DV Mark: Galileo 15, DV40 212, and Bad Boy 120
Ross, Michael, Guitar Player
ITALY'S MARKBASS AMPLIFIERS HAVE PROVED THEIR mettle with pros like Jeff Berlin and Bob Daisley, who appreciate these lightweight yet powerful heads for their punch and dynamic sensitivity. Having conquered the bass world, the company is seeking success in the guitar amplifier market with a series of innovative tube-powered models.
I recently had the opportunity to check out the entire DV Mark line. which in addition to the models on deck here, includes a metal-oriented version of the Bad Boy 120. a combo version of the 15-watt Galileo head. and a EL34- and 6L6-powered head version of the DV40 40-watt combo.
I tested these amps with a 1965 Stratocaster. fitted with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups, through both DV Mark cabinets and a custom 1x12 of my own. I also pushed the front ends of the amps with either an Electro-Harmonix Germanium Big Muff or a Paul Trombetta FeederBone overdrive.
The somewhat stark appearance of the mostly black metal Galileo 15 is softened a bit thanks to some figured Tolex on the sides and a fashion-forward leather strap that traverses the entire head. The perforated metal cover that encloses the top section of of the amplifier won't keep out invasion by dust or beer, but all those holes help make the head extremely light.
A pair of small metal rails on either side of the front panel protects the black-striped pointer knobs and Boost switch. The Galileo has no standby switch. Instead, about ten seconds after you flick on the juice, there's an audible click that tells you the tubes are warmed up and the amp is ready to rock.
Given its size. wattage, and EL84 tubes, you might assume the Galileo would sound similar to an Orange Tiny Terror or Vox Night Train. However, where the Orange and Vox amps trade in Brit-style grind, the Galileo is a clean machine, offering an amazing amount of pristine headroom easily as much as the clean channel on my 30-watt Egnater Rebel.
And not only is the Galileo loud. but its clean sound has enough harmonic depth even at low gain settings--to make reverb unnecessary. (If you can't live without it, reverb is available on the combo version.) The Galileo offers a satisfying amount of crunch with the Boost switch engaged, but if ever an amp was made for pedals, this is it. A little kick from my distortion pedal tightened up the amp's slightly wooly-sounding distortion--which is looser on the low-end, more like a Fender than a Marshall--and really made it come alive.
In many ways, the Galileo 15 sets the tone for the DV Mark series. It isn't a clone of anything in particular, though the sound is definitely more American than British. Instead, this little powerhouse is ready to carve out its own sonic niche in the small amp scene.
For a big combo sound, few things beat a 2x12 Fender Pro or Twin Reverb, or a Vox AC30 or AC50. Unfortunately, hauling these beasts around and hustling them in and out of a car trunk can be a chore. That's why the first thing I noticed about the DV40 212 was its weight: at less than 37 lbs, it's a little over half the heft of an AC30. DV Mark accomplishes this by using Italian poplar for the cabinets (which is lighter than most woods) and installing B&C Neodymium-magnet speakers, which are significantly lighter than speakers with alnico or ceramic magnets. The result shaves off more pounds than Jenny Craig.
The back-saving properties of this EL34-powered combo are just the beginning of its special features. Do you prefer 6L6 or 6V6 power tubes? Just pop them in. The amp will bias them and automatically rebias as needed to compensate for uneven wear. You can also set the bias to High for a more present sound, or Low to preserve tube life. Another bit of new DV Mark technology is a service port that connects to a computer interface (not included) so you or a tech can monitor the bias, plate voltage, and condition of the tubes. …