For over 30 years electric guitar players have been heralding the wonders of tube amps. These purist thoughts prevail today and even though great strides have been made in both transistor technology and the more current "modeling" technology, the "give me tubes or unplug my guitar" mentality runs rampant among guitarist. They want that "classic warmth" that only the soft glow of tubes can provide.
That's cool for electric guitar amps, but if you want to play an acoustic guitar through your amp, you were pretty much herded into the "transistor powered small PA type of amp." Not only was there not a lot of choices out there until recent years and the reemergence of acoustic guitars in popular music, but there was never an amp that really brought all of the elements together and used all tube technology. Well that's not true anymore. Rivera (a high-end electric guitar amp manufacturer in California) teamed up with Doyle Dykes (one of our favorite fingerstyle guitarists) to make what they considered to be the BMW of acoustic guitar amps. They introduce it as the world's first all-tube acoustic and electric guitar amplifier: the Doyle Dykes Signature Sedona Amp. I thought I'd take it out for a test drive.
The box arrived and my first surprise was how heavy the amp was. Wow, 70 pounds! The second surprise was the construction: beefy quality and a style that says "classic" through and through. Okay, I was impressed. The amp features 2 EL34 power tubes, two fully independent channels, a two-way speaker system with a 12" JBL and a custom Electrovoice dome tweeter. Wow again. Add to this an Anti Feedback Equalizer, a full spring reverb with its own presence control, effects loops with send and return levels and a built-in tube direct box (for stage and studio) and you start to get the picture that this amp does everything but give you guitar lessons.
What about the sound, was it warm? I had to go get my swim suit on. It was the most gorgeous, warmest sound I've heard. To make sure I was not just a sucker for a good electric guitar amp with a pseudo "acoustic" name branded on it, I got a regular Rivera amp and played them side by side with a entry level Taylor guitar plugged in. The regular amp sounded... well regular, but when I plugged in the Sedona, it literally filled the room. It was inspiring. The Taylor sounded better than it ever had. It sounded like a much higher up the line Taylor. Add to this the fact that the amp was LOUD if I wanted it to be. Keep-small-dogs-fifty-feet-away loud. I don't even have room in this review to tell you what all of the push/pull knobs on the amp do. I will tell you this, if you want one amp that you can play screaming electric guitar through and turn around and play heartwarming acoustic passages as well, you need to play the all tube Sedona before any other amp in this solar system. Retail is $2,400.00. Rivera can be reached at (818)833-7066 or www.rivera.com.