april 2018

A studio ace's decades of session experience informed this combo's galaxy of tones—and all without a traditional tone stack.

What would you expect from an amp named JOAT—an acronym for “Jack of All Tone?” I’d imagine some bloated monstrosity overloaded with cascading channels, switchable tube configurations, and an appalling number of knobs and switches. You know, something that promises the sounds of everything from a Fender Champ to a Bogner Uberschall, while never sounding as cool as either.

Thank heavens, this 1x12 combo version of Sharp’s JOAT 20RT head-and-cab model is nothing of the sort. The “T” stands for tone, singular—as in, “this amp is all tone.” Sounds like total marketing B.S., right? But amazingly, this 20-watt, dual EL84 amp delivers on the promise of its name.

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A budget-friendly semi-hollowbody with something rare in its price range: a unique personality.

In the electric guitar market, there’s often a no man’s land between budget-priced Asian instruments and pricier models from the U.S. and E.U. But since the quality and consistency of low-cost imports is better than ever, purchase decisions often come down to a simple calculation: Is it wiser to buy a costlier instrument from Europe or the States, or go Asian and budget a couple of hundred bucks for upgrades?

Some savvy manufacturers are undermining that two-tiered system. At least that seems to be the strategy of Florida-based Sublime Guitars. Their instruments’ parts are made in Asia (sourced, they say, from smaller, hand-picked production facilities), with final setup done in the U.S. Sublime’s initial offerings are the offset solidbody Tomcat and the semi-hollow Chieftain Deluxe reviewed here.

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