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Tony Raven
#1 Posted : Friday, November 12, 2010 1:05:58 AM(UTC)
Tony Raven
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Okay, I just read a review (elsewhere) that totally ragged on the Epi Studio 10S amp, & as that's my "TV-watching" amp, I gotta say something here -- a site I respect a bit more, btw.

First, the name is hilarious, as I think of "ten shillings" every time. It's like the old joke about the Citroen 2CV auto, where "CV" seems to be French for "horsepower." Ten shillings would be about $8, & that just sounds totally Frugal. Shhh

I picked it up for like $20. I call it "my ugly puppy" because I'm a total sucker for the runt of the litter, & this certainly looked like it.

The 10S is 11" wide, 11.5" high, & 3.5" deep. Yes, really; it's anorexically skinny, & even then there's plenty of gap between the speaker magnet & the back line of the shell.

But it's got solid build & fun little touches that just amuse me. The shell is solid 1/2" chipboard, the pebble vinyl covering is very well-fitted, & it's got six nice chunky plastic corners. It could probably hold up at least a quarter-ton without groaning. A heavy wire loop (1/4" steel) swings out of the back & lets you tilt it back at a good angle -- actually, this is kinda necessary, as the skinny li'l thing tends to fall over when set on any rug.

The controls are actually pretty extensive for a practice amp: Gain (plus a Distortion switch), Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass. These have black press-on "chickenhead" pointers, which I like for telling me at a glance what the settings are, not to mention the whole "retro" thing. The no-name speaker is maybe 5.5" across the cone (though officially a 6.5").

According to the back panel, it draws all of 19 watts of electricity, so it's not exactly gonna blow out any windows; official rating appears to be 10 w RMS. But surprisingly, it's got a fair amount of bark & bite (two more words we really oughta define for the FAQ...).

Naturally, when I first got it I cranked everything up, & it responded well without farting out. Okay, the Bass knob is optimistic -- there's only so much bass this gnome will ever push; the knobs are closer to Edge, Treb, & Honk. Whatever I'm driving it at, I usually have the Middle at 10 & use the other two to shape the tone.

With Gain down & Volume high, it's surprisingly clean, with great rejection of mains hum. With a Strat-type guitar, it sounds nice at the halfway settings (2 & 4 on the 5-way), bringing out the guitar's warmth while letting some hard-pick honk through.

Messing with Gain & toggling the Distortion, it's got a fair bit of range for distort bordering on old-fashioned fuzztone. This sounds pretty good with the stock "EMI Designed" single-coils on a Badwater, but even better with the Mighty Mite "Hot Rails" I have on one. I've certainly paid more for stomp-boxes that don't sound as good.

When I ran a wah to it (the nicely fuzzed Snarling Dogs "Wonder Wah"), the high-mid focus of the 10S matched up really well. I think it'd mike up nicely.

One downside is that the input jack on a used one has often lost its mounting nut. The board-mounted jack body therefore tends to get knocked loose from its solder. On the upside, you can find these amps "broken" for cheap & fix 'em with an hour of work (the soldering is a snap, but teardown & reassembly take time).

My second quibble is that raising the Gain makes it seek for mains hum, even from a well-grounded Might Mite "MotherBucker" -- this sounds more like a sawtooth that a square wave, though it's easily covered with even single notes. To be fair, I've been having some trouble with the ground on that wall outlet, so I can't blame the amp yet.

The "Studio 10S" shows up with different brands. Identical amps with no grille logo, but instead a small "Spirit" logo in the upper-left of the faceplate, or (in the UK) a "Gibson" circle in the lower-right. (Heck, I could probably sell the "Epiphone" script nameplate for $25+.)

The 10S mostly shows up discarded from an Epiphone beginner pack, in which it's been replaced by the 15R. For some reason, people buy 'em on eBay for $40-$60 -- I don't think I'd pay $50 for a 10S, but they do show up new in the $40 range, & under $25 used. By all means, if you spot one of these little beasts in the corner, take it for a drive.

Edited by user Friday, November 12, 2010 1:11:58 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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#2 Posted : Friday, November 12, 2010 2:07:35 PM(UTC)
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When I decided to get back into playing, I bought an Epiphone starter pack that included the 10S amp. Mine also hums, even with humbucking pickups. I later plugged a used RP200 into it and that quieted the hum. Although I now have a bigger & better amp, I keep the 10S as its small size makes it perfect for intimate jam sessions in rooms crowded with furniture.
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