controls.

But what’s really exciting is that the amp has looper feature for the instrument channel and the harmonizer effect for the mic input. This means that you can add vocal harmonies and do a few layers of guitar tracks on a loop.

To implement its full potential, there’s also USB connectivity that allows you to use it as an audio interface.

It’s an amp of great quality that’s really fun to use. Is there anything more that you need?

Here’s a video demo of the BOSS Acoustic Singer Pro Amplifier by gear4music.

Other Options…

Here are some additional options when it comes to gigging with an acoustic guitar, if you need it to be louder.

We spoke with Tom Anderson of Anderson Guitarworks, in Newbury Park, California, and his best bet isn’t even an amp!

Tom says, “I run from an LR Baggs Session DI into the house PA system.”  What kind of house PA, we asked.  “Whatever the venue has, most are pro installations with good wedges for monitoring.”

Here’s a look at the LR Baggs Session DI…

LR Baggs Session-DI Acoustic Preamp

According to LR Baggs’ website, “Inspired by the LR Baggs Handcrafted Video Sessions and our experience in some of Nashville’s great studios, the Session Acoustic DI brings our signature studio sound to your live rig. The Session DI enhances your acoustic pickup and imparts the rich sonic character that you’d expect from an experienced audio engineer using some of the world’s finest studio gear. We’ve captured this studio magic and put it into a compact, easy-to-use DI that will transform your live sound.”


Please let us know what you think of these amps, any experiences you’ve had with them, by leaving a comment below!

We Review the Loudest Guitar and Bass Amps

we review loudest guitar and bass amps

There’s probably not a better feeling in the world than cranking your amp way up high and playing a juicy riff with that perfect tone dialled in.

That’s basically been a dream for anyone who ever started playing electric guitar. Whatever your genre of preference might be, blasting your electric guitar as loud as you can (possibly even on a high gain setting), brings such a joy that barely anything in your life would be able to compete with.

guitar face

And isn’t that just the whole point of starting electric guitar – playing so loud that your neighbours end up calling the cops? But all the joking aside, in this brief rundown, we would like to take a closer look at some of the meanest and most powerful electric guitar amps.

In fact, some of these are so powerful that they can easily cause hearing loss, if you’re not careful.  You will probably want to put in some earplugs so you don’t develop tinnitus.

Whether it’s for guitar or a bass, neither of these amps we’ll mention will have power under 200 watts. Pretty scary when you think of it, right? So let’s get into it.

Note: In case you do get one of these, you’re playing at your own risk. We warned you.

Table of Contents:

Let’s get into it!


Orange Amplification Thunderverb 200

Orange Amplification Thunderverb 200

Orange have built their reputation over the years for making some of the heaviest-sounding guitar amps. Back in the band’s early days, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath rocked on one of their guitar amps, eventually paving the way for some other metal guitarists to get more into the brand.

Although not produced anymore, the company’s Thunderverb is a monster featuring 200 watts of output power. Sure, it can deliver solid cleans as well, but the skull-crushing distortion at the higher volumes setting is what makes it stand out. The fuzzy and slightly “grainy” tones typical of Orange amps get even more extreme at this power.

It has an abundance of controls, at least compared to some of the classic straightforward Orange amps. There are two channels with the clean one featuring a standard 3-band EQ and the distortion channel with the good old “Shape” control that became so popular among the Orange amp models over the years. However, despite all this, the biggest Thunderverb’s strength is its sheer power. (And the really cool name.)

It packs four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, one 12AT7 in the FX loop, one 12AT7 for the reverb effect, and four 6550 tubes in the power amp section.

Here’s a demo of the Thunderverb 50/200 by Orange Amplifiers.

Up next, the Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc…


Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc

Marshall EL34 100:100 Dual Monobloc

And there would be no way to avoid Marshall on the list of deafening guitar amps. However, this time we’ll include the EL34 which is a power amp featuring 200 watts. This means that you’ll need an additional preamp unit to properly play on it.

This rack-mounted piece is one of Marshall’s Dual MonoBloc products, which means that there are two channels that work separately. Each of the channels on the EL34 100/100 has a total power of 100 watts, summing up to the incredible 200 watts. Of course, both channels have their own gain and presence controls, allowing some tone-shaping within the power amp itself. However, a huge portion of your tone will still depend on what preamp you’re using. As for the EL34, it’s here mainly to provide guitar players with brutal power.

This rack-mounted power amp utilizes eight EL34 tubes, four for each of the channels. Just like its name would suggest.

Here’s a demo of the Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc by Jacksonke1t.

Up next, the Blackstar Series One 200…


Blackstar Series One 200

S1-200-large

Making some of the best and most powerful guitar amps out there, we should definitely mention at least one piece by Blackstar. For this purpose, we’re choosing the Series One 200, one very versatile and extremely strong tube amp.

