Crate GX-15R...

Crate GX-15R...another brick in the (practice-amp) wall

I’ve acquired the next brick for my ‘wall of practice amps’, that being a Crate GX-15R.
Keeping one’s eye on the local Craigslist site can be of great benefit, as I picked this little amp up for only $10. It was dusty and dirty; had ‘dust bunnies’ about ¼” deep inside the cabinet, but it cleaned up very nicely.

I have pretty much decided to keep to the 15-watt variety of practice amp, or at least, those with 8” speakers. I’ve found that the 10-watt amps with the 6” speakers in them all tend to sound ‘boxy’ and kinda strange, for some reason. I don’t know if it’s the speakers themselves, or what, but they all seem to share that odd tonality.

Crate GX-15R features:

Clean/OD pushbutton channel switch (no footswitch)
Gain & Master Volume control for OD channel
Master Volume control for clean channel
Low, Mid, & Hi EQ controls
Headphone output
Extension speaker output
Reverb amount control
Open-back cabinet with 8”, 4-Ohm speaker

Crate GX-15R Tone:

Nice, full bottom end, surprisingly for an 8” in an open-back cabinet. The EQ controls give good control range in the three bands. Overall, there’s a good balanced tone without a lot of coloration from the cabinet. In the OD channel, though, the highs seem to be sucked out a bit. I find this same issue with most such amps. The distortion in this amp is ‘OK’, but not at all tube-like in its dynamic response. Good raging crunch with gain wide-open, but backing the gain down doesn’t really give me the ‘threshold’ (tube-like) dynamic effect that I like to see, i.e., staying fairly clean until the strings are really dug into. The reverb appears to be a spring unit inside the amp chassis rather than in a separate ‘tank’. I believe it’s a spring unit because it’s sensitive to bumps and motions of the amp. And the shortness of the delay is indicative of a quite short spring. The reverb effect has a very long ‘tail’, though, and a little of it fed into the signal path goes a long way. It’s a little on the ‘boingy’ side with that short delay, however.
This 15W amp seems a tad louder than the Peavey 15W amp that I have, but in general, doesn’t sound quite as good. Very close, but it seems to lack a little of the ‘sparkle’ in the clean channel that the Peavey has, and the OD channel isn’t as dynamically responsive as I’d like.

Crate GX-15R Build Quality:

Stout little compact cabinet…not sure what it’s made of. The Tolex is very well applied and plenty heavy-gauged to stand up to being knocked about some. The unit has those stacking plastic corners on it, and one of the lower front ones wasn’t snugged up to the cabinet as well as it should have been before screwing it on. I plan to remedy that, though.
I wish the cabinet had rubber feet on it, but it just sits on those plastic corners which can be slippery. I suppose I could simply buy some of those rubber feet & install them myself.

I’m not sure if Crate still offers this amp, but if you can pick one up cheaply, it’s a pretty good little practice amp with good, usable tone.

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