The Wicked Garden is our entry into the world of Channel Switching amps. Imagine a channel switcher
with a clean channel just as inspirint as the OD channel and tones ranging from Black Face to
Silver Jubilee and all points in between. You've just imagined the Wicked Garden and it can
be your reality.
The Wicked Garden 18 offers this amazing tone and versatility in a very giggable packege.
But don't be fooled, the 18 is VERY potent thanks to the
classic 18 Watt
Marshall ToneClone transformer set from Mercury Magnetics. A lot of iron there for an 18
watt amp. It is plenty powerful enough for most bar gigs, with great clean headroom in the clean
channel, something I could never quite find in a small wattage amp when I was playing bar gigs.
Use your imagination. In spite of the relative simplicity of the Wicked Garden controls,
the tonal flexibity is truly amazing.
The Wicked Garden is the result of three years of development. Unlike many channel switching amps on the market, where design emphasis
was clearly put one one channel or the other, great effort was put into both channels of the Wicked Garden.
Because it is a channel switcher, I *demand*
a rewarding clean channel that inspires, something most high gain monsters simply
do not offer. The Wicked Garden has an amazing clean channel while at the same time offering an overdrive channel that takes you all the
way up to the heavy rock realm and with amazing flexibility
. You might buy the amp and love it for either channel alone, but
you get two exceptional channels with the Wicked Garden!
While offering exceptional clean and overdrive channels, I wanted it to remain as simple as possible, with controls
carefully thought out to deliver actual usable flexibility, but without an overwhelming array of tone robbing switches so many
channel switching amps seem to have.
Much of this work was spent dialing in a voicing for the overdrive channel and settling on a what tube configuration to use for the input stage, which is shared between both channels. The input state I arrived at is the pentode configured 12dw7/ecc832 used in the
Road Hogg and Chimey Limey designs. That stage adds great life to the clean channel while adding a nice extra push to the OD channel. It
also works great with pedals making the Wicked Garden that much more versatile.
During development a lot of time was spent with my favorite high gain British amp, the Silver Jubilee
To me that's the
epitome of great rock-n-roll preamp overdrive hence the basis for what I wanted to hear from the Wicked Garden's OD channel.
The Wicked Garden is in no way a clone of the Silver Jubilee, though its overdrive channel is very much in that
ballpark tonally. I love how the Silver Jubilee has all the gain I might want, but it's all usable. The Wicked Garden shares this trait
but by using a very different circuit approach.
Along the while of tweaking the OD channel, I was constantly laboring over how best to configure the clean channel to get a
tone with a minimal number of knobs to keep it simple
. A rewarding and inspiring clean channel was an
essential part of the design. I've played too many channel switchers that clearly the clean channel was a check box on the design spec
sheet, and nothing more. After extensive experimenting, I arrived at a clean channel consisting of volume and high/low contour knobs.
These are essentially the same thing as the treble and bass controls found in a Top Boost circuit found in the legendary 30 watt 4xel84 amps that were such a huge part of the British pop sound of the 60s and so much of the current pop sound as well.
You may find yourself enjoying the clean channel on the Wicked Garden so much you may have to remind yourself to switch the OD channel. It really is that good!
It really is an amp that covers both moods and needs VERY well. No longer do you need another amp for your cleans
These tone controls are uniquely interactive. If you are familiar with that classic British 30 watt amp with this circuit, you will be right at home. If not, it may take some getting used to, but there are a lot of sounds that can be pulled from that tone stack and there are great rewards for taking the time to become familiar. Hint:
turn both high and low contour knobs up past noon
and mids start to cut and you get sparkly highs and fat bottom ala black face. Turn both back down below noon and the midrange comes
back balancing out the highs and lows for a completely different tone. Tweak to taste and have a ball!
Moving on over to the OD channel, there's a rather interesting array of controls that you may not be used to but should
quickly make sense in practice:
There are two gain controls (Girlfriend and Stripper...a tounge in cheek reference to the "rock-n-roll lifestyle").
For the OD channel, well three really if you count the OD volume itself which controls the overall volume of the channel, but also controls how hard the phase inverter is driven in overdrive mode, and that has a considerable impact on the resulting overdrive character. Hint:
For the fattest OD tones, crank OD volume all the way up.
Girlfriend and Stripper gain control the volume setting for two separate gain stages. These two stages are voiced differently, so subtle differences in texture can be achieved depending how how you set these. The main benefit is the excellent control in staging the gain on the channel. Fine tweaks to gain levels are easily achieved by varying these two knobs and the control of they provide prevents tweakiness that can occur when one control sets the gain level for multiple cascaded gain stages. Also, by turning both controls down below noon an entire world of clean to slightly dirty tones can be explored. This allows you to dial up the Wicked Garden with two different clean sounds and
channel switch between them. Gone is the "too much gain after 9 o'clock on the gain knob" debacle so many high gain amps have making them
only good for high gain.
The low frequency is controlled by a 6 position clicker switch, like that seen on our popular Rotten Johnny. Midrange is controlled by the "Scoop" control which is our unusual stand alone mid control, also used in the RJ. The OD channel also has a Treble control to roll off the highs.
This arrangement for shaping low, mid, and high is different from traditional controls used on most amps where are part of a tone stack. These controls are more transparent than a tone stack, retain more harmonic complexity, and allow a range of tones to be dialed up independently of an inherent tone that tends to be imposed in tone stack circuits that cannot be dialed out.
The end result is an overdrive channel that delivers the naturally compressed tone people love overdrive channels for with all the sustain and harmonic feedback most could need, but in a way that can be easily cleaned up by rolling back on the guitar volume. This channel drips with harmonic content and musical overtones.
Put both of these channels together and control the overall output volume with the global master volume (post phase inverter) and you have one potent package which delivers everything from rivers of sweet, chimey, shimmery cleans that can be pushed to satisfying classic output section crunch to smoking hot crunch and sustain that will have you grinding the rock of ages. And when you're not rockin' out at
volume on stage, you can crank the gain and turn the master down and grind endlessly at levels you can talk over. No need for power
scaling or attenuation. The OD channel on the Wicked Garden *feels* like a cranked tube amp.
From the bedroom to the arena, we've got you covered with the Wicked Garden.
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