After seeing my Krank Revolution Plus review one of my Twitter buddies, Brendan, asked if I had played the Krank Rev SST amp head, and how it compares to the Revolution Plus. As luck would have it I’ve reviewed them both for Mixdown, so here’s my review. If you look close you can see the Rev SST in the background of my Bogner Alchemist demo video. So here’s the review.

Krank Rev SST
Recently I reviewed the Krank Revolution Plus, a great amp geared towards more open, midrangy tones than the similarly-appointed Krankenstein Dimebag Darrell signature model. The Rev SST takes a version of the tube preamp section from the Revolution and pairs it with a 200 watt solid state mosfet power amp.

The Revolution has two channels, ‘Krank’ and ‘Kleen.’ Krank has a 3 band EQ (treble, midrange and bass), two footswitchable master volumes and a parametric sweep control which swings between treble/bass emphasis and midrange emphasis. The Kleen channel has a similar 3 band EQ and a volume control. Around the back is an active effects loop with level control and on/off switch, a footswitch jack, two 4 ohm speaker jacks, and a world voltage selector. It’s also worth noting that because the power section is solid state – using the same technology you find in car stereo power amps (think about that next time you’re stopped at the lights next to some dude cranking his stereo up to 11 and rattling your teeth, and you’ll get an idea of the clean power of this amp), the Rev SST is a lot lighter than its tube-driven older brother. Anyone who’s had to heft a heavy tube amp out of the car and up a few flights of stairs will know that this is a good, good thing.

While the Revolution Plus has a lot of punch and power amp grind courtesy of its 6550 power amp tubes, the Rev SST shifts the emphasis towards smooth, warm compression. I plugged in my Ibanez RG7420 with a Dimarzio Tone Zone humbucker in the bridge, selected the Krank channel, and set everything to 5 as a starting point. With a little tweaking of the sweep control, the sound reminded me of Dream Theater’s ‘Images And Words’ album or Faith No More’s ‘Album Of The Year’ – that smooth, warm distortion which translates complex chords well and evens out the dynamics which, let’s face it, allows you to cheat a little bit and be slightly more relaxed with your picking because the tone is not reliant on the push of power tubes. Winding the sweep control one way emphasised the highs and lows while shifting focus away from the mids, and I couldn’t resist blasting a few Strapping Young Lad riffs. Twisting the Sweep control the other way emphasises the mids while rounding off the treble and softening the bass, which makes it great for Satriani style lead tones, especially when you throw some chorus and delay in the effects loop.

The Kleen channel is extremely polite, with no way of driving it to overdrive. This makes it perfect for those clean Metallica or Slayer tones, and it’s also a great platform for using effect pedals because the amp reproduces them faithfully, without colouring them with its own gain. I tried my Boss DS-1 distortion and my MXR Custom Audio Electronics Boost/OD. The rattiness of the Boss and the smoothness of the MXR were both there in abundance. Clean effects such as my MXR EVH Phase 90 were very clear, almost hi-fi.

The tube-driven Revolution is a great amp but may not be for extreme metal players because its power amp grind makes it more of a rock or old-school metal weapon, yet its preamp sounds great at lower levels before power amp distortion kicks in. The solid state Revolution SST taps into that sound while allowing you to crank it without colouring it, and I can see it gaining a lot of fans in the metal and prog communities.

CLICK HERE to buy Krank Rev SST 200W Hybrid Guitar Amp Head from Musician’s Friend for $899.

CLICK HERE for the matching 4×12 Guitar Extension Cabinet Straight for $649.