Tone Report Weekly 203 - Page 13

As an electric guitar player of the rock ‘n’ roll persuasion, nothing serves to make one’s intentions clear like a 4x12 cabinet or two stacked up underneath a magnificent tube- powered head. Beyond the matter of tone and volume, a rig like this makes a very powerful statement from the stage before it’s even plugged in. It hearkens back to the golden age of classic rock, when Hendrix and Townshend were chasing each other in a high-watt arms race. It also instantly lets the audience members know what they’re in for, inspiring excitement and anticipation for what they are about to experience, and maybe even a little twinge of fear. If you’ve ever seen a band like Sleep live, or if you’ve caught a recent Dinosaur Jr. show featuring J. Mascis’s trio of full stacks, then you know exactly what I mean—the stacks mean business. Historically, and still in the modern day (at least in the dwindling number of locales where 100-watt- plus amplifiers are welcome), the big stack game has been dominated by pioneering British amp brands like Marshall, Orange, and Hiwatt. These names were there at the beginning, building towering custom cabinets and unprecedentedly powerful tube heads for bands like the Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience to blow minds and eardrums with. Thus it is these amps that come to mind when we think about the mighty rock rigs of yore, and it is these amps that tend to command the highest prices in the vintage tube head market. that really enjoys digging into the minutiae of the model history, circuitry, components and that sort of thing (which I am not), then there’s only so much amp lore one can digest. I just want to play the damn things, hear what they sound like, and feel their noise in person, but unfortunately old Plexis are pretty far out of the range of my meager budget. Over the years, though, I have discovered that there are a number of alternatives to the legendary British heads we all know and lust after, and that they are often just as toneful and much more affordable. Here are a few of my favorite overlooked vintage “tops” for old time rock tones. As much as I enjoy drooling over vintage Plexis and the like, the truth is that it can be a little tiresome sometimes. For one, it has been done to death at this point. Unless you’re the type “...THE STACKS MEAN BUSINESS.” ToneRepor t .com 1 3