3RD POWER AMPLIFICATION
BY STEVE OUIMETTE
If your dreams revolve around British amps, the two kings of color are Vox
and Marshall. There isn’t much you can’t
squeeze out of a vintage AC30 and a plexi
Marshall—from Beatles and Hendrix tones
to Petty and Page sounds.
So when Jamie Scott of 3rd Power
Amplification decided to design the ultimate Brit-flavored amp, he knew he wanted
to merge those two legends into a single
amplifier. The result of his efforts—the
British Dream—boldly combines great-sounding interpretations of those two voices
with an effects loop and a power section
that's switchable between 15 and 30 watts.
the ’ 59 AC section, you’ll find a single 1/4"
input and Volume, Brilliance, and Top Cut
controls. The Brilliance knob is a 3-way
Off/1/2 switch. The ’ 68 Plexi section has
a 1/4" input and traditional Marshall-style
controls—Volume, Treble, Middle, and
Bass. The third section has a Presence con-
trol for both channels, as well as a standby
toggle for switching between 15 and 30
watts. The back panel has an IEC power
cable input, mains, and fuses, a 16 Ω speak-
er output followed by dual 8 Ω and 4 Ω
outs, and the effects loop jacks. The remov-
able triangular port is held in place by three
screws and has a convenient leather loop for
pulling it away from the cab.
As the owner of a ’ 64 Top Boost AC30
and ’ 68 Plexi, the sounds of these amps are
forever burned into my memory. And it was
startling to discover just how well the 3rd
Power captured so many of the sonic and
performance characteristics of both classics.
A Brian May Red Special guitar with
Burns Trisonic pickups and phase switches
seemed like a logical enough choice for testing the Vox-inspired ’ 59 AC channel. And
Marshall-style ’ 68 Plexi channel
Scott has been down this road before. His
very successful 6L6-powered American
Dream [reviewed November 2010], combined brownface and blackface Fender
flavors to excellent effect. The completely
handwired British Dream uses a pair of
EL34s, an EF86, and three 12AX7s in as a
jumping off point for its Anglo signature.
While this 56-pound combo isn’t exactly compact (it’s also available as a head),
it's both lighter than a vintage AC30 and
significantly less hefty than a ’ 68 Marshall
half stack. Dressed up in black vinyl with
white lettering, piping, and chicken head
knobs, the British Dream looks original,
stately, a bit mean, and very rock ’n’ roll.
Construction is top-notch and incorporates 3rd Power’s proprietary Switchback
triangular speaker enclosure and tuned
triangle port for getting more of an open-back tone, if desired. The latter is especially thoughtful given that AC30s have an
open back and Marshalls cabs are closed-back. The cab’s side ports enable venting
of the preamp and power-amp tubes,
which are isolated in a separate compartment to reduce vibration. The vents are
removable to facilitate easy tube changes.
The British Dream’s front panel is divided into three sections: ’ 59 AC, ’ 68 Plexi,
and a Presence/Power/Standby section. In
Vox-style ’ 59