Hands-On Review:Give Peace a Chance
by Emile Menasche
Ashdown Engineering's Peacemaker 60 is a study in contrasts. With its sweet-sounding spring reverb and blues tone, this hand-wired Class A tube combo has a vintage flavor consonant with its British origins, yet it doesn't imitate any amp of the past. Indeed, the Peacemaker's feature set-which includes channel-switching, parallel effects loop with mix control, and a switchable output stage-owes much to modern amp-making sensibilities.
Powered by a pair of EL34 output tubes, the Peacemaker delivers 60 watts (at 16 ohms) into two Celestion Vintage 30s. (You can also hook the amp up to an external speaker cabinet of either 8 or 4 ohms.) Although this is a three-channel amp, there are just two sets of controls for gain, passive EQ (treble, mid and bass) and volume. The first set governs channel 1, and the second set is shared by channels 2 and 3.
The Peacemaker seems to translate, rather than alter, a guitar's natural tone. Tested with a Strat, channel 1 sounded clear but warm, with tones that ranged from fat-clean to chunky. This channel excelled at vintage overdriven blues tones. By comparison, channels 2 and 3 were dirtier and brighter. At lower gain settings, channel 2 had that Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors rhythm vibe: shimmering detail and just enough overdrive to rattle the barstools. Channel 3, with its higher gain, was a real screamer: bright and raspy, it sounded like blues on steroids. Both of these channels were bright enough to cut through the thickest racket, even with the treble turned all the way down.
In use, the Peacemaker proved extremely flexible. In addition to channel switching (pedal included), the amp sports independent pre- and post-gain volume for both channels. What's more, the master section lets you preset two output volumes and switch between them via the front panel or an optional foot pedal-perfect for when you need a quick boost for soloing.
The Peacemaker responded exceptionally well to playing dynamics and the guitar's volume control. My favorite sound was achieved with channel 1's gain set high enough for overdrive. By backing off the guitar's volume, I was able to get clean, funky rhythm and snaky, popping lead tones. With the guitar volume full on, I was channeling Stevie Ray.
The Bottom Line
It has too much character to be called modern and too many innovative features to be called vintage. But whatever category you put it in, the Peacemaker 60 is a great-sounding amp. This is one you must play to appreciate.