I took the Peavey Valve King 212 home for a test drive. It was rich and lively, had a great clean channel, and the dial on the back that allows you to go from Class A to Class B was extremely cool. I liked it a lot, but at 64 pounds I would have had to love it. I think it was really intended for rock gods and not for steamy songwriter goddesses. I also tried the 112 version and didn’t like it near as much – it just didn’t have the richness of the 212, though the weight and portability were definitely more in the ballpark.
|You owe it to yourself to take the time to figure out what you really want from your tone and what you really need from your amp before you start looking. The adventure is well worth it.
The real surprise of the entire quest was the Peavey Bandit 112 – I love these amps, and I would love to pick one up as a backup and jam session amp. The T-Dynamics technology was a stroke of genius on somebody’s part down there in Mississippi – I loved the control I had over my attack, as well as the rich and vibrant sound. In fact, while I was playing a couple serious players came over to check out the rig because the sound was that impressive. They couldn’t believe it was a Bandit, either. Who knew? It had a slight hiss at higher volumes but no hum, and was a serious contender.
Before I made a final decision, my husband was doing a web search to see if there were any other amps out there that we had missed and discovered something called a Henriksen Jazz Amp, handmade in Colorado, that looked extremely promising. We read all the specs online, and the next day called the factory to learn more. Bud Henriksen and I seemed to be very much on the same page about tone, self-noise, size, weight, and power – all of my major concerns. He and Curtis talked at length about his recording concerns as well, and it seemed to be the answer to his issues. With a generous return policy and a remarkably reasonable price, I decided to take a chance and order it.
At 20 pounds, compact (14”x14”x8.5”) and a barking clean 60 watts, it has the tone and the oomph I need to be all that I can be without breaking my back. It doesn’t break up at the higher volumes, so I can push it over the top of the drums and still be satisfied with the tone. It’s effortless to transport. Curtis loves the fact that he can record at a decent volume and get no self-noise, and it’s easy to mic. There is a 5 band parametric EQ instead of tone knobs – you can get the exact tone you are looking for by minutely controlling the frequencies. It has one volume control, one input, one line out and can power an 8-ohm cabinet if you want to move more air. Finally we had found amp bliss!
In the end, I learned a lot about guitar amps after months of searching. You owe it to yourself to take the time to figure out what you really want from your tone and what you really need from your amp before you start looking. The adventure is well worth it. What I’ve discovered is there’s an amp for every style of playing and every level of engagement, at a multitude of price points. Getting the right tool for the job is not only going to make you sound better, but it will inspire you and make you a better player.