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This is among the worst advice on here

White Limo

"When you're starting out, get a modeling amp"

I did exactly that about a decade ago - the Mustang I - on similar recommendations. And truly, after having owned a bunch of them, it was a mistake. Up there with starting on a cheap acoustic guitar when an electric is 100x easier to play (getting students NOT TO QUIT is the #1 goal).

Why? Because, for me at least, it was tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak. When I played my first simple tube amp it was a revelation. Good sound with no farting around!

What I'd tell a beginner is buy a two channel amp, clean and distorted. Or a one channel amp and literally any distortion or overdrive pedal. Forget delay and chorus all that. Buy an amp with reverb in it for ambience. When you play a gig or learn a song that NEEDS an effect, go buy a pedal, or a simple multi-fx.

You're good for a long time with that setup - and without trying every f'in amp model that exists, as if that has something to do with learning guitar.
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kinda feel the opposite. if someone could possibly have handed me a helix when i was 15 i think it would have saved me a lot of gear chasing. maybe i am wrong but i havent been so happy with a piece of gear for this long of a period of time ever. i really dont tweak mine that much when i want to be playing, its very much plug and play for me.


My first amp was a two-channel Marshall SS amp with spring reverb in the ‘90s (which I still have, but it’s super noisy), and it worked for me.

However, I do think a modeler before diving down the rabbit hole of getting specific tube amps makes some sense, if for no other reason than to get tastes of sounds to decide what to pursue when buying the good stuff.


Personally I don’t think choice of gear good or bad plays any factor regarding how good ones chops will be. Practicing the guitar is similar to studying in school. Some people just have that drive, focus and dedication more than others. No excuses.


Yeah add me to the disagree list. I have donated 2 modeling amps to prospective young guitarists in my family. My Nephew got my Mustang III and my Nephew in-law got my Spider Valve 1x12. It's been a great experience for both.

Kids get bored quick these days with all the gadgets and doo dads that surround them. Having something they can fiddle with while learning guitar is fantastic. My Nephew has been playing 3 years now and he's better than I was 20 years in. My in-law has just started and he's glued to his guitar and amp every available minute.


I agree with the OP. My first real amp was a Line 6 Flextone II, and I don’t think I ever got a decent tone out of it. Maybe I could now because I know what I like and I’m more experienced at dialing things in, but back then it seemed like a million options that all sounded bad. A Blackstar HT-5 1x12” combo would have been the perfect amp for me at that point. Decent clean, good distortion, and not an overload of options.


Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
I have to say, my first real amp was a bassman100 and it was too much of one thing and not enough of another for me. I moved on to a vox valvetronix eventually but like the OP, just eventually was not satisfied with the cheap Swiss Army knife approach. It wasn’t until I got the concept of a well stocked pedalboard to go with a clean fender amp, and a master volume Marshall, that I got the joy of amps.
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I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 and I’ll be 54 in December. I cannot even express the amount of gear I have been through in all these years. I would chalk it up as experience and if your a serious player, the search for the endless tone is just that; endless.
Today I think I have finally achieved the best tone for me but tomorrow that may change. I personally got rid of my Helix and went back to a board. The Helix is a incredible unit but nothing beats tweaking and swapping and I don’t have cheap stuff on my current board either. I could buy two Helix units for what it cost to assemble my current rig.

I am also a tube amp guy and the only solid state I cared for was 30 years ago when I had a Rexx acoustics rack mount and I still kick myself for ever getting rid of it. It was a hybrid tube/solid state and sounded incredible.

With all that said enjoy the ride of playing. Everything from your pick and playing hand, vibrato ability, choice of pick, strings and gauge ,pickup config., cables, etc. all plays a role in your final sound. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain wrong. However, there will exist a cost between getting by, mediocre sound and tone, and chasing the ultimate tone for you.
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I started with a Gorilla amp. I then moved to other solid state amps, modeling amps, and after that it was all rack gear. It was only 10 or 15 years into my playing career that I got a real tube amp.

I wish I had started with a tube amp, even a cheap one. A simple two channel tube amp. Growing with, and learning to properly use "real" gear as part of the learning process should be a requirement.

I think it's much easier to move from a tube amp to a modeler than to start with a modeler then move to a tube amp.

Ronnie J

...? Lee Jackson modded Marshalls and then started his own companies - Lee Jackson and Metaltronix. He never made a modeling amp.
I was wee young lad at the time, and it had a digital screen so I just assumed it was a modeler. If I'm wrong, I stand corrected.

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