Review: Dime Amplification D100 Head And D412 Cabinet
Dime Amplification, deanguitars.com
D100 head, $598.50; D412 speaker cabinet, $598.50
The D100 is a necessity for anyone who wants to duplicate Pantera tones, but it’s also a versatile bargain for players who want any shade in the guitar rainbow.
Dimebag Darrell was perhaps the best-known supporter of solid-state amps. His not-so-secret weapon with Pantera was a Randall RG100ES amp head that he had won during the mid Eighties in a guitar solo contest. That amp was the core of Dimebag’s tone both live and in the studio with Pantera, although he also used some EQ tricks to modify the sound and boost the gain going into the amp.
Dean Guitars recently joined forces with Gary Sunda, who designed the RG100ES for Randall, as well as Dimebag’s long-time guitar tech Grady Champion to create the Dime D100 head. The D100 is one of the first pieces of gear to be produced under the Dime Amplification badge. Paired with the D412 4x12 speaker cabinet, which features custom-designed Eminence speakers, the Dime D100 comes as close as you can get to Dime’s classic tones without a lot of extra stomp boxes, processors and studio gear.
The D100 head provides up to 120 watts of output (at four ohms) and features two channels, reverb, a pair of mono effect loops and a line output. The EQ section is shared by both channels and offers bass, middle, treble and presence controls centered at 50Hz, 600Hz, 12kHz and 15kHz. A boost function provides Channel 2 with an extra drive stage that kicks the distortion up a notch or two. The head ships with a footswitch controller that has a switch for selecting channels and another for combining both channels at once. The amp also has a small reverb tank that is shared by both channels and can be switched on or off with an optional footswitch.
The D100’s two effect loops are independent. Loop 1 works only with Channel 1, while Loop 2 functions with both Channel 1 and 2. When both channels are combined, both effect loops are in the signal chain as well.
Housed in a large cabinet that’s about the same size as that of an EVH 5150 III amp head, the D100 boasts heavy-duty construction, with details like metal “lightning-bolt” knobs and D-shaped sidelifting handles. The D412 speaker cabinet features matching D-shaped handles and can operate in mono (at 16 or four ohms) or in stereo (at eight ohms).
Tube-amp purists may turn up their noses at the very mention of solid-state, but most modern metal-guitar tones get their character from solid-state devices, whether it’s distortion stomp boxes, studio preamps and EQs, or entirely solid-state amps. The D100 delivers tones that slice like a surgical razor and have more crunch than a collision between two trucks carrying Doritos and gravel. Whereas Dimebag had to goose the input on his solid-state amps to get the gain he wanted, the D100 has all the gain you need built in, and the EQ is already dialed in to produce his signature tone as well as a wide variety of other tones, including clean country twang, fat jazz sophistication and raunchy blues overdrive.
The boost switch produces aggressive, sizzling distortion, but engaging it produces a slight drop in volume, which is normal for this solid-state circuit. It’s subtle, and most players probably won’t mind anyway, since boost is not a footswitchable feature and works more as a tone-shaping “set-and-forget” function. EQ settings that are ideal for metal tones on Channel 2 don’t always translate well to Channel 1’s clean or overdrive settings, so the shared EQ section can make it a bit challenging to dial in tones that sound perfect on both channels. While Dime was known for his scooped-mid sound, you should resist the temptation to turn the mids control all the way down, as the true character and personality of Dime’s signature sound emerges when this control is turned up slightly.
The D100 features a short reverb tank that sounds decent, but reverb connoisseurs will want to spend an extra $50 and install a long reverb tank themselves—an easy modification that will significantly upgrade the reverb tone. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room inside the head’s cabinet to do this.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The D100 is an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to duplicate his Pantera tones, but it’s also a versatile bargain for players who want any shade in the guitar rainbow, from purple haze to the brown sound.
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