Achillies – Argos Hand Wired 40w Head
Named after the giant with a hundred eyes from Ancient Greek mythology, at first glance the Argos packs multiple perspectives into a compact control panel.
At the most fundamental level, the Argos draws from the Mother of rock amps Herself - the four input, Fender 5F6-A Tweed Bassman/ Marshall JTM-45 circuit feeding around 40 watts of output via two KT66 power tubes. However, the similiarites stop there, beginning with a custom modified tonestack. This is designed to allow more of an even frequency range across the familiar Presence, Bass, Middle and Treble controls, which have a huge range of movement.
The first thing that stands out on the Argos are the 6 switches – the ‘eyes’ of the giant! The easiest way to think of it is that when all switches are in the up position, the amp is in stock or traditional mode. Clockwise from the Master switch, the ‘eyes’ do as follows…
1. The Master switch introduces a true by passable PPIMV (Post Phase-Inverter Master Volume) which is accessible on the rear control panel of the amp. Being true bypass, this means that when not selected, the PPIMV is 100% out of the signal and the traditional dual channel volumes are in play. The Master switch allows selection for maximum clean headroom, or will tame the Argos to bedroom/studio output volumes. Even at the lowest of volume levels, clarity and punch is clear in this amp, perfect for late night jamming or recording.
2. The Bright switch adds extra high end definition to the sound of the amp – this really works well for darker humbucker equipped guitars to cut through a band mix, to adapt the Argos to different speaker types, or to bring out overall additional presence and twang to your tone.
3. The Edge switch provides tight EQ focus to further shape the sound of the Argos. This switch comes into play more noticeably at higher preamp gain levels – chords will be noticeably tighter and clearer and leads will sustain and ‘hang’ more.
4. Blend is an incredibly useable option that essentially replaces the need to run a patch cable between the 2 channels. Many 4-hole Marshall players have long bridged the dual inputs, or run an A/B box to select between higher or lower gain inputs on the brighter Channel 1 or the darker Channel 2. While this is still totally possible for purists on the Argos, the Blend control allows instant access to both channels, while being plugged into one input – total flexibility in order to shape your preamp gain settings!
5. The Cut switch is a major feature of the Argos – in the up position, the traditional squish and full low end of the Bassman/JTM45 is there in spades, perfect for more 60’s style rock sounds. Middle position on the Cut switch introduces the first tone shaping capacitor, which removes a degree of low end, tightening up the sound into 70’s style classic rock. The bottom, or most aggressive position on the Cut switch inserts a second higher value capacitor, which further cuts the flub at higher preamp gain settings. This brings out the crunch and sizzle of 80’s style rock, absolutely perfect for fast rhythm work and shredding leads. Everything from Neil Young to KISS to Van Halen and early Metallica is all there depending on the Cut switch, and things can get aggressive especially when used together with the Bright and Edge switches!
6. Switching to Raw entirely defeats the TMB tonestack from the circuit – even more punch is available here, and in the Raw setting, maximum gain is extracted from the Argos. Use your favourite EQ in the FX Loop, or simply use your guitar’s volume knob to work through the shades of grind and compression on offer – maximum touch sensitivity and feel lives in here.
The rear panel open up even more options on the Argos – the eyes of the giant continue!
From left to right:
7. A top quality FX Loop circuit which carefully preserves tone, with an FX Loop Level control built in. Very handy for regulating the overall blended volume of modulation, time based and volume pedals in your rig.
8. Post Phase Inverter Master Volume control - see 1.
9. A line out jack with level control. With a load plugged into the speaker outs, run this straight to your DAW interface, live mixing desk for foldback levels, or headphones for in ear monitoring.
10. Speaker outs for 4, 8 or 16 ohms
11. Tube Power switch – select 40 watts for maximum headroom and less saturation or 20 watts for more compression and earlier breakup. This switch, when used in conjunction with the switches on the front panel really opens the Argos up for a huge range of feel and tonalities.
12. AC Voltage Selector – Step Up or Down transformers are not needed with the Argos. No matter where you live, select your country’s voltage requirements and plug in.
Truly a multi-faceted giant of an amp, the Argos presents the player with an array of usable and fine-tuned options that will encourage you shape and refine your tone to your exacting specifications, or simply plug in and rock out. Designed to open all sonic possibilities of a high end, meticulously handwired British style rock amp to the guitarist, the Argos nails those classic tones you’ve always wanted, while being as simple or complex as you need - allowing innumerable ways to ‘see’ and get the most out of your rig and playing.
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