Magazine article Guitar Player

Carr Sportsman

Magazine article Guitar Player

Carr Sportsman

Article excerpt

SOME AMP MANUFACTURERS believe the more bells and whistles the better. When all those switches and knobs offer real-world tone shaping, this is a plus. Yet too often they deliver ultra-subtle changes that are hard to discern over pounding drums and washes of keys, while complicating operation and adding tonesucking circuitry to the signal path. Steve Carr is no stranger to making amps with the occasional extra switch or knob, but his specialty is combos that deliver classic tones with a minimum of fuss.

The Sportsman's 6V6 power stage and brown Tolex covering echo the vintage vibe of an old Fender Princeton or Deluxe, while the white control panel features pointerstyle Volume, Treble, Mid, Bass, and Reverb controls, along with a Max knob for the "headroom attenuator." The on/off switch offers a choice of polarity once the standby switch is engaged.

All Carr amps feature point-to-point construction and premium-grade components, and the Sportsman adds adhesive foam to protect the MOD reverb tank (and damp unwanted resonance), and a strain relief on the hospital ICU-grade power cord to prevent you from losing or forgetting it. A heavy-duty TMI transformer, 120-watt 12" Eminence Patriot Red White & Blues speaker, and a handcrafted-in-house, yellow pine cabinet with glued dovetail joints, combine to make a hefty 42-pound rig.

Tested with a humbucker-equipped Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster, and Fernandes S- and T-type guitars, the Carr delivered a lot of headroom for a 19-watt amp, and sounded very Fender-like with the Mid knob rolled back. This also increased the headroom, staving off any kind of breakup until almost two o'clock on the Volume--even with humbuckers! With the Mids cranked, the Sportsman started to bark as early as nine o'clock, making the Mid knob a defacto drive control.

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This was all with the headroom attenuator's Max knob, well, maxed. …

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