Carstens Amplification - Grace - Billy Corgan Signature Amplifier | VIDEO

hellzington

Active member
@halomojo - I know you've done videos with a Friedman BE-100 and a Diezel VH2. I have both of those amps, as well, and was wondering how you'd compare them to Grace? I'm seriously considering ordering one and your feedback would be very valuable in making my decision. Thanks!
 

hellzington

Active member
There’s only 50, I’m surprised they aren’t sold out long ago
I felt the same, so I actually jumped the gun a little and ordered one yesterday from Brian, along with the matching 2x12. I'm pretty stoked!

Brian was absolutely great to communicate with. He was fast and responsive and answered all of my questions, including where this amp would sit in my collection and comparing it a bit to some of the others. We also talked setup and pickups for awhile, too. He was very interested in how his amps are being used, what kind of setup, what kind of guitars and pickups, etc.

I don't have a YouTube channel as prominent as Zach's but I'll do a video as soon as I get it. ETA sometime in September.

Also, can't believe Billy Corgan is going to sign my amp! Crazy.
 

hellzington

Active member
Such a great demo. They picked the right guy for this amp. Great job.

I think the amp sounds fantastic.
Yeah, Zach was a great choice. This was the first demo I saw that was well done, where you could clearly hear the amp and it was a regular guy playing regular stuff. He also did a great job showing what different settings sounded like and how the headroom function affects the amp. Honestly, this video is what pushed me over the edge from curious to seriously interested enough to message Brian.
 

Nigel

Well-known member
Yeah, Zach was a great choice. This was the first demo I saw that was well done, where you could clearly hear the amp and it was a regular guy playing regular stuff. He also did a great job showing what different settings sounded like and how the headroom function affects the amp. Honestly, this video is what pushed me over the edge from curious to seriously interested enough to message Brian.
His videos are consistently perfect in terms of tone, vibe and composition. The value is evident. He will go far!
 

zzwish

Active member
@halomojo - I know you've done videos with a Friedman BE-100 and a Diezel VH2. I have both of those amps, as well, and was wondering how you'd compare them to Grace? I'm seriously considering ordering one and your feedback would be very valuable in making my decision. Thanks!

Hey! Sorry just seeing this. These ones are a bit tricky to compare. The Friedman is probably the most "refined" of the bunch. Almost like it already has some post EQ on it already in terms of taming the top and bottom end, and has some compression. For lack of a better word, "greasy." The Diezel can get into a similar ball park as the Friedman but feels a bit less compressed and has the ability to go to further extremes in the bottom and top end with the Deep & Presence controls. The Marshall DNA isn't as evident in the Diezel as it is in the Friedman. Single notes are a bit fuller & rounder on the Diezel where the Friedman has a bit more slice. It's always a bit goofy describing audio in text, but giving it a shot.

The Grace amp on the other hand is a bit more unique. Single notes & chords are really full without ever really sounding bloated. Often, you'll need to hit other full sounding amps like a Dual Rec or certain Plexi circuits with an overdrive to tighten up the bottom end, but that's not the case here. The "Headroom" control on the rear of the amp makes a big difference in terms of overall feel of the amp as well. It's a tricky thing to capture in a YouTube video because you'll easily overload your mic pre with such a drastic change in volume, but in the room, the difference is big. At higher headroom settings the amp has a ton of punch to it. That kind of punch you in chest feeling that the Diezel seemed to have in spades that is less evident in that more "refined" Friedman circuit. At lower headroom settings, the amp gets into that greasier territory and is really flexible at low, bedroom/tv volumes.

I really like all three of the amps mentioned and I'd say it'd be hard to go wrong with any of them, but they've each got their own cool, unique thing going on.
 

spguitar

Active member
Man you're making me want to buy a Carstens to go with Billy's Machina Diezel. I'd love to be able to do a demo like yours of this one.
g1s3kxu.jpg
 

hellzington

Active member
Hey! Sorry just seeing this. These ones are a bit tricky to compare. The Friedman is probably the most "refined" of the bunch. Almost like it already has some post EQ on it already in terms of taming the top and bottom end, and has some compression. For lack of a better word, "greasy." The Diezel can get into a similar ball park as the Friedman but feels a bit less compressed and has the ability to go to further extremes in the bottom and top end with the Deep & Presence controls. The Marshall DNA isn't as evident in the Diezel as it is in the Friedman. Single notes are a bit fuller & rounder on the Diezel where the Friedman has a bit more slice. It's always a bit goofy describing audio in text, but giving it a shot.

