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Modeling or tube amp for older beginner?

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by privatesalt, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. privatesalt

    privatesalt Tele-Meister

    Jan 31, 2014
    I have a friend (in his 50s) that wants to learn to play. He already has a small Peavey Vypyr, and an older small Peavey Rage, and a cheap guitar (name escapes me). He likes blues, country, classic and southern rock. He's played around with it some in past, but wants to get serious and 'really' learn, and wants to get something nice. Budget for amp is up to $1000. He's leaning toward a new 2017 Gibson LP for the guitar.

    I told him he may want to go ahead and get a nice tube amp like a Fender DR, so he'll spend his time with his hands on the guitar LEARNING HOW TO PLAY rather than fiddling with knobs and playing with sounds on a modeling amp and computer.

    I learned to play in early 70s on cheap acoustic you could barely press strings. Then moved to a cheap electric LP copy and a cheap horrid sounding transistor amp, before moving up to decent equipment in mid to late 70s. That was my equipment experience while learning. Sometimes I think I play better because of that experience. Struggling to play and sound good on cheap hard to play equipment, before moving to easier to play nicer equipment. That was then, this is now, and I'm not sure what is best.

    What do you think? If the person has the funds, should they go for a nice tube amp to learn on, or a nice modeling amp? I figure if he loses interest, at least with a tube amp it will go up in value (or at least will hold value). Then again he knows computers and may enjoy playing around with a modeling amp, different sounds, and software.

    What are your thoughts on it? TIA!

  2. JasonKingsX

    JasonKingsX Tele-Meister

    May 15, 2017
    I'd go with an amp that sounds great np matter what the settings. Something that makes the guitar seem alive. The guitar? I'd look at ESP's LTDS.
    privatesalt likes this.

  3. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 24, 2015
    my Mom's basement
    Squire CV and a Champion 40

  4. hotraman

    hotraman Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2007
    Camas, WA
    I say a modeler, like a Katana or Fender.
    But get one where he can go to a jam and be heard.
    Plus he can learn about the various amps / effects that are in a modeler.

  5. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Holic

    Jan 24, 2011
    Paris, France
    There is nothing wrong to learn music on quality instruments, if you can afford them. You learnt because you had the will (and/or you were gifted), not "because" you had those bad instruments.

    I agree with you on the