Blankenship Amplification Mini-LEEDS21 Carry-On Amp Head Review
November 18, 2009
Blankenship''s Carry-On delivers classic British sound in an extremely portable 21-watt package.
|Download Example 1
Clean 1 - Single Coil Postion
|Download Example 2
Clean 2 - Single Coil Postion
|Download Example 3
Dirty 1 - Humbucker Postion
|Download Example 4
Dirty 2 - Humbucker Postion
|Download Example 5
Dirty 3 - Humbucker Postion
|Recorded w/ Sennheiser e609 mic thru Motu Mk11 interface using Gibson SG-X w/ 500T Pickup (Single Coil or Humbucker noted) direct to Blankenship Carry On and into an Orange PPC412 w/ Eminence Governors
When I first plugged into the Carry On, I ran a Gibson SG-X with a 500T humbucker straight in (no pedal chain) and used an Orange PPC412 cab with Eminence Governors. Going for all or nothing, I cranked the volume clockwise to 8 with the guitar volume at 10. I was instantly won over by the tonal quality of this amp. Before even touching the Tone knob I was surprised at how powerful the Carry-On was, but also how perfectly dialed in the tone was. I can’t imagine the care and time it would take to voice an amp this well with the idea of giving the player only two controls. The overall sound of the amp is crunchy, bright and responsive with excellent sustain. The Tone control adjusts the amount of low to high range; while it’s not a very extreme control, it does provide a final touch to an already killer sound. I found 6 to be to my liking, because it gave me a little more on the top end to match the Eminence Governors’ midrange. Turning up to 10 the sound didn’t fall apart, but provided even more gain and power.
Backing off my guitar volume and flipping the coil-tap switch to a single coil, I lowered the amp volume to around 4 to 6. The Carry-On provided a transparent clean sound, complimenting the bright and punchy qualities of the 500T in single-coil mode. After stumbling up the stairs and discovering that I’d been playing for about three hours straight, I was sold. While I had the amp, I got the chance to use it in the studio to double guitar tracks. I ran a ’72 Fender Telecaster reissue with Warmoth baritone neck, Rio Grande Dirty Harry singlecoil in the bridge and the stock Fender jumbo humbucker in the neck. The combination of the Carry-On’s raw crunch, the bite of the Telecaster and the low end of the baritone strings supplied plenty of low growl, complimenting my Sound City L120’s darker tones. The Carry-On also accepts pedals very well, if the gain provided by the amp isn’t enough. It handled all the distortion and fuzz pedals I threw at it like a champ. I only wish this amp had a line out, so I could have slaved out the Sound City for even more volume.
The Final Mojo
Though the Carry-On recreates the sound of old, there are some very modern traits to the amp that may make it more desirable than using a vintage amp live, or even in studio situations. The sturdy power supply is one. The other is that the Carry-On runs at modern voltages, unlike older amps that were made to run at lower voltages. This allows the Carry- On to achieve its full potential, giving you 1960s tone without having to change the caps on your vintage amp. Designed to give the player straight to amp tone, the Carry-On will make you forget all about a master volume (which squashes your preamp tubes anyway). While pedal effects makers and software companies may try to reproduce it and may come close, there is nothing quite as inspiring as standing in front of a revved up valve amp at full volume. Hiwatt, Sound City, and Marshall enthusiasts would do well to check out Roy Blankenship’s amp line. The Carry-On comes at a street price that makes it obtainable for a boutique amp—especially next to that plexi you’ve been watching on eBay. Now I just have to save my pennies to buy one, or skip the country with the one in my basement.
you’re looking for classic British tone.
21 watts is not enough.
Street $1499 (includes ballistic nylon carry bag and shoulder strap) - Blankenship Amps - blankenshipamps.com