I’m in need of advice. I’m new to GeekChat, so please be gentle!
I play in a contemporary country/rock’n’roll/classic rock/blues cover band. Basically, anything that’ll make people dance, from Johnny Cash to AC/DC, we will play! We play one to two times a month in small to medium-sized clubs (100-300 people average) and outdoor shows during summer months. Amazingly, every time we play we're offered more gigs and people seem to like us, so I want my sound to be as reliable as possible.
The dilemma: I’m replacing a POD 2.0 that I put directly into the sound man's PA and which has worked well – it was reliable and I liked the flexibility and versatility, though, I know, it’s NOT a tube amp! I began using it when my Fender Twin Reverb and vintage pedals kept giving me troubles at gigs, everything from needing maintenance to noise to multiple cables crapping out, etc. My question is about what rig to replace it with: a digital amp modeler, as I’ve been using successfully for two years, or a more traditional amp? I have lots of equipment I could shed to make a purchase, but my requirements are this: whatever I get should be durable – won’t break down in the next five years; and it should be versatile.
[B]My gear: [/B]Amps: Fender Twin Reverb, circa 1976-1980, with Master volume/pull boost; Fender Princeton Reverb, on which the tone controls have only worked for about six months after maintenance twice: once in the 1980s, and again in the 1990s. I’ve given up on it! Pedals: Arion Stage Tuner; Vox Wah; Peavey Dirty Dog overdrive/distortion w/ trans tube; Boss analog delay; Russian Big Muff Pi; Boss Chorus Ensemble, circa early 1970s; 2 POD 2.0 with pedal boards, neither of which is fully functional (one has trouble channel switching, and the other has a wah that doesn’t work); Dean Markley acoustic pickup. Guitars: 1999 Gibson ES-335, Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II, Seagull acoustic/electric, all of which I love, care for, and gig out with all the time.
To Shed or Not to Shed? I’m willing to get rid of some of the gear, though the amps have been with me since I was a teenager and I’m really struggling with the idea, but they’ve never been serviced properly to my satisfaction in either Buffalo or Rochester, NY. But are Fenders of this era worth hanging on to? I intend to play music for the rest of my life, either live or home/studio recording, so I'm torn. I know the Chorus Ensemble is a classic and I’d rather not ditch it, but the rest I could replace. I could get a Floor Pod Plus for $200 and probably sell one POD and floor pedal for around $80-$150 if someone’s really interested, but I’m not counting on it.
The Band: Our group consists of me on rhythm and lead guitar/vocals/backup vocals/harmonica; a bassist/singer; a drummer/singer/harmonica player; a female lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist; a sound man who's amazing at whose house we practice weekly. We play contemporary country, which has anything from a ‘70s to ‘80s guitar sound in addition to what I always considered the classic country-Western sound, and, as mentioned above, anything that’ll make people dance and buy drinks from the bar.
My sound: I like a traditional rock sound and usually use Fender Twin/Vox models on my POD, with occasional Marshall Plexi and '80s-era sounds. For effects, I use clean/overdrive and full-on distortion occasionally for solos and a few songs, wah, reverb, delay, and chorus. I use the middle toggle position for pickups on most rhythm parts and hit the bridge for most solos and some rhythm parts. I use the neck pickup occasionally with the wah for a more bluesy sound.
Question for you: What do you recommend given the gear, guitars, band, and price limitations? I played a VOX AC-15 when the POD broke down for the first time, and I was STUNNED and reminded of just how friggin’ awesome tub amps are and realized how much I missed the responsiveness and power of a good tube amp. I think the VOX would do it but I hear they’re made in China and might break down in a few years (but this is coming from the guy who DIDN’T fix my Twin and Princeton properly for the second time). I’m looking for your advice on: gear that can take gigging out once or twice monthly and during weekly practices; something relatively versatile for our sound; something that is within my reach financially – as I said, I’m willing to sell gear to buy something worthwhile.
I understand much of this is subjective, but I’ll read your responses with interest. I’ve already polled all my guitar buddies, so I have some ideas, but I want to hear any suggestions/devil’s advocating you can manage.
Thanks in advance for your help!