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Carr Sportsman and Fender DRRI

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by jbinici, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. jbinici

    jbinici TDPRI Member

    17
    Dec 21, 2013
    Ma
    About 12 months ago I was lucky enough to find a used Carr Sportsman 1x12. I've been playing it ever since and just loving every minute of it. I finally could forget fighting to set the knobs just right on my more modern amps (Mesa's for the most part) and "gave in to" relying on pedals for gainier sounds. I could go back to reference all the experimenting I did over the years and re-build a pedal board that would give me the flexibility I need to be in a cover band and pull in the pedals that I thought sounded best. e.g. Wampler Plexi for crunch, Wampler ego for clean sustain, Fulldrive 2 for cutting through everything and getting great harmonics on solos.

    As you can surmise by now, I'm a gear head and an audiophile and have been on a decades long tone quest. I can attest that using the Carr as my simple (wonderful sounding) clean base, and using pedals with it gives wonderful results. I can dial in breakup from the Carr to taste given the "headroom knob".

    Bear with me and I'll get to the part about the DRRI soon enough.

    Then I joined another band - we play small clubs and these folks only rely on the PA "only for vocals". The Carr (16 watts clean, 19 watts "maxed") is plenty loud enough for rehearsals but I started second guessing whether it would have enough head room for all the different club situations I'd be getting into. I"m sure it would work for most, but that I'd be frustrated at some. I decided I'd try to pair the Carr with another amp - tried a pro Jr but that was a bad idea because the gain pedals push the amps differently. I tried a blues jr and that was much better. Long story short I arrived at the conclusion that stereo was just going to complicate things. I wish I could afford the $2.7k to upgrade to a 28 watt Carr Rambler but sadly that's just too much money for me to invest in this situation at this time. I usually rely on finding used gear and doing trades at local music stores in order to upgrade to quality equipment. The Ramblers are just too hard to find around here. I'm sure it would be worth every penny but I just can't indulge myself to spend that kind of money yet.

    The first thing I tried was to just bring 1 PA speaker and put it next to the amp and mic my self to the next level of loudness. If the band didn't want to complicate the main PA setup (just a crappy powered PA) then I could just set up my own separate PA speaker and a Sennheiser e609 mic. That worked great but it was still a lot of real estate on the stage.

    SO Finally I decided to get a DRRI (I've always wanted one) and i had a local sale and some trades that enabled me to buy it. So I get the DRRI home and I'm thinking the real test will be to see if all the pedal settings will still float my boat if I simply swap in the DRRI without changing the settings. Well let me tell you, the DRRI blew my mind it sounded so good and even let some of the pedals do more of their signature tricks (like the harmonics from the Fulldrive 2 through the DRRI are just wonderful - like they were designed to work together). I played the rig through 3 different Tele's, a strat, and a USA Hamer and it held up great.

    Long story I know but to summarize I will tell you that after decades of looking for the right combinations of gear to get a sound I like, I have to say that just getting a simple classic Fender style amp solves a lot of problems and makes dialing things in a hell of a lot easier. So at this point my plan is to use the Carr for the smaller clubs and rehearsals, and use the DRRI at larger clubs, and experiment once in a while with playing stereo. The fact that I can go between these two amps and not worry about the pedal settings is a big relief.

    By the way I looked for articles on line to compare the Carr Sportsman vs DRRI and I have not found any good ones. Here's what I have to say. The sportsman is a VERY sweet amp. It can do a lot. It's VERY loud but if your bandmate drags in his 30 or 40 watter and puts it next to you, then all bets are off. But if you are just playing with a keyboard player, drums, bass, singer- it does a great job. And if you want to mic it, then you can use it for any situation you want to. Everyone complements me on how well I can control the volume and I can see the looks on their faces they can hear how how fat and sweet the tone is.

    As for the DRRI I just got it. It's a different thing. It's clearly louder and just has some great sounds of its own. It's difficult to compare it but I'd gig either of these amps in a heartbeat and I know I would not find myself second guessing my tone (even with a lot of pedals). I wish I was the kind of guy who didn't need any pedals, but hey I'm in a cover band. I need to be BB King one minute and Angus Young the next.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
    8barlouie and uriah1 like this.
  2. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    749
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    I can totally relate. I bought a 1980 Princeton reverb off craigslist and while it was still in my trunk, I stopped by a upscale type store in Atlanta and tried the Sportsman - needless to say, my mind was blown. The Sportsman has one of the best cleans I have ever heard. I had previously tried the Skylark (12W) and wasnt impressed.

    I had to consider trading the like new Princeton for the Carr. I didnt do it and I happy I didnt, knowing that I could buy a Carr at any point. (The Princeton had an EVM in it too). The Princeton proved to have at least as good a clean tone and has a more traditional Fender tone - currently my favorite.

    The Deluxe reverb "Light" came on for me years ago while I was still doing gigs. I was invited to a buddy's gig and he was using a silver PR in a large NY club. It was right at that point where it sounded just awesome (he was controlling the overdrive w/ his vol pot) and right there I realized that my Super Reverb or various 50W Marshall/clones werent always the best option.
     
  3. jbinici

    jbinici TDPRI Member

    17
    Dec 21, 2013
    Ma
    Yep I get it. I also considered getting a new Princeton. They sound really sweet too but i wanted to go with something a bit louder.

    I should add that in addition the '65 DRRI I described above, I tried the '68 custom Deluxe Reverb and took one home for about 48 hours. I wanted to love it. It sounds great at music store levels, but i had to return it after I tried it at home. The distortion just starts too early and was harsh in my rig. It didn't pass the test that I wrote about earlier on whether the pedals would just work with it without a lot of tweaking the settings (not that I didn't try to tweak my way out of the harsher highs that came out). The '65 reissue passed the test - was similar to the Carr - but the Carr is a hair or three (or 10) sweeter mind you. That said, it's a lower wattage so the grind takes over when you max everthing out.

    Sure John Bonamassa the says '68 reissue is one of the most underrated amps, but I don't see him using one on stage at gig levels and I wonder if he really spent some time with one. The '68 sounds phenomenal at music store volume levels, but crank it up and it's something totally different. It sure had a lot of cool features like being able to use the reverb and vibrato on the other channel - I really wish it could have worked out. Like someone else wrote - you can't use a pedal to add clean back into an amp. The '65 Deluxe Reverb re-issue rules over the '68 - no question. I wish they'd do a version of the '65 with those features.

    But make no mistake, the Carr's rule over all of them. It's so portable (and I have to haul it to rehearsals so it matters). I didn't know why people paid that kind of money for amps like this until I found this Sportsman used in a music store and decided to give it a try. It's worth the money because the tone just comes out of it, and you can stop hassling trying to figure out how to get to that tone. You can just relax and enjoy it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  4. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    749
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    Carr has interesting construction. He uses Solen poly caps for power supply filtering and point to point wiring - also a SS rectifier - I checked after being blown away by the cleans on this amp.

    The one I saw also had a full compliment of very nice old stock tubes - I was MIGHTLY tempted :D That patriot speaker is perfect too.
     
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