For who have eagerly followed some of my guitar gear related articles in the past, (or for those looking for an immediate cure to acute insomnia) you may remember I spent a long time banging on about the benefits of using small tube amps for churches as opposed to our typical dream amp – insert your personal favourite Fender Twin/Vox AC30/Marshall stack/Mesa Triple Rectifier here…
The logic being that all those amps are designed to sound best at a sweet spot which is WAAAAAY above the volume levels of most churches, unless yours happens to meet at Wembley stadium.
Originally I had Lil Dawg amps build me a rather lovely 8 watt chassis based around an old Fender tweed champ circuit that I put into an 80’s Marshall 1×12 cabinet I had lying around. That whole set up was inexpensive, lightweight but most importantly with great tone and very natural progressive overdrive without resorting to huge volume levels.
I’ve used that set up for all sorts of playing. It’s very much my go to amp for any worship band but I’ve also used it for recording, larger conferences, function band concerts and even The Musicademy Intermediate Electric Guitar Course. But I’ve also been on the look out for low wattage versions of my two other favourite sounds, the Marshall plexi and Vox AC15/30.
So the other day a used version of a very nice hand wired amp came up on Gumtree and I had to snap it up. It’s called the Cornell Plexi 7 and as you can guess it’s a 7 watt Marshall sounding head built here in the UK by amp legend Denis Cornell. I say legend because he’s one of those guys who’s been involved in the design of all sorts of well known guitar ampagey and pedalry including the Fuzz Face and the Vox AC30 and although has been making boutique amps for years, hasn’t received the recognition of some of the names that his quality is on par with (like Mark Sampson of Matchless fame for instance).
The amp head itself at 16 inches wide and 16 lbs is quite small and light but the best thing about it is the four stages of attenuation it offers. The little knob marked A B C D gives you the full 7 watts, then 2 watts, then ¼ watt and finally 0.05 of a watt of power. Now don’t be deceived by those little numbers, this thing pretty loud! In fact at 7 watts its still too loud for a lot of church venues. In practice though the attenuation gives you more or less clean headroom or overdrive at higher or lower volume levels.
I’ve not yet tried it live, only at Guitar Club that evening (think middle aged men who used to play a lot but not nearly as much now with too many guitar toys and curry… That said we *may* have ended the evening watching the Eurovision song content, but I cannot conform or deny)
I would like to tell you about our findings that evening but unfortunately the first rule of Guitar Club is that we don’t talk about Guitar Club. That said, the Plexi 7 does have a chunky clean tone with a brown sound that goes up to 11 before you get to eleven – or any other cliché you care to mention in the comments. And we even played some songs of lament in Dm, the saddest of all keys.
On more serious note I will post again when I’ve had a chance to play it in a live setting with a worship team and may well post a full sound clips when I record some Worship Backing Band tracks with it. In the meantime below are a few YouTube clips to give you any idea of how it sounds. Enjoy and don’t fall asleep.
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