The Texas Tone 12 had its public debut last week, at an outdoor gig by Rosie and The Ramblers at Freddie’s Place in south Austin. I was concerned that, being a small tweed type amplifier surrounded by a full band, it wouldn’t be able to produce enough volume. I was wrong in that concern. Rosie and The Ramblers didn’t play at ear-splitting volume, but more of a listening level show. Usually, each of the Ramblers’ two guitarists play through Fender Blues Junior amplifiers. On this night, John Winsor had agreed to play the Texas Tone 12 after playing though it on a demo session several days earlier. He still brought his Blues Junior just in case.
John set up the Texas Tone 12 on the stage next to Schley Barrack’s Blues Jr., and put the tremolo footswitch on his pedal board. After a few minutes of tweaking and sound checks, the Ramblers were ready to go. After the first song, which sounded very good, I asked them to turn up Rosie’s vocals. She’s an expressive singer with a strong voice, and I wanted that to come through the mix.
The Texas Tone 12 did more than hold its own. John and Schley, who both play Fender Telecasters, trade lead and rhythm parts, and sometimes play harmony lead lines. Both are very good guitarists. Schley handled the Albert Lee parts in Emmylou’s Luxury Liner just fine. John sometimes keeps his leads on the mellow side, but occasionally lets that biting Tele twang come through. Not only did the lead parts sing through the Texas Tone 12, but the rhythm parts didn’t get lost.
John was quickly able to find the amp’s ‘sweet spot’, which in this case had the volume on 12 and the gain at 6 or 7. At that setting, he could easily play clean or overdriven tones, depending upon his picking style and his guitar’s tone and volume settings. According to John, “It is really responsive, breaks up nicely, and gives a great warm/slightly-compressed overdrive.”
Playing a mix of country standards and original material, the tonal response of the Texas Tone 12 shone throughout. Winsor and Barrack were both impressed with the richness of the amp’s tremolo circuit. Winsor again, “man, that tremolo sounds sweet! There were a couple of those ballads where Schley and I both heard it and gave the thumbs-up!” Rosie, also did not escape those sweet tremolo sounds. After one of the songs, she said, “How did you like that!” with a smile and a nod of approval.
Overall, it was a good first outing. John Winsor’s thoughts on the amp, “Your Texas Tone sounds great! I think it is an excellent amp… I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”