Although mostly popular among metal players, there’s so much stuff that you can do with it. There are four channels on it, with a total of six modes. Whichever it is that you implement in your music – Clean, Crunch, OD1, or OD2 ñ they all can utilize the full 200 watts.

However, in case you want to get solid tones and use the full potential of its ECC83, ECC82, and KT88 tubes without blowing everyone’s heads off, there’s a separate control on the front panel which allows you to reduce the power gradually as low as 20 watts. So if you really happen to like its tone, you can also use it for smaller gigs as well.

Here’s a demo of the Blackstar Series One 200 by Premier Guitar.

Up next, the Hiwatt DR401…


Hiwatt DR401

Hiwatt DR401

Of course, there’s some love to give to bass players as well. Bass amps usually have a stronger output than guitar amps as the bass guitar’s tonal spectrum is not as ear-piercing.

However, having 400 watts of power even for a bass guitar is something to be afraid of. And that’s exactly the amount of power that Hiwatt’s DR401 is armed with, all backed with the warm and full tone of three ECC83, one ECC81, and eight KT88 valves.

Sure, it might be a bit expensive to maintain an amp with so many valves in it, but that’s definitely worth it if you want to have a great and powerful tone.

Here’s a demo of the Hiwatt DR401 by Aussie Floyd.

Up next, the Fender 400 PS…


Fender 400 PS

Fender 400 PS

But for the ultimate king of ridiculously powerful guitar amps, we’ll have to go back to the late 1960s.

As these were the times of innovation and strong competition within the guitar industry, Fender decided to go all-out and release their 400 PS. Impressively enough, this absolute beast had 435 watts of power and could be used for both guitars and basses.

But to fully exploit the power of this amp, one would need to connect it to no less than three cabinets. Of course, this ridiculous amount of power saw no significant commercial success and the guitar players were still focused more on some other of Fender’s products.

Either way, it’s pretty fun to see what some guitar lovers were ready to play on, and a 435-watt amp is definitely worthy of praise.

Here’s a video demo of the Fender 400 PS by Retro Sound Works.

Thanks for reading!  Leave a comment below…

We Review the Best Amplifiers for Heavy Metal

best amps for heavy metal

Back in the late 1960’s, rock music began going into many different directions. However, one of the new movements stood out and has, later on, evolved into a genre of its own.

Usually considered to be its inventors, Black Sabbath pioneered heavy metal along with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and a few other bands who rose to fame during the 1970s.

black sabbath 1969

The sinister-sounding guitar riffs and intricate lead sections were enhanced by a huge distorted guitar sound.

Although it was a bit difficult to achieve a great distorted tone back in the day, companies slowly began making great pedals and amplifiers that eventually became of great importance to the genre.

In case you’re trying to achieve some seriously sinister tones, here are some of the best amplifiers for heavy metal that you should check out.

Table of Contents:

Let’s get into it!


Diezel VH4

Diezel VH4

This particular amp became somewhat famous among metal tone lovers after Adam Jones of Tool began using it. Although he uses the “Blueface” version of the VH4, the ones you can buy today are pretty similar. Of course, these are all really expensive amps, but what you get is worth it.

Featuring a peculiar looking front panel, this is an amp with four channels with individual controls and includes four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section, as well as four JJ KT77 tubes in the power amp section.

Aside from a presence knob that can often be found on other amps, the VH4 also has a “Deep” feature that allows more shaping in the low-end spectrum.

Here’s a video demo of the Diezel VH4 100W 4-channel Tube Head by Sweetwater Sound.

Up next…the Randall Thrasher.


Randall Thrasher

randall thrasher

Randall is a company known for its high gain metal amps, and the Thrasher 120-watt head is most certainly one of their best products. With its two channels and different parameters, you have solid control over the high gain tones. The addition of the gain boost switch is also very welcome.

Overall, as its name suggests, the Thrasher is designed for the classic thrash metal tones and can achieve both mid-range-heavy and scooped tones. Although its drive works well, Thrasher’s clean channel has some great potential if you want to use specific distortion pedals.

Here’s a video demo of the Randall Thrasher by Joey Concepcion.

Up next…the Peavey 6505 Plus.


Peavey 6505 Plus

Peavey 6505 Plus

Of course, there’s no way to avoid Peavey on a list like this one. Within the huge arsenal they built over the years, we would like to single out 6505 Plus amp head with its 120 watts of power, “Rhythm” and “Lead” channels, and separate detailed controls for both of these.

What’s interesting here is that you have pre and post gain controls for specific tone shaping as well as presence and resonance knobs for each of the individual channels.

The “Rhythm” channel also features “Bright” and “Crunch” modes that allow some sparkling clean and specifically overdriven tones. With these, you can even do more than just metal, making it a bit of a diverse product.

