Based in Pittsboro North Carolina, Carr Amplifiers makes handwired amps which frequently draw comparison to the classic tube amps of the ’50s and ’60s. The Hammerhead is no exception and delivers major tube-based tone with two 12AX7s and two EL34s. The Hammerhead series has been discontinued in recent years.
The Carr Hammerhead MK II offers rich output tube overdrive with a unique personality and super simple signal path. Rock, hot blues, and pop guitarists will find wide range of tones from semi-clean to full on overdrive with just the right amount of vintage funk. The MK II offers a new redesigned power supply, vastly improving openness and feel while increasing sustain and clarity.
- Class A circuitry
- EL-34 Powered
- 28 Watts Single channel
- Kingpin 60 Speaker
- Unique tone section with ultra-pure signal path
- Controls: Volume, Impact, Master, Grip, Tone
- Tubes 2: 12AX7, 2 EL34
- Channels: 1
- Controls :Volume, Master, Tone
- Switches: 4-position tone shaping switches – Impact and Grip,
- No Reverb
- 100% point to point hand wiring
- Custom wound interleaved paper bobbin transformers
- Polypropylene filter caps
- Mallory 150 series tone caps
- Carbon composition resistors
- High-end Canare shielded cable
- 12 gauge aluminum chassis
- Dovetailed pine cabinets built in-house
- Analysis Plus Clear Oval speaker wire
The Hammerhead’s innards are top-notch, with 100 percent point-to-point hand wiring, polypropylene filter capacitors (more expensive than electrolytic caps, but more durable and better sounding), two Electro-Harmonix EL34s, and an Eminence-designed 12″ speaker. That’s not all. You also get George L’s cable for all internal wiring, and a solid pine cabinet. Everything about the Carr exudes quality and durability.
Despite its few controls, the Hammerhead offers several very useful tone options. The volume and master knobs are self-explanatory, but the 4-position Impact and Grip controls are less intuitive. Before explaining how they work, it is worth noting that the Hammerhead features no tone controls in the direct signal path. The Impact and Grip controls act in parallel to emphasize treble and bass frequencies, while leaving the pure amp tone intact.
What Impact does: This knob uses different capacitor values to vary the emphasis on upper mids and highs.
How Impact sounds: At lower volumes, switching the Impact knob to its second position produces a subtle bright boost. Going from 2 to 3 creates the most dramatic change by boosting upper mids for a louder, brighter tone with more gain. Position 4 bumps the low mids in a very subtle way. Interestingly, at higher gain settings (anything above three o’clock), the Impact control has no effect.
What Grip does: The Grip switch works by adding bypass caps around the cathodes of the phase inverter and the cathode bias output stage.
How Grip sounds: Once again, the biggest difference is between positions 2 and 3 where there’s a big jump in volume, low-mid thump, and distortion. The other positions are so subtle they are nearly imperceptible.
Plugging into the Hammerhead produces a rich, big dimensional sound with great overtones and powerful punch. Carr says that the amp was designed to produce power-tube overdrive at reasonable volume levels for hot blues, slide, and classic rock tones.
A Les Paul sounds fat and squawky at lower volumes, and drifts effortlessly into singing sustain with the gain up past halfway. A ’50s Reissue Strat is bright and chimey – definitely bringing out more of the class A harmonics. Loud, clean headroom is not the Carr’s thing, although the clean tones it does produce by turning either the amp or the guitar down, actually sound great.
This amp presents as new. No issues, little use. Looks fab, sounds the same.