My Favorite New Amps: Carr Skylark & Lincoln

Carr Lincoln and Skylark amps.

Carr Lincoln and Skylark amps.

I’ve been using my Carr Skylark amp incessantly for the last 18 months or so. I’d originally reviewed it for Premier Guitar magazine, and then I bought one for myself. I dig the fact that, while Skylark is inspired by 1960s Fender amps, builder Steve Carr made numerous departures from the Fullerton template. To my ear Skylark sounds better than my ’60s originals. That’s especially true of its re-voiced tone stack, where the ranges are smaller and subtler than on vintage Fenders, with more of a Matchless-style “no bad settings” sensibility.

For better or worse, history repeated itself earlier this year when I reviewed Carr’s Lincoln in PG. Lincoln is to Vox what Carr is to Fender — not a clone, but vintage-inspired model with its own character and unique twists. Its dual EL-84 architecture makes it a cousin of the AC-15. But I think of it more as a “fantasia on a theme by Vox.” It’s captures the Vox qualities I dig, minus the ones that can make dealing with vintage Voxes a major drag.


Skylark features true point-to-point wiring, with no circuit or turret board. (Lincoln, however, uses bits of circuit board for non-audio functions such as channel-switching.)

If you’ve listened to many of my videos and demo clips from the last year or so, you’ve heard these amps, so I figured I’d focus on them. For tech details, see the reviews. This video is more about how the amps inspire me musically.

From their flawless cabinetry to their ravishing tones, these amps are simply stunning. Cheap, they ain’t, but I felt like I was (RATIONALIZATION ALERT!) investing in musical art. Or maybe I’m making up for not buying a Trainwreck amp back in the ’90s when they were affordable.

I especially love how these Carr amps sound with my flatwound-strung guitars, and I used them on most of the demos for my pedals because they’re so very flattering. Ironically, I thought I’d given up buying new amps, because I was having so much fun building from kits. But trust me — both these instruments sound way better than any of my kit amps. Have a listen!

11 comments to My Favorite New Amps: Carr Skylark & Lincoln

  • John Doucette

    CRAZY tasty playing, Joe! It’s nice to hear your articulation captured with its finesse.
    This is a great way to get to know what these amps are capable of, and what my wallet fears…

  • Oinkus

    That is something to watch later then 7 am when I can turn it up louder but man those sound great ! Just built a 1×15 cab to add to my HK combo and it just doesn’t work out the way I would like so I am looking to get a head for it now. Too far out of my price range but dang ! The stereo sound at the end is just wonderful. Hope you can recover from selling all of those bodily fluids quickly Joe !

  • Stupendous!
    Such a serious parade of gear you got demonstrated in less than 15 minutes. Thank You for every single second!
    Very inspiring set list, once again, in every (technic/artistic) aspect.
    Surely you’d make any ill-tempered ukulele through a rotten-battery Pignose sound divine.
    So delighted about The Left Banke and down-tuned Spectrasonic C Melody combination.
    Hope you’ll return to that baritone soon, with the Filth fuzz, maybe?
    And boy, did that Dolby Surround ping-pong tremolo/delay finale totally make my day.

    P.S. About your favorite new amps, perhaps worth every buck spent.

  • Could you please do a whole album with the sounds you’re getting on “Self Indulgent Coda”? Please. You already have the title . . . 😉

  • Mike Zemble

    Fantastic guitar player I really enjoy watching and listing to you play. I learn a lot also.. Thanks, Mike Z.

  • Mike

    Such beautiful voicings and great one. I am torn about finding a tweed deluxe or going with a boutique such as the Skylark. Have you had an original tweed deluxe?



    • joe

      Hi, Mike! yes, I’ve owned tweed Deluxes, and I’ve spent lots of time with others. A vintage amp in good condition almost always appreciate. whereas it’s less likely a boutique model will (though there have been many exceptions). Note that the Skylark is NOT tweed-based, though — it’s closer to blackface models, though it’s far from a clone. (I prefer it to almost all vintage amps I’ve played, but that’s just me.) But before you invest in a tweed, make sure it’s what you really want, and spend some time playing tweeds or tweed clones. It’s a legendary sound, of course, but tweeds circuits don’t suit all players, especially in terms of the way the distortion can get harsh and chaotic at high volume settings. It’s a whole different animal from blackfaces!

  • Jim Sloves

    I could listen to and watch you play for hours.

  • Chris Shipp

    What beautiful music, Joe! I did a search for Carr Skylark (considering one) and found you. I am so glad I did. Please keep the music coming. I was just in San Francisco on business. Do you ever do any local gigs there?

    • joe

      Nice to meet you, Chris, and thanks for the kind, kind words. Next time you come through town, ping me and I’ll let you know if I’m playing, and maybe share some other locals’ tips. 🙂

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