Give me an example of a Satch song(s) that have the sound your looking for.
I absolutely love his tone on the album Flying in a Blue Dream. I don't know if a lot of that has to do with the paf's he was using, but that album just kills me on tone man.
Flying in a Blue Dream: One Big Rush, Flying in a Blue Dream, Big Bad Moon on rythym but I don't care for his lead tone on that song which could be due to effects rather than the amp, Ride has fantastic tone, The Forgotten (Part 2) just about decimates all, ...it just feels so freakin' awesome.
On Strange Beautiful Music I always am ready to hear The Traveler. I love that song completely, tone wise and every other regard.
On Super Colossal: Ten Words (very big sound), Cool New Way (love the cleans! and the lead tone rocks! man I love that lead tone.), The Meaning of Love and A Love Eternal.
On the "Joe Satriani" album, ...which is predominately blues in nature, Luminous Flesh Giants has great tone, Down, Down,Down, S.M.F. but it's pure blues tone, absolutely love tone on Home and (You're) My World. This album has some great tone, ...but I don't want to be locked into not being able to go heavier than this album.
On Crystal Planet: Crystal Planet, Time, Love Thing, With Jupiter in Mind, Secret Prayer.
There's definitely some variation in tone there, from almost muddy and highly distorted on Crystal Planet to the cool bright cleans on Super Colossal.
You know, ...I'm a big Vai fan, but in honest self evaluation I believe I'm coming to the conclusion that I might like Satch's tone better simply because it isn't SO distinctly unique. Vai's tone on K'm Pee Du Wee slays. But some of my favorite stuff from him is so distinct that to sound like that is to me "trying to be vai" which I want to avoid.
Thanks for your input and insightful question. I'm curious to see what you'll say. It seems one of the big struggles is getting an amp hot enough for small to mid-size gigs, and yet with the ability to get good tone at home without disturbing the neighbors. A friend has recommended I just full out get a Bogner and put a power block on it, ...but I dunno if that actually works the way I imagine, lol. But, I don't want a 4x12 to haul around. A 30w amp is sufficient for almost any gig, and I would like to stay with either a 1x12 or 2x12. A 1x12 combo is nice and compact and easy to carry around. A 2x12 can get quite heavy unless it's a head and separate cab. I AM willing to go with 50W as long as it is usable at home. I imagine, correct me if I'm wrong, that anywhere in the 30-50watt range should be usable for both home and stage.
I think I'm going to unrestrict myself on the money and just get the right thing up to say $1300-$1400, ...and for just the right amp, ...maybe more if it's "the last amp you'll buy" kinda thing that will make me happy for life.