Posts Tagged ‘tonic’

Tonic AmpsFane

I love living in the Silicon Valley. While it might not be considered a “destination” for music and culture like San Francisco, New York, Nashville, and Saint Louis, it is a destination for technology, and for decades has led the world in many of the technological advancements we enjoy today. Having lived in the Silicon Valley all my life, and watching it transform from a largely agrarian economy to the mecca of high-tech and venture capital, one thing has remained the same: The Silicon Valley has a certain magic about it that inspires innovation and invention.

So it is no surprise that there are several boutique amp manufacturers in the area. I’ve written about a couple in the past, namely Aracom Amps and King Amplification, but recently, I hooked up with Tonic Amps, located in Mountain View; less than 10 minutes from my home!

Darin Ellingson contacted me  last week, and invited me to come to his shop. While I knew he built amps, what I didn’t know until I did a bit of research is that Darin is Fane International’s North American distributor for Fane speakers! That got me really interested in Tonic – especially Darin’s cabs. Over the years, I’ve heard so much about Fane speakers, but have never had the chance to hear how they sound. And what great fortune that the North American distributor is 10 minutes away from my house!

In a nutshell, I played through three types of Fanes in 2 X 12 and 4 X 14 cabs: Studio 12L, AXA12, and Medusa 150. Plus, I got a sneak peak at some prototype Fanes Darin is having specially made. Through Tonic cabs, the Fanes sound drop-dead gorgeous! I hooked up three different amps to various Tonic Amps: A Reason Bambino, Aracom VRX18 (tube rectified), and a Tonic Torpedo. No matter what amp I played through, the Fanes sounded crisp, articulate and incredibly dynamic. Folks, this is the way to evaluate speakers. Frequency response charts are useful, but until you’ve got the speakers loaded into a cab, you will never know how they truly perform. Tonic cabinets are absolutely top-notch, and if you’re in the market for a great cabinet, you can’t go wrong with these. They’re all solid wood (no pressboard here), and the dimensions Darin has specified really bring out the best character of the Fane speakers.

What was my favorite? It’s a toss-up between the Medusa 150 and Darin’s prototype that he will hopefully bring into production soon. I love the scooped tones of the Medusa and the mid-ranginess of the prototype. Hmmm… can you say 2 X 12 cab with these in it? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Dammit! Gave myself GAS again! It’s probably a good thing I can’t afford them right now – I will have to save my pennies. The speakers and cabinets don’t come cheap, but for this tonal quality, it’s worth every penny. You wouldn’t put a great speaker in a cheap cabinet… maybe… No, I won’t even get into that debate… 🙂

Torpedoes Away

Based upon the classic Trainwreck circuitry, the Torpedo is a pedal lover’s wet dream! I played the 50 Watt version, which is powered by a pair of EL-34’s! Folks, we’re talking clean headroom with this amp, with minimal breakup at the top end of the volume sweep. The tone is thick and rich and very well-balanced. I didn’t notice an overabundance in any part of the EQ range… well… it did have just the slightest amount of midrange, but that’s good though, because this amp’s tone will play nicely in a mix.

At any volume level, the amp sounds great, but its true character comes out when you dime the volume and play it through a 4 X 12 cabinet. Throw a couple of pedals in front of it (we used the British Ball Breaker and a prototype GeekDriver/GeekRanger pedal in front of the amp), and the amp’s tone combined with the 4 X 12 will knock you across the fuckin’ room! Can you say wicked overdrive that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? It was amazing to witness!!!

The “Torpedo” moniker is totally appropriate for this amp. It is meant to fire out a shot of gorgeous tone, blow you out of the water, and knock you into tone heaven! Even at the volumes we were playing at, this tone isn’t a face-peeling raucous. Granted, a lot of that quality had to do with the Fane speakers we were playing through, but just as with you not putting great speakers in a shitty cabinet well, you don’t play a great amp with shitty speakers either.

If you live in the Silicon Valley, I encourage you to contact Darin and check out his workshop. It’s set up for jamming, so bring an axe or two! Darin’s even got beer! Though next time I go to his shop, I’ll bring a 12 pack. BTW, he like Tecate. 🙂  For more information, check out the Tonic Amps web site! To get a reference for how great Tonic Amps sound, check out Darin’s YouTube site at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MrTonicAmps.

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Tonic Amps

As you know, the Dawg spends a lot of time sniffing around to find gear, but sometimes, manufacturers find me. Recently Tonic Amps contacted me, and I checked out their offerings. Tonic builds some nice reissue amps with their own twists, but they are also the North American distributor for Fane Speakers, the noted UK amp speaker manufacturer.

As you’d expect, if they sell speakers, Tonic probably builds cabs as well, and that is definitely the case. Darin (owner/builder of Tonic), has some very nice custom cabs in a variety of configurations and woods, all solid board cabinets: no pressed sawdust here, my friends. Tonic also offers custom cabs in a variety of hardwoods (though of course, you’re going to pay a premium for these, but hey! they’re available).

In any case, Premier Guitar has run a couple of videos that demonstrate Tonic Amps. You can check them out below:

From the 2009 New York Amp Show:

From the LA Amp Show:

These are some nice-sounding amps with some nice features! One thing that’s totally awesome for me is that Tonic Amps is literally ten minutes away from where I live! I can’t wait to try out Tonic’s amps and cabs!

Another cool thing is that Darin shares a shop with GeekMacDaddy, who makes a line of very cool pedals. Maybe I’ll get a chance to give ’em a whirl, in particular, his British Ball Breaker, which is touted as a Marshal stack-in-a-box. Yummy!

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