Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Hughes & Kettner Triamp 3

Now if only I could afford one of these.   Hughes and Kettner have updated their flagship guitar amp the Triamp now in it's Mark 3 version.   One thing I've notice, Alex Lifeson who I'm a bit obsessed about you may have noticed has had the H&K backline obvious in live videos of the R40 tour I've looked at online - there are some where he has a wall of Marshalls which looks like him and Geddy trying to portray the look from the bands early 70s days.  But interestingly to me they all look somewhat not plugged in where as the ones with the Triamps they are glowing away with the characteristic blue H&K glow.   Seems like Lerx has returned to these as his go to amp - he has a signature model around.

Anyway back to the new one.   Let's try to get our heads around this.  You essentially have three dual channel amps in one here.  Each with independent eq.  As you work from 1 thru 2 to 3 the level of dirt goes up, so channel 1a and b are more clean/minor crunch ... think classic Fender sounds.  Next up Channel 2 heads into classic rock territory... think Marshall.   Now here I know a few old cynics will be smiling that knowing smile that is thinking - but Fender is 6l6 and Marshall is El34 so you'll never get same out of an amp - it'll mimic but not get close.  H&K have solved that with 6 power valves in split in pairs two pairs of 6L6s and one of EL34s.  Oh you can then fiddle with what pair or pairs you use on each preamp...  you can then programme that all in and have it all instantly retrievable via the included midi footswitch - or ask your programmer to include the settings in the backing midi tracks.... Yes.. my jaw was heading to the floor at this point to.   BTW if you fancied putting in some KT66s to try to get even closer to say the very early Marshall JTM45 sound guess what?  There is a built in automatic and active valve biasing circuit so you simply plug them in and it takes care of it.   Channel 3 is into the high gain territory... the demo below shows how really musical channel 3a is in the right hands.

Oh yes throw in top quality speaker emulated output for ease of recording sending to front of house and that each preamp has a tailored boost/overdrive pedal available at the flick of a footswitch and you are starting to get close to this amps features.   Boggling!   My son claims with the switchable power amp tube settings etc. it's like 42 amps in one - Douglas Adams moment...

Now the downsides.   It is 150w.... ouch not the best for bedroom use.   Oh yes the biggest draw back.  I can only find it on sale in the UK in a couple of outlets and best price I can get is north of £2,700...  but then it is the answer to life the universe and everything.    Watch the demo video below and you'll see that just on sound quality alone it is stunning.   Would love to see some of this flexiblity and usablility finding it's way down the range into cheaper models...   the Grandmeister and Tubemeisters are already great amps but the next generations with some more of these features in them will be interesting to see.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Go set a Watchman - Harper Lee (Book Review)

This has to be one of the most long awaited follow ups in the history of publishing.  I can't understand why it was never published back in the day.  Harper Lee did enough to be put on the highest rung of any literary ladder with To Kill A Mockingbird.  Especially when you consider that novel was published in 1960.  It is hard today to put that novel into the context that was the USA civil rights movement at that time for most of us who weren't even alive when it first hit the bookshelves. 

Go Set A Watchman was the original title for the original manuscript that eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird.  There is much controversy about the release now of this work.  Some claiming it is simply the original draft for the first novel - having read it that makes no sense to me, others that no Ms Lee is old and infirm she has been coerced into releasing it and others even questioning the validity of it's authorship.

I've read that there was speculation at a trilogy with Mockingbird and Watchman sandwiching another work.  Maybe but having read the book if there was plans for a trilogy I fancy it would have been a further work after Watchman since I was still left with un-answered questions about Scout's relationship with her father.  I would love to have seen another vol set another 10 years or more in the future maybe at the end of Atticus' life.

So is it any good?  Oh yes!  If you've ever read Mockingbird I urge you to read this.  It takes preconceptions about who people are and twists them around.  Is Atticus a bigot?  Or simply playing a part to know the enemy?  You see some of the arguments often used about the emancipation of blacks in Southern USA trotted out but you do get a sense of why some people were frightened.  Given the current headlines about immigration into the UK and Europe there is much to think on in reflecting on modern values and ideology too.  It is set approximately 20 years after the events in To Kill A Mockingbird.  Scout returns to her hometown now a successful professional in New York, but the tomboy has never left Scout and she is soon raising eyebrows among the neighbours.  The real focus of the novel though is over how her relationship with your father is irrevocably changed through her again witnessing him at the local courthouse, the scene of much of the drama in Mockingbird.  Only this time Scout is left utterly confused and her father is reduced from hero to zero in the short space of the meeting.  Much of the latter part of the novel is Scout trying to deal with this and both her father and uncle making cases on different sides of the argument.

Overall in my opinion this is not as good as Mockingbird which maybe why it was never published in the first place but it is still a good work... time may determine whether it is near to the greatness of Mockingbird but for me it is not, still an important novel and it is a shame it didn't appear in the 1960s when I think with the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement it would have had much more impact.  However I still think 50 years on the lessons in there are worthy of exposure and contemplation by many.

Two thumbs up on the FTUBRS*

* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb down,
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded