Gear of the Year 2008

This spectacular beast is our winner in the over-£1000 category this year because it has the three qualities we look for all in one – exceptional sound, great build quality, and fabulous looks. The other contenders came pretty damn close on any two out of the three, but only the Dickinson rang the required three bells.

Looking first beneath the skin, this is a fine-sounding combo in the Bluesbreaker tradition, with useful features like a master volume in the right place and paired input jacks for each of its two channels. The amp has a rock-solid, unflappable response to saturated volume levels and an ability to spread its sound far and wide where others merely beam, mostly because of the design and construction of the cabinet. The build is the definition of handwired, with not a curcuit board in sight, and it’s beautifully executed. The component quality is uncompromisingly tonehound, from the GZ34 rectifier to the Sprague Orange Drop caps and twin-track controls. The illuminated control quadrants are understated and elegant bits of engineering that avoid the shop-sign appearance of most previous attempts at this.

So far, so good… but the clincher is the bright aluminium cabinet with its stunning retro / futuristic look, almost as if a 1940s production designer had been asked to dream up a guitar amp for the 1990s. The fact that it’s tough and practical as well as beautiful in a completely original way makes the South London-built Dickinson more than just another great amplifier.

It’s expensive, sure… but it’s as much a mission statement as a piece of guitar equipment.