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Germino Lead 55 review
By Ulf Edelönn UGG.
Germino Lead 55
I don't know if any of you have a moment you can pin point when your quest for the ultimate tone started. I have. It took place in an old abondoned school. In a small village in the middle of nowere, in southern Sweden.
The school was used by some teenagers as a rehearsal place.
I was just a kid who had let him self in to listen to them practicing. The guitarist was a lot older than me and he was awesome. They played a mix of Deep Purple and ZZ-top covers, and as great player as the guy was, his sound was what floored me.
He had an old Marshall head that he said was a "Blackmore Marshall". "Why"? I asked. "It has a plastic front panel thats why", he said.
The sound was deafening but I had never heard anything so glorious in my short life.
It was a sound that has influenced many of my amp purchases through out the years. The hunt for the perfect "plexi" had begun ( and is still on ).
My first contact with Germino amps was through the internet. Stu at Fat Sound guitars had just starting to carry these amps, and the buzz was just spreading.
Then Jason Barker at steelbender.com made a spotlight were he played and video filmed the amps. It sounded great and I made contact with Greg Germino to order an amp. Greg has great knowledge about amps and british ones in particular. He's also great guy, who for me really embodies the charm with boutique outfits.
It is pretty obvious where inspiration for the Lead 55 comes from. Both sound and apperance are definately british. It's easy to dismiss the amp as just a copy, but that's far from the truth.
Construction wise it has all the goodies you'd expect from a boutique amp: high quality carbon comp resistors, custom wound transformers and so on. Components is hand assembled on a turret circuit board.
Workmanship and attention to detail are very high.
When playing through the Lead 55 I have used a varity of guitars. Mostly Teles an Les Pauls. The cab that has been paired with the amp is the old pinstripe cab with 30 watters.
When I first fired it up I was expecting a Marshall plexi kind of grind. I wasn't dissapointed, but what surprised me was how good the clean sound was.
Many old Marshalls sound great but you have to crank them in order to make them sound the best. The Germino's low volume settings are not just something you pass on the way to crunchville.
Someone have said that Germinos are an american take on the british sound, and I think thats a lot of truth in that. I definately hear a bit of bassman clean in it, before you enter the plexi territory. It hasn't got that vicious upper mid attack of some Marshalls, but a rounder more "mature" crunch, in lack of a better word. Don't get me wrong.
It can scream as good as any Marshall, but does so in a more refined way.
Another thing the Lead 55 is great at is guitar volume tweaking.
You can go from well saturated crunchy chords to clean funky licks that still got some sparkel in them. Very dynamic.
It cleans up better than most Marshalls I've tried.
An important feature for me, when I test an amp, is how well it works with pedals. I mean, If your a touring pro who plays big stages or do a lot of recording in propper studios, you can probably crank the amp all the time. But if your like me who plays in small clubs, having good sounding pedals together with amps that make them sound good, is the only way to go. I don't really like attenuators so this is crusual.
Well, I must say that the Germino sounds absolutely great with every pedal I've tried. The best combination is the Analogman Sunface NKT 275 with some delay. That for me is what I'd choose for the famous desert island rig.It can sometimes be a bit hard to find the right amp for fuzzes, but this match is made in heaven. One of the best sounds I have played, ever. The Crowther Hot Cake also sounds great with the amp. Very natural, and blends really well with the amps own distortion.
The Germino Lead 55 is a great amp. It will not do blackface sparkling clean. Neither will it do detuned nu-metal grind on its own. But if you are looking for a vintage Marshall kind of sound. Perhaps want to retire your old amp from the road. Or if you are like me, just smitten with the plexi bug, you should check this amp out.
Sound samples and video clips at:
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