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Fractal Audio AMP models: Atomica (Cameron Atomica)


* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *

Atomica: based on Cameron Atomica

The Cameron Atomica was built to reproduce the legendary “brown sound” of an mysterious Super Lead Plexi, modded by Jose Arrendendo, and supposedly sounding like the best thing ever (that is: if you are a fan of the “brown sound”). That Plexi had a label on it reading “Atomica”. Before it got lost, amp modder Mark Cameron had his hands on it and examined its insides. His findings led to the creation of the Cameron Atomica. Well, that’s the story anyway... There was a long waiting list for this amp but it was built for a short time only. The whole thing turned into an ugly financial mess. People’s orders weren’t fulfilled, people lost money etc. Cameron and others involved fought it out online, it’s all on Rig-Talk.

The Atomica is a 100 watts head with EL34 tubes. It has L(ow) gain and H(igh) (additional gain stage) inputs, which are available as separate models.

I haven’t found a good use for the Low model, but maybe I haven't tried hard enough.

It’s an amp with a Master Volume. This means that the amp’s distortion is created in particular by the preamp tubes, not the power amp. The Master Volume, which works in the power amp section, is still very important to the tone and feel. You have to decide for yourself what setting in the model works for you best. The default setting is a good point to start of course, but don't hesitate to turn it up.


"The Atomica can tolerate high MV because it is a "Jose-style MV". The Jose-style MV imparts a very high source resistance to the tone stack which causes much more insertion loss and therefore lower drive level into the power amp."​

The controls on the original amp are: Thump (model: Depth), Bass, Middle, Treble, Master, Gain model: Input Drive), Edge switch (model: Bright switch, defaults to off), Presence. Plus a Gain Style knob at the rear which selects between three voicings.

Presence at default is set pretty modest. You might want to turn that up. Or: just turn up everything. Tone tips from Paramore's Justin York (@JustinYork).

Both models feature an engaged Saturation parameter. This attributes to the mean sound, especially in the High model. This model cuts like a knife and adds a nice agressive growl to it. The Cameron CCV-100, which will be discussed later, sounds even meaner (and much brighter) than the Atomica. A side-product of these cutting tones is that you may not like them as much for single notes high on the neck; they can sound thin. All IMHO of course.

By the way, you can NOT select the Atomica High model and NOT play Van Halen. Try it. You simply can’t, it's impossible.

This cab head is often used with 4x12 cabinets with G12H speakers. You’ll find the list of stock G12H cabs here. Alternatively you can use the EVH stock cabs with these amp models.

A selection of YouTube videos:

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Power User
I'm very excited to become excited about amps I previously didn't care about, this being a prime example :D

Love the series Yek, keep it up


Hey Yek, in addition to the videos of the real amp in action, would it be possible to also include the footage of the Axe-Fx's corresponding models for comparison?


i never knew this was a "brown" amp. actually, i only know this is an amp the axefx is because i just read it. cant wait to get home. i swear its like opening a new Christmas present every day.


Fractal Fanatic
i never knew this was a "brown" amp. actually, i only know this is an amp the axefx is because i just read it. cant wait to get home. i swear its like opening a new Christmas present every day.
DUDE. You are in for a TREAT, the 'Atomica' is the stuff of Brown Sound legend! :D

Quoted from a Rig Talk thread where the Cameron version was announced:

Here's a very interesting Jose story that I experienced first hand. My buddy owned a guitar shop in Huntington Beach. Mark Cameron worked for him and I was already having Mark work on my amps. This was probably 1997 when his store opened. In about 2000, my buddy bought the entire Jose collection of amps from Jose's family after Jose passed away. They took the truck down to pick them up and I left my store I own and drove to their store to wait with Mark for the delivery. The truck gets there and we start unloading Super Lead after Super Lead after Super Lead (almost exclusively metal panel amps). Someone noticed that taped to the bottom of almost every single amp was an invoice. We started turning all the amps upside down and reading off the names on the invoices: Neal Schon, Mick Mars, Bruce Bouillet, etc etc I don't even remember all the names but it was a who's who of LA rock guitarists.

All these guys had sent Jose amps for mods and then Jose passed and they never got their amps back. Well Mark and I start weeding through the amps and going for the ones that we could tell from the exterior were already modded. Very soon we found an amp that had the name ATOMICA stenciled across the front where the Marshall logo should have been. It was a '68 Super Lead and was beat to hell. This was THE amp guys seriously. It was that sound, in a box, right in front of us. Mark was playing through it and it was just that tone I had always wanted. We switched off playing it and I decided I HAD to have that amp. I went to talk to the owner who was one of closest friends at the time. I offered him $1500, he said no. I offered him $2k he said no. Now $2k was about what a very nice plexi was selling for at the time and this was a beat to hell metal panel. $2500? No. $3000!!!!!!!!! No.

He said, just let me sort through this stuff and I'll sell you the amp once I figure out what's what. Mark loved the amp so much, and there were so many Super Leads there that Mark took it and hid it in his pile of amps to be repaired in his repair room. For months, Mark would pull it out when I came in and we would play it then he would hide it again. The owner and I had an agreement that it was mine when he decided to sell it, but by this point he didn't even remember he had it. Then my buddies shop started having severe financial trouble.... severe. Mark kept telling me the amp is still there. You better get it soon. I said don't worry it's mine, your boss promised.

About 3 weeks later Mark called me..... "did you get the Atomica amp?" No, I said...... Mark said, "WELL IT'S GONE. I've torn the whole shop apart!" I called the owner and when he finally got back to me he confirmed he had sold a "bunch of broken stuff that Mark was never going to fix" to a competitor. HOLY CRAP!!!!! I called that shop and he said, "Oh yeah, the Atomica amp? I had ******* fix it and return it to stock and I sold it". Now ******* was the biggest electronics doofus you could imagine. He was a keyboard player and didn't have the slightest clue about tone. The ATOMICA amp was gone, but thankfully Mark Cameron poked around inside that amp for months and knows every little secret as to why that amp sounded so good. How much of the Atomica amp inspired Marks's "Jose" mod? More than a little I'd guess.

I love that 'tone lore' type of stuff. :)

Those Cameron amps are EPIC. It's a shame they were fraught with delivery issues and a financial mess. I'm really thankful Cliff managed to capture two of them for the AFX.
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I thought maybe with someone playing through it, sort of like how you film a real amplifier :)

But given that we all have an Axe, we all have access to the model. That is what is so cool about the Axe. I'll never own, much less play 90% of the models in the Axe, so reading about them, watching clips etc is as close as I get, BUT.... now that I own the Axe, I've got quite accurate models so all I have to do if I want to get a similar experience is turn a dial and select the model.

No offense to Yek's playing, which is quite great, but I'd totally pick up my guitar and go play the amp model rather than watching someone else play an Axe model.


Fractal Fanatic
Yek doesn't have to do everything. :) If someone has a clip of an AFX model and it is on topic, it seems like they could either post it here or in the recordings forum and a link back. Ditto with a preset or whatever.


This is on my top 5 amps list in the Axe. I actually like it with the Sat switch off. I like the cleans of the low input too.

Thanks for these Yek.


Goeiemorgen Yek, (goodmorning)

have been reading and listening to all threads today and please keep on going. Very interesting and also great to get into names i would initially not use (like the atomica) & background on others.

totally hooked on axe and forum and this thread is a keeper ;)
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