Here’s a video demo of the Peavey 6505+ 112 Combo by Peavey themselves.

Up next…the Friedman Amplification BE-100.


Friedman Amplification BE-100

Friedman Amplification BE-100

Looking at this amp, it’s pretty clear that the model is inspired by some of those vintage British hard rock and metal amps from the 1970s and the 1980s. With the configuration of four 12AX7 and four EL34 tubes, you can expect some of the classic rock and classic metal tones and can even dive into some serious high gain territories.

While the amp is designed for some older metal, it can also satisfy some modern tone tastes. In addition to standard knobs, there are a few switches on it that can further help you define lead and clean tones. There are even different voicing options and the “bright” feature for those sparkling tones.

Here’s a video demo of the Friedman BE100 Tube Amp by Sweetwater Sound.

Up next…the Marshall JVM410H.


Marshall JVM410H

JVM410H-large

While we’re at it, Marshall deserves a mention on the list of the best amps for heavy metal. The company’s JVM410H is an interesting piece since it adds the functionality and tonal spectrum to the classic British vibe that these amps are known for.

All of the four channels ñ Clean, Crunch, OD1, and OD2 – have detailed controls for some serious tone shaping. Whatever is the guitar that you’re playing, you can get anything from sparkling cleans to crunchy bluesy tones, all the way to screaming metal leads.

However, despite its versatility, the JVM410H is specifically designed for some seriously heavy tones.

Here’s a video demo of the Marshall JVM 410H by Guitar Interactive.

Up next…the Orange Brent Hinds Terror.


Orange Brent Hinds Terror

BrentHTerror-large

Speaking about metal, there’s one pretty interesting piece done in cooperation between Orange Amplification and the modern guitar champion, Mastodon’s Brent Hinds. Nicknamed Terror, this 15-watt amp head certainly justifies its name.

However, Orange amps are usually designed for those with specific tastes as the high gain tones often get a bit fuzzy. Of course, this is in no way a bad thing, but it should be noted that they’re designated for those who like stoner metal or the early Sabbath vibes.

Aside from its simple layout, this little tube-driven monster has power attenuation. The full power of 15 watts will be enough for gigs and rehearsals, but 7-watt, 1-watt, and 0.5-watt options come in handy for practice sessions and home use.

Here’s a video demo of the Orange Brent Hinds Terror by Riffs, Beards & Gear.

Up next…the PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti.


PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti

MT15H-large

Aside from the signature guitars with the company, Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge has a signature Paul Reed Smith amp called MT 15. Featuring relatively lower power output, there’s an abundance of tones that you can get with the MT 15 and its clean and lead channels.

But what’s so great about this one is that it can deliver quality tones even in the highest gain settings. You won’t have any issues with those blurry or muddy tones and even some chords will manage to sound good played through the MT 15. Also, there’s a power soak option that delivers 7 watts.

Here’s a demo of the PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti Signature Amp from Anderton’s Music Co.

Up next…the MESA/Boogie Triple Rectifier.


MESA/Boogie Triple Rectifier

Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier

Many would argue that Mesa Boogie is the best amp brand for metal. While this is open for discussion, we’re most certainly aware of why this is the case. After all, Mesa Boogie made the famous Triple Rectifier, known for some of the most brutal tones of all time.

While there’s an abundance of things that you can do with its three channels and all the knobs and switches, it became famous for its use in heavy metal music. The 150 watts of sheer power will simply blow you away, no matter the specific tones you’re trying to dial in.

Here’s a video demo of the MESA/Boogie Rectifier by Ola Englund


Conclusion

Heavy metal is more than just a guitar tone – it’s a state of mind.  But if you happen to have both going for you, plus some lightning-fast fingers, you’ll be unstoppable.  Let us know if there’s some amps you know of that belong on this list that we missed, we always enjoy hearing from you!

Thanks for reading!

We Review the Best Amplifiers for Rock Music

rock face
 

Ever since its inception in the 1950’s and the 1960’s, rock music was first among all the other genres to push the boundaries and bring something new.

And it was up to the guitar players to do their best to shock the people by showing them what their instruments can do.

The constant struggle to achieve the heavy tone eventually led to the complete innovation within the genre, ultimately giving birth to heavy metal and all of its sub-genres.

sabbath1970

But the main thing always remains – if you want to play rock music, you need to know that the standards are high and that you have to have a good tone.

This means you need a solid guitar, solid pedals, and a solid amp. With all this in mind, we will be digging deep into the world of guitar gear and finding the best amps for rock music.

Table of Contents:

Let’s get into it!


Boss Katana 100

boss katana 100 watt guitar amplifier black

After all these years, tube amps are still generally regarded as the best amps for pretty much any genre. However, some prefer to use solid-state amps, not only because of their lower prices but also due to their distinct tones. And that’s especially the case with rock music.

