October 2016
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Champions of Chime: The EL84 Roundup

Champions of Chime: The EL84 Roundup

Fargen AC Duo-Tone


Format: Head
Watts: 15
Preamp Tubes: Two 12AX7s
Rectifier: 6CA4/EZ81
M18 Channel Controls: Single input with volume and tone knobs
V15 Channel Controls: Single input with volume and tone knobs
Price: $1,949 street (Also available with a 1x12 cab for $699 street or a 2x12 cab for $899 street.)

Ben Fargen’s amps have always had a very British visual bent, so it’s no surprise that the AC Duo Tone pops up in our Anglo-favored roundup. Its combination of Marshall and Vox voices makes it one of the most versatile amps of the group.

Locke: There’s a channel called V15 and a channel called M18. Now, I did not go to college, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the V15 is based on a Vox 15-watter, and I think the M18 is a Marshall-style 18-watter. The Vox channel in particular is nice. It had a nice shimmer to it, a big, robust clean tone with a little more bottom end than I would generally find on Vox-style circuits, which is nice. Up in the highest quadrant of the volume control, it has a ferocious, grinding Vox tone.

The Marshall channel is great, though I wish the two channels were a little more different—it’s just a little less bright on the high end. But it’s pretty great for lead work when you turn it up. This is a good, robust platform for players who want a good, semi-clean, on-the-verge of overdrive tone that they can kick into overdrive with pedals. There’s a master volume on the back panel, too, if you’re looking for those tones at more discreet volumes.

Derrico: This amp is pretty awesome. It looks good, and I like how each channel has only two knobs—nice and easy. The Vox-style channel is really warm and not quite as glassy as a Vox, which I kind of dig more. The Marshall side is badass—you hit a big, open D chord in dropped-D tuning, and it’s just rock ’n’ roll all the way. Vibe-wise, I love the warmth, and it’s very organic and responsive. The more I dig in, I can really hear my hands through this amp.

Trovato: This amp is a monster … [even though] the controls are simple. With a small amp like this, I would typically crank the master volume—set it just on the verge of breaking up—and use any distortion or overdrive effects with an external pedal. I love both channels of this amp. The V15 side has that jangly, British sound that sounds great with a 12-string guitar. The M18 side sounds very much like Bluesbreakers-era Eric Clapton. The only drawback for me, personally, is the lack of reverb.


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