Lets talk about Carr amps

duaneallen

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,960
I got my first Carr amp (a Rambler) about 8 months ago, and needless to say its one of the best amps I've ever owned. Its got such a beautiful, sparkly clean sound. When I was researching it, the Sportsman really caught my attention as well. At that time I could not find a Sportsman anywhere, so I just got the Rambler. Today I went to a killer store (Guitars San Diego) and was finally able to compare the both of them. DAMMIT, I loved the Sportsman too. I had assumed that the Sportsman would be very similar to the Rambler, since they are both based on a Princeton reverb, but I was wrong. The Sportsman just had such a warm and smooth sound, and had thicker mids than the Rambler. Why is that? I wonder if there's a big difference in the design. Then I very briefly tried the Impala, which was also very warm. The Impala reminded me for some reason of the Sportsman, but much louder. I'm keeping the Rambler, but keep thinking about that Sportsman. Or the Impala. The madness LOL! Which Carr is your favorite and why?
 

grego7

has left the building
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,874
I used to own a Raleigh. Gorgeous clean sound and it took overdrive pedals very well. I wasn't crazy about the amp's overdrive sound though and ultimately sold it for something else.

More recently I picked up a used Skylark from the Emporium after watching Lance Keltner's youtube video about a thousand times along with Steve Carr's video manual. This is an amazing amp - the attenuator is just genius. Just wonderful overdrive and with a strat or tele at any volume level you want. I'd love to look into getting a Rambler or a Vincent, but I'm completely happy with the Skylark.
 

petty1818

Member
Messages
3,701
Every Carr amp I have played has blown me away. That's a great thing, but it can be frustrating when trying to decide on which model to get! At this point, I have tried the Rambler, Impala, Sportsman, Artemus and Skylark. I could easily own any of these amps. The problem is that Carr amps are so expensive in Canada now that I have to make a decision on one and I just can't bring myself to do it!

The Rambler has that beautiful clean/3D tone that just fills the room. It can be loud but it has this ability to almost surround the player so it doesn't really come off as loud. I sometimes find it to be a bit too hi-fi with single coils so I have been on the fence about it, even though I think it's absolutely fantastic. I agree that the Impala sounds like a larger Sportsman. It has such a beautiful warm tone with a much smoother top end. The master volume is also fantastic and for 44 watts, it sounds great anywhere from whisper quiet to extremely loud settings. The Sportsman I only played a few times but it had a great thick tone and I would love to own one as a grab and go amp. The Skylark was great but it definitely lacked bass when compared to the other three. If I had the funds, I would own one but I just don't need it.
 

JES1680

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,899
I like most of them but have had trouble bonding with them. Rambler too flubby on the low end. Artemus not voxy enough, Hammerhead not what I thought it would be. Liked the Bloke and liked the Impala and Sportsman, Etc... Great build quality but the Skylark was the one that got me. Love it can't see ever selling it. Yes it's a bit light on the low end when playing by yourself, but it's epic in a live situation.
 

Bluewail

Tone curmudgeon
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,897
I currently have a Viceroy and a Slant 6V and have had a Rambler in the past as well as an extended loan of a Mercury. Every one is stellar and everyone different. If I had to try and identify a characteristic that runs through them all it would be a kind of clarity. I'd say a hi-fi quality except some folks equate that with a negative. This is an ability to resolve a lot of detail and not smear stuff together. The tonal balance changes from amp to amp, some are a bit more or less aggressive but they all have this really great clarity. They are all also built like tanks. Steve has some great voicing to his tone controls as well. Really useful on each amp. An of course nice cab work to boot.
That's my two cents.
 

JStotes

Member
Messages
252
There really are a ton of wonderful amps available for players of all styles. I think Steve Carr makes some of the best I've heard. I have a Vincent that is "it" for me. Carr has a model that can fit just about any style and they are built to last for generations. I know they are on the expensive side but I don't think any higher quality amp exists. Their customer service is also as good any any I've ever experienced.
 

Stratobuc

Member
Messages
15,922
A few years ago, I needed a backup for my '71 Deluxe Reverb, which had become unreliable. So I looked on the emporium here, and found a Vincent used at a fair price. I had no idea what I was getting, having never heard one. That amp soon became my number one gigging amp. I've had a lot of amps - this one is by FAR the very finest. Built to survive the apocalypse, and the ultimate pedal platform, with elegant / beautiful cleans and a fantastic reverb. It only got better when I installed a set of NOS Tung Sol 5881's. Carr amps are worth every penny.
 

porterburst

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,441
I've played most of the Carr Amps , and they're all amazing, but the Skylark did it for me.

Just picked up a new Cream top/Coco brown bottom Skylark a few days ago that looks as amazing as it sounds.

Will sound even better as the speaker breaks in.
 

mattymel

Member
Messages
1,415
Nice amps. I plug into one whenever I see one. Not cheap though. Great verb and nice looks too.
 

