Confessions of An Ampaholic

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by LSchefman, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    I will admit that I GAS over guitars pretty badly, but the truth is I'm a bit more obsessed with amps.

    I love the contribution a great amp makes to guitar tone, and I really, really hate listening to a bad sounding amp. I like the way an amp looks so cool just sitting in a room, waiting to be played through.

    I think about tubes and cables, and amp stands, and basically, everything that has anything to do with amplifiers.

    I don't spend any time looking up guitars on the web. If I happen upon a guitar and it's interesting, great, I'll look at it, but I spend a lot of time looking at amps, amp gizmos, tubes, and other amp-related junk.

    I sometimes wonder how the other folks at the old folks' home will relate to me rolling in with my amps and guitars if I'm lucky enough to overstay my welcome on the planet.

    Well, maybe they won't be able to hear them?
     
    The Fight and dsenoj like this.
  2. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenf├╝hrer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    3,848
    Likes Received:
    1,357
    I have to admit, during a brief period between ~2003 and 2005 when I was renting a room from a certain older lady, it was really nice that she was mostly deaf, and I could crank things up at all hours.

    I would say amps contribute more to tone than guitars do. They certainly don't contribute to playability, and we like to think of the guitar as being the most important, since it's in our hands and vibrates and is organic and moves around with us as if its a part of us. But an amp contributes more to the end tone.
     
    LSchefman likes this.
  3. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    1,150
    I'm concluding that I have enough flavor variety with guitars to call it 'done' (though, that'll never happen) but amps are different: I want them all. Some might overlap and some may suck but just to be safe, I need them all. That's the one tidbit of knowledge that I wish I picked up early in guitar life...amps are more important than guitars in the tone pursuit. Instead of a Twin, I should have bought a Super Lead.
     
    #3 Boogie, Jun 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  4. veinbuster

    veinbuster In the cards

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    5,984
    Likes Received:
    1,770
    Now that you mention it, I went through a lot of amps with my first decent guitar (bass really, but that isn't the point).
     
    LSchefman likes this.
  5. aristotle

    aristotle New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    772
    Likes Received:
    170
    Amps, much more so than guitars, change the way I play. For me, it's about how it works playing in a band environment. Strangely, almost anything works well for me when I'm playing by myself - in fact lately, I rarely even plug in to an amp. Most of my alone playing is either spent on figuring out a new song for the band, or practicing parts that I need to smooth out, and nothing keeps me honest like hearing what's actually going on at the sting and pick level.

    But I just get an enormous kick out of playing one week through the 4 channel Mesa Roadster, having all of the presets set just right relative to one another, getting everything tweaked just right with effects through the loop and up front, and being able to accurately ape whatever tone the songs require. Then, the following week, play out with the MDT, a boost and delay up front, and that's it...playing pretty much the exact same material as the week before. The range of tones is much less of course, so it forces a different level of expression, and a different interpretation of the material. The following week I might run the DG30 and a Deluxe Reverb head through a head switcher for something different yet again.

    And then there are great amps that sound amazing playing solo, but that I just can't ever make work in a band. Vox falls into that category for me. They sound great clean and on the verge, beyond that there is just something about them that doesn't work in a band. Yeah, I know that everybody from Brian May to the Beatles used them, but I don't even try anymore. Or the delicious Two Rock ODS. Great clean, but just too compressed otherwise for what I do.

    Anyway, I definitely "get" wanting to have a large variety of amps...
     
    LSchefman and Dusty Chalk like this.
  6. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Rah rah ah ah ah!

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    12,357
    Likes Received:
    4,786
    While I'm way more into guitars (and luggage) as material objects, these past six years of mooching, renting, dealing with a supplied backline, and borrowing amps has been really fun.

    I may miss the consistency of tone of my old rack setup, but it's kind of adventurous to roll up and have to make it work with whatever is there for me.
     
  7. G-Man

    G-Man New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2015
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    146
    I hear you Les. As a studio guy, you must be whirling with new amp sounds you want to experiment with. I know I want a very nice amp and am saving for the Mesa or Archon you suggested - thanks! Pretty hefty college payment coming up in August and I still want a Swamp Ash Special, a McCarty and anything green maple top. It was so easy when I could plug my start into a fender amp and get the tone I liked. Now it is a bit more complicated but I wanted to get a more modern sound. I'll get there eventually.
     
  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    Yessir! I agree.

    Me too. I think I need an intervention of some kind to stop myself from wanting them all!

    This is true for me in the studio, too! I like expressing myself differently with different amps, and being inspired to play in different ways. I know exactly what you mean!

    I used to really love it in the days when home studios were more rare, and my session guys would drag their amps over. I got to try out quite a number of different ones, and it was a kick!

    Yup. I even have a GAS list of amps I'd like to park in my room, and right now at the top o' the list is a DG50. Heck, I already have the right cab! ;)
     
  9. mad monk

    mad monk Junior Mint

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    30
    I too, have a thing for amps. I own combo and head versions of the same amp to compare how they sound in the different formats. I'm getting away from combos, because speaker and cabinet size can be switched around more easily.
    So, I see myself becoming a cabaholic soon.
     
    Boogie and LSchefman like this.
  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    I'm all for it!
     
  11. JustRob

    JustRob Just a member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    2,310
    Likes Received:
    397
    I wish I had these feelings. I don't know why but it seems everything I've loved at the store in the amp department grows old shortly after coming home. Guitars don't se m to do that with me. Or if they do, I don't have any second thoughts about moving them for something else. Not sure why it bugs me about amps.
     
    LSchefman likes this.
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    I have a few suggestions, and some of them may seem a little unusual, but...for me these things work:

    First, I put together a few amps for my rig, and each one sounds very different from the others. I also went all-out and got the best amps for each style that I could find - for example, I'll never get tired of how I sound with the HXDA or DG30. They do things that really appeal to me.

