The El Guapo is a Two Channel 100W Plexi/High Gain Monster! Designed on the foundation of our favorite model of Vintage Plexi, the El Guapo features thick and articulate cleans that drip with harmonic richness, and reaches into the future with high-gain modern guitar tones that allow the player to cover a plethora of musical styles with ease! The El Guapo (it uses EL-34 tubes) is a collaboration between Jackson Ampworks and one of the greatest blues guitarists of our time; Josh Smith. Josh approached us a few months ago asking if we had any interest in making a 100W Super Bass with a Super Lead voiced High Gain second channel. As it turns out, I was about to start working on a 100W Super Bass design so the timing was perfect for our collaboration on this amp. Josh and I are both huge fans of the early 100W Super Bass circuit (it’s my favorite of all the Plexi’s) so when we first started brainstorming ideas for the El Guapo we immediately placed priority on keeping the core tone of the Super Bass intact. The low-mid voicing in the Super Bass circuit takes single coil pickups exceptionally well and fattens them up to be on par with humbuckers. So the top priority for the El Guapo was that it have a super rich and authentic vintage sounding Plexi clean channel with all the authority and punch that you’d expect from a hand picked Super Bass. Once that goal was met, I set about designing a Super Lead voiced second channel that would do everything from vintage Super Lead Plexi to modern high gain tones. The trick with the El Guapo was in crafting both channels to have their own unique voice without borrowing from each other and compromising each other’s design intent. In order to make those two voices come into harmony with each other, it took a lot of careful planning and design work to keep the channels as independent as possible while still sharing a common set of tone controls. The final challenge was in creating a system where transition from one channel to the next is seamless and allows for a gradual upward shift in gain from Channel 1 to Channel 2. Finally that transition had to be completely silent when channel switching with zero artifacts and without compromising the tone.
Channel 1 of the El Guapo has some of the richest and punchiest clean tones you’ve ever heard and is a dead ringer for the tones that you hear coming from Hendrix and guys like Doyle Bramhall II who famously have used Super Bass amps over the years. With the 100W power section (switchable down to 50W) Channel 1 of the El Guapo has an unbelievable level of clean headroom and will shake the walls of your house before it ever starts breaking up! About half way up on the Gain control for Channel 1, the El Guapo starts to break up and becomes one of the richest and most responsive blues amps ever created! From there on up on the Gain control you’ll move out of blues tones and on into Hendrix inspired rock tones! Of course all of these tones are immediately available at your fingertips if you run the Gain control all the way up and use the volume control on the guitar to adjust the level of overdrive.
The second channel of the El Guapo picks up gain-wise where Channel 1 leaves off and is voiced brighter like the Super Lead circuit. Think of these two channels as an alternate personality of the same person. While the first channel on the El Guapo is voiced dark and rich, the second channel is voiced brighter with a controlled low-end and expanded top end range. Add to that a ton of available gain and tonal shaping options and the second channel of the El Guapo has enough gain to cover everything from early Van Halen to the hardest rock imaginable!
The front panel controls are: Gain.1, Gain.2, Treble, Middle, Bass, Master.1, Master.2 and Presence
Response Switch – Possibly the most powerful and dramatic switch on the entire amplifier, the Response Switch alters the power amplifier stage and is almost like an era switch for classic Marshalls. In the JTM mode, the amp will take on the dynamics and response of a 1965 JTM45 with a fast and clean attack with added headroom and articulation. In the JMP mode, the amp breaks up a little more and mirrors the dynamic response of a 1968 100W Plexi with a looser response while staying very crisp with a lively attack. Finally the JXN mode is our own design, and when in this setting, the amp takes on a looser and more open dynamic response that is very similar to our Class A British Clean series of amps. Experiment with this switch and the Presence control to create your own ideal clean and overdriven tones. Note: The Presence control remains fully functional during all of these modes.
FX Loop – To make the El Guapo even more flexible, we have incorporated a buffered series FX loop between the preamp (post Master) and power-amp. Adding an FX loop here allows the player to use his/her effects in the loop and not interfere with the critical relationship between the guitar and preamp.
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