Engl Retro Tube 100 Head E 765

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4.9 / 5.0
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a nuclear powered JCM800. riding a dinosaur.

07.03.2017
ENGL is a name usually associated to high gain amps like the Powerball, that usually fail to venture really convincingly in the low/mid-gain territory (that's mostly not true, but that's how things go..). the E765, nonetheless, is an extremely versatile amp, able to combine two apparently incompatible tone philosophies, with a delightful vintage vibe and more bite than you'd think at first...
the Retro Tube 100 is powered by 4 EL34 tubes ? that scream Marshall. It's a 2 channel amp (with separate gain, volume and EQ), with a built in gain boost, a mid boost, a noise gate, a switchable fx loop and 2 independent master volumes (the master B potentiometer is on the back, and not exactly comfortable to reach). All these functions can be controlled with a variety of footswitches, or via midi.
- the clean channel is extremely versatile, ranging from chimey Fenderish cleans to bluesy dirts, and can be furtherly tweaked with a bright switch
- the lead channel has a HUGE gain range, that starts more or less where the clean channel ends, and goes through classic JCM800 tones and way beyond. In case you're wondering, YES. It can be used for metal. Maybe not brutal death metal, but trash and melodic death are easily within reach. Think of a somewhat tamer Peavey 6534.
- the gain boost could be better, actually. It adds a bit too much unwanted compression when used on the clean channel ? making it sound definitely less imposing in the mix. If you're planning to keep it permanently on to get the BROOTALZ on the lead channel, well... it doesn't really work this way. Surely it can add sustain and fluidity to solos, but it doesn't work well on rhythm settings, adding some unwanted mud and noise. Much, much better to add a tube screamer before the amp, as usual, if you think you need some extra brutality and tightness (the amp is very tight without any need for an overdrive, anyway)...
- the mid boost can be used to shape the tone but doesn't really work on the fly (to make solos jump out of the mix) in my opinion. just a personal opinion, of course.
- the FX loop is superb, like on every ENGL amp i've ever tried. No tone or volume loss, and it works with both line and instrument level effects.
- the noise gate is not on par with dedicated effects like the ISP decimator, but can be used to tame the higher gain settings if you're playing straight to amp... it works, and not too obtrusively.
The amp has 3 easily replaceable masks (black, cream or red) and the usual glowing red LEDs below the power valves. The retro tube logo on the front glows red too, but it's less bright than i'd have liked (maybe i'm a bit childish, but i love glowing stuff. I really do.)
Long story short, it's a (german made) quality amp. It looks cool and sounds great. The built in gain boost will not make you throw away your overdrives, but whatever the genre, the E765 can help you find YOUR tone with surprising versatility. If you like Marshalls pushed to the limit, this could become your new favourite amp.
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Engl Retro Tube 100 Head E 765

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