We were mighty impressed with Yamaha’s THR10 compact combo amp when it made its debut four years ago, but—as great as that amp is—it’s just a little too small for playing live gigs.
However, Yamaha recently introduced a pair of THR series amp heads—the THR100HD and THR100H—that provide more than ample power for bringing those awesome sounds to the stage. Yamaha has also refined and expanded the modeling technology used for these new THR series amp heads, which allows guitarists to tweak a wider variety of sounds in even finer detail from the amp’s own control panel or via software.
We took a look at the flagship THR100HD, which is like two THR100H heads in one, and more.
The THR100HD is a 100-watt (or 50 watts at 4 ohms) digital modeling amp head with two separate channels that each provides five different amp types (solid state, clean, crunch, lead, and modern) and five different tube types (6V6, EL84, KT88, 6L6GC, and EL34).
Actually the two channels are really more like two individual amps in one head as they are entirely independent from each other, and—coolest of all—can both be used at the same time to create complex layered tones. Both channels provide an identical set of controls: amp type selector switch, booster knob and switch, gain, master, bass, middle, treble, presence, reverb, and volume on the front panel and power tube selector switch and class A/AB switch on the rear panel.
Other rear panel features include a 4/8/16 ohm switch, two speaker outputs (the ohms for each output matches the ohm switch setting regardless of whether one or two cabinets are connected), a 25/50/100-watt power output switch (to match the cabinet’s power rating), a pair of XLR line outputs with speaker simulation, effect loop send and return jacks (stereo via TRS cables), 1/8-inch headphone output, USB, and ground lift. The amp also ships with a five-button (1/2, 1+2, booster, reverb, effects loop) footswitch controller that connects to the amp via an included cable with DIN connectors.
Compared to the usual digital modeling amps that serve up a smorgasbord of amp models, the THR100HD’s five amp types and five tube types may not seem like a lot. However, these controls can be set to generate probably about 95 percent of the most popular guitar amp tones that guitarists use—everything from chicken pickin’ country twang to post-millennial metal meltdown.
When plugging in and playing for the first time, two attributes are immediately apparent—all you hear are the glorious tones of the amp (absolutely no noise or hum) and the sounds have balls. The attack, particularly on high-gain distortion lead and modern tones, is explosive and expressive instead of the icepick harshness that afflicts many solid-state and even some modern digital modeling amps.
Unlike the previous THR combos, the THR100H and THR100HD may have no built-in effects other than digital spring reverb, but that’s okay because these heads love pedals in the front end and rack effects in the effects loop. The reverb sounds great too, retaining the crisp detail and attack of the original guitar tone even when the reverb control is cranked up to longer decay times. In fact, it sounds like a dry signal always remains present while the reverb is mixed in as if from a separate, independent source, like a wet/dry setup or post fader on a studio mixing console.
Because the THR100HD is truly two separate amps, two guitarists can plug into it, use separate channels, and even use separate speaker cabs. If you don’t need channel switching or layering for live performance, the THR100H is a great choice for studio recording applications, and it can save you a few bucks as well.
LIST PRICE: $1,310
MANUFACTURER: Yamaha, usa.yamaha.com
• Five amp types and five tube types allow guitarists to dial in a wide range of tones and amp characteristics ideal for any style of music.
• Since the THR100HD is truly two independent amps in one, it can layer two separate tones simultaneously or accommodate two different guitarists at once.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With its light weight, compact size, noise-free performance, and impressive variety of ballsy, expressive tones, the Yamaha THR100HD provides everything guitarists love about tube amps and none of the things they hate.