Forever Tone Hunting. After all, I'm still a massive gear geek...
Demonstrating pickups is a staple of the Home of Tone schedule, so it has been important to have the right amp for the job. We plan to grow our YouTube channel into a helpful reference point for those interested in hearing what McNelly Pickups can do. Well, our trusty '65 Reissue Fender Super Reverb served me well, very well in fact, but I decided to change things up and move onto something different for a number of reasons. Although the Super Reverb did a wonderful job, with it's crisp cleans & huge sound, let's be honest, it was a bit overkill!
So, off on the search I went to find an amp that was a tad more suitable for our needs, but still had characteristics similar to the Super Reverb and it's signature Fender Blackface tones that suit my ears so perfectly. I have always been a Fender amp kinda guy, having owned, used & played various models like the '59 Bassman, Blues Deville, Twin amp & Twin Reverb, Deluxe Reverb and of course the Super Reverb we just parted ways with.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't rule out other options, but the tone from a Fender amp just makes my ears happy and likely always will.
Some of the key things I had to consider to ensure I chose the right amp to use for our demo's, was to be one that was portable. Hauling a huge, heavy amp around just to shoot & record demo videos & to Guitar Shows seemed like a lot more hassle that it was worth! Let's face it, my back was getting rather angry with me.
It needs to have nice crisp, clear cleans to demonstrate the pickups the best possible & most honest way. Which the SR did very well, But a couple of things I did want this time around was an amp that would break up just as nicely, but at a more usable volume meaning we could demo how the range of McNelly pickups can deal with a naturally driven amplifier, not just with overdrive pedals. Also one that would respond well to pedals so we can demonstrate the pickups response to a set of footstompers. A fairly simple list of jobs, but it had to tick all of those boxes.
I have been a fan of Rift amplification since they caught my eye last year. Along with similar boutique names like Milkman Sound & Headstrong amps for example, Rift offer a range of Fender (as well as Marshall etc) inspired completely hand wired valve amps for those seeking the quality and tone that modern PCB based amps don't quite capture (to some ears anyway). What more, they're all made here in the UK, always a nice thing to help support.
So I delved further into the Rift amps range, in particular Chris's Princeton Reverb esq builds. Chris has a passion for this model amp, and that comes through in his work in developing the iconic amp further. The Princeton was an amp I don't personally have much experience with, usually because I've always been a multi speaker, as big a sound as possible kind of guy, yup I'm that overly loud guitar player at gigs! So smaller amps have always passed me by, but something about his variations really caught my eye.
He has designed higher output versions of the PR amplifier, which is usually a 12w 10" speaker combo as you probably know, lending itself to home & studio use perfectly. But Rift's 18, 20 & 35w variations sounded and looked like they'd give me what I needed for Home of Tone work. After speaking with Chris, via his extensive knowledge of speakers, Fender amp tone & general amp wizardry we nailed it down to his 'PR18' model pictured above. Which is an 18W, 12" speaker variation (with a few sweet changes) of the blackface era mid 60's Fender Princeton Reverb.
Conversation then lead to how we can capture that big Fender sound my ears love so much. Well Rift offer a range of speaker options for their amps, meaning it further opens the tonal possibilities for you. After some discussion about what it is I need from our demo amp, he highly recommended the American made 'Warehouse G12C', which is a very well reviewed and much loved speaker. So I was keen to hear his thoughts on it and how it would work with this PR18 amp. It should deliver us a huge sound considering this amps small size, which is perfect! Especially coming from a big 4x10 loaded Super Reverb, the idea of a small single speaker combo seemed weird. But this Warehouse should fulfil those needs, I highly recommend you check them out! It will also give a cleaner tone through the volume range which is ideal for our demos due to it's high wattage, but it'll break up nicely too! So I think we found our demo amp..
Finally the, styling! After all, tone can look good too, right?!
I absolutely adore a bit of tweed, it's so damn classy! Well this particular visual (pictured above) is the staple to his PT20 model. A Tweed inspired take on the Princeton Reverb. But Chris is putting my blackface PR18 circuitry into this Tweed & leather bound beauty, so I can't wait to drool over this!
It's currently all being hand wired and made, and can't wait to get demo-ing pickups with it very soon. I hand on heart recommend you check out Rift Amplification. If truly hand wired, boutique amplifiers interest you, even if they don't actually, you should give them a bit of your attention. With the market flooded with PCB amplifiers, it's great to see companies out there still making amps the way they used to. Chris's work is superb and his passion for amplifiers equally infectious. We'll perhaps be able to work further together in the near future, but for now, being able to use this amplifier to demonstrate gear offered by my store is an honour.
Thanks for reading.