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> A Question About Tone
radarlove1984
post Mar 8 2007, 09:42 PM
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How important is an amp in regards to your tone?

I recorded myself playing today and was amazed at how bad I sounded. My guitar was in tune, and everything was played cleanly and in time with the music, but the guitar sound itself was terrible. I went back and recorded a few simple riffs just to make sure it wasn't a playing mistake, and again, it sounded terrible. The clean channel has so much bass you can barely make out the chords, and the distortion channel sounds incredibly dirty and brittle. I never really noticed this before because I was always playing at the time.

My amp is an $80 dollar discontinued solid-state Crate amp. My guitar is a used, 2004 model Gibson SG that was professionally set up and plays great.

It sounds obvious now that I type this, but is this cheap amp killing my tone?

And if it is, it looks like I need a replacement.

My budget is between $200-$400, and I need a replacement practice amp. Nothing too loud... 15w would probably do it. I could really use some recommendations, as I know nothing about what makes a good amp.
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Andrew Cockburn
post Mar 8 2007, 10:31 PM
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QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Mar 8 2007, 03:42 PM) *
How important is an amp in regards to your tone?

I recorded myself playing today and was amazed at how bad I sounded. My guitar was in tune, and everything was played cleanly and in time with the music, but the guitar sound itself was terrible. I went back and recorded a few simple riffs just to make sure it wasn't a playing mistake, and again, it sounded terrible. The clean channel has so much bass you can barely make out the chords, and the distortion channel sounds incredibly dirty and brittle. I never really noticed this before because I was always playing at the time.

My amp is an $80 dollar discontinued solid-state Crate amp. My guitar is a used, 2004 model Gibson SG that was professionally set up and plays great.

It sounds obvious now that I type this, but is this cheap amp killing my tone?

And if it is, it looks like I need a replacement.

My budget is between $200-$400, and I need a replacement practice amp. Nothing too loud... 15w would probably do it. I could really use some recommendations, as I know nothing about what makes a good amp.


How did you record it? Could it be that a cheap mic is killing your tone instead? Especially if you didn't notice it before?

OTOH, the AMP is very important for tone if you aren't DI-ing, but if it is just for practicing, the most important thing is that it inspires you with its sound (good or bad) - I always play 5 times as well (so I imagine) when I have a killer sound that I like.

I don't have any specific recommendations - I'm a pod guy myself so all my amps are virtual :-) Although, a pod plus a clean keyboard amp might be a good choice if you want tonal versatility.


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Jeff
post Mar 8 2007, 11:10 PM
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QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Mar 8 2007, 09:42 PM) *
How important is an amp in regards to your tone?

I recorded myself playing today and was amazed at how bad I sounded. My guitar was in tune, and everything was played cleanly and in time with the music, but the guitar sound itself was terrible. I went back and recorded a few simple riffs just to make sure it wasn't a playing mistake, and again, it sounded terrible. The clean channel has so much bass you can barely make out the chords, and the distortion channel sounds incredibly dirty and brittle. I never really noticed this before because I was always playing at the time.

My amp is an $80 dollar discontinued solid-state Crate amp. My guitar is a used, 2004 model Gibson SG that was professionally set up and plays great.

It sounds obvious now that I type this, but is this cheap amp killing my tone?

And if it is, it looks like I need a replacement.

My budget is between $200-$400, and I need a replacement practice amp. Nothing too loud... 15w would probably do it. I could really use some recommendations, as I know nothing about what makes a good amp.


Before you give up on the amp, does it sound good when you play without recording? If so, then the problem is with the recording set-up as Andrew has suggested. With respect to price, don't let that fool you. Sometimes it's amazing how nice something "cheap" can sound vs. something "expensive".

Personally, I prefer the sound of tube amps - perhaps it's psychological, but they seem to have a more mellow/less harsh tone. They are more expensive than solid state. In the price range you have stated, I have heard that the Roland Cube amp is a good deal. Although I don't have one of those I do have a Line 6 Spider that I got for about $300 a while ago. I'm not crazy about it but it is a decent practice amp and worth checking out. You could do worse. It has a lot of distortion settings for harder rock if you prefer that. The clean sounds lack a little bottom end though.

jeff
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radarlove1984
post Mar 9 2007, 12:15 AM
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My recording method is to stick an old cassette tape recorder from the 80's in the middle of my room and hit the record button. cool.gif I'm still a good 2 or 3 years away from playing anything good enough to require professional recording equipment! For the sake of keeping this on topic, I'll skip the details but I've been messing with the amp all day and I eventually tracked down a friend to play my setup and yep... it sucks. Well, maybe it doesn't suck but it's sure not for me. I'm more of a 60's and 70's rock player, and this amp is dirtier sounding than most Nirvana songs I've heard.

I think the reason I never really noticed before was because my ear is just starting to develop. 4 months ago I couldn't even tell if the guitar was tuned, and now I'm playing a lot of songs by ear. The miracle of practicing, eh? cool.gif


Andrew: I almost bought a POD a few months ago, then more bills came in and I forgot all about it. I heard the POD is great for recording and practicing, but I always forgot to ask one key question. Hopefully you can help me with this: When you're playing with headphones on, can you also play against a backing track? Next year I'm moving back into the college dorms again, and I need a way to jam silently until I find a band. Is there any type of line-in jack for a CD or MP3 player?

