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Product Review: Graefe Designs' TruTone™ 50-Watt Guitar Head Takes A Classic Idea and Innovates it.

We here at Artisthead were excited to review the beautiful, walnut front, Graefe Designs' TruTone™ head designed by the 45-year studio and gear engineering veteran and musician, Tom Graefe.

Unbelievably Clean Power
As soon as I plugged into the Graefe Designs' TruTone™ all tube, 50-watt head and flicked the Standby switch, I noticed how quiet the signal to noise ratio was. As I dialed up the gain knob to 3 and the master to about 2, I was awed at the volume and clarity that this amp delivered, even at modest levels.

With the Bass, Middle, and Treble knobs set at noon position, the amp delivered a hearty, full tone that spoke with definition and punctuation. The Presence knob added nice shimmer without getting brittle or harsh. YES, tone controls that actually work!

Player Driven
We used several guitars through the TruTone™, a Les Paul, Strat, Telecaster, and a few semi-hollow bodies to hear the tonal differences and response. I noticed right off the bat that this amp was very responsive to the touch and accuracy of my playing. It forced me to play with more control, which in turn made my articulation and sound cleaner. Oddly enough, this quality makes the TruTONE the perfect amp for recording and session work.

True Tone
The clean tones start to peak out at about 4 on the gain knob, giving it a wide variety of sounds familiar in many of the classic and boutique amps, while keeping it's own unique sound. I turned up the gain and the TruTone started to growl with authority. It gave out a punchy, full tone that was excellent for everything from blues to heavy rhythm as the gain was increased. It did so without losing body or sounding flabby. When turned to 10, I could play lead lines that were defined and singing.


But Wait...There's More
The TruTone™'s gain knob is push/pull, when engaged the amp's overdrive turns lush without getting mushy or undefined. It holds its clarity even when cranking the master volume, and creating an enormous sound level. Another bonus is the "Mo Bass" switch that adds not only bottom to the sound, it also has body and fullness that make the speakers create the illusion of different sized cabinet sounds, achieved naturally, without using modeling or any digital circuitry.

Another bonus that I found invaluable was the "USA/British - Voice" switch. This basically gives you two amps in one. With the switch in the "USA" position, I got a big, heavy sound with tremendous bottom. Flick the switch to the "British" position and the amp sounded and displayed more mids and highs with a little less heaviness on the bottom end. This can be increased or decreased by engaging the Mo Bass switch and adjusting it to the desired level, giving you the ability to blend tones to personal perfection.

The great advantage of the Voice switch is that it is extremely convenient for creating different tones during multi-tracking rhythm or leads in the studio, giving you different, complimentary tones all in one flick of the toggle. The TruTone™ also sports an all tube effects loop.

I found the TruTone™ to be rock solid in live conditions and versatile in a recording environment. The amp is excellent for recording at low and high volumes, which makes sense considering it's designer. If you want a no-nonsense, efficient, rugged, beautiful amp, hand wired with highest quality studio grade components, that can traverse all music styles, the TruTONE is worth a serious listen.

You can purchase the TruTone™ head with a custom flight case and run it through your favorite cabinet, or a Graefe Designs cabinet in a 1x12, 2x12, and 4x12 configuration, or they can design custom cabs, made to order. The TruTone™ also comes in a combo edition.

More About Tom Graefe: Engineer, Producer & Founder of Graefe Designs.
Tom Graefe is a 20-year MCI/Sony Pro Audio veteran, Manager of Console Design, Co-Founder of Ft. Lauderdale's Musicians Exchange Music Complex, and Soundshine Productions Recording Studios, Amp Designer.

There is not enough room here list Tom's credentials, accolades, patents, and clients. His work literally changed the standards by which most, if not all, software based plugins emulating "Industry Standard Consoles" strive to capture.

As Manager of Console Engineering for MCI/Sony, Graefe also designed all Special Products for the company. After retiring from Sony in 1998, Tom immediately opened a new studio and modified or designed every piece of gear himself. He is also the co-designer of the highly respected Sapphire XL studio monitors.

Tom's engineering credits include Juvenile, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Bernsen, Jaco Pastorius, Spirit, McCoy Tyner, Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, Elliott Randall, David Hall, Rick Bauer, and John Mayall, to name a few. 
All great songs seem to have great producers and engineers behind them, but when the producers, engineers, and others in the elite world of recording have questions, they call on Tom, one of the most knowledgeable and respected people on the planet when it comes to audio.

With the Graefe Designs' TruTone™, Tom has brought his creative and technical prowess together and created a guitar amplifier that has raised the standard of sound and quality for years to come.

Official Graefe Designs Website

Check out the audio samples below, supplied by Graefe Designs.



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