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Carr Skylark, 2015

Carr Skylark, 2015

The Skylark is my first Carr amp ever. Everything about it looked promising on paper, the reviews had been great and pretty much every sound sample available sounded very convincing. I traded a bigger handwired super-rare boutique combo amp to this tiny tone machine, and I really have had a hard time looking back. The controls on the Skylark are simple, yet very effective. The circuit is loosely based on some of the classic American low-wattage amps - most notably the Fender Harvard - that are in great demand in today's studio applications and small venues. Still the versatility of the Skylark is on a totally different level compared to any classic Fender amp that I've come across. This isn't saying one is better than the other, just two different approaches.

This amp is fully point-to-point handwired with no circuit, turret or tag boards - basically just the crucial components, mechanical switches, potentiometers, jacks and a couple of terminal strips. The layout is nothing like a Fender or Marshall: I wouldn't try repairing the thing myself, but on the other hand the choice of components suggests that this thing will probably outlast me, save for perhaps the tubes. For example the Solen power supply capacitors are the same ones used in satellites! I must also mention that the visual appearance and the craftmanship of the Skylark are among the nicest I've ever seen on a guitar amp, even the more expensive ones - it's really a work of art.

The tone? I haven't been this excited for a very long time - and I don't say this very often. There are so many different colours available inside this little unit: you can dial anything from sparkling clear 60's Blackface tones to a midrange roar that for example one Billy Gibbons would definitely like, if you know what I mean. The reverb is delicious. I can't put it any better, just delicious: it decorates the overall sound perfectly without getting in the way - even with higher gain settings. The presence potentiometer is a very nice addition to the already-powerful 3-band EQ, it is used to control the overall brightness of the sound. Actually the Skylark is said to be the first Carr amp to feature it in their products. What it technically does is it reduces the negative feedback from the high end on the output section. Seems to work nicely - and the range of useful settings is again huge.

One of the absolutely best features in this amp is the power attenuator, which allows the amp to be run flat out with dramatically reduced output volume. The tone doesn't seem to suffer at all even when choked down to lower-than-speech decibels, which is stunning. This may not come as a big surprise at this point, but the amp also cleans up beautifully with the guitar's volume dial even at the highest possible gain settings. We're not talking modern metal here, as you would expect, but there's plenty of gain on tap for all those classic crunch and lead tones ranging from the 60's to at least early 80's before things started to get out of hand anyway...

Beautiful amp, just beautiful. Hats off to the guys and gals at Carr Amplifiers!

Specifications

Tube configuration:

Serial number: 0299

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