Vintage Guitar Magazine (July 1998)
By Stephen Patt
Demeter Amplification has been around since 1980 making revolutionary electronic gear that finds its way into the best of hands. Players like Bonnie Raitt and Ry Cooder rely on Demeter’s guitar amp and tremolo boxes, while savvy studios ncluding Ocean Way and A&M rely on state-of-the-art compressors and tube-mic preamps. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a TGA-2 Inverter head destined for the collection of none other than Ben Harper, and it was a supreme pleasure to play. The design is simple borrowing from the Marshall plexi-type head with the Demeter nameplate proudly displayed in front: construction is all-tube, with a hand wired steel chassis and custom built transformers. There are two channels, with separate voicing on each. Number one is a truly vintage-sounding Fender blackface, albeit bigger and more solid than most especially when heard through a 4 X 12 bottom. Channel two is all balls; a Marshall plexi on steroids with singing harmonics. The tube-buffered effects loop and pentode-triode switch add versatility to an already superb package
When driven through even a small package like a single 12″ GT bottom, the results were dramatic: a blast of dynamic, singing guitar through channel one, with shimmering highs and a firm not flabby, low end. Multiply this by a factor of 10 through a half-stack: enough to knock you over (not talking volume, but tone). Channel two, usinga stock Strat, was a powerhouse of sound, with headroom to boot. Loved it. Demeter also makes cabinets to match, the twin 12 being a favorite. And there is a special order Inverter combo that’s available on a limited basis. Co-reviewer Jon Butcher asked plaintively with his guitar plugged into channel one, “I’m running my humbucker now how do I get the gain up?”
I cranked the gain knob to two, and Jon began to chortle as he ripped out a series of skanky single-note leads, a la Jeff Beck. “This is one helluva sound. It’s smooth and buttery, and I just love the overtones and depth. The bottom end is tight and distinct; there’s no muddiness or distortion. It’s easily as good or better than an older Marshall plexi with my Stratocaster, and the first channel is just a thrill to play. I give it the highest thumbs up!”
Jon noted the TGA-2 sounded better with at least twin 12’s beneath, “… giving it room to breathe, to open up.” I couldn’t agree more. Call Demeter Amplification for details at (818) 994-7658, or write to Demeter Amplification, 15730 Stagg Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406.
Bob Williams, of Demeter (who plays a mean blues guitar himself) provided us with a stock Tremulator. I’ve gotten away from playing just Fenders these days, going for the variety of the Groove Tubes Soul-0-45, and I missed that old tremolo. This device has been around for awhile, but holds up as being a real benchmark among trem boxes: a superb case of engineering something so good, it’s impossible to improve. Used by scads of artists such as Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler and Sonny Landreth (Ry’s favorite settings are incorporated in to the stock settings of the Tremulator), this device is heard on just about every Cooder soundtrack. The box is at first unimpressive: small, black, and plain. But potent. It features depth and speed, with a miniature LED status indicator, and a plug for a wall wart (but the 9-volt drain is so low, practically no one uses them).
Inside, the box is a miracle of modern engineering: well-constructed, neatly soldered traces, and features a trim pot allowing variations in setting the time ratio. Cool. And it’s quiet. The wave is the classic lopsided amplitude modulation… perfect. The range of sounds is actually broader than a Fender’s (and more musical), and the switching is silent. Very fat, and just what the doctor ordered for spicing up an older amp with no onboard effects. Jon was much impressed.
“Wow! It sounds just like a Fender. And it’s as quiet as a church mouse.”
Rolling out a series of sombre chords, then playfully funky, Jon relaxed into the slow tremolo speed. ‘”This is very cool. How much are they? Hidden in this question was the other question, namely, “Can you get me one?” The ultimate compliment, and listing in the low-$200 range, all of us can afford one. Contact Demeter at the above address, or contact your nearest dealer.