Other Amps

deLisle Double-Nickel Box — Road Test Report

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I’ve been on a quest in recent years to find an amp with outstanding tones (IMO) at lower volume levels,, that was not overpowering in a living room and did not pose threats for back or hernia issues when lifting. Most of the amps I’ve owned in the last decade have really not met either of those criteria with the exception of a Carr Skylark.

Recent discussions on guitar-focused websites created and awareness of and interests in deLisle amps. And that of course resulted in GAS for a deLisle. The GAS was further fueled by some very HIGH revues and ratings by Vintage Guitar, Premier Guitar etc. I also came across a Youtube video from 4 years ago featuring Jer deLisle, Tim Harmon, Tavo Vega & Tim’s friend Greg demoing Jer’s Double-Nickel Box.

I was leaning towards a 5 watt amp but ended up choosing the Double-Nickel Box (10-12 watts) with the optional VarioDyne which allows lowering the output to about 1 watt.

Per Jer deLisle, this amp is voiced for Gretsch guitars and I found that to be quite evident. It is well matched to my FilterTron AND Dynasonic equipped Gretsch guitars.

The amp takes a bit of “getting used to” during first encounters. The tone controls have a very full range of tones so that slight changes in settings can make significant variations in tones. This becomes a VERY GOOD thing once one gets to know the amp and its tweakabilities. It also supports an excellent range of “clean through dirty” sounds. The VarioDyne is a big advantage in this regard. The tones in the YouTube Demo (link above) show how the amp lends itself to “jazz” – think Wes Montgomery. It covers the other extremes and pretty much everything in between equally well.

Another characteristic of the amp that I REALLY LOVE is that it has a very full and rich sound even when set at low volumes. The interplay between the volume and VarioDyne controls can create a fullness that is not overwhelming or over powering. It feels “just right” for living room playing. Yet the amp has plenty of more power for gigs, larger venues, or to fully annoy the neighbors.

Other amps in my experience have only achieved that level of fullness when cranked….. In the case of a 20 – 25 watt amp that gets really loud – TOO loud IMO. Based on past experience, Jer’s approach with the VarioDyne yields MUCH more satisfying results than use of an attenuator. I had tried a Rivera Rock Crusher with an amp a few years ago and ended up returning it (Thank you, Sweetwater!). The attenuator produced tones that were no different (IMO) than lowering the volume, which resulted in relatively thin sounds with little depth.

The Double Nickel Box is QUIET – as in NO hum. If/when a tube change results in a hum introduced, there is a Hum Balance Pot that can be adjusted to lose the hum. It is located on the lower back side of the chassis just to the left of the 6L6 tube. It can be adjusted by hand – no tools required.

My amp is equipped with the optional headphone jack, which is located on the read of the chassis to the right of the 6L6. There is a switch for it to the left of the 6L6. I personally like the sound and tones of this option – I use a very good quality headphone set (Sennheiser HD 380 Pro). Note that it is not the same sound as the speaker, which is normal.

Finally, the build quality of this amp is extraordinary – certainly as good as any I’ve seen/owned including Standel, Carr and the other usual suspects.

Jer offers a LOT of options and choices for his amps as you can see here: http://www.delisleguitar.co...

Summing up – During the last two weeks the Double-Nickel Box has quickly become my go-to amp, offering opportunities for some thinning of the herd…..!

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The rear of the amp & chassis......

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Man, I wish I needed an amp (or could remotely justify one).

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That looks like a beauty. Congrats

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I’ve been curious to learn your assessment. Thanks for taking the time to provide your informative review.

Sounds like something I should explore further.

thrive

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The only amp I've ever needed is a Princeton Reverb, but turning it up (where it starts doing interesting sonic things) hurts after an hour - and an hour is never enough. The VarioDyne sounds interesting and I've yet to hear of a good attenuator. Hmmm....

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Senojnad's impressions of his DeLisle pretty much mirror my own experience. I got the 5 watt DeLisle Nickel Box so I really didn't need the VarioDyne. I will say however, everything I have heard about VarioDynes is really positive and it is a much different animal than getting break up at lower volumes by cranking up the pre-amp or an attenuator. I'm sure Jer / Mugsy could chime in and explain how a VarioDyne works, etc. I did get a mids pot as an option on my Nickel Box which I found to be a really nice extra tone shaper. I can roll the mids back for a more Fender Blackface-like scooped tone or push the mids up for some more fat grunt and dirt. One thing I did notice is that Senojnad's Double Nickle chassis is vertical w/ the tubes handing down (as is more common on most amps) while the chassis on my Nickle Box is horizontal. I have no idea if this makes any difference. All this deLisle talk got me back checking out the deLisle website and I gotta say that Quadralux Reverb really looks to be the business. My Nicklel Box continues to be the perfect amp for me, but that thing looks impressive.

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i'm not familiar with that model of speaker. what is it like? what's it designed to resemble?

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... that Quadralux Reverb really looks to be the business. Gretschadelphia

I think it is the amp Tim Baxter has. His was the first.

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Yup. That was me reading a book on Fender amps and noticing some similarities. After some discussion here, I was advised to talk to Jer, so I did. He not only confirmed that my general ideas could work, he completely ran with making them work well. And boy oh boy do they work well. It really is like having 4 excellent Fender amps in one, with blackface, brown and tweed voicings. Incredible amp.

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That sounded way better live, when we shot that.

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That sounded way better live, when we shot that.

– Suprdave

Dave, everytime I see this I just swoon on that guitar..you sure it aint completely hollow? friggin fantastic. stock pkups or Toms?

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Tavo, I can't keep my hands off of her. Every time I pick up any other guitar, I feel the need to go back to the Falcon. Stock HS Filter-Trons, center block guitar with a headstock break repair that looks like it was done by somebody almost as good as Curt. It sounds way better in your hands though.

That evening I won a glass Tru-Arc at the giveaway. It really made for an even better sounding guitar.


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