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65amps London Pro Amp Review

65amps London Pro Amp Review

The London Pro belongs to 65amps’ Working Pro Line—a more affordable series of amplifiers (in relative terms) for players who want 65amps features and quality with fewer frills.

Download Example 1
Red Channel, Gutsy Rhythm Tone
Download Example 2
Blue Channel, Gritty Lead Tone
Download Example 3
Both Channels. Raunchy Rhythm Tone
Clips recorded with a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom into the amp mic'd with a SM57 off-axis into a Chandler LTD-1 mic pre, Apogee Symphony I/O into Pro Tools HD9. No EQ, reverb or processing.

The innovative 65amps has so consistently

built great amplifiers that

it’s hard not to get excited about a new

release. Over the past year or so, I’ve

reviewed both the Lil Elvis and the Tupelo

and was impressed by what I saw and

heard. But as a British amp fanatic, I could

hardly wait to check out the 18-watt,

EL84-powered London Pro.

The London Pro belongs to 65amps’

Working Pro Line—a more affordable

series of amplifiers (in relative terms)

for players who want 65amps features

and quality with fewer frills. The

London Pro is an evolution of

65’s first amp, the London. And

given its wattage and the EL84

circuitry in Channel 1, the Pro

is sure to grab the attention of players

who like the original London, or dig

the chime and overdrive Vox’s ground-breaking

AC15 combo. But with its

switchable preamp section, the London

Pro should also appeal to players who

require more gain stages.

Slightly Stripped

The London Pro achieves its more accessible

price by trimming some of the

cosmetics—like metal vents and recessed

panels—that cost more to manufacture.

That doesn’t mean the London Pro isn’t

a striking amp. On the contrary, with a

big, red 65 logo on the head and cab, the

Pro is a perfect picture of understated

cool. The black-and tan split-front cab

has a retro vibe, and the head’s leather

handle and big rubber feet make it comfortable

to haul and resistant to vibration.

With its white silk-screened lettering,

the black control panel is laid out

thoughtfully and is easy to read.

Moving from left to right, burly power and

standby switches bookend a red jewel lamp,

which is followed by a Master Voltage (master

volume) knob. Channel 1’s controls consist of

Tone and Volume with a red LED indicator.

Channel 2 also sports two knobs—Tone (with

a push-pull Bright control) and Volume (with

a push-pull Boost control)—plus a blue status

LED. Between the channels, a 3-way toggle

lets you select either channel or combine

them. Simple and elegant.

Peering inside the London Pro, you can

plainly see the high-quality construction that

65amps is known for. Dual EL84s drive the

power section, and you’ll find a 6CA4 in the

rectifier section. Here’s something noteworthy:

Each channel has a different preamp

tube. Channel 1 offers a familiar 12AX7,

while Channel 2 has a more chiming EF86.

The open-back cabinet houses a 12"

Celestion G12H-30, which is one of

65amps’ speakers of choice. Crafted from

Baltic birch, the cab is also relatively compact,

measuring 21.5" x 18" x 13". Another

nice leather handle is set on top, and the

same big rubber feet you see on the head

insulate the cab from vibration.

Back-to-Back Brit

My go-to guitar for the first play test was

a 2003 Gibson Les Paul R8 with Sheptone

AB Special PAFs. I left the Master Voltage

control at full, set the Volume and Tone to

noon, and kicked out a nice, big E power

chord that would have certainly make

Malcolm Young smile. Despite running at

18 watts, there was enough bite and gain

to feel like a big 100-watt head with less

volume. There was a bit of buzz coming

through this channel, so I made a quick

call to Dan Boul at 65 and we concluded

that Channel 1’s 12AX7 suffered from shipping.

Swapping it out for another 12AX7

remedied the situation, and I was back to

playing in no time.

The EL84s ensured that the London Pro

always had a nice bite on the top end and

only when the Tone was cranked did things

sound a little too brittle for my taste. There

are a lot of killer sounds in this amp available

to a player who is willing to work the

Volume and Tone knobs, and it’s easy to

match pickups and guitars to the Pro.

Anyone who has worked with a good

low-wattage amp knows that 18 watts can

still be pretty loud. So the Master Voltage

control really expands the usefulness of the

London Pro in lower-volume applications. I

found the control effective all the way down

to about 4. Settings below that didn’t seem

to activate the speaker as much, adding up

to a smaller sound that’s useful in some

scenarios, but definitely a little choked and

probably not a tone you’d record with. That

said, the tone at 4 was excellent and sacrificed

little of the goodness I’d enjoyed at

higher volumes.

Moving to Channel 2 with both knobs

set to noon gave me discernibly less output

and much less gain than Channel 1. But

goosing the volume a little brought out all

the sweet and open top end of the EF86

preamp tube. Here I found a wealth of

killer tones that ranged from Brian May

to Gary Moore. In general, Channel 2 is

throatier and chimier, which is a beautiful

juxtaposition to the crunch of the 12AX7

channel at higher volumes. Clean tones on

Channel 2 are so gorgeous, I didn’t even

notice the absence of onboard reverb.

Channel 2 isn’t just about clean,

though. My favorite aspect of Channel

2’s performance is that with everything

set to full, and the Boost and Bright

switches activated, there was enough gain

for solos—and then some. The range of

crystalline-to-just-a-bit-gritty tones you can get out of this channel

is exceptional. Playing a Stratocaster, the tones were full and

thick, but retained the articulation that you’d use a Stratocaster

for in the first place. This amp definitely keeps the character of

your guitar intact.

Combining the two channels was where the London Pro

shined in terms of gain and tonal versatility. Using the two

Volume controls together, I was able to push the front end

much harder than when playing either channel individually,

and this resulted in beautiful and endless sustain that effortlessly

transformed into harmonic feedback. Maxing out the volumes

gave me a sound not unlike a heavily modded Marshall

with loads of gain and a thickness you can’t get from either

channel on its own. Even at the highest settings, the amp never

got excessively noisy.

The Verdict

65amps has unleashed a potent, multifaceted, and sophisticated

amp in the London Pro. The amazing range of sounds you can

get by simply working the Tone and Volume controls—particularly

when the two channels are running together—might find

you leaving your pedalboard at home. The Pro covers a spectrum

of essential amp tones that range from vintage Marshall and Vox

to modern boutique. And while there were times I wished for

bass and mid controls, the Pro is transparent enough to let you

take advantage of your guitar’s tone knobs to expand the amp’s

range. In short, it’s hard to imagine a stage or studio situation

where the London Pro wouldn’t excel. The London Pro’s sonic

flexibility makes it a potentially great stage amp, and while it certainly

isn’t a budget amp, it represents real value.

Buy if...
you want three simple but versatile channels of killer British tone in a compact package.
Skip if...
you want more bells and whistles, or need to have three-figure wattage on tap.

Street $1850 (head), $575 (cab) - 65 Amps -