ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons is the star of the show this month with two in-depth interviews with Stuart Bull and Michael Casswell, and a special ‘Billy Gibbons Masterclass’ lesson from Danny Gill. Other interviews include Steve Lukather who talks to Gi about his eagerly awaited new solo album ‘Transistion’ and Jerry Donahue sits down with Lee Hodgson to discuss his string-bending technique and his extensive career.
When GI’s USA team visited the LA Amp show for our report in Issue 14, one amp
really stood out - the handwired V-Rock, produced by Trace Davis of America’s
renowned Voodoo Amps fame. Then we learned we had Billy Gibbons as our cover
artist for this issue. And guess which amps ZZ Top’s legendary guitarist has just
added to his collection? Stuart Bull goes in search of the Gibbons sound, with a
touch of the legendary Voodoo magic to help him.
Hmm, how do you write 600 to 900 words
about an amp that has one channel and
no effects loop? Do you write a Jeremy
Clarksonesque piece about the amp rocking
the chateaux of France or tantalising the
sexy women of southern Spain... no. Why
not? because it’s a single channel guitar amp
with no effects loop and only one type of
person cares about an amplifier such as this.
Who are these people you might ask? Well,
actually they are people like me - people
who would throw away every triode, diode,
pentode and every other type of ode for an
amplifier that when you switch on does a
magical thing... it sounds very good indeed.
The V-Rock fits into this category perfectly.
It’s actually quite difficult to make this amp
sound bad. Whatever you do with the EQ or
gain just makes it sound different.
Let’s have a run down of what this beast is
made of. It’s a 100 Watt single channel amp
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80 Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 15
with four EL 34 power amp valves and three
12 AX 7 pre-amp valves. The wiring is is
point to point so there is no pc board on this
hand-wired baby. On a first look you can’t
help noticing the amplifier is very Marshall
like in appearance, very reminiscent of the
early ‘70s models. What makes it different
from a standard ‘70s Marshall though is the
gain stage. You have a knob to the far right
which controls a three stage gain, in series.
To the non-techhead, such as myself, this
basically means you’ve got as much gain
as you will ever need with this amplifier.
Although I wouldn’t call it a heavy metal
amp, as the gain approaches seven or eight
you are definitely in the Van Halen end of
town overdrive wise, while if you back the
gain down to two or three you have a bit
more Free and Bad Company type of deal,
though as I said earlier, wherever you place
the settings the amp sounds good.