- One Channel
- Bright Switch
- Bias Modulating Tremolo
- Tube-driven Spring Reverb
- 50 Watts
- 2x 6L6
- 1x 12” or 15” Speaker
$3,099 – $3,224
My hang time with Tim was every bit as enjoyable as his amps are to play. Why does this matter one might ask? When given the chance, the longer you talk with someone like Tim, the more likely you are to find out why their circuits are crafted as they are.
In talking with Tim, a couple of things became apparent. He loves vintage amps, but he’s not afraid to color outside of the lines of tradition. One common misconception guitar players tend to have is that for an amp to sound big it has to have massive low end. Be it live or in the studio, if you’re playing six-string, you don’t need much of anything below 100Hz, so there is not much point of building it into the amp. One of the things I love most about the 50W Sideman is that the bottom end sounds and feels deep without being boomy. In addition to making for a great play, this also makes it much easier to capture with a mic.
I am the proud owner of a 1964 Fender Vibroverb, which was rumored to have been designed for pedal steel players. When I heard that Tim plays guitar and pedal steel, my excitement about reviewing the 50W Sideman peeked! Originally designed as a two-channel “go between” amp for guitar and pedal steel players, the 50W Sideman was and is everything that I’d hoped it would be.
DIRTY, CLEAN , AND IN BETWEEN
At higher volumes, there is plenty of raw overdrive that is easy to tame with your volume control. That said, the clean tone on this amp is second to none. I literally played for half hour before I even thought about grabbing a pedal. The bottom end is rich but not boomy, the mids are warm and never pokey, and the highs are sparkly without getting spikey. Tim clearly spent a lot of time fine tuning this circuit to sound and play great.
Speaking of the play, one of the coolest things about this amp is how it responds to the touch. The envelope on the natural compression allows the notes to smoothly get fuller as you play louder. This is where a lot of Class AB amps fall short. Some strings or areas of the neck respond perfectly while others don’t – I literally find myself making mental notes about where I can and cannot go on the neck, all of which tends to vary when switching instruments. And if by chance you’re a P90 fanatic, you’ll love the Bright Switch!
As seen in the Wallace Detroit Guitars demo in this issue, the first pedal I reached for was a vintage TS9 Tube Screamer. This combination exceeded my expectations – the long, singing notes felt amazing under my fingertips! Later I plugged in the new EHX Corset compressor and holy cow did the roof come off. The volume control on the Corset allowed me to goose the amp to into that delightful halfway point between a cranked Tweed and Blackface.
REVERB + VIBRATO
Speaking of Blackface, the reverb and vibrato circuits on the 50W Sideman have a ton of vintage character. The Dwell and Level Controls allow you to fine tune the reverb for any volume level, while the Speed and Depth Control on the Vibrato allowed me to dial in what I can only describe as a murky shimmer.
Besides “I love this amp”, the best thing I can say is to check out the companion video playlist we’ve put together for this column.