a dozen tone quests with the same ending

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by tealsixtysix, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. tealsixtysix

    tealsixtysix Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 30, 2015
    Massachusetts USA
    I've heard variations on this story at least a dozen times. I heard it again the other day. The details are always different, but the ending is always the same. Always.

    Guy (it's always a guy) of a certain age (over 40, but probably not over 60) has been chasing a tone in his head for years and years. He's gone through a slew of amps -- boutique, high-tech, vintage -- and he has spent a ton of money, a TON. But nothing sounds right, even after tube swaps and speaker swaps. And forget pedals -- not even the really expensive ones have what he's seeking.

    Part of the problem is that he can't clearly describe the tone he's chasing, but he knows it when he hears it.

    On deeper inquiry, it turns out that the moment when he first started seriously listening to music as a young person was between (roughly) 1978 and 1987, give or take.

    Guy is asked if he's ever tried an old-school master volume Marshall -- 2203, 2204, or one of the combos using the same circuit. No way, he says. He's deeply skeptical.

    Those old Marshalls are way too loud, too junky, too PCB, too mass-market, whatever. Definitely way way too loud. There's no place to play amps like that anymore! Besides, he knew someone who knew someone who had a JCM 800 back in the day and it sounded like a muddy piece of junk. And most of the original ones have been modded and they don't sound right unless they're cranked way up. And the reissues have crap transformers. (He knows all this because he read it on TGP, of course.)

    He has been looking at high-end boutique stuff, amps under 30 watts. Those are more his thing.

    But eventually, he is persuaded to try one, or he runs across one in a store somewhere and plugs in just to see. He is ASTOUNDED. THAT is the tone he has spent thousands of dollars seeking!

    Of course it's the tone he has been looking for all along. It's the tone that made all the music he loved back when he first got turned on to music with guitars. And now that he has tried one, hopefully with someone who knows the amps helping him out, he has learned that the TGP know-it-alls don't always know everything.

    Yeah, those old Marshalls are really loud... REALLY loud, when they're cranked. But these aren't plexis. They don't absolutely need to be cranked. Pre-amp on 8 and master on 1, and yeah, it's loud. But it's not crazy-loud, not paint-ripping call-the-cops loud.

    It's loud-TV loud. It's Quadrophenia-on-the-stereo-when-nobody's-home loud. It's I-could-live-with-this-maybe-with-an-attenuator-to-play-at-night loud. And even with the MV on 1, it's still That Sound, the sound that none of the boo-teek stuff could match.

    Tone quest over.

    I seriously think I've sold 3 or 4 2203 reissues and a couple of 4010 combos just by telling this story over the last few years. And I really have heard it at least a dozen times aside from those experiences. I figured it was worth sharing here.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
  2. carver

    carver Gone strangling

    Jul 19, 2011
    A van down by the river / Canada
    great post.

    I totally get it.

    I have a love affair with black face Fender bassmans because Brian Setzer was a dude I thought was unreal in the 90s

    I have a love affair with mesa boogie because in the early 2000s I was really into lamb of god and thought those guys had killer tone.

    I have a love affair with the marshall jcm 900. not an amp I would have thought to have fallen for. but damn it man. megadeth at the flip of a switch, and all that glorious skate punk that was coursing through my veins in the late 90s is simply just there...

    recently I have been wanting to get a friedman BE 100. why? not because the internet told me too, but because I saw a band live recently and that tone is burnt into my mind. I will end up with one sooner or later.

    hunting blind is a great way to waste time. you have to at least know what you are hunting for. cant bring a fishing rod to go snag a moose.