When a lot of us hear the name ‘Dale Sherlock’ we think of his brilliant Fat Head amplifer, a highly regarded interactive amplifer designed with pro players in mind - and featuring MIDI control and all sorts of ‘inbuilt mods.’ But Sherlock also has a knack for much more simple amplifers like the Angry Ant or the Buddy. The Rock Bender is offered as a 6V6-loaded alternative to the Buddy.
THE BENDER TO END ALL BENDERS
The Rock Bender is an American- voiced amp with two 6V6 power tubes and a 5aR4 (that sounds like a badass droid from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, doesn’t it?) rectifer tube. Its Class A output stage produces a lower power output of around 12 watts with an early power amp break-up distortion which is designed to be perfect for blues or any situation where you want growl at lower volumes. If you want a cleaner sound with more headroom, there’s a 20 watt Class AB output version too. The circuit is based on a Fender ’64 Deluxe. The controls are gain, treble, mid, bass, reverb and master, with the reverb coming from the same digital unit found in the Buddy. It has a dwell control on the back which allows you to tailor the character of the verb from something vintage-y to a sound altogether more ethereal - and it’s foot-switchable. The Rock Bender also features SoZo capacitors, 1-watt carbon resistors, turret board wiring and hand wired transformers. A combo version is available with a Celestion Greenback 25 watt, or you can request the speaker of your choice.
I plugged my Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster Reissue into the Rock Bender and cranked ‘er up. My frst realisation was that I’ve never in my life played an amplifer that was as extremely sensitive to pick-up selection. My Strat gives me more or less fve variants of the same tone when I play it through my Marshall DSL50, but the Rock Bender gave me fve utterly distinct voices, playing up the individual character of each individual setting in a way that even a lot of other boutique amps can’t muster. Cranking up the master for power-amp grind and maxing out the gain resulted in a hot, rich, three-dimensional voice perfect for the blues or roots-rock and indie/alternative, but you can get some great edge-of-breakup clean tones too with careful balancing of the gain and master controls. Perfect for Jazzmaster and Jaguar players looking for clarity and detail with just a little growl.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a very simple amp but the tones it produces can be complex and utterly world-class. Sherlock seems to be entering a golden age with all these new designs lately and I strongly urge you to check out as many of his new models as you can get your hands on.
For more details, head to sherlockamps.com.
Hits and Misses
Very responsive tone
Great range of clean-to-grit tones
Still plenty loud despite power rating