Price paid: £ 550
Purchased from: Bron Y Aur Music
Features: My particular model of this amp was made in the late 1970's and is similar to a Fender Deluxe Reverb or similar amplifier. Having played a wide range of genres with this model, I would say it is versatile in what it can do. This amp, being designed by Fender himself has that classic clear Fender tone, which allows you to run a wide range of pedals, whilst still having a gorgeous tone in itself. This amp has two channels, a straight channel, and a reverb/tremolo channel. Due to the age of the amp channel switching is not a feature, however you can always use an A/B box or, just run it through the reverb channel like I do with the reverb and tremolo both being switchable.
The reverb and tremolo are both analogue effects and have a nice natural sound which seem to go with anything. One thing I would say is that the reverb is a bit weak on lower volumes. Moving onto power, this amp has PLENTY - 130 Watts, running at around 700 volts at the plate, unlike other amps, which typically run at 400 volts or less. This power is delivered from 4 EL34 tubes driven by a solid-state preamp. This may put some off, and even I was a sceptic at first, but the solid-state preamp is probably the raunchiest and creamy tone I have ever heard. This amp if I was to describe it a sentence would be - "A Fender twin's slutty sister". // 8
Sound: I have played this guitar with my Les Paul, an SG copy and a Stratocaster and it is fair to say that this amp sounds amazing with any of them. I have successfully played a wide range of music through this amp, it is just a matter of fiddling with the controls until you get what you want. Shimmering, cleaner than clean cleans can be achieved by simply setting the preamp to 1 or 2, and adjusting the master volume to taste. However setting the preamp to around 5, giving the mids a little boost and cranking the master you can get that sort of sinister, Stooges or Neil Young (think "Rockin' In The Free World"). The clean headroom on this thing is insane, on either 65 or 130w mode. I would say the on-board gain just exceeds a boosted crunch tone, maybe a bit more. For brutal chugging tones, I put a HT-Dist X in front of it from Blackstar, and boom, there's anything you could ever want in terms of metal tone. However, this amp is not really made for this yet takes it all in its stride, this is a REAL workhorse amp for a gigging musician. // 10
Reliability & Durability: This amp has survived since the 70's and was fairly worn when I bought it, although it came with a flight case included (sweet deal). MusicMan amps are famed for the almost overbuilt construction. To put it bluntly, this thing is a TANK. One thing that does worry me however is the fact that the tubes are running at around 700v, which means they probably won't last as long as I might hope when ran at full volume. I'd gig happily without a backup, especially as the amp was serviced before purchase. // 10
Overall Impression: I play quite a wide range and am shocked at how well this amp just takes everything in its stride. Especially considering its age, and what it was "meant" for. Not much is widely know about these amps, and they are a real find in my eyes (try looking on eBay for one!) Overall this amp has been fantastic and if it was lost or stolen I would be devastated because I honestly have never come across one before, and doubt I will soon, especially in the UK. Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Aerosmith have all used these amps, and to be honest I could see why! The natural tone of this amp is just fantastic. I was originally going to buy a JCM900, but then it was sold before I got to the store and this was there (talk about fate!). To be frank, I feel this amp needs no improvement, as it suits my needs perfectly without me even looking specifically for it. Sure its not ALL tube but this adds a certain "under-dog charm" that is reflected in the tone it makes. It is not quite a twin, but it sure is better! // 9