Fargen MiniPlex III Amp Head

Head/Combo: 
Head
Price Paid: 
$1995.00
Condition: 
New
Country of origin: 
USA
Tube Type: 
EL34
Features: 

 

The Fargen Mini Plex MKIII -- as shipped with EL34s -- is essentially a boutique, hand-wired version of a Marshall Plexi AND a JCM800 rolled into a 12 watt, 25 lb. amp head. 

It provides quality tone on par with a 50 or 100 watt Marshall, and maintains this tone at apartment/bedroom, and club-gig levels without tonal sacrifice. 

The Decade switch lets you choose between two completely different classic British preamp circuits: Classic Plexi JMP and hot rodded JCM 800. 

Full feature list:

  • 12 Watt Class A power amp
  • Custom USA transformers w/ 8-16 ohm taps
  • Vintage style mustard capacitors
  • Dual power tube sockets for use with any octal power tube(no re-bias)
  • Use EL34/KT66 /KT77/6550/6L6/5881/6V6 ECT
  • The ability to mix and match any of the above tubes…(i.e.El34 + KT66)
  • DC Filaments for ultra quiet operation
  • 1/8″ aluminum chassis for the true vintage British amp sound
  • 2 position rotary decade switch that alters the circuit for true 70’s or 80’s Marshall Style tones. (Plexi / JCM 800)
  • Variac switch for tight or loose response -- this means either no dropping resistor in power supply, or larger dropping resistor in power supply to creat some sag/squish feel
  • High & Low power switch (switches between tube and SS rectifiers)
  • New tube buffered FX Loop w/ true bypass

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 20″W x 11″H x 10″D
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Output Power: 8-12 watts
  • Tube Complement: (2) 12AX7, (2) EL34
  • Will also run KT66, KT77, 6550, 6L6, 6V6, 5881
  • GZ34 Tube rectifer
  • Class – Parallel single-ended class A
  • Front Panel Layout & Equalization – Decade, Volume, Master, Treble, Bass, Mid

 

Pros: 
  • Tone - the amp delivers the advertised tones very well.
  • Versatility - Basically, this amp is like having an extremely well-designed/built mini Marshall Plexi and/or JCM800. The response and rectifier switches provide a degree of versatility atypical of mass marketed amps.  The ability to customize your tube configuration (including mixing tube type) adds to the sonic versatility for tweakers who want that.
  • Convenience - If you like running low-wattage "lunchbox" amps to get power amp distortion at reasonable volumes, the MiniPlex III provides that ability for bedroom practice, for recording, and for club-size gigs.
  • Portability - while it it not the smallest lunchbox amp physically, it is only 20" wide and weighs only 25lbs.
Cons: 

The only things I'd change are the following:

  • I'd put the Power and standby swtiches on the front panel in a traditional manner, and move the Hi Power/Variac switch to the back panel.  The Standby switch is hidden between the two rectifier settings.  Fargen told me that there is "no need for a standby switch on low-wattage, slow warm-up tube rectifiers," but if you like using one (when you walk away from the amp for a time), having it on the back is inconvenient. 
  • I'd use less confusing labeling for the Hi Power/Variac and Hi Power/Low Power switches whch should be called the "Response" and "Rectifier" switches respectively.

Both of thse things are a little wonky (IMO), but you get used to it soon enough, so they're  not enough to deduct a point from on an otherwise stellar amp.

Sound Quality: 
5 (excellent)
Reliability: 

The amp is bult like a tank with high quality components. I don't anticipate trouble.

Customer Support: 

When you buy a Fargen, you deal with Ben Fargen directly, and he seems dedicated to ensuring quality support.

Summary: 

This amp fits in well with my other 15 watt-ers from other maunfacturers, and provides great Marshall tones at low wattage volume levels.  My bandmates are raving about how great it sounds.

I run the MPIII at or near full-out through a Bogner 1x12 cube cab, and in conjuncion with a similarly-powered, low-wattage amp through a second cube cab (in stereo), there is more than enough volume for band rehearsals with a powerful drummer, and any gig where your cabs are mic'd.

As with any low watt amp, if you're using it with a small cab and trying to compete against 50 or 100 watt amps through 4x12s, you will not keep up if volume wars ensue.  But you knew that going in, right?

 

Overall Rating: 
5

ROCKS - My Life In and Out of Aerosmith

Author: 
Joe Perry with David Ritz
Subject: 
Joe Perry
Summary: 

So after Walk this Way, and Steven Tyler's book, and Joey Kramer's book, we get a book from Joe Perry.

This book is chronology of Joe's life from childhood to present day.  As such, you read about his childhood upbringing and interests, his early musical pursuits, and as the title suggests, his long, storied history in and out of Aerosmith.

The book covers the details of Joe's many, often rocky relationships with managers, girlfriends, wives, and the very complex, love-hate relationship he has with Steven Tyler -- from Joe's perspective, obviously.  

Joe doesn't shy away from talking about his notorious drug use, but he doesn't do a deep dive on it either (in the way, say Glenn Hughes' bio did).  Joe's approach to this topic was closer to Keith Richards' approach in his bio, Life, in that Joe acknowledges that it took place, but never gives you the sense of how bad it really got.  If you want that, if you want all the dirt, read Walk this Way.  

Not surprisingly, Joe mostly paints himself in a favorable light. As the reasonable one in his dealings with Tyler and the rest of the band; as the one with the greater work ethic; as the one who was first untrusting of the band's first dubious managers.  This could all be true, but like anything, there are usually two sides to such stories, and if you haven't read the other books, know that bandmates and other sources have painted Joe differently.  To be fair, Joe also discusses his many mistakes, such as waiting way too long to fire the band's Machiavellian manager in the 90s. 

All in all, it's a very good, enjoyable read. You come away with a good sense of who Joe is, his motivations, and what is important to him. Neutral topics are covered in more detail, while touchy subjects feel a bit glossed over. 

 

 

Overall Rating: 
4

DRG Member's band wins 2014 DRG Album of the Year

 

Our own Nick Layton's band Firewolfe has won the DRG Album of the Year for 2014! This is the first time in DRG history where a member's release beat out the likes of Accept, Priest, BLS, among others, so it has to be a pretty good album!  For more on Firewolfe, check out these links:

http://www.firewolfe.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FireWolfeBand 

 

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