Clear as Black
Moving to the Blackface channel gave me more headroom and clarity, making the American Dream perfect for mating with pedals. The combo revealed the full character of just about every pedal I threw in front of it. If you’re a guitarist who favors pedal textures, this amp makes a perfect blank slate.

Switching guitars to a Fender Stratocaster made it clear why the combination of Strat and Deluxe has always been so revered. From the first chord, the American Dream was bold, chimey, clear, and powerful. The response of the amp felt like an extension of my nervous system. It was both immediate and springy, giving me the feeling of the guitar being played back from the amp. Typically when I play with this clean of a setting, my amp feels a little too unforgiving, but in this case it was positively inspiring. At full volume, the American Dream gave way to a beautiful, blooming gain that was warm, detailed, and willing to get rude with a little force from my right hand.

When I switched to the 10-watt output setting, I experienced an apparent, but not huge volume drop. The most obvious change was in the response. It became a little darker in tone, but there was also a spongier feel and faster breakup in the tone. I liked this setting for pushing the amp and getting some grit without killing everyone in the house with volume, and I could see the effectiveness of this option for clubs. It’s a great feature and adds useful tonal variety to what seems like a very simple amp, when you look at the front panel.

The Verdict
The American Dream reminds you how much you can do with simplicity, and how a few knobs can offer a wide world of tone. The innovative cabinet design opens up a new dimension in sound dispersion, and the amp makes you never want to quit playing. For all its clarity and richness, it makes pedals sound terrific. And while it isn’t a small combo, it doesn’t weigh a ton. It’s easy to see myself taking the American Dream along with a few pedals to just about any gig and getting every tone under the sun. One can dream, right?

Buy if...
you love classic American tones and want a perfect blank slate for exploring pedal tones.
Skip if...
you need a Swiss-Army amp to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Street $2499 - 3rd Power Amplification -