My Hierarchy Of Amp Stuff That Matters

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by LSchefman, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    So, tube amps. I've got 'em, many of you have 'em. The various amps on the market all sound different, each has its own flavor. Here's what I try to look for in an amp:

    1. First, how does the darn thing sound? Is this a tone or set of tones I want to live with for a long time? Is it different from what I have, or does it sound too much like one of my current amps? If yes to both, move on to the second thing on the list.

    2. How well is it built? Will it hold up over the long haul? Are the materials, cabinetry and parts of high quality? F'rinstance, MDF cabinets are an automatic disqualifier for me (YMMV). Is it hand wired (bonus points) or at least high quality, heavy duty PCB with solid standoffs? There are plenty of 'gut shots' on the web for nearly any amp, so you can see the innards before you go shopping. If well-made, go to the next thing on the list.

    3. I like to be able to tweak the tone of an amp subtly to match my musical tastes. Can this be done with different tubes, or speakers, or is its potential maxed out with whatever it comes with? This, admittedly, is difficult to know in advance, but I do ask around. Sometimes I even find out! ;)

    4. Is it available as a head and separate cab, or am I stuck with a combo (I've learned the hard way that heads and cabs are easier for me to move around than a heavy combo, so I bought my last combo 6 years ago)?

    5. Do I actually want to look at this thing for the next umpteen years? There are some weird-looking amps out there, but some are both nice looking and great sounding.
     
    Goran Lorencin, crgtr, bodia and 6 others like this.
  2. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

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    That sounds about right to me.
    I haven’t bought a combo in ages either - I let my wife get them for me.
     
    #2 veinbuster, Aug 25, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Bahahaha! Please tell your wife I'm a big fan. ;)
     
  4. tiboy

    tiboy New Member

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    Les, as usual you are dead on. I ask myself one question when buying amps and/or cars: Will the chicks dig me more if I buy it?
     
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  5. Simon Says

    Simon Says New Member

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    With me if it has Boogie on it and its a new model - I'm buying
     
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  6. DISTORT6

    DISTORT6 NJ Devil

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    And does it make my ass look big.:p:D
     
  7. Bill SAS 513

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

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    Great idea for a thread...I have a few Tube heads from a certain "Doctor" that I love...and I am all about simplicity.
    I've purchased them all used, and went over them , cleaning up everything, and they sound great.

    I would add 1 thing to your list...Does the amp need biasing each time you change tubes???? With tubes being an integral part of a sound, I like trying different types.
    (Short of learning how to adjust the bias on amps...that is...)
     
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  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    If an amp needs biasing when changing tubes, I only buy it if there are external bias ports, like on the PRS amps.
     
  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    If you buy the right stuff, the answer is maybe. :)
     
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  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    One would hope so! :p
     
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  11. alantig

    alantig Zombie Four, DFZ

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    I still buy combos all the time. McDonald's, Wendy's...
     
  12. Going Modal

    Going Modal I should be practicing right now.

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    Surely then, I must've run into you in that other forum..? (Or possibly even met you in person at a "fest.")
     
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  13. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    Only if the amp will help turn heads and make people listen to what I play. Otherwise, I want no part of it.
     
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  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    When you need open-heart surgery, feel free to call me for recovery pointers. I've got plenty of experience. :)
     
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  15. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    The amp plays a supporting role, but isn't the star. The amp will never be the star. The playing is the star attraction, the sine qua non of the performance.

    So either one's playing is stellar and turns heads, or it isn't, in which case it will be ignored or criticized, regardless of the amp.

    That's the simple reality of the situation. However, all this doesn't mean that the search for good tone is pointless. It has a point even if you're the only one who listens to your material, in my opinion.

    For me, maybe people listen to my commercial tracks, maybe they're away from the TV taking a leak when the ad comes on, or DVRing through it. I don't really care.

    I write the tracks, do the sessions, and if everyone's happy, bonus, payday. I'm good with that.

    For that reason, personal inspiration is what drives my choice of amps. If I'm happy, I play better. I have a better time. When I have a better time and play better, in general, clients are happier.

    For that, the amp matters. Simple as that. My reaction to the playing and tone is the only part of the equation I'm in charge of and can control. But it's an awfully important part of the equation.
     
    #15 LSchefman, Aug 26, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
    Tony M., bodia, veinbuster and 2 others like this.
  16. Boogie

    Boogie Zombie Two, DFZ

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    If I’m on it, it’s up too loud.
     
  17. Boogie

    Boogie Zombie Two, DFZ

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    To expand on this, if I sound really good, I’m inspired. Inspiration makes me happy and when I’m happy, I play better. Perhaps that’s measured in fewer beer bottles thrown my direction…not sure. Regardless, a win is a win. So, sound good, just for you.
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I'm not surprised at all that we agree completely on this!
     
  19. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    What happens if people are often critical of what you do, are you happy then? Do you try to please the naysayers, or something else?

    (I usually find that when I'm doing my job correctly, there are fewer folks who complain about my service. You?)

    I'd also guess that a cheap guitar and average player will sound better through a good amp, rather than a good guitar and average player through a cheap amp. Perhaps that how one might define quality over skills. It also defines how I might view my personal ability level. I've never had anything to prove except to try to please others and thereby prove myself a good person.

    It's too bad that there are folks who think they can play better, and proudly force me to improve, adjust and adapt, or be left behind. As was said, it's the competitive world we live in. Either you're part of it, or no part of it.

    My personal belief is that when people cooperate with each other and don't try to outdo others, that's where good things happen. (What you're hearing is me knocking egotists down a few notches. And the reason I walked away from the band scene after my mentor retired. Too much drama and not enough working with each other for the common good.)
     
    #19 CandidPicker, Aug 26, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I assume this wasn't a rhetorical question.

    In the arts, there are always people who simply aren't into a person's work, and never will be. Accepting the criticism is part of the gig.

    Composing for picture is, by its nature, a collaborative work. I'm working with writers, art directors, producers, client services people, video editors, and sometimes get input from the advertising agency's client, to create a mood, or help tell a story, and in general work toward a mutually shared vision of how the spots should turn out.

    As you can imagine, there are a lot of opinions.

    I've learned to leave my ego at the door and work within the team framework to help achieve that vision. I've largely succeeded at that for 30 years.

    Of course, among my friends and family, I'm my usual egotistical self after the project's over. ;)

    So, am I happy despite the criticism? Sure. But I'm basically a happy person. The fact that I get paid to do what I love doing makes it all the more fun.
     
    #20 LSchefman, Aug 26, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021

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