Ross Fame 10 Practice Combo
Ross Systems is a division of IMC — an American music-based electronics company with a Fort Worth HQ probably a Stetson's throw from those nice folks the Ewings. And their Korean-made Fame Series Model 10 practice amp is the smallest in a new range of a dozen-odd backline combos, selected models from which are now are on sale in the UK.
What's the little chap got to say for himself, then? For the back pocket price tag, actually a great deal. To begin with, the Model 10 reflects its design origins by looking very American. This first impression is supported by a well-covered ⅝in particle board cabinet, stripey (non-removable) grille cloth, chromed metal protectors on all eight corners and — considering the combo's diminutive size — a chunky carry handle, all helping to belie the humble asking price. Even the logo looks nice. Control panel graphics are simple and clear and, round the back, all the circuitry is apparently safely enclosed with just the transformer standing proud.
A swift round-up of the facilities reveals a single input adjacent to what's called a 'Tube Blaster' switch. This is basically a hooligan device for severe portions of overdrive, with a remote footswitch output thoughtfully provided on the rear panel. There's additional clean-cum-overdrive tweaking available via separate channel and master volumes, a three-band EQ (the instructions say the mid-range is active but I think not), and a 'phones socket for discreet practice. A rear-panel Line Out is included for DI'ing.
Very straightforward. So what does it sound like? for the money, bloody good; for the 10W RMS, plenty loud. Remember when an encounter with yer average practice amp meant a so-so clean sound at modest levels which unavoidably broke up as you lifted the volume? Not so, ici. The unit is capable of some very creditable sparkling clean, twangy sounds — from both humbuckers and single coils. And stopping short of 'Tube Blaster' mode, the normal and master volumes will give varying lesser degrees of useful overdrive.
A note here about the EQ. On the sample the middle and bass pots added little above 4, but the treble control was smoothly progressive throughout its range, certainly contributing to the combo's overall tonal versatility.
Alarums. Enter King Henry, Exeter, Bedford, Gloucester, and Sodiers with scaling ladders. No. Instead enter 'Tube Blaster' accompanied by a hefty volume boost and lots of dirt. This feature has the valiant 8in speaker dancing around like a good 'un — to the point where incautious amounts of channel and master volume make you suspect if everything's clipping according to plan or the speaker is trying to say bye-bye to the cabinet. It's great!
In reality these three interactive controls do make for an impressively diverse selection of fuzzes, sustains, distorts, squeaks and hollers. And the EQ ably contributes to tailoring them to taste. One lasting impression of the Model 10 is that, used clean or dirty and taking size into account, it's a forward sounding amp, which I liked.
The Model 10 is a winner and just the job for the newcomer to electric guitar — a great practice amp, certainly loud enough for rehearsal or even small-scale stage use, and I reckon it wouldn't disgrace itself too badly in the studio either — not necessarily DI'd (which is an accommodating feature) but miked up to retain its overall identity.
Optional battery powering would have been icing on the cake (for buskers various, and sundry outward bound types) but battery replacement can be expensive and the Model 10 isn't! Perhaps most important, the Model 10 is — for such an inconsequential outlay — a lot of fun to have around.
Review by Jerry Uwins
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!