And now MSOM Presents… Axe Chat!

This will be a recurring feature wherein we discuss the ‘ins and outs’ of gear: guitar gear, bass gear, keyboard gear, drum gear, maybe even horn gear (but really, who cares about horn gear? if there’s a miraculous advance in reed technology let us know).

This week let’s focus on a common dilemma for young guitarists: Which amp is the right amp for me?

Musicians fret about their tone. It’s an obsession that can be all consuming. Most would agree that electric guitarists are annoyingly obsessive about their “rig” and the tone it generates. Its part of the genetic code of the stringbender.

So given that choosing the right tone shaping tool (i.e. amp) is of paramount importance, how do you choose the right one? To narrow down your choices consider three things:

1. What kind of sounds do I want to get? Do you just plan on playing Jazz? Do you want to get Rock sounds? Are you a Country Twanger? Do you fancy yourself a Metal shredder? Rockabilly? Roots? Grunge? Do you like searing Blues tones? Plinky ‘80s Pop tone? One must ponder these questions before embarking on the journey to tonal Nirvana. After lengthy reflection the next matter to consider is:

2. In general, what amps do the guitarists I like use? With todays modern interwebs it’s easier than ever to sample a broad menu of tones. Let your modem do the walking and watch lots of videos of guitarists performing and ogle their gear. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could journey beyond the binary universe and see live music in person. Internet video is nice but it falls short of seeing ‘the goods’ in action. When you’re there don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Even the surliest of axemasters is usually eager to discuss gear…particularly their gear. Although you may want an exit strategy when they begin a two hour dissertation on the importance of low midrange frequencies in Aldo Nova solos.

3. The last thing to consider before venturing out to spend your hard earned coin is application. What will you be using your new tone fountain for? Are you a bedroom player who doesn’t gig? Will you be playing in a group? If you think you will be playing lots of gigs durability should be a factor in you decision. Will you be satisfied with a single channel amp? Would a modeling amp be better suited to your needs so you can have greater versatility (bear in mind that a wise man once said “Quality and Convenience are seldom seen walking hand in hand”).

So before you go out and get your shiny new amplifier think about these three questions and you’ll begin to narrow down your choices.

Next time we’ll discuss specific kinds of amplifiers and their applications.

In other news due to school vacations and a cantankerous ‘Old Man Winter’ our ensembles have not met for two weeks. We look forward to resuming our rehearsals Sunday!

The groups will perform on Sunday April 28th at the Stockhouse in Westbrook. Stay tuned for details!

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