Every so often I re-activate my search for a great Plexi. I’m one of those players who loves the sound that my favourite players get with vintage Marshalls, but I’ve always had trouble bonding with most (including the “knock-offs”). For one thing, I don’t play super loud, so that issue has to be dealt with – either with my Brake Lite attenuator or maybe even with a Master Volume on the amp itself, when available. Also, I find that there are so many variations on this Plexi theme, many of which don’t sound right to me or fit with my band – or perhaps I admire certain amps but just can’t see myself using them for my own sound. One thing I have come to pretty much accept these days is that: “bigger bottles equal bigger tone”! So even though I play with some degree of authority (a little loud!), my amp is often running at only “3” on the Volume knob… but, still, I am currently using more powerful amps. Because I have a 3 piece band, there’s always room for a fuller sound. The last excursion into Plexi territory for me was a Roccaforte with 2 – 6V6s and a Plexi tone (they said) – and I am in no way running down the amp – but it just wasn’t “me” and it was quickly sold. So fast forward to last week, and I begrudgingly took a trade – this Ceriatone Yeti 50 head – something I had never heard of. I was even more skeptical when I heard that the amps were made (or sold in kit form) in Malaysia – not exactly the boutique amp center of the universe. Anyway, suffice it to say that this amp is astounding! I LOVE IT!
So here’s the “skinny”… This amp is part of the HRP Series – meaning Hot Rodded Plexi… and they have many of the “Jose” mods – Jose being a famous amp tech who modded amps in the 80s for even more famous clients. The “Era” switch has a Plexi mode, an 80s mode, and a “Modern” mode. I pretty much stick to the Plexi mode – the others being a little over the top for my style. But even so, this amplifier is one versatile tone machine! There are 3 volumes at different stages of the circuit – and for a “one knob” guy like me, they are still very intuitive and easy to use. Gain 1 at the first stage, Gain 2 comes after (duh!), and then there’s a Master Volume – easy peasy! There are 2 Bright switches – one at Gain 1 and the other at Gain 2 – and they add lots of different tones – each switch having bright/off/bright with a touch more gain… and because they are at different gain stages, they affect the tone quite differently, and add to the versatility of the amp. The Resonance control adds a low end “thump” that I just love! This amp is certainly more flexible than my real ’69 Plexi… it’s a keeper! Talking tubes with my pal and bandmate Mark G., I just had to open up the amp to see what the heck the power tubes were – KT77s – hmmm. These are a JJ re-issue of a rare 50s tube that is said to be a great alternative to an EL34… more headroom, better balance, less compression, and a little cleaner. Nice!
I am currently running the Ceriatone with one of my 2 PRS open back 4 x 10 greenback cabs. As a footnote, here’s a little anecdote about Ceriatone owner Nik Azam. He’s a bit of a legend for his great customer service, and when I got the amp (used), the jewel light was burned out, but the seller had graciously supplied a replacement. Well this replacement also had a small resistor included, and not being a tech head, I had no idea what to do with it. So I emailed Nik, in Malaysia (!), and within 2 minutes I had an email back (results may vary) instructing me in simple terms how to solder in the new jewel light (the resistor being a new feature to extend the bulb life). Good on ya, Nik! I’ve dealt with other boutique amp manufacturers – one of the feline variety – who needed their cages rattled numerous times to just get a pulse… so there ya go, a Ceriatone surprise that’ll be front and center on my next gig!