Tone Taste Test: Komet 60 and Div13 FTR 37 heads ...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Kiwi, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    By request, a report on a high-end amp get together yesterday afternoon. None of the amps were mine - sorry to say!

    Test cab that we all liked best was a Jenkins Hwy 61 2x12 cab, with a Blue Dog and a Silver Bell in it. Test guitars were Gibson CS 336, Custom Shop Les Paul, Melancon with two P-90s, and a Custom Shop Strat. We could get loud and we did. We all do the classic-rock/blooz rock thing. I am by far the lamest player. So I got to sit back and listen a lot.

    Komet 60 - very, very good 2xEL34 amp doing the NMV Marshall thing. Lots of gain on tap with the Fast switch flipped; more clean headroom with the Gradual switch. Likes to be overdriven and gets there fairly fast. Sparkly highs and crunchy lows; more mids than my Matchless Clubman has. Simple, powerful, effective, extremely touch sensitive and cleans up really well with gtr volume. We were sort of cringing at the prospect of plugging in a Strat - they can get very bright and icepicky in some EL34 amps - but this was sweetness, though bright, all the way. Nice stiff tight bottom end.

    Earns its rep as a benchmark amp. Modern classic - for a certain type of player/owner.

    If you are an EL34 guy and if you're at the end of your gear journey and you've got the jones for the single-channel, NMV Marshall thing, you could happily own this as your one-and-only amp, I'd guess. This is a modern take on it, though ... I still don't think of it as a Marshall clone - see notes below. We kept using the term "woody" for its sound ... it defines organic. You could hear the air and wood in your guitar.

    One of our group owns a metal-panel JMP50 watter from the early 70s and we will someday do an A/B test with the Komet. My guess is that the old 4-holer Marshall can add some of that soft wooly bottom end from its dark channel as a tonal variation if you blend the channels ... if you care for that.

    The Komet is simple yet subtle, and I liked it for that. It seemed like a more modern take on a classic Marshall sound, like a Matchless Clubman is another modern take on it. (Not to suggest that the Komet is like the Matchless.)

    I'd put the Komet's Touch Response Switch on the front, though, instead of the back. It's so useful, why reach around?

    Divided by 13 FTR 37 - a 4x6V6 amp with the fat smooth mids, upper mids and easy breakup that I associate with 6V6 amps. We guessed this was gonna get you heard in a band setting, because it's all about the mids; it's very easy on the ears. Flabby flatulent bottom end with humbuckers, but gorgeous with Strats and Teles - there's not an icepick in the toolbox, with the latter, even on bridge settings.

    I've thought for years (since owning a Carr Slant 6V head, also 4x6V6, for about ten minutes) that humbuckers just squash 6V6 amps; we agreed that was happening here too. P-90s and single coils are best for this amp, where you hear the clarity and openness of single-coils and the nuances of a good guitar. Just rich and smooth and dynamic. You could listen all day on this amp; maybe not as stiff and immediate and dynamic and exciting as the Komet is, but in many ways more relaxing.

    To put it in motorcycle terms: The Komet is a Honda CB900RR, extremely fast, quick, overpowered, exciting and possibly dangerous to anything but a highly skilled rider. Makes its major horsepower after you rev the nuts off it, then hang on for the rocket launch.

    The Div13 is more of a Ducati or big-twin sports bike - easier to manage, more forgiving, but equally capable of some serious high speed and great handling, for experts.

    Actual owners are welcome to add their remarks and disagree with anything here. I think Sneaky or RiddmURL has a Komet? Any Div 13 guys out there? Pile in here. We all hear things diffferently.

    Kiwi
     
  2. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    I should have my FRT 37 head hopfully on Friday. I will post a comparison to my Komet, both will have NOS tubes. Sounds like the /13 for my Strat and Komet for my humbucker guitars! :cool:
     
  3. Jemlite

    Jemlite Member

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    The majority of what I play with my 37 are Les Pauls. I'm not getting any humbucker flab anywhere. The bottom end is the best part.

    I do use the matching 13 cab... and there is a difference with this amp. It's very responsive to different cabs and speakers.

