The more gear I play, the further I get from finding a sound

dangeroso

Member
Messages
4,491
Just an observation I thought I'd share based on personal experience:

For many years the only amp I owned was a DSL602. Played many many gigs with it with no complaints. Eventually, I played around on a Mesa Express 5:50 at a GC and after finding some cool sounds took it home.

At first, the Mesa sounded a little "off", but after many hours of playing, it finally started to sound like the ideal sound in my head. So one day, I plug into the neglected DSL, and it suddenly sounds "off". No knobs were tweaked, but the Mesa replaced the Marshall as the baseline sound in my head.

Fast forward to today, and I own 4 very different amps. I can jump from one to another playing about 20 minutes at a time on each, and I will walk away thinking that X amp is the best sounding. If I do the same experiment playing them in reverse, I will walk away thinking Y is the best sounding amp.

I'm not sure what this says, other than my perception of the ideal tone is not only subjective to my ears, but also to what I've been listening to before (either minutes or years).

Has anyone else had this experience?
 

8len8

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,593
Same thing for me. I'll play an amp for a couple of hours and think it's the best, but then when I switch to another amp or guitar I end up thinking that one's the best. In the end I just accept that I have many different amps and guitars that I enjoy playing, and each has it's own sound/personality. For me I doubt there is a single "utlimate" sounding amp, so I just enjoy what I have and keep chasing that elusive tone...
 

JP~)

Member
Messages
1,266
back in the days..I always had a tape recorder or 4 track

now I have a little flip video that can even fit in my pocket and has decent sound. I find that the truth is always revealed in playback whether it's an amp, amp EQ, guitar or all 3
 

Improbable Joe

Double Platinum Member
Messages
2,377
I'm glad you posted this, and impressed that you have the integrity to admit it. There are too many people who pretend to be able to make objective judgments about gear, when all the experiments seem to back up your experience. There have been studies that show that people have preferences based on the order that they try things in: if you give them Coke and then Pepsi 65% will choose Pepsi... but if you take the same people and offer them Pepsi first, 65% or so will prefer Coke because it is the second choice.
 

QRSS

brutalist
Messages
9,363
I'm glad you posted this, and impressed that you have the integrity to admit it. There are too many people who pretend to be able to make objective judgments about gear, when all the experiments seem to back up your experience. There have been studies that show that people have preferences based on the order that they try things in: if you give them Coke and then Pepsi 65% will choose Pepsi... but if you take the same people and offer them Pepsi first, 65% or so will prefer Coke because it is the second choice.
yup, but then in many cases, after trying all the other colas, they end up coming back to coke. it's a journey. take it or not. i pretty much did not. still expanding my journey but only sticking to the classic circuits first.
 

tsar nicholas

Member
Messages
8,679
I hear this! I'm always lusting after some gear item, but in reality, I always come back to the same thing (in my case, an AC15) and stick with it for a really long time. In fact, it took me about 4 years of playing it to really GET the individual sound I had in my head, but once I got it in the early 2000s, it seems like nothing can replace it.

Fun fact : one thing I did to 'get' my sound was take my 2 old standby pedals - a Fuzz Face and a Vox wah -- out of the signal chain and just go guitar-> amp most of the time. Unless I need a big boost for soloing live, that's how I stay.
 

Steve73

Member
Messages
5,009
Approach it from a different mindset. The common denominator is that you are playing the amp, you are more greatly responsible for the tone than the amp. I came to this realization after playing for years through a variety of very different amps (Fender, Vox, Marshall). I sound like me regardless of what I play through so I am not as wrapped up in amps (or guitars, pedals, etc) anymore.
 
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shredtrash

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,904
Approach it from a different mindset. The common denominator is that you playing the amp, you are more greatly responsible for the tone than the amp. I came to this realization after playing for years through a variety of very different amps (Fender, Vox, Marshall). I sound like me regardless of what I play through so I am not as wrapped in amps anymore.
What Steve73 said!

