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Speakeasy AMA RB3 convertible


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My AMA RB3 Convertible got its unveiling this weekend. Set up was quick and easy, and the soundguys were checking it out before it got fired up and were blown away by the construction. They dug the indestructible Rhino finish, and commented you could roll this right off the stage without hurting it. You should have seen their faces when I showed them how light it was. They were intrigued by the AMA module and the solid state power amp, and couldnt wait to hear it.


This was an outdoor venue with the Peoria Lake behind us with no covering or backwall for the sound to bounce off of, just the open air and the expansive lake behind us, around us, and the nearest building in front of us a good block away. While everything was micd up of course, our monitors only had vocals and acoustic guitars. I was relying on my AMA for organ and my Yorkville 300K for my other sounds.


The AMA was brilliant. It had a ton of volume during sound check. I basically ran a few different tones using the AMA and then after getting a comfortable level for headroom, dropped my preamp down to about 8:30, bass at 2:00, Treble at 12:00, and my Power Amp volume at about 2:00 and my Line Out (main) at full. Big, bottomy, rich, and pretty damn loud, and nice and clean.


With Hello Dave, I dont really have much call for grinding organ tones, just that nice clean Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) Hammond sound, with maybe a little push at the top for solos. I was getting that in spades, even in this outdoor gig. Things went pretty well until about halfway through the show, the guitarist (whose amp I was next to thanks to the half-moon shaped stage) decided he wanted a little more, and pushed his Twin Reverb atop a 1x15 cab stacked tall into bleeding gums territory. (oh boy.)


At that point, all I had to do was reach over and goose my preamp to about 10:00, but that gave me more grind than I wanted; so I put it back down to 8:30, and reached for my Power knob and pushed that to 4:00. Definitely more volume, and just a little tube crunch. At this point, I could hear myself fine, but I was wishing I had taken the front cover off the top rotor box (I had never even peeked into it up to this point). Ive always taken the rotor box covers (not the diffusers) off on every leslie I had owned, but this baby had so much power I figured Id never need to. And when Steve Hayes had told me about his new steel horn assemblies, the last thing I wanted is to accidentally put my hand in (or the sound guys) and get a good whack job. But I swore I would remedy this when I got home that night.


After the gig, the soundguys came over and were gushing at how good the AMA sounded. Theyre used to micing leslies for all the blues bands that come through, and usually the leslies are in some state of disrepair or malfunction. But they were totally psyched by the AMA. I asked them how it sounded upfront, and they were very enthusiastic about its sound. I told them about halfway through the show I had to goose it (they noticed!), but said it sounded killer and didnt think it sounded crunchy at all. As is always the case, I had a couple guys come up and say Hey, whats that thing spinning at the bottom of that amp? Yeah, I wanted to take the horn covers off now for sure.


I put all my stuff in the band trailer except for the AMA top rotor, which came in the car with me to go home. After my 90 minute drive home (155 miles, but I was tired, and wanted to get home; I was driving solo, so 2 RedBulls and a bottle of water to go please!, and I was hauling ass) I couldnt wait until the morning, so I pulled the rotor box in to the house, took the cover off, and took my first peek at the upper rotor. This has Speakeasys own horn; its very similar to what were used to, yet it still is very different. Only one horn, with a counterbalance at the other end, made of steel, and square as opposed to round in shape, this thing is very loud, yet much smoother than any of the other leslies Ive owned. Its travel is very smooth, with no jumps during speed changes (I was watching on Saturday!). The horn actually has user-removable (and re-installable!) diffusers. I left them on. Oh, theres a nice warning sticker too that says DO NOT OPERATE WITHOUT COVER ON; good advice if youve ever made the mistake of sticking your hand in while the rotor is spinning. While a knucklebuster will aggravate you, this horn will do a little more damage than just rap your knuckles. This horn, made of steel, WILL draw blood if you stick your hand in there while its spinning fast. And while its single square horn design is a little foreign, from 2 feet away while stopped, you can barely discern any difference. When its spinning slow, even right next to it, you cant visually tell theres anything unusual going on, but aurally, thats a different story. Killer.

Before going to bed, I measured what I would need for a new horn exposing front panel. The next morning, I verified my measurements, went to Home Depot, got the wood cut, painted it black, left it in the sun, and 3 hours later, screwed it in. Put a little square of white electrical tape on the end of the horn, packed it in the car, and I was ready to go. **Oh, Steve is now going to make the upper rotor cover a 2 piece so that you can expose the upper rotor (at your own risk). Im betting he leaves the sticker on!


Unfortunately I was shoved next to the guitarists amp again, but that was no problem this day. This was another outdoor gig, but with the cover off, I had just enough of an increase that volume was no longer an issue. Nice and clean, nice and LOUD, and with the added visual of both upper and lower rotors spinning, my AMA was a hit. The engineers at the Taste of Lincoln do us a few times every year, and they were ready for me to bring a leslie, and were shocked to see this new development. But soon as the gig was over, they were telling me how good it sounded. They were interested in the AMA module, and of course were amazed when they saw me pick up the upper rotor and pack it, and lift the lower box myself like it was nothing.


The AMA was worth every penny!!! Sounds killer, looks killer, and imagine my surprise when I noticed the roadies had packed my car for me, but not the way I would: because the AMA lower box doesnt have the tube amp in it, Speakeasy didnt need to put the splint/studs for wheels on the bottom of the cabinet, which takes a couple inches off, and means the rotor box can stand upright in my Toyota Highlander; I had more room in here than I thought!!!


That said, I now have a ridiculous jones for my dream Keith Emerson rig, and now that I know itll fit in my car, I just ordered an extra top rotor box (thatll be 2 on top of my low rotor box) for my AMA. If I really need ridiculous volume for big outdoor gigs, just take them both; for everything else, one is plenty. Indoors, this rig is the bomb the way it is but then theres always that visual appeal of seeing all those rotors spinning!


And for those crazy gigs where my guitarist wants to bring four 4x12 cabinets and 4 Marshall tops (weve done a few of those this summer), I can stack my dual uppers on top of my lower rotor box, and stack my 2 Yorkvilles next to it, and put my Rb3 on the other side of my AMA RB3. No more stack envy! The AMA RB3 is killerIve NEVER been this satisfied with my Hammond rig short of carrying my HammondStore chop with 3 leslies! (And this is actually louder believe it or not!)




Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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