Not quite head and cab, not quite combo, this bizarrely configured amp’s active EQ and engulfing reverb deliver uncommonly delectable tones.
Most of us are conditioned to respond to the claim of a “unique” amp design with a mixture of bemusement, skepticism, and/or horror. If it’s a digital amp, many will roll their eyes and cough disbelieving comments under their breath. If the allegedly unique amp uses tubes, some players might listen a little longer—probably still convinced they’re about to fall prey view to marketing mumbo-jumbo.
With the new Fryette Aether, though, the difference is right there in front of you and you can’t help but be intrigued by the unusual execution. Not quite head and cab, not quite a combo, it’s comprised of two boxes: A small metal unit that looks a bit like a ’50s lunchbox and contains the power tubes (two 6L6s), rectifiers (two 5Y3s), and transformers, and an XLR cable and 1/4" speaker cable that links that box to a Baltic birch cab housing the preamp, tone-altering controls, and a custom 12" Fane A60S speaker.
According to designer Steven Fryette, the Aether’s unusual design is intended to prolong power-tube life by separating the 6L6s from the speaker’s magnetic fields and filament-jostling bass frequencies, and to prevent electrical “noise” from the power circuit from transferring to the preamp’s signal path. Once you switch the lunchbox on and take a look at the main control panel, Aether seems pretty straight ahead. Twenty-five watts feed a single channel whose two 12AX7s, one 12AT7, and single 6SN7 phase inverter drive a control set with volume, a brite switch, a 2-band EQ, tremolo speed and intensity knobs, and a reverb control. But look closely and you’ll note that the bass and treble knobs are labeled “boost” and “cut” at their extremes. These active controls are key to the Aether’s surprisingly diverse tones.
Sonics Snatched from the Heavens
I tested the Aether with a couple of Telecasters (one with Curtis Novak pickups, the other with Nordstrand NVT A3s), Danelectro and Eastwood baritones (the latter with Manlius Jazzmaster-style pickups), and a TV Jones Magna’Tron-loaded Schecter Ultra III. Upon plugging in, the first things I noticed were how vintage and lived-in Aether sounds, yet how full-sounding and authoritative it is. This is certainly attributable to its construction methodology and the sum of its parts, but the preamp and speakers seem particularly important.
Two EQ knobs can seem pretty barebones, but that’s because most of us are used to passive EQs. At noon, Aether’s bass and treble knobs are flat—they’re not cutting or boosting any frequencies, so the pure voice of the preamp comes through. Past 12, they increase the volume of certain frequencies, while setting them under 12 attenuates (removes) frequencies. (In contrast, passive EQ knobs—like those on a Twin or a Marshall plexi—are actually removing frequencies from the circuit unless they’re all the way up.)
What’s so powerful about an EQ like the Aether’s is how interactive the tone controls are—both with themselves and the volume. Boost bass from noon to, say, 2 o’clock, and not only do you get more bass, but you’ve re-voiced the treble knob’s response. The dynamic possibilities here are deliciously drastic: With bass and treble at 2 o’clock and volume past noon, you’ve got a raucous tone that barks with authority and stays detailed across the frequency spectrum—think cranked Deluxe with way more muscle. Crank the bass up further and suddenly you’ve got the wooly swagger of an old Marshall or Bassman going for broke. Dial treble back past 9 o’clock, toward minimum, and you’ve got a mixture of midrange honk and Vox-like character. With tamer volume settings, you can get all manner of jazzy or rootsy tones—especially with the lunchbox’s dampening circuit set to light—and the brite switch is fantastic for taming the fizziness of, say, a Tele’s bridge pickup without losing its defining character.
As I mentioned, the Aether’s other crucial component is its alnico Fane speaker. I’ve never thought about speakers this way before, but Fryette describes the response of the A60S—which he spent two years developing with Fane Acoustics in the U.K.—as having more of an “ahhh” vowel sound that emphasizes fundamentals, as opposed to a Celestion’s “ee” sound that lends emphasis to harmonics. This jives perfectly with how I experienced the Aether’s big sound. The cab isn’t particularly large or deep, yet at higher volumes it resonates with a pleasing, all-encompassing energy that belies its dimensions.
To top things off, the amp’s long-pan reverb is alluringly expansive—reverb junkies will bask in its sloshing warmth. Even the tremolo benefits from the Aether’s active circuitry— boosting rather than cutting each signal undulation in a manner that’s simultaneously engrossing and empowering.
I’m not really qualified to judge the technical aspects of Steven Fryette’s highly unusual Aether setup, although practically speaking, splitting the total package weight of 45 pounds into two boxes that roughly balance each other out makes for a pretty easy haul to and from a gig. But even if I had some sort of theoretical basis for challenging the technical rationale behind the design (check out our in-depth video interview and demo from the last NAMM show), the Aether’s sounds are so exquisite and engulfing—and have so little extraneous noise—that it’s hard to believe Fryette’s not on to something here. This is one of the most rewarding, morphable, and sonically pleasing amps I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.