The Electroplex Rocket 35-EL dishes out a slew of vintage Brit-tones in an impressively versatile, modernized package.

Since his creative renaissance began two years ago, Electroplex head Don Morris has generated a slow but steady stream of well-regarded classic-meets-modern amplifiers. And though Morris made his mark in the estimation of many with the potent Rocket 90, his lineup is heavy on lower-powered Rockets that offer most players more versatility and tonal flavor. The most recent design to emerge from Don’s Fullerton, California, shop is the switchable 22/35-watt Rocket 35-EL, a dual EL-34 combo that delivers more aggressive, British-flavored tones at studio and rehearsal-friendly volumes.

Rockets over the Atlantic
Players loved the original 5881-driven Rocket 35 for its combination of blackface-like familiarity and such modern touches as power-output switching. With its ability to go from a Deluxe Reverb-like 22 watts to a Vibrolux Reverb-like 35 watts, the Rocket 35 was squarely in the sweet spot of most performers’ volume requirements—low enough for rehearsal or recording and loud enough for mid-size venues.

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About 30 miles north of Manhattan lies the sleepy village of Suffern, New York, which in the last few years has become a hotbed of T-style-oriented activity. Whether the

About 30 miles north of Manhattan lies the sleepy village of Suffern, New York, which in the last few years has become a hotbed of T-style-oriented activity. Whether the local townspeople are aware or not, Chihoe Hahn, a pious student of the legendary instrument, is producing fine T-styles right there under everyone’s noses. Hahn’s guitars have earned accolades from some of the baddest players and Telecaster devotees in the country—including Redd Volkaert, Elliot Easton, Jim Campilongo, and Walter Becker. Now that he’s established as a builder to be reckoned with, he’s applied his deep knowledge of classic ’50s bolt-ons to something new—the all-mahogany Model 1229.

Hahn has huge respect for the innovations Leo Fender made decades ago (he says this is why he sticks to model numbers as names for his instruments), and he reportedly went to great lengths to get the 1229 up to a level where it could sit proudly beside its more traditionally constructed forebears. He also says that giving the 1229 its distinctly bright, sweet voice required careful experimentation with body thickness, hardware, and electronics. Hahn’s efforts with the guitar have been well-received so far, and we were excited to get one for evaluation.

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In the Alien Echo, intangibles come together in a user-friendly and intuitive pedal that also coaxes remarkable analog-like performance from a digital circuit.

Like seagulls that can’t resist shiny objects, humans are drawn to cyclical sounds. Whether it’s an uninvited distraction like a dripping faucet or a welcomed pleasure like waves breaking on a beach, repetitive tones provoke emotional response. When this phenomenon is put to use in music, it can wield a lot of power over the listener. So it’s no surprise that we have an insatiable appetite for delay/echo pedals and their varied uses. From intrepid space-rock excursions, to David Gilmour’s hallowed lead tone, or spanky rockabilly slapback— echo can add a lot of texture to a tune or solo needing a little extra zip.

J. Rockett’s Alien Echo is capable of just about all of these tones, but it also seems designed with a focus on those facets of echo and delay—things like authentic-sounding tape warble—that have an inexplicable, but undeniable, effect on our aural psychology. In the Alien Echo, these intangibles come together in a user-friendly and intuitive pedal that also coaxes remarkable analog-like performance from a digital circuit.

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This amp has amazing synergy with whatever you plug in to it, giving your fingers and axe power to take you from muted, complex jazz tones to perfect ’70s crunch and everything in between.

Charles Mingus said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace— making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” In the time I spent with the Jackson Ampworks NewCastle, it was hard not to be struck by how well simplicity can work in an amplifier.

A feisty little brother to the more famous Britain—the amp that put Jackson on the map—the two-knob, EL84-equipped NewCastle is about as streamlined as they come. But don’t be concerned about the NewCastle’s minimal controls limiting your range. This amp has amazing synergy with whatever you plug in to it, giving your fingers and axe power to take you from muted, complex jazz tones to perfect ’70s crunch and everything in between.

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