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This article was originally published in issue #63
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Cut from the same cloth as previous Supergroup amps, the LA30BL has all the juice and grind of it’s bigger siblings, but in a package that’s more usable for the majority of players.
Laney Supergroup tones at more reasonable volumes.
Surprisingly good as a pedal platform.
Clean headroom might run out before your drummer does, but that’s sort of the point.
3-band EQ & presence controls
4, 8 or 16 OHM outputs
Nick Jennison reviews the Laney Black Country Customs LA30BL Head. A continuation of Laney's 50-year anniversary reissue LA100BL amplifier head, this new model is the lower-powered 30-watt version, allowing you to achieve cranked true vintage power amp tones at manageable volume levels for stage and recording use.
Since they were established to celebrate Laney’s long-standing relationship with the godfather of metal Tony Iommi, Black Country Customs have delivered the goods with some seriously good bits of kit. Initially released in 2017, the TI-BOOST and LA100BL captured the ominous roar of the Iron Man’s early work, along with the crushing, stadium-filling volume that you can only get from a cranked 100-watt British stack.
Unfortunately, not all of us get to play at the kind of sky-splitting volumes that were the norm for early metal pioneers. Laney listened and responded with the LA30BL. Cut from the same cloth as previous Supergroup amps, the LA30BL has all the juice and grind of it’s bigger siblings, but in a package that’s more usable for the majority of players. Interestingly, this is the first time in Laney’s long history that a Supergroup amp has been released at this power rating - a sign of the times, perhaps?
The LA30BL is a very simple beast, with a four-input configuration that will be familiar to most guitar players. For the uninitiated, inputs 1 and 2 refer to the high and low treble channels respectively, with the top jacks offering a higher input sensitivity (which translates as more gain) and the lower jacks producing a cleaner sound. “Jumping” the inputs with a patch cable enables the player to blend the two channels, although the single volume control does limit this somewhat. Beyond that, it’s the time-honoured layout of treble, middle, bass and presence.
Those of you who are used to Plexi style amps might be shocked at how potent the tone controls are - there’s a ton of range on each control, which becomes especially useful when you start to crank things up. Speaking of which, the LA30BL actually has a fair amount of clean headroom before things really start to break up. Perhaps not enough to stay whistle-clean in a loud band mix, but certainly enough to clean up for more sensitive moments. Once the amp starts to break up, things get very rowdy very quickly, with a beautifully splatty old-school bark that sags hard on heavier pick strokes. Drive it further with a boost and the LA30BL opens up with searing harmonics, especially if you shelve out some of the low end.
Aside from cranking out the vintage gainy goodies, this amp serves as a very tasty pedal platform. It’s warmer and deeper than it’s Milton Keynes rivals, and the high and low treble channels are more sonically similar, making it easier to find the right blend for your stompbox of choice. Fittingly, it sounds absolutely killer with Laney’s new Monolith pedal (keep your eyes peeled for a review of this in a future issue of GI).
All in all, the Laney LA30BL is a great sounding amp that honours Laney’s rich heritage at a volume that won’t have the War Pigs knocking your door down. It simple, it sounds great cranked up and it loves pedals.