#1
Hi.

So this weekend i ordered an early '70s HH IC100 head on ebay that was going pretty cheap. it's a solid state amp that time forgot that i'd class as "retro" rather than "vintage". In spite of it's obscurity nowadays, the IC100 was famously used by Marc Bolan for a lot of his career, which leads to some people completely worshipping the hell out of these amps for no good reason. they have also been used by people like dave gilmour, wilko johnson, that guy from genesis whose name i always forget, etc.

Right, enough crap - i have no access to a camera right now and ebay won't let me copy the photos from the ebay listing so random pics pulled off google are all i've got for now:



It looks like that. pretty boring, huh?

then you switch it on



and that happens.

Right - onto the review:

The amp has 2 channels. each with a "normal" and a "bright" input. that's how they labelled it but it seems to me like "bright" is actually more like the "lo" input on some modern amps, because it seems to reduce the input gain more than anything else...

the first channel i'll talk about is the boring one, labelled "2". it has 4 controls - "brilliance" (like presence, only... exactly the same!), treble, bass, and volume. It also has a little rocker switch for the reverb - a nice touch. i think this switch has been replaced on mine, because it's a different shape to the others

now the more interesting channel - basically the same controls as channel "2", with a few extra things going on - in addition to the "reverb" button there's a "sustain" button - i'll get to that later. it also has speed and depth controls for an additional vibrato effect. "brilliance" on this channel is also labelled "presence" and does exactly the same thing, so i have no idea why they labelled them differently

there's also a master reverb control and a "studio/stage" switch, that lets you switch the wattage between 100 watts and 75 watts - or so they say - but it's a really drastic difference in volume... i think it's more like 100 watts and 10 watts!

given the age of the amp some minor flaws are to be expected - the amp is quite sensitive to hi-output pickups, which can clip the input stage if you're not careful. for some reason the treble knob on channel 1 has the marker offset by one notch so it points to the notch above where you've actually got it set to. at lower volumes you can hear a little bit of a fuzzy sound underneath the cleans, but with a bit of volume that's gone - finally, the pots that control the vibrato settings, and the bass EQ on the 2nd channel, are a little bit worn out.

Now - sound.

The cleans are the best thing about this amp! both channels are pretty much the same - this incredibly sweet, very very clean tone that sounds like a cross between a silverface fender and a roland jazz chorus is absolutely beautiful. You can get a huge amount of volume without any clipping, too. this is, without a doubt, the best clean amp i've owned, in fact one of the best i've played. I could've done a lot worse for a lot more money, cleans-wise (*cough*6505*cough*)

The reverb is a typical spring reverb sound - nothing special but it's a nice little touch. when combined with the vibrato, you can get a perfect surf tone. both the reverb and vibrato can go from subtle to stupid very easily. The vibrato adds a huge amount of dimension to the sound.

Now for the overdrive - the overdrive sounds pretty good for a solid state - it's interesting to describe really - it's got this raw, aggressive crunchy sound that's very tight and also quite thick, it's also got a lot of clarity - it's like a very good overdrive pedal, really. my only gripe is that it seems like a bit of an afterthought.. it's activated by the "sustain" switch and that's the only control you've got for it. no gain control at all. of course you can shape it with the EQ, but that doesn't really alter the gain - it's stuck at a level that's very appropriate for '70s rock tones, but there's no way to change it - well, you can roll back the volume control on the guitar, which works fairly well although not brilliantly, but it'd be better if there was some kind of control for the gain from the amp so i could reduce it for rhythm tones, and boost it with a compressor for solos.

In all, i'm happy with the sound of the amp, and i think i got more than my money's worth considering how cheaply i got it, but i think there are a few things they overlooked in the design process due to inexperience - this was the first guitar amp HH attempted to make and they were constantly learning and adapting features of the IC100 throughout it's entire production life between 1971 and 1976.

a final note - the build quality is exceptionally good!
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#3
Now you know why every time Bolan touched a guitar it sounded the same. No matter what he was playing or how hard he played it.

