Fender Hot Rod DeVille ML 212
PRICE £849 CONTACT www.fender.com
This latest take on the popular Hot Rod DeVille from Fender is an altogether more sophisticated proposition, designed in conjunction with LA session ace Michael Landau. Instead of channel switching or a master volume, you get a pair of footswitchable volume settings on a single channel designed to act as the ultimate canvas for effects. If you are a Strat player who demands headroom and gets kicks from stompboxes, unless you are determined to spend serious money on a boutique amplifier this is hard to beat.
PRICE £Various CONTACT www.hiwatt.co.uk
Clean headroom, you say? Introduced in 1970, the original Hiwatt DR201 is equally at home with guitars or basses, and was available with either six EL34 or a quartet of KT88 valves. Both vintage and current production models are rare beasts these days, but if you do manage to track one down, you’ll find that there’s little on the market to rival these monsters in terms of power and volume. Hiwatts are often described as the ultimate pedal-platform amplifiers; unless your regular gig is headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, you’ll probably be able to `make do’ with either the 100-watt DR103 or the 50-watt DR-504.
Victory V40H The Duchess
PRICE £829 CONTACT www.andertons.co.uk
Built in the UK and designed by renowned amp guru Martin Kidd, you might have seen Victory Amps on stage with artists as varied as James Bay and Guthrie Govan. The single-channel V40 offers plenty of clean headroom, thanks to a front end designed to take high-output overdrive, distortion and boost pedals. However, as a very touch-sensitive amp, it’s also possible to push that front end into myriad drive textures, giving you access to a raft of compression and sustain characteristics from stompboxes. There’s also a series effects loop with a hard bypass.
PRICE £1,999 CONTACT www.peachguitars.com
Every Morgan Amplification design that we’ve played has been monstrously good, and the SW22R is no exception. Designed to squeeze as much headroom and volume out of a pair of 6V6 valves as possible, imagine you own an original blackface Deluxe Reverb and you’ve taken it to the workshop of a certain Mr Dumble for a service, and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Derived from the SW50, Joe Morgan’s update on the Dumble Steel-String Singer, the SW22R is a 22-watt version that retains its bigger brother’s SRV/John Mayer-style magic.
Peavey Delta Blues
PRICE £960 CONTACT www.bandm.co.uk
Available in 2×10 and 1×15 combo configurations, the Delta Blues has classic styling, onboard spring reverb and tremolo, and delivers 30 watts that are loud enough for most modern gigging situations. Best results are achieved by using the clean channel as a basis for drive pedals; if you prefer a more compact format, then check out the Classic 20 Mini Head. Launched earlier this year, the Mini Head lacks tremolo, but is switchable between one, five and 20 watts, allowing you to tune its power amp response to your drive pedals and the volume and headroom the playing situation requires.
Dr Z M12
PRICE £1,099 CONTACT www.peachguitars.com
Clean headroom and 12-watt EL84 power stages don’t usually go hand in hand, but the Dr Z M12 was designed with an EF86 front end that just loves pedals. The M12 has beautiful chiming clean tones in abundance, and when breakup arrives it’s articulate, dynamic and still overdrive and boost pedal-friendly. Like all Dr Z amps, the M12’s internals are beautifully handwired, yet its pricing represents excellent value for a US boutique amplifier. Pair it with a 2×12 cabinet and you might be surprised just how loud a dozen watts can sound.