Rickenbacker TR75GT Amplifier
If you were to ask most musicians to list all of the amplifier manufacturers known to them, it would be a safe bet to say that the name 'Rickenbacker' would not be amongst them. This is ironic, for in the USA, from where the amps originate, they are highly thought of. Now that Golico are distributing the full range of these amplifiers over here the situation will undoubtedly soon alter. The model chosen for review, the TR75GT, forms part of an eleven model range, seven of which are combos ie. self-contained speaker/amplifier systems.
The TR75GT is a transistorised, twin channel combo amplifier measuring 20"(H) x 26"(W) x 12"(D) and providing a maximum 75 watts (RMS) power, delivered into two heavy duty 12" speakers. (JBL speakers are optional).
The amp is primarily designed for use by guitarists, having a 10 kHz bandwidth upper limit. Having said that, it did perform well with a synthesiser input, whose upper harmonic content was strong. The bass end, as well, proved something of a revelation, being tight but not harsh. The open-back cabinet design does mean that the speakers have a slightly improved sound dispersion characteristic over similar twin speaker combos. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your particular requirements.
The unit is soundly constructed and elegantly finished in a durable black vinyl fabric. Plastic moulding strips afford the edges some added protection but metal excursions would have been preferable. Detachable castors are provided for the amplifier, and are best fitted, since the unit is too heavy to carry for any length of time without them. A flimsy speaker cloth is the only protection provided for the speakers and this really should be reinforced to prevent accidental damage from occurring.
This is silver and black and houses the controls for the two separate channels. From left to right, there are high and low gain input sockets for channel one. Input 1 (high) is generally used for most guitars unless they have a higher than normal output level from the pickups, when the second input should be employed.
A separate volume control is provided with bass and treble tone controls which only afford a basic means of equalising your guitar signal. The reverb control is next, which adjusts the mix between dry and reverberated signals. The reverb is produced from a springline device housed in the main amplifier compartment and creates a warm, but not too deep, effect which adds a useful colouration to most types of guitar sound.
Next, is a stereo jack socket which accepts a stereo plug and feeds the input to left and right channels for independent level control and equalisation. Used in this way, the effect is not too effective, since the close proximity of the speakers prevents a decent stereo image from being perceived. It is much better when one channel is fed to an auxiliary speaker from the rear panel speaker connection.
Channel two has the same controls as channel one with several additions. A built-in overdrive circuit can be used to give fuzz and distortion effects. The associated distortion level control has a click 'off' setting, and advancing this clockwise increases the degree of 'clipping'. Some pleasant effects were achieved with the knob set at 5 and the midrange boosted to give a raunchy sound that's ideal for heavy rhythm work.
Further tone controls are provided for bass, mid and treble ranges whilst the presence helps project your guitar sound by boosting the all-important 1.5 kHz frequency band.
A three position power switch with neon indicator lamp completes the front panel array and provides a line reverse switching capability that helps reduce mains hum, if a ground loop happens to occur on your PA or recording system. A useful feature that worked effectively.
A comprehensive group of connections are provided on the rear. Left of the heatsink are sockets to allow external speakers to be connected, if required, for additional backline monitoring, say, or stereo operation. This 'External' socket does not disconnect the internal speakers however. If this is required, you can do so using the other socket labelled 'Speaker'.
A footswitch socket permits remote switching on/off of both reverb and distortion effects when a stereo jack and dual footswitch (optional) are connected. Using a stereo lead plugged into the effects in/out socket also allows an external signal processor such as a digital delay or chorus to be patched in-line and controlled via the amplifier levels. Alternatively, the reverb can be sent to an external mixer or amplifier for even greater variation.
The final two sockets are each combined input/outputs for the channel preamplifiers. These can be used to send the respective channel signals to other amplifiers (for stereo) to effects units, mixers or even to the second channel of the same amp for 'master volume' type overdrive effects.
The TR75GT represents value for money, considering the power rating, twin channels and comprehensive effects/speaker routing facilities. The modular circuitry should make this an easy amp to maintain and the solid state design should prove reliable on the road.
The sound produced is characteristically 'transistorised', being clean, and punchy with a sharp response. At times it appeared a little 'hollow' but boosting the midrange frequencies rectified this easily. All in all a handy, efficient amplifier that's ideal for small clubs or studio sessions.
Golico's guide price for the TR75GT is £300 (£400 with the JBL speakers fitted). Further details from Golico Ltd., (Contact Details).
Review by Ian Gilby
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