Reviews & Testimonials
Harmony Central Reviews
I Used my
Retro-King in this video:
As you know I have purchased two of your product’s, first being
the 45 watt bluesbreaker combo and more recently the 18 watt
plexi, let’s talk about the bluesbreaker, this amp is an
absolute tone monster it is so versatile an amp I think it would
be suitable for any kind of music you can get anything from Eric
Johnson, Angus Young, to Eric’s “Beano” sound and experimenting
with different pedal’s it can emulate a Fender Bassman there’s
no need to have a selection of different amp’s this amp does it
all, as for the 18 watt plexi what can I say, I consider it my
“mini bluesbreaker,” fantastic amp. When I purchase an amp one
of the first thing’s I do is to pull the chassis and inspect the
work and component’s inside and with my most recent purchase the
18 watt, the attention to detail from solder joint’s, wiring to
turrit board layout is second to none, absolutely great work. I
can see you have a lot passion for your amp building business.
Thank you Chuck. Lindsay, 1/2012.
Chuck, I just wanted
to let you know since I picked up my 18 watt combo from you I
haven't even plugged any of my other amps in. This thing is
out of this world, I love it. I just wanted to thank you, I'm
so glad I made the desicion to go with Retro-King amps. Rich.
chuck, just wanted to check in from down the road in rochester.
i finally have a couple of practices w/my band playing
through my new amp you made me. first off,the snakeskin
covering looks amazing,& the slightly taller 18 watt head box
is just perfect.looks cool,takes up less room...& it truely is
a custom made 1 of !
soundwise...it's everything you said & i wanted.teles,strats,gretsch,
p-90 pauls,my dano slider...all never sounded better.i thought
i'd be playing through my closed back avatar bluesbreaker
style cab w/ 2 30 watt celestions,which sounded great,but
after hearing it through my old faithfull peavey 1x15 classic
extension cab loaded w/a weber chicago ceramic 15...it just
blew my mind.my drummer is just freaking out.we play pretty
cranked up,but even wound up past 3/4 volume you can still
get crisp note definition,& controlled feedback w/sustain for
fri. will be my first gig w/it & i'm a giddy mofo just
thinking about it.my bass player posted a photo of it on my
tweed 1x15 cab for his myspace page,It he tells me it drew an
awfull lot of "oohs & aahs" already.i'm sure fri. night it
will get the same response tonewise as well as the "man,that
looks cool as hell" comments i've been getting.
thanks so much for hooking me up,doing the cash thing,the
custom head box,& even getting it finished early ! i'm really
thrilled w/the tones i'm getting & with the ease i'm getting
them with ! i'm so glad i found out about you & took the ride
down the thruway.one of my better moves.
again...thanks for a wonderful instrument,keep up the good
sincerely, steve litvak
|Hi Chuck, not that you need anymore endorsements
or testimonials but after 2 months with the 18 watt (1-12) combo
you custom built for me, I must say it's an addictive piece of
gear! The more I play it, the more I want to play it!! It
amazing that such a simple design in an amp can provide the tone
it does. At lower volumes you get the chime and just a little
bit of grit but with clarity, articulation, and even balance
across all strings. But the fun really begins getting this up
between 5 and 6 on the Master Volume with the Volume dimmed. It
still retains all the aforementioned qualities but now it fills
in with that Marshall (Old Marshall amp that is) crunch, balls,
and sustain. And at first I thought the 18 watts may not be
enough, but it is a loud 18 watts and perfect for my particular
needs. There is just something about this 18w design that sounds
sweeter than any of the amps I have had, and that covers about
40 years and who know's how many amps. Keep in mind that in the
past I have had numerous 18 watt combo's to include the Marshall
1974x reissue, GDS, Reinhardt, BlockHead First Born, Bacino,
Ceriatone etc. etc. All are good amps but the Retro-King has the
magic dust. My gear acquisition syndrome has reached an end
finally! That is until I order one of your JTM45's. Keep up the
great work and thanks for building such a fine amp.
Scott from Ohio
Retro-King 18-watt 2x12 Combo with Lance
presented by DAG
Here's me playing thru that Plexi 18 watt snake skin 1966 head
built for store stock. Going thru single 12" Budda speaker on an
Ultimate amp switcher. Channel volume on 10 with Master on 4 and
at about 10 o'clock in the non trem channel.
