Posted tagged ‘Fender’

The Great Guitar Amp Search Continues

April 8, 2010

I’ve been looking for a low-wattage tube combo amp for quite some time. I did a lot of preliminary research on the web, and I thought I was going to like either a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb ReIssue or a Fender ’65 Princeton ReIssue. I came to that conclusion based on my identified criteria:

  • plenty of clean gain, for when I use it in jazz settings
  • tube breakup when I need it, but controllable and not too loud (Master Volume important)
  • over all I feel I need something between 10 and 20 watts.
  • compliments the tones from my extensive pedalboard
  • not too bright – I like a balanced overall frequency spectrum
  • portable – I’d love to be able to throw it in the back seat and go.
  • multiple channels, for small gigs where I don’t bring my pedalboard
  • reverb would be nice but not essential

So I’ve gone to several stores and shops and tried out a lot of amps recently. One of the first things I noticed on side-by-side comparisons? ALL FENDERS ARE TOO STINKING BRIGHT. Compared to other brands, the Fenders are like an ice pick in the ear. Other brands I eliminated?

  1. Epiphone – I think they’re simultaneously muddy and abrasive.
  2. Marshall – I’ve just never been a Marshall guy. I don’t get it.
  3. Boogie – I had high hopes, but alas, it just wasn’t for me.
  4. Orange – I really don’t like the top end on this brand.
  5. Hughes & Kettner – nope.
  6. Laney Lionheart – loved the overdrive tone, but not enough clean gain.

SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? Here’s my narrowed down list. I like all these amps. Look at the extreme price differential! The Bogner is clearly my favorite, but I just don’t have $2500 to spend on an amp.

So all you guitar players out there – what did I miss? Where is my thinking wrong? I admit I’d be nervous about buying a Bugera (basically a Behringer). There are lots of unknowns about its reliability. But come on VOX – no ‘verb? Really? In a $1500 amp?

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Poll: Guitars for the Average Working Man

March 22, 2010

Leo Fender made a huge contribution to music-making. His designs, introduced over 50 years ago, are still in production today. Can you imagine if Ford were to sell the exact same model after 50 years with only minor cosmetic changes? But that’s what we’re talking about. The Fender Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass are still bestsellers even today.

Leo also believed in mass-producing his designs so that costs could be contained and the instruments would be accessible to the average working man. He carried this foundational concept with him to Music Man and G&L. Accessible Instruments for the Average Working Man.

So what the heck is the Fender company thinking? I saw this link on twitter this morning. Fender introduces new American Deluxe series. Take a look. These are the same classic designs made by Fender for over 50 years. There are a few minor upgrades like Strap-Loks and “noiseless” pickups (which have been around quite a few years now), and a nice plush guitar case. But did you see the list prices? $1999.99 to $2199.99! Is that what Fender thinks is in the range of the “average working man”?

What do you think? Vote in the poll and let me know.

I wanted to hate it.

March 9, 2010

Background: I have been looking for a low-wattage tube combo amp for a long time. I originally thought I would love the Fender Deluxe Reverb ’65 Reissue or the new Fender Princeton ’65 Reissue. After all, they have 22 and 15 watt designs, respectively. But after traveling to Sweetwater’s showroom and trying them out, my take-away is that they’re just TOO DANG BRIGHT. I like more fullness and tone out of my amps.

While on that trip, I was able to find two amps that I liked. One was the hand-wired Vox AC15 ($1399). I thought it was a very serviceable sound that could do a lot of things. But the one that sent me home raving was the Bogner Duende 1×10. I LOVED that amp. It had the perfect marriage of clean gain, full tone, and grit from the overdrive channel. Alas, the Bogner Duende 1×10 is freaking $2500!!!

Today, I traveled to Indy and went to Guitar Center. In the center display was something I wanted to make fun of – a Bugera V22 combo amp. I thought to myself – let’s plug it in and see what kind of shihacky sounds I can get out of it.

You see, I was prejudiced against the amp. Bugera (whose name sounds like you took a few of the most popular boutique amp makers and put them in a blender…primarily Bogner, Egnator, and Rivera) is made by parent company Behringer. Yes – THAT Behringer. The Behringer that got sued for reverse-engineering some of Mackie’s most popular mixer designs. The company that spits out dirt-cheap electronics products by “borrowing” from industry leaders. The Behringer that is well-known to be the “bottom-feeder” of music store gear.

I WANTED TO HATE IT.

But I didn’t. I sat there for nearly 30 minutes putting it through it’s paces – looking for weaknesses, comparing it to other amps I’ve played. But you know what? I actually liked it. I liked it a LOT.

Know what’s funny? The amp had a sticker on it that read, “$349”. Yes. Really.

You can read more about the amp here: http://www.bugera-amps.com/EN/products/V22.aspx

How To Save The American Auto Industry

December 8, 2008

This is an idea I’ve had for quite a few years now, long before the Big 3 automakers went to congress with their hands out. The idea stemmed from a trend in the musical instrument industry. When facing an influx of newer, cheaper competition from the overseas markets in the 1970’s, the first thing the american musical instrument manufacturers did was to cut corners on quality, trim expenses, and increase their ability for mass production (sound familiar?) This had the opposite effect they were looking for. With declining quality and service from the American brands, it actually encouraged musicians to try out the newer imports. But then, you see, many of the manufacturers realized (very late in the game, I might add – and very similar to the lessons learned by the “new Coke” fiasco) that their biggest assets to face this competetition were (1) their name, (2) their back catalog of quality products, and (3) their history, heritage, and connection with the American consumer.

So what did they do? Did they completely retool their factories, spend millions in R&D, and innovate new and exciting products? No, they didn’t. They re-released replicas of their finest vintage products! The importers could not copy their designs because they were patented and protected. So the manufacturers all now offer some sort of “vintage reissue” or “heritage” or “classic” lines of products now (and they ask top dollar for them, too, by the way.) So you can now buy a newer, solid state Fender guitar amp for $349 – OR – you can buy a Vintage Reissue ’65 Twin Reverb amp for $1,299. AND FENDER IS SELLING A TON OF THEM. The imports can’t compete because they don’t have the name, the history, the heritage, the design, or the “sound”. There is only ONE Fender Twin – and you can only buy it from Fender.

fender_twin

WHY THE HECK CAN’T AMERICAN CAR MANUFACTURERS DO THE SAME THING?

There is only one ’57 Chevy. One ’66 Mustang, ’56 Corvette, or ’55 Chrysler 300. Why not do a Vintage Reissue of them? (And I’m not talking about the modern homage like the recent Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Ford Thunderbirds. While those are cool, these are not what I’m talking about.) I’m talking about actual modern replicas of the old designs – exterior and interior.

Now, of course, I realize that certain modern adaptations would be both practical and necessary. Obviously, seat belts and air bags and ABS and modern sound systems, power door locks, air-conditioning, front wheel drive, etc, etc, etc would have to be allowed for. And modern materials like fiberglass would probably take the place of an all steel body. And engine specs, fuel economy and emissions standards would have to be worked out. BUT the whole idea is to stay as true to the original look and feel as humanly possible. WHAT COULD THE IMPORTS DO ABOUT IT? Absolutely nothing. They have no vintage back catalog of products to pull from.

Tell me people wouldn’t buy new cars that look like these! (Click a thumbnail for a little larger version and year/make/model)