The amps

Here’s my amp lineup these days. I’ve gone through all sorts of amps over the years, and there are a few I still regret having given up, but this particular bunch serves all my needs and I’ve kept this lineup for several years.

The big one is instantly recognizable by many musicians: It’s a Fender reissue ’59 Bassman. This particular reissue comes from the early 1990s, and has the Eminence blue Alnico speakers that no longer come in the Bassman reissue. I’ve owned a couple of these over the years and have played through many more, but this is the ‘spongiest’ of all of them — it distorts well even at lower volumes and has none of the stiffness that some of these early reissues have. Actually, this amp could use to go into the shop for a nice going-through and cap job…at probably 15 years old, it’s about time for a tune-up.

The cool white one — Teresita — is a hand-built clone of a ’59 Fender Deluxe. Hugely popular with some guitarists, the Deluxe has a very special overdriven tone that goes from bluesy to psychotic (at the psycho end, Neil Young has used Deluxes to great effect for decades). Unlike the tweed-covered original, I had this one covered in white Tolex — I had no interest in making it look like the original. This is an excellent amp for small and mid-sized rooms if you have other instrumentalists who don’t get crazy with volume.

The black one is an Electar Tube 10, made by Epiphone earlier this decade but no longer produced. It’s a single 6L6 amp with an 8-inch speaker. It’s perfect for practices and small acoustic/quiet gigs.

And the tiny little one is a Pignose, a fun little battery-powered practice-by-myself amp that I’ve owned for at least 15 years. This particular model has been made for about 40 years. I rarely use the Pignose for practice any more — I have an amp simulation pedal with a headphone jack that I prefer — but it still looks cool and is fun to just crank up every now and again.

I’ll try to recall every amp I’ve ever owned:

• Late 1980s: A Gibson 2×12 transistor amp that sounded OK. I knew next to nothing about amps then.
• Early 1990s: A Fender Princeton Chorus 2×10 transistor amp. Surprisingly versatile but lacked tube punch (I was just learning about tubes then).
• Early 1990s: A reissue 1963 Fender Vibroverb 2×10 tube amp. This was my first great tube amp and it is the one I most regret giving up to this day. However, I traded it in on a:
• Mid -1990s: Reissue ’59 Fender Bassman. This amp was loud, clean, too bright and made me unhapy. It also made me desperately miss my Vibroverb.
• Mid-1990s: Crate Vintage Club 50 2×12: Well, it looked cool. It weighed a ton and was glassy-bright. Never could get the tone I wanted out of this thing.
• Mid-1990s: Late 1950s Gibson Invader: This was a beater I bought on the cheap at a guitar show. However, the guts held up pretty well. It sounded fabulous — when it was working. I played this amp at my wedding and at many, many gigs. I have some great video of me playing at a mid-1990s blues festival using this.
• Mid-1990s: Early 1960s Danelectro: It was very similar to one of the Silvertone head-in-cabinet amps, and featured a 3×10 speaker lineup. However, it was never reliable and had an ungrounded cord, and I eventually sold it after I got tired of getting shocked on stage.
• Mid-1990s: Another reissue ’59 Bassman. This is the one I still own. It’s a great amp.
• Early 2000s: Late 1960s silverface Fender Super Reverb. I bought this because I was getting bored with the Bassman. It sounded great but covered the same territory and weighed another 20 pounds over the Bassman, so I sold it. This was a nice amp, though.
• Early 2000s: Electar Tube 10: Still own this one, too.
• Early 2000s: Fender Blues Junior: A great small amp that served a lot of purposes but always sounded a bit dark. I used it quite a bit until I got:
• Mid-2000s: Fender ’59 Deluxe clone.


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