Mark Tremonti and the gang from Annapolis swing big with a 100-watt, 3-channel blast machine that spans clean and ferocious extremes.
Incredible sounds across all three channels—ranging from pretty and clean to hot and aggressive. Reasonably priced.
No onboard attenuation or reverb.
PRS MT 100
Mark Tremonti’s relationship with PRS Guitars began in 2000 with his first signature guitar. Eighteen years later, he had his first signature amp, theMT 15, a successful lunchbox amp that received a Best in Show award at the NAMM show that year. The new 100-watt, 3-channelMT 100 takes Tremonti’s tone concepts to higher and louder heights.
Three Corners of a Colossus
The MT 100 is designed by amp guru Doug Sewell, who built much-revered amps under his name before Paul Reed Smith recruited him. The tube layout includes four 6L6GC power amp tubes—typical enough for a 100-watt amp. But there are eight 12AX7 preamp tubes because each channel has its own preamp section. The clean channel uses one preamp tube (V1) and the overdrive and lead channels each use two. And while the MT 100’s many knobs suggest a complicated affair, the amp is actually pretty straightforward. Each channel has its own controls for presence, master, bass, middle, treble, and gain—that’s it. On the back panel is a tube-driven, series effects loop, where you can patch in reverb or delay as desired. There’s also a very handy panel of bias jacks. A 3-button footswitch is included and there are corresponding LED lights on the switch and the amp’s faceplate (blue for clean, orange for overdrive, and red for lead), so you know which channel is engaged.
Five Years in the Making
f you only know Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge and Creed, you’d probably assume the MT 100 is a high-gain flamethrower. It’s much more than that, though. Tremonti is an amp fanatic, and his stage setup has traditionally been pretty complex, ranging from Dual Rectifiers for dirty sounds to Twin Reverbs for clean ones. The MT 100 impressively covers much of that turf via a single amplifier.Initially the MT 100 was going to have a 2-channel design like the MT 15, but Tremonti wanted to add an overdrive channel. When Iinterviewed Tremonti in 2012, he talked of his love of Dumbles. The MT 100’s middle channel is inspired by his favorite Dumble, and took five years of back and forth before the design was finalized. Dumble-style amps are typically extra expensive, so the MT 100’s $1,849 price feels like a bargain for an amp that does Dumble and then some.
With Ears Wide Open
I plugged a couple of guitars into an MT 100, including a semi-hollow and a dual-humbucker solid-body with split-coil options, with the amp hooked up to a Celestion-equipped cabinet. It was easy to find sweet spots for each instrument I tried. With the clean channel’s tone controls at noon and the presence a touch lower than that, the MT 100 sounds bright and a lot like a Fender Twin, with more warmth and copious bottom end. The clean channel brings small details to life. Fingerpicked open chords laced with hammer-on and pull-off embellishments, for example, sound especially pretty. And while the clean sounds are full-bodied, they leave a lot of space for effects like delay and reverb. I do wish that the MT 100 had built-in reverb. Almost all of us have loads of effects at the ready, but it’s also nice when an amp—and clean channel—this fundamentally good enables you to plug and play with a reverb option.
The overdrive channel is a delight, particularly when I use my semi-hollow. With the tone controls all around noon, the presence at 9 o’clock, and the gain at 2 o’clock, I could cop Robben Ford and Larry Carlton fusion sounds in a jiffy. But the overdrive channel isn’t just smooth and heavy. With a bridge-position humbucker and the gain control all the way up, it was easy to tap Brit-style metal and hard rock tones.For Tremonti fans, the lead channel is probably the MT 100’s main attraction, and it definitely lives up to expectations. Lead sounds bloom with sustain, and notes would ring forever whether humbuckers or split-coils drove the front end. Palm-muted rhythm figures felt massive—floor-shakingly massive. And though you could fairly categorize the lead channel as dark and heavy at times, it’s far from muddy. You’ll hear a lot of detail in these zones. What’s also cool is that the tone foundation of the lead channel is distinctly different than that you hear on the overdrive channel. It really comes across as two different amps rather than the same basic sound with different gain variations on each of the two heavy channels. Factor in the use of effects and you’re looking at a lot of tone possibilities. Switching between channels, incidentally, is smooth, organic, and free from the jarring pops that some channel-switching amps exhibit.
In a lot of ways, PRS was brave to build the MT 100. One hundred watts is a lot of power to wrangle, and to get the amp to really move air it needs to be cooking at a volume level that may not be practical in a lot of gigging situations. Obviously, an attenuation option might have been a nice touch (though you can argue that’s what the lunchbox-sized MT 15 is for), and if you use a load box/speaker simulator like UA’s OX, you can still get in on the fun. In larger environments that can handle it with a big cab, though, it is at its most beastly.
PRS and Tremonti should be commended for choosing a streamlined design path, too. Sure, it has three channels, but it forgoes power-scaling capabilities, graphic EQ, the option to use different types of power tubes, a foot-switchable effects loop, or direct recording/speaker cabinet cloning outputs like so many modern amps. And while it eschews bells and whistles, the MT 100 dominates in terms of tone—each of the MT 100’s three channels is dripping with it. If an amp that offers delicious Fender Twin Reverb-meets-Bruno Underground clean tones, a dead-on Dumble-sounding overdrive channel, and a hellacious lead channel that can stand head-to-toe with the Dual Rectifiers, Uberschalls, and 5150s of the world sounds cool to you, you’re probably not going to think once about the lack of gimmicks.
Mark Tremonti's New 100W Amps! The PRS MT 100 Mark Tremonti Signature Amp Demo | First Look
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