Posts Tagged ‘custom 45r’

4.75 Tone Bones - Almost perfect but not quite

Aracom Amps Custom 45R

Aracom Amps Custom 45R

Aracom Amps Custom 45R

Summary: A great take on the classic Marshall JTM45, with some extra goodies like tube-driven spring reverb, a fantastic master volume (post phase inverter), half power switch (40 to 20 Watts), and bright and bite switches to add hi and hi-mid EQ bumps for more tonal contouring.

Pros: Very versatile amp with a tonal palette that can serve up gorgeous clean tones to thick, super-compressed power tube distortion.

Cons: Heavy – weighs in at 60lbs.

Price: $2195 street (as tested with 1 X 12 Combo)


  • Pre-amp tubes: (3) 12AX7, (1) 6BM8
  • Power Amp Tubes: (2) 6L6GC or KT66 (as tested)
  • Rectifier: (1) GZ34 (5AR4)
  • Reverb Tank: Accutronics Long TankHi/Low B+ voltage switch (40/20 watts)
  • On/Off Switch
  • Standby Switch
  • Indicator Lamp
  • Custom Heavy Duty Aluminum Chassis
  • Custom Wound Transformers
  • Impedance Switch:  4, 8, 16 ohm
  • (2) Speaker Jacks
  • Custom Handcrafted Turret Board
  • Handwired

Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 – Sweet amp with lots of tonal variety, but very heavy at 60 lbs. in a 1 X 12 combo! I would definitely get casters for this amp.

One thing I’ve learned about reviewing gear is to never have preconceptions about what something might sound like, especially with guitars and amps, regardless of what the manufacturer might say. When Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps dropped his latest amp off at my house, then explained that it was modeled off a Marshall JTM45, but with a few enhancements, despite my normal resistance to those suggestions, I still made a few assumptions about what the amp would sound like. Mistake. I was expecting a Marshall tone; it’s there, but it’s also different. But let’s get into some detail, shall we?

Fit and Finish

All Aracom amps are very well built and constructed. The amp I tested uses the cabinet shown above, but is covered in green tolex, and the same acoutrements as the cabinet above. The cabinet itself is very sturdy and very resonant. The metal grille at the top of the amp is a nice touch, as you can see into the chassis and see the tubes all lit up. I dig that kind of stuff. Jeff uses all high-quality material from the chassis to the knobs, and everything is well laid out.

How It Sounds

This is one awesome-sounding amp! I was actually expecting a real scooped tone, but was very surprised that the amp is actually voiced quite evenly through the EQ range, with just a tad bit of lower-mid range. This gives the tone a darker, almost fatter feel. But still, the cleans are rich and crisp, not chimey like an EL-84 would sound. The huge KT-66’s this amp packs probably account for that.

The reverb is subtle – very subtle – but I really like the effect it has. It definitely won’t do surf. It was as if Jeff wanted to add the reverb as a nice decoration for the amp’s tone. If you’re looking for a deep ‘verb, this won’t do it, but the reverb it does give you, for lack of a better word, just “fits.” Here’s a sound sample that I recorded with my Strat playing the amp clean in the Normal channel with all the EQ’s set to their midpoints:

By the way, the clip is the raw recording, with no EQ or mastering or level adjustments (which accounts for a bit of the distortion as I didn’t apply a limiter). As you can tell, the clean tone is sweet and well, clean. And it has TONS of clean headroom in the Normal channel.

As far as distortion is concerned, before this, I had never played with a KT-66-based amp, so I didn’t quite know what to expect, but this amp can produce some serious distortion. When saturated, the KT-66’s really compress the tone, and the compression comes on with even just a bit of breakup. It’s a great sound, but it’s difficult to cut through a mix with that amount of compression. But hitting the bite switch adds a bit of high-mid-frequency gain, so that compensates for the compression by sort of shifting the EQ up a bit.

The bite switch works with both channels, but the bright switch only works on the Normal Channel. This switch boosts the upper-mids and highs. Don’t expect a ringy sound out of this – it’s more like an instance presence control, though the amp sports a sweepable presence knob as well.

I wish I had a sound sample for my test with a Saint Guitars Baritone Messenger. Even though it’s a baritone, the walnut gives it a fairly bright tone, and that is really complimented by the Custom 45R. I was enjoying myself so much with the baritone, I totally forgot to record a clip! Maybe later… In any case, this amp just LOVED the Baritone! The Messenger also sports two Duncan active ‘buckers, and the drive they produce really made the amp growl with a real savage tone. It was very heavy, and I was just diggin’ it! Yowza!

Overall Impressions

While I really like the tone of this amp, and am having a lot of fun playing with it, admittedly I still lean towards that chimey EL-84 tone or that “Fender” tone that 6L6’s produce. The Marshall-esque tone never has been for me, but if I were to be on the lookout for an amp with that type of tone, I’d definitely give this amp some serious consideration.

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