Love and Sockets

Wicked slider Michelle Malone at home with some dear friends: her Supro Super and Dual-Tone amps, and her Dual-Tone guitar.

The veteran singer, songwriter, and guitarist’s favorite sound crunchers are a pair of vintage oddballs from the vaults of Valco.

Like a lot of slide players, Michelle Malone enjoys some grit in her tone. And when it comes to grit—along with glorious midrange, trippin’ out reverb, and a blend of snappy response with just a ladle full of sponginess to temper brittleness—vintage Supro amps deliver better than UPS. So, her favorite amps are a pair of old Supros: a 1959 Dual-Tone and a 1961 Super.

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Micki Free with his sidekicks: JMP 2061X heads, 1974X combos, and SV20C combos. The guitar is a Teye Gypsy Queen model.

The veteran blues-rocker uses low-wattage amps to creative a massive, high-intensity sound that nods to heroes like Hendrix, Trower, and early Clapton.

Micki Free is not a less-is-more kind of player—at least when it comes to amps. His setup is all reissue Marshalls: two JMP 2061X heads perched on 4x12 stacks, a pair of 1974X combos, and double SV20C 1x10 combos. They look great together and, of course, sound even better.

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Gibbs’ Mesa/Boogie Big Block 750 is his core sound source. Whether playing DI on sessions or running a 2x15, his rig delivers a heavy tone but can still fit in a yellow cab.

How a bass adventurer discovered his ideal tone with a Mesa/Boogie Big Block 750.

To the names Shackleton, Hensen, Hillary, Coleman, Norgay, and Cousteau, let me add that of another great explorer: Gibbs.

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Cedric Burnside's new Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb has the same controls and features as a classic non-master-volume Twin, but, with its solid-state circuitry and light speakers, half the weight.

In a one-man battle for louder, a Fender Tone Master Twin and Ampeg Portaflex duplex rig triumphs.

I admit it. I was once part of the Arms Race. When I was in my '90s alt-rock band, Vision Thing, I bought a Marshall half-stack. Then the other guitarist got Fender's 100-watt The Twin, which he cranked. And the bassist got a Trace Elliot AH500X. And it was on. Volume and gear escalated until we were damn loud, and it was a constant battle to hear and be heard. Eventually I kinda won, but it was a pyrrhic victory. I was doomed to lug around two 4x12s: one with a 50-watt Marshall Super Lead and the other with a 100-watt Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-O-Verb. Yes, it sounded fantastic, but … damn! My back!

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