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The Blindfold Test
As a final, fun test, we did a blind study, to see how accurately I could identify each of the various amps in the roundup. Johnny and Tony set up the group of amps, and I sat in a chair with my back turned away from them. With the guitar plugged in, they began to fire up the various amps, and we got rolling. Out of all the amps, I was always able to distinguish the Wallace BKW45, due to it’s slightly darker sound. The Metros were also fairly easy to spot, but I ended up guessing the kit as the custom build and vice-versa. The ’65 was also an easy amp to recognize, but as ear-fatigue set in, the lines began to blur substantially. Pretty soon, I was confusing the Germino for the reissue JTM, the Mojave Plexi for the Wallace, and the Metros for the real JTM. It just goes to show you that all of the amps performed remarkably well, and you can be fooled when you’re not seeing what you’re playing, so never discount a PCB reissue head as a second fiddle to the real thing. In the mix of a band, these differences become small, and any one of these amps would hold their own any day of the week.
To have the opportunity to play through so many variations on a classic theme was not only fun, it was educational. Each one of the builders excels in creating their own unique version of the great rock and roll amp that Ken Bran, Dudley Craven and Jim Marshall built back in 1962. While like all Marshalls, the JTM45 went through changes in tubes, components and designs over its lifetime, there is a trademark flavor and color that still can be found in all of them. Not everyone can afford a vintage 45, but with the help of these builders we have the opportunity to get into that sound and have build quality that will last for years.