january 2016

Brute Squad

Photo by Bruce S. Gates

Six obscure amps that absolutely destroy.

My fascination with amps started before I was even a player. I remember hearing an accordion played through a Leslie speaker at a local park function as a preteen. The timbre—the lush physical cry of the horn and the full, resonant bass—marked the advent of my obsession with sound.

When I eventually started playing myself, I realized that the Leslie had been an immense part of that accordion’s glorious sound equation. I began collecting as many amps as possible, playing and performing with them often. Because many of them were used, maintenance soon became a real problem—which led to me getting my hands inside them and studying how they work. Repairs and inventions soon followed. I was hooked! Besides adding up to 20 years of great playing memories, my enthusiasm for all things amplified translated into a job for me, too. (I work as a designer and builder for EarthQuaker Devices in Akron, Ohio.)

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.


Bogner Ecstasy Mini


The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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