Compared to most of the companies on this list, Verellen is fairly new to the game. They make a variety of hand-made tube amplifiers, but the Meat Smoke model is their crown jewel. It’s an absolute beast, packing 300 watts of all-tube power for bass and guitar, along with two channels for clean and roaring, gut-punching overdrive. The Sword bassist Bryan Richie is a convert, and uses one through an Ampeg 8×10 cabinet.more
I've played just about every large tube bass amp on this planet and can say that this amp smokes nearly all of them. Not only is this amp a sensational bass amp, but it excels as a great guitar amp as well.
To sum up the sound, Think Mesa 400+ meets an SVT. There are only 3 knobs for EQ, but the controls are very dynamic and give a great amount of control over the amp. The clean channel stays very clean, but once turned up can give a nice drive. I can get a nice Chris Squire tone with this amp and my Rickenbacker easy. The clean channel takes pedals great and sounds terrific with anything I push through it.
The OD channel is intense and may not work for every ones needs for bass (I still prefer to run pedals into the clean channel for my dirt) ,but with some tweaking can sound great for bass. I see it more as a added feature. However, for guitar the dirt channel absolutely slays. I can get amazing overdrive or distorted guitar tones with this amp. Dirt pedals though the OD channel also sound great with the OD gain at lower volumes.
But what really takes the cake for me is how fucking great the master volume works. This amp sounds good at almost any volume the master vol it is set at. No insane volume spikes with this master vol, just a gradual increase in volume. Exactly how a master volume should work. Its gotta be some kinda alchemy.
Ben Verellen is a super cool dude and can specialize your order when you call or order online. I had Ben add a FX loop and add a switch on the back to knock the amp down to 100watts. With the combination of the 100 watt switch and the great master vol, I kid you not, I could easily play coffee shops with this head. And because of this I am able to practice with this head without blowing up the neighborhood so to speak.
Now nothing is perfect in life there are some cons to this head. It is very heavy head to carry around. Not SVT heavy, but a little bit heavier then a V4. The other draw back I found is that if you were like me and got a 200watt model it can have a hard time keeping up with heavy bands at times without being pushed super hard or turning up the gain. Though there are ways around that ( graphic EQ boosted level, or slaving into another amp)
The only other thing that could be alarming, but isn't really a con is how bright this amp can be. This amp is super bright if you crank the treble. In a shootout between a SVT VR, Orange AD 200 MK3 and my old 400+ this amp was the brightest by far. But like I said earlier the tone controls are very dynamic. So all you got to do is turn the treble down a bit if there is too much clank.
Before this amp my main stays were a Mesa Boogie 400+ and Peavey F800B. This amp smokes the shit out of both of those. It dominates in how much control it has over both EQ and volume. The only real downside I've experienced was the lack of the extra 100watts. But since the amp comes as a standard 300watt amp this is a no brainier. If you play quieter music like myself you might want it an extra 100 watts less. If your looking to destroy go full 300. If I could do it all over again I'd go full 300 watts just because the master vol is that good. The 100watt switch is extra cash money$$$ ,but well worth it if you are looking to forge an all purpose amp. The only other amps that come close to this are vintage SVT Blue line, Thunderfunk..,and maybe a SVT 2. But those all have their limitations (mainly they are only LOUD). If you are thinking about pulling the trigger on one of these amps just do it. You will not regret it. They are built very very well, easy to service, and will probably be sought after for times to come.