One of the things I’ve decided this year is that when I do work out what valve amp to buy next year, it need not be one of the most popular brands. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. There are just so many options. For example, the Carl’s Custom Amps Lite 18 Watt Plexi is not only a custom built amplifier, it’s a custom built amplifier with options. And for what you’re selecting, I think they’re pretty damn affordable.
It’s on the list.
The customisation isn’t just aesthetic either. Sure you can have a wood head casing. You can also have a more standard leather casing. Depending on the build you choose though, the controls and tone are customisable by you. That’s so cool. If you’re getting a custom amplifier, get a custom amplifier.
Interestingly (to me at least) is the fact that this amplifier is 15 watts of pure valve power. Even if it is called the Lite 18 Watt Plexi. Maybe Lite 18 is the same thing as a standard 15. Who knows?! I make this up as I go.
Anyhow, knowing this is a 15 watt amplifier, let’s look at what makes this the amplifier it is.
- 2 x 6V6 or EL34 (25 watt mod) power amp tubes
- 2 x 12AX7 preamp tubes
- Cathode BIAS (no need to be biased when changing tubes)
- Volume and tone controls
- 2 channels (with individual inputs)
- 4, 8 and 16 ohm speaker outputs
Apparently the EL34s provide a better low end and sound closer to the ones you’d expect to get from a much higher wattage Marshall amplifier. Seems perfect to me. Monster tone with less punch (volume). That’s exactly what I’m looking for. That perfect combination between tone and appropriate-for-the-house volume.
Obviously tone is still a key feature. If it weren’t I’d stick with my solid state amplifiers. With that in mind, I listened to the sound files on offer in the amplifier’s official web page. There are a few overdriven and clean tones on offer there. Both simple enough to be driven to the outer limits with an appropriate pedalboard.
Video however seems harder to locate. For example I can only locate two potentially official videos from Carl’s Custom Amplifiers. Neither for this amplifier, but I do what I can.
I feel I’ve written enough of these weekly articles to now know if I like the look of an amplifier. This amplifier I like the look of. Knowing they start at $500USD (remembering this is a custom hand built amplifier) makes me want one. Knowing further that you can pay more to have nothing but the highest grade components used to turn this into an absolute beast for under $1000USD is even better. I especially like the way the differences are described on the amplifier’s web page. Paraphrasing, that description is as follows.
The difference between the entry model and the top model is like the difference between a Gibson USA model and a Gibson Custom Shop model. Both of those options are mighty fine!
Disclaimer: I’ve not played through this head. I have not experienced the sound or tone of this head other than through video. That doesn’t matter. It looks awesome, it’s obviously played by winners and I want one.