Boss introduced the new series of products in 2016, solid-state amps called Katana. Among the few variations, all of which are great, Katana 100 stands out. This 100-watt amplifier can deliver some seriously tight tones with pretty surprising quality for a solid-state piece.

There are five different amp models on it, a 3-band EQ, additional effects, two channels, one 12-inch speaker, FX loop, and power attenuation for 50 watts and 0.5 watts. The inclusion of power attenuation is kind of unusual for a solid-state amp, but it certainly gives some versatile options here.

Here is a video demo of the Boss Katana 100 by Anderton’s Music Co.

Up next, the Peavy Bandit 112…


Peavey Bandit 112

Peavey Bandit 112 amp

Peavey Bandit amps are another cheaper alternative that still manages to deliver some solid tones. Although solid-state, the Bandit 112 implements the so-called TransTube technology that manages to imitate the tone quality and dynamic response of classic tube amps.

The overall output power is 80 watts and the amp features one 12-inch speaker. There are two channels – one clean and one lead – both of which work with two separate outputs ñ high gain and low gain. This way, you’re able to use the amp normally if your guitar has high output pickups.

The lead channel gets pretty interesting with different voicing options and separate controls for pre and post gain. Despite its relatively lower price, this amp works great for some solid rock tones.

Here’s a video demo of the Peavy Bandit 112 by Willy Booger.

Up next…the Orange Rocker 15 Terror.


Orange Rocker 15 Terror

Orange Rocker 15 Terror

If you’re looking to buy a tube amp, know that 15 watts can be more than enough if the amp is good. This is the case with Rocker 15 Terror by Orange.

The company has built its reputation over the years for building some of the best amps for rock and metal tones over the years. With Rocker 15 Terror amp head, we realize why there’s all the praise for Orange as it is a two-channel amp with a simple layout and loads of possibilities that can deliver some serious rock and metal tones.

It features three 12AX7 tubes and one 12AT7 tube in the preamp, while the power section holds two EL84s.

At full potential, you can feel its sheer power and that raw high gain that still manages not to sound too muddy even at higher settings. There’s also power attenuation for 7 watts, 1 watt, and even 0.5 watts for some late-night bedroom practice sessions.

It’s a straightforward rock tube amp and worth every penny.

Here’s a review of the Orange Rocker 15 Terror Amp by Guitar Interactive.

Up next, the Vox AC30C2…


Vox AC30C2

vox ac30c2

There’s barely any other amp model out there that as famous as the good old Vox AC30. First introduced way back in 1958, the model is still being made to this day, with the tone staying pretty much close to the original but delivering some new modern features.

This 30-watt amplifier has two channels, two Celestion G12M Greenback 12-inch speakers, and four different inputs ñ high and low gain both for normal and top boost modes. As for the tubes, there are three 12AX7s in the preamp and 4 EL84s in the power section, the standard configuration for British-style amps.

Overall, this amp delivers a lot of solid tones but is largely popular for classic rock and hard rock tones. It can get bright and a bit heavy on the high-end spectrum, but that’s something that a lot of guitar players are looking for. Also, it rocks that beautiful classic Vox design.

Here’s a demo of the Vox AC30 by Dave Devlin Music.

Up next, the Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200…


Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200

Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200

German-based amp manufacturers Hughes & Kettner are well-known for making solid amps and other products with some of the fullest, thickest, and most powerful tones. But just when we thought they can’t surprise us after great amp series like Switchblade or Tubemeister, we get the Black Spirit 200 amp head.

This extremely powerful 200-watt amp has four channels on it ñ clean, crunch, lead, and ultra ñ all of which can be tweaked in countless different ways to suit player’s needs.

Being a tube amp, it’s surprising to know that you can get those full tones even with the master volume even on the lower settings. Besides, there’s power attenuation for 20-watt and even 2-watt modes.

As if this wasn’t enough, it has an abundance of amp models and a DI output to go straight into the mix.

Here’s a demo of the Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 by Ola Englund.

Up next…the MESA/Boogie Mark V.


MESA/Boogie Mark V

Mesa Boogie Mark V

Mesa Boogie is pretty much a standard go-to brand for rock musicians. On their Mark V model, they further developed what they did on their old amps, like the legendary IIC+.

Bear in mind that it’s not cheap and that it’s designed for professionals. But the abundance of options and the mind-blowing tone is worth it.

Three channels with separate EQ’s and voicing controls, 90 watts with 10- and 45-watt options, and even an additional independent switchable 5-band graphic EQ to add more flavor for special lead or rhythm sections.

This amp is a pure beast and something that you should check out.

Here’s a demo of the Mesa Boogie Mark V by MESA/Boogie.

Up next…some experts give their take on the question at hand.


Guitar Shop Picks

We spoke to Jim Deitzel from Cottonwood Music Emporium in Costa Mesa, California, to see if he had any favourite amps for rock he wanted to recommend. 

