Last month (May), we only had a few hours free to attend a fun gear show that is sure to appeal to the boutique amp crowd. Taking place in both New Jersey and California (the California show is this coming October), the Amp Show is a consumer event, held at a host hotel, in which manufacturers set up their gear in hotel rooms on a few floors and musicians can check out and play all of the products.
Unlike the industry-serving NAMM Show, where you generally don’t get to play much of the gear, this event is all about end users getting to crank up the amps, and there was plenty of great gear to see! There were a few well-known larger companies like Fender and Line 6 in attendance, and great stuff to check out from established boutique builders like Fuchs, Bogner, Louis Electric, and 65amps. A large number of boutique builders whom we had never encountered before were displaying gear, too!
Given our much-too-limited time attending the show, we only got to see and hear a few things, but the following products caught our eyes in particular:
Starting with the big guys, Shane Nicholas from Fender was showing off something on the small side… the ’65 Princeton Reverb 15-Watt amp is a beautiful reissue. It features three 12AX7 preamp tubes and two Groove Tubes 6V6 output tubes, one 5AR4 rectifier tube, the circuit path of a 1965 Princeton Reverb, Acutronics reverb and Fender tremolo, and a ten inch Jesen speaker.
Rich Renken from Line 6 had his personal M13 Stompbox Modeler on hand. It’s even cooler looking in person than you can tell from the photos on their website. If you like the Line 6 modeler series of pedals, this box sticks five of them in one box but retains the simplicity of those devices for the non-programming crowd.
Speaking of Line 6, but yet totally not, Reinhold Bogner was on hand with some of his hand-wired boutique beauties as well as his latest masterpiece, the new Alchemist amps. These feature Reinhold’s outstanding amplifier design (6L6 power section with five 12AX7 preamp tubes) mated to some built-in effects courtesy of Line 6, and manufactured overseas so that more of our readers can afford to own a little bit of Bogner magic. Ecstasy for a grand? We’ll find out soon enough!
Jeremy Ledford of Tone Shop, Inc. was showing off a very cool three-channel, single rack space guitar preamp that sounded beautiful. No frilly extras like effects loops or master volumes — just three footswitchable channels of beautiful tone that we’re hoping to review soon.
Louis from Louis Electric Amps had numerous amps from his line on display include the hot new Ferrari. Powered by a pair of EL-34s, a trio of 12AX7s, and a GZ34 rectifier, this 40-Watt amp should turn heads both for its tone as well as its hot looks. Expect reviews of some Louis Electric amps later this summer.
Our friend Andy Fuchs had a surprise on hand… a working prototype of the newest addition to the Plush pedal line, one that is sure to win fans if you’re one of those “Wet-Dry-Wet” guys… a 25-Watt digital, stereo, power amp, the size of a pedal, designed to send your effects to the additional speaker cabinets used in your complex WDW rig. Awesome!
DST had a beautiful green machine we want to spend some time with, too. The two-channel, 50-Watt, EL-34 driven head looks great, but as with most of what we saw on our whirlwind tour of the show, we didn’t have time to really sit down and spend a lot of time playing the gear — we left that to the legions of other musicians roaming the rooms.
And finally, we were able to get our hands on the Axe-FX digital modeling guitar preamp that has tone snobs swearing it is the first digital product that can really wean you off of the tube amp addiction. Our first glance was impressive, and now that they have ramped up production, we’re finally going to be getting a review unit later this summer.
To learn more about attending the Los Angeles Amp Show, please visit www.ampshow.com.