Review: Sterling SUB Silo3 & Vox AmPlug 2 Classic Rock
As Christmas is just around the corner, we at Kitarablogi felt it was a good idea to review one of the starter packs offered by a local music dealer:
DLX Music’s own affordable starter pack (299 €) combines a Sterling S.U.B. Silo3 guitar with a Vox AmPlug 2 Classic Rock headphone amplifier. The only things you need to add are a plectrum and a set of headphones – and off you go. And what’s best: Thanks to the headphone amp you won’t be disturbing any neighbours with your playing!
The Sterling (by Music Man) S.U.B Silo3 is an affordable licensed copy of the legendary Music Man Silhouette HSS-model. To my knowledge, the S.U.B. Silo3 is currently offered in Finland only as part of three DLX Music guitar packs. In other countries of the EU this guitar model is sold for around 300 €.
This Made-in-Indonesia Sterling uses different local hardwoods (all of which are said to resemble alder in terms of their sound) for the body.
The Silo3’s neck has been crafted from maple, same goes for the separate fretboard.
The whole neck comes with a thin satin finish, while the body is finished gloss black.
The fingerboard sports 22 medium-sized frets.
The Sterling’s very comfortable neck joint is a straight copy of the bolt-on joint used in Music Man’s US-manufactured guitars.
Thanks to the four-plus-two machine head arrangement on this guitar’s headstock, the Sterling Silo3 offers a straight string path from the nut to the tuner posts, without the need for any string retainers, which might impede on the vibrato’s return to pitch.
The tuners themselves are of decent quality.
The vibrato bridge on the S.U.B. Silo3 is a modern take on the venerable vintage vibrato, featuring a knife-edge bearing with two height-adjustable posts.
Between the neck pickup and the end of the fingerboard you can see the truss rod adjustment wheel, typical of Music Man-instruments. Thanks to the wheel you can use an object that’s sturdy enough for the job – like a small screwdriver or a metal rod – to adjust the truss rod, without having to detach the neck or loosen the strings.
The Silo3 comes equipped with a set of ceramic pickups, which features slightly hotter singlecoils in the neck and middle positions for an overall balanced output level.
The controls comprise a master volume, a master tone, and a five-way blade switch.
The new, second-generation Vox AmPlug 2 headphone amps come with an updated set of features, both in terms of their sound and their practicality.
The AmPlug 2 Classic Rock (39 €) is the “Marshall-type” model in the line-up.
The new AmPlug 2 models now come with a rotating jack plug, which makes it easier to use the device with any electric guitar shape known to mankind.
The AmPlugs runs on two AAA-sized batteries.
The AmPlug 2 Classic Rock sports three controls:
Gain adjusts the preamp levels from clean all the way to distorted. Tone lets you control the amount of treble in your output signal, while Volume is your master volume control, which adjusts the volume level in your headphones.
The Classic Rock’s effects department (labelled FX) lets you choose between three different guitar effects (chorus, delay, reverb), with each effect type offering you three different variations. You can only use one effect at any given time.
The Vox also comes with an Aux-input for connecting an mp3-player (or your mobile phone) for play-along sessions.
This Vox headphone amp also comes with a built-in mid-range booster. The current boost setting is indicated by the colour of the on/off-LED (green: boost off; orange: mild boost; red: full boost).
Sterling’s S.U.B. Silo3 offers you a lot of guitar for very little money.
The neck’s oval, slightly flattish C-profile will feel comfortable to most players, while the nice fretwork on the Silo3, as well as its 12-inch fretboard radius, makes string bending easy. Our review sample came well-adjusted and with a player friendly action (low E: 2.2 mm; high e: 2.0 mm @ 12th fret). Sterling uses a quality set of Ernie Ball Super Slinkies (a 009 set) as factory strings.
Used moderately, the Silo3’s vibrato bridge returns well to pitch, but if you want to dive bomb, you’ll probably need a locking nut.
I must admit to have been positively surprised by the quality of the Sterling Silo3-model’s pickups. Don’t forget, we’re talking about a 300 € guitar!
The clean sounds are nicely rounded and fresh, and even the singlecoil pickups retain a healthy dose of bottom-end warmth. Because of their overwound nature, the singlecoil pickups also manage to hold their own – output-wise – against the bridge humbucker.
This sound clip (recorded straight off the AmPlug) starts with the neck pickup:
The Sterling S.U.B. Silo3 is such a versatile instrument that it manages to cover the whole range of overdriven and distorted guitar tones – from slightly crunchy old-school Blues to full-frontal Metal. For my part, I wouldn’t have any qualms about dragging this guitar on stage with me right now…
As you could already witness from the two above Silo3-clips, Vox has managed to improve further on the already great sound of its range of headphone amplifiers. There are, for example, definite improvements in the hiss levels of the AmPlug 2 Classic Rock.
The range of sounds on offer will cater for all you Marshall-spirited needs from the 1960s all the way to the 80s – Classic Rock, indeed. If you’re after contemporary High Gain-sounds, I’d steer your attention towards the AmPlug 2 Metal instead.
The Classic Rock’s effects section does its bit to spruce up your guitar tone, and the quality on offer is amazing (especially, when considering the tiny price tag). The audio clip starts with a completely dry guitar sound:
The AmPlug’s mid-boost function makes even fatter and more aggressive sounds possible, whenever you need them. This audio clip starts with the boost off, and continues with the mild boost, before giving you an idea of what the full mid-range boost will do for you:
In my opinion, this is a great starter pack, making learning to play the guitar, as well as practising, a lot of fun.
Sterling’s S.U.B. Silo3 isn’t the cheapest electric guitar that you can lay your hands on in Finland, but it most certainly is one of the best (and most versatile) instruments in its class. The Silo3 is a real electric guitar, and not a cheese grater with strings. This Sterling both plays and sounds great!
Vox’ updated AmPlug 2 Series wins you over with even more features and an even better sound. This inexpensive little device makes it possible for you to rock out in most places, and almost at any hour – whenever and wherever inspiration might strike.
You can really make music with this quality pack from DLX Music Helsinki, as you can hear from the demo track. All guitar tracks have been recorded straight off the Vox AmPlug 2 Classic Rock, without any additional effects (save for a tiny bit of compression added during mixdown):
Sterling by Music Man Silo3 and Vox AmPlug 2 Classic Rock (DLX Music starter pack)
Contact: DLX Music
+ quality started pack
+ great even for use in an apartment block
+ good enough for more advanced players, too
+ playability (guitar)
+ sound (guitar and headphone amp)