Jim says: “The Divided by13 BTR23 is a great amp for rock. It sports KT88 which rock, has a push/pull volume for extra gain.  It works perfectly with pedals and just kills.”

Good one!


Conclusion

If you are a musician and your goal is to play rock music, these are each amplifiers that you should at least take into consideration, before deciding what amp you really want to go with. 

Amps like these may sound great out of the gate, but there’s always new tricks to learn.  Let us know what you consider to be the best amp for rock music in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Satellite Atom Guitar Amp Review

satellite-amps-atom-black-1-IzdkNlm

Picking out the best guitar amplifier for you is always an exciting yet really thorough process. After all, the amp is responsible for a huge portion of your overall tone properties.

Some are even not afraid of saying that it’s the most important factor in one’s tone, although this is a very specific discussion and deserves an article on its own.

Either way, what most people do agree upon is that the good old classic tube amps still deliver the best tones. Although with substantially bigger price tags on them, and requiring expensive maintenance, they’re still a more preferred option for all the guitar lovers.

Here, we will be exploring one relatively rare but pretty interesting vintage-style tube amp called Atom. Made by a company called Satellite, it is used by some professional guitar masters out there, including Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

satellite atom guitar amp

So let’s get into this review.


Features

Satellite is a smaller company, mostly focusing on guitar amps and cabinets, although they also have some guitars, effect units, and different accessories in their arsenal. Looking at all of their products, it’s pretty obvious that they keep to their very simple formula, usually inspired by vintage products.

The same thing can be said about their Atom amp. First off, it has the total power of 36 watts. There is, however, no power attenuator (or power soak) switch or a pot so you’re pretty much stuck with only the 36-watt option.

When it comes to the controls, the Atom is (like any other of Satellite’s products) pretty simple. There are only two control knobs, one for volume and one for tone.

As for the main switch, there’s only one that controls power on and off, with the third position serving as the standby option. As we already said ñ pretty simple, straight to the point, with volume and one tone knob.

This is obviously a one-channel amp so all the distortion happens when the volume is turned up high. There are two inputs though, one high impedance and one low impedance. This might get useful if you have a variety of guitars with different types of pickups.

As for the tubes, the preamp section is packed with two 12AX7s, the power section features four EL-84 valves, and there’s also one 5AR or GZ38 rectifier tube.

However, you can switch between the tube and solid-state rectifiers. Of course, there are other tubes that you can put instead of the assigned ones, which can result in a completely different tone.

There’s also an option to order four different types of cabinets with the amp head. You can get either a two or four-speaker cab with either 12-inch or 15-inch speakers in them. The 12-inch ones are Celestion Creambacks while the 15-inch speakers are Celestion Fullbacks.

On the backside of the amp head, you can switch from different impedance outputs ñ there are 4 ohm, 8 ohm, and 16 ohm options. This is pretty useful and gives a lot of variety if you want to combine them with other brands of cabs.


Design

As we mentioned, these are all made on order, like any other boutique amps. Aside from different features that you can choose from, there are a few design options that are available.

Of course, all of them have the same basic look, reminding us of some of those old amps, mostly old Marshalls. Looking at Atom, one might get easily tricked into thinking that this amp came out of a factory back in the 1970s.

And we don’t mean this in a negative way since the amp is very well-built, it’s just that the aesthetics remind us of the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

When it comes to different options, you can pick from a few different colors. Color options include black, dark blue, “racing green,” cream, and red. You can also order the “mystery” option where they pick the color themselves. But they accept no returns or refunds if you’re not satisfied, so this is a bit of a playful risky “wildcard” option here.

Overall, it’s a great looking amps targeted towards those vintage amp lovers.


Performance

Basically, the Satellite Atom sounds the way it looks. It’s a vintage-oriented boutique amp that will mostly get you those old British amp type of tones. Some may see the lack of power soak as a downside as you can use the amps full potential only at loud volumes. So Atom is not exactly a bedroom option.

The tone is comparable to the old Marshalls. It doesn’t bring an exact model to mind, but that overall British early heavy metal and hard rock vibe. A bit raw but can be controlled to an extent.

The fun comes with the different tube options. And the options here might get endless. Give the preamp ECC83 tubes and you’ll get a different twist to the overall tone.

You can put 6BW6 or 6V6 tubes as well instead of the EL34 ones. The solid state rectifier might be an interesting option as well, but you can always switch between that one and the tube.

There isn’t an FX loop option so you’d need to run all the pedals directly in front of it. This might get tricky if you’re using the amp’s natural overdrive, achieved by high volumes.


Conclusion

But the amp is designed for those vintage lovers. Some might not even use any pedals as the amp delivers some great options for bluesy hard rock tunes.

