Straub Cantus opinions...


Silver Supporting Member
Anyone ever play one of these beasts? They look awesome for the $$$. I'd love to hear some clips if anyone has some...



Gold Supporting Member
I have one. It is awesome. Buy it.

Fretmaster will chime in here soon...he can't resist!

Sorry, no clips. Basically, dead on thick, meaty Plexi cleans. The distortion channel takes some tweaking (for me), but ends up being a great Plexi on raging steroids. Loves pedals.

Oh, and, I will add freely, that Harry Straub is one of the nicest guys you will ever deal with. Right up there with Randall Aiken in my book.



Originally posted by Lavely
I have one. It is awesome. Buy it.

Fretmaster will chime in here soon...he can't resist!


Ummm...ok. I guess your right. But when you find something that is such an incredible find, and forget the killer prices, I just can't keep myself from wanting to share the love.:D To save myself some typing I am cutting an pasting my HC review from more than two years ago. I owned the first two Cantus' ever made. The proto-type (which I will never sell) and serial #1 of the production model. I love the amp as much or more today than I did way back when I first got to play her. And everything I said in this review (written based on my proto Cantus) holds true today just as it did then.:dude

Features: 10
This is an all point-to-point, hand wired Marshall plexi style amp with the addition of a GZ34 tube rectifier and a switchable boost. BUT! let me make one thing very clear before going any further, you will never find a box stock Marshall Plexi that will compete with this amp! Not even close. Fifty watts via 2 ? EL34?s, a GZ34 rectifier and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. The rear panel includes two 1/4? speaker output jacks and a dial for selecting 4, 8 or 16 ohms. The front panel includes, from left to right, power switch, stand-by switch, presence, bass, mid, treble, master and volume knobs, boost switch and the 1/4" input jack. The control labels are laser cut into the front panel of the chassis and back lit with two banks of red LED?s. Looks very cool. The cabinet is a beautiful finger jointed solid Mahogany head with a solid Lace wood front panel into which the very nicely designed logo is burned. It?s a very beautiful piece. See Harry Straub?s site for pictures. This is the amp featured on the site.

Sound Quality: 10
This is where it?s at. It would take me 25 pages of ridiculous adjectives to try to put all the tonal characteristics and versatility of this amp into words. So I will try to keep it short and sweet for this review. OK, grab your Les Paul? here we go! The tone is everything from classic vintage Marshall to over the top hot rod Plexi. And I do mean HOT ROD! With the boost switch off it?s beautiful vintage low gain chunk to classic rock to killer blues while always very dynamic and responsive to pick dynamics and guitar volume changes. Nice crunch and killer chords with every note coming through. Plug in your favorite Strat and look out Texas!! Yeah baby, she loves single coils too!! That?s Dr. Jeckel now for Mr. Hyde?. Flip the boost switch and hold on baby! You?re in for the ride of a life time. With the boost engaged this baby comes on fire, everything from hot blues to the coveted ?brown sound? and beyond. This amp has more gain than anyone could ever need. With the gain rolled back it?s huge pumping and in your face. Amazingly quiet when the strings are muted and fantastically, effortless harmonic decay. Roll the gain up to about 1/2 and look out Eddie! This baby will do the VH-1 tone without breaking a sweat. Move past the 1/2 point and the gain will rival your best Soldano SLO-100. Going past the 3/4 point puts you into insanity zone. Let?s just say it?s more than I can use. There may be some insane gain freak out there that needs it but this is way beyond what I need for my style of playing. The beauty of it is it will do it if you want!! Very tight, thumping bass, rich complex midrange and all the super sweet treble and brightness of the best Plexi?s but without ever becoming an ice pick. Just sweet, sweet tone. Another unique characteristic of this amp is it?s a master volume amp with the tonal character of a non-master Plexi! I usually don?t go for master volume amps as I am a non-master sledge-hammer kind of guy. I crave power tube overdrive over preamp gain. But the Straub Cantus is NO preamp buzz saw. This baby sounds like a non-master plexi with huge, raw, powerful tone. Keep in mind that like a non-master amp this amp sounds best when you can let her breath. To me this is all good. I love it to punch me in the chest with every note. But if you?re looking for a bedroom amp you might want to think twice on this one. To sum it up, if you love all the best classic Marshall tones, Van Halen, Zeppelin, AC/DC, Satriani, ZZ top, Jeff Healey etc? this amp will make you smile the rest of your life. But more importantly this amp will give you the versatility to invent your own signature tone so good that everyone else will be copying YOU!

Reliability: 10
Comes with a 5 year warranty. Built with top quality parts and workmanship. Should last for years and years.

Customer Support: 10
Harry Straub is a super guy at the top of his game. He is extremely accessible and more than willing to answer any questions or help in any way he can. He even sent me a schematic of my amp! He has answered every email I have sent the same and even offered his cell number so I could reach him any time. You can?t get any more cooperative than that.

