Looking for doom in all the wrong places? This meticulous recreation of the preamp from a rare ’80s amp is explosively effective.
Destructive amounts of volume, gain, and low end. Wall-of-amps doom in a box.
Somewhat confusing control labels and layout. EQ boosts can be subtle. You’ll probably want a noise gate.
Frost Giant Architect of Reality
If doom metal and its variants are big blips on your radar, you’ve probably noticed there’s a dearth of all-in-one stompboxes capable of unleashing genre-worthy filth and mayhem. A Big Muff (or any number of other fuzzes) and a distortion or two will take you a long way, but for dedicated doomers the aural onslaught usually isn’t just about cascading gain—it’s watts and decibels wreaking havoc on speaker cones. Which is why powerful heads (often 120- or 200-watt bass or PA models) from the likes of Sunn, Ampeg, Peavey, Orange, Hiwatt, Sound City, and Marshall largely rule the realm.
Another highly acclaimed amp for the task is Laney’s Advanced Overdrive Response series from the early ’80s, particularly the 50- and 100-watt Pro-Tube Lead heads, which had a handwired architecture much like a Marshall JMP circuit, only with an extra gain stage and a slightly darker sound. Influential doom/stoner/sludge bands who embraced AORs include Sleep, High on Fire, the Sword, and Electric Wizard. Of course, Laney’s doom cred goes much further back than that: Their most famous endorsee, Tony Iommi, is the veritable well from whence doom’s many tributaries spring—particularly his early Sabbath work, which was powered by Laney LA100 BL heads.
Frost Giant Architect Of Reality Review by premierguitar
- 0:00-0:16: Neck pickup with Architect bypassed.
- 0:16-0:39: Architect activated (red side only) with presence and bass at 3 o’clock, mids at 9 o’clock, treble at noon, bass and treble boosts engaged, master volume at 9:30, and preamp gain at 7:30
- 0:39-1:16: AOR (green side) engaged with AOR volume at just over 9 o’clock and AOR gain at max.
- 1:16-1:38: Bridge pickup into red side with presence at minimum, bass at max (and boosted), mids at noon (unboosted), treble at minimum (unboosted), master volume at 9:30, and preamp gain at noon.
- 1:38-2:08: AOR engaged with AOR volume at 10 o’clock and AOR gain at max.
But for Eric Calvert, head of Texas-based Frost Giant Electronics, AORs are where it’s at. In fact, his goal since founding Frost Giant has been to recreate the preamp in his own beloved AOR head from 1985. Now, with the help of Nick Williams (of Dunwich Amplification fame), Calvert’s dream has finally been realized with the Architect of Reality—a powerful homage to both Laney and, presumably, Sabbath’s 1971 sonic milestone, Master of Reality.
The Persistence of Realities
The Architect puts essentially every control from the front panel of an 8-knob AOR atop a medium-sized stompbox that’s billed as a “2-channel” design. But it’s more accurate to describe it as a massively powerful, wide-ranging distortion (right-side footswitch) with a cascading-gain feature (“AOR channel” footswitch) that can be layered over the base tone.
To help achieve its bludgeoning ends, the JFET-driven Architect converts 9V of AC power to a whopping 36V (battery power is not an option). The EQ—bass, mids, and treble knobs, corresponding boost toggles, and a presence (“pre”) knob—runs along the top row, but I found it peculiar that the master volume and preamp gain for the base tone (the “red channel”) are sandwiched between AOR (“green channel”) volume and gain knobs. The layout would feel more logical and intuitive—and therefore faster and easier to use—if AOR volume and gain were side-by-side above the AOR footswitch.
It’s capable of myriad metal flavors, but its real calling card is sheer might.
Speaker Bloody Speaker
To put the Architect’s intriguing ambitions to the test, I used a Les Paul, an Eastwood Sidejack baritone, and a Schecter Ultra III through a few different setups: a Revv G20 powering a Bogner closed-back 2x12, a Jaguar HC50 1x12, a silver-panel Fender Vibrolux Reverb paired with a Fender Rumble 200 1x15 bass amp, and a Sound City SC30 also paired with the Rumble. From the outset, the Architect’s massive volume and gain capabilities were apparent. The red side’s hot-rodded-Marshall-like preamp yields everything from toothsome gain excellent for old-school metal to blistering thrash at max. Meanwhile, the red side’s master volume is astonishingly loud—when I wasn’t using a bass amp (which allowed me to turn the guitar amp’s bass down), I began fearing for my speakers’ wellbeing when volume merely approached the noon mark.
But wide-ranging gain wouldn’t mean much if the EQ weren’t wisely focused. No matter where I dialed the treble, mids, and presence, tones never crossed over into abominable thinness. The bass control feels tight and muscular throughout its range, though it doesn’t seem particularly corpulent when maxed in red mode alone. But kick on the green side and it sounds absolutely explosive at all but the most conservative AOR settings. As with red mode, the AOR volume will likely sound like it’s clobbering your amp halfway through its range, even if the base channel’s volume is set pretty low. One couldn’t be blamed for using the green side to simulate pushing or literally push speaker cabs to their limits without looking back, but AOR mode is also capable of practical precision and subtle restraint—say, thickening things a smidge or adding razor sharpness to the core sound.
If you’re after droning, foundation-rattling gain and are sick of using multiple stompboxes and/or backbreaking stacks, you’ll find a lot to love in Frost Giant’s Architect of Reality. It’s capable of myriad metal flavors, but its real calling card is sheer might that occupies the mythical space between distortion and fuzz, where feral howls smudge together and destruction and chaos feel like real propositions. For extreme sounds—especially if you’re not miking your amp—it’s probably advisable to pair the Architect with a robust, high-wattage/high-headroom amp, if not also one of the many light, dependable bass amps on the market. But that’s a much more doable proposition than scouring the internet for rare, heavy-ass old stacks that keep going up in price.
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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.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
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.