The new amp, however, costs somewhere between $2.3k and $2.9k. This might be weird for those who expect many features on an amp, seeing how the Atom has only a couple of knobs and not that many options with it.

You’ll need to bear in mind that this is designed for those with a very specific taste. The amp definitely sounds good, it works well, it has a great dynamic response.

But, if you’re looking for a more modern tone and variety of options, then you’d need to look somewhere else.


Featured Video Demo

65 Amps Empire Amplifier Review

65amps empire amp

When someone describes guitar tone as “beefy,” we all pretty much know what they’re talking about. That punchy yet bottom-end rich guitar sound that grabs everyone, even those who don’t play any instruments.

It’s a kind of tone you’d expect to hear in hard rock, blues-rock, or grunge songs, even in heavy metal. Sometimes it gets so “beefy” that you feel like you can literally bite it and taste it. One of the guitar players with this kind of tone that comes to mind is Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

Among the various amps and pedals that we can find in his rig, there’s one amp that’s worth mentioning – the Empire by a company called 65Amps (yeah, that’s written as one word).

65amps empire

Since this seemed like a pretty interesting piece of gear, we figured we can take a closer look at it and check out some of its features and its overall performance.


Background

First off, we’d like to give some background on the company, 65 Amps. They’re relatively young, formed back in 2002, and one of the co-founders is Peter Stroud, a guitarist known for his work with big names such as Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, and Don Henley. Their main focus is on hand-wired tube amps, although bass amps, cabinets, and some old school-type distortion pedals can be found in their arsenal.


Features

Back to the Empire amp, the main intention here was to have a relatively smaller boutique tube amp, but with a few intricate details. Although it has the power of 22 watts, it’s designed to replicate some classic Marshall tones, the ones that you can hear with the good old JCM800.

The most important thing here is that it has an all-tube circuit. The preamp section has five tubes in it, the standard 12AX7s. The power section has two 6V6 tubes, although the overall tone leans more in the direction of EL34s.

This was done intentionally with the idea to give those smaller American amps a vibe of those bigger British ones. In addition, it features three channels, giving some pretty versatile tone options.

The front panel has some interesting additions aside from the standard controls you’d find on most of the standard amps. First, there are bass, mid, treble, and presence knobs, individual volume knobs for each of the three channels, and the channel select switch.

Now, the fun begins with the so-called “Master Voltage” trademarked feature which allows you to use this amp’s full sonic potential at any volume.

So if you’re playing at bedroom-level volumes, you’ll still get to use the full potential of the all-tube circuit. Whether you’re recording, practicing, jamming or playing a gig, you’ll be able to adjust to the situation by implementing this control.

But that’s not all since there is also the so-called “Bump” switch which adds even more options, allowing you to change the tone without switching the channels. What it does is that it adds some gain and boosts the mids, ultimately giving you enough punch to cut through the mix.

The footswitch is included with the amp, but it features only two buttons.

On the back panel, we have a standard effects loop (send and return), one 8-ohm and 16-ohm toggle switch, the footswitch input, and two speaker outputs.


Design

The overall design clearly pays tribute to those old amps while still retaining some slick modern design features of the 21st century. If you do care about the aesthetic aspect, you won’t have any issues with this amp’s design.

The Empire is built using the Baltic birch and weighs about 30 pounds in total, which is not that much for an amp of its size. What’s more, it’s pretty durable so you don’t need to worry about taking it on the road.


Performance

Okay, now we go to the most important part of the review – the performance and tone. We can easily say that this amp comes in handy for a great variety of genres.

With three channels and the Bump switch, you’ll be having a world of possibilities at your disposal for your endless quest for tone shaping. Everything from smooth jazzy tones, over crunchy blues-rock, up to soaring heavy metal leads – this amp can handle it all.

Of course, it requires some tweaking to find the sweet spots on this amp, but it’s far from a difficult task to dial in a great tone with it.

The tone that comes close to the EL34 tubes (despite the amp having two 6V6s in the power section) is quite a surprise. It feels as if it kind of blends in the best of two worlds, although it’s pretty clear that the intention here was to have the old Marshall tone.

The Bump switch might probably be this amps most important feature (at least that’s the impression that we got). It just adds enough of gain and mid-range boosts to let you cut through the mix. At the same time, it manages not to push it too hard and make everyone’s ears bleed.

Whether you’re planning to play it in the studio or on on the stage, it’s an amp that will handle any situation well.


Conclusion

But, at the same time, you need to bear in mind that this is probably not the best option for beginners or intermediate guitar players. Well, unless you’re actually willing to pay the price for it, which can be up to $1,200, sometimes even more.

On the other hand, the Master Voltage feature is a life-saver as it allows you to keep the amp’s great tone and not get it all washed up when you turn the volume down to the bedroom level.

