Ok - Surf guitar Gerus and officiandos out there. I got the chance this past Friday to take a trip down to Billy Zoom's Amp Shop ("Billy Zoom Sounds") to try out his new custom "Little Kahuna" reverb / tremelo unit. There to greet me was none other than the man himself! He invited me inside and pointed to several already built units and told me to pick one to try out. Of course on behalf of all you traditionalists, I picked out a blond unit, and we proceeded to get setup.
I have to admit, I assumed I would get to use one over the weekend with my own personal setup, ( a mistake on my part) and did not take any of my personal guitars, so Billy set me up with one of his personal shop guitars, through a solid state Randall amplifier ( I believe that was what it was). More about that in a minute. Back to the unit itself. Talk about gorgeous! These units are very clean and built extremely well. Billy builds and hand wires each one himself with high quality components. He let me take a peek inside one. Very sano... Even the graphics on the face plate are cool and capture the surf / tiki vibe.
Ok so now to the sounds. Basically the guitar I got to play was equipped with P-90 style pickups. Again the amp was solid state. First - the contols on the front of the unit consist of four knobs , ala Jaguar. The first two knobs are the drive and depth knobs for the reverb. The depth knob pulls out introducing more high frequencies and more detail. The second two knobs are depth and speed for the tremelo. Now I have to say, this thing sounds sweet! Even through a solid state amp.
The reverb goes from subtle to down right huge. Pulling the depth knob out does add detail and that drip we all crave. Billy had me try one with a Mod tank and one with an Accutronics tank. I personally preferred the Accutronics as I felt it had a little more detail, while the Mod was a little warmer. The tremelo is itself is awesome. I play through blackface amps and am used to the bug optocoupler trem. This is way deeper and warmer than anything I've heard. I believe it is based on the same design as in the blonde showman amps. From slow to fast settings the trem is luscious.
The unit comes with an off / on switch for both. Switching it on and off , no audible popping or hum of any kind was heard. For those of you that prefer playing the normal channel on your vintage blackface and miss the vibrato (tremolo) but hate the loss of gain, this unit is definitley a great way to go. While these are not a vintage reverb tank, they are definitely an awesome alternative and get you pretty darn close not to mention sweet sounding tremolo! And...while I'm saving towards a new amp, this will definitely be something I'll be looking to in the future. Billy offers these units in black or blonde but indicated he can do customs.
For pricing and details, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Check them out!!!