An open letter to the fellow who wanted to buy my 65Amps Soho

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by 55 Jr, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. 55 Jr

    55 Jr Member

    Nov 27, 2002

    Please excuse my late reply.

    I wanted to think things over before I got back to you. I guess the short answer is for now, and possibly, forever I am keeping the Soho.

    If you have time I can give you an objective tone report on this thing. I have been all over the map with the Soho finding out what it can and cannot do.

    Remember that article in guitar player about the Matchless DC30?

    They wrote” Not a bad sound to be found anywhere”.


    It’s actually quite easy to make the Soho sound like ass.

    When playing with the master bypassed the amp works very well. The relative balance between the normal mode and the bump mode is very good.

    What I mean is you can set the normal mode for what ever you are looking for, then use high boost levels on the bump mode without a huge volume difference between them…..balance.

    With the master bypassed the Soho normal mode sounds like a very good cranked blackface. It actually sounds as good or better than my 65 vibrolux.

    Not what you would expect from an ef86/el84 amp with a celestion 1221.

    But it is stone truth. Listen to SRV playing the studio version of little wing. That’s what the cranked normal on the Soho sounds like.

    When played in the normal mode with the master volume bypassed the Soho takes pedals very very well.

    Switching to the bump mode with the master bypassed the Soho changes character completely. It sounds like a strong JMP.

    Hard to describe. It’s similar to the 1974X ………..with out the pronounced mid hump. The Soho sounds “stronger” than the 18 watt Marshall.

    Being able to switch between normal mode and bump mode is a very handy thing.

    Problem for me is the volume.

    I don’t get to play many places when I can use a cranked Soho without an attenuator.

    I’m not one of those tight assed tone types who will wax poetic about the nuances of tone shift when using an attenuator.

    I play my amps and guitars in a live setting and believe me in a full band setting with drums/bass/ a screaming vocalist and the odd pair of panties thrown on the stage it’s really tough for me to be concerned about something that subtle.

    However I’m not completely in love with attenuators. They are a pain in the ass to lug around and plug in.
    If I am setting up for an open stage screwing around with an attenuator is just another thing to delay a performance.

    I have two attenuators. A 16 ohm hotplate and a Dr Z Airbrake.

    I believe the Soho sounds better with the airbrake at higher volumes and the hotplate is better for lower volume/around the house playing.

    The hotplate has a line out which is handy. I run a bastardized wet/dry rig. I plug my normal effect chain in front of the Soho….everything except the Nova echo goes there. I run a line out from the hotplate to a Nova echo and return that to my 65 vibrolux.

    This cleaned up my sound immensely………this rig sounds ****ing huge.

    I would much prefer to just use the master volume. I’m a huge fan of master volumes. The Rocca HG100.…..amazing amp. My super champ….ditto.

    The master volume on the Soho is ………………….not your normal master volume.

    I have read all the literature about what 65amps is trying to accomplice with this circuit. For me…..the bottom line is: The Soho is a completely different amp when the master volume is engaged.

    I have never encountered anything like the Soho master volume and it took me some time to get where I can truly live with it.

    For low volumes around the house you can sort of dial in a decent tone on the bump channel. But it really is not a strong tone. I’m sure a Carr Mercury would be a huge improvement for around the house than the Soho.

    Both the roccaforte HG100 and the super champ are much better for around the house than the Soho.

    Other observations about the master volume circuit. There is a HUGE relative volume jump between the normal and the bump when using higher boost and tone settings on the bump mode.

    I mean huge.

    Example: Master volume bypassed normal mode settings: volume 10 bass 3 treble 4

    bump mode settings: bump tone 10 bump level 6

    Now switch between normal mode and bump mode. Relative volume is higher on the bump mode…but not excessive.

    Keep the same settings with the master engaged and the amp changes character completely.

    With the master engaged the above settings on normal mode are now “dude approved” scooped mids/metalish tones. Switch to the bump mode and the relative volume jumps. The volume really jumps with such a pronounced mid boost that it will shock you the first time you hear it.

    I know what you are thinking…..“dial up the amp properly dumb-ass”.

    That can be done.

    If you want to use the master volume and switch between normal mode and bump mode you have to use lower settings on the bump level and bump tone.

