45 RPM 5E3 SS Amp Combo
A New Simplified Sonic Revolution
Wildwoodians, some time ago, two mad geniuses with wizard-like electronic prowess showed up on our doorstep with a fantastic contraption that blew our minds: the 45 RPM Sky 5e3 amplifier. We quickly fell in love with the amp these mysterious fellows brought us, Once we let the Sky 5e3 loose on the world, guitar players everywhere loved it just as much as we did, and it was one of the greatest hits in Wildwood history.
But, the two tone warlocks that brought the Sky 5e3 to life weren’t content to rest on their laurels. They retreated into their lair and began to scheme and plot and solder. When the dust settled, a new juggernaut of tone emerged. Wildwoodians, we are pleased to present the next warrior in the sonic revolution: the 5e3 SS, a one-channel amp that delivers nothing but pure, sweet, simple music delight.
Basically, our pals at 45 RPM built an entire amp out of the 5e3 preamp circuit that forms half of the Sky 5e3. It’s a stripped-down, lean, mean musical machine, and I am not being hyperbolic when I say that the Wildwood crew loves it with the intensity of a thousand suns. The “SS” stands for “Super Sport,” which is appropriate because playing through one is at least as much fun as taking a Chevelle SS for a spin.
Inspiration StationBut before we get into tech talk and start examining the revolutionary design that makes the 5e3 SS so special, I want to focus on something that trumps all specs: inspiration. Playing through a 45 RPM 5e3 SS is one of the most magical experiences a guitar player can have. It’s the sort of amplifier that connects you to the elemental, visceral joy of playing guitar. When a piece of gear nails the sound of an era, I like to say that it makes me feel like I stepped through an enchanted door into a classic record. The 5e3 SS opens up many of these doors that allow you to achieve total immersion in an iconic sound.
Speaking of total immersion, I (Trevor, the resident Wildwood Scribe) have been lucky enough to have a 5e3 SS parked next to my desk for the last two days (hey, I’ve gotta play it to write about it!). I can say for certain that they have been the greatest two days of my entire working adult life. I’ve had more “whoah, did I play that?” moments while playing through the 5e3 SS than I can count.
Now, I’m not saying that it made me a better player—only practice does that. But, some gear is so inspirational that it makes you dig deep and play at the limits of your technical ability while using all your creative powers. The 5e3 SS is one of those rare amps that take you to that wonderful place.
Here’s a quick story that illustrates the power of the 5e3 SS. Brian, Wildwood’s resident acoustic expert, rarely dabbles with electric guitars. He was eating lunch over at the Wildwood web office when he heard me chugging away on some heavy chords on one of the 5e3 SS’s meaner settings. His eyes went wide and he put down his sandwich.
“I…I…want…that. I…need that. I don’t even play that kind of music, but that amp makes me want to learn how to.”
There you have it, folks. The 5e3 SS is the sort of amp that makes dyed-in-the-wool acoustic aficionados want to trade their Martins for Les Pauls. It makes you want to surrender your good life for bad and head down to the crossroads to chase down that rock and roll hoodoo. Most importantly, it has an incredible capacity to enrich your music-making experience. So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at what makes this Valhalla-worthy machine tick.
Though it’s fun to attribute the 5e3 SS’s otherworldly tone to some sort of witchcraft or sorcery, the truth has more to do with 6v6 tubes and outstanding circuitry than magic. The preamp from which this tube-driven titan derives its name, the 5e3, is based on a circuit from an old tweed-colored amp that was a top-of-the-line tube amp back in the fifties—a deluxe model, if you will.
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can activate the High Performance Overdrive circuit, which creates some of the sweetest classic tones you can find on this beautiful ball of dirt and water we call home. You can also engage a different overdrive circuit called the BSC, which inserts a British-style tone stack after the drive section for rich yet articulate drive.
Here’s a brief overview of the lovely sounds you can find waiting in the vacuum tubes of the 5e3 SS.
Just the 5e3
The 5e3 SS is the aural equivalent of the best plate of steak and mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. It has a simple circuit—just a volume, a master volume, a tone knob, and a presence knob—but it’s a world-beater when it comes to warm cleans and vintage American crunch. It’s snappy, responsive, and remarkably articulate.
At low-gain settings, it has a wonderfully open, three-dimensional sound with full frequency response across the board, with a bit of extra woody midrange punch and lovely high-end chime. With the tone maxed, you get a bit more high-end jangle. With the tone rolled off, you get a solid brick of smooth, warm midrange.
As you inch the gain up, the sound becomes more of a “gritty clean” than a “pristine clean” perfect for excursions into rockabilly, blues, country, and swampy CCR-esque rock. When you crank the gain, you are rewarded with lovely fuzzed-out tones that conjure up Neil Young and Crazy Horse at their wildest and grungiest.
5e3 With Overdrive
If you have ever enjoyed playing a power chord in your life, chances are you will love the 5e3 channel with the High Performance Overdrive circuit kicked in. It sounds a lot like the Super British amplifiers that took the Lead in the volume wars of the sixties and seventies, which is another way of saying that it sounds like pure rock and roll. Whether your guitar hero is Page, Townshend, Clapton, Hendrix, or Angus Young, chances are you’ll find the same sort of delicious tones they dialed in for those canonical albums of the sixties and seventies.
We’re talking thick, muscular, punchy midrange along with highs that wail like an old blues singer. The low-end is also just right: fat enough to rattle ribs, but well mannered enough to avoid sounding flubby. As with the clean channel, the attack is snappy and articulate. Crashing chords have just the right blend of sparkle and punch, and single-notes have an unholy amount of girth and weight.
5e3 With BSC
When you engage the BSC control, the 5e3 channels vaults into territory usually reserved for boutique hi-gain modern British-style amplifiers. After the initial woody, percussive attack, a beautiful bouquet of rich, lush overtones bloom through the speaker. Few amps are able to project such impressive harmonic content without mushiness in the attack, but the 5e3 channel stays remarkably articulate despite being heavily laden with gristle. It has huge frequency response across the board, but it still maintains excellent balance and string separation.
Ascend to Vacuum Tube Valhalla
As you can see, the 5e3 SS is the musical equivalent of a ’69 Chevelle SS on a wide-open highway. It can take you anywhere, and it can do so in style. Hopefully, the information on this page will act as a roadmap that helps you get where you’re trying to go. One thing’s for sure: this amp will take you places. We invite you to take it for a spin and experience its titanic tone. We’re sure it will inspire you to embark upon many exciting fretboard adventures, and we know it will help you make all sorts of joyous noise.
Power: 20 Watts
Output: 2 x 6V6
Preamps: 4 x 12AX7
Speaker Outputs: 2
FX: Buffered Transparent True Bypass Tube FX Loop
Footswitch: 2 Button Footswitch
Construction: Baltic Birch Ply
Dimensions: 21″x 19.5″x 10.5″
Weight: Roughly 46 Pounds
Warranty: 3 Years (Excludes Speaker & Tubes)
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