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As a growing musician my newly purchased Red Plate OpenRange2 is the next perfect step for my musical expansion and I’m absolutely thrilled to be playing through a Red Plate amp!


I discovered Red Plate at Loni Spector’s LA Amp show a few years back. I was there obviously to check out all the amps at the show but the Red Plate room was packed to the gills with beautiful tones emanating from the doorway. Some of the luscious tone was Chuck D’Aloia playing of his new “CD Special” custom built for him by Red Plate amps. The room was buzzing with excitement. Everyone was awestruck at what they were hearing and I was most certainly jealous that I had not heard Red Plate before. This is when my Red Plate adventure began.


This review covers my experience with Red Plate Amp and my final decision to purchase a OpenRange2 model amp. Below are the general amp specifications.


Model:                           OpenRange2

Completion:                 July, 2012

S/N:                               xxxx


Features

Cabinet Style:Head

Wattage:100w

Output Tubes:4x 6L6GC (Electro-Harmonix)

Half Power:Yes - Also includes a lo-power switch (explained below)

No. of Channels:3 - Blackface Preamp (Clean), Drive 1 (Edge), Drive 2 (Body)

EQ:Traditional Passive Tone Stack - Treble, Mid & Base (common for all channels)

Add’l EQ Mode:Yes - 6-Way Mid-Q (MODE) rotary switch (only available from Red Plate!)

Bright Switch:Yes - Middle position is normal with Bright 1 (Dn) & Bright 2 (Up)

Deep Switch:Yes - Pull switch via Mid control knob

Input Switches:Yes - Switch 1 called “Smooth” and Switch 2 called (Single Coil/Humbucker) located on back chassis

Reverb:No

Boost:Yes - EQ “Stack Lift”, pull switch via Base control knob and foot switch

Presence:Yes - Global Negative Feedback (with full bypass switch)

Master Vol:Yes -

FX Loop:Yes - Fully buffered serial loop

Foot Switch:Yes - 4-Button including channel switching between “Clean”, “Edge”, and “Body”. Foot switch also                

                                                include switching for “Boost” and “Tweed” (explained in detail below).

Add’l Features:Yes - See Below!


Speaker Cabinet

Cabinet Type:Red Plate 1-12 Cabinet (Custom Cabinets by Master Craftsman Gil Andrews)

Speaker Type:Eminence Patriot - 120w Red, White and Blues

What I Was Looking For In A New Amp


My playing style has evolved over the years which has forced me to change my gear set up. When I first started out, I played through a ‘71 Fender Deluxe Reverb. Looking for more reliability, I then moved to a couple of  Music Man RD-100s which where awesome for so many years. As the heavy metal craze kicked in, I purchased a Soldano Decatone which fulfilled everything I needed in that world. After the 1990s, my playing shifted towards a softer and looser style and I was playing more blues, jazz and funk.


In 2001 I was lucky enough to play through a Dumble Overdrive Special for about a year. Being a huge Robben Ford fan, I thought this would be the amp for me. Unfortunately, I found this amp to be more hype than substance (at least this particular amp). This is not to say that this amp wasn’t great in many respects, but for me, it was a little too brittle and I struggled to find a balanced clean and gain sound. Perhaps I just couldn’t dial it in, but it just wasn’t working for me. Once I discovered the Fuchs Overdrive Supreme I realized that there was a whole world of high-end boutique amps waiting for me to taste. After a few months research and tryouts with several manufactures, I chose the ODS for my new guitar rig and sound.


The Fuchs ODS definitely has a distinct sound and feel to it. As I said previously, it is not just an amp, it is an instrument all on its own. The notes seem to breathe with your playing. Dialing in the tone controls does take time but once they were set, I became incredibly inspired!


The days of large amp rigs are over for me. No more high-gain heads, 4-12 cabinets and rolling racks. I wanted to simplify my rig and get back to the basics. My other goal was to only tote around a small combo amp and perhaps a pedal board. (boy how priorities change when you get older)


My research on Fuchs was extensive before I tried one out. I read so many interesting reviews and comments and heard some great sound samples on Jason Barker’s site Steelbender.com as well as a few sound samples on the Indoor Storm website. The Fuchs site now offers these sound samples plus many others.


