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Carr’s Artemus is unique among our roundup contestants in that it’s driven by four EL84s and can switch between 15- and 30-watt modes. For the purposes of our test, we confined our impressions to the 15-watt setting. Like so many of the North Carolina company’s wares, the Artemus proved versatile and full of character.
Locke: I like the profile of the cabinet—it’s shallower and a little wider. The amp has an interesting layout, too. I started with the mid and edge switches both disengaged and went for a medium-gain sound where the amp sounded tight and full. It’s a bright amp, and the edge switch made it a little bit too bright for my tastes. The mid switch is very potent—it adds a lot of midrange, gain, and sustain and compression characteristics, which are really useful. It’s less necessary to have a boost pedal or an overdrive pedal with this amp.
With the neck pickup on my SG, and with its tone knob rolled all the way down, the Carr doesn’t get too bassy or flubby in the low end. It seems like you could really cover a lot of territory with the Carr— though I wish the mid switch was available as a footswitch, because then you really wouldn’t need any pedals with this amp.
Derrico: This amp is really cool. It’s got a nice snarl and the mid boost is really nice—it just gives the amp this warmth that was missing when I first plugged it in, which was really nice. The edge switch warmed things up, too. It seems like the amp got warmer every time we flipped a switch. It’s also got a nice saturation sound and the breakup is awesome.
Trovato: The first thing I noticed when I first turned this amplifier on was how bright, sparkly, and lively it sounds— it jumped right out at me. It’s also very reasonably weighted, so it won’t break your back when you’re lugging it out to the car.
The edge mode is cool. I would use edge mode and the mid switch a lot, because they fatten up an otherwise smaller-sounding amp when you use it with single-coils—they’ll really bring a Telecaster to life. I really love it when an amp makes me want to play more, and this one really does.
Although the control knobs are recessed at the back of the amp, it’s still easy to lean over the stage and look at your settings, because the name of each knob is oriented so you’re not reading them backward.
I really wish that the amp had reverb—I like reverb in a small amp, because it’s one less thing that I have to carry. But I also really love that this amp plays well with pedals, too. With an overdrive, it really came to life and made it even bigger sounding.