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What I've learned about choosing an amp

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,223
This certainly won't work for everyone, but personally...

After years and years of searching, I learned something about amps, and what I really want.

I used to want an amp to deliver an amplified sound, that I could then use pedals and get all kinds of sounds out of, from Hendrix, to Santana, to Gilmour, etc.

But as I got older I learned something about what I really want. I found out that what I really want is one amp, with a great clean sound and a great OD sound. That's it. I can use a fuzz or other pedals, but mainly I just get unfocused when I feel I want to get every sound I have loved hearing through the years from ONE amp. I mean, it gets tiring, and makes me lose my focus.

When I have an amp like that, for me the Budda SD series with a Les Paul guitar...I find suddenly this is all I ever needed. Just an amp that can deliver a great clean sound for when I want that, and a fantastic OD sound when I want that.

I can raise the gain just with the guitar volume. Suddenly instead of trying to find an amp and pedals that can make all the sounds I used to go after, I find that with an amp like the Budda (or many others...it isn't limited to Budda, just that that was it for me...a great amp is the whole game, as well as a great guitar) I get everything I need or could want. I can't turn on a dime and get every sound I ever heard in my head, or on a CD, but I DO get a great sound that just blows me away, inspires me...

I guess this is no big revalation for many here, but I really could have saved a lot of money and time, if someone had just told me (and I had listened) that a great amp (doesn't have to cost a ton of money, just an amp you love the sound of) and a great guitar really are the meat and potatoes of making music. I used to play Strats, but find that for what I play a les Paul is the absolute best...and the Budda amps.

I'm done. I just play cover songs, get "in the ballpark" with the tone, OD (or clean) and a few pedals like a wah, vibe, and fuzz...reverb also, and I am just in heaven.

I wish for many here that you could be as happy as I am now.

Good luck on your quests! Just sometimes if you aren't getting what you want, try the amp-guitar thing, instead of tons of pedals to get every sound you ever heard.

Really, the main point...I wish I had thought of this way back when, but...try many guitars, I thought I was a strat guy, but I am totally certain now that the LP is the thing for me, and try different amps to get one that works with your guitar and is just perfect already. THEN and only then, get some pedals for effects...never to try and make some amp you really are not in love with sound like some other amp...

guitar-amp...that is the MAIN thing. It is totally possible, and after that, the other "icing on the cake" comes easily. I find I am way more critical now of pedals, because I don't want ones that (unless it is a cool effect) mask my great basic sound now.

Good luck!
 

Anna_Laurel

Senior Member
Messages
408
I like your take on the subject. Although I do like having several amps to pick from, I do like using an amp to get my sounds as opposed to overdrives and distortion pedals. It just sounds....well, better to me.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,223
I like your take on the subject. Although I do like having several amps to pick from, I do like using an amp to get my sounds as opposed to overdrives and distortion pedals. It just sounds....well, better to me.
I too have a few really nice amps, and a few of them are not all that expensive (I really like the Classic 30 for one example)...but yes. I can't believe it took me this long to get that I really too think amp OD is miles over pedal OD.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of my OD's and they can be used to get yet a third od sound, but they have to be pretty damned good (like my Klon or Zendrive) to make it worth using.

Like I say, this is basic, and I should have known this from a long time ago, but amp OD is just miles ahead (when it is the right OD...my Hot Rod DeVille OD channel is not as good as using the clean channel, which is great, with an OD pedal) of any pedal...or at least when you find YOUR amp.

Forgive my indulgence, I just spent some hours playing and it was fantastic...just the sound of the OD on my amp.
 

tennisplayer

Senior Member
Messages
3,975
Same way with my Classic 50 head. A great clean channel and a great crunch. It's not hi-gain, more of a mid-crunch that I love hearing.
 

NoBrakes

Member
Messages
2,835
Yeah...I hear ya' on this...I learned similar, forgot it and I'm re-learning it again.. I too am a fan of the C30.. We have one original song/solo that I did on a C30 with a pedal and wah... I "upgraded" ad several amps later I've not been able to duplicate that sound... I picked a 1st generation C30 the other day for low coin and bang there was the tone again. I've had so much fun playing the amp.. Amp just works for me.. When I get my Eggie back from the shop it's going to have to prove itself again, I don't know if it can give me what this amp does.. I pretty much use on tone, play with the volume and minor effect tweaks and that's it. Even in cover bands I just do my thing.
 

