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The Flogging Will Continue Until Morale Improves
It seems almost a shame to flog the Clean Machine with a box, but it is in the job description. First up was a Mesa Boogie V-Twin through the Clean Machine’s effects loop with a dual set of George L’s vintage cables. I’ve had success mating the V-Twin to a variety of Fenders throughout the years, so I was excited to hear the results of this unlikely pairing.
As I had hoped, the Clean Machine 150 still maintained its tight, focused, warm, American voicing while blending nicely with an aggressive snarl from the V-Twin’s hyper-saturated red channel. The V-Twin didn’t override the fundamental voicing of the Clean Machine; it just melded the two differing approaches to American-voiced amps into a coherent whole. Clean, punchy and tight on one hand, crunchy and saturated on the other.
Next up to bat, a Tele Thinline with a Duncan SH1-59 in the neck and a stock Tele pickup in the bridge. This time, however, a Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive was drafted into service. Although the Sparkle Drive shares a lot of the positive aspects that have been so desired in TS9 and 808-inspired pedals, it also shares some if their deficits too, namely an adenoidal midrange honk. Running the Sparkle Drive through the effects loop tempered a lot of the pedal’s mealy-mouthed articulation, and produced a tone that would make Derek Trucks rethink his current set up.
Last was a Russian-made Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, coupled with a late-nineties Guild Bluesbird. Usually this is a messy, noise-plagued pedal, but through the Clean Machine 150 it produced a sound reminiscent of Cream-era Clapton’s pairing of an ES-335 and a Marshall. Throughout the assault, individual notes could still easily be picked out through the din of sonic mayhem, even while running just the neck pickup! Amazing.
The Final Mojo
While I prefer a good two-channel amp for both my clean and dirty, the Fuchs Clean Machine 150 is far from being a one-trick pony. Andy Fuchs has said he designed the Clean Machine 150 with the pedal-user in mind—as far as I’m concerned the sounds from the Clean Machine are so focused, tight, and well balanced, it’s almost a shame to run any sort of pedal through it.
Country, blues, rock and surf or highlife players will go nuts over this amp. It’s also intriguing to think what will happen when this amp falls into the hands of lap steel players. If you love the sound of a really good combo amp but need something that has a lot more headroom, then the Fuchs Clean Machine 150 may just be what the doctor ordered. Be warned: there may be a hidden cost to an amp that has this degree of audiophile-level clarity—you may have to purchase new cables, new effects, and possibly even a new guitar to get the best out if this amp.
The Clean Machine is also available in a 75-Watt version (2x6550), as well as a 100-Watt model with four 6L6s—if you’d prefer less power or 6L6 voicing—and the 6550-equipped models can accommodate EL34s with a rebias. The only thing I can fault the Clean Machine 150 for is that I would’ve liked more ability to adjust the “Speed” and “Intensity” of the reverb unit. I guess you can’t have everything; in this case almost everything is more than enough.
You are looking for detailed clean sounds, fat reverb tones, or you run more stompboxes than David Gilmour.
You demand the end-all/be-all amp without the use of stompboxes.
MSRP $3300 - Fuchs Audio Technology - fuchsaudiotechnology.com.com