Sportsman FAQs

There is some overlap, but each of these amps has their own distinct feel and sound.

The Mercury can produce a huge range of tones, though for this comparison we can think of the Mercury as 2/3 British, and 1/3 American Blackface in tonal range and nature.
The full power setting is 8 watts, which is enough to play live with a drummer, though at this volume, clean headroom is limited.
For home use, there is plenty of clean on tap. The Mercury has a stepped power attenuator for 8, 2, 1/2, and 1/10th watt settings.
The Mercury is powered by a single EL-34 power tube, and comes with our famous tube reverb.

The Skylark is  also capable of a huge range of possible sounds, but with a sweet hint of compression to its touch sensitivity. Let's think of this one as 2/3 American Blackface, and
1/3 Tweed/British. The attenuator lets you play clean, mildly overdriven, or with full-on distortion at any home volume.
At 12 watts, it will stay clean longer than the Mercury, and its Presence control is very effective in setting the overall treble character and feel of the amp. The built-in variable
attenuator can take the Skylark continuously from 1.2 watts to 0 output.
When the Skylark is set to full power, the attenuator is taken completely out of the circuit. The twin 6V6 power tubes operate at low voltage, with cathode bias - no need to bias with tube change. The Skylark also has all tube reverb.

The Sportsman is the most powerful of the three amps, topping out around 20 watts, though we rate it at 16 watts clean. The Sportsman is the most straightforward, features-wise, and its
Headroom control (A very transparent, clean pre amp Master Volume), will allow you to have thicker and mildly distorted clean tones at very low volumes, but the amp needs to be loud to
fully overdrive. The Sportsman is great for home or stage use. The twin 6V6 power tubes run at medium voltage, with cathode bias- no need for biasing with tube-change.
The Sportsman also features reverb.

If you are playing British-voiced distortion, at home/studio levels, the Mercury is best.

If you play clean-to-distorted American vibed tones for home/studio, the Skylark is for you.

If you want clean-to-overdriven American tones for home/studio, and medium volume live gigs, 
the Sportsman is the ticket.

If you're a tone fanatic - there's no substitute for owning all 3 !

Don't take our word for it, check them out for yourself at your nearest Carr dealer !

We refer to the tubes and their positions in the amp as V1, V2, etc. for preamp tubes and P1, P2, etc. for power tubes. The number indicates the position of the tube as counted from right to left when looking at the back of the amplifier. The right to left progression follows the circuit from input to output.

Sportsman Tubes
  P2 P1 V4 V3 V2 V1
Type 6V6GT 6V6GT 12AT7EH 5751 12AT7EH 12AX7EH
Manufacturer Tung-Sol Tung-Sol Electro-Harmonix TAD Electro-Harmonix Electro-Harmonix
Function 1/2 Push-pull power stage 1/2 Push-pull power stage Phase inverter Reverb return and mix Reverb send Initial gain stage, post tone-stack recovery

The Sportsman utilizes a mix of cathode bias (self bias) and fixed bias and as such does not require a bias adjustment when changing power tubes. Please use well-matched pairs of power tubes for maximum performance. The Sportsman can only use matched pairs of 6V6 power tubes.

Carr Amplifiers selects and tests the finest current production tubes specifically for each amplifier model. Caution should be used when buying replacement tubes from any dealer who does not have a return policy as all tubes can have problems (NOS tubes are susceptible to microphonics and failure too).

Top of Page