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Buffalo FX's new Ram's Head will satisfy the tastes of players who lust after Gilmour's tone on Animals and The Wall.

If you line up a several original “ram’s head” Big Muffs, each will speak with a slightly different accent. Electro-Harmonix allegedly used some 20 different schematics for this second version of the Muff, which the company introduced in 1973. One constant among originals, however, is their midrange scoop, which can make the Muff a shadowy presence in a live situation.

Precision Muffin Makin’ Steve Painter of Buffalo FX says that addressing this midrange drop was the first priority of his ram’s head clone, and indeed, his NOS BC239C transistor-driven unit has a perceptible midrange bump and increased top-end headroom. The components are period-accurate—everything inside this black box existed in the ’70s.

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A stylish, EL84-driven acoustic amp with touch and tones aplenty whether you’re a technique-obsessed finger-stylist or a simple strummer.

Talk all you want about how style doesn’t matter when it comes to gear (though I suspect few loyal PG readers will make so absurd a claim), but let’s face it, there’s something a little bit more satisfying—even inspiring—about taking the stage with stuff that looks undeniably sharp. And the thing about Gerry Humphrey’s handbuilt, EL84-driven Espresso 15 is that it not only looks cooler than just about every acoustic guitar amp in the history of the universe, but it also sounds utterly gorgeous—with touch and tones aplenty whether you’re a technique-obsessed finger-stylist or a simple strummer.

All in the Eyes of the Beholder
Humphrey makes amps one at a time in his Chanhassen, Minnesota, shop, and the focus that’s born from such a work style shows. For starters, he didn’t just look at an old Fender tweed, sketch a reasonable facsimile, and start stuffing wires inside. To be certain, there are traces of classic electric amp designs—if you squint while looking at the front of the amp, you can sort of envision a deconstructed and/or melting Silvertone (and that Humphrey logo looks just a little like the old Harmony script, no?). But the Espresso looks as much like the work of a very creative chair or cabinet builder, evoking the organic and ordered shapes of Danish/West Coast-fusion furniture designs. And every facet of the construction—from the dovetail joints to the beveled carves and the tube compartment—is flawlessly executed.

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The Epiphone version of the Gibson L-00 captures much of the barking, husky sonic appeal that grabbed the ears of everyone from Robert Johnson to Bob Dylan.

Gibson’s L-body guitars are among the company’s most famous, even if the nomenclature used for these models never fails to confuse. Gibson’s small L-bodies are essentially what we would call a 00, and in Gibson’s world, the “double oh” designation refers to its relative level of glitz, rather than it’s size. What’s important in the context of this review is that Epiphone, in keeping with its tradition of offering affordable versions of Gibsons, has introduced the EL-00 Pro—a very affordable take on the iconic L-00—and it’s one of the real steals in our small-body roundup.

Epiphone’s EL-00 Pro is about as handsome as a guitar could be—beautifully proportioned, but distinct with a dramatic waist taper that sets it apart visually from other acoustics of this size. With a deep and nicely executed tobacco burst finish on the solid spruce top, the Epiphone pulls off the trick of looking way more expensive than it is. Grover 14:1 ratio tuners add an up-market feel and offer real tuning stability. (Impressively, the guitar was more-or-less in tune after coming halfway across the country.)

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