The quest for the perfect balance of tone has always been elusive to many guitarists. Some guitarists find their amp and stick with it for years, while some are constantly changing things around. My first exposure to Fryette amps (then VHT) was in the form of the 100 watt per side power amp and I loved it. It had volume for days and was much more “musical” than any power amp that I had tried before. I used it exclusively with a Mesa Tri Axis and a Rocktron Intellifex in my touring metal years up until the first Waiting For Lucy cd “Mantra”. A few years ago, I was privileged enough to buy a VHT Pitbull 5012 2X12. I now use it for all my cover band shows and most of the playing that I do at home. There is something truly magical about these amps. Steve Fryette has always put quality, tone, durability and versatility before all else. Shedding his VHT moniker and flying the company flag under his own name, Fryette Amps, he is poised to corner the market with his breath-taking amp designs. We are proud to be a Canadian dealer for his new and exciting products.
The first Fryette amplifier to arrive was the Pitbull CL 100. Aside from its menacingly understated and classy design, this thing is built like a Sherman Tank. It is the epitome of over doing everything to the final degree. Everything from the chassis to head case to the foot switch seem like they ought to be saying “go ahead, Punk…. make my day”. The first thing that you’ll notice is that there is a green and red channel and they are laid out the same way. There is no pre-determined clean or dirty so the sky’s really the limit here. Just from looking at it (and hearing my endless praise for the crunch sounds), you know that this amp is going to scream and growl like Cujo on a hunger strike. The pleasant surprise to many people plugging in for the first time is the clean sound. Evoking a part Fender and part Hiwatt spank, this amp has headroom for days and an EQ section that is so versatile and musical that its really hard to get a bad sound out of it. I had a blast just playing with a dry tone and hearing the complexity of the tone. A special note, the amp’s characteristic crunch changes when you use the half power switch located right on the standby switch. How cool is that?!!!!
The Red channel put an evil grin on my face. This channel has more gain on tap than the Green Channel and “compresses” very nicely. I typically set this channel up for my “reach-out-and-hurt-someone” tone and the amp was begging for more. There was no tone degradation or low end overloading even at its highest gain setting. I already knew this from my combo at home but hearing the Pitbull CL through a 4X12 really put things in perspective. With a boost (overall gain boost), edge (boost on the high end register) and shift control (mid boost), there isn’t a grind tone that you can’t achieve. Let’s not even talk about adding the footswitchable EQ into the mix for that big, in your face, Metallica/Slayer tone. Aside from the “extreme application” side of the pool that I tend to frequent, there are a lot of lower gain overdrive tones here. From a SRV approved spank to an AC/DC approved crunch, this amp can handle anything that you can throw at it. My favorite set-up is with the gain full up and simply using my volume knob to vary the timbre of distortion. A lot of people marvel at the number of sounds that I’m able to coax out of my Pitbull 5012 by just doing this. All this is without adding the appropriate effect in the series/parallel loop yet.
The Fryette Pitbull is a versatile amp that will stay with you for a lifetime. From its rugged construction to its versatile and musical tones, there really aren’t many amps that compete on the world market with the Pitbull CL. Since its inception decades ago, it has remained an industry standard and cornerstone in the boutique amp market. Steve Fryette has created and re-released a classic amp that will continue to inspire awe in the people who plug in and play it. Kudos Steve!!!