    Then the two modes compliment each other much better.

    The other thing I have noticed about the master volume is….well… have read this far so I might as well just blurt this out.

    When I am using the master volume the normal mode sounds like I am using a noise gate.

    It’s the only way I can describe it.

    It sounds ****ing gated.

    This gating “feature” is not as pronounced in bump mode but it’s still there.

    It’s very noticeable at lower volume levels. Not nearly as bad at higher volumes.

    Because of the way the Soho behaves with the master volume engaged I have seriously considered selling it. At a loss.

    On two occasions I have advertised the Soho being for sale but changed my mind.

    I have pestered Dan at 65amps about my amp and the way it behaves….he has always been very patient and helpful.

    Last night at rehearsal I played the entire night using the master volume.

    I was trying to decide whether to sell the Soho or keep it. The hotplate was only used to give me a line out to the Nova echo.

    It took me about 15-20 minutes to dial in a really good sound. My band mates were very patient with me.

    I think I have found something that is not only livable but actually sounds pretty good.
    I use an older FDII FM as a boost.

    I normally run the FDII in comp cut mode. That appears to overwhelm the Soho when the master volume is engaged.

    When I bypassed the comp cut on the FDII everything started to come together.

    There’s still that gating thing happening on the normal channel with the master volume engaged…but I found that if I stick to the bump mode for my distortion and use the normal mode and roll down the volume pot on my guitar I can get great clean tones.

    I have owned the Soho for over ten months now and the amp has frustrated me and delighted me like nothing I have ever experienced. Much like finding a good woman the Soho is proving to be worth the effort.

    I will remove my "amp for sale” add from the classified ad section.

    Best regards,

  2. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    near Philly
    Are you sure about that? There seems to be a lot of tone poetry in this thread.

  3. 55 Jr

    55 Jr Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    You have a point there.


  4. 8nthatK

    8nthatK Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2003
    Why the "open letter"?
  5. Ken

    Ken Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    It's a play on words...Good humor...enjoyed the review!
  6. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Pembroke pines-Santiago-Greenville
    what,,,,,?????,, General hospital?
  7. Axeplyr

    Axeplyr Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Nelson Bay, Australia
    I own a Soho. I posted this in another thread, I think it is valid here too. I too struggled with the Soho for many of the same reasons.

    I think the Soho is a great sounding amp. The clean is definitely blackface/brownface with a decent amount of headroom. The "Bump" feature adds in mids and gain and sounds very nice - but I don't believe it is exactly Marshall. Probably slightly more Vox and Fender, with a prominent "karang" in the tone. Strong JMP is actually a decent description. It isn't a smooth, compressed Marshally tone, unless you add a booster pedal or TS808 style OD.

    Switch on the master volume, and you have a completely different amp. To my ears, this is where the vintage Marshall tone comes alive in spades. Thick, singing, compressed, raw and organic. I don't use the master volume to reduce the volume - I use it to access "the Marshall within"; even with the Master engaged, I run high volume levels. Unfortunately (as you mentioned), with the master engaged the clean ("unbumped") tone suffers greatly and is not really usable.

    I've owned my Soho for 8 months. Three of those months I was really disappointed in the amp and thought of selling. Then, I suddenly "got it". I guess once the amp and speakers broke in, and I figured out how the amp's controls interact, it all made sense. It's the best amp I've ever owned - I can get in the ballpark of every good amp I've ever owned - Fender Twin, '59 Bassman RI, Marshall Plexi RI and JCM800 2204. Only the Soho's tone outclasses all of these by a wide margin. Truly a class act.
  8. Scott Auld

    Scott Auld Staff Member

    Nov 6, 2007
    Thanks for the interesting read and unique approach for reviewing an amp
  9. Rock72

    Rock72 Member

    Jul 22, 2007
    I agree on the Soho...truly a GREAT amp :AOK.
  10. Jimmydeez

    Jimmydeez Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Havertown, PA (outside philly)
    Hey 55 JR... trying to PM you and your box is full.

    Found this old thread hoping it would alert you.
  11. Bikedude

    Bikedude Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2005
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Jeez, OP describes my MV in a lot of ways, and a few of my other amps as well.

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