I took it out for a test drive and let it rip on an old Sam and
tune that Eric and BB did on the Riding With the King album. I'm
playing a Strat with a humbucker in the bridge for maximum
Please post it on your testimonial page so folks can hear what
bomb can do. Its for sale on our web page as is the combo
GAND MUSIC & SOUND
780 Frontage Rd.
Northfield, IL 60093
amp. I bought #15 off Ebay and was kind of giving up on boutique
18 watt amps when this puppy arrived. I played my first gig with
it this Sunday afternoon (see
pics) and was laughing remembering your slogan saying
this is the amp "every sound man will thank you for". This sound
guy kept telling me to turn down and couldn't believe I was just
playing 18 watts. The amp sounded too good cranked at 8, so
luckily I had a few Clear Sonic pads in my car to put in front
of it. Just endless beautiful tone, works perfectly with my
pedalboard, and I didn't even need the extra 212 cab I was
rehearsing with at home. This has to be one of the most
efficient amps on the planet.
Thanks again for the great tone.
|August 7, 2009
I just got my 18w Combo yesterday and I must say THANK YOU! It
is a beautiful piece of work, in all ways! The fit and finish is
flawless, but most importantly, the tone is to die for!! I am
obviously still getting to know the amp, and the speaker is far
from broken in, but even still, it is a tone monster and I love
it! As I become more familiar with the amp, I will post a review
on Harmony Central for the amp and cannot wait to let all my
guitar-playing friends hear this amp. Again, my most sincere
thanks for building such a quality product.
|April 24, 2009
I have been enjoying the heck
out of your 18 watt Plexi. It really is the Marshall tone I
was looking for. Unbelievable tone. (see
The 18 will play nice and clean
or with a turn the Post PI knob, produce great gain. Les Paul
or Strat, it sounds great. I can really get some cool sounds.
Clean channel, dark channel or jumpered, Rectifier switching
and Post PI volume combinations. From clean, to slight break
up, singing gain or grease fire. This thing has what I dig in
I am very pleased with
your craftsmanship and attention to capturing the real cool
tones. Out of the twelve amps I own. This Retro-King Plexi 18
is the top of the heap. Talk to you soon.
San Diego, Ca
Last Saturday night I met Billy Gibbons briefly, and I asked him
if he had any recommendations for a 5 watt amp. He responded
that he had one for an 18 watt, and I asked what it was. He then
suggested contacting Charles Dean, who made Retro King amps, and
suggested getting the 2x12. This was after a show, and I
honestly don't think I'd be exaggerating to say that he seemed
to become energized when talking about your amplifier. I'd say
he would have talked some more too, but the security guy was
urging me along to allow time for the other fans.
So I figured I should certainly check it out. I've looked around
your website, and I think I can tell at least some of what his
specs were in the ones that you built for him, but was hoping
you would be able to provide those specifics, and what it would
cost to have one built.
Thank you very much in advance for your response.
A. P. R.
I'll preface my review with the claim that, I've never been a
huge Marshall amplifier fan. I favor Vox, both ancient and
re-issue, (UK made only) and an AC30 is my constant companion.
I was immediately intrigued when an associate tipped me off on
Chuck Deans' Retro-King amp designs.
I decided to take a shot ! There was no way at this price I
could go wrong ?
I ordered the 18 watt Class AB combo for January delivery.
Before firing up the combo, I noticed the ease of operating the
controls, a well designed and simple control layout
for quick adjustments, and the great plexi panel cosmetics.
Popping the back panel off, the super immaculate wiring,
soldering and cabinet construction give you an indication of
what's to come... *18 watt combo (A class AB cathode biased amp)
Sound Quality: 10
The amp nails the signature Marshall gritty overdrive distortion
that you've heard on so many recordings... I immediately found
musical and quite useable sustained feedback at moderate
volumes... Those EL-84's in combination with the circuit design
give a great chiming Brit tone I love. At 18 watts, it's no
mousey amp. I rarely had to play as loud as 5 (out of a possible
10 volume detent), and found my comfort at 3 1/2, using my
volume controls on the guitars as a master. The amp at an A
weighted response of 95 decibels sounded fabulous. Want meltdown
Marshall tones ? Play 7-9 if you dare ! Those automatic Clapton
riffs I've played for years sounded as authentic as one can hear
with this amp !
The Retro-King is quite at home in a recording environment, from
low volume clean jazzy blues tones, to tidal wave rock volumes.
The Weber G12H30 produces crystal clear and crunchy sonics. I
recorded samples with a stand alone Tascam High Resolution
recorder, API preamp, and Electro-Voice N Dyne series mics
(front) and Sennheiser 421 (rear)... I ran the amp at about
+/-80 db for the sampling... It's a great recording amp that
pushes cleanly has many useful sounds in break-up mode. (this of
course, will be defined with your playing attack.) From 44.1 kHz
red book CD recording, to 192kHz, the Retro-King sounded
pristine and both complex when that lovely distortion was
produced to my analog tape machines and digital recorder and
drives. I especially like this amp for older 20 bit recording...
To test the basic cabinet construction, I provided dummy s-trig
loaded signal, tuned to concert pitch with Moog bass, set on
triangular sawtooth waveform pattern at 16? and 32?, with volume
controls ramped to about 50%. It handled the entire octave
solidly. The amp did not pitch a fit, a testament to its solid
construction. It remained tight and focused, with no rattles or
problems. This is a great way to test the limit of any guitar
amp, as guitar frequencies never go to the depths of hell...
