I went to a show tonight, a concert if you will. Well, actually it was a record release party for the Intelligence. It was a fun show but the gear was even more interesting. I’ve gotten used to bands playing cool tube amps with custom or vintage guitars. Obviously a lot more money into their equipment than I can in good conscience spend, but this show was slightly different.
The Intelligence had some cool instruments, but they also used solid state amps…which are supposed to be uncool. The lead singer had what looked like a Peavey Reno 400, which if memory serves me correctly, is a solid state amp designed for playing lap steel. He had what I believe was a Hallmark (former employee of Mosrite) swept wing in metallic blue sparkle. Very “surfy” without making traditional surf music.
The other guitarist had a great Guild S-100 into a Kustom amp. I don’t know which model, but I will presume it was solid state too.
So did they have bad “tone”? No, they were very good.
The band right before the Intelligence was Unnatural Helpers and they had two guitarists. The one playing a Danelectro had so much hum from his tube amp (a Peavey Classic 50 Combo) that it was distracting…and painful to my ear. I had to get ear plugs just to stop the pain in the ear closest to his side of the stage. He was fun to watch play, but his sound was distressingly loud with piercing treble. Ouch!
So the “solid state” band used their equipment for a much better sound than the “tube” band. Both were good and had great energy, but the winner of the night for me was “the wimps”! The lead guitarist had what looked like a Hondo II into some Fender Deville model.
So what did I take from all this? Learn to use the gear you’ve got! It goes with N.O.S. and my recent post about playing instead of searching. Whatever equipment you have can sound good. But you have to learn how to use it. I’m sure the “tube” guitarist with the painful hum loved his tone when he was playing and thrashing around on stage, but he didn’t seem to care about the sound he made in between notes or songs.The sound guy even asked him if he meant to have that much hum and he said yes.
So maybe I’m the one being snobby. Maybe he wants his “tone,” both good and bad. Maybe.
And maybe not.