Rift Amplification has revealed three new valve amplifiers: the Wheelhouse, Blackhawk and Americana. Each offers a different flavour of classic valve amp tone, with Rift’s own spin on each amp’s inspiration.
The Wheelhouse is a 40-watt 1×12 combo, inspired by the guitar tones of Nashville, Americana and Southern Rock.
Rift Amplification’s owner, Chris Fantana, described the inspiration behind the amp: “After the successful release of the Hawker, I became fascinated by the guitar tones coming out of Nashville by players such as Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band’s Clay Cook. I had, perhaps naively, assumed that the classic Country guitar sound was a Telecaster plugged into a Tweed amplifier. These players proved me wrong in such a big way. Those guys are paying anything BUT a tweed amp, so a deep-dive down that rabbit hole resulted in my latest original design, the Wheelhouse. In similar fashion to how the Hawker captures classic British valve tones, I wanted to do the same for the sounds coming out of the studios, sessions, and live shows of Nashville.”
The amp features onboard two-knob (dwell and level) spring reverb, as well as a buffered-series FX loop. It’s loaded with a single WGS G12C/s Ceramic speaker, and sports hand-wired eyelet board construction, custom-wound transformers and hand-selected, high-end components.
The Blackhawk is a more aggressive, workhorse amplifier inspired by the guitar tones of the British Invasion period of rock. The 36-watt amplifier comes as either a head or a 1×12 combo. Both the combo and the matching 1×12 speaker cab are loaded with a WGS Blackhawk speaker.
Fantana explains further: “It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the simple amplifiers, where the player can explore the full-range of tones on offer with ease and without complication. The Blackhawk, featuring a two-band EQ, Pre-amp and Master Volumes, and a Cut control, offers just that. Plug in to the single input and fill the room or stage with glorious, full-bodied singing British tone that can be shaped and sculptured to work with your guitar and FX pedals.”
The 4xEL84 power section combined with a tuned master-volume circuit lets you get saturated, 60s-style overdrive at any volume level. To smooth off the high end, a ‘cut’ control lets you manage the resulting signal’s treble content – either taming a harsh sound or providing that smooth, tone-rolled off lead sound.
The Americana is a 20-watt 1×12 ‘TV’ style combo, inspired by 50’s tweed tones – complete with onboard spring reverb.
Fantana dives into the classic inspiration behind the combo, saying “A long-standing goal of mine has been to successfully incorporate a great sounding spring reverb into a classic 50s Tweed circuit, without taking anything away from the core tone. Taking the lessons learned from the development of the reverb circuit found in the Aynsley Lister Signature amplifier, I designed a new circuit from the ground up, this time using a 12AX7 dual-triode valve as both driver and recovery. The reverb effect compliments the core tone of the amplifier, without becoming splashy or intrusive. Vast, rich, and spacious reverberations are on offer from a conveniently located dial control, found on the main control panel for easy access and adjustment.”
The two-channel amp is loaded with 2 6L6 tubes for that vintage Tweed sound. These drive a WGS Black and Blue Alnico speaker.
The prices for the new Rift Amplifiers are as follows:
Wheelhouse – £2,299
Blackhawk – £1,699 (head), £799 (cabinet) or £2,199 (1×12 combo)
Americana – £1,899
All three of the amps come are Hand-wired in Brackley, UK utilising custom-wound transformers and hand-selected, high-end components.
The amplifiers are available now, through either Rift’s exclusive dealer Andertons or straight from riftamps.com. For more gear news, click here.