There’s no question about it. A cranked British stack is, was, and always will be the sound of rock. From the moment in the 1960s when these amps were created to keep up with the likes of Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, a revolution in thick-creamy overdrive was born. Since that time, there have been a string of British amps so iconic that they continue to rule stages around the world. From the Bluesbreakers album to Malmsteen’s high-flying precision, the company that invented the amp stack is still synonymous with everything hard rock and metal.
In 1981 hard rock and heavy metal had turned a corner. Gone were the loose, fuzzy tones that characterized the genre’s infancy. Players were demanding more distortion, tighter performance, and the ability to control it all with a master volume. A certain legendary British amp company responded with one of the most important guitar amplifier heads of all time, affectionately known as the 800. Rock players of all stripes instantly adopted this new machine, writing and performing heavier and faster music than was ever possible before. In fact, for much of the ’80s, you were almost guaranteed to find an 800 backing up your favorite rock guitarist. Their aggressive highs and prominent mids made – and continue to make – them the perfect foil for Zakk Wylde’s chart-topping work with Ozzy and the dark intensity of Slayer’s Kerry King. If you like your rock on the harder side, you definitely know the powerful sound of the monumental 800.