Quilter Labs is a company that makes solid-state guitar and bass amps. You may have heard of QSC speakers and power amps – they were originally called Quilter Sound Company. Pat Quilter was one of the founders of QSC, and after he retired, he wanted to go back to his first love – guitar amps. Thus, Quilter Labs was born. They’ve come out of the gates swinging with their Block series of extremely light and compact guitar amplifiers that are also very powerful.
The Quilter Labs Overdrive 200 is a brand new amp in the Block series that is a 200 watt guitar head based loosely based on the Mesa Mark II C+ and the Dumble Overdrive Special. As a huge John Petrucci fan (and sometime impersonator) I instantly knew I would have to play some Dream Theater on this amp for the demo since that’s his sound, so that’s what I did. While I can’t say that it was a perfect clone of either of those amps, it sure sounded pretty close to a nice combo of the two, especially considering its solid state lineage. Although the amp has a fair amount of gain, just a bit of boost up front really gave it the scream it needed to play proper metal.
The amp is 2 channels (Clean and Drive), but the Drive channel has two modes (Lead and Crunch) which are footswitchable and give you different variations on the same tone. Crunch engages a preset Mid scoop and defeats the EQ controls for a slightly juicier rhythm tone, and Lead mode simply shares the same EQ as the Clean channel tone stack. Each channel has an independent Gain knob. The clean channel is pretty much as described – clean, although you can push it a little bit with the gain knob up all the way. Also included are an always-on front panel effects loop, a headphone out jack, and an input jack for any two-button generic relay footswitch (one is not included, but they do give you stickers to put on one). It’s also rackmountable.
The main things that impressed me about this amp were the size, the weight, and the price, all of which were small compared to the large (and loud) sound that the amp outputs. For $549, this tiny and extremely light amp powered my band practice through a 4×12 next to a raging, hard-hitting drummer, and I didn’t even have to push it halfway to its top volume. It’s a very simple amp, without a ton of features, but it has enough for the average guitarist’s needs and could also function pretty well as a small power amp for modelers.
The Quilter Overdrive 200 is a tiny beast of an amp, and it won’t set you back much at all. Anyone looking for a compact, very light high-powered amp for rock and metal should definitely put the Overdrive 200 on their list.