The following clips were digitally recorded using an Edirol R-09 with built-in, stereo condenser mics.
The sound clips feature three styles of playing using the internal Reverend Alltone 1250 speaker, an external Tone Tools Fat Cat 1 x 12 cabinet with a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker, and finally, both speakers being played at the same time, powered by this Deluxe Reverb.
Here are some additional sound clips of the amp although they are not as well recorded.
This uses the neck pickup of a Strat played through the Vibrato channel
using some reverb and tremolo (at the end).
Stratocaster guitar with the neck pickup into the Vibrato channel (MP3)
This clip is a pedal steel guitar played by Fred Amendola into the Vibrato channel. It was a field recording so it isn't the best sound quality but it provides a neat perspective of what this amp can do with something other than a guitar.
Carter pedal steel into the Vibrato channel (MP3)
I played this clip in a small band format. It demonstrates how the amp sounds with a lot of reverb and tremolo. Can you guess the song? Fans of old TV spy shows should know it right away.
Hamer guitar with P90 into the Normal channel with reverb and tremolo (MP3)
Here's what the amp can sound like with the amp and guitar volume turned
up a bit. I'm no Jimi (!) but this clip gives you an idea of how the
amp can sound when the power tubes are cranking. The amp volume was on 7
so there's still more dirt to be had with this amp. I typically don't
use effects pedals when I play so you may want to read how I do my stage
setup with this amp. It is documented under Day 105 below.
Hamer with P90 into the Normal channel somewhat cranked with reverb (MP3)
Here are my impressions of the sounds of the amp over time
Day 001 - I played the amp for an hour when I got it home from Mikey’s shop. Here are my first impressions.
In my music room, I could really tell I was going to love this thing. I plugged my guitar into my Klotz cable and then into the Vibrato channel. As I played complex chords with a touch of reverb, magnificent, three-dimensional sounds bloomed from the amp. I love the complexity of the tone. The note attack is crisp and bright but it morphs immediately into a smooth tone with a lot of sustain. With the guitar volume cranked up, this channel can give a stinging, bluesy tone that really turns me on. I turned the volume back down and added a touch of tremolo. It pulses beautifully, integrating into the overall sound.
On the Normal channel, there’s some more gain and more of a mid-range voicing. There’s not a hint of buzzy preamp distortion though. Great clean tones can also be extracted from this channel, but crank it up and man-oh-man. I particularly like the “woman tone” I can get with the Seth Lover humbucker in the bridge of my Hamer Artist Custom guitar. By turning the guitar tone knob all the way down, the amp does all the work of providing the treble. The lead sound is both smooth and aggressive at the same time and the tone sounds like a powerful, low moan without getting muddy at all. Just great.
One of the real pleasures of this amp is the bass response and the total lack of the speaker flubbing or farting out. Even at higher volumes and on both channels, the low E string can plink like a piano string. Wonderful. If a pedal steel player needed a low wattage amp, this would do the trick.
After I stopped playing, I went into the family room to say goodnight to my 17-year-old daughter, Alice, who was enjoying hanging out with some friends. The first thing she said was "Your amp sounds real good Daddy" (and she almost never comments on my playing!). Then she said, "I don't usually pay attention to your amps but tonight it caught my ear. It sounds real smooth."
I took this as a high compliment indeed to the quality of the amp sounds. Then I went upstairs and my wife said it sounds great and it is clear and clean without being too clean. She said it reminded her of hearing a high-quality bell. I guess the Reno family likes this amp!
Day 008 - Well, I played my first gig with the amp today and it played beautifully. It had all of the brightness, punch, soul and grit that I needed for a full day of music. I decided to play with nothing other than a guitar, a cord and the amp.
It handled a variety of songs. I'd change between the Normal and Vibrato channels depending on the tune, adding a touch of tremolo here and there. I also played around with the reverb settings using more or less, depending on the song. On a spy tune, I maxed out the reverb and turned the tremolo up quite a bit and it sounded like the Ventures playing surf music. Really nice. I was able to get down and dirty with the Normal channel and the Seth Lover humbucker in the bridge position of the Hamer.
