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Jesus Joshua 24:15 Home  »  Forum Home  »  Music Discussions  »  Guitar Discussions  »  Lesson #2: Gear, Part I



Guitar Weenie

740 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2005 :  09:24:59 Show Profile
This lesson will be somewhat vague. Gear is definitely one of those areas that is largely driven by personal preference and bias. To be brutaly honest, I prefer gear that is as reliable, flexible, and inexpensive, as it is tonally pleasing. Of course, the sound is most important, but sometimes you have to trade that awesome sound for more reliability and flexibility when your forking out your hard earned cash.Let's talk about amplifiers first.

The first question that you must ask yourself is, "What fits my style of playing?" Now the answer to this question may surprise you. Believe it or not, many players choose gear based on what thier heroes use, and not on what they really need. That is not neccessarily a bad thing, because obviously our heroes seem to know how to get what they need, and have spent the time figuring out what satisfies thier tonal requirements. So why not take advantage of thier expertise? Well, here's the thing, some of those players spent many years making due with substandard gear, simply because they were on a limited budget. Our heroes learned to live with the limitations of thier gear until they could afford better gear. But sometimes, those players stay with that substandard amp because it is like a well worn shoe: comfortable and functional. They have become comfortable with what works, so why change? That logic may not work for you when selecting an amp.

I have personally always wanted a Marshall 100 watt stack. Why? Because all of my heroes played through Marshalls, and my heroes sounded awesome, as well as unique. Now, bear in mind that what they used live, and what they used in the studio may have been two different things, but I didn't have a large budget (and still don't) to afford a lot of amps. For a couple of years my amp of choice was a Peavey Stereo Chorus 212 100watt combo amp. It wasn't a Marshall, it didn't sound like a Marshall, but it didn't COST like a Marshall, either. The Peavey was (and is) rugged, flexible, has a useable sound, awfully loud, and relatively inexpensive. It suited me for the time that I needed it, and it still serves me well.

I eventually did get my Marshall 100 watt, but I got a great deal on it, and it too serves me well. But to be honest, there are better amps out there that have less noise and more features than my beloved Marshall, but I have no reason to slap any more finances into something that I can get out of my amps.

Getting back to style, you need to remember that the type of guitar you play may alter your needs in amplification. I personally can't use a Gibson Byrdland through a Marshall and get what I consider good tone, but that doesn't deter ol' Ted Nugent from doing it. And his tone is very unique. Jimmy Page used a Fender Telecaster through a Supro amp on most of Zep's recordings. James Hetfield uses a Mesa Boogie amp with his Gibson and ESP guitars, and that boy's got serious tone distinction. But I would be willing to bet a zillion bucks that each one of those player could play on your amp with your guitar, and make it sound like them. They may not like it, but it would still sound better than what we could get. This is because those players know how to get the most out of the tools they are given.

There is so much left open for discussion, just in these short paragraphs. Perhaps some Q&A could stir the pot on this. What are your opinions about gear? What is your preference and why? Let's get the ball rolling here in the JJ24:15 forums!

"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"

Absent-minded Webmaster

621 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2005 :  20:55:05 Show Profile
Gear shmear, its all in the hands!

Seriously though, from working with computer audio I do realize the difference quality gear can make. I also know about trying to make the best compromize between desire and budget.

So, riddle me this axeman: how does the person who doesn't know what sound he's looking for look for that sweet-spot between quality and affordablility? I know that for myself - who is just "framing" (is that one m or two?) - that's a fairly easy question. But what about the rank amature who wants to get serious?

There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.
- Will Rogers
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Guitar Weenie

740 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2005 :  15:20:35 Show Profile
First, it's TWO m's(fraMMing;the other means building a house, lol)
Second,it's a great question, one that is not easily answered within the span of this forum,and I'm not sure I even know, but I will attempt to answer as best I can.
Generally, before you become a musician, you are a music listener. It usually begins with hearing something that stirs something in you. You really can't describe it, but you know it when it strikes.I know in my case, it was the first time I heard Van Halen's "Someboby Get Me A Doctor." I liked other bands, and I was even interested in the guitar, but it was EVH's SOUND that inspired me to play.I remember listening in awe, and saying to myself, "I've GOT to do THAT!" not "Oooh, that's neat!" or "I like that." It was "I MUST do that!"
It may seem that I'm going the long way around to answer your question, but stay with me. You see, that sound that I heard was what I always WANTED to hear, but didn't know it. When I heard that sound, I pursued it in my own playing.And, so it is a process of following your EARS. And often you start by imitating, as best that you can afford, the gear set ups of your heroes.But sometimes that leads you to gear that doesn't reproduce "that sound" that you are pursuing. So you widen your search to trying different gear out. And remember, as you mature as a player, your tastes change, your abilities change, and your ears change.You find that, when trying out a new amp or effect or guitar, that it doesn't quite reproduce YOUR own sound, one that satisfies YOUR ears. I ADORE EVH'S first album sound, but it is HIS sound, not mine. So, in a nutshell, that "Sweet Spot" that you are seeking, between quality and affordability, is often found by just spending the time to research what YOU like. If your hero plays a Marshall, check out Marshalls, but if you can't afford one, find a way to get that sound with cheaper gear. But it takes patience, time, and yes, money.
I know that this is rather long winded, but I have owned some really good sounding gear, and some really BAD sounding gear. The bad gear I got because I didn't listen before I bought.And so I dished out some hard earned fins on something that I ended up hating. I once bought a guitar with the same paint scheme that EVH's guitar had. Well, you know what? It sucked. It rarely stayed in tune, it was hard to play, and it broke down easily.The moral? If I had done a little more research, listening,saving, and less being star struck, I could've gotten a WAY better guitar for just 50 to 100 bucks more. Good quality gear IS affordable, but you have to be patient and have open ears! You will know it when you hear it, and/ or put your hands on it. If you go to a pawn shop, and you find a guitar with all the bells and whisles on it for $500, and it doesn't play well, or sound good,and there is a nice guitar with a couple of nicks in it, maybe a lousy paint job,but it plays and sounds like a dream, for only $150, which one should YOU choose? Who cares if (enter famous rock star's name here)plays one? He/She can afford to have good instruments look anyway they want, you can't! So listen and feel before you buy.Your ears will tell you.

"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"

Edited by - AXEMAN2415 on 23 Sep 2005 15:28:22
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