    The 37 does add some extra dimension with single coils though. More sparkly and blooming. It makes a strat sound like a strat should... (then again, it makes my LP's sound like they should too. Fat!) :cool:
     
  4. GoodGAS

    GoodGAS Supporting Member

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    DFW members ...also see thread started by Colt in Amps and Cabs section..."Any love for d/13 in DFW"?

    Kiwi, thanks for the summary...all good fun!!

    Jemlite, thanks for noting the differences in cabs...I would love to hear my FTR37 through the matching cab...anyone in DFW have one?
     
  5. v-verb

    v-verb Supporting Member

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    So $$ value aside, would you trade your Clubman for the Komet?

    Just curious - I've got a Clubman and a couple of Komets:dude
     
  6. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    Amps are tools, as well as instruments. It depends on your needs and whether the amp fits the job.

    I tend to play clean-rhythm guitar and pop, so I need the Clubman's headroom and stiffness. The Clubman's drawback is that as good as its brilliant sound is, the scoop in the middle means it can get lost in a full band context. I've heard that myself, when the jam gets cranked up.

    The Komet's got the mids, but I might miss the Clubman's headroom. Kind of depends on your style and needs. If you're a rockin' player, you might well prefer the Komet for its exceptional touch, which allows a skilled player to really control the breakup.

    One comment I gleaned from another forum is something I'd like to add to my Komet review.

    Admiral B has looked closely at its innards, and noted some design aspects of a Fender BF Bassman. Aha! - yes, that's the part I was hearing, but didn't have a name for. That sparkle on the top end! And that's what separates the Komet from being truly in the Marshall camp... and that's what makes it unique.

    Both are great amps ... but let's not lose sight of the fact that any amp has got to suit your style. I'm hoping that by drawing out the differences, I might help folks fit the amp that meets their needs.

    Kiwi
     
  7. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    The Komet is a Great with a capital G amp. I love mine and consider it one of the finest amps I've ever played, much less owned.

    Jorge, that headroom is tuneable to a large extent, depending on tubes and speakers. That's one of the many charms of the Komet. While it retains its own unique voice (somewhere between a Hi-Watt and a Trainwreck Express), the timbre, response and headroom are malleable by careful component swaps and playing technique. Headroom is incresed, for example with some preamp tube swaps to lower gain varieties. The overall response and bandwidth is altered by output tube choices. And the cab/speakers naturally impact the response and bandwidth, as well.

    I run mine with a mish-mash of Mullard and Amperex 12AX7s, a pair of formely NOS GE 6L6GC tubes and a Mullard GZ34. Mine is run through a goofy psychedlically painted JCM 1960A 4x12 (no tolex) with 70s G12m "blackbacks" (1777) and old stock basketweave grill cloth. This is a classic sounding Marshall cab with rich mids, good thump and enough high end to be lively, but not fatiguing. The Komet is run in either fast mode (+/- Teese RMC3 wah) with an Echoplex EP3 or in gradual mode with a small pedalboard. I run a Kometbrake in parallel for a ~3dB volume hit when needed. I use a '63/'64 Strat ('59 neck and middle, '63 bridge pups), a Kelley Snakehead Esquire (Kelley pup), '99 LP Std (Rolf neck/Voodoo 59 bridge) or a Chapin "Slow Burn" Hawk (Tom Holmes neck, TV Jones Powertron bridge) and use a hybrid picking technique.

    Using my equipment and settings that vary with room, I get plenty of headroom and shimmer and bounce in gradual mode, transitioning into OD (or hard distortion with pedals) with playing dynamics, or I get a mild breakup to screaming lead tone in fast mode with a mixture of picking technique and judicious use of the guitars volume knob and tone knob(s). Its all there.

    Check out Knopflers latest for glorious clean tones from the Komet. Its all there, really. Just depends on how you run it and play it.

    BTW, mine has steadily improved upon playing. Even with fresh tubes and all that...the amp feels like its burning in (less now than before, but still...). It ages well, like many finely crafted instruments.