    Second, well, I don't know about you, but every time I dial in an amp, it sounds a little different. That's a good thing!

    So, when I don't have a project going on, I often zero the amp's controls at the end of a session. That forces me to start fresh when I fire up the amp the next day. It really forces me to appreciate what the amp is capable of, and to experiment with different settings, because like most of us, I tend to find some settings I like and just leave the controls set a certain way. But that means one sounds the same every day. So by zeroing the amp, I get to experiment.

    I do take iPhone pics of settings I like a lot, and label them with the type of tone so I can repeat them when needed.

    Pedals also are a good thing.
     
    JustRob likes this.
  13. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Messages:
    1,490
    Likes Received:
    185
    Hey (Just) Rob,
    I , until recently, put amps as a distant second to guitars...until about three years ago. Kinda seems to coincide with you guys talking up PRS and Mesa Amps. As a bassist, I usually will pick up PRS guitars if a nice used one, or really nice new one shows up at the shop, but I'd always use a Roland JC-77 to hear them...always listening to clean before dirt. Then...A used Studio 22+ shows up down the street...and I fell in love. A swampy through that just sang, Clean or Dirty!!!...Then...a cherry F-30 combo shows up...crap...I've since made a set of shelves for combos, heads cabs...still waiting for the right PRS combo ...I'm sure it will happen one day soon.
    And what Les said...things definitely sound different on a day-to-day basis, so mess around a bit. When you hear "IT", you'll know.
     
    JustRob and LSchefman like this.
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    Yup! Then, of course, take a pic on your iPhone or something, or mark the panel with a grease pencil, but still try different settings from day to day.

    It'll keep you fresh.
     
  15. Screamingdaisy

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    357
    I was (and still am) a big proponent of the amp being more important than the guitar.

    I used to GAS for everything, and I wanted to get my hands on all the staples... JTM-45, 1959, JCM-800, AC-30, Deluxe, Bassman, Twin, OD-120, Mark I, Mark IIC+, Mark IV, Dual Rectifier, etc. While some people had 20-30 different distortion pedals to get different sounds, I wanted 20-30 amps and no dirt pedals.

    But the more amps I played through the more I realised I tried to make all of them sound the same, which was confirmed when I heard recordings of myself playing the same songs years apart and with totally different rigs. It killed much of my amp GAS. I started to focus on amps that produced "that" sound with the minimal amount of effort and outboard gear.

    I'm down to three amps, two Dual Rectifiers and an Electra Dyne.

    I still get GAS pangs, but it's more out of curiosity rather than the driving force it used to be. These days I seem to be more into using different guitars and pedals to maximise the amount of sounds I can get from a couple of amps.
     
  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    I get that, too. I spent some years with only one amp in the studio, and other years with a half dozen or more.

    There have been times I have argued that a person only needs one truly great amp. And there have been times I've said I need a few amps.

    I am wishy-washy on which thing works better for me, but right now, today, this hour and minute...I have a thing for several amps. ;)

    The amp companies whose work appeals most to me are PRS, Mesa, and Two-Rock, though right now my #1 amps are PRS; I do have a Lone Star. I'd consider a Two-Rock Cardiff, a Vox style amp, if PRS doesn't make a Vox style amp at some point.
     
  17. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Archon owning member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,473
    Likes Received:
    780
    this thread is interesting because I used to put most of my money into guitars. I did this because I love and appreciate the feel and playability of a great instrument. Meanwhile, I was never allowed to play very loud at home, so buying a great amp would have been a waste of money. But I could get the joy of playing my PRS even through a Line 6 Pod. When I finally decided to get more serious on the amp side, I got a Classic 30 and was a pedal flipper. With good pedals, and a speaker swap, I had some really good tones. The idea was simple... I can get a pedal that gets the type of tone I want and instead of having a bunch of amps, one amp and a bunch of pedals for my Fender, Marshall, Vox, Mesa etc. tones.

    While some guys swear by that, I eventually got to the point I wanted better amps and I bought a few small Mesa amps and my life was changed. There was no recto pedal I tried that sounded as good as my Mini Rec does! I love that amp! Had a TA25 and it gave me a nice variety of tones. Then one day about 3 years ago in Guitar Center, I was talking to the manager about the Mini Recto and he said "it's not even worth having good tube amps if you can't turn them up enough to make the tubes work a little." All those years of me saying it, my wife thought it was just an excuse for me to play loud. When she heard that she listened as he and I and another guy talked about how tubes work and sound better. She actually said to me that she always thought I was making that up so I could play louder at home. Since that day, I would say that the volume levels she tolerates without even saying anything are at least twice as loud as before. Now even my 50 watt amps can be turned up to where they are pretty loud in the music room. But, that started the quest towards even higher end amps. So while I still like the smaller good amps (I still own the Mini Recto and a Mark V 25) I now have a Custom 50 and a Mark V and I get to hear the "difference" in big glass/big iron amps. The authority they have in the lower mids and lows. The big piano notes on the clean neck pickup stuff.

    I'm now more into amps than I've ever been and my last 3 big purchases have been amps, not guitars.
     
    dsenoj likes this.
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17,377
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    Yes, yes, yes! This is what I've been saying to anyone who'll listen. There's something great about big amps.
     
  19. Screamingdaisy

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    357
    There ain't no replacement for displacement.
     
  20. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Archon owning member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,473
    Likes Received:
    780
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Mini Recto. That amp sounds GREAT! Makes me want a big one. LOL

    That said, I like what PRS does with it's "small" amps. 25 watt Archon doesn't have small glass. Should punch above its weight class.
     

Share This Page