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Fractal Audio AMP models: Corncob M50 (Cornford MK50 II)

yek

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


Corncob M50: based on Cornford MK50H II

I first heard and saw a Cornford amp when Dweezil Zappa played one at a Zappa Plays Zappa gig in The Netherlands. That was before he started using Fractal gear. His sound blew me away. As a matter of fact it blew Steve Vai’s tone away too, who was playing his usual gear. Richie Kotzen and Guthrie Govan were other well-known Cornford players.

Yes, “were”, because Cornford amplifiers in Britain no longer exists. The designer went on to found Victory amplifiers (not to be confused with Victoria amps in the USA). Guthrie Govan plays Victory amps.

In the Axe-Fx Standard / Ultra the Corncob RK100 was an established popular amp model. That was based on Richie Kotzen’s signature amp. The model in the Axe-Fx II and AX8 is based on another amp: MK50 II, Cornford’s flagship.

The MK50 II is a two-channel amp, with either EL34 or 6L6 tubes, and a solid-state rectifier.

Output is 50 watts. I think that the model is based on the version with EL34 tubes. It’s a hand-built amp with PTP wiring.

Cliff’s comments:

“Plexi-meets-Modern tone with big cojones.”​

The model is based on the Overdrive channel. To be honest the M50 model in the Axe-Fx II didn’t work for me at first. At least not in the same way the old RK100 model did. It came alive when Quantum firmware was released.

The model incorporates a lot from other brands, such as Marshall, Mesa and Soldano, and still has its own vibe. It sounds big and brutal and bold. It combines the best of those.

I always play the model when writing these write-ups. This is one of the models I enjoyed playing most so far. It’s very different from the other high gain amps we’ve discussed till now. It isn’t the amount of gain. It’s that “Bam! In your face!” abrasive type of tone. If I was playing in a hard rock band, this would be a top candidate.

And you know what works great with this model: put a Drive in front of it. The T808 with Drive at zero and Level at 7. This tames the bass of the amp mode and makes the tone even better.

The amp’s Clean channel isn’t modeled so we’ll skip that.

Controls on the Overdrive channel are: Gain (model: Input Drive), Overdrive (Model: Overdrive), Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume. There are two Master controls, Presence and Resonance (Model: Depth).

The Overdrive provides two gain controls (model: Input Drive and Overdrive). On all amps like this, including those by Dumble, Fryette, Carol-Ann and Mesa, the first control sets the “sensitivity” and the second one sets the amount of distortion. Cliff:

“Input Drive increases the gain amount as you rotate the knob clockwise. As the gain increases the tone is shifted from a treble and upper mid emphasis, which produces an up front sparkling tone, to a lower mid and bass emphasis, which produces a thick meaty tone.​

Overdrive increases the gain amount as you rotate the knob clockwise but with no alteration of the tonal balance.​

Different combinations of Input Drive and Overdrive settings will have a dramatic effect on the response of the amplifier and the personality of your instrument. It is easy to get familiar with the action of these controls and you’ll be amazed with your ability to make any guitar sound mellow, fat, soulful or aggressive.”​

Models with Input Drive and Overdrive controls always feel “elastic” and spongy, a real joy to play.

The amp has Master controls. 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.

My simple settings: Input Drive 4.5, Overdrive 8, Bass 3.50.
With the T808 OD (Drive at 0, Level at 7).​

Here’s the manual.

Cornford cabinets have V30 speakers. Take your pick from the stock cabs. In this case I like the combination of the 4x12 Fractal cabs: #60 and #61.

Here’s a clip featuring the model by @Guitarjon.




 
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Kriig

Fractal Fanatic
This is fantastic amp. I got the real MK50, serial 0285, with the 4x12.
The model is really good.
Try a setting with bass at 0, mid around 12, treble at 0 (depends on guitar) low gain.....

Here is two examples on this setting with my head:


I'm trying to play in the same range for comparison between the strat and LP.

Here i got Bass: 1 Mid: ca 3 Treble: ca 5
Used a Yamaha Pacifica with DiMarzio AT-1 and 2 Cruisers (Timmons setup)


I'll see if i can do some tracks with the Axe too.
 