HNAD.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#4
@WtrPlyr: it also says "professional power amplifier" on the front, which would suggest that it is a hi-fi power amp.. and i don't think it's tube... however, for a power amp, it is very good it'd definitely meant to be a guitar amp, though.

@Cathbard: yep, the overdrive sounds exactly the same all the time, no matter what you play, how you play it, what guitar you use etc... the only difference is that brighter guitars have more treble, higher output pickups give more gain, etc. but while it's not in the slightest bit responsive to anything at all, it is a pretty good tone - well, that's my opinion anyway and i'm sure you'll beg to differ

i do love the cleans a lot more than the overdrive - but that seems like a perfectly normal thing for old solid state amps.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#5
it's stereo amp, and I don't think it's tube. However, for a stereo amp, it is very good. Don't plug guitar into it; just use it as hi-fi if it works
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#6
Quote by Brendan.Clace
it's stereo amp, and I don't think it's tube. However, for a stereo amp, it is very good. Don't plug guitar into it; just use it as hi-fi if it works

This is never going to die.
#7
Quote by Brendan.Clace
it's stereo amp, and I don't think it's tube. However, for a stereo amp, it is very good. Don't plug guitar into it; just use it as hi-fi if it works


Goddamn I have been lurking here for a freaking long time and I never fail to see this obscure meme

HNAD
#8


hell ya. looks sweet man. very cool piece.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#9
Quote by TheAbsentOne
This is never going to die.

i'd better not post any pictures of both my HH guitar amps together as if i'm running them in stereo... i'm actually using the 2x12 cabinet from my VS-musician combo (the IC100 was the predecessor, but in no way inferior) for the IC100 at the moment because it's the only cabinet i've got that will handle 100 watts. but it's a fantastic set of speakers. I wonder what they sound like being driven by a tube amp? shame i don't know what the impedance of the speakers is.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#10
I've been a fan of T-Rex since I was a kid and Bolan was still alive but his tone is just dreadful. It's a shame because his playing could use all the help it could get.
Stlll if you are having fun with it, more power to you. A VS cabinet isn't going to be doing you any favours though. Try it through a real unit like a 1960, 1960V, Mesa Recto or Orange cab - anything running something better that seventy 80's.

'Twer it mine I'd use the clean channel exclusively and rely on your pedal board. Sounds like that's what you are doing and imo is the only way to run them because, yes, the cleans are acceptable.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
Last edited by Cathbard at Jun 23, 2011,
#11
I nearly bought one of these from what appeared to be an innoccuous TV repair shop in Cheltenham around 12 years ago. I recall it being 1999 as I'd quit a job a little before.
It was on the lower High Street and had a small SS combo in the window so a friend and I went in and the place had a bunch of old Fender, Marshall and an old Hiwatt. Unfortunately none were for sale - but there was a HH IC series in there for sale.

He carried out repairs for local and pro musicians since there was sod all to be made out of fixing up TVs.

HNAD!
It's an opinion. It's subjective. And I'm right, anyway.
#12
congrats blomp. never played one, but glad you like it.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#13
Quote by Cathbard
I've been a fan of T-Rex since I was a kid and Bolan was still alive but his tone is just dreadful. It's a shame because his playing could use all the help it could get.
Stlll if you are having fun with it, more power to you. A VS cabinet isn't going to be doing you any favours though. Try it through a real unit like a 1960, 1960V, Mesa Recto or Orange cab - anything running something better that seventy 80's.

'Twer it mine I'd use the clean channel exclusively and rely on your pedal board. Sounds like that's what you are doing and imo is the only way to run them because, yes, the cleans are acceptable.

I think the overdrive is usable, but that's just a difference of opinion/taste/standards

The VS cabinet seems fine to me although i know a "real" cab would improve the tone. i don't think it's got seventy 80s in it though. some sources say it has re-branded celestions that i think would pre-date the 70/80, others say it's original HH speakers. i presume they are the original speakers but i have no idea how to get the back off the cab to see what they are...
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.