(You can find more reviews and photos of Anderson amps here.)
I met Jack Anderson back in 2002 at the Portland Rose City Vintage Guitar Show where I listened to his hand made amps for the first time. To say I was impressed is on the money, I walked away knowing that one of these days I would add one to my collection. So fast forward to 2006 and after spending about a year on Jacks waiting list I received my Anderson 20/45
During the creation of my amp Jack would send pic's of it's progress. Here is a shot of the insides during the construction and then the final product.
As you can see for yourself these are hand wired works of art that are created by an individual who I will very respectfully call "possessed" with build quality and tone. Every minute detail is worried into place to achieve what is more than likely to be high on anyone's top five "best of the best" list for build quality.
Jack works with every customer to build an amp that is truly custom made for you. I elected to go with his 20/45 head cab option (I don't like combo amps) and had it decked out with tube driven verb and tremolo along with the variable tube boost circuit and channel switching. The only option I didn't go with was the tube buffered FX loop, I don't use effects.
I requested the cab to be loaded with a couple of Ted Webers 12's, specifically an alnico Silver Bell and an alnico Blue Dog both with light dope. I've had quite a bit of exposure to and experience with Ted's speakers and back in 2002 I had a local customer with a Carvin Belair and the tone he was after fell right between these two speakers so I recommended that he try one of each. About a month later he showed up grinning from ear to ear with the amp and a few minuets later I found out why. The combination of the Silver Bell and Blue Dog were truly outstanding!
Jack had not tried Ted's speakers yet and was worried that the amps voice would not be a good match. He agreed to give them a listen and not long after Jack called with that child like enthusiasm that we all get when tone knocks at the door, proclaiming the Webers to be it!
I whole heartedly agree, Jacks 20/45 with the alnico Silver Bell and Blue Dog is right at the top of my short list of the five "best ever" amps!
The tone? Well, it's a little piece of heaven! The one thing that impresses me the most is the amps ability to get that sweet spot at just about any volume. Even at lower volumes you can get a pristine clean and then dig in and get a bit of breakup. This is one of those amps where just playing a nice open chord lets you know instantly that you're playing something very special.
The drive channel is deceiving, and has more gain on tap than given by first impressions. This is because it's so smooth and defined that you don't realize how gained up you are. The current preamp tube lineup is a JJ Gold Pin ECC803S in V1 which is insanely rich sounding followed by a couple more JJ Gold Pin ECC83S's which seem to work better in the drive channel where the GP-ECC803S's where almost too lush.
As for power tubes my son Eddie and I just can't quite decide from one week to the next! The amp is so expressive and sensitive to power tubes that it just makes everything sound good in it's own way. We have run JJ Electronic 6V6's, EL34's, E34L's, KT77's, 6L6's and KT88's in it and both of us seem to come back to the JJ 6L6GC's for a while and then off to another flavor for a few days. Lately I have settled in on the KT66's for power and they have stayed in for the past several months.
A conclusion? It's hard to come to one because this amp won't let you stop playing. Dollar for Dollar it's the best amp on the planet and taking the dollar out of the equation nothing changes! The only bad thing about a Jack Anderson amp is the waiting, (I think he is close to being two years out now) but you know what they say, good things take time!
You can find the Anderson amps here at http://www.andersonamps.com/
When I received my 20/45 from Jack in 2006 I asked him to put Eddie on his list for an amp. Carla and I talked over and simply didn't want to take a chance on him not being able to get an Anderson of his own. Jack was out about two years at that time so figured it would make a nice birthday/Christmas present for 2007. Eddie and Jay were keeping Eurotubes afloat in the summer of 2007 when Carla and I were in Europe vacationing and visiting the great folks at the JJ Electronic factory. We knew we would be missing Eddies birthday so I hid an envelope in the office with a little note about his future Anderson. We emailed him a happy birthday pic and directions to find the envelope. To say he was surprised would be the ultimate understatement!!
The Anderson Amp that Jack built for him is much different from my 20/45 but is just as amazing in it's own way. I'll let Eddie tell you about it. Here is a pic of Jack and Eddie and the amp.
Ed's Anderson review:
Wow! Where do I start? I have learned that the amp you play is just as much of an instrument as whatever you choose to sling over your shoulder. It reacts to your finger pressure, your picking intensity, your attitude and the environment you’re in… Well, at least that’s what happens when you find the other half of your tone (the instrument over your shoulder being the first half).
I won’t get into how I met Jack Anderson as it would seem like déjà vu after reading the review above.
I will say that Jack’s amps have captivated me since I first saw his prototype setup at the Rose City Guitar Show. He had the chassis pulled with the innards exposed underneath a sheet of Plexiglass. This amp befuddled my eyes just as much as it did my ears. The amp he plugged me into was clean when you where nice to it but when you attacked the guitar it barked right back at you. After this first encounter I already new that Jack was producing the other half of my tone. All I had to do was come up with the money (in a nut shell I’ve been blessed with the most accepting and supportive parents imaginable).
After spending some time with Bob’s 20/45 I new exactly what I was after. Everything a guitarist wants; more power and more gain. I asked Jack to build me an amp that was capable of running anything from a pair of 6V6’s at 20 watts up to a quad of KT66’s for 90 watts and everything in between. Jack said it could done and he called it the 20-45-90.
Two channels with independent EQ and presence. The first channel is clean to slightly broken up when pushed or using hot pickups (it’s incredibly sensitive to whatever guitar you are using). The second channel is voiced differently and it has a master volume. It has about as much pre amp gain available on this channel as a Soldano hot rod but it still sounds very different. Both channels feature tube driven reverb, tremolo and variable boost. All of which are foot switchable.
I couldn’t write this review without mentioning the cab that Jack built and voiced for this amp. It’s a 4X10 cab loaded with Ted Weber’s 10V and 10VS speakers. These are just like his Silver Tens and Blue Pups but they feature a 40oz Alnico magnet instead of the standard 11oz plug magnet. This gives them an individual rating of 40 watts which makes the cab 160 watts total. Needles to say this cab will hang in there with just about anything you plug into it. Plus with the ten inch speakers the cab still retains its dynamic response with lower wattage amps.
Here are some photos of the amp.