S. S. Bender

Member
Messages
2,474
There really are a ton of wonderful amps available for players of all styles. I think Steve Carr makes some of the best I've heard. I have a Vincent that is "it" for me. Carr has a model that can fit just about any style and they are built to last for generations. I know they are on the expensive side but I don't think any higher quality amp exists. Their customer service is also as good any any I've ever experienced.
I agree on every single point JStotes made in his post, and I've owned a Carr Viceroy (Formerly known as the Vincent) since 2009. I bought my first Carr amp new in 2000, a Rambler that I owned for many years. I also owned a one-of-a-kind Carr Double Hammerhead 1x15 combo and matching extension cab at one time. These were originally custom-ordered by someone else, who made the choice not to keep them.
 
Messages
25
The only problem I've ever had with Carr amps is the fact that once you get one you'll want to get another one of his amazing designs. I currently have a 2x12 Vincent and a Mercury and am on the look out for a Skylark. I've found that a lot of his designs have some overlap but each have their own voice.
 

stevieboy

Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,738
Carr amps don't seem particularly expensive to me compared to other boutique amps of similar general design, as in mostly Fender based with various tweaks and feature variations. Allen amps are comparatively inexpensive compared to most, and a great deal IMO, but in general the makers have amps between a little below two grand up to about three, and Carr is right in there. You might be able to quibble about that from this model to that model, but in the big picture they seem to me to be in the range.

I recently got a Sportsman. Really enjoying it so far.
 

Redrum

Member
Messages
1,817
Still have my Mercury. Probably the best low volume amp I've ever had the pleasure to play. So easy to experiment with the adjustable bias and ability to use either a KT66, EL34 or 6L6. I often wonder how it would sound/feel with a tube rectifier though.
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,299
Rambler owner here. Afraid to try any more Carr amps as it might be an expensive proposition.
 

jman

Member
Messages
713
I have a mk ll hammerhead, not for everyone perhaps, but kick ass and unique. The only other I have tried is a backline slant 6 combo,seemed like a kind of 'super fender' as far as clean and sparkly/deep lows(much better at that thing than the imo terrible 'fender with over developed popeye forearm bogner combos I also had to use a few times, ugh) ...
-The 2x10 head sized artemus combo seemed like a cool concept, wish I could try one.
 

bdm

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,352
I have yet to play through one that sounded bad honestly, even if it wasn't what I would use personally.

The Rambler and Mercury are kind of modern classics now.

The Skylark impressed me a great deal. Kind of a perfect middle ground between the Merc and Rambler.

I'd love to put the new Lincoln through its paces. That Lance Keltner demo has me tossing and turning at night.

I've owned a few Carr amps over the years and if I were a rich man I'd own one of each! They make some of the best sounding, most well built and most attractive amps out there today.
 

Geetarpicker

Member
Messages
2,906
I've owned a Mercury for a couple years now and more recently got an Impala.

The Mercury is my favorite amp for low volume practice. Its fairly unique in that it has a built in power attenuator instead of a master volume. To me it captures that cranked up feel somewhat like a 4 input Marshall 50. You get that interactive squish of a pushed EL34 output stage but at only 8 watts or lower. It's a somewhat dark and fat sounding amp, considerably different than most small combos. It can handle pedals decently in its lowest gain settings, but it's thick gainier tones plugged straight are the most satisfying to me. I tried my Mercury on a gig once, but it wasn't quite enough power with a medium hitting drummer. Better get two for that or some stage monitoring. Still for inspiring living room use the Mercury is great.

The Impala is a totally different kind of rig. It's Carr's take on a blackface Fender in the 40-50 watt two 6L6 power tube range. Think an optimized blackface Bassman with an added mid, reverb, and master control. Excellent big clean tones, and enough gain on tap for some decent crunch. That said it really shines in a pedal board based setup. It has a ganged volume pot that in one knob changes the gain in two parts in the circuit. The net result is a great clean tone at lower settings with no excess background noise, but with quite a bit of gain left in the last few numbers (more than a stock BF Fender) if you need it. I've noticed the amp has a small bright cap on the volume control, but by experimenting with both the volume and master you can control how much or not this cap plays a part in the net EQ. I bought this amp to be a middle ground between my main two pedal board based amps being either my '64 Fender 22w non-reverb Deluxe, or a '68 Marshall 100w Superbass half stack. The Impala is filling that middle ground well and my other two amps haven't been out of the house for a while now. Even though the Impala has some healthy power to it, I find it sounds great even covering lower volume gigs and doesn't sound stiff like some amps in this power range. That said I was a little hesitant in getting the Impala simply due to the advertised weight of 50lbs, as my back is not the greatest these days. It turns out these amps (or at least mine) is more like 44lbs which is welcome and not much more difficult to move around than my Deluxe.

These amps are quite expensive new but I'll admit I shopped around used and got some good deals.
 
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grego7

has left the building
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,874
I've mostly been playing the Skylark using the attenuator to get some nice overdrive crunch at reasonable volumes at home. On a lark, I went ahead and plugged an OCD in front of the amp and set it to the 12 watt settings (attenuator off). Oh mercy, just perfect, incredible overdriven crunchy blues sound. I kept turning it up and up and up. Just amazing sounding. :aok
 




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