Amps

I think that the most important piece of equipment for an electric guitarist is his amp. That’s right, even more important than the guitar. For the most part, electric guitars use a primitive magnetic pick-up system to deliver the signal to the amp. Of course, the guitar needs to feel good to play and the pick-ups have to be the type that you like (i.e. humbucker, noiseless humbucker, single coil, paf, tec.), but it’s the amp that shapes the tone. Some people prefer tubes, others solid state. For me, it’s never been scientific. When I plug into an amp, I can tell within a few minutes whether it will work for me or not. I have owned a number of amps over the years. Sears Silvertone, Kustom, Fender Bassman, Vibrolux , Delux, Twin, Marshall 1×12, Peavey Artist, Ampeg, Acoustic 4×10 are all part of my story.

This looks just like mine. Did the trick for a short while until I got my Kustom. I love the way this Acoustic 134 sounds. Solid State, but very heavy. Back in the day, Mike Stern used to use two of these bad boys with an MXR stereo chorus. The jazz sound of the late 70s!

Peavey Stereo Chorus 400

As I mentioned, I think gear tends to choose us. I was doing a NAMM show back in the mid 80s with Steve Smith’s Vital Information. Tim Landers was the bassist at that time and a Peavey endorser, so Peavey supplied the back line for the performances. They brought in a Peavey Stereo Chorus 400 2×12 combo for me to play through and it was love at first sound! Peavey was nice enough to supply me with two of them and up until last year I have used those amps on most of my gigs and recording sessions. There are always times when you are going for a particular thing in the studio where you need to use an special amp to get it, but for the most part, I used the Peavey in the studio as well. After many years, my battle worn Peaveys spend as much time in the shop as they do on the road. Don’t get me wrong, they are very durable, but also very old. The amp is also very heavy, so I cut one up to use as a head for the road, but it’s still 70 lbs in the case. Fast forward to NAMM 2010. I was there to do a performance for TC Electronic with Minh Doky and I ran into Hadrien Feraud, who is a Mark Bass endorser. He asked me to come and play with him at Mark’s booth. So, I plugged into their new DV Mark 2×12 40 watt combo. Again, love at first sound! This is a tube amp that weighs 35 lbs., but I don’t want you to think the weight is the big thing for me, it’s all about the sound. I have been using this amp on tour and in the studio ever since. It has a very warm, smooth sound for a tube amp and some really cool features, such as a tube driven spring reverb, and continuous power control which allows you to actually reduce the wattage of the amp. I’m not a big fan of overly distorting the preamp, so this is a great feature to help you control your overall levels.

So, you see, it’s all about the relationship between the amp, guitar, and me. The Peavey is old technology solid state (which I far prefer to newer solid state amps, many of which are designed to be cost effective) and the DV Mark is a tube amp.
The problem I have found with “high end” tube amps is that it’s hard to control the high end. Pun intended. Most guitarists I know get great sounds from them. They just don’t work as well for me.

One last thing about one of my Peaveys. I was touring europe with Marcus Miller back in 2005. I used to keep one of my amps at a studio in Bonn, Germany, so when I went to Europe I would have my sound. A year later, I called the studio and told them that I would be needing it and they told me that it never made it back. These things happen to gear on the road. Things sometimes get lost , misplaced , or stolen. It’s in a silver case with my name on it, so if you are in Europe and you happen to see it, give me a shout!

DV Mark 212 40w combo

Check out this link to DV Mark, if you are curious about their stuff.

The DV Mark Multi Amp –  

This amp is a real game changer for me.  Now I can travel with my own amp again.  It’s versatile and light with a super fat, warm sound.