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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here it is, my new ENGL Steve Morse Signature amp.

At first I was going to get a Kemper Profiler. I was excited about having access to thousands of amp profiles and being able to test drive amps that I would normally never have the opportunity to play. After researching everything I got information overload and ultimately decided to go in a different direction. Maybe one day I’ll get a Kemper.
I picked up an ENGL MetalMaster 20 about 6 or 7 months back really cheap and since having it I’ve enjoyed the overall vibe. After passing on a Kemper I decided to look at some of the higher end ENGLs. I narrowed it down to the Savage, Invader and Steve Morse. Ultimately, I decided on the Steve Morse because of all the different tone shaping options. I came across a used one in nice condition for a good price on Reverb and snapped it up.

I’ve only spent an hour or two with it so far. I’ve done a little bit of knob turning but really haven’t started dialing it in. The basic tones are really good, great control over the mids especially on channel 3, and more than enough gain to go all the way into heavy metal territory. My initial impressions are positive; I’m really liking it. I can’t wait until the weekend when I can have more time to sit with it.

Here is the eye candy. And yes, that is a Crate Blue VooDoo 300-Watt amp sitting underneath. The Crate is a great amp and nothing like the lower wattage Blue VooDoos that sound like a can of bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The 3rd channel gives you a good number of options for tone shaping, especially the mids. It has 2 pairs of mid knobs; low mid and high mid which can be selected independently and control a different frequency. On top of that there is also a tone button that influences the frequency of each mid knob. So just with that you have 8 different options for tone shaping. The tone button also affects the other 2 channels acting as a bright switch on channel 1 & a mid scoop on channel 2.

It seems like a lot but it really isn't too complicated. About 30 min of knob turning and I got a good feel for what everything does. After that it was pretty easy to start dialing in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now that I’ve been able to spend a couple of weeks with this amp I have to say I’m absolutely loving it. It’s so organic sounding and full of life. I’ve dialed in all the channels to my liking and I really appreciate the mid knobs on channel 3. The clean channel can get pretty clean, but not full on Fender clean. I have it set to be mostly clean but can add a slight amount of grit with some dynamic picking. Channel 2 & 3 are voiced fairly similar but each lets you control the mids in a different way. On channel 2 you have nice pronounced mids, but pressing the tone button scoops them. Channel 3 gives you so much control over the mids. You can select between 2 different hi-mid & low-mid frequencies to control. Pressing the tone button changes the frequency range of each. It sounds complicated, but is pretty easy to get the hang of once you get an ear for how & which frequency is being controlled.

I haven’t made comparisons in person, but listening to clips of other ENGL amps The Steve Morse has a different tone to it than some of the other high end ENGL’s like the Savage or Blackmore. Those seem more modern voiced where the Morse feels like it leans to being vintage voiced. I do have an ENGL MetalMaster to compare it to. It’s not a full apples to apples comparison as I wouldn’t consider the MetalMaster in the same class as the Morse. I will say that there is a night and day difference between the two (not in a bad way though). The MetalMaster is more scooped, more focused, and has a more Hi-Fi sound. The Morse on the other hand is more organic and flavorful with emphasis on the mids. I don’t think I would compare it to a Marshall or anything like that either. It really has its own flavor.

The one slight downside to this amp is that it can be a little noisy when set to high gain; mostly some hiss. But ENGL thought ahead on this one and equipped it with a noise gate that works well. It’s situated after the preamp section and does a good job at eliminating that preamp hiss. Like anything, you have to play with it a bit to get the right setting. I also run a decimator in front of the amp to keep the pickup hum & any feedback to a minimum. With that it’s dead quiet even on the highest gain setting.

Speaking of gain, you can go from the edge of breakup, to gritty crunch, to chunky but smooth high gain rhythm all the way to soaring leads. I feel like it has the raw distortion but remains very smooth. Not harsh sounding at all like some other high gain amps can be.

I haven’t bought one yet, but you can control the amp via several footswitch options. You can use a simple 2 button footswitch (Z-4) to control channel switching. The next step up it the Z-9 that allows either channel switching plus 2 extra functions or a basic midi control depending on how you plug it in. You can also use the Z-15 more access to midi controls and presets. The down side is that footswitches are expensive.

The Pros: versatile, exceptional control over mids, easy to learn & dial in, feature rich, and overall great tone. The Cons: can be slightly noisy on high gain mode without noise gate, expensive footswitch, expensive in general (@ 3K new; @ 2K used), and I don’t think they are in production anymore.

Overall I’m an extremely happy owner with no regrets about purchasing this amp. It is the tone and upgrade I was looking for and is now my go-to amp.
 
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