Get a good amp (the one you REALLY want) that does what you need it to do relative to the styles you play and stick with it. You'll be happier and save A LOT of money in the end.
 

john l

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,820
Great thread. I remember when I came to this realization. I made the decision to never again sell gear to fund more gear. This makes me wait longer in between purchases but its also gotten me to the point where I have a pretty versatile selection of amps on hand and ready to go when ever theyre needed. After you get to this point theres no other way to roll.
 

Nickstrtcstr

Lactose Intolerant Guitar Slinger
Messages
4,391
I have it all the time. Sometimes I think it just depends on the mood you're in. Don't waste too much time overthinking it and just play and enjoy yourself.
 

uitar99

Member
Messages
1,323
Damn, I thought I was alone in this.

Doing the same thing with pedals. Now just trying a boss eq for the boost
 

keithb7

Member
Messages
1,421
Yep, another AA victim here. Amps anonymous. It's just one thing after another. I have to sell some off cause if I kept them all my wife would kill me. I am slowing getting better and better gear all the time. I find that the good stuff stays. Pedals? Same thing been through several to try, the good stuff stays. I have 3 cool amps now and I just found another one I am jones-en for. Blackstar HT5. However....I own a 64 Bandmaster with bottom cab, a 69 Vibro Champ, and a 5E3 kit I just finished building 2 weeks ago. I have walked away from the Blackstar 2 times in the music store in the past week. The only thing stopping me is my wife wondering WTH is wrong with me.
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,413
I don't overthink it, I just play whatever amp strikes my mood.

Recently it's been my Tech 21 TM60. Sure my Super Reverb and Sig:X may sound "better" in the right circumstance, but late at night with just a little grind dialed in, the TM60 is a very satisfying low volume practice amp and I don't worry about disturbing the neighbors when playing through it which allows me to concentrate on my playing. The fact that other amps may sound better is a non-issue.

I think about gear a lot when I'm on TGP, but the minute I hit the on switch all I'm thinking about is playing.
 

uitar99

Member
Messages
1,323
and for those of us who gig occasionally, despite how we think our tone isn't up to snuff, most folks that listen to us, including fellow musicians, compliment us on our tone. Go figure.
 

guitarpug

Member
Messages
5
I too have a case of 'the gear playing me' instead of 'me playing the gear'!

For me, I like to listen to my favourite songs over and over again, so the signature sound of my favourite guitarists tend to get 'stuck' in my head as the base reference. Since I like SRV, I tend to compare all amps to that Fender sound.
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,790
my sound is easy. i try to get my electrics to sound like my acoustics, and my acoustics to sound like my electrics. toss whatever gear in there, i'll tweak it close to that kinda thing.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
I went through this when I had a bunch of amps in the studio, and I'd go back and forth and waste a lot of time trying to decide which was best for a given track. "Gee, do I like this one or that one?"

And you know what, I too was tempted to go from amp to amp when practicing, playing one for a few minutes then the next. Well, I wasn't practicing, I was listening for amp tone. I was playing the amp, not the instrument. It was silly.

Now I have one amp in the studio. I use it for everything within reason. I don't spend one second thinking about which amp is best. Not one second. I just play guitar, and stick a mic in front of the amp.

And I'm much less apt to waste time. If I need a different sound, I use a pedal. But I'm always into the same amp. On the very rare occasion where I can't get the sound I need for a project with my rig, I'll try a plugin.
 
Messages
1,109
I'm not sure what this says
What you're experiencing is true for all humans, not all are bright enough to realize it though! There are three key human phenomena that are in play here

1. Human experience is based on references to previous experiences
which is why the passage of time is perceived faster the older you get

2. Human sound perception is compensated and translated into what you hear
For example: You perceive your living room to be reverb free right? It isn't

If you spend enough time in a room your brain will start to compensate for the reverb, but move some large furniture around and you will start to hear its natural reverb again, until your brain has had time to compensate for the change

It's also why we perceive familiar voices to sound the same regardless of where we hear them

3. Human sound retention is at most a matter of seconds and human memory itself transforms over time depending on your current mood and recollection

Pretty neat stuff if you think about it :) It's why we have the scientific method

Best regards -T
 




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