During a break, we took a little time to record a finger picking solo using the neck pickup of a Fender Stratocaster. Give it a listen. There are plenty more sounds available in this amp but this clip gives a nice demonstration of the clean tones of the Vibrato channel. Note the increased reverb and a splash of tremolo right at the end of the clip. Thanks to Joel Berman for playing this lick while I did the recording. Check it out above.
Day 078 - I've been playing the amp in its final stage since the installation of the new power transformer on day 042. The tweaks Mikey made on my last visit tamed the overall brightness of the amp. I now put my treble controls on about 8 instead of 5.5 and the treble is just perfect. I can get all the snap and pop I need with P-90 or humbucker pickups. Mikey also tamed the excessive (for me) gain on the Normal channel and it too is just right.
One of the interesting things I've noticed is the difference the new Mercury Magnetics power transformer has made. I wanted to wait until I had 40 hours of playing time on the PT before offering my opinion. Here's what I said in a recent email to Mikey.
"I do think the breaking in of the Mercury PT (and the other MM iron) definitely has a beneficial effect on the tone. It's hard to describe the latest tonal improvements of just the PT but since it was the last iron installed, I'll give it a try. I'd say the amp purrs more; like a fine-tuned racing engine. Just incredibly smooth with lots of effortless tone in reserve. Playing at the clean to edge of distortion settings where the strength of the pick attack makes the difference in the crunch, plucking lightly feels like the notes are big gobs of tone that gush from the amp, kind of syrupy and sweet. Digging in gets a throaty growl in addition to the gobby sweetness, kind of like a friendly Labrador growling at the postman."
Stay tuned. One of these days I'm going to the get amp into the studio to produce more sound clips.
Day 105 - I played a session last weekend and thought I’d take a couple of minutes to share my stage setup.
I like three sounds when I play.
Clean with a lot of snap
Clean to crunch depending on pick/finger attack
Sustaining leads with a lot of clarity
I also like reverb and occasionally, some tremolo.
The room was typical, small bar-size. For this gig, I set the amp on an angled stand pointing up at me, aimed right at my guitar. I used the Normal channel and set the volume on 6 with the treble on 8 and the bass on 6. The reverb was set on 3.
The volume on my neck pickup (P90) started at 4. The bridge pickup started at 8. With just the neck pickup selected, the tone was clean. In the middle position (both pickups), it was crunchy. In the third position, the Seth Lover had a nice lead tone. The Hamer volume pots are tapered in their last 15%, increasing volume significantly with just a little twist so that's what I did if I needed even a bit more grit and volume during the leads. I could get plenty of sustain by hanging out close to the amp during the leads. The lead sound of the P90 with the guitar volume on 8-10 is also most excellent.
Sometimes I'll reach over and turn the reverb up or down depending on the song. Sometimes I'd turn the tremolo on by reaching over and twisting the knobs. Since this circuit alters the bias of the power tubes instead of using an on/off optoisolator, the tremolo is transparent when the dials are at zero.
I like not having any pedals at my feet when I play. If the gig absolutely requires it, I will add a Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive and/or a DanEcho. In fact, at this gig, I started with the Sparkle Drive hooked up but I removed it after the first song. I could hear it muffling things a bit, even when out of the circuit. The Klotz cable has such low capacitance that I think my sound is better without anything but it between my guitar and amp.
It wasn't necessary to mic the amps. This gig was four-piece with me on guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel. The volume stayed at a pleasant level for everyone. A Deluxe on 6 with the guitar volume at 10 is pretty loud but with my amp pointed back at me (and not at any of the other musicians), it didn't bother anyone (that I know of :>)
Well, that's how I like to do it. I'm curious how other players use non-MV amps without pedals. I must say, when I see other bands, it is rare to see someone just plugging a guitar straight into an amp without pedals unless it is a jazz trio or an acoustic act.
During a break, my buddy Fred took some time to play some licks on the Deluxe Reverb while I made a recording. He used his Carter pedal steel guitar.
