It’s amazing how unusual cir- cumstances can connect players
with great guitar equipment. And
that applies doubly when it occurs
in unexpected places! Such was the
case when I was visiting Stockholm,
Sweden, on a business trip in the
winter of 1992-1993. One day, I
went downtown to meet a friend.
We’d decided to meet at one of
Stockholm’s best music stores
before going out to dinner. As I was
standing at the front counter, peer-
ing through the glass display at the
pick selection, I noticed this very
personable fellow next to me who
appeared to be returning a slew of
repaired amps to the store. A few
minutes later, my friend arrived
and off we went to eat.
At that point, I didn’t think too
much about my first encounter
with the mysterious gentleman
who’d been standing next to me. I
figured he was an amplifier techni-
cian. Well, sort of . . . as I later
found out. Fast-forward a decade:
I was talking on the phone with
one Bjorn Juhl, when he suddenly
exclaimed, “You know what? I think
we’ve met before.” When I asked
him to describe where and when,
he told me that he remembered
a floor-length submarine jacket
and a unique pair of red-on-black
Spanish lace boots I wore that day.
Those outrageously colorful boots
ultimately hooked me up with a
new amplifier: The Mad Professor
CS- 40. Fate you say? Definitely!
Because it wasn’t long before Bjorn
was making a serious attempt to get
a Mad Professor CS- 40 amp head
to me to get an opinion on it.
Mad Professor’s production manager, Jukka Mönkkönen, used a
soldering iron to burn ancient Finnish runes into the reindeer-leather
covering on this custom CS- 40 head.
A one-of-a-kind relic CS- 40 head enclosed in reclaimed wood from
100-year-old barn doors.
Want more volume, even if you’re already cranked
wide open? No problem. Just dial in some boost
. . . hit the CS- 40’s Boost switch, and prepare to
be thrown against the nearest wall.
amplifier has become one of my
all-time favorites. Let’s take a look at
some of its unique features and see
why savvy players love it so much.
The CS- 40 is, first of all, in
the same category as other fast-response amps we’ve discussed in
recent columns (Dumble in July
2010, Vox AC30 in August and
December 2010, and Hiwatt in
Several controls on the CS- 40
are very cleverly designed for max-
imum versatility. The 4-position
Focus control helps you “match”
speaker cabinets to the CS- 40
head. This control affects the
amp’s feel and the sonic textures it
produces. In position 1, the CS- 40
delivers American-style sounds
(think classic Fender tones).
Position 2 yields some really amaz-
ing, early British sounds (yep,
think Vox AC30 here as a refer-
ence). At position 3, you’ll easily
cop some later British-style tones
(thinking classic Marshall isn’t
a bad idea). Finally, in position
4, the CS- 40 enters the realm of
modern British sounds enhanced
with top boost. These tones are
grittier sounding, but very defined.
Next to the input jack is a
2-position switch labeled Tube
and F.E. T. In the latter position,
this switch can take weak pickups
(such as Danelectro lipsticks) and
make them sound much stronger.
It’s uncanny! The Tube setting is
voiced for hotter pickups, such as
humbuckers on a Les Paul. P-90s
produce gnarly tones in any of
these settings, and this marriage
of amp and pickups is one of my
favorite—it’s so beautifully rude.
DEAN FARLEY is chief
designer of Snake Oil
Brand Strings, and his
ideas have had a significant
influence on contemporary
string design. He is also
known as a great source of
guitar, amp, and gear lore. For more infor-
mation, visit snakeoilstrings.com.