offers three Electro-Harmonix 12AX7s in
the preamp and a 5AR4 for the rectifier.
For all of the vintage exactitude that
goes into the Kingsville, the amp deviates
from tweed styling dogma. Instead, the
finger-jointed solid pine cabinet is dressed
in a crème-colored vinyl that bridges the
tweed and early piggyback eras. And while
the entire amplifier weighs in at a svelte 42
pounds, the craftsmanship makes the amp
feel exceptionally rugged and solid. You get
the sense no expense was spared building
these regal beasts, and they’ll hold up for
years with regular maintenance.
If you favor humbuckers, you need not
fear muddiness. A tweak of the treble and
presence knobs will clear up the output
from a Les Paul, and rolling down the amp
volume helps accommodate the Gibson’s
higher output while communicating a blistering blues twang. Using the bright channel for humbuckers gets you even further
out front of the low end without sacrificing
the substantial bass voice that’s such a vital
part of the Bassman sound. It’s a great texture for playing against a bass.
The Kingsville is a blast to drive into
dirty zones, but its capacity for truly gorgeous cleaner tones is remarkable. Telecasters
and Stratocasters demonstrated a complex,
charismatic tone at just a third of full volume. The Kingsville is exceptionally responsive to picking dynamics, and this quality
makes it an excellent choice for slide players.
The presence control is great for adding
a touch of top-end brilliance once you dial
in your EQ. This knob doesn’t simply add
more treble like some presence controls, but
seems to lend some air to a wide band of
upper frequencies—perfect for adding body
and authority to high notes.
An Agreeable sort
One of the most beautiful aspects of the
original Bassman is that it works well with
just about any guitar, and here the Kingsville
doesn’t disappoint. With a Stratocaster
running into the normal channel and the
volume up to about 8, you can nail the sultry and powerful tones of “Voodoo Chile.”
Kick it up to 10 and you’re flirting with the
“Slight Return” territory.
The Kingsville’s build quality shines at
these loud volumes. It’s noise and rattle free
and rings with harmonic clarity. Single-coils
at these levels generate that distinct vintage-tube crunch that’s bristling with attitude
and authority. Sharp punches at a Telecaster
will send you into smoldering Keith
Richards territory, and you can access Page’s
slicing single-note lead tones by stepping up
your pick attack.
If you’ve found yourself on a quest for
early rock ’n’ roll tone, you just can’t do
better than the Grammatico Kingsville.
Undeniable sound, a remarkable EQ, and
careful craftsmanship will surely impress
any vintage aficionado—on stage or in the
studio. The $2,500 price tag isn’t exactly
peanuts, but the handbuilt quality and
sense of craft really justifies it if you have
the coin. This is one case where you’re likely
to get what you paid for.
Pros: Superb craftsmanship. Very flexible and
nicely voiced EQ. Nice touch of blackface-style
openness on top of tweed tone.
Grammatico Amps, Kingsville, $2,500 (street), grammaticoamps.com
Cons: Price might be beyond reach for a lot
of working musicians.
Ease of Use