||Download Example 1
Strat, clean tone on Blackface channel at 22-watts
||Download Example 2
Les Paul, mean and dirty tone, Brownface channel at 10-watts
||Download Example 3
Richmond Dorchester bluesy-clean open tuning tone, Blackface channel at 22-watts
|Clips recorded with a Shure SM57 into a Chandler LTD-1 mic pre directly into Pro Tools.
3rd Power Amplification may be a fairly
new name in the amp business, but don’t
mistake that for inexperience. Designer
Jamie Scott has chased perfect tone for
several decades, a quest that began in
his early days as the original (and current)
guitarist for the San Francisco metal
band, Vain. Debuting at the 2010 summer
NAMM show in Nashville, the handwired,
Fender Deluxe-inspired American Dream
is the second amp to be released from
The American Dream is a 1x12 combo
utilizing a Celestion Alnico Gold speaker
housed in a very striking and unique
cabinet. The cab incorporates 3rd Power’s
triangular speaker chamber, which is
designed to eliminate standing waves
and enhance clarity. There are two vents
that let sound escape through the sides
of the amp, as well as a removable triangular
back panel that lends a touch of
open-back sound. With its white Tolex and
salt-and-pepper grille cloth, the American
Dream looks very mid-century American.
And adorned with a black control panel
with white chicken head knobs, heavy-duty
toggles, and a red jewel light, the amp
looks cool, classy, and functional.
The front panel is fairly sparse, given there
are two channels available. From left to
right, Channel 1 (the “brownface” channel)
features an input, Bright switch, Volume,
and Tone controls. Channel 2 (“blackface”)
also has an input and Bright switch, but is
followed by Volume, Treble, and Bass controls.
A global Presence knob and 3-way
switch with settings for 22 watts, standby,
and 10 watts is adjacent to the Power
switch and jewel light. The back panel has
an IEC power input, fuses, and four speaker
outputs (16 Ω external, 8 Ω internal, and
8 Ω internal + 8 Ω external).
The American Dream runs on a pair of
6L6 power tubes and boasts a two-stage
preamp that uses 12AX7 preamp tubes.
Staying true to the vintage concept, there
is no effects loop
or reverb on the amp.
Plug and Play
Because it’s not bogged down by bells
and whistles, getting a good tone with
the American Dream pretty much comes
down to plugging in and playing. You’d
have to work hard to get a bad sound out
of the amp, but make no mistake—that
doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of tonal variety
inside. Plugging my Les Paul into the
Brownface channel, I dialed in a killer, dirty
tone that conjured up sounds reminiscent
of the first Montrose record. There was
some of the low-end splatter that comes
from a cranked Fender, but that’s part of
the charm of playing this style of amp.
Note definition and clarity was superb and
dynamic response was excellent. This is a
very touch-sensitive amp. Without accessing
the guitar’s volume knob, I went from
clean to dirty just by digging in harder with
the pick—and this amp likes hard picking!
Like many vintage brownface amps, there
is less headroom and the mids bark a little
more. But the triangular internal design
and side vents open up the sound and give
it a wide, dimensional quality that feels
like full-blooming stereo compared to the
highly focused and compressed projection
of a normal, closed-back cab. Removing
the triangular back panel lets the amp
breathe even more, and the tone opens
up accordingly. Engaging the Bright switch
adds more top-end spank and chime, while
the Tone control, though somewhat subtle,
offers plenty of range.
As I explored this channel, I found the
global Presence control becomes more
effective as the amp revs up in volume.
This control is voiced in such a way that
the tone never gets harsh or brittle, just
fuller and more cutting in the mids.