Bequeathed to me by my dear friend and kind mentor Alan Darby, who sadly passed in January 2023. Alan had a long and distinguished career as a pro guitarist, playing alongside Eric Clapton, Robert Palmer and Van Morrison amongst many, many others.
An aficionado of Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, he had a sublime tone and phrasing. All the pro players commented on his distinct and beautiful vibrato.
I started teching for him a decade back and helped him build his final rig, which comprised three Dumble ODS and two Trainwreck clones made by Marcus Cliffe, himself an accomplished first-call musician.
These amps accompanied us to Dallas for Clapton’s 2019 Crossroads fundraiser festival and this one, my favourite after extremely exhaustive listening, appeared on stage there.
He knew I loved it and didn’t have anything like it, so he left it to me. God bless him.
I’ve never had the chance to play a real Trainwreck – now legendary, they go for the most serious money apart from real Dumbles and are even rarer – but this clone does what they are reputed to do.
It’s pretty high gain, but enables the player togo from clean, through chime to crunch and then starting lead using the guiitar’s volume control. And when turned up, it’s a handful, quite hysterical and very exciting. But it’s also containable at about 22 watts.
The downside is no effects loop and you can’t put time-based effects like delay or reverb in front of it because they squish up when the amp breaks up (unless that’s the sound you’re looking for, quite fun but not what I want).
But the upside is simply one of the best sounding amps I’ve ever met, with a maker and player provenance to die for.
The speaker is a single Celestion Classic Lead 80 – not a speaker I’d used before but felt for this amp. It also likes AlNiCos. It’s housed in a repurposed closed-back combo cab whose amp slot provides a front-facing port.