The Telesonic with Keeley compressor and with it's dual 2K
DeArmonds sounded best... Even without my Keeley, it's highly
recommended to plug in and play this amp. It's a killer
combination with your favorite mahogany guitar, guaranteed ! The
ES-335 with its larger body, gave me the Creamy tone that surely
sounded rich and textured, yet authentic.
Had the amp since January, and all the auditions have been
flawless... The combo is a solid performer. No worries...
Call me in a couple years ! This amp feels like it can easily
handle the rigors of club touring. I do recommend a decent
padded cover at minimum, to keep it from getting dinged.
Customer Support: 10
Charles Dean, is the craftsman and owner of Retro-King. He's an
agreeable businessman who obviously loves and knows his craft.
Add to the mix, Dean is an accomplished guitarist who
understands how amps should perform. Charles has even met me
half-way for delivery of my combo. (we're about an hour and half
driving distance from his laboratory) He'll promptly return
phone calls and emails. The promised completion date
was right on time. As an ace amp tech, Charles Dean even
managed to get one of my beloved ancient amps back to being
musical with some much needed maintenance, at a favorable repair
price ! It's also nice to do business with a quality builder in
my home state. (note: Fender and Marshall tube design amps are
his repair specialty.)
The amp covers a 5 year bumper-to-bumper warranty with 90 days
on valves and 1 year on loudspeakers.
Overall Rating: 10
Want the tried and true Marshall tone ? No matter your skill
level, you'll find this amp a pleasure. Easy to dial in the
gold... this amp will be a friend for years to come. Studio
owners, this is a really great sounding combo to add to the
arsenal. It won't break your budget either. $1645 as tested. Try
getting a custom amp at this price today... (The Marshall
Handwired re-issue 1974X 18 watt combo is $2300 bucks, by the
way.) If you really know the market, there's no contest here.
It's a fun amp to own, and it looks great. Mine has the cocoa
brown levant tolex covering, with the Marshall cane grill cloth.
It's also an amp you can lift without killing your back... No
gamble here, you will be satisfied. I'd replace it in aheartbeat
with an identical model !
Instruments that I play and tested for this review were: a
Robert Keeley Compressor, Monster Guitar Cables, Gibson ES-335
dot Custom Shop model, Fender Telesonic and Mini Moog
Synthesizer.- Supercat, Upstate, NY.
Submitted by supercatamps 03/22/2006
The predominant feature of the Plexi 50 is its great musicality
and beautiful tone. The high treble channel is not as bright as
those found on some Marshalls nor the nornmal channel as deep.
The bass is tight on both channels and the frequency response
very balanced. The tone is of course affected by the speaker
cabinets. My set up is through an 8 ohm 80 Watt Dr Z 2x12 closed
back birch cabinet mounted with vintage Celsetions. The lower
the wattacge, the more break up.
Depending on volume and eq settings the Plexi 50 can achieve a
remarkable variety of tones. Easily accessible are AC/DC, Led
Zeppelin, Ritchie Blackmore and Hendrix type sounds as this amp
is very much in the same vein as the equipment used by these
players. Also achievable with varied EQ settings are Eric
Johnson, early Mahavishnu and DiMeola type sounds. Thus the amp
ranges into fusion territory. While not specifically built for
the heavily saturated distortions of modern rock/Metal, the amp
is versatile enough to be used for this music with the
appropriate pedals. In addition, the Plexi 50 is very "alive",
touch reponsive and sensitive. Turn down pickups and it cleans
up beautifully. Play harder and it distorts more.
My guitars include a Les Paul Standard with 490R humbucker in
the neck position, and burstbucker at the bridge, and an Eric
Johnson signature strat. Pedalboard includes a Fulltone 70s
Fuzz, Chandler Tube Driver, Boss DS- 1, Boss DD-2, Electro-Harmonix
Memory Man and TC Electronics Chorus. The amp interacts
beautifully with the various pedals, but is more noisy as all
pedals are in front of signal chain- (no effects loop here, of
course). The analog and digital delays come out sounding
beautiful, even with volume at ten-(think Eric Johnson's wet
sound on Cliffs of Dover).
Charles Dean, maker of Retro-King amps is responsive,
understanding easy to work with and easily accessible. Try
getting this kind of service from Marshall in England or makers
of other similar amps. Amp was built in the exact time
specified, delivered as expected and works perfectly.
I have only had the amp for 1 month, but its tight construction
and simple design lead me to believe that it will last as long
as many Marshalls built 40 years back.