Day 121 - I added the sound clips that feature my Hamer guitar and the Normal channel of the amp. The other musicians are Steve Singer on bass, Rick Bowman on drums and Joel Berman on rhythm guitar.
Day 486 - Well, it's been quite some time since I provided an update and I thought people would be curious to know that I'm still playing and using the amp all the time. I've got a gig tomorrow and I plan on playing my Hamer guitar and the Deluxe Reverb. It's a killer combination. The amp really takes pedals well. The pedal I've been using lately is the Danelectro "Rock-A-Bye" because you can get overdrive and delay in a single, battery operated pedal.
I haven't had a single problem with the amp. It just does its thing. I've got a bunch of high-quality, boutique amps and this amp is right up there with the very best. I play it all the time.
I regularly converse with Mikey. He tells me this article continues to stir a lot of interest in his work. If you take a look at the guest book, you'll see an enthusiastic comment from a fellow in England that is getting an amp from Mikey, and so is his friend. I hear from people from all around the world that have enjoyed this article, which is quite gratifying.
This amp is like having a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing, which is a lot of fun. It definitely turns some heads. While on the outside it looks like a normal DR/DRRI; when I'm playing, the amp sounds more like this :>)
Day 500 - I didn't expect to be providing an update again so soon but Santa Claus (aka Mikey) changed my mind. During the holidays, a FedEx truck showed up at my house with a big, unexpected package. My daughter helped me carry it downstairs and when I opened it (much to my surprise), there was a brand new TMCases flight case for my Deluxe Reverb. Here's what it looks like:
Isn't it a beauty? There was a nice note in it from Mikey wishing me well for the holidays and to say thanks for putting this website together. Wow. I was really touched. It'll be a great way to safeguard my amp while transporting it to gigs, plus I can leave it on the wheeled platform as a very nice amp stand. How cool. This TMCases flight case is exceptionally well made and I'd expect it to last a lifetime.
Included with the amp were some instructions for use, which I found interesting. It's pretty simple of course, but the concept is basically to surround the amp with foam and when the top of the amp is placed on the tray, there is a 1/4" gap called the "crush zone". When you turn the clamps, the amp is effectively pinned top and bottom for safe travel. There are removable pieces of foam at the top and bottom held in place by Velcro. By design, when the main contact pieces wear out, they can be easily be replaced without having to refoam the whole case. Nice idea.
Thanks Mikey, that was a real nice surprise for the New Year.
Day 830 - Well, another year has gone by and my amp continues to delight. No problems at all for the last 2+ years. Everything continues to work and sound just great. Lately, I've been using a different pedal in front of the amp. It is a Tonebone Classic Trimode pedal by Radial with true bypass, a crunch and a lead channel. The bypass is perfectly transparent and lets the natural sound of the amp come through beautifully. If you are interested in checking out this pedal, you can find it here:
Tonebone Classic Trimode Overdrive Pedal
I'd like to add that I've enjoyed the many comments I've had regarding this website from all over the world. It has been a nice opportunity to chat with folks about amps, guitars and music that I didn't expect when I put this site together. To all of them, and to you who are reading this, all the best in your musical endeavors. It truly satisfies the soul.
Day 1,060 - It's been almost three years since the completion of this amp. I decided to add some brand new sound clips to keep things fresh and to take advantage of better recording equipment; specifically an Edirol R-09 digital recorder with stereo condenser mics. While I was at it, I recorded some clips using my new 1 x 12 extension speaker cabinet, which is a Fat Cat from Tone Tools using a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker. It sounds great. The amp is performing just great. I haven't had a single problem for three years. It just keeps going. Enjoy the new clips.
Fat Cat 1 x 12 extension cabinet from Tone-Tools
Day 2,190 - I just finished revamping this website into the new format. I've had the amplifier six years now and it is still going strong and without one single problem. I played it a jam in Philly this past Tuesday. As I've said before, it's a great pedal platform and this time I used it with a Radial Tonebone Trimode and a Danelectro Delay.