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Amp$$$ vs Guitar$$$

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by yardbird mac, May 22, 2011.

  1. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    After reading more than just a few posts on amps on various forums, I've noticed a slight trend. It seems that people have no qualms about dropping $5,000.00 (or more) on a high end guitar, then "scrimp" when it comes to cash outlay for a good amp. I'm not saying cheap amps can't sound good (I love my SCXD!), but in a sense it is yet another "disposable" amp.

    I'm interested in any additional thoughts on this.:hide2
     
  2. Endr_rpm

    Endr_rpm Member

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    The instrument is more "personal" since it's in your hands and snuggled up to your body, where as the amp is just a box?
     
  3. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Well, I'm in the camp that believes a decent guitar--even a cheap Chinese or Korean made number--if it's properly built and set up, with quality hardware and pickups, intonates well and holds tune, will sound decent through a great amp; but even a '59 Les will sound crappy through a crappy amp. So, if it's true that people are spending $5k on guitars and then buying crappy amps (and I'm not sure that's true, btw, I bet few people are playing a $5K custom shop guitar through a cheap Behringer or Crate or something), then those players are making big mistakes.

    That said, as you note, you can get good results out of inexpensive amps. I play my Pro Junior often on gigs and recording sessions instead of one of my more expensive, vintage amps when I'm looking for good cutting crunch in a portable package that I'm not going to worry about someone spilling a beer on.
     
  4. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    Agreed... but there are exceptions to the amp issue. The argument being that you can still get usable tone from a cheap guitar & amp. My concern is tone + reliability (build quality).

    In the 1960s I had both a FENDER Deluxe Reverb (1966), a 1967 Pro Reverb, and a 1968? Les Paul Standard.* I sold those off for "better" stuff (1972 - 1976) and regretted it ever since (both of my current Les Pauls are keepers though!).

    *Mine was a really early model when Gibson started remanufacturing Les Pauls. It had a fat neck, small headstock with the crown inlay instead of the silk screened "Les Paul Model", and wasn't nearly as heavy as some of the later NORLINs.
     
  5. yell03

    yell03 Member

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    I have been guilty of this and in some peoples minds I still am.
    I'll list my guitar vs amp retail costs.

    I have sold off all of my VERY high end Gibson and Fender custom shop guitars, but I still own nice guitars (the Custom shops were no better IMHO, the advantage was better consistency out of the box, where with USA models you have to look harder for a good one)

    Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro - $1999
    Gibson SG Standard with coil splitting (Burstbucker 1&3 pups) -$1299
    PRS Custom 24 Navarro - $2399
    Fender American Standard Strat - $999
    Gibson Les Paul Studio - $1319

    Amps
    Vox Night Train head and cab - $749
    Egnater Tweaker head and cab - $649
    Fender Blues Jr with Jensen C12N - $579

    The highest priced amps I've ever owned were a Budda SD18 combo - $1450, Marshall JVM215C combo - $1899, and a Engl Screamer 50 combo - $1399.

    To my ears, none of the higher end amps sounded better than my current amps, except maybe the Budda, but I did not bond completely with it. Returning it was a mistake as I bought it for $950 brand new.

    I do feel a great guitar through a crappy amp will sound bad, most of the tone is in the amp, but as stated above the guitar is a personal thing.
    I also feel, you can get very good tone from the current crop of 15w and under Tube amps that are available for under $500 for the heads and a decent 1x12 cab is available under $300.
    A lot of people feel you need to spend big $$$ to sound great, but I feel a good player can sound good through average equipment where a bad player will sound terrible through high end equipment.
     
  6. Lost_Cause

    Lost_Cause Member

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    To me it is an equal proposition. Some cheaper guitars feel like crap but can sound good/great through a nice amp. A nice amp (not even expensive) can make a guitar sound like it is supposed to. As others have said a great guitar can sound bad through a cheap amp.

    I go with 6 of one half a dozen of the other. Amp that is not too expensive but makes most any guitar sound great and a guitar that will sound good on anything short of a POS transistor amp. Then again I don't have tons of $$ to spend on gear. I do love finding under the radar tube amps that are cheap but sound great. I am reeling one in now and will have it next weekend. Very under the radar.
     
  7. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    I just want to make it clear that my choices are not for prestige, but for my own tone quest and enjoyment (the search for that "sweet" sound and reliability-easier serviceability).

    I sort of agree on the LP Custom Shop vs. LP Standard. I spent a lot of time in my search for a good Standard. Tone wise it will hold its own with the "59" reissue, but the R-9 is lighter and has a slightly different (better) "feel" to it.
     
  8. frankthomson

    frankthomson Member

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    imo, ANY guitar can sound good thru a HRDlx.....unless ur a metalhead.

    so....if u spent more than $1000 on ur entire rig/axe TOTAL, then u have more dollars than cents/sense.
     
  9. Nickstrtcstr

    Nickstrtcstr Lactose Intolerant Guitar Slinger

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    I think I am on the flip side of the coin. Although I bought 2 out of my 3 amps used, the new price was higher than my guitars. But if the used cost is brought into the equation then my guitars were more and in one case equal.