SteveO

Member
Messages
16,861
I'm in the same frame of mind these days, just guitar>amp, with a delay in the loop.
 

bettset

Member
Messages
4,269
i find it best too to get an amp with good drive to begin with. a pedal can be used for another color--with the amp's drive or on the clean channel :munch
 

tennisplayer

Senior Member
Messages
3,975
i find it best too to get an amp with good drive to begin with. a pedal can be used for another color--with the amp's drive or on the clean channel :munch
Man is that true. It's easier to make an average clean channel sound good than trying to make a bad drive channel sound good.
 

yell03

Member
Messages
1,609
This hits close to home.....

I have been trying for the last couple of years to find MY tone, not everyone elses tone.

I try to live my the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) rule.

At one time I had 4 overdrives (Fulltone OCD, 2 808s, OD3), 3 distortions (DS1, Keeley DS1, Metalzone) along with a Phase 90, DD7, analog delay, chorus, wah.....
My head was spinning.

At the time I had a Budda SD18 and a Fender Blues Jr.
I found that to get both amps to sound like I wanted I needed at least one OD to boost them to the gain I wanted.

I much prefer amps that need no pedals to get that tone.

I have landed with an Engl Screamer 50 1x12 combo.
Pristine cleans (jazz/blues) to Crunch, to Hard Rock, to Metal, all in one amp.
Channel 4 is MY sound. No pedals necessary. Just long sustaining gain with lovely pinch harmonics and controlled feedback if necessary.

I will say, I played a Budda SD45 and was BLOWN AWAY, best tone I have ever heard in an amp, without pedals, but it was hard to keep at bedroom volumes.
If it had sounded better at lower volumes and had a little more versatility I might have bought it over the Engl, it is hard to balance the volume of the two channels.

As for guitars, my main sound is out of a Les Paul, I have three, but I still like my SG VOS, ES339, and Strat for different variations of MY sound.
Even when I jam to somebody elses song, I want MY tone.

As for pedals, I have a combination chorus/delay (Visual Sound V2H2o) in the loop (not my favorite delay, but it saves space and adds nice ambience) and a Cry Baby wah out front.

I have a Boss SD1 OD in the closet along with a cheap chorus just in case I want it.

My two current amps are a low maintenance Solid State Tech 21 Trademark 60 1x12 and the Engl Screamer 50 1x12.
Both amps need no other OD or distortion to get them to MY sound.

I might want to grab a Boss DD3 and just throw the V2 H2o in to the loop of one and the DD3 & Fab Chorus in to the loop of the other, no switching cables necessary, true simplicity.
 

bbutler123

Member
Messages
2,648
This certainly won't work for everyone, but personally...

After years and years of searching, I learned something about amps, and what I really want.

I used to want an amp to deliver an amplified sound, that I could then use pedals and get all kinds of sounds out of, from Hendrix, to Santana, to Gilmour, etc.

But as I got older I learned something about what I really want. I found out that what I really want is one amp, with a great clean sound and a great OD sound. That's it. I can use a fuzz or other pedals, but mainly I just get unfocused when I feel I want to get every sound I have loved hearing through the years from ONE amp. I mean, it gets tiring, and makes me lose my focus.

When I have an amp like that, for me the Budda SD series with a Les Paul guitar...I find suddenly this is all I ever needed. Just an amp that can deliver a great clean sound for when I want that, and a fantastic OD sound when I want that.

I can raise the gain just with the guitar volume. Suddenly instead of trying to find an amp and pedals that can make all the sounds I used to go after, I find that with an amp like the Budda (or many others...it isn't limited to Budda, just that that was it for me...a great amp is the whole game, as well as a great guitar) I get everything I need or could want. I can't turn on a dime and get every sound I ever heard in my head, or on a CD, but I DO get a great sound that just blows me away, inspires me...

I guess this is no big revalation for many here, but I really could have saved a lot of money and time, if someone had just told me (and I had listened) that a great amp (doesn't have to cost a ton of money, just an amp you love the sound of) and a great guitar really are the meat and potatoes of making music. I used to play Strats, but find that for what I play a les Paul is the absolute best...and the Budda amps.

