http://lamkins-guitar.com/music/article/amp-education
David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
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location: Portland, OR USA

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Amp Acquisition - An Education?

I went through a few years of acquiring amp after amp... ended up with about 13 altogether, although I never had more than about 7 in-house at one time. I look at it as a learning experience.

I learned not to care about how amps sound at home - tube amps don't really start working until you get them up to performance levels. Yes, even the MV amps sound better loud.

I also learned (by way of a lot of time spent with multiple amps and an A/B switch) how to dial in just about any amp to get the kind of sound I like. (My wife's a saint: she sat through countless hours of me playing the same few passages in between rearranging amps and adjusting dials.)

Heck, you may find this heretical, but the best-sounding amp I owned for cranked-amp tones at conversational volumes was the bottom-of-the-line Line6 Spider.

My favorite amps now are a Fender Vibro-King and a Boogie Mark IV. I play the VK in a jazz/blues/prog band and the MkIV in an ambient/psychedelic/metal band. (I actually tried to make the VK work in the latter band as I tried hard to become a non-MV purist. I eventually had to admit that channel switching does have some valid uses.)

All of my at-home practicing is done with the VK. I just keep the volume low and work on my chops or on composition. Being able to play clean helps a lot when it comes time to crank the amp.

Once in a while I'll put in the earplugs and cut loose at home (I can do that - I own my house) to learn what the amp can do - this has dramatically improved my right-hand touch (and pretty much destroyed any remaining lust for pedals) since I've started.

I have three more amps that I'm planning to sell, then I'll have just the two. No plans to to acquire anything else in the near future. Maybe a tape echo... still waiting to see one of those Fulltone units locally.

What more can I say? I love the sound of the guitar straight into a loud tube amp that has extended lows and highs and a good midrange growl.

September 28 2003 19:44:10 GMT