Overall Rating: 10
I have been playing longer than most of the current pop, so called musicians have been alive. I have owned and still own an enormous array of boutique amps from virtually every notable builder in North America and beyond. Some with prices so high they should?ve been illegal. I play Les Paul?s, Stratocaster?s, PRS?s and several other unique pieces. I have an extremely eclectic playing style having studied everything from classical to blues. I would call my personal style some form of blues, jazz, classical, rock fusion. This amp is one that just pulls you in when you plug into it. You start out for a short jam and your concept of time slips away as you?re taken by the tone and versatility. Minutes turn to hours without even realizing. I have an extremely discriminating ear being used to the best boutique amps available. The Straub Cantus easily fits into the pack. It has tone to match the best boutique amps and better than most. The price I picked mine up for was ridiculous and a fraction the price of most hand wired amps. I have no doubt these amps will be among the most sought after of all time as more musicians get there hands on them. I am thankful I have mine. It?s one that will stay in my collection for the long haul.

Submitted by Steve at 05/03/2003 16:57


Silver Supporting Member
Originally posted by Lavely

Oh, and, I will add freely, that Harry Straub is one of the nicest guys you will ever deal with. Right up there with Randall Aiken in my book.


I couldn't agree more. Harry is a True Gentleman..........I am first on his list when he starts his next batch of heads early next year............:dude

Mark Williams

Platinum Supporting Member
Originally posted by OldSchool
I couldn't agree more. Harry is a True Gentleman

Amen to that! Harry's great--accessible, supportive & "real." And he makes really fine amplifiers.


Silver Supporting Member
Thanks for the help guys! I've been e-mailing Harry back and forth over the last few days. He seems like great guy and is VERY helpful. I'm now on the list for a 50 watt Cantus. :dude
Here's a copy of my Cantus review from a few months back. It
has the most amazing collection of Plexis in one box for an
unbeatable price. This baby will go from classic '68 small box
JMP plexi sounds to the most over the top hot rodded plexi
while giving your guitar absolute control over the amp via your
volume and tone controls, more so than any other amp I've
ever plugged into.

The Straub Cantus Amp Has Landed

The following is a description and review of the 50 Watt Cantus
amplifier designed and built by Harry Straub. The Cantus is a 50watt
amp drawing heavily from the design of a 1968 JMP Small Box Plexi
and is powered by 2 x EL34s, dual HexFred solid state rectifiers and 3 X 12AX7s.
It can also be driven by 2 x KT66s and a GZ34 tube rectifier. The amp
reviewed here is the EL34, dual Hexfred rectified masterpiece and the controls
on the front panel are as follows: Power, Standby, Presence, Treble,
Middle, Bass, Master, Boost Switch, Volume & Input. All transformers are
from the Mercury Magnetics Axiom series, and you will find carbon comp
resistors where tone is the issue and wirewound/metal films where noise
is an issue. You'll find Mallory 150s,and Solen Fast Caps throughout
the circuit, and they are happy to replace these with any custom parts
you might request. This impressive internal package is coupled with
a superbly built external housing. The casing is an exquisite fingerjointed
cabinet made from Striped African Mahogany. You can also choose from Walnut,
Cherry, Oak and Birch and they will also accommodate custom designs and
patterns and mixes of different woods. Control knobs are also
made from wood and accent the cabinet nicely. Topping all this off is
a front Plexiglas panel which comes backlit in your choice of color.
Adding to it's cool looks the control names are etched out of the Plexiglas so the
letters glow the color you have picked for the panel. This makes for
a great look and very easy maneuvering in darkly lit clubs and theatres.

Now let's move on to the fun part and get into the sounds of this amp.
I'm finding that there is a tremendous selection of top notch
stellar tones available from both the Normal and the Boost modes
of the Cantus. To me the real key to dialing in these tones lies mostly
in the interplay between the master and the regular volume control. This
is where the real action is, as the tone stack is so simple and
so effective that it makes it really hard to dial in a bad tone unless
you are amongst the tone deaf. One thing to remember about the tone
stack is that the interaction between the Middle & Treble is dynamic
so moving one will affect the other just like in the older Marshalls.
I'm finding that the best way to work with the Cantus is to set everything
at 12:00 with the exception of the presence control which I would start
at 9:00 O'clock. From that point I would dial in additional gain (to taste)
by using a combination of moves with both the master and regular
volume control. By simply raising the volume you are also increasing
the high end spectrum of the overdrive, but by increasing the master you
are not only increasing the overall volume but you are adding thicker
and more even output distortion and harmonic content and this is where
the Cantus speaks more articulately than any other Marshall type amp
I've worked with. From that point on, it's very simple to work the tone
stack to increase or decrease any frequencies you may want to tweak.
One final visit to the master/volume section should take you to tone
heaven at that point. In the Normal non boosted mode, this amp is capable
of delivering very fat JTM 45 fronted sounds all the way through to the higher
end more sizzling sounds of the late 60s to early 70s Marshalls and the
classic overdriven sounds of the late 60s JMP 50 watt series as well.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL: Now add the boost function and you have just
transported these classic tones to a level that is beyond the beyond.
Imagine your favorite Marshall tones but now add gobs of infinite sustain
and distortion while preserving the original Marshall vibe and tone. This
is a new sound, it's a classic sound taken to a new level in a way no one
has done before. Again, the interplay between the Master and the Volume
and the use of the tone stack and presence come into play in the
identical fashion as in the non boosted mode. (very simple and user friendly)
The one area to be careful is when engaging the boost function, one must
back off the master volume (preferably to about 9:00 to be safe) and than
adjust upwards from that point while also working the volume control to
find your preferable mix of low frequency to high frequency gain and distortion.