At the time, Andy Brauer at ABR was the only California rep for Fuchs Amps. Giving Andy a call to talk about this amp revealed his personal excitement for Fuchs. I immediately set up an appointment to try one out. Upon  plugging in and playing the first chord, you could immediately tell there was something special about the ODS. I used my Music Man Luke and played for an hour while Andy sat and manipulated the controls.  We went from crystal clear cleans, to funky comp sounds, to a more jazzy fuzz lead to a singing “Ford-ish” solo sound. It was truly amazing and I was immediately sold. We placed the order for my ODS that day.

Conclusion


The bottom line.... Fuchs Overdrive Supreme guitar amps are simply great sounding and playing guitar amplifiers! It is essentially the only amp I play today. There are so many great amplifiers to choose from in the boutique and high-end guitar amp market but I think Fuchs is one of the best you will find. I love the fact that these amps include extensive tone adjustment capabilities. Let’s face it, I’m a “tweaker” and this amp gives me tremendous control over my sound. The core tone of the Fuchs ODS is simply marvelous and if you are looking for a unique guitar amp with articulate warmth, cool cleans and a smooth but aggressive distortion gain channel, then try out an ODS. The Fuchs company is a pleasure to deal with. I recommend that you give Andy a call and try out all the Fuchs models before you choose. Buy the amp that fits your style and allows you to express yourself in your own unique way.


Click HERE to visit the Fuchs Audio Technology website. Also, below are a few other sites where you can view more information about Fuchs guitar amplifiers as well as listen to more sound samples.


Steelbender.com - Here is the personal site of Jason Barker. He is a talented guitar player and his site is not only a fantastic resource for all things guitar but he has an extensive gear review page. Check out his site and enjoy the pictures, videos and song samples. Jason includes a wonderful review of Jack Briggs Guitars with sound samples using a Fuchs ODS HERE. Or, go directly HERE for “Pics N Clips”  of the Fuchs ODS review on Jason’s site.

Indoor Storm - Eddie Berman at Indoor Storm is a wealth of knowledge on many boutique builders. Indoor Storm carries a select group of boutique amplifiers including Fuchs.

Gear Wire Summer NAMM 2006 - There is a cool video on Gear Wire with Andy showing off his amp.

Michael Lewis - A talented guitarist and songwriter who endorses Fuchs as well as sells them. He has a very interesting site. Go HERE for a directly link to his Fuchs page.

Scott Lerner - is one of my favorite new guitar players. An incredible player with great tone. Scott is the man behind the new SLX ODS models at Fuchs. Click HERE to listen to several sound clips of his playing and ODS tone!

Guitar Player 2005 Review - Here is a good Guitar Player review of Fuchs.


 

Features


My Overdrive Supreme is S/N 0035 which was one of the first production units built by Andy. Under consultation with Scott Learner, Andy has now updated a few design details which include adjustments to various tube operating points and equalizations within the clean and dirty gain structure. There are few adjustments to cable lengths and other specifications, but other than that the circuit design is essentially the same. All new ODS models include the “SLX mods” which, according to Fuchs, result in greater detail, more touch sensitivity and a sweeter overdrive. I have not played an SLX model but I’m sure these were great improvements to an already wonderful sound amplifier. However, I love my amp just the way it is!


The ODS includes a complement of controls which are highly sensitive and interactive. This is not an amp where you just plug in and play. You have to really work at dialing in the settings. However, if you are like me, you will enjoy the experimentation to achieve just the right sound.


Brite & Deep

The Brite and Deep switches on the front panel are very effective. I engage them depending on the guitar that I am using. Both switches truly add a bump in the high and low frequency response of the amp. For instance, the Brite switch can add just a little sparkle to a darker sounding humbucker pickup.


Jazz/Rock

One of the coolest features of this amp is the Rock/Jazz switch which changes the aggressiveness of the amp. Obviously, the Rock setting is more aggressive in attack and midrange response. The Jazz setting leans towards a software edge with a smoother attack and response.


Low, Mid, High

There are three passive EQ controls on this amp (Low, Mid, High). Andy designed these controls correctly in that they have a very smooth sweep in their frequency response from one end to the other. I tend to keep the low at 7, mid at 5 and high at 7.


Mid & Gain Boost

The ODS includes a foot-switchable mid boost and gain boost which are incredibly useful. The gain boost is simply that....a volume boost with no change to the base sound.  Although, I’ve been experimenting with my settings lately and the gain boost does seem to add just a little more drive when engaged. The gain boost essentially bypasses all tone controls and allows more overdrive on both channels. The mid-boost does indeed bump a mid-range frequency by shifting the high control downward which helps my solos cut through. Both controls are also accessible through push-pull knobs on high control and mid control respectively.


