Taking its cue from the Pitbull Classic series, the Memphis 30 is a new combo in Steve Fryette’s fleet of monster heads. The aim with this particular product was to capture the essence of the Fryette design in a smaller package with a great price point. Coming in at just under $1600, this amp is a steal for the amount of features and quality that you get. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of EL84 tubes. I totally understand the jangle and unique power amp compression that you can achieve with them, but they’ve never been my cup of tea. You can take the Metalhead out of Metal but you can’t take the Metal out of a Metal head. Keeping an open mind I started out with the cleanest of clean and was welcomed by a big, complex, fat and sparkling tone. One could spoon the amount of juice that this channel was putting out. Dropping the wattage down to 18 watts with the attenuator increased the “mojo” of the tone and put forth a very convincing Brit Rock tone. The three way voicing switch added even more versatility to the mix. Let’s not even get into the way-cool Bassman like crunch with the assignable boost engaged. There isn’t a clean sound that you CAN’T get out of this channel, including a very neutral tone to push pedals with.
After gushing over the clean tone, I decided to kick in the “dirt” channel. All the Matchless and Marshall Holy Grail amp tones are there. It’s amazing how much versatility is achieved by just turning the gain knob and keeping the EQ flat. The gain knob is sooooo sensitive. Throwing caution to the wind, I slowly set my phaser to “KILL” and hopped aboard the “Gain Train”. This amp is such a breath of fresh air in today market of over saturated cookie cutter amps. There is SOOOO much gain here, but it stays very useable and musical. If you’re looking for a scooped Death Metal approved tone, the amp actually can get close, but you might want to check out the Sig:X or the Pitbull series. I was able to dial up the classic AC/DC to Van Halen and back to Whitesnake type crunch tones as well as a silky and sophisticated guitar hero tone. One cool feature on the front of the amp is the cool compartment where the pre-amp tubes reside. They are accessible for tube order manipulation. By messing with the order, you can totally change the saturation and gain hitting the EQ and power amp. The three way switch on the “dirt” channel had even more of an impact on the overall character of the timbres of sound. Being a die-hard EL34 guy, I have to say that I’m speechless. If you were to ask my co-workers, that’s a very rare thing. I have to say that I would have no problem making my way through Big Trouble’s (my cover band) set list. The effects loop is another great feature. Where most amp manufacturers only give you a series loop, the Fryette amps offer series/parallel options as well as an impedance switch to match up pedals or rack gear. There aren’t too many amps out there that can touch this combo amp. I still can’t believe that this thing has EL84’s in it….really…I had to check twice.