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Gear Review: Two-Rock Classic Type 3 Amplifier PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 February 2008 05:26
tworock_fplr.jpgBy Ken Volpe - GJD
In this day and age, the long-term staying power of a boutique amplifier company is definitely a challenge. K & M Analog Designs has been around for almost a decade and is going stronger than ever. They are constantly coming out with new amp designs, each with it's own unique voice.

One of their latest offerings is the Classic Type 3 amplifier. It is a 50-watt, 2-channel, hand-wired amp head. It is powered by 2 - 6L6 power tubes, 2 - GZ34 rectifier tubes and 3 - 12 AX7 pre-amp tubes. The Classic Type 3 also has a slew of amazing and useful features. It can be run in Class A or Class AB. It also contains a half power option and a variety of negative feedback settings to further adjust the feel and tone of the amp. This tone machine comes with a 3-button foot switch that allows you to access many different sounds. The amp does not contain reverb but has passive send and return jacks to hook up effects.
So, let's talk about the incredible sounds coming from this amplifier. I hooked the amp up to a Blockhead 4 x 12 speaker cabinet loaded with Celestion Heritage 30-watt speakers. My main test guitar was a Baker Robben Ford model loaded with Seymour Duncan pickups. I must say that the clean channel alone has enough variety to be it's own amp.

First I ran it with a low gain setting for maximum headroom. I was able to get convincing jazz, funk, rock and blues tones. This 50-watt amp is as punchy as most 100-watt amps that I've played. The EQ voicing is pretty much perfect. It's not too boomy, too muddy, and does not contain any nasal-like qualities. After that I kicked in the variable FET gain boost. With my guitar volume cranked it allowed me to get elusive rhythm and lead crunch tones.

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Next, I activated the boost bypass switch. This disengages the tone controls, which gives you a beautiful sustaining edge to your sound without being overly compressed. This is where the clean channel really starts to go into another territory. I have to tell you that I am only scratching the surface of the many tonal variation that this amplifier is capable of. There is also a mid-boost frequency switch and other options to give you an almost endless amount of choices.

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For a guitarist that is intimidated by various switches and functions, the Type 3 might not be an optimal choice. However, if one is patient and spends time with this amp, it can become a "tweakers" delight. I must commend K & M's chief designer Bill Krinard for an amazing feat in terms of these features.

First, for the fact that all these features are very useful for one's tone shaping. Secondly, for pulling this off without the use of extensive PCB design. By the way, the amp is also pretty darn quiet.

Okay, now let's jump into the details of the lead channel. All of the features that I discussed earlier for the clean channel also apply to the lead channel. I preferred this channel in the Class A mode with the zero feedback setting. It was full of harmonic content and mid-range complexity. I was able to dial in very low gain tones and extreme high gain tones and everything in between. Lead and rhythm sounds from many tonal camps were easy to access. Dialing in Dumble type sounds, Marshall timbres and a combination of both were loads of fun. This amp has that rare smooth violin-type quality while still being able to cut through the mix. The Type 3 really sounded great at low volume and cleaned up rather nicely at louder levels.

In conclusion, the Two Rock Classic Type 3 is one of the warmest, most versatile and organic amps available. It has an unbelievable amount of functions and features that allow one to achieve the sounds in their head. I found it to be truly inspiring to help bring out a greater level of creativity. The build quality is second to none. The only qualm that I have is the hefty price tag of $5500. In my opinion, it is well worth it because the Type 3 can do the work of 2 great amps at half its price. So if you are a serious player that is looking for great studio and live amp sounds, the Two Rock Classic Type 3 should be a serious candidate.
 
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