Victoria Golden Melody 2x12 Combo
Victoria Amp Co., victoriaamp.com
Originally published in Guitar World, Holiday 2009
The Golden Melody’s ability to amplify fine details and treat notes with wondrous reverb and tremolo places this amp alongside a handful of history’s elite boutique designs.
As vintage amplifiers skyrocket in price and begin to disappear from the marketplace, the demand is increasing for faithful replicas of and tributes to yesteryear’s fabled amplifiers. Mark Baier, president of Victoria Amplifiers, is one of the specialized amp builders whose bread and butter is the precise recreation of vintage Fender and other coveted circuits. He’s the guy that artists like Buddy Guy and John Mayer turn to when they want an amp that will give them the exact same performance as a newly built Fifties- or Sixties-era Fender.
Lately, though, Baier has stepped into the role of a vintage-inspired innovator by combining old circuit topologies and time-honored tone traits with nuevo-vintage designs. A prime example of this evolutionary thinking is Victoria’s new Golden Melody combo. This all-tube, single-channel, 2x12 combo produces between 40 and 60 watts and delivers a unique blend of Fender’s Bassman, Super Reverb, Twin and tan Concert tremolo amp tones. As part of Victoria’s forward-thinking approach, the Golden Melody and other amps now showcase hip two-tone coverings and distinctive new logos.
The Golden Melody's primary mission is to produce serious stage volume without sacrificing the nuance and feel that are prized in low-powered vintage combos. It accomplishes this lofty task with a duo of 6L6 power tubes in a push/pull configuration, a Chicago-built transformer, audiophile-grade capacitors that are over-spec’d for their dynamic requirements, and a highly sensitive pair of Warehouse Guitar (WGS) Britlead 12-inch speakers. WGS is one of a few OEM specialty speaker manufacturers and for the past 70 years has been an unaccredited creator of superb drivers for all speaker applications. Employed in the Golden Melody, the WGS speakers add British-style upper-midrange aggression and chime to the Fenderish tones and project notes much farther than a typical combo-moored 12-incher. Also key to the Victoria’s recipe for sensory delights are handwired eyelet boards, Allen-Bradley resistors, Sprague electrolytic capacitors, cloth-covered solid copper wire and a 16-gauge triple-plated steel chassis.
The Golden Melody has low- and high-sensitivity inputs and controls for volume, treble, bass, middle, reverb level, tremolo speed and tremolo intensity. The tube reverb is courtesy of a full-size Accutronics spring tank, and the tremolo is a slightly modified version of Victoria’s renowned Reverberato circuit. Far more than a simple Uni-Vibe or pulsing tremolo effect, the Reverberato feature is actually a harmonic filtering modulator that separates the highs and lows, then turns the oscillating highs 180 degrees out of phase before remixing the wet signal with the dry. No less than two and a half preamp tubes are required to produce this marvel of analog wizardry. You won’t find any I.C. chips or diodes in this amp.
Try to imagine the glorious experience of hearing a pipe organ reverberating off a cathedral’s high ceilings and you’ll have some idea of the singing presence and cascading tones that emanate from the Golden Melody. The amp’s omnipresent characteristics are great clarity and definition, and a luminous three-dimensional projection.
The warm lows and bell-like highs are especially pronounced when paired with a guitar with single-coil pickups. The amp remains almost perfectly clean with single-coils well into upper regions of volume, but humbuckers can push the preamp into a modicum of pleasing raunch and creamy saturation.
As with all Victorias, the tubedriven reverb is divinely lush and deep. However, the tremolo is the real star of this amp, refracting notes and harmonic overtones in such a way that dazzles the ears and fingers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Golden Melody's ability to amplify fine details and treat notes with wondrous reverb and tremolo places this amp alongside a handful of history’s elite boutique designs. It’s just the thing for tone-obsessed guitarists who desire a high-volume amp that produces the tones and nuances of a low-powered vintage combo.
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