Smells Like Tone To Me...
rolling along the
twists and turns
on the highway of
tone, the amplifier
is like the gasoline that fuels the
machine. It’s the
essential foundation of your personal tone. A great
bought back a handful over the years. But
I never really thought of their amps as a
higher gain alternative until I plugged in to
a Tone Master. Damn near angry, incredible brown-sound overdrive on channel B.
Loud and powerful with attitude galore from
that huge power transformer. I recall interviewing Richie Sambora when he recorded
Undiscovered Soul in 1997, and the way he
raved about the Tone Master. He used these
amps in the Bon Jovi era as well.
distinctive throaty midrange of the JCM800
make this amp a milestone on the road of
rock history. I used to add an original MXR
Micro Amp in line to put a bit more hair in an
already formidable gain circuit.
you play great. Considering all the tone-related
addictions we suffer, the relentless pursuit of
amp tone is one of the most obsessive.
This issue of PG celebrates one of the most
cherished, respected and desired amplifiers in amp history: the Marshall JTM45:
Jim Marshall’s first amplifier—the holy grail
of tone that started it all. The JTM45 is still
available in a reissue, which is a faithful reproduction right down to the GZ34 rectifier circuit found in the original. There is something
about the original that captures the attention
of so many talented boutique builders, who
have passionately pursued the vibe of the
JTM45. In that spirit, Steve Ouimette leads
us on a comprehensive tour of the legendary
JTM45 as this month’s cover feature.
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Here is another
design that was instrumental in the launch of
the new metal and alternative tones of the
mid-nineties. I am a proud owner of one of
the earlier models: two channels, with the
original armadillo chrome front. The Rectifier
is known for its incredibly heavy, thick,
overdriven channel, as well as its glassy and
shimmering clean channel. A Strat through
the clean channel of this amp is to die for.
You can almost get this too clean. Vintage-Modern switches on both channels add to
the tone palate, in effect, giving you four
channels of highly distinctive Mesa rectified
tone. This one is certainly responsible for
launching the modern day-rectified tone.
This feature inspired a trip through my own
tone memories, allowing me to recall a few of
my favorite vintage amps. I have an extreme
weakness when it comes to acquiring vintage
amps, but when it comes to vintage Marshalls,
I could definitely use some therapy. I’m a
British high-gain, brown-tone tweaker full tilt.
Somebody, please frickin’ help me.
These are just a few of my favorite vintage,
and soon to be vintage, amps. I could go
on all day, but I don’t have the bandwidth.
There are more worth mentioning, for
sure—Laney AOR 30, Matchless DC- 30,
Mesa SOB (Son of Boogie), Orange OR
50H, Roland Jazz Chorus, Fender Twin,
Carvin X- 100… well, you get the idea. This
could truly be a three part series.
Vox AC30 I have never owned an original,
but I have played and even recorded through
a few. This amp is hailed as one of the most
recorded amps in rock history, and with
good reason. Many tone addicts get sucked
into the AC30 vortex by the inspiration of
Queen’s Brian May. That tone is undeniably
one of the most unique and recognizable in
history. The reissued AC30 Custom Classics
sport a master volume that’s a welcome
upgrade to the originals.
Soldano SLO- 100 Mike Soldano is considered one of the pioneers of high gain. The
SLO (Super Lead Overdrive) 100 is a benchmark in the evolution of the high-gain amp.
The first time I played through one, I nearly
wet myself. That’s what the SLO is all about.
The Super Lead Overdrive 100 is still available and hasn’t changed in over 15 years.
Smooth, silky and gnarly overdrive is the lasting legacy of the SLO.
When it comes to amplifiers, I say crank
‘em up and piss off the neighbors. Dare
‘em to call the cops because, damn it, playing through a great amp will make you
strong like bull Smell that tone, melt the
frickin’ tubes. When the smoke alarm finally
goes off, and your kids ask, “Dad what’s
that smell?” look at them and say proudly,
“Smells like tone to me!”
Fender Tone Master These were introduced
in the early ‘90s as part of the new Fender
hand-wired custom shop amps. I was always
a fan of Fender amps, especially blackfaces,
and I have bought, sold, traded and even
Marshall JCM800 Introduced in the ‘80s, the
JCM800 solidified the Marshall brand as a
legendary rock amplifier. I am a proud owner
of an original model 2205 two-channel, 50W
lead series with channel switching. She’s a
rare one, and I will never part with her, so
don’t even ask. In the early ‘80s the JCM800
line was a pivotal launch for the company,
unveiling highly sought after features, such
as an effects loop, and most importantly, a
master volume. The legendary overdrive and
Trent Salter, Publisher