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The Blackbird draws inspiration from Fender’s blackface era (with much in common with the rare Vibroverb) and is an amazing platform for pedal-heavy rigs.

We remember 1968 as one of the most pivotal years in our history. It was a time of great change, divided opinions, and fighting in the streets. I refer, of course, to the reaction when Fender rolled out the silverface Deluxe.

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Capable of delivering clean and responsive to overdriven tones, Ashdown''s CTM-300 is an an all-tube, 300-watt beast that boasts some modern enhancements, while still giving a nod to the amps of old.

Back in the day, if you wanted serious volume and tone, you had to schlep some heavy-duty and very heavy amplifiers. This was thanks to those mighty transformers powering all of those wonderful vacuum tubes—all housed on a thick chassis and protected by a solid-wood frame. Just ask any bassist what they used back in the day to compete with those stacks of Marshalls or Hiwatts. Though the comments may be accompanied by a groan or wince, they’ll likely reminisce about the good ol’ days when they moved SVTs up and down multiple flights of stairs.

Today, many bassists swear that tubes are still the ultimate transmitter of tone. Yes, there are plenty of digital pedals and preamps on the market that emulate the sound of tubes at work—and many are getting better at doing so—but no microchip has truly succeeded in replicating the natural compression and dynamic warmth that tubes provide.

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Beautifully playable and feeling perfectly broken-in right out of the case, the Space Biscuit from Campbell American Guitars is a space-age looking, rock-solid instrument that can sound gloriously traditional when you want it to.

If your first look at the Campbell American Space Biscuit prompts a double take, it’ll be helpful to understand the genesis of its design. “There weren’t a whole lot of choices available when I first started playing guitar,” says Dean Campbell. “Basically, I had to choose between a Fender, a Gibson, or a Japanese electric, so I went with an import—a Black Jack.” Decades later, Campbell draws on all three of these influences for his own creations. But it’s clear that those less-celebrated imports made a very big impression—big enough to inspire the radically cool and sweet-playing Space Biscuit.

Up until this year, Campbell American produced around 300 instruments per year—smart, boutique electrics in a range of styles, with specialized features like custom-voiced electronics and vintage-style nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. Campbell recently decided to decrease production so he can focus more on the joy and art of lutherie than the stress and craziness of running a business, but all that means for interested buyers is that you’ll want to get orders in sooner than later.

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