AS BOUTIQUE AMP enthusiasts know, we're in the middle of a low-wattage amplifier renaissance. Some of the finest guitar sounds heard on classic albums were created using low-powered amps. Today, many players are replicating those sounds using the latest generation of low-watt amps and combos, not only in the studio but also onstage. Simply put, a low-watt amp sounds great when it's cranked, producing crunch more readily and at lower volume levels than a high-powered stack.
Building upon this notion, amp builder Dan Boul and Peter Stroud, guitarist for Sheryl Crow, created the London 65, a dream amp whose pedigree is based upon the renowned punch of a vintage 18- watt Marshall and the ringing chime of a Vox AC15. The London excels at blending these classic circuits within its design for more dynamic overdrive range, focused clean sounds, and the ability to deliver these sounds with aplomb, especially when it's cranked.
The two-channel, 18-watt London 65 is meticulously designed and built, from the custom hand-wound transformers and tone capacitors to the seamless point-to- point hand wiring inside its chassis. The Vox-flavored Normal channel has controls for volume, tone and color (a six-way selector that accentuates the channel's midfrequency response), and a gain boost switch that engages generous overdrive for solos.
The "Plexi"- style Classic Tremolo channel has volume and tone controls, as well as speed and intensity controls for the tremolo circuit. A cut knob lets you roll off the brilliance of both channels. Both the gain boost and tremolo are activated by footswitch making the amp very gig-friendly. Inside the cabinet, a pair of 12-inch Celestion Alnico Blue and G12H30 speakers give the amp its rock-solid voice.
Using a Gibson Les Paul, I discovered the Normal channel has a naturally compressed tone, with tons of clarity even when pushed to overdrive. The Classic Tremolo channel's tremolo circuit produces a strong throb rather than a subtle pulsing, but the real treat is the channel's athletic voice, which is reminiscent of Angus Young's High Voltage-era guitar sound.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The London 65's lush overdrive and velvet clean tones recall some of the finest sounds of the British Invasion. In looks and performance, it's an instant classic.