I am a guitarist of some 20+ years experience and currently play
in a classic/modern rock cover band (as a hobby) that also does
some originals. We cover anything from ZZ Top, Cheap Trick etc.
to Nine Inch Nails, Nickelback, even Pat Benatar. Other amps are
a Guytron GT-100 head, 74 Silverface Vibrolux reverb, 20th
anniversary Hughes and Kettner Combo and a Polytone Mini Brute
IV for Jazz work.
essential to remember for guitarists looking for that famed
Marshall sound. The Plexi 50 are priced at half of the new
hand-wired Marshall equivalents and half of the Blockhead and
Mojave amps. I have auditioned the latter two and like the
Miron Leshem 02/05/2006
What a find if you’re looking for a great all around
amplifier!!! I finally got a chance to put my 18 Watt Head
(white tolex w/gold piping) through its’ paces and I couldn’t be
more impressed. We tried a variety of guitars – ’61 Relic Strat,
’57 Junior, CS Esquire w/P90 in the neck, Ibanez “lawsuit”
Flying V and a RI Gretsch 6118T Double Anniversary through a ’73
Marshall 1960A Cab w/original Greybacks and in each case the
guitars retained their individual character. The guitars’ volume
and tone controls have a great effect on the ability of the amp
to get a wide variety of very usable tones at any volume.
Varying your pick attack also adds even more to the wide
spectrum of tones available. We ran the amp through the full
range of its’ controls and found a different sweet spot for each
guitar – mostly between 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the volume
with the tone adjusted based on the pickups in the guitar. Even
when the amp was “dimed” it retained its’ character and string
definition was not compromised.
Next we tried the head through several different Cabinets and
speaker combinations – ’71 10982A w/original G12H 30’s,
Celestion Blue 2 X12” Cab and three Marshall 4 X 10’s. Each of
the Marshall’s had a different set of speakers - one with a mix
of Weber Silver 10’s and Blue Pup’s, the second with four Weber
Thames and the third with original ’69 Marshall 9384 Greenbacks.
Each of the five cabinets sounded great and offered their own
character to the Retro King. Based on what we heard from this
amp it’ll work with most any cabinet or speaker combination. To
me it seemed to find its’ comfort zone with the original
Celestion 9384’s or the mix of Weber Silver & Blue 10’s. The
other two guys didn’t think the pairing with the ’73 Marshall
could be improved on!!!
The Retro King 18 Watt Head would be a great amp for any small
or mid sized club. It will also get a ton of use in either a
home or recording studio with its’ wide variety of tones and the
way it compliments any guitar you plug into it. A cool feature
that Chuck offers on the tremolo channel is the way the two
button footswitch offers on/off and the ability to toggle
between two different speeds when engaged!!! The component
choices and workmanship are both top notch and add to the
overall character of this amplifier. The stock tube compliment
that came with the amp sounds great but I imagine that swapping
different preamp and power tubes to tailor your sound would be a
very rewarding experience.
Give this amp a try and you’ll find a bunch reasons to make it
your amp of choice.
P.S. I had Chuck go through my JTM45 RI with a PTP upgrade and
he reviewed the components and workmanship for any errors. He
then offered some suggestions to tweak the circuit to improve
its’ overall sound which gives me an ideal amp for any larger
venue. I get many compliments on how great my “Marshall” sounds
and that it really stands out in the mix.
you have ever purchased a new mass produced Marshall amp and
kicked yourself because it did not give the sound that you heard
on your favorite records, then run out and purchase a Retro King
45 or Retro King 50. Charles Dean hand makes these amps and
signs every one and the sound is the real deal; which I have
never been able to obtain with a stock Marshall. Why would
anyone purchase a mass produced amp when a hand built boutique
amp can be had for nearly the same price? I purchased a Retro
King 45 and a Retro King 50 and I love them both.
Thomas Dean Eubanks
Wow ! This light ( I think about 40lbs.) 18 watter is amazing.
delivers just the perfect single coil grind i was looking for
with my strat & with the Les Paul loaded W/ Dimarzios think
Clapton... Bluesbreakers...1965...Mayall ! I thought it might be
a little underpowered for gigging , but it's a lot louder w/ far
more bark than my 22 watt blackface Deluxe Reverb. It also
cleans up very nicely when you roll-off the guitar volume knob.
The tremelo effect is very big & warm.
I ordered mine in red tolex w/ a weber 1230 12" speaker (weber's
reissue of the famous Celestion G12H30). Chuck has been very
responsive with a couple of technical questions that I had. If
the amp were ever stolen, I would definitely replace it.
Robert P. Dwyer, Attorney
I recently purchased a Retro-King 18W. I have owned Marshall 18W
amplifiers. I have to admit that the Retro-King is as great an
amp as the Marshall 18W and at a fraction of the price. An
excellent Rock/Blues/Jazz amp. I use it with both humbucker and
single coil guitars. This is a workhorse amplifier with major