Note: this page is a perpetual work in progress and is updated frequently. Check back often for updates. Last updated 13 February 2015.
There’s no doubt about it, the choice of guitar amplifier is a major factor in a guitarist’s sound, so it’s not a surprise that I’ve bought and sold quite a few in my time – and no doubt will continue to do so – in my never-ending search for that elusive “sound in my head”. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that as factors such as money (specifically, the lack of it) and varying musical taste play their part too. So, here it is, a list of all the guitar amps I’ve ever owned, together with some notes and links to articles I may have written on the amp concerned.
Of course, functionality and features are also important. Sometimes I’ve had the urge or need for a simple, single channel amp (during my more rootsy phases, or when I was using a lot of pedals), other times only a 100 watt 3-channel monster fits the bill.
Interestingly, in terms of length of ownership and usage, probably my old Marshall DSL50 and my current Dual Rectifier have seen the most action live and in rehearsal. On the other hand, as can be seen in the list, some amps have been bought more for reasons of GAS and have ended up unloved, unused and eventually sold. Even the Mini Rectifier 25 – my favourite “mini” amp to date – didn’t last long. At the end of the day, 25 watts can’t compete with 100 watts and a 4×12 cab…
A really interesting development in my amp story is that I now own an Axe FXII – so probably have more amps at my disposal now than at any time in my life! But the arrival of the Axe FXII doesn’t mean I’ll be getting rid of the Dual Rec just yet, and I can quite easily see me being tempted by another amp sometime in the medium term. We shall see…
Looking for my guitars? Check out the Guitar timeline page.
Enough jibber jabber! Let’s get on with it.
In reverse chronological order, ie most recent at the top:
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
One of these came up at a good price on a local classifieds site, and I couldn’t resist it as I have fond memories of the JCM2000 DSL50 which I owned in the early 2000’s, and got a nostalgic pang for owning one of these again. Sure, it’s the 100 watt version – so not exactly the same amp – but you can never have enough watts, right? I think I got a good deal as this amp is very clean, clearly well looked after and maintained, and even came with a cool fake snakeskin Marshall cover, signed by Jim Marshall and Slash, together with a box of spare tubes.
Firing up this beast brought back fond memories of dodgy pub gigs in south London. However, what really pricked up my ears was how amazing the “classic gain” channel is, in either clean or crunch mode. Sounds like a plexi. Excellent. The “ultra gain” does sound a little dated in comparison with modern high gain amps, but it’s a really good modded Marshall sound. Will definitely be playing this with the Phazys.
Purchased: Privately, February 2015
Gigged: Not yet
Rehearsals: Not yet
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier 25 – SOLD
Gigged: Yes, FDLM Thonex June 2013
Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36 – SOLD
An amazingly feature packed amp in a small and lightweight form factor. Multi-watt output power? You got it. Built in Red Box DI? You got it. Three channels? Yep. However, as good an amp as it is, it never really stood a chance to replace my Dual Rectifier.
Purchased: The Works, Carouge. Jan 2013?
Rehearsals: Yes, just the once.
Laboga The Beast combo – SOLD
Not 100% sure why I bought it other than (a) I thought it would be useful to have a high gain compact combo for recording and (b) it sounds good.
Some nice features built-in to this amp including headphones, speaker on/off (with dummy load), speaker emulation for line out/headphones. Two channels, but you don’t buy a Laboga for its clean sound. Frankly, this amp has never been used for longer than about 15 minutes playing time in total, so it’s currently up for sale.
Purchased: The Works, Carouge, early 2012
Mesa Boogie Mark V head – SOLD
This is an amazing amp in terms of the range of sounds, power output settings (per channel), reverb, etc. However, although the channel 3 “extreme” and Mark IV sounds are perfect, and the channel 1 cleans and pushed cleans are superb, I couldn’t find a good Brit flavoured crunch on channel 2 – which is what I was hoping I’d be able to get out of it. This is now sold. Never gigged, never even played at band rehearsal. Probably no more than 15 hours usage on the clock…
Why did I buy it? It’s a great amp and, at the time, I wanted a wider variety of sounds than I was getting from the Dual Rec.
Purchased: Leadmusic, May 2011
Sold: To private buyer 10 Jan 2013
Blackstar Stage 100 head – SOLD
As much as I love the Dual Rec, there are times when I need a solid Marshall-style heavy crunch. I was hoping, based on my long experience of the Blackstar HT-Dual pedal, that this amp would deliver that sound and be good enough in other areas to be a replacement for the Dual Rec.
This amp is amazing value for money – 100 watts, 3 channels (clean, OD1, OD2), Blackstar’s ISF tone shaping circuit, FX loop, etc. I haven’t given up on it yet, but I struggled to get it to be “better” than the Dual Rec. I probably haven’t spent enough time with it at stage volume, but the few occasions I’ve used it in a band situation I struggled to get a good volume balance between the three channels. Loads of gain on tap, perhaps too much gain at times. Update: Since writing the above comments the amp has been sold.