Jeff: Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into the amps you mentioned right now.
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Andrew Cockburn
post Mar 9 2007, 04:06 AM
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QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Mar 8 2007, 06:15 PM) *
My recording method is to stick an old cassette tape recorder from the 80's in the middle of my room and hit
Andrew: I almost bought a POD a few months ago, then more bills came in and I forgot all about it. I heard the POD is great for recording and practicing, but I always forgot to ask one key question. Hopefully you can help me with this: When you're playing with headphones on, can you also play against a backing track? Next year I'm moving back into the college dorms again, and I need a way to jam silently until I find a band. Is there any type of line-in jack for a CD or MP3 player?


Well, I have the Pod XT Live, and yes it does all of those things - when you hook it up to a PC it basically becomes a soundcard, with your live guitar mixed in so you can jam along to your hearts content and it sounds awesome though a decent pair of cans. Also, yes, it does have an input for CD or whatever else so you can Jam to that too!


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Effects : Line6 Helix, Keeley Modded Boss DS1, Keeley Modded Boss BD2, Keeley 4 knob compressor, Keeley OxBlood
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radarlove1984
post Mar 9 2007, 04:47 AM
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Thanks for the info Andrew. The line6 website was updated since the last time I looked, and I just saw Pod Floor Plus or whatever it's called. http://line6.com/floorpodplus/

As far as I can tell, it's like a cheaper version of the XT Live without the Variax connection, and has all the features of the POD 2.0. I'm going to need something like this next year, so I may as well buy it now and use the other $100 dollars for a keyboard amp.

That's the part I'm not totally clear on. I've heard that putting a POD through a normal guitar amp sounds terrible since the amp is already coloring the tone. I assume Keyboard amps don't do this, and that's why they work great with the POD.

does anyone know a good keyboard amp around $100 dollars? I need something that will work with a POD. Do you think it's even possible to find a good KB amp that cheap? Judging from my Crate amp, cheap isn't working that well... but maybe KB amps are different somehow?

has anyone tried this? If you know of a good KB amp, could you post a link to it? I'm not really sure what I'm even looking for.

(and sorry for all the stupid questions, but when it comes to guitar gear, I am a COMPLETE novice.)
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Andrew Cockburn
post Mar 9 2007, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Mar 8 2007, 10:47 PM) *
That's the part I'm not totally clear on. I've heard that putting a POD through a normal guitar amp sounds terrible since the amp is already coloring the tone. I assume Keyboard amps don't do this, and that's why they work great with the POD.

That's exactly right - Guitar amps are built for tone and overdriving etc. Keyboard Amps are built to give a clean sound and not color at all. The Tone comes from your pod, so adding more coloring doesn't usually work too well.
QUOTE (radarlove1984 @ Mar 8 2007, 10:47 PM) *
does anyone know a good keyboard amp around $100 dollars? I need something that will work with a POD. Do you think it's even possible to find a good KB amp that cheap? Judging from my Crate amp, cheap isn't working that well... but maybe KB amps are different somehow?

has anyone tried this? If you know of a good KB amp, could you post a link to it? I'm not really sure what I'm even looking for.

(and sorry for all the stupid questions, but when it comes to guitar gear, I am a COMPLETE novice.)

I don't own one of these, but Behringer do a line of reasonably priced keyboard amps, slightly more than your budget - I will probably get the 300 Watt version if I ever need to play live. I own other Behringer stuff and have found it to be good for the price.

Here is a link:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/home/naviga...er+keyboard+amp


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My Stuff:

Electric Guitars : Ibanez Jem7v, Line6 Variax 700, Fender Plus Strat with 57/62 Pickups, Line6 Variax 705 Bass
Acoustic Guitars : Taylor 816ce, Martin D-15, Line6 Variax Acoustic 300 Nylon
Effects : Line6 Helix, Keeley Modded Boss DS1, Keeley Modded Boss BD2, Keeley 4 knob compressor, Keeley OxBlood
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VinceG
post Mar 9 2007, 09:59 PM
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get a fender tube amp. One of those blues jr. 15w that cost around $399.99. It will definitly complement your guitar. Put up a digitech(the only digitech pedal that I still trust) and run it through the dirty amp hook up your guitar and youve got yourself a really nice tone.


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radarlove1984
post Mar 10 2007, 09:39 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Mar 9 2007, 08:39 AM) *
I don't own one of these, but Behringer do a line of reasonably priced keyboard amps, slightly more than your budget - I will probably get the 300 Watt version if I ever need to play live. I own other Behringer stuff and have found it to be good for the price.

Here is a link:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/home/naviga...er+keyboard+amp


Thanks, I'll check those out. I can probably save some money because I won't need anything very loud for another year or two.

QUOTE (VinceG @ Mar 9 2007, 12:59 PM) *
get a fender tube amp. One of those blues jr. 15w that cost around $399.99. It will definitly complement your guitar. Put up a digitech(the only digitech pedal that I still trust) and run it through the dirty amp hook up your guitar and youve got yourself a really nice tone.


I had a chance to try one of those amps yesterday and they're great. That's going to make a killer practice amp one of these days. The problem is that I'm moving back into the college dorms again in September. Part of the contract is No Guitar Amps Allowed dry.gif It looks like I'll have to buy some type of amp modeler eventually, so I think I'm going for a POD and a cheap Keyboard amp for home practice.
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