    Mesa/Boogie Mark III Simul Class combo with graphic EQ and1 X 12 extension cab: New $2100, my used $800 at local music store.
    Marshall 6101 30th Anniversary combo: New $2250, my used cost $600 on eBay.
    Fender Hot Rod Deluxe White Lightening Limited Edition my only new amp, $600

    1999 American Standard Stratocaster $600
    2004 American Standard Stratocaster $800
    1997 Orville Les Paul Standard $900
     
  10. cisspcism

    cisspcism Member

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    I will spend the money on amps, but I truley believe that for the Electric guitar you cannot really top Carvin for cost and quality. Just change the electronics if you dont like the stock Carvin. Where else can you get a total custom made guitar where you can spec out everything and keep 1,500 bucks or less.

    Amp wise I go high end.
     
  11. mgarrison99

    mgarrison99 Silver Supporting Member

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    I am a firm believer that a decent made guitar that stays in tune can be made to sound 10x better with a good set of Seymours, replacement nut, and better tone/volume pots. I have been fiddling with amps for 30 years, always spending just within my budget to land something that has some versatility to it (ie, separate eqs, Fender cleans, or Marshall dirt, etc). It wasn't until I became financially stable enough to get into some Laney and Mesa stuff that I discovered the difference that a good tube amp can make. A few months ago, I made the plunge for a Bogner Duende and I am 100% sold that the amp makes the most noticable difference in your tone chain (given that you have a good sounding guitar, usually ranging in the $500-$800 range used). I do agree with an earlier post that the guitar is what others identify you with, and it is a very personal thing, so you want something hanging on your body that speaks to them and you. You also want something that "calls out to you" to pick it up and play/practice. My Mexi and Korean made guitars, along with my Les Paul Studio, do just that. I did happen to just score an American Hamer Artist Custom that is drop dead gorgeous, but I honestly can't say that it sounds any better than my LP Studio or Korean Hamer Echotone that cost $1000 less even after upgrades. I do believe that there is a point of diminishing returns for amps as well. I'm sure that the Two Rock, Ceriatone, and Carol Ann amps would inspire me as well, but I can't imagine my tone being more of what I'm looking for than what my Duende is delivering to me at the $1500 used pricepoint.

    The amp is the clear winner for tone in my opinion!
     
  12. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    I agree with the above posts that say an amp is a super important part of the equation. I think that the electric guitar is a two-piece instrument; the amp is half of it. So while the actual dollar amounts vary arbitrarily, if one doesn't have an amp as good as one's guitar, one isn't getting the full capability from their instrument.
     
  13. nullin

    nullin Member

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    Ha, I'm guilty of the opposite! If you know what you're looking for, you can find some pretty darn good guitars for the money. Plus, tricking out a guitar that feels good with your favorite pickups and hardware is a ton of fun!

    I seem to get more picky on the amp side of things, and the increased cost, to me, is worth it. I guess I am more sensitive to the high end in amps than guitars.
     
  14. Ampegasaur

    Ampegasaur Member

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    In metal circles it's usually the opposite. Lots of guys buy LTD, Schecter, low end Ibanez, then buy a 2000.00 Engl or something similar. I think guitars, even low end are made pretty well, and with a good setup can play and sound decent. An amp, especially played really loud, is more important in this style. I personally own all nice guitars, and a lot of amps in all types of price ranges. If I had to choose, I would get a decent guitar and a really nice amp. A good guitar cannot make a crappy amp sound good. A good amp CAN make a low end guitar sound decent.
     
  15. frquent flyer

    frquent flyer Member

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    I am an AMP first guy. I believe that guitars will come and go based on the availabilty and finances. An Amp ,is an investment and worthy of some wise choosing.I like Victorias myself and own two Vics.
     
  16. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    For me all amps sound pretty much the same, or I don't use them.

    But most amps that even vaguely qualify as good, will produce sound that is loud enough, clean enough and with a tonal balance suited to guitar, if they are guitar amps, and be fitted with appropriate speakers.

    A Strat will sound like a Strat through ALL of them.

    Flipping the pup switch changes playing character more than changing amps because I'll be aiming at my base tone with any amp.
     
  17. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    ONE GOOD AMP is all one really needs. Add a few pedals..done.
    Guitars are an ENDLESS highway to different tones/emotions/etc.
     
  18. Lost_Cause

    Lost_Cause Member

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    The funny thing is that I have and have had many high dollar amps and guitars but never pay high dollar prices for them. It is sit and wait until you find it at a reasonable price. If you need to have that certain thing at this time you generally will over pay. I also kind of like to see what comes down the pike with an idea of what I like rather than just search out a certain thing. It rarely works out but if I leave it open I find I am surprised by what I can find. Every piece of gear I have ever really connected with has been something I was not looking specifically for until I saw it. I had a great amp before I had a great guitar tho and have played tons of stuff through my amp I have a hard time making even the cheapest guitar sound bad (tonewise not by my playing). Before I had this amp I really did not know quite how good a really nice sounding amp could do. I just played not really thinking about it. Now I notice it in mine and everyone's sound.
     
  19. Keld

    Keld Member

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    I think they are both important, but if forced to choose, I would take the good amp over the good guitar. I like amps that can be played, that respond with give and take, that remain clear while overdriven, etc...
     
  20. Wizard of Ozz

    Wizard of Ozz Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm the exception then... I play metal... but I like plugging a $5000 LP R9 into a $4500 Diezel. :cool:

    I try to split it 50/50 as far as money goes... but the cost of new high end guitars seems to be outpacing amps currently. Vintage gear is a whole other story.
     

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