The design is also a nice touch, although we wouldn’t mind playing on it even if it was ugly. Overall, it’s probably one of the best boutique amps out there. Some might think that 22 watts are not enough, but it’s just about right for any regular gigging band.

 


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Video Review

Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ Amp Review

mesa-boogie-mark-iic-head-xl

Playing heavy music is not as easy as some people might think. In fact, heavy metal is such a broad term and there are countless guitar players and other musicians in the genre whose skills are not exactly easy to reach. But aside from learning theory and getting their technique tight, metal guitarists face another challenge – getting a good distorted tone.

Of course, another challenge here is to figure out the type of sound that you want and there are countless ways to achieve it. But whichever direction you decide to go down to, one rule always remains the same: if you want a really good professional-grade tone, you’ll need to invest a fair amount.

Although their amps might be a bit pricy, you just can’t go wrong with Mesa Boogie. Whether you’re into jazz or rock or pop, their products have always been a go-to for musicians of all the different genres.

This time, we’ve decided to analyze one of their legendary amps, the Mark IIC+ which became quite popular among metal guitarist.

Mark IIC+ tube head

John Petrucci of Dream Theater is one of its most famous users and his signature model JP-2C is based on this amp head after he was inspired by the tone he heard on Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”

Now, let’s get into it.


Features

The Mark IIC and the IIC+ were intended as the upgraded versions of the standard Mark IIA and Mark IIB amps. Of course, the IIA and IIB are both great amps, but they had issues with loud channel switching.

The idea with C and C+ versions was to get rid of this problem and add a few different features to it. Of course, there are even different subdivisions and versions of the IIC+ model but we’ll be talking about the standard average model. In addition, the model was also available as both a head and the combo version.

The amp has two channels and a fair amount of controls on the front panel. There are Volume 1, Treble, Bass, Middle (in that order), Master 1, Lead Drive, and Lead Master.

In addition, there’s a 5-band graphic EQ that can be turned on and off via a footswitch. On the backside, we can also find the presence and reverb knobs, as well as the send and return jacks of the FX loop.

There is also an additional switch on the front panel with “EQ AUTO” and “EQ OUT” labels. The EQ AUTO option means that your 5-band graphic EQ will automatically kick in when you switch to the lead channel. If it’s set on EQ OUT, the EQ is turned on only if you press its designated footswitch.

What also needs to be noted here is that there are some versions without the 5-band graphic EQ.

But as great as it was, there was one downgrade from the IIB version, as these amps used to have an option to use a volume pedal as an external gain control for the lead channel.

Although it seems practical to some extent, it probably wasn’t something that was popular among guitar players at the time, so the company got rid of the feature.

On the other hand, the IIC+ had some improvements on the FX loop. You can use the pedals with inputs designed for instruments without overloading them with the amp’s signal. This ensured a more stable and cleaner operation compared to the A and B versions.

As for the output power, there were a few variants available for both heads or combos. The 100-watt was pretty common, but all of the versions out there had the power soak which allowed players to switch it down to 15 watts.

Overall, the IIC+ model had an abundance of controls, giving guitar players so many different options to shape their tone.


Design

Just like with the features and controls, there are a few different variants out there design-wise. All of them feature a black panel, but they differed in the front grill design.

Of course, some version lacked the 5-band EQ and you could find the “Mesa” logo on its place with the “Boogie” down on the grill. Those with the EQ had just the standard “Mesa/Boogie” or the “Boogie” logo on the grill.

Although a really powerful amp, it’s not that bulky, especially the head variant. This made it pretty practical for taking out on the road.


Performance

To put it simply ñ it has a really tight. You know what guitars sounded like on Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”? Well, that’s Mark IIC+ you hear there. While it also had a lot to do with production, the amp itself is a basis for that tight sound.

The abundance of options allows you to create any kind of tones that you want, for various different styles. However, you’ll always be able to recognize the IIC+’s signature within them.

The inclusion of the 5-band EQ is more than welcome, especially if you’re a lead player who wants to highlight certain parts of the song and cut through the mix without pushing the volume too high.

At the end of the day, whatever you dial in on it, you’ll get a good tone.


Conclusion

Before we come to any conclusions, you need to bear in mind that this is a professional-grade guitar amp. The lead channel is what made it so popular and you’ll always have a horde of metal guitarists praising the Mark IIC+. However, you should not neglect its clean tones.

With all this said, it comes as no surprise to see that this is a pretty expensive product, with prices going well over $2,000 even to this day. In case you’re a beginner or an intermediate player with no current plans to go pro, you’ll need to think twice before investing this much in an amp.

Being this advanced and tight, it’s no wonder that a guitar master like Dream Theater’s John Petrucci fell in love with it years ago. Now, if you really want to go into the advanced stuff, you’ll need to check out the improved version of the IIC+ – the JP-2C, which is his signature model.