This amp is more responsive my guitars pickup volume settings than any
other amp I've worked with. It gives you a tremendous amount of control
over the dynamics of the amp and makes it a true joy to plug in and play.
Set this amp up to scream and than just back your guitar volume down
and you'll have a tremendous palette of sounds at your disposal. Many,
or almost all manufacturers make this claim and IMO most fail to deliver.
Straub has never made this claim but delivers bigger and better than any
amp designer/builder whose product I've had the pleasure of playing.

This amp makes things so easy. A classic Brown sound is 10 seconds away
at any given time, as is a vintage Plexi or hot rodded 50 watter and the best
part is that you can dial in all these sounds with a tremendous depth, punch
and clarity or you can thin them out and bring in as much sizzle as you want
depending on your preference to tone. You are given a tremendous deal
of flexibility with this amp, the learning curve is simple and in terms of dollar
value and the "Bang For The Buck", I believe that the Cantus is the best
deal out there for anyone looking for Marshall heaven.

The Cantus amp, just like a great new guitar, is inspiring. It makes you
want to play and helps bring out the best of your abilities, thus making
the entire playing experience a more enjoyable and rewarding one. It
also, like all great amplifiers, has the ability to expose your weak points
as well but there is something about the Cantus that pushes you to
work through those weak points and keep striving for the magic moments
that make you feel as if your sitting on top of the world. It is truly inspiring
and fun at the same time, and it’s my belief that is exactly what all this
is supposed to be about. The Cantus delivers the goods big time………

I have a second one on the way as 1 is not enough!!!!!


Silver Supporting Member
so it's a hot-rod VH machine at half gain, and SLO gain when higher?

Wow, that's not what I thought this amp was about at all.....

I'd love to hear a clip or two.... there aren't any to be found, are there?


Silver Supporting Member
Mark Williams, between the Dabeck and Cantus, what's your favorite and why? They sound similar in description.

"so it's a hot-rod VH machine at half gain, and SLO gain when higher?"

Mikey, the beauty of the Cantus is that it can go from a gorgeous
clean '60's Plexi sound to a hot-rod VH to a super saturated SLO
type gain but it always preserves the Plexi sound as it's root.

The last two people to plug into mine each ordered one that
same evening. It's a no contest kind of amp. There were 25+
high end amps in the room and the Cantus was the immediate
jawdropper. I was actually trying to sell them another amp
which they had expressed interest in prior to arriving at my
studio. Once in the room when they went around the horn,
playing each amp, it literally took one strum of a chord on the
Cantus for them to stop short in their tracks. After a few more minutes, they were sold and had me put them on the phone
with Harry Straub. They not only each ordered a Cantus, but
they each put a deposit to get in line for the 12Watter that is
still in the design stage.

That's the type effect this amp has on people.


Silver Supporting Member
I've been considering this amp, and a VOS, based on your reviews. It seems like this one is more my thing ....

Thanks, Cliff, for your input ...!

I hate to do this to you, but I also have a VOS and the only SCO
and would not want to be without either of those or the Cantus.
The VOS is a world of sound unto itself as is the SCO. Both truly
amazing amplifiers. The Cantus will fill all your Marshall to
modded Marshall needs and beyond and IMO will do it better
than anything out there.

If it's Marshall your after, than the Cantus is the ticket. The VOS
and SCO are modern high gain amps with their roots in big
classic organic sounds. Not fizzy or buzzy but big thick and lush
tones that will make you want to play till your fingers bleed.

They're all essential tools in my new setup. The VOS will stomp
all over any D***ble type amp, as it can get that silky smooth
sustain without any of the terrible nasal qualities associated with
those amps and it can also get as aggressive as the wildest
untamed amps out there, all in a single channel head.

The house with the best tone is the "Poor House".


Senior Member
1,350 here's my Cantus question. Some 50 watters sound like 50 watters...a bit more focused and compressed with a little less bottom end and fullness. Now that's alright, as some people prefer the sound of a 50 watter. I prefer the sound of a 100 watter, as I tend to dig the extra oomph it has. Does the Cantus respond like a traditional 50 watter...or does it have the extra mojo that a 100 watter has?


Silver Supporting Member
Originally posted by CliffC
They're all essential tools in my new setup. The VOS will stomp
all over any D***ble type amp, as it can get that silky smooth
sustain without any of the terrible nasal qualities associated with
those amps and it can also get as aggressive as the wildest
untamed amps out there, all in a single channel head.

The house with the best tone is the "Poor House".

The thing is, the Dumble does clean, clean boost, overdrive, and overdrive+boost, all from a footswitch ... I've never seen anyone attempt a Dumble style amp with no switching abilities (thus my prior question about responsiveness to guitar volume changes).

I think a Cantus will be ordered soon. any ideas on wait time?

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