Craig Bennington Review
My first impression of the amp is that it’s an amp that I would be proud to have on stage with me at any location. The “vibe” you get from the amp screams TONE, the kind of tone that all guitarists remember from the greatest players of all time. From the classic appeal of the black tolex with the smooth rounded cabinet edges to the pipping around the seams this amp says timeless. The faceplate of the amp leaves nothing to be desired with the simple single row of controls to the chicken head knobs you really get the impression that its gonna be easy to navigate your way around and quickly get to some great sounds.
When first plugging into the D’drive Special you’re first hit with very warm mid heavy cleans. Reminiscent in my mind of an early blackface twin with lots of overhead that stays clean for as long as you’d like it to. But the amp far from stops there. Before even getting to the drive channel you’ll notice there is a ton of tonal options with the clean channel from the mid boost to the EPD circuit and even a bright switch if you really prefer your clean channel to have a bit of bite to it. No problem as there are independent master controls for both channels that allow you to push the preamp of the clean channel without getting out of control with the actual volume. If it’s more low end you crave just flip the deep switch and your ears will be met with a powerful low end punch that does not get muddy but rather simply warms things up in all the right ways. The EPD circuit is a brilliant feature. This circuit allows you to have a version of one of the most famous preamp circuits used by legends such as Page, Jimi and Eric Johnson right at your fingertips. By engaging this circuit your are placing the famous drive circuit from a vintage tape delay unit in front of the amp’s preamp. In my opinion this feature is great simply left on as it adds a spacious 3 dimensional character to each channel. The mid boost is also great, by engaging this the amp is once again a whole new animal, and is also selectable on the foot switch. The clean channel circuit can be further simplified by removing the bass and treble controls with the PAB foot switch control allowing the mid control to truly control the full parameter of the amp.
Moving on the drive channel is where this amp really sings, and the best part is that all of the features mentioned in the clean channel are also effective in the drive channel. And as if that wasn’t enough the drive channel also incorporates a switchable HRM circuit similar to what was used in the famous Dumble amps. The difference is that instead of the controls of that circuit being hidden within the amp chassis this amp has the controls right on the front panel allowing you to truly shape your tone the way Alexander used to do when he would build amps for the greats like Robben Ford, SRV etc……..
I’ve put this amp thru the paces over the last week in both the studio and live situations. Overall this amp is a serious amp for players with very discerning ears looking for the tones that before now were basically off limits to us mere mortals. Very dynamic and very responsive with tons of headroom and more options than any amp I have ever worked with.
Notable features from a player:
One of the things to note about this amp, that was a stand out feature to my ears, was it’s ability as a 50 watt amp to retain tonality at bedroom levels. This amp really does not fall apart when you lower the volume to an appropriate level as you stand right in front of it.
It also tracks very well, in my studio I used both a ribbon mic as well as a dynamic mic on it and was able to dial in very useful tones very quickly without having to worry much about mic placement and amp placement. Which to me as a studio engineer/producer and player says a lot, as I have learned over the years moving mic’s around and repositioning the amp trying to find a good tone that the amp isn’t giving you is not gonna fix it. The best amps will give you great results regardless of the condition they’re being placed in and this amp did just that.
Craig Bennington – studio engineer/producer, guitarist
45 RPM Music Technologies, Inc. ll 205 Ken Pratt Blvd ll Suite 120-2 ll Longmont, CO 80501 ll 303.309.0913 ll firstname.lastname@example.org