Video Review

Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Amp Review

The evolution of electric guitar came a long way. But what’s interesting with it is that you need more than just the instrument itself in order to sound good. There are countless different distortion and other effects pedals, different amplifiers, cabinets, and all sorts of gear that makes up for one’s tone.

Tube amps, in particular, have been praised for their “organic” and warm tone, as well as their dynamic response – something that even digital modelling amps and multi-effects units try to replicate today.

The development of transistors, and ultimately solid-state amps, made things a bit easier, although their tone has rarely been up there with the tube amps.

However, there is one solid-state guitar amp that is still being praised by guitar players of all different genres – Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus. We will now try and take a closer look at this amp and see what makes it so special.

Roland_JC120_amp_01


Before we start, there’s some info you need to know about this one.

The JC-120 is the first model of Roland’s Jazz Chorus series. It appeared on the market in 1975 and is still being made to this day. The “Chorus” in its name comes from the built-in chorus effect.

However, despite “Jazz” in its name, the amp became quite popular among metal guitarists, mostly due to its crystal clear tones. Beside them, guitarists of many different genres also implemented it in their music because of its power, tone quality, and the lower price of tube amps.


Features

The JC-120 is a fairly powerful amp, featuring 120 watts and two 12-inch speakers. Well, it’s actually 2×60 watts of power and its aforementioned chorus effect can work in stereo.

Anyhow, the amp has two channels with two separate inputs, low and high impedance, allowing you some additional tone-shaping depending where you plug into.

One channel is purely for clean tones with basic controls – volume, bass, mid, and trebles. The second channel has two additional features, distortion and reverb, which can be turned on via footswitches.

Each of the channels has a “bright” switch, adding just a bit more punch to the high-end and creating that crystal clear tone it is known for.

But its best known feature, as the amp’s name already suggests, is the chorus effect. Well, it’s actually chorus and vibrato and you can choose between the two. These effects are controlled with two knobs, one for speed and one for depth.

As already mentioned above, the amp has footswitch connectivity options. However, these don’t come with the amp but there are three input jacks for chorus/vibrato, distortion, and reverb selection.

Of course, the amp also has the FX loop, something that comes in handy for those who have a lot of pedals in their inventory.


Design

The first thing you can see is that it is a bit bulky. The weight is a bit over 60 pounds or around 28 kilograms.

While it’s not exactly eye candy, the amp’s simplistic and utilitarian design remained throughout the decades, making it pretty much perfect for this kind of a product.

At the end of the day, it was the tone that made this amp so great, with the design ultimately becoming loved, being a reminder of its great quality.

The controls for each channel are pretty clear and really easy to use. The grill in front of the speakers is decorated with Roland’s famous logo.

Overall, seeing it for the first time, you’ll have an impression that this is just an ordinary amp. Which is actually representing this amp’s biggest strength quite well – the highly sought after clean tones.


Performance

Which leads us to the overall performance of this amp. As mentioned, the Roland Jazz Chorus is praised for its clean tones. In fact, they’re as clean and simple as it gets. Plugging in your guitar with all the knobs set to 12 o’clock is enough to get a good tone.

However, you need to bear in mind that the JC-120 is, in fact, just a perfect vessel to present the true tone of your guitar.

In case you have a guitar that has great pickups and overall produces great tone, the Roland Jazz Chorus makes it shine by not adding anything to it. This is the reason why some jazz players who prefer those hollow-body guitars love it so much.

The distortion is probably not that often used on it and it’s not something that you’d expect to be used in, let’s say, a classic rock song. It serves more like a speck of additional dirt for blues or jazz guitarists. But the overall clean tone of the amp makes it a great basis for distortion and overdrive pedals.

The “bright” control comes in as a great feature as well, pronouncing the high ends in the best way possible.

But now we get to the amp’s chorus and reverb. Both of these effects are something made the JC-120 and all the other variants in the series so popular and famous.

The chorus here is a stereo effect, making a really spacious tone. It sounds like the chorus you’d hear in Police’s “Message in a Bottle.” It makes your guitar ring, no matter the type of pickups you have on it.

In addition, the reverb is something that’s been praised by the amp’s users over the years, additionally pronouncing the amp’s clean and bright tone.


Conclusion

One thing’s certain – you can’t go wrong with the Roland Jazz Chorus. Sure, it might be a bit more pricy compared to other solid-state amps, but this is most certainly justified.

However, in case you’re into heavier music, the high gain pedals are a must, but this amp’s clarity will give them enough space to let them shine in the best light.

This does mean that you need quality gear to go along with it, but this is the right way to get some of the best tones in the easiest way possible.

The fact that you also need three separate and additional footswitches for the distortion and effects is a bit of a letdown, though.

But we’re not sure if we should be critical of it at all, as this is a perfect amp for studio situations and clean tones for all the different genres.


Video Review

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