James Brown designs guitar amps for Kustom Amplifiers!

(ShackMan | Posted 2009-07-17)

James Brown designs guitar amps for Kustom Amplifiers!

Well-known some decades ago more for the looks than the tone of its Tuck & Roll series, Kustom has redone their entire line with modern looking (a.k.a. non-plush and non-padded) brushed aluminum and chrome designs across the board. Their Groove Bass 1300HD bass amp systems recently won the ears of Disturbed’s John Moyer, who joined the band just before the release of their best-selling album 10,000 Fists, who is now using them exclusively in the studio and on tour with the Kustom 810H 8X10” Groove Bass cabinets. Recently, the company brought on another superstar to help them get their products out to a larger market.

THE James Brown. That's the guy you were thinking of, right?

James designed the company’s new High Voltage hybrid tube guitar amplifiers and gave them a more refined look in the process. The current line includes 30, 65, and 100 watt combos, recently revamped with the addition of a 20 watt combo and featuring a 100 watt half stack. What’s the big deal about the High Voltage line? Tube preamps, Celestion speakers, and of course, James Brown. The new HV100THD head offers the same circuitry as in the HV100T 2x12” combo. 100 watts. 12AX7 tube preamp pushing the voltage level to maximize the tube’s disctinctive audio characteristics and dynamic range. Solid state power amp section to cut down tube finicky-ness and offer some stability along with ease of maintenance. The design features a neat rounded cabinet top, all-new handle and control knob designs, new grill cloth, vents, and piping, all designed around the vintage Kustom logo. Same goes for the 4x12” cabinet that Kustom is offering to go with it.

All HV amplifiers have two-channels, each with Gain and Master Volume controls. This Dual Master system provides natural tube overdrive and compression on either channel – it’s great for dialing in medium-gain tones with ease. When high-gain sounds are required, Kustom says, “These models bring it with a vengeance from singing lead tones to heavy grinding rhythms.” Given the fact that John Moyer switched to the Groove Bass line from a contract with Ampeg, a legendary household name in the world of bass, I'm willing to believe that Kustom could be just as serious about their guitar amps with that statement.

For those about to rock, but not quite there yet (no apologies for the pun), the new HV20T distills the HV experience down to a 20-watter with a 10-inch Celestion speaker. This model has its own unique effects section that mixes analog and digital technologies to provide an independent Reverb control as well as eight footswitchable effects, including a “Delay + Boost” setting that makes guitar solos stand out. The reverb, of course, is analog, and the effects are digital. This is standard procedure for guitar amplifiers – nothing new.

All other HV models utilize a 24-bit Digital Multi-Effects system with 16 high-fidelity, semi-programmable effects with Tap or Toggle functions for each selection, offering a wee bit of fine tuning, but certainly not enough for a true tweaker (The Toggle and Tap functions are only “ON/OFF,” nothing more). Select HV models provide a variable, footswitchable Volume Boost that allows players to dial in the perfect volume level for solos – whether clean or dirty – and then activate this boost using the HV footswitch. Even if you’re playing jazz, the Boost channel can be a wonderful help.

Check out the Kustom High Voltage line and Groove Bass line in stores today. Let us know what you think on the forums, or write a review when you’re done.

James is a bassist, pianist, organist, composer and writer currently living and working in the Pittsburgh, PA, and Morgantown, WV areas. He is currently writing tunes and holding down the low end for Morgantown-based jazz band No Room for Squares. For best effect, he recommends listening to "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" while reading the article.

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