I'm done. I just play cover songs, get "in the ballpark" with the tone, OD (or clean) and a few pedals like a wah, vibe, and fuzz...reverb also, and I am just in heaven.

I wish for many here that you could be as happy as I am now.

Good luck on your quests! Just sometimes if you aren't getting what you want, try the amp-guitar thing, instead of tons of pedals to get every sound you ever heard.

Really, the main point...I wish I had thought of this way back when, but...try many guitars, I thought I was a strat guy, but I am totally certain now that the LP is the thing for me, and try different amps to get one that works with your guitar and is just perfect already. THEN and only then, get some pedals for effects...never to try and make some amp you really are not in love with sound like some other amp...

guitar-amp...that is the MAIN thing. It is totally possible, and after that, the other "icing on the cake" comes easily. I find I am way more critical now of pedals, because I don't want ones that (unless it is a cool effect) mask my great basic sound now.

Good luck!
It sounds to me like you matured and realized that there's more happiness in not trying to sound like someone else and just being you, instead.

I wish more players would learn that. :)
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,551
Man, I really needed to read this. What you wrote is a great reminder to find your own tone, keep it simple & play!
I used to be a Tele guy but found a 335 works best for me. Now I just need to find that amp.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,223
It sounds to me like you matured and realized that there's more happiness in not trying to sound like someone else and just being you, instead.

I wish more players would learn that. :)

I don't know if I matured...maybe so, but whatever it is, thanks...and
it's no big revelation. I have never been a guitar-amp "purist", I think pedals (in the right hands, or at the right time) are great.

Just that, its really elemental, but the base...getting all you can out of a great sounding (for you) amp really tends to make an impression.

Just the other day was working with a drummer, and had my pedalboard (which is very downsized now) with just a few "sweeteners" on it,
a wah, vibe, fuzz, tuner, reverb, delay.

I'm finding great uses for (in order of use) reverb, vibe, wah...fuzz..(tuner of course)

But very little. In the end I kept turning the reverb down from subtle, where I started, to just plain off.. I never used the delay, the wah here and there for fun, the fuzz a couple of times, but mainly...guitar and amp. I was so happy with the sound.

I'm not selling off all my pedals, but sure am going to start whittling them down to pedals to sell and pedals I might use now and then (and for recording)...

Like I say, not a purist, but found out MUCH of what I have been going after is much better, and easier with the right amp and guitar.
 

smolder

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,522
after a couple dozen pedals and nearly that many amps in the last few years... I think I just like a variety of amps. I still have 10 and there is not a one I wanna give up. Oh, and I am done to four pedals... boost, od, reverb and delay... frankly if it weren't for the tuner on the board I'd plug straight in most of the time.
 

voojo

Member
Messages
3,415
Great post, and when I look at many of my personal favorite bands, most of the guitarists stick to basically the same philosophy, or same "style" of amp.
 

panoramic

Member
Messages
1,006
This is why I use blackface fender heads, they are perfect in everyway and have their own character, they add a ton to the guitars natural sound and from there it's easy to choose other effects if I even use any aside from reverb.
 

pedalcr8z

Member
Messages
3,448
I lifted this very concise and insightful post from another member in a different thread. It certainly hit me in the head like a baseball bat!

teleharmonium

Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Cincinnati OH
Posts: 1,314


This can be a really confusing topic, because there are two ways of looking at it.

Do you want the amp to respond to the dynamics in your playing by compressing and sitting on the threshold of distortion in just the right way so that you can control the distortion with your right hand technique ? That's fun, but that also means that the output is not as dynamic as the input, which is after all what compression means. Tweed deluxes, old AC15s, or anything else with a saggy rectifier tube and low wattage alnico speakers are great for this. Neil Young is a convenient example as he relies heavily on a Tweed Deluxe pushed to the brink.

The other point of view is that you might want the dynamics in your playing to be preserved as much as possible with minimal narrowing of the dynamic range. In that case you want the amp to be loud, clean, and tight, with the least sag or compression in the amp or speakers you can get. Jerry Garcia when he was using Twin Reverbs real loud but usually picking softly (except when he wasn't), comes to mind.

Both of these are valid use of the semantics but they are polar opposites. Each type of rig is best utilized by a certain type of playing technique, which are quite different from each other and require some learning if they are new to you.
 




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