Signal Path for Overdrive Channel

Another nice design feature about the ODS is that the clean channel acts as a preamp to the overdrive channel giving you an addition gain stage (and control) in the overdrive channel. All EQ switches and tone controls are active in the overdrive channel. There are separate overdrive gain and volume controls as well. The overdrive input and output controls set the final balance between the clean and dirty channels.


Finally, there is a global master volume and master reverb control and an accent control which adds presence to the output stage.

Sounds


I play a few guitars through my Fuchs ODS including a Music Man Luke with EMGs, a Fender Strat with Suhr V60s and my new Jack Briggs Saturn Deluxe with Lollar Mini Humbuckers. My favorite combination is the Briggs Saturn Deluxe and the ODS. I'm primarily a rock and blues player with influences of jazz and funk. The ODS enables me to achieve a couple of cool clean sounds both super clean and with a little edge. I can also achieve a crunchy rhythm/comp sound with the ODS and then switch to that cool ODS overdrive sound for for my leads.


Here are a few sound samples using my wonderful Jack Briggs Saturn Deluxe. The samples use my 1-12 combo.  However, I recently switched to a 2-12 cabinet to help broaden my sound within the band I am currently playing with. It’s just a little bigger and fuller sound.

A Little History


The man behind Red Plate Amps is Henry Heistand. I did a little research on Henry, where he came from, and how Red Plate amps came about. A musician himself Henry grew up listening to great music, jamming with friends and eventually started repairing and building equipment on his own. After playing music full time until about 1979 he eventually went back to school for electronics and got a part-time job at a church organ repair shop. Henry soon became expert at tube amp repairs for Fender, Marshal, Sunn, Ampeg, Gibson, West, Park, Hiwatt, Sound City and all of the Supro/Kalamazoo/Dan Electro amps. He also repaired and modified solid-state amps. In 1986 he purchased a part of the church organ repair shop and named it Music Mechanix.


In addition to repairs, Music Mechanix did all the popular mods for guitar amps and built a reputation for high quality and great service. They continued the warranty station status and had access to every original manufacturer’s amplifier schematic ever released. It was an excellent reference source and evenutally Henry was doing Frankestein mods to Fenders, Marshals, Vox and other amps depending on the customer’s needs. These mods lead to his interest in designing and building his own amp.


Henry always had an interest in what he called “Sleeper” amps that looked small but sounded big. Henry eventually sold his repair business and spent time experimenting on point-to-point builds in a Fender Champ sized chassis, eventually working out how to do a 7 tube, large transformer build in a Champ chassis without noise or oscillation. His ultimate goal for his own amp design was to get a clean signing tone with a hint of character that would sustain and bloom.


Hence....RED PLATE AMPS!

 


Red Plate amps have obvious inspirations based on many classic designs. The entire line is amazing but in the end I selected the OpenRange2 amp for myself. What inspired me the most is that the OpenRange was it’s rich harmonic tone that is incredibly touch sensitive. It reacts to every note and nuance in your playing. The cleans are amazing with bold, warm, clear and harmonic tonal overtures The two drive channels are uniquely different with their own unique strengths. The drive channels are incredibly toneful and allow me to be play more dynamically then I’ve ever played before.

Final Thoughts Selecting The Right Amplifier For You


As I eluded to previously, every guitar player deserves to find the guitar and amp that suits their style, fulfills their tone desire and offers inspiration to their playing. Don’t buy into hype or brand. Take time to research and try out everything within your reach. Fore instance, the Dumble amplifier has a tremendous reputation thanks to
monster players like Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Sonny Landreth and Carlos Santana.


Remember, these guys sounded incredible even before they found the right guitar and amp combination. The true magic is in their playing! Their selection of guitars, pickups, effects and amps only accentuate their core talent which is what good guitar gear should do for all musicians. I truly enjoyed my time playing through a Dumble. I was unfortunately seduced by the hype but it never payed off for me personally. For the money, I think there is serious competition out there like Fuchs, Two Rock,  Komet (Trainwreck design)...you name it. Boutique amp designers like Andy Fuchs are extremely talented and I encourage you to seek them all out and judge for yourself.


Chris -

 
Gear Review

OpenRange2

Review by Chris Conte, Sep-12’

Audio & Video Samples “COMING SOON”



Check back again for sound and video samples

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