december 2008

We've got the scoop from Goodsell, Soultone, Blackstar, Egnater, Red Iron and Bogner

LA Amp Show: Hot New Amps
Not to disrespect any guitar or amp shows involving big, open convention halls that sound like twenty Guitar Centers on a Saturday afternoon—we’re big fans of going anywhere gear is gathered—but there’s something to be said about Loni Specter’s L.A./N.Y. Amp Show formula. Instead of booths, each vendor has a hotel suite. You walk from room to room and fire up any piece of gear you want, as loud as you want, all while spending some quality time with the manufacturers themselves. Imagine rolling into the Fuchs room with your guitar, plugging into the new ODS-HRM and having Andy Fuchs himself show you how the amp’s unique post-overdrive tone stack works.

Click here for a listing of all of our 40+ video demos from the Amp Show.
This year’s L.A. Amp Show involved about 50 manufacturers—most of them were amp manufacturers, but some guitar, effects and accessories companies were there, too. Held at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys, California over the weekend of October 4th and 5th, the fourth year of this event involved the usual sights. There was an interesting mix of celebs like Warren DiMartini, Steve Trovato, Zakk Wylde and Tommy Smothers—who managed to beat Zakk at arm wrestling in the hotel bar; live performances by Carl Verheyen, Raj Phanse, Marc Ford, and the Travis Larsen Band; a “Tone Wizards” panel session; and of course, lots and lots of gear. New this year was a “Vintage Amp Exchange,” where owners of pre-1970 amps were welcome to bring their stuff to sell, trade or simply show off.

As for the actual show of newer gear, there was no shortage of buzz-worthy stuff. With so many big name manufacturers, boutique operations and startups bringing their “A” game (knowing that NAMM is around the corner), we needed both days to check everything out—and we still ended up missing a few rooms. Here’s a sampling of what our staffers and contributors on the scene in L.A. got excited about:

LA Amp Show: Hot New AmpsGoodsell Amplifiers
The words luscious and sweet come to mind when you talk about what Goodsell is known for; their amps sound amazing, too. The Atlanta company’s reputation for versatile, pro-level tone is best exemplified by their line of Super 17 amps, but Richard Goodsell is now making a high-gain growler called the Black Dog. This 50-watt, EL84- equipped, face-melting head is loud as hell, with thick overdrive and Goodsell’s famed touch sensitivity. Look for the street price to come in under $2000 when these puppies make it to retailers.

Video Demo

LA Amp Show: Hot New AmpsSoultone Amplification
When we walked into the Soultone room, we were greeted with righteous JTM45-ish sounds by a player who was readily channeling Hendrix. Yes, the chops were there but the Soultone head had a lot to do with it, too. There was some serious, unadulterated plexi action going on in the room.

With a wide range of looks, from vintage to classy gator-skin luggage, Soultone’s amps had a commanding visual presence as well. The company offers what it calls a Heavy Duty line and a Pro line, in addition to kits for DIYers.

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