CUTTHROAT AUDIO
Guitar Player|Holiday 2021
Francene 2x10 Combo
DAVE HUNTER

AFTER MORPHING FROM maker of high-end audio cables to hand-wired tube amps a few years back, Cutthroat Audio achieved significant acclaim for its debut model, the Down Brownie. This updated rendition of the brown early '60s 6G3 Deluxe [reviewed in GP January 2019] added contemporary conveniences, such as a master volume, alternative voicing switches, internally jumper-able channels and more. With his flagship release having been so well received, Cutthroat founder Ron Westwood decided he'd bend the format to answer his own burning question: After basing the JTM45 on the Fender tweed Bassman, what if Marshall had designed their following 18-watt combo after the Fender 6G3 Deluxe, rather than the Watkins Dominator?

The Francene is the answer to that question, created on the foundation of the '61-62 brown-panel Deluxe reinterpreted through British-style circuitry and construction. It still uses a pair of 6V6GTs in the engine room with three 12AX7s upfront, and the front-panel lineup is similar per knob and input count (as was that of the original Fender 6G3 and Marshall 18-watters), other than the addition of a post-phase-inverter master volume. Inside, though, components are distinctly Brit-leaning in their style and sonic integrity, including SoZo NextGen Yellow Mustard signal capacitors, a Mercury Magnetics output transformer based on the legendary early '60s U.K.-made Radio Spares units, a custom aluminum chassis, and British-made sockets, jacks and switches.

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