RedPlate Blackverb 88
By Bob Pletka 09/14/11
get some great amps thru here at ET and today was no exception. Long time good
friend and former band-mate Richard Decius brought in his RedPlate Blackverb88. Richard is a great player and cycles around the
Portland Oregon area playing with many high profile players including the Curtis
Salgado Band. After playing Matchless Amps for many years Richard was looking
for a smaller amp that could go from chimey clean to dirty mean and sound
topnotch in every respect.
He ordered up the special built RedPlate88 which is setup for KT88’s rather than 6L6’s in a single 12” combo. Shortly after it arrived he had us bring in a Weber Alnico 100 watt Blue Dog (nice move) to give it a little upgrade. After spending some time with it he wanted a smoother sweeter high end and was hoping we could do something with the midrange, which was a bit boxy. The amp was loaded with Svetlana KT88’s and sovtek EH pre’s except for the verb driver which was a JJ ECC81. The amp sounded good but had a definite harsh edge and a slightly bland midrange.
After spending a while with the amp here in the studio in stock trim and checking the bias, we pulled out the 88’s and the first two preamp tubes which are the heart of the tone stack. I installed a pair of the JJ KT88’s and replaced V1 and V2 with gold pin JJ ECC83S’s. The plate voltage was right at 500 and after heating them up I set the final bias point right at 50mA per tube because Richard wanted to get as much headroom as possible without sacrificing warmth and dynamic response.
These amps for those of you who have not read up on them are quite versatile with a multitude of tones available via the “Mode” switch and selectable “Bright” switch. The JJ KT88’s and gold pin ECC83S’s did not disappoint! The amp was sweeter, smoother, warmer, and much more harmonically interesting in the mids. Richard worked it over with his trusty custom Strat for a while and then I started handing him guitars because I wanted to see if the amp was equally adept with different guitars.
I first handed him my stock American Strat which the amp just loved, then it was the G&L ASAT Tele’s turn. This guitar can be a bit much for some amps but as soon as Richard dug into a few strings he gave me a half jaw-dropped, open eyed look and a “whoa!” The RedPlate Loved the ASAT, the cleans were piano like and simply seductive.
The rest of the guys in the shop came in to take a listen and before long Eddie handed off his Custom LP which has some HOT Lollar’s in it to Richard who promptly ripped it up in spades! With no tweaking of the tone on the amp it was right at home with all these guitars, pretty impressive, this is a little amp with a HUGE sound! The RedPlate88 got a big “thumbs up” from everyone, and especially the owner, so the mission was complete.