Giveaways January 2015

January 15
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Komet 19 Amp Head Review

When I was growing up, my parents told me to eat my vegetables and that good things came in small packages. To me it sounded more like a public service announcement for boring food and crummy gifts than good advice. Like many things your parents teach you that don’t sound so good at first, over time you realize there is more than a grain of truth to them—like when broccoli actually started tasting pretty decent, and carting around heavy stacks of amps became a drag. Mom and dad were on the right track! In the spirit of good things coming in small packages, the company responsible for giving us the Komet 60 and Constellation 30 brings us the Komet 19.

The Package
Download Example 1
2008 Fender Strat with Sheptone pickups.  Various pickup positions. 
Komet 19 controls - Volume: 2 o’clock, Saturation: 10 o’clock, Tone: 11 o’clock.  Bright Switch: off (center position)

Download Example 2
2003 Les Paul R8 (Murphy) with Fralin P90 in the neck. 
Komet 19 controls - Volume: 1 o’clock, Saturation: 11 o’clock, Tone: 12 o’clock, Bright Switch: down (position 1)

Download Example 3
Reissue Danelectro 59 with stock pickups. Using neck pickup. 
Komet 19 controls - Volume: 10 o’clock, Saturation: 1 o’clock, Tone: 12 o’clock, Bright Switch: down (position 1)

Clips recorded with Pro Tools HD3, Chandler LTD-1 preamp, SM57 (Mercenary Edition) 1” from center of cone.  Speaker cab is a Krank closed-back poplar 1x12 with mid-'70s tan Celestion 25.  A small amount of Altiverb on all clips.
Looking a lot like the little brother of the Komet 60, the Komet 19 head measures a compact 17”x9”x8” and weighs just 25 pounds. It comes in a wide variety of colors, including Black, Baltic Blue, Emerald Green, Purple and Red, and it features the same high-quality components and construction as all Komet products. That means custom-designed output and power transformers, a laser-cut chassis made with solid 1/8” welded aircraft grade aluminum and military- grade 2W potentiometers. The relatively simple front panel consists of an input, a 3-way Bright Switch, Volume, Saturation and Tone controls followed by a jewel pilot light and Standby and Power switches. On the back, there’s an IEC power input, mains and HT fuses, a 4/8/16-ohm impedance selector and two speaker outputs. The Komet 19 is cathode biased and comes stock with Sovtek tubes, 2 EL84s and a pair of 12AX7s.

What’s Inside
Pulling the chassis out of the head box revealed some pretty astonishing workmanship. I was expecting to see a neatly wired turret board on par with most high-end modern amps, but instead the entire assembly is literally point-to-point construction: the components are directly mounted to the pots, jacks and tube sockets. There is no circuit board at all, which makes it clear that the folks at Komet spent a great deal of attention on the layout and design. It’s really a work of art.

Are you the little guy making that big noise?
Even though 19 watts doesn’t sound like that much power, it actually can produce a lot more volume that most people expect. Since the Komet 19 lacks a Master Volume, I contacted Komet and asked for a little background on their design philosophy to better understand what they were trying to achieve. According to Michael Kennedy and Holger Notzel, “Komet makes amps that are intended for live use. The amp must be capable of delivering a full range of tones from clean to singing leads, all controllable from the guitar via guitar volume control settings and pick attack, in a band setting. Master volume controls can be useful in achieving one (overdriven) sound at a given volume level, but they limit the highly dynamic interaction between guitar and amp that we strive for. Master volume amps just don’t clean up as well from the guitar, and when they do the clean volume is too low. In limiting the amount of drive delivered from the preamp to the power amp, the distortion now has to be created inthe preamp, with the power tubes mostly just amplifying that signal. Komets are designed to clip in a very specific way, beginning with the output stage. We feel that this gives the most dynamic response and control.” That makes sense. Let’s take a look at how it performs.