The Grace amp on the other hand is a bit more unique. Single notes & chords are really full without ever really sounding bloated. Often, you'll need to hit other full sounding amps like a Dual Rec or certain Plexi circuits with an overdrive to tighten up the bottom end, but that's not the case here. The "Headroom" control on the rear of the amp makes a big difference in terms of overall feel of the amp as well. It's a tricky thing to capture in a YouTube video because you'll easily overload your mic pre with such a drastic change in volume, but in the room, the difference is big. At higher headroom settings the amp has a ton of punch to it. That kind of punch you in chest feeling that the Diezel seemed to have in spades that is less evident in that more "refined" Friedman circuit. At lower headroom settings, the amp gets into that greasier territory and is really flexible at low, bedroom/tv volumes.

I really like all three of the amps mentioned and I'd say it'd be hard to go wrong with any of them, but they've each got their own cool, unique thing going on.
Zach - Thanks so much for the response. You're right -- it's goofy describing audio in text -- but I get exactly what you mean.

Everyone loves the Marshalls they've heard on recordings and they want that sound, but in the room Marshalls often sound thinner than on recordings, with a pretty gnarly high end. What Dave Friedman did with his amps (amongst other things) is give you a "produced" hot-rodded Marshall sound in the room. The gnarly highs are tamed, there are more low mids to fatten things up, and the low end thump is filled out. I think this is what you meant by "refined."

I also get what you mean with the Diezel. Until someone has played one, I'm not sure they can understand. The Diezel is super immediate, with lightning fast attack. I'd almost describe it as "dry." It also has a very gnarly sound like a Marshall's top end but instead of it being in the treble it's in the low mids. There is a chaos there in the low mids that gives the Diezel its raw growl. These things together give the Diezel the "punch in the chest" people typically describe. The bloom is also very different than the Friedman, and the VH2 in particular has a more modern sound than the VH4 I used to own.

Brian Carstens actually described this somewhat similarly to @zzwish. Here's what he said:
The Grace amp is definitely its own thing and would pretty much sit right in the middle (sonically) of your Diezel and Friedman. The Diezel has that dry, more scooped and tight response where the Friedman is more of a hot rodded Marshall with more midrange and perhaps a bit of sag. Your Grace amplifier would also sound just more wide and 3-dimensional compared to these amps (to any amps, in all honesty).

I think I'm going to be very happy with the Grace. It sounds awesome in your video. I don't use speaker cabinets all that much anymore but I also bought the matching 2x12 because I feel like if an amp is designed around certain speakers that are uncommon, then I like to have that option to hear the amp as the designer intended. In my UA Ox, I'll probably use the Creambacks for this one. In the Boss Waza TAE, I have IRs of Alnico Cream and Gold speakers I'll probably use. Here's what Brian said about speakers:

All have their own character, although I tend to find V30’s a bit to aggressive for my taste. The Carstens cabs come stock with a blend of Celestion Cream alnico and Weber Blue Dog ceramic. This covers a lot of frequency range and gives that punch of ceramic and more vintage feel of the alnico’s.I love Grace through a Creamback ceramic as well. The Carstens 2x12 and Creamback ceramic speakers are what I hear the Grace through the most and really like it.

All that being said I lean toward Celestion speakers that are not “peaky” really.

I also like that Grace is one channel. In the past year or so, I've been gravitating more towards simpler amps. I'd rather have one or two amazing channels that respond well to my guitar's volume control than a "space station" amp where you leave your guitar volume on 10 and control everything with channels and footswitches. That was actually one of the reasons I switched from a VH4 to a VH2: the VH4 was just too much amp. The VH2 is simpler and fit my needs better. I think the Grace will be the same. I can't wait!
 

Meeotch

Well-known member
Well Zach, your video really helped with my decision and I have placed an order for the Grace! Brian said there are only a handful of the 50 left, so if anyone is on the fence go for it. Brian has been super responsive to my questions as well and I'm feeling awesome about the decision (this is no chump change for me but at the same time does not feel like gouging at all for a hand wired amp of this caliber).

I'm a huge Pumpkins fan but also have been chasing the high gain dragon for a while. Mesa Marks are my go to but I've always wanted something to compliment them that can tackle crunch and hard rock tones better than the Marks. I've certainly read a lot of praise for the stripped down, single channel approach to amplifier circuits. It's about time I try one!
 

Nigel

Well-known member
One channel means no relays/switching so it can be vac’d in to Van Halen land.

SOMEONE must do this and jack the bias. Methinks this will result in “Sweet Jesus Have Mercy” face.
 

Attachments

  • 17BF553D-22B4-4E07-B390-2E0496AD75AF.jpeg
    17BF553D-22B4-4E07-B390-2E0496AD75AF.jpeg
    18.9 KB · Views: 21

MxLx

Member
I couldn't re-watch the demos and re-read the posts any more and not have one of these - I placed my order this morning! Now I just have to somehow wait for it, it's gonna be a loooong 8-10 weeks...
 
Top