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King Loudness 10/08/2011

Framus Cobra : l'avis de King Loudness (contenu en anglais)

« Holy Grail of Metal tone »

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For many years I'd wanted to try a Framus Cobra 100 as I'd heard that they were some of the greatest amps for metal that existed. For about two years I wondered about the sound... until recently when I had a chance to finally put one through its paces. It is a three channel amp (with a boost too) that does everything from pristine cleans to British style crunch to molten metal riffage and lead tones. It is a three channel amp that is laid out the same way as the Mesa Dual Rectifier as far as controls. Each channel has gain, volume, bass, middle, treble and presence knobs, and each channel has a small switch on it that changes the voicing of that channel.

Here is the full list of specs:

100 watts
Tubes: 5x ECC 83 by JJ, 4x EL 34 by Electro Harmonix (selected quartet)
3 channels (Clean, Crunch and Lead)
Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence controls for each channel
Notch switches for Crunch and Lead
Parallel effects loop
Effect Mix control
Deep control to set the amount of low end in the power amp stage
Master 1 and 2, switchable
Integrated MIDI interface
4, 8 and 16 ohms speaker output impedance, switchable
Metallic grill front face
Weight: 21 kg
Dimensions (W/H/D): 0,72 x 0,28 x 0,26 m
Made in Germany


Dialing in the Cobra 100 is a bit more of a chore than many amps because of the gain structure it uses. It's similar to something like a Mesa Boogie I find as far as how the controls react, but it still took me a bit of time to figure it out. Once I got past the initial learning curve, I found myself really enjoying the tones that were coming out of this amp... everything from the cleans to the highest of gain distorted tones.

My biggest caveat with this amp's design is the effects loop, which is just not well designed at all. It doesn't accept stompbox units in the loop, only rack processors. This means that if you put your delay in the effects loop and it is a stomp box, it sounds garbled and not pristine like it should. Kind of a frustration to have a $2,000+ amp that won't accept stompboxes in the effects loop, only rack gear/processors.


I tried this amp out with an EMG loaded Charvel San Dimas and a 2010 Gibson Les Paul Standard with Burstbucker pickups. I definitely preferred the tone of the active pickups with this amp, which is surprising given my general dislike of EMG pickups. The clean channel is very hifi sounding. I can't quite put my finger on what amp it is that this amp's clean tone reminds me of, but it's the opposite of a warm vintage Fender... very bright and in your face. It is an impressively pristine clean tone for such a high gain amp.

The crunch channel reminds me a lot of an old Marshall. It's a bit more mid focused than the lead channel and has a bit of that awesome Marshall raunch lurking within. Don't get me wrong, it's still a high gain channel, but it offers a good blend between the classic and modern textures. It also cleans up really well with the volume knob on the guitar which is a plus.

The lead channel is my favourite one. It's like someone took a Dual Rectifier and a 5150 and combined the best features of both into an awesome, awesome high gainer amp. It packs GOBS of gain and saturation, but it's still extremely tight and clear. It's not so dry/tight that it sounds sterile, but it's not nearly so loose as to cause buzziness and flub out as some Rectos do at times.


All in all I feel as though the Cobra is a near perfect amp for the serious metal musician. It is very expensive ($2,000+) but you can find them for about $1,400 used if you look. The three channels are all top notch in their design and when you find the sweet sound, look out! It, like the Peavey 5150 is a LOUD amp, so keep that in mind, and the sweet spot is at higher volumes. I (along with the owner of this particular Cobra 100) feel as though the effects loop is basically useless and should be redesigned, but that's only really necessary if you're a devout pedal user.

If you want some of the best metal tones to ever slither across the earth, give the Framus Cobra 100 a shot. Don't worry, it won't bite. ;)