    I found the Komet really benefits from careful listening. Ken Fischer is said to have listened to the whooshing sound of amps with no input signal to hear their general character and to determine "what the amp wanted to be". Then components could be altered or the layout tweaked to get it all to gel just right. The Komet layout and components are great, but a similar approach to dialing it in is worthwhile...listening to the amp without an input signal and turning knobs. Swapping around cabs and listening to the noise. Tube swaps. Cords. Etc. Then the guitars. Really rewarding..lots of fun. Slow, but worth it once you get back into making music and away from "just listening".

    Tickled pink, I are.

    I have been lucky to play and own many great amps. The Komet does not do "everything", so I very much enjoy using other amps for other sounds/vibes or if I can't run teh Komet where it perform best (i.e. loud enough). But in terms of general quality of construction, sound, handling, vibe, and how it fits my style, the Komet is really, really Great. Really.
     
  8. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    Rico, I am most happy to have you add your insights here - good to hear from you! ==K
     
  9. philster

    philster Member

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    I have to agree. Having owned a Komet and the 37, my observations are that the 37 extends at least an octave lower that the Komet.
    Using humbuckers with the 37 produces huge tight bass without a hint of flab, at least the way I have it set up, using the D13 2x12.

    Don't know why someone would get flabby bass with the 37, but possible explanations include a preamp tube issue, of maybe the humbucker is too hot and just overloads the first gain stage.

    YMMV, of course.
     
  10. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Likewise, I was just wondering yesterday how Rik was... hope all's well, Dr. R.

    JC
     
  11. v-verb

    v-verb Supporting Member

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    Excellent and constructive observations - very much appreciated!
     
  12. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    I was never happy with the low end of the FTR37 either. It did have some nice top end complexity, like the Komet. The 9/15 I played was the same way in the low end, not my thing. I do love both amps for cleans to edge of breakup tones, but once in full on distortion, I just don't care for 'em.
     
  13. v-verb

    v-verb Supporting Member

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    Hey Mike!

    What's shakin? Drop me a line Bro!

    Cheers

    Nigel
     
  14. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    Hola Juan! I'm fine. Bizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeee but fine. Back in SoFlo for a bit...back da road in September. Hope you all are well up in the midatlantic. Tell the folks at el Jefe's "hey"!
     
  15. v-verb

    v-verb Supporting Member

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    Rik,

    Your Callie has found a permanent home!!!

    Thanks Dr!

    Nigel:dude
     
  16. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    My pleasure, Nigel! Glad you dig her.
     
  17. Joe Tone

    Joe Tone Silver Supporting Member

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    I have one coming. I have heard this amp referred to as the best Fender Deluxe and then some. Years ago I had a BF deluxe, like a 66 or so and I brought it to Jimmy Somma, complaining of flabby bottom. It checked out fine but he explained to me that you never want to run the bass control beyond 3 on these amps and to roll back the treble to 5.5-6. I did and it sounded great, no more flab and plenty of bass.
     
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  18. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    Now THERE is an amp! Jimmy builds a HELL of an amp. I had an FTR, which I totally dug. My Roaring 40 leaves me wanting nothing. Different beast but the "type" of response is very similar. The Sommatones are right up there in terms of quality of build and tone. You are near Jimmy, did you check out his amps? Curious to hear your thoughts.

    Oh and talk about "from the crypt"!! :beer
     
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  19. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Cool report. Thanks for posting. Those are two and that I would love to add to the collection someday. I have a Divided by 13 LDW 17/39 that is just awesome.

    Interesting note on the 6v6s getting flabby with HBs. I only have two 6v6 amps, a Victoria 518 (5F1 Champ) which flabs out pretty quick but, in a good way. Then my Bad Cat Panther 35 (4x6v6s) is a different story. It's much tighter, for obvious reasons. A little bit of flab when cranked hard but, in general it's pretty tight.

    WOW: I just realized this post was 11 years old! Still a great report and relevant info.
     
  20. Joe Tone

    Joe Tone Silver Supporting Member

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    Jimmy is a great guy and does build an amazing amp. He moved to Texas recently so I don't see him any more. He is sorely missed in Jersey.
     

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