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guitarmick69's picture
Jul 2010
1 year ago

Hi all!

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!
- Mike

lobsty's picture
between Berlin and Melbourne...
Nov 2003
4 years ago

Hi and welcome :)
It's a tough call because there are so many options out there but I'd consider just using the Twin with a Tubescreamer and maybe another dirt box like a Rat or something. That would probably cover almost any of the classic rock kind of area and would use your existing amp.

Crustaceo ergo sum

guitarmick69's picture
Jul 2010
1 year ago

Thanks, Lobsty! I've had that in mind, too, but am a bit worried about beating heck out of the amp at gigs. It does have AMAZING tone, though!

Thanks for the reply!
- Mike

cosmiqphuz's picture
Lancaster, Pa
Dec 2008
2 years ago

Life's too short, use the Twin Reverb.

iaresee's picture
Sep 2006
1 year ago

Since you already know modelers, you should acquaint yourself with the best of them: http://www.fractalaudio.com/products-fa-axefx.html

- IAN C. -
Rig: PRS | Schecter USA | Gibson | Axe-Fx II | empress effects
Beta tester: Fractal Audio | empress effects

Savant's picture
Ft. Lauderdale
Aug 2009
6 years ago

For such a small club, a 30 watt amp is more than enough, and a very simple pedal or multi FX will do nicely. A good solid Fender Hot Rod or Vox AC-30, or even a small Marshall will do. A Peavy Classic 30 is a good all around amp.

You can plug in a basic distortion pedal, and a few others, maybe chorus, compression, etc. I've seen a lot of small local bands use a lot of stuff and get by well. Most people use more power than they need. 30 watts is plenty for most groups.

Autistic Savant

lobsty's picture
between Berlin and Melbourne...
Nov 2003
4 years ago

I wouldn't worry too much about overusing the Twin : those things are designed to be workhorses and if you don't abuse it you should have no problems. I've come across a lot of Twins that have been used by hire companies or as in-house backline that have been totally shot because they have been abused by everyone and his/her dog, but if you treat the way you would/should treat any big, heavy, expensive bit of gear it should be fine. And it should sound awesome :cool:

Crustaceo ergo sum

laa0815's picture
Vienna, Austria / Europe
Dec 2004
4 years ago

My advice:

Keep the Twin!!! Use it as a base for some effects...

Keep your chorus and analog delay - did they ever crap out? If not, you should use them... If, just get the Line6 M9 and be served forever with every effect you might ever need...

Get a decent wah - Dunlop? George Dennis Wahs are said to be very reliable and useful... Or even a Morley? I have a friend who ditched his Dunlop in favor of a Morley just because of it's "usefulness" - just a thought.

For overdrive:


should serve you VERY well... It's like a standard in Germany among quite a few Pros... Other suggestion: OKKO Diablo+ (extremely good overdrive): http://www.stompbox.de/diablo_english.html

Get a GOOD looper: Lehle D.loop!!! Run the (true bypass) Wah, then the Dual Drive before the looper - loop A a good tuner (your Arion? If not, a Korg is perfect, I'd choose the Pitchblack) - loop B the other effects... You can program the D.Loop to everything useful...

Power your pedalboard with at least two supplies (I'd suggest Big John by Carl Martin or Cioks - it's the same, cheaper than a Voodoo Lab and even better in terms of reliability) - one for analog effects and overdrive, the other one for the digital effects. This and the use of the D.Loop should reduce hum and other **** to a minimum. Plus, to a purer sound :)

Hope that was sort of help... :)

Cheers, Dominik

darrenjbee's picture
Jul 2010
6 years ago

Hi Guitarmick69

Im in a very similar situation to you!

Just joining a rock covers band and just dont know the best rig to go for!

Im current using:

Line 6 Flextone III amp
Boss GT10 Effects processor
Gibson ES335 2008
Fender US Telecaster 2009
Fender US Strat 1998

Let me know how you end up!

eyescicle's picture
Oct 2006
4 years ago

my $.02: stick with the Twin (or get a newer, smaller tube combo that you're less concerned with beating up) and use something like the POD Live floorboards or an M13. this'll cut down considerably on the number of things that can go wrong, give you the kind of versatility you're used to, and still give you the feel of a tube amp.

another idea would be to upgrade your POD and get something like the Guitar Rig or AxeFX software to run straight to the board.

"After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music..."

---Aldous Huxley

the rig thread for my band


guitarmick69's picture
Jul 2010
1 year ago

Thanks, everyone, for your responses!

Update on my situation: the Twin is ill and my friend (much better at this thing that me) and I will go through it to see what needs to get it up to speed before maybe getting it serviced. In coming weeks we'll do the same with the Princeton, though I've had it working properly only twice since I got it in 1983!

I'm going to see what happens there, and then figure it out. I'll let you all know! I'm leaning toward Line 6 stuff if the amp needs expensive repairs, or otherwise gonna look at pedal options you all mentioned!

Time to go out and start playing with effects and amps!

Thanks again, and feel free to keep weighing in -- it's a great education for me!
- Mike