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Pwrmac7600

Power User
HOLY HELL!!! Thank you for doing these amp model posts. I never knew about this amp so I just loaded up the corncob preset, swapped the cab out with a OH Marshall CB V30 IR, Turned on the TS808 in the preset, backed the overdrive on the amp down to 5, and I think I may have found my forever amp! What an AWESOME amp, wish I had known about it sooner!
 

Wolfenstein98k

Power User
"Overdrive increases the gain amount as you rotate the knob clockwise but with no alteration of the tonal balance."

I thought the Overdrive knob was a drive control later in the signal chain than upfront, but not analogous to Input Trim. Does this mean that in amps with both controls, Overdrive and Input Trim are identical?
 

StickMan

Experienced
OK. I just spent way more time with this amp than I meant to. Terrific sound at (for me) higher gains. I didn't like what the TS808 did, so I tamed the bass with a high pass filter at the front of the chain, everything set to default except the frequency at about 170hz. The amp was really easy to dial in a good tone, I raised the sag and lowered the negative feedback a little, but everything else was just the "Basic" panel knobs.

I'm not sure I like it at the way lower gains, I found it just gritty and a little lifeless, but I didn't spend much time at all with it like that.

I also found that it tended to run a bit shrill at times, I see that Kriig, with the real thing, seems to dial the treble way back. I'll have to give that a try. It probably sounds better that what I was doing - rolling back the tone on the guitar.
 

zenaxe

Fractal Fanatic
"Overdrive increases the gain amount as you rotate the knob clockwise but with no alteration of the tonal balance."

I thought the Overdrive knob was a drive control later in the signal chain than upfront, but not analogous to Input Trim. Does this mean that in amps with both controls, Overdrive and Input Trim are identical?
No, it is the preamp gain and comes after the gain stage controlled by input drive, definitely not the same thing at all.
 

Wolfenstein98k

Power User
No, it is the preamp gain and comes after the gain stage controlled by input drive, definitely not the same thing at all.
So why does Cliff describe it basically precisely as the Input Trim? See the quote at the top of the post you quoted

Edit: actually I guess it could be Input Trim but further into the signal chain, aka not first in the Amp block's signal path but after some of the preamp chain
 

api4u

Experienced
Yes, “were”, because Cornford amplifiers in Britain no longer exists. The designer went on to found Victory amplifiers (not to be confused with Victoria amps in the USA). Guthrie Govan plays Victory amps.
Hmmm.... Victory amps.... they were off my radar. They're not in the AFX, so they must not exist???

Maybe this needs to be added to the wish list. ;)

Now, back to our thread.
 

don_joe

Experienced
I've never paid real attention to this amp until Q.9 FW. As I was cycling through the amps, for some reason I stopped on Corncob, turned a few knobs, dropped a T808 in front, with almost identical settings as yek and within next 10 min. it was my new #1 high gain amp. I didn't realize what kind of a hybrid this thing was, I've only heard everything I wanted from an amp comming out of my Atomic CLR.

Thanks again yek, it was fun to read this review.
 

StickMan

Experienced
I find this amp model needs to move some air to sound good. At lower volumes with higher gains it sounds a bit like an angry wasp, but once the output volume passes a certain point it turns to magic.
 

Callan

Inspired
I find this amp model needs to move some air to sound good. At lower volumes with higher gains it sounds a bit like an angry wasp, but once the output volume passes a certain point it turns to magic.
I have found that with a heap of amps. Some that in the past I've just discounted as 'not for me' sound amazing when cranked up.
In fact, when I can really move some air, there aren't many amps I don't like. Picking a favourite becomes a real challenge.
 

laxu

Experienced
I find this amp model needs to move some air to sound good. At lower volumes with higher gains it sounds a bit like an angry wasp, but once the output volume passes a certain point it turns to magic.
For me it's one of those amps that would be a bit unwieldy to use as a real amp but I love how the model sounds.
 

Phil M

Member
Ran across this one today in my AX8 and it might be my new favorite for higher gain. Very balanced ... sounds perfect.
 

crg123

Experienced
Woah. I tried this around FW 14 and didn't like it, but now its amazing. Kind of almost has a recto meets Deziel meets Marshall sound if that makes sense. Just huge and hairy but with plenty of low end to smooth it out. Seems to be best for heavy rhythm playing. I'm using a FET in front of it and it seems focus it just the right amount more.

If these guys went on to be victory I can't wait for the Kraken cliff said he was going to model awhile back.
 
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