because he wanted the circuitry to have
more effect on the tone, with minimal
influence from the transformer itself.
Feature-wise, the Meat Smoke is pretty
straightforward. It’s a two-channel amp
with a shared 3-band EQ, along with
separate Master Volume and Gain controls
for each channel. Located to the left and
right of the Bass, Midrange, and Treble
knobs are two switches for shifting the
bass and treble frequencies. The controls
were designed with simplicity in mind,
but also with the consideration that the
amp is voiced for both guitar and bass—
making it easier to dial in good tones for
both. The entire package is housed in a
really striking head-enclosure, constructed
from Baltic birch that’s finished with a
deep, greyish-brown stain.
While the Meat Smoke’s cleans harken
back to some of the best examples of high-
wattage, clean tones from the golden years
of the ’70s, the real star of the show is
the amp’s overdrive channel.
The Meat Smoke is all about power—pure
and simple. Even so, the tone is multidimensional and at times it was hard to tell
that I was playing through just one amp.
Generally, the amp’s tone is similar to a
cross between the clean, glass-like tones of a
’70s Ampeg SVT, with the juicy, thick gain
of an early to mid-’70s Orange. With that
said, the combination of Verellen’s voicing
and the heft that the oversized transformer
provides sets the Meat Smoke well apart
from its influences.
Grabbing a 2011 Fender American
Telecaster, I plugged the Meat Smoke into
an Emperor 4x12, loaded with Weber
C1265 speakers. The tone was monstrous in the bass, coupled with a clear
and robust high-end that breathed easily within the amp’s copious amount of
headroom. Starting with the clean channel
and both tone-shift switches set to add
their respective frequency ranges, arpeggios rang out with commanding authority.
The voicing has traces of darkness and is
extremely throaty in the midrange. But the
Meat Smoke has a very immediate quality to its attack, and most of the amp’s sag
resides in the low end and low-midrange
area, which allows the high end to have
an aggressive tonality and texture. Most
of the time, I had to dial back the bass to
10 or 11 o’clock—to keep the overall tone
controlled and taunt throughout—because
the bass is huge.
With a USA Kramer Striker bass and an
Ampeg SVT 8x10 cabinet, I dug into the
Many guitarists will scoff at the mention
of a 300-watt tube amp. But to judge soon
means missing out on an entirely unique
world of guitar tone that’s ignored by a
lot of guitarists. Experiencing overdriven
tube-tone with massive headroom for it
to breathe is something that all guitarists
should experience at least once in their lives.
Its as exhilarating as cranking a vintage
100-watt Marshall Plexi, or drenching your
Strat’s tone in a sea of vintage Fender reverb.
The Meat Smoke is not the most versatile
amp in the world, and it’s not something
that you’re going to want to haul down to
the coffee shop or small-club gig to play
with. It’s meant to be played in front of
people that appreciate having their ribcages
rattle to a wall of fuzzed-out overdrive. For
stoner rock, doom, post rock, and sludge
players, the Meat Smoke is not only a great
amp—for those styles, it might just be the
best amp on the market today.
strings with a Geezer Butler-inspired set of
riffs that brimmed with big lows, crushing
mids, and rounded, powerful highs. The
tone got meaner as I turned up the clean
channel’s preamp control to add a little
grit, and the amp’s great touch-sensitivity
allowed me to coat my tone with a layer of
overdrive, simply by hitting the strings with
While the Meat Smoke’s cleans harken
back to some of the best examples of
high-wattage, clean tones from the golden
years of the ’70s, the real star of the show
is the amp’s overdrive channel. Wielding
a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom loaded
with Tom Anderson pickups, the amp’s
overdrive channel had more than enough
gain with the preamp drive at the 1
o’clock position—and wow, what an overdrive. The midrange has traces of a vintage voice with plenty of thickness, grind,
and bite and thoughts of vintage Matamp
and Orange amplifiers from the early ’70s
filled my head.
The Meat Smoke’s midrange perfectly
encapsulated the great, bouncy nature
that made those amps famous in the first
place, but with even more volume and
heft. The leftmost tone-shift switch came
into play nicely by sloping the low end
with the switch in the down position. As I
turned up the preamp’s Gain control, the
amp became more fuzz-like, which was
absolutely perfect for modern stoner-rock,
slow doom-metal, and sludge-drenched
riffs. I’ve had the privilege of playing some
of the best gear available for those genres,
but the Meat Smoke ranks among the best.
Thrash-metal and rock guitarists will probably grow frustrated with the amp’s seemingly relentless need to loosen and expand
sharp, focused playing, but for slow, dirty
rockers, the Meat Smoke’s overdrive channel is one of the best tools they’ll find on
the market today.
you want only the finest in high-
power, ridiculously brutal, metal tone
with a vintage, Orange-esque vibe.
volume levels are—quite under-
standably—a top issue.
to hear audio clips of the amp at