Purchased: Musix.ch, May 2011
Sold: To private buyer 7 June 2013
Rehearsals: Tried it out at a couple of rehearsals in 2011
Hughes & Kettner Coreblade & MC412 slant cab
An absolute metal and heavy rock monster, but with an emphasis on the metal side of things. Four independent channels, each with own EQ, onboard effects, and programmable patches controlled from the supplied MIDI floorboard. Huge sound, though definitely Germanic, rather than Californian or Uk Midlands, which means it has its own character – which I like. The programmability adds a whole new level of practicality for gigging, etc, and the onboard effects are not bad at all. Don’t worry though, there’s an FX loop (switchable between serial and parallel) for those who prefer to use their own rack gear, etc. The clean channel is superb – really crystal clear with more headroom than you can shake a stick at. The Crunch channel is a little disappointing to my ears, so for lower gain “classic rock crunch” I prefer to use the Ultra I channel with the gain backed off. The Ultra I and Ultra II channels are unbelievably heavy. Insane amounts of gain and a “Boost” function too. Crazy – but in a nice way. Finally, this amp is incredibly loud but, on the plus side, it still sounds good at very low master volume settings – for which my neighbours are eternally grateful.
However, despite all its pluses, I’m considering selling it. We shall see…
Purchased: Session Music, Germany, Apr 2011
Marshall AFD100 – SOLD
In 1996 I tried out the first Slash signature Marshall, the 2555SL, at Chandlers Guitars in Kew. It was a great amp and the footswitchable “lead master” gain stage produced a fabulous sound with a Les Paul. I think I was put off buying it due to the Slash connection, or perhaps I felt it was too much amp for me at the time. However, although my mind often drifted back to that try out, tinged with regret that I hadn’t bought the amp, finding one several years later proved to be impossible as these amps are rare. So, when I heard that Marshall and Slash were working on a new signature model, the AFD100, I just had to have one. I almost consider this to be a future collector’s piece rather than a serious amp for the Phazys.
Update February 2015: I sold the amp in March 2014 to a private buyer.
Purchased: Musix.ch, ordered in Jan 2011, delivered in March 2011
Sold: To a private buyer in March 2014
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier (2010 reborn)
Main amp for all PhazyLuckers gigs. It’s great. I love it.
Purchased: Leadmusic, 17 June 2010
Gigged: Yes, continually since its first outing at the Fête de la musique in Feigères, France in June 2010 which, incidentally, was the first gig of the current band line up.
Rehearsals: Yes, continually since purchased.
Orange Tiny Terror – SOLD
Never really gelled with this, mainly because I absolutely must have an effects loop and this little baby doesn’t have one. I also had the Orange P112 1×12 cab, bought at around the same time to go with the amp.
Purchased: Musix.ch 2009 ?
Sold: I think I traded it in at Leadmusic against the Dual Rectifier
EVH 5150 III head – SOLD
This purchase was the result of a long afternoon spent at Leadmusic looking for a genuine three channel amp. Other options available were a Randall (with modular channel boards – great concept, by the way), Elmwood and some Bogner amps. However, the EVH blue channel (crunch) just blew me away. A magnificent sound, the “sound in my head” that seems so elusive. I also liked the green (clean) channel, which has that Fender-y piano-like bass and top end that sounds so rich, authoritative and lovely. I’ve got some other things to say about this amp, including why I sold it, which I’ll blog about at some stage in the future…
Purchased: Leadmusic, 17 Sep 2009
Sold: Sold to Leadmusic as part of the deal to buy the Dual Rec in 2010.
Gigged: Once, at Viry in September 2009.
Rehearsals: I don’t think I ever played it at a band rehearsal. Perhaps once or twice?
Laney VC30-112 combo
Unhappy with the Trademark 60, I decided to look for an alternative amp for using with pedals, specifically the excellent Blackstar HT-Dual. This amp became my main rehearsal amp for quite a period, in fact up until I switched to the Dual Rec in mid-2010.
Purchased: Leadmusic, 27 Oct 2008
Gigged: Probably more than once, though I can only recall one gig at the Drôle de Dames bar in Pierre Grand, Geneva.
Rehearsals: Yes, many times at the AMR with an early incarnation of the Phazys.
Tech 21 Trademark 60 combo – SOLD
I think I bought this because I wanted a lightweight, solid state amp which would be a good platform for pedals. I just never really gelled with this amp and flipped it as soon as I could. I recall that getting the tone I wanted was difficult and that it struggled a bit in a loud band situation.
Purchased: Leadmusic, 31 Oct 2007
Sold: This was part exchanged for the Laney VC-112 in?
