Retro style and tone
|Download Example 1|
Download Example 2
Rhythm Channel, Clean Funky
Download Example 3
Rhythm Channel, Tremolo Effect
Clips recorded with a 1978 Greco EG-700
Watch a video review of the amp on page 2.
Mark Bartel of Tone King Amplification (a member of the Premier Builders Guild) knows well the payoff that comes from putting those elements together right. He designs his amps with a very simple philosophy—distill great guitar tones down to their basic elements, and then design an amplifier around them. His amps have already attracted the ears of Mark Knopfler, and his latest creation—the Tone King Galaxy—will likely impress the famous and anonymous alike with its capacity for big, clear 6L6 tones, low-end girth, and snarling sounds when it’s wide open.
To Boldly Go . . .
The turquoise-and-white Galaxy is a showstopper. Stacked on the matching 2x12 cabinet, its Jet Age style looks like a cross between a ’57 Chrysler and a mid-century television—it really looks like it should be making a martini while broadcasting John Glenn’s Mercury mission and kicking out Ventures tunes. The head is fairly light, weighing in at 36 pounds. Even when hauling the head and the 35-pound cabinet together, I was surprised at how light the whole set is—especially given that the cab houses two 12" Tone King 33 speakers (which are made by Eminence) and an optional Tone King Ironman attenuator. (The latter uses a transformer-coupling design rather than a resistor-based build to attenuate volume. According to Tone King’s Bartel, this facilitates the most transparent and clean attenuation possible. Either way, the attenuator enables you to enjoy the Galaxy at home just as easily as at the club or studio.)
Bartel says one of the most critical factors in capturing a great guitar tone is superior speaker cabinet design. He’s built hundreds of test cabinets—examining factors such as wood type and grain direction, as well as different coatings and fastening methods—to achieve the proper voicing for the Galaxy. The cabinet can be elevated with four removable wooden legs (not shown), and doing so only accentuates the amp’s likeness to old tube televisions. It took some elbow grease to loosen and remove the feet, but that’s probably a good sign that there’s no immediate danger of stripping the mount. But while it was a relatively straightforward procedure, a slide-out design would be quicker for gigs.
The build quality of the Galaxy was just as impressive as its knockout looks. I was unable to find any finish or construction flaws. The tips of the screws holding on the cabinet’s rear baffle were visible inside the cab, but I really had to feel around in there to find them. Every knob turned smoothly but also had a pleasing resistance that’s nice for setting precise levels—and keeping them there.
Though it’s a 2-channel amp, the Galaxy is simple as could be. The clean Rhythm channel has Volume, Treble, and Bass knobs, and things are just as easy on the Lead channel, which makes do with Volume, Tone, and Mid-Bite knobs. The latter fine-tunes the midrange growl. A traditional long-spring reverb unit and tremolo lend space and texture to the Galaxy’s tone. And this thing has tons of tone on tap. With 60 watts of power from a quartet of cathode-biased 6L6 power tubes, the Galaxy obviously takes a page out of the vintage Fender book. Keen-eyed amp aficionados will notice an empty tube socket next to the leftmost 6L6. That socket is coupled with a large switch that lets you toggle between an optional 5AR4 tube rectifier (for a looser feel) or an internal circuit that emulates a 5AR4—in case you’re willing to sacrifice some tube authenticity for convenience.
It’s tempting to look at the Galaxy’s retro looks and assume the tones are purely a retro exercise, too. But while it’s rich with tones that typify the late ’50s and early ’60s—from surf-able cleans to biting blues—it’s capable of much, much more. I plugged in a Strat, flipped to the Rhythm channel, and set the attenuator to wide open. With a single Am7 chord, I was treated to some of the cleanest, punchiest, most harmonically rich tone I’ve ever encountered. Memories of a long-lost vintage Bandmaster filled my head as I laid into the strings with varying degrees of pick attack to explore the Galaxy’s impeccable touch sensitivity and satisfying tonal body.
It’s really remarkable just how loud and bass-heavy the Galaxy can get, too. It’s got a lot of low end, even when using the cabinet with the optional legs—which were added to counteract transference of bass frequencies to the floor (a situation that can often spell trouble in a recording session). Even so, I preferred leaving the Bass knob set between 8 and 10 o’clock—I simply couldn’t believe how much low-end power I got without things sounding boomy!
Using a 1978 Greco EG-700 Les Paulstyle 6-string, I was able to make the Galaxy’s Lead channel come alive with a brazen, unbridled tone that was simply flooring. The highs were just as sparkly and harmonically juiced as they were in the Rhythm channel, but with a midrange that snarled like a Rottweiler. There’s a real unique character in the Lead channel’s mid frequencies, and it’s most obvious in the rather bright upper end of its spectrum. It was almost as if there were two midrange frequencies at work—one that had a squishy, chewy character, and another on top that was clear and sharp. And it’s just as apparent in wide-open, AC/DC-esque chords as in lead lines—and with both clean and dirty tones.
Even with the cab’s open back design, palm muting yielded tight, percussive tones, and there was enough gain on tap to enter early-’90s hard-rock territory. To produce that much overdrive, I turned up the Lead channel’s Volume to around 1 o’clock— which was blisteringly loud. That’s where the Ironman attenuator became a big help: It enabled me to lower the volume while also allowing the speakers to breathe and the tone to remain tight and full.
What about reverb and tremolo? The range of the reverb effect is extensive—this thing can get wet—but I preferred keeping the knob just under the 9 o’clock position to retain the note definition I prefer. The tremolo circuit was equally impressive, but I hoped for a slightly slower minimum speed at times.
Tone King’s Galaxy is a tone monster, with deceptively versatile tone lurking within its sparse features and simple control layout. Its touch sensitivity, ample volume, clean Rhythm-channel headroom, and smooth Lead-channel overdrive were a joy to experience. While it’s capable of loud cleans and great tones at lower volumes, the Galaxy loves to be cranked and get dirty. It’s a great choice for blues, rock, and country, but it really hits it out of the park with alt-country tones. In this reviewer’s eyes and ears, it really doesn’t get much better than the Galaxy for vintage Fender and Vox flavors, which really makes the Galaxy ready for just about anything—on this world or any other.
you need killer clean tones reminiscent of blackface Fenders and a lead channel that crunches with the best of ’em.
you prefer more modern tones.
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!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!