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What is the right amp for me?

Ah. One of the most often asked questions by most of us in our search for the Holy Grail of amps. Hopefully, if you're reading this now, you may have at least landed on Fender as a main consideration. It can come down to a process of elimination...

• Is it for the home or for the stage and/or rehearsal space?

This relates to how much power you need and what kind of guitarist you are.

It really all comes down to what "you" like and what "you" are looking for as far as tone goes.

Vintage:
There are countless guitar players out there who own a Fender Narrow-Panel Bassman 1960. If you are searching for arguably the finest guitar amp ever made then this one is for you. It's expensive and it will take some up keep but it's well worth it. If you've heard of Carlos Santana, and I'm sure you have, then listen to this. Carlos plays Mesa Boogie today, however he still keeps Fender stand by's in his arsenal. The main amp Carlos uses for his lead tone is simply a Fender Bassman hot rodded. Boogie took an old Fender Bassman Circuit and hot rodded it and the Mark 1 was born.

If you are looking for "true" tone that you hear on CD's from the past then a vintage amp is for you. If you don't mind some slight modifications in tone than a re-issue is for you. Know that anytime something is re-issued there are going to be some differences in tone. There are going to be differences because we as humans think we can improve on something that is already good.

If you are looking for a good all around amp that works fine on the stage, in the studio, and across many a guitar player's world, than check out the Fender Deluxe Reverb Amp. Now, some may say it doesn't have enough wattage. It's got 22 "tube" watts. Check out Stevie Ray's rig and Eric Johnson's rig. Basically you can use the Deluxe Reverb Amp as your "foundation" and hook up stomp boxes to increase your level when the time comes. Players from the time the amps were first made and still today just turn the amp all the way up and control everything from the guitar volume. Now remember all "watts" means when it comes to an amp is when it will start distorting. If you don't mind a little growl on your clean tone (or warmth) than the Deluxe Reverb is for you. You see as you add watts to a circuit you can go "louder" without distortion. Fender made and makes many amps with different wattage for different minded players. For instance, the black face Vibrolux reverb amp had 40 watts, and the Super Reverb had 40 watts. The difference between the 2 was the circuit and how many speakers. If you need lot's of watts and a good clean tone than the infamous Fender Twin Reverb is for you.

Last thing about wattage. When it comes to wattage, playing with a drummer, playing in front of thousands of people in a big stadium, or whatever the case may be, never think that you need a bigger rig or one with more watts. All you need to do is stand in front of the amp where you would be on stage, at practice, or in any situation and if you like the tone, That's all you need. Many, Many guitar players use the Fender Deluxe Reverb in stereo and just use stomp boxes for their lead tone. Other players have got to have a Marshall Stack, because it gives that full bodied Rock n Roll tone that no other amp gives. Remember, when you are on stage, no matter how big the venue, you are searching for a good "stage" sound, which means "How is the sound for everyone on stage" The Rock n Roll band U2 and guitar player "The Edge" uses 2 Vox AC30's in stereo no matter how big the venue. The AC-30's are rated at 33 watts. You'd be surprised how loud you can get with a little amp. It's all about tone and what "you" the guitarist likes and wants to hear on stage or at practice.

If you'd like to read a great article about the early days of Fender and how Dick Dale (King of Surf Guitar) helped Leo create things Click Here.

Modern:
Fender has many modern amps that are satisfying many aspiring guitar players and "vintage minded" alike.

Again it's really up to the guitarist what he or she wants out of an amplifier, and what kind of tone. It takes a lot of research and paitience to find the right one. You have to ask yourself what kind of guitar player you are going to be and then act accordingly. For instance are you just going to play as a hobby? Are you looking to play pro? Are you looking to play pro but only local small clubs, etc.

If you are just starting out and you aren't sure about tone, and you aren't sure about whether or not you will even be playing in 6 months, Fender has many solid state series amps that are low priced yet amazingly sound pretty good. The Front Man series is your ticket if you are in this arena. Even if you are going to go pro or are already pro you may enjoy one of these amps for experimentation and just a good protable practice amp. Turn it all the way up and plug some big cabinets into it and you will experience EARTHQUAKE 10.

There are many good solid state and tube modern Fender amps out there today. The Vibro King, The Twin, The Blues Junior and Pro Junior, The Cyber Twin and The Cyber Deluxe, The Fender Stage 100, Fender Acoustasonic Series, The Fender Hot Rod Series, and so many more.

If you need some expert advise on Fender Amps or just need to see a good online selection try visiting MusicPower.com. We have found them to be the lowest priced, highest quality, and best customer service.



• A word about Bass Amps?


Bass amps are a whole different story. Again it all comes down to what kind of player you are or what kind of player you want to be.

If you want that low end punch with NO distortion where people in the back row will feel your thunder and still hear your lightning then the more wattage the better. Remember, the more wattage you have the cleaner your sound and on low frequencies you will need it if you want to stay punchy and clean.

Personally I don't know any bass players that want distortion because they don't have enough power, but you may be that person. Look around and try different watts out and really go low on your bass.

For practice amps Fender makes a number of great bass amps that still hold their ground live with a drummer.

If you are a bassist that wants to play with distortion, and in today's sound this is very possible, there are a number of stomp boxes for bass that you may want to try. There is nothing like a good clean bass tone coupled with a good stomp box distortion.



• Do you want tube or solid state?


Tube or solid state again is a matter of preference and tone.

The difference between tubes and solid state can be explained very simply the same way you explain "analog" and "digital." Analog has a "wide" range of sound because the voltage goes from 0 to ? with everything in between. Digital has a very distinct sound because it's voltage goes from 0 to 5 with nothing in between. The same with tube and solid state. Tubes are known for their wide range of tone and their warmth. Solid state is known for it's reliability and clean tone. Tubes take more upkeep and solid state lasts longer. Just some things to consider when making your purchase. Me persoanlly I would always rather have an old beat up tube amp just because I feel the tone is "real." You on the other hand might have different tastes and prefer the reliability over the other things. Tubes can be a pain in the ass because you have to replace them about every year depending on how often you play.

Ultimately if you still feel in the dark listen to your favorite modern bands and think about their sound. How is it the same or different than, say, a classic recording from the 60's and 70's (their amp choices are pretty well documented by now) or vice versa if that era is your favorite. If you can't get past that old school tone Fender has almost all of the classic 60's black face amps reissued and available. Remembering though that if you want to capture "true" vintage tone, you need to put a "real" 1964 blackface right next to a reissue and see if you are willing to settle for the difference in tone. The difference in tone is due to the difference in "parts." It's like we said earlier, "We as humans think we can improve on something that is already good."

There is such a variety of guitar magazines these days that sooner or later an artist you like will be caught spilling the beans on whether they had the stack blazing away or captured their hot, thick solo through a cranked, little 15 watt Champ ("No way" I hear you gasp. Well, Ace Frehley will tell you otherwise). Talk to other players who have been around a while and have some experience owning different amp technologies (yeah, the grizzled veterans, guys who had tattoos before Green Day). Ask questions that relate to what you want to do with your music. The on-line community can be a great resource as well. Have you found a cool on-line store that you've got to know and trust and can pick their brain a little? If not try www.Bizrate.com for a good way to find a reputable (well reviewed by customers) on-line Fender dealer.
 
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