Rehearsals: Used a few times at rehearsal rooms at AMR.
Ashdown FA40 Fallen Angel combo – GONE
Bought this during a trip to the UK in March 2005, as a grab’n’go amp. Nice amp, but too bassy – and not easy to dial out. Fine for a practice amp (though it is a loud 40 watts), but never had the “envie” to use it in a band context.
Purchased: Andertons Music, 30 Mar 2005
Sold: Given to my daughter in 2010.
Cornford Hellcat head & 2×12 cab – SOLD
Absolutely amazing amp. Two channels, Vintage and Modern (I think that’s what they are called), providing superb Class A tones and a thick creamy distortion, like a Marshall without the ice-picks.
Purchased: Chandlers Guitars, 31 Dec 2003. Originally, I took the MK50 head, then swapped it for the Hellcat head on 9 Jan 2004.
Sold: Sold to Leadmusic as part of the deal to buy the Dual Rec in 2010.
Gigged: Once, Cochon Concert, Neydens, 2009.
Rivera Rake Reverb head & 2×12 cab – SOLD
Probably one of the best amps I ever owned, yet I didn’t fully appreciate or recognise its qualities at the time. Channel one (Brit, Marshall flavoured drive channel) is fantastic. Looked gorgeous in white tolex with its matching 2×12 cab. Only niggle – the “Ninja” boost is not adjustable and I always found the volume jump too big. I regret getting rid of this amp. Actually, this was a pre-owned head and cab, but was in perfect condition when I bought it.
Purchased: Chandlers Guitars, Kew, 2002?
Sold: Sold this for cash via Chandlers Guitars, Kew, before moving to Switzerland in 2004.
Marshall JCM2000 DSL50 head & 1960a 4×12 cab – SOLD
Purchased from Guitar Village, Farnham. I used this for later Cage period (including a couple of gigs at that bikers’ pub in Farnham), and probably early Transtone, too.
Purchased: Guitar Village, 31 Dec 1997.
Sold: No idea when and to who. May have given it in part exchange for something else. The Rivera, perhaps?
Trace Elliot Speed Twin C30 combo – SOLD
I remember that this amp got a lot of use during the life of Transtone, but I can’t remember if I bought this to replace the Trace Elliot, or vice versa. Great amp, really. Perhaps not the best engineered circuit around – as I found out when the voltage regulator blew up in spectacular fashion during a Chicken Farm rehearsal. Hats off to Trace Elliot though, as they replaced all damaged parts for free.
Purchased: Andertons Music, Guildford?
Sold: Sold this to a private buyer, together with the Mesa 1×12 extension cab.
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe – SOLD
Not sure where, or when, exactly I bought this. I think I was looking for a beefed up version of the Peavey Classic which had served me so well in the past. One particular selling point was the footswitchable boost. I also used my Mesa 1×12 extension cab – wow, that gave a huge sound indeed. These are really nice amps and I can see why they continue to sell year after year. I believe they were fairly newly introduced into the Fender range when I bought mine in the late 90’s.
Purchased: Andertons Music? 1997?
Sold: No idea. Did I part-ex this for the Trace Elliot C30?
Mesa Boogie DC-5 & 1×12 extension cab – SOLD
I had very high hopes for this amp. However, I just could not dial it in and this purchase turned into an expensive mistake. I’m sure in the right hands this can be an amazing amp – but just not in mine. I flipped it as soon as I could, and part-exchanged it (at a great loss) at Chandlers against my ASAT Custom order.
Purchased: Chandlers Guitars, Kew
Sold: Part-exchanged for GBP 700 against the G&L ASAT custom order on 31 May 1997.
Rehearsals: Used a couple of times in rehearsal at the “ranch” facility near Woking.
Peavey Classic 30 combo & 1×12 extension cab – SOLD
This was my main rig during the Cage years, ie from 1995 to around 1998. The extension cab giving me a 2×12 vertical stack really expanded the fullness of the sound. From memory, I used this most of the time on the Drive channel, with moderate gain settings. I recall always having to wind down the treble to keep the sound full and not too harsh. Most of the time, I would have been using my MIJ Fender Stratocaster, and then the G&L ASATs.
Purchased: Chandlers Guitars, Kew, around 1995?
Sold: I think I part-exchanged this for the Mesa DC-5.
Gigged: Many times, 100% during early Cage years.
Rehearsals: All Cage rehearsals up until it was replaced.
And further back in time? There was a gap of a few years (early 90’s) when I didn’t play much at all, and I don’t recall owning a guitar amp during that period. Prior to that, in the dim mists of time, there were amps like HH Studio 30 (my first ever amp), Sessionnette 75 (much vaunted solid state amp, though I never really liked it), a Carlsbro solid state amp of some description, and a loaned Peavey Bandit for a while, too. The Peavey bandit was really quite a good amp indeed.