Clean Machine 150
“Accent” control acts as a global presence
setting. The effects loop itself can be run
in either series or in parallel, depending on
what effects are being used and how much
wet/dry signal blending is desired.
For its inaugural run, I plugged the Clean
Machine into a Tone Tubby 1x12″ wide-body
cab with a single 40-Watt, 8-ohm Alnico
speaker. Next, I set the all of the EQ knobs at
noon and left both the “bright” and “deep”
switches off, and let it rip. The first man up
was the Bastardcaster: a one-piece swamp-ash-bodied Tele variation outfitted with
two of Dave Stephens’ X Set P- 90 Zephyr
pickups and a Bigsby. Instantly I was hit by
a fat, classic, American-voiced clean tone.
Andy Fuchs is a self-described reverb junkie,
and his efforts shone through. Unlike some
company’s reverb setups that seem like a last
minute addition, the Accutronics 6 felt like
part of a unified whole.
Like a lot of guitars that have non-potted
P-90s, the Bastardcaster has a fair amount of
inherent hum. For a 150-Watt amp, the Clean
Machine was remarkably quiet. When brought
up to a good playing level, the Clean Machine
150 helped pull out some nice woody tones
from the Bastardcaster that were absent when
I plugged it into other amps.
Playing with the EQ’s push/pull tone pots
opened up surprising aspects of the Clean
Machine. Pulling out the Treble knob
added a subtle but noticeable amount of
dirt into the signal. Granted, it was just a
touch of hair, but it gave things a nice sort
of hard, twangy bite. Country players will
love this feature.
The “Deep” feature became particularly helpful when I moved the amp from a room that
had a concrete floor to one with a wooden
floor. With the deep feature activated on
the concrete floor, it added some nice low-end resonance. With the same settings on
a wooden floor, the bass frequencies practically shook the room apart. I then popped
the deep switch off, and the earthquake
rattling came to a halt. When I wanted just
a tad more bass, I just pulled out the Bass
knob, and the Clean Machine 150 produced
a focused, articulate bass without needing to
seismically retrofit my house.
The Flogging Will Continue
Until Morale Improves
It seems almost a shame to flog the Clean
Machine with a box, but it is in the job
description. First up was a Mesa Boogie
V-Twin through the Clean Machine’s effects
loop with a dual set of George L’s vintage
cables. I’ve had success mating the V-Twin
to a variety of Fenders throughout the years,
so I was excited to hear the results of this
As I had hoped, the Clean Machine 150
still maintained its tight, focused, warm,
American voicing while blending nicely
with an aggressive snarl from the V-Twin’s
hyper-saturated red channel. The V-Twin
didn’t override the fundamental voicing of
the Clean Machine; it just melded the two
differing approaches to American-voiced
amps into a coherent whole. Clean, punchy
and tight on one hand, crunchy and saturated on the other.
Next up to bat, a Tele Thinline with a Duncan
SH1-59 in the neck and a stock Tele pickup
in the bridge. This time, however, a Voodoo
Lab Sparkle Drive was drafted into service.
Although the Sparkle Drive shares a lot of the
positive aspects that have been so desired
in TS9 and 808-inspired pedals, it also shares
some if their deficits too, namely an adenoidal midrange honk. Running the Sparkle
Drive through the effects loop tempered a
lot of the pedal’s mealy-mouthed articulation,
and produced a tone that would make Derek
Trucks rethink his current set up.
Last was a Russian-made Electro-Harmonix
Big Muff Pi, coupled with a late-nineties
Guild Bluesbird. Usually this is a messy,
noise-plagued pedal, but through the Clean
Machine 150 it produced a sound reminiscent
of Cream-era Clapton’s pairing of an ES-335
and a Marshall. Throughout the assault, individual notes could still easily be picked out
through the din of sonic mayhem, even while
running just the neck pickup! Amazing.
The Final Mojo
While I prefer a good two-channel amp for
both my clean and dirty, the Fuchs Clean
Machine 150 is far from being a one-trick
pony. Andy Fuchs has said he designed the
Clean Machine 150 with the pedal-user in
mind—as far as I’m concerned the sounds
from the Clean Machine are so focused, tight,
and well balanced, it’s almost a shame to run
any sort of pedal through it.
Country, blues, rock and surf or highlife
players will go nuts over this amp. It’s also
intriguing to think what will happen when this
amp falls into the hands of lap steel players.
If you love the sound of a really good combo
amp but need something that has a lot more
headroom, then the Fuchs Clean Machine
150 may just be what the doctor ordered.
Be warned: there may be a hidden cost to
an amp that has this degree of audiophile-level clarity—you may have to purchase new
cables, new effects, and possibly even a new
guitar to get the best out if this amp.
The Clean Machine is also available in a 75-Watt
version (2x6550), as well as a 100-Watt model
with four 6L6s—if you’d prefer less power or
6L6 voicing—and the 6550-equipped models
can accommodate EL34s with a rebias. The only
thing I can fault the Clean Machine 150 for is
that I would’ve liked more ability to adjust the
“Speed” and “Intensity” of the reverb unit. I
guess you can’t have everything; in this case
almost everything is more than enough.
You are looking for detailed
clean sounds, fat reverb tones,
or you run more stompboxes
than David Gilmour.
You demand the end-all/be-all amp
without the use of stompboxes.
Head online to share your
coments and ratings at
Fuchs Audio Technology