Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sydney Australia
Re: The Jemsite guide to amps
I guess amp tone is a totally subjective thing, so to each their own, but every time I plug into an Engl amp (including the Ritchie Blackmore sig model) all I seem to get is something that sounds like long fingernails being scraped down a blackboard! (sorry Engl fans - just my experience!)
The thread started out very well, but there were a few interesting omissions:
1) VOX - AC30 - the OTHER great British amp - just about any British music not made on a Marshall was made with a Vox AC30 - pure class A tone, a good AC30 is one of the finest sounding amps ever made - Rickenbacker through AC30 was once famously descibed as sounding like "A blizzard of nails"
2) Sunn Amps - recently owned by Fender - almost a boutique amp - plugging in to a Sunn 100 watt tube combo and dialling up a little bit of grit instantly turns you into Kieth Richards at his best - articulate, cryastal clean yet still overdriven sound - maximum yum!
3) While it's probably a bit outside the scope of this post(?) - separate pre-amp and power amp systems.
After playing through Marshalls, Fenders, Hiwatts, Peaveys, Vox's, Carvins etc etc etc, I finally bit the bullet and put down a house deposit sized chunk of money on a Mesa Boogie TriAxis and Stereo 2:90 power amp - the range and quality of tones available with this setup has been just phenomenal - I add a bit of front end limiting, and can dial up humungous clean tones, and just about any overdriven sound imaginable. Version 2 ot the Tri-Axis has been adjusted to add a "rectifier" tone circuit - wow, great, but frankly this beast stands totally on its own, it's not a modelling amp at all, but something capable of belting out just about any tone you can imagine in your head. Oh, did I mention LOUD?
Other combinations I've seen used are Marshall JMP1 preamps into Marshall power amps, Carvin Pre-amps (I owned a Quad-X pre-amp which had some great sounds, but really seemed to be about half of a great idea), VHTs, Soldano-Caswells, etc etc.
Amongst the users of the TriAxis/2:90 setup have been John Petrucci, I think both dudes from Metallica, Andy Summers, Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp - so if the sounds of any of these chaps spin your wheels, it's worth considering such a setup.
In my experience, about 90% of YOUR sound comes from your amp - the best guitar in the world plugged into a 5watt transistor practice amp will sound exactly like a 5watt transistor practice amp! In comparison, an RG350 plugged into a Mark 4 Boogie will sound pretty much like the Hammer of the Gods - so, lesson 1 for new players is, consider spending less on a decent guitar, and put a lot more into a good amp - something like an RG350 (sorry to keep coming back to them, but they are like a rash in Sydney at the moment - and cheap!) is constantly upgradeable - new pickups, action tweaking, fretwork etc etc - but a 5watt transistor practice amp has a very limited upgrade path!
Hope this rant adds to the value of the thread.