We're lucky enough to feature four incredible guitarists in Issue 17 of Gi with Guns N' Roses axe-slinger Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal gracing the cover plus ex-Megadeth thrash legend Marty Friedman and acoustic virtuoso Richard Thompson on the inside. Not only that, but we talk to Thank You Scientist's Tom Monda about his career so far and what the future entails.
Audio Kitchen’s Steve Crow is a one-off and his idiosyncratic pro-class amps are
starting to gain ‘must have’ status - particularly for recording. But even we were
taken aback when the Big Trees arrived. Is it a pedal? Is it an amp? Is it even
finished? We handed it to our resident lover of the arcane, Michael Casswell,
and let him figure it out.
Audio Kitchen is a small London-based
company, run by audiophile engineer Steve
Crow, that concentrates on making handbuilt
amps in small numbers for players who
have ‘tone’ at the top of the agenda. If you
take a peek at the company’s website
www.audiokitchen.co.uk, you’ll see that,
though their amps look satisfyingly retro,
they are all pretty much recognisable as
amps. The Big Trees isn’t so much. It’s a bare
metal box sporting chunky controls and is
covered in fairly childlike writing. This isn’t
a bad thing but it is an acquired taste and
though some will absolutely love the look,
others might wonder, to put it politely, what
the hell is going on. Only you can decide
which of those two camps you’re in!
The specs say it’s an all-valve unit, delivering
2.5 Watts from single ended class A output
stage. There are ECC83 and ECC82 preamp
valves and a single EL84 output valve.
So at the very least you have a low powered
practice or recording amp, which enables
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94 Guitar Interactive Magazine Issue 15
you to torment either the pre-amp valves, or
the output valves, or both, to achieve some
great old school valve tone that can only
really come from valves doing their thing.
Because it only pumps out 2.5 Watts, you
can get it all cooking at reasonable volume.
Just plug your guitar in, connect to the
speaker cab of your choice, and turn up the
gain. I connected it to half my Marshall 4x12
cab loaded with original Ipswich Celestion
Vintage 30s, and 2.5 Watts suddenly seemed
quite loud! The speaker out in the Big Trees
offers a nominal 8 Ohms. Next to the gain
pot you have the ‘root’ and ‘branch’ pots,
which is a nice tree friendly way of saying
bottom and top!
But just when you thought you had it all
worked out as a super-quality hand-made,
recording amp, you have to take on board
that the Big Trees can also be used as a stomp
box that you can take a line out from and
plug straight into the front of your favourite
amp, letting it act like a boutique pre-amp