NY Amp Show Review 2010 – Part 1
The 2010 NY Amp Show (located in NJ)….two days of sampling some awesome amps (along with some guitars), hanging with some great folks and talking gear until your voice sounds like the Boss after a 3-1/2 hour concert. Sounds like my kinda weekend..!! What made this show even better was the location…..35 minutes from the house!
Once again the builders brought their best for the masses to check out. These guys put their hearts and souls (not to mention the literally countless hours) into their brand with enormous pride. I for one think that is awesome and also feel that when you purchase a boutique built product you actually get a small piece of the builder…..and personal customer service. Win!
I spent more quality time with each brand rather than trying to visit many which would not only shortchange me but shortchange the brands themselves. So here is the review from where I was standing of the NY Amp Show 2010 produced by Loni Specter.
My first stop on Saturday June 5, 2010 was at the front greeting table where Loni’s son was taking admissions and handing out vendor and press passes. After getting my press pass and being greeted by so many great folks I met up with my right hand man Todd Hamilton and his girlfriend Olya Bahrynivsky. Olya is a great photographer and came along to shoot some pics…thanks Olya..!!!!
My first stop of the weekend was with Richard Goodsell. I got to meet him and try some of his amps at the Austin Amp Show. Richard is a fun guy with a very upbeat personality. His amps are great and have their own voice based loosely on some older somewhat obscure brands. His build quality is excellent and he designs his amps for the gigging musician with the manufacturing process taken into consideration.
Richard has two new models the Dominatrix 🙂 and the Valpreux. Everyone but everyone had one comment or another about the Dominatrix….I on the other hand had a comment about the Valpreux. Check the videos on my Youtube channel.
The Dominatrix is based on the old Watkins Dominator which was a British amp from the early 1960’s. It has a full tone stack including a mid control, reverb and master volume. It also features 18 watts from a pair of EL84s. The “Dom” definitely has a British voice to it and reminds me of other vintage 18 watt British amps but the reverb and master take it beyond where the vintage models leave off. Great dynamic feel, awesome sound, nice drive that stays focused and doesn’t all blur together and built by a great guy.
The Valpreux is based on the old Valco and Supro amps. Richard combined the two and got Valpreux. It has both reverb and the award winning Goodsell tremolo which is one of the best tremolo’s I’ve heard…nice..!!! Richard is using 6973 output tubes which were also used in some older Supro and Valco models….jukeboxes too. The Valpreux really has exactly what Richard describes in the video interview I did with him…the Valco/Supro characteristics but again stays focused and does not blur all together.
After laughing it up about the Dominatrix with Richard and trying his cool new models I headed up to see John Tomaszewicz. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are John) there was a bit of a line to get into his suite. I made some quick eye contact and friendly hand gestures and decided to come back.
Next stop was to see Glenn Sweetwood of Sweetwood guitars. I tried Glenn’s guitars in Austin and heard he had a new model out so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Glenn’s new model is called the Comet Super Light. And super light it is weighing in at only 5-1/2lbs! It feels nice and light but not like a cheap piece of balsa wood because of the way it is designed and built. It has a well balanced and solid feel. This would be a great guitar for long sessions or gigs because of the light weight. The sound and playability is excellent…clear, articulate and warm. The construction is ash body, maple/mahogany/maple neck with bocote fretboard.
Glenn is the only builder in his shop. Each one of his guitars is built by him and only him. Super high quality throughout, attention to detail, expertly set up and they just plain sound, feel and play great..!!
It was almost like the Austin Amp Show all over again because Glenn was sharing a suite with Darin Ellingson of Tonic amps. It worked out great for me…two brands, one stop! For some reason I feel that Glenn’s guitars pair up perfectly with Darin’s amps….coincidence? Well, whatever the karmic reasoning I feel that it’s a great combination.
Darin brought a newer model with him called the D’Art. This model is loosely based on the 50 watt vintage Hiwatt sound. I heard a bit more texture and felt more dynamics as compared to the vintage Hiwatt amps which is a good thing making the D’Art less brutal, more forgiving on your hearing but yet inspiring you to do guitar windmills. There is no flip video of me doing windmills mind you….well, maybe just one. Two tops.!
I think that the D’art would be a great choice for rockers (or blues players) that want a really solid foundation sounding amp for use with pedals to further enhance their tone. Modern country players would probably dig it too. Don’t get me wrong I loved the amp straight up without any effects at all because that’s how I roll and the amp stands on its own. Big, bold, punchy, chock full of harmonics with a solid (not stiff) feel. Nice one Darin..!!!
Next on my hit list was Jeff Bober of East Amplification who is the original Budda guy. Ha…I just left Darin Ellingson and played his 50 watt through 4×12 monster to play Jeff’s 2 watt amp..!! What was I thinking..?? Contrast I guess.
First off, Jeff is a great guy and knows his shiz. He has this 2 watt amp called the Studio 2 that will make your jaw swing in the breeze….from the 1×10 cabinet blowing you away!! I kid you not..!!! 2 freakin’ watts from a pair of 12AT7’s in push pull configuration. This amp is for real and would be awesome in a recording situation plus you could probably gig with it if your drummer has some self discipline and a handle on dynamics. Remember…we are talking about Bober-watts here….’nuff said.
What’s new at East Amplification is the 18 watt version called the Club 18 and combo’s! No, not those dopey cheese snacks….combo versions of his amps. They look really nice, sound fantastic and even though the combo versions look a little big they are light. I found that the Studio 2 and Club 18 both had a very similar voice with the 18 watt model having some more bottom and punch. Both amps sing and are very responsive to your picking. Jeff’s amps have a unique sound to them and I cannot throw out other brand names to equate them to. I can tell you that they have a familiar tone and you could work with the controls to get a bunch of different sounds from them. Let us not forget that they do have Bober-watts as well…!!!
After getting my head twisted from Jeff’s 2 watt amp it was off to see John Tomaszewicz. I heard he had a new model or two and wanted to check them out. I got up to his suite and again there was a line of players waiting to get it. I hung around for a few and did the third base coach hand signal routine again signaling I would come back later…
Switching gears from amps to guitars I decided to head downstairs to see Lance Lerman of LSL guitars. This was another brand I sampled in Austin. I love Lance’s guitars and heard he had a new model or two at the show. Lance was in his suite and came out to meet me. If you know Lance then you know how he is….his sense of humor and all. I was greeted by him and he was putting on his best New Jersey/Sopranos voice he could muster up. I was rolling and told him that he would not find those Jersey type of characters in this part of the Garden State. He was sorely disappointed and both he and I had to resort to talking about his guitars….which was fine with me!!!
Lance brought a couple of new models to the show that featured rosewood fretboards. The new rosewood models are built exactly like the maple models including a skunk stripe and truss rod plug at the headstock. There are two reasons for this Lance tells me. One is to keep the manufacturing process the same and the second is to only introduce one variable to the successful formula that his LSL guitars have. That single variable is just the rosewood fingerboard.
The new rosewood fretboard equipped guitars sound warm with a bit of a creamy component to the sound. The response is a bit different as compared to the maple counterparts as well, exactly as you’d expect. The LSL guitar models have a nice relaxed feel and sound…almost like they don’t have a worry in the world and no place to be at a specific time. I think that the LSL guitars are a big reflection of Lance himself.
Click here for part 2 next week.