“I hadn’t heard such clarity and definition before”: Tosin Abasi overhauls his backline with new stereo tube amp rig

Tosin Abasi with his new Bad Cat Amps
(Image credit: Bad Cat Amps)

Tosin Abasi was once the poster boy for Axe-Fx and amp modeling, but recent years have seen the eight-string virtuoso turn to real amps and fully loaded pedalboards. In fact, the Animals as Leaders mastermind has been so convinced by the tonal benefits of tubes that he re-recorded latest album Parrhesia with real amps, despite having already tracked the entire thing using plugins.

So, any further sonic switch-ups from the pioneering player and gear savant will be watched with considerable interest, and for Animals as Leaders’ current tour with Dream Theater and Devin Townsend, Abasi has overhauled his tube amp backline.

The Abasi Concepts leader is now using a Bad Cat Amps Lynx – a high-gain, EL34-loaded head and combo designed for highly articulated distortion tones, with a built-in noise gate. This is paired with an unreleased pre-production model named “Jet Black” for a stereo rig.

“When I plugged into the new Bad Cats I didn’t have to look for my sound first – it was immediately there,” says Abasi of the new setup. “I hadn’t heard such clarity and definition before.”

“Working with Tosin is simply inspiring,” adds Peter Arends, CEO of Bad Cat Amplifiers. “His creativity, musical abilities and innovative playing are recognized and admired well beyond any rock genre. We share a passion for creating new sounds without preconceived ideas and we certainly won‘t stop here.”

Tosin Abasi with his new Bad Cat Amps

(Image credit: Bad Cat Amps)

The Lynx’s high-gain credentials initially made us wonder whether Abasi had ditched his Pathos distortion pedal, which he previously ran into a cleaner Morgan backline. But a closer look at the new Jet Black reveals a built-in tremolo circuit – normally a surefire sign of a cleaner amp – which could potentially still play host to a drive pedal or two.

Given that, we’d wager the Jet Black is simply a new Bad Cat amp design rather than any kind of Abasi signature amp. But a model that combines the best of both amps? Now that would be a smart idea.

However he’s configured his backline, Abasi’s tones are currently sounding mighty fine indeed – as evidenced when he joined John Petrucci to lock fretboards for some spellbinding harmonies on Dream Theater's The Spirit Carries On during their joint tour.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.