Amps are, seemingly, the biggest dilemma and conversation piece in the world for guitarists. It makes sense, since it’s the one “other” part of our rig that truly completes the picture, but has less of a “passionate” relationship to all of us than our guitars do. Amps also do so much to “colorate” and change the sound of what we all do, that it really does become a major decision as to which ones we really choose.
I guarantee you that if you put some guitarists together in a room and then left it open to discussion, the #1 topic will always end up being amps. Yes, there will be lots of poetic waxing about their love for their guitars, but the technical aspects of amplifiers will always win out, as they all fall into “talking shop!” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, as there is a lot to learn about the “amplifier question”, and it takes a lot to discover which is just right for you.
I personally have never been into having a lot of amps. A lot of guitars yes, but I have always felt that a smaller group of amps would do me just fine. My general criteria for what amps I like makes me tend to gravitate to more of the kind that I feel give me my most “natural” sound. This means that what I expect out of my guitar, I also expect to hear coming from my amp. I tend to shy away from amps that alter my sound too much…after all, I’m playing the guitar, not the amp, and I just want a pure sound from my amps with a limited amount of natural distortion. There’s certainly no question that I prefer all-tube situations for that very reason of natural sound and distortion, but even still, there have been a few “solid state” amps that have really surprised me with their warmth and trueness of tone.
If I were to get into a little bit of diversity with my amp collecting, I would certainly expect to get a few more interesting tonal approaches in my arsenal for sure. It’s also a really good idea when you’re recording to have a few amp choices at your disposal, which was what I was more open to in my latest recording, where instead of my usual one or two, I actually used about four different amps for various sounds.
There are many great amps around these days to choose from, and as is the case with guitars, many manufacturers are “getting back to their roots” when it comes to building hand-wired, sophisticated and durable amps. I’d really check around at what works best for you, but I’d always try to keep in mind what I said about making sure the amp lets you say and express what you need to say on that guitar of yours! Happing amp searching!