After much development and trial, we are excited to finally unveil the MT 100 to the public. This new three channel amplifier adds even more variety to our growing lineup of amps, and most importantly took a great deal of collaboration between Mark Tremonti and our amp development team. PRS Senior Amp Designer Doug Sewell shared his experience bringing the MT 100 from concept to reality, see what he had to say below!
MT 100 Design History and Development
A Note From PRS Senior Amp Designer, Doug Sewell
Discussions about a 100-watt amp began all the way back during the initial meetings for the MT 15 amp with Mark. It has always been the idea to develop a successful lunchbox, then follow that jab up with a devastating right hook in the MT 100. The first prototype was simple to design and build, a 100-watt version of the MT 15; two channels each with their own master volumes and presence controls. The MT 15 clean channel is known to be VERY clean, and the lead channel is recognized to be capable of EXTREME distortion. Scale that up to 100 watts and... well, then Mark suggested that it would be logical to fit a third channel in between these two extremes. Back to the drawing board I went... input from Mark guided me regarding gain structure and voicing. Mark owned an iconic mid-gain American amp that fit the bill perfectly for our middle channel.
Many multiple-channel amps borrow preamp tubes between channels to minimize the tube count. This is done with clever switching methods but can lead to tonal compromises. After briefly exploring and abandoning this concept, I decided to give each channel their own distinct, isolated circuit so I could fully develop the voicing independently. The preamp tube count rose to 8, but the simplicity of isolated channels was well worth it from a designer's standpoint. It was decided to have three identical sets of controls on the faceplate for each channel--Vol/Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Master, and Presence. Channels were called Clean, Overdrive, and Lead with the Clean adjacent to the input jack. Channel indicator LEDs were to be blue, amber, and red with matching LEDs on the footswitch. The framework of the Overdrive channel was to take a clean channel topology and add two gain stages. During a visit to the factory with "iconic mid-gain American amp," Mark, Paul, and I honed the Overdrive circuit to his satisfaction. This consisted of slightly reducing the gain structure to fit nicely between the Clean and Lead channels, and to carefully craft the midrange response to sweet prominence.
We then split up our efforts--Mark taking the prototypes to bet on tour and me working with our manufacturer's engineers to translate my protos into the production version. With a big high-five to our manufacturing associates, the production version translated perfectly, if not better than my prototypes. The results are somewhat astounding, what I have referred to as the most complicated simple design I've ever been a part of. Back in my architecture days, the usual design process was well noted to take the forms of: 1) simplistic that doesn't solve all the problems, then 2) over complicated that solves all the problems, and finally 3) simple/elegant/refined that solves all the problems. I feel the MT 100 falls into the third category--simple, effective, elegant, refined. The controls are very intuitive, the footswitch mirrors the front panel controls, the loop is simple and effective, and the output jacks are no-nonsense. The aesthetics were developed as "stealth/blackout" with a splash of red on the front model badge. All-in-all, a simple tonal beast capable of covering a wide spectrum of tones and playing styles.
- Doug Sewell // PRS Senior Amp Designer
Below, watch Mark Tremonti explain his experience with the MT 100 project and demo each of the channels.
“After the success of the MT 15, I wanted to make an amp that I could take on the road and not miss any of my amps at home. After years of R&D and road-testing, the MT 100 has become my one and only touring amp. It really is three amps in one with no compromises – each channel alone is worth the entire price of this amp. The Lead channel is where it all started. It is huge, chunky, and aggressive without getting harsh. A lot of high-gain amps focus on the gain and the rest is an afterthought. In my opinion, the MT 100 – like the MT 15 – has the best sounding clean tones in the high-gain amp world. The Overdrive channel is a very special addition to this amp. We obsessed over this channel, using one of my favorite personal amps for the voicing. We wanted the gain structure to fit between the Lead and Clean channels and for it to have a sweet midrange response all its own. I can’t wait for people to experience this amp." - Mark Tremonti