Sin City Presents Magazine May 2016 Volume 3 Issue 5 - Page 15

The lead channel is fun and snarly and kind of weird. There’s a control called Mid Bite, and if it’s all the way down, the amp sounds very tweed. Loose and bluesy. It’s really nice…and it’s a tone I don’t use all that much. But on this amp, when you wind up the Mid Bite, it turns into a JTM45. It’s the weirdest thing. All the squish goes away and it’s super tight. And rather nasal-honky. It’s missing the sizzle that you would get from more preamp gain, and it gets very creamy in the power section, with loads of sag.

K: It’s not Metal enough to use in the Travis Shredd band?

TS: The Imperial is not in any way a metal amp. For starters, you would need more preamp tubes. No, this is a hand-wired debutante, ready for the spring cotillion, and will not be behaving in a metal fashion. I’ve used a modified Marshall Plexi, JCM2000, JVM 210, Peavey 5150, Carvin X100B. I’ve never used overdrive pedals, unless you count the Electro Harmonix Muff Fuzz I owned when I was 15. I want the amp tone, not distortion from a pedal.

K: So, no pedals, then?

TS: No, but the amp has reverb and tremolo. I don’t use the reverb, but the trem sounds so fantastic, I’m actually writing some songs to feature it. I mean, I can’t live without it now, and I didn’t use trem that much before I got this amp. The Imperial has cathode-biased tremolo, which is very old timey. There’s a tube that modulates the bias going to the power tubes, and that’s where the tremolo comes from. And it does this thing where, if you hit your strings hard, particularly if you’ve got some gain going, the trem disappears. It fades back in, as the notes die away. There’s essentially a compressor effect that happens, where high signal level into the trem circuit is flattened out, and the effect can only resume when the signal becomes weak enough to allow the bias modulation to happen. Man, it’s so great. You never have your pick attack disappear. Your first note is always full and un-modulated.

K: Let us jabber about the Engl Raider 100.

TS: Yes. The Raider 100 is a 1-12, 100 watt combo amp that not enough people wanted, so Engl don’t make it anymore. Powered by four 6L6 tubes, so it exhibits a little bit of Mesa behavior. Four 12AX7 tubes in the pre. Celestion Vintage 30 speaker (Huh?). Remember – 100 watt amp. 60 watt speaker. It sounds great, but you can absolutely eat the speaker alive if you crank up.

It has two channels that behave a little bit like four, because you’ve got a foot-switchable high gain mode for each channel. So you’ve instantly got your super Fender-y clean, your tweedy slightly crunchy, your JCM 800 crunchy, and your hella-crunchy. You also get a foot-switchable mid-boost, which is useful for solos, and an FX loop.

The loop is important to me. I do like a compressor in front of the amp for clean tones, but I can do a little trick with it if it’s in the loop instead. Remember that tremolo thing that the Tone King does? If you put the comp and the trem in the Engl’s loop, with the trem in front of the comp, the signal from the trem will overwhelm the comp a little bit and give you that “trem gets out of your way” thing. Not as much as a proper cathode-biased tremolo, but a little bit.

K: I see you have the Engl Z9 footswitch, which is one of their larger, more elaborate units.