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65 Amps: the SOHO

Peter Stroud is a modern renaissance man; in addition to being Sheryl Crow’s guitarist, he and his business partner Dan Boul are the proprietors of 65Amps. He is also

Peter Stroud is a modern renaissance

man; in addition to being Sheryl Crow’s

guitarist, he and his business partner Dan

Boul are the proprietors of 65Amps. He

is also a Premier Guitar contributor, writing

our popular “Tone Tips” column. This

presented me with a good old-fashioned

quandary, although the potential conflict

isn’t what you might be thinking.

I have just taken care

of those journalistic

concerns by telling

you “Peter

makes this amp,

and writes for us,

too.” What was

bothering me was,

before doing this

review, I had never

spoken to to the man

himself, but everyone

here who has had even

the smallest of interactions

with him openly

sings his praises as “the

coolest guy ever.” In fact,

the ball started rolling on

this review via a conversation

with a member of our

sales team. I casually asked him what he

thought of 65Amps, and was met with

a rollicking, “Dude! You would (expletive

deleted) love them!” And so it began.

A few weeks later a 65Amps SoHo shows

up, and I suddenly get all chickenshit about

everything. What if I don’t like the coolestguy-

on-earth’s amp? I had the potential to

become the rock n’ roll equivalent of Steve

Bartman, to Peter’s Moises Alou [Our

offices are about three hours southwest

of Wrigley Field – Ed.]. Fortunately – due

to the SoHo being one of the best sounding,

most flexible, low-wattage combos

I’ve heard – the beer and insult hurling

will have to wait for when various exgirlfriends

catch sight of me at the local


The SoHo cranks out 20 watts, and is

equipped with a Celestion G12H 30-watt

70th Anniversary speaker. The chassis

mounts in the cabinet like an AC30, with

the top-mounted controls consisting of

a defeatable Master Volume, Volume,

Treble, and Bass controls, and a unique

Bump feature, with Tone and Level controls,

as well as a switch taking it in and

out of the circuit.

The SoHo’s appearance is anything but

shy, with two chrome-plated grills being

the line’s most recognizable feature.

That, coupled with the two-tone tolex,

prompted everyone around the office to

comment on the obvious good looks of

the SoHo. That is also

the basis for an isolated

criticism of the

amp: it’s almost too

pretty. While this follows

a trend started

a while back by amp

makers like Matchless

and Tone King, I question

the logic, particularly

for the types of

gigs the majority of

guitarists play. Unless

the SoHo is being

purchased strictly for

bedroom/living room

use, budget for a flight

case – and even then

kid gloves are in order. I

am in no way inferring it is

not built solidly, because it

is, but I’d just hate to see it

after a few years of gigging

without adequate protection.

Continuing with this theme of full disclosure,

I prefer to remain incognizant of the

products I review beforehand, so I’m not

swayed too much by preconceptions.

That, coupled with the way the chassis is

mounted in the 1X12” cabinet, made me

scramble a bit, wondering if maybe it was rocking some oddball

power tubes I hadn’t heard of before. I was certainly in no mood

to pretend I know what a KT96 is. But once I determined the

SoHo was equipped with EL84 power tubes, and had an EF86

running in pentode mode up front, I assumed this amp would

have a vintage, Vox-y vibe. Boy, was I wrong. The best way to

describe the overall vibe of this amp is Class A EL84 until things

start breaking up; that’s when it begins imparting more of an

EL34 vibe while retaining the EL84 chime.

The SoHo alternately has tons of clean sparkle and headroom

or convincing, musical crunch at baby’s-in-bed volumes with the

Master switched in. It’s even capable of old school, crank-it-up

raunch, no Master Volume needed, thank you. In fact, this is where

the SoHo and I got along best. Rolling in the Bump’s Tone control

adds even more schizophrenic prowess to the SoHo, going from

various English-flavored tones to a more brown, then eventually

blackface, vibe. The Level control is included in the Bump circuit to

add even more tonal flexibility, giving you the option of how much

of the circuit is fed into the signal. There seem to be enough tonal

options to hang yourself, but even I was unable to create any

truly crappy sounds, regardless of where the knobs and switches

landed, which I consider to be a laudable achievement.

P-90s and humbuckers both sounded great through the SoHo,

but, to my ears anyway, this thing seems tailor-made for Strats. It

can create a wicked sound at any range of the gain settings, from

sparkly-but-never-hurtful chime to a delightful medium grind, all

the way up to full-on thick and tasty crunch. The clean sounds

have an appealing thickness about them, never allowing the

bridge pickup do that thin, brittle thing Strats are wont to do, and

the medium grind tones are amazing; great, thick textures that

are responsive to volume knob input, cleaning up better than Nick

Nolte after a weekend stay at the L.A. county jail. Strats aren’t my

first choice for balls out distortion, and the most distorted sounds

from the SoHo are about a thousand miles away from typical

modern, high-gain fare, but will do quite nicely for that slightly

ironic cover of “Woman from Tokyo.”

To put it another way, I am unable to comment on how the SoHo

deals with pedals. Why? I never even thought about using them

while reviewing this amp. The clean sounds were thick and sparkly

enough to keep me from ever contemplating plugging in a

compressor or my trusty CE-2. The overdriven sounds were so

dynamic and toneful that placing an overdrive pedal in front would

have been unconscionable, like slapping a coffee-can exhaust on a


The Final Mojo

If you play alt-country, originals, or classic rock tunes in a band

graced with a either a reasonable drummer or competent sound

guy, this could be your next amp. If you’re ready to step up to a

boutique amp, but it needs to cover home, recording, rehearsal

and gig duties, this is your next amp.

65 Amps

MSRP $2895

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