When I switched to my Strat, I was very impressed with how the single-coils sounded through the Drive channel. Cranking the gain made them sustain like humbuckers. The Smooth voicing sounded great with the Strat, especially when I backed off the gain a bit for a medium overdrive rock tone. Soapbar pickups gave me some of my favorite sounds. I coaxed great British rock tones out of the Memphis Thirty, as well as fat, juicy distortion that would make any grunge or punk fan happy. The soapbar pickups responded well, and while soloing I was able to get some cool feedback.

With its three different voicings plus footswitchable power output and boost options, the Drive channel offers a huge palette of distorted tones. However, when I played sustained, single-note lines in the Drive channel, I sometimes heard overtones that were an octave above or a perfect fourth or fifth below the note I was playing. While some players consider this a cool effect, I found it could be distracting when playing slow melodies. (Fryette responds: “The ‘ghosting’ in the Memphis Thirty, like its historically important American and British predecessors, is an inherent ingredient and key to the harmonic signature of the amplifier. Overtones and subharmonic accents are so intertwined with the amplifier’s sonic quality that players often unconsciously incorporate them into their playing style.”)

Kick-Butt Clean Machine

I was just as impressed with the Clean channel. Going back to the Les Paul, I put on both humbuckers and set the voicing to Bloom. The tone was lush, full, and very well balanced. This tone could be perfect for traditional jazz. The other voicings sounded great as well, with Brite enhancing the high end and Spank adding low mids. With my Strat, I was able to get some funky tones à la Prince and dig into bluesy licks that sound great with the Boost engaged.

The Clean channel definitely offers a full spectrum of EQ. For example, playing a bridge-position single-coil with the Spank voicing on was a little too bright for my taste, even after bringing up the amp’s bass and turning down the treble. On the other hand, in Bloom voicing, a neck-position humbucker produced a full, clear tone without sounding too muffled or boomy.

Switching between 18- and 30-watt settings in the Clean channel, you probably won’t hear much of a change at a lower volume. But if you turn the amp up a bit, you can feel the tone beef up with bolder low mids in the 30-watt mode. If you kick on the Boost, the tone breaks up for a nice crunch sound. This works really well if you prefer to have a clean sound for rhythm playing, yet want an extra kick for leads.

A Tweaker’s Delight
After getting to know the Memphis’ many features, I went back to thoroughly explore each channel’s voicing options. I found that the Drive channel’s Smooth setting is perfect for medium-gain solos with nice sustain. This setting sounds great with Strats or mapletop humbucker guitars. Crisp offers more emphasis on upper mids and works well with darker-sounding guitars or guitars with EMG pickups. The Fat voicing adds more mids to the tone—especially with high-gain settings— and adds some punch to low-gain modes.

In the Clean channel, Bloom enhances sustain even at a low volume, and offers a clear and balanced voice. Brite is an enhancement of Bloom and adds some high end to the tone. Spank has the Brite voicing with some added low-mid emphasis. It’s good for soloing with an overdrive pedal, and also for guitars that emphasize lower frequencies.

If you’re a tweaker, you’ll appreciate how the Memphis makes it easy to explore different preamp tubes—which are easily accessed via a hatch on the front panel. It came with a Tung- Sol 12AX7 and three Chinese 12AX7ACs, and changing the order of the tubes alters saturation and gain. For example, I swapped the Tung-Sol in the first stage with a Chinese tube in the second stage, and that increased the bite and attack of distorted tones.

The Final Mojo
The Memphis Thirty is capable of everything from twangy country to metal power chords. With the three-position voicing switch, footswitchable boost, and Power Shift in each channel, the Memphis Thirty packs a wide variety of tones into a high-quality combo amp.
Buy if...
you’re looking for a versatile, great-sounding combo for stage and studio.
Skip if...
you play one style of music and don’t need a lot of tonal options.

Street $1649 - Fryette Amplication - fryette.com