Roland Super Cube SCL60
60-watt Lead Combo
Now being made in the U.K., Roland's well respected Cube range of mini-sized but maxi-powered combos underwent a major change a few months back, emerging considerably re-worked as the Super Cubes. How Super, we wondered?
Roland's SCL 60, their 60 watt Super Cube lead amp, is certainly a tiny package. It stands around 17" tall, 15" wide and 13" deep and, as it weighs a scrap less than 31 lbs, must surely be one of the most easily transportable amps of that sort of power rating. It looks good too, covered in shiny silver vinyl with plastic corner protectors, its 12" metal domed speaker covered by a woven cloth grille. A tough carrying strap completes the bill of fare, adding up to an unusually neat and tidy looking job.
The Super Cube comes packed with facilities, controls for which (along with the twin input sockets) reside on the top panel. A line of jack sockets, providing multiple connection possibilities, stretches along the back. The Super Cube's two inputs are marked 'Drive' and 'Normal' - not exactly a twin channel arrangement but equally useful as we found during testing.
The Roland features two gain controls and a Master volume, after which come bass, middle, treble and reverb rotaries. The Super Cube's back panel reveals the wealth of connections you can make with this amp. The first accepts the Roland SCL-100 footswitch, to remote switch the 'Drive' effect/circuit on and off, the second stage comprises a pair of what Roland call 'Stack' jacks - effectively a pre out/main in pair - the potential uses of which we'll cover later. A reverb footswitch jack follows, then a headphone output, and finally a socket for an 8 Ohm extension speaker.
You have two choices when plugging in to the Super Cube - Normal or Drive input. However, using Drive when a footswitch is connected to the appropriate back panel jack also gives you a switchable Drive/Normal sound, controllable from the footswitch. When using the Normal input Gain 2 provides the usual pre-amp volume effect but when you're plugged into Drive, Gain 1 handles the overdrive effect and Gain 2 works hand in hand with it to adjust your sound to precisely the sort of distortion you want. The result of this is that the Super Cube functions very much like a twin channel amp, affording a wide range of sounds.
The Drive footswitch jack has already been explained, but what of the others? Well, the 'Stack' jacks are particularly useful They comprise a pre-amp out/power amp in pair, which, apart from their obvious 'looping' potential enable you to stack two or more Super Cubes together, simply by linking the subsidiary Super Cubes from Stack jack to Stack jack. Having done so, the first amp in the chain controls the volume and tone - which certainly offers a lot of potential for players who use one Super Cube for recording, small gigs and rehearsals, and several of them on stage for a bigger, louder sound. You can also use the Stack jacks to connect your Super Cube to a tape recorder's 'Line In', likewise you can use a stereo effects unit to drive two Rolands; the effect being looped through the Stack inputs of two amps for a 'spread' stereo effect. The list of possibilities goes on, with rhythm machines, HA-5 (Roland Play Bus) units, and volume pedals (the FV-100) all interfaceable through this pair of sockets. Clever, isn't it?!
The final two outputs - for headphones and 8 Ohm extension speaker - are straightforward in their applications, so we can now get on to our findings about the sound this minute combo produces.
We have to admit that earlier Roland amps (with the honourable exception of the lamented Bolt valve range) have appealed to us for their volume, a wide range of excitingly clean sounds, but not so much for their distortion effect. With this new Super Cube, however, our testers were completely floored. Using a humbucking equipped Tokai plugged into the Drive input the little Super Cube produced a distortion sound that was not only convincingly dirty but was also as smooth as silk; not at all the sort of sound one expects from a small transistorised guitar combo. In fact the sound we were getting from the little Roland (especially with the very impressive reverb turned up) was quite exceptional, rivalling the sort of distortion/overload that we expect to hear from only the very best tranny combos. Whether the changes in sound between this Super Cube and its predecessors are accountable for by the production switch to the U.K is impossible to say, but something has happened inside the Roland organisation to give these amps a sweet harmonically rich distortion which isn't at all what we expected. Despite the use of a metal domed speaker (a kind which can often induce a waspish harshness into your sound), the Super Cube sounds really warm.
Not only does the new Super Cube produce a fine overload, but it also has a convincing loudness - something which takes you aback when you're expecting a restricted sound pressure level from such a small cab. What's more, the tone controls really do work. It doesn't have quite the tonal versatility of some other similarly-rated tranny combos that we've tried, but it does have more than enough for most uses, especially when you wind your guitar up and use the Drive input. Even better, it comes with a great handbook showing a varied range of suggested settings, something which always helps teach what a newly bought product is capable of.
We have to admit that we didn't expect anything like the sound we got from this new Roland Super Cube. It's loud, tonally flexible, has a good reverb, considerable interconnection facilities and, above all, one of the best distorted solo sounds that we've found in a small solid state package. Especially for the player who needs a small lightweight but loud combo with a great overdriven solo sound for recording gigs, rehearsals etc., the Super Cube is a great potential buy - and we don't mind admitting that this conclusion surprises us. Good? Super? We'd have one any day!
Regrettably, the cost of providing this advanced package isn't low. With an RRP of £275 it's certainly not the cheapest 60 watt guitar combo on the market However, given the current trend towards price-cutting it should be available at a more manageable price from many retailers. Anyway - how often does quality come cheap?!
More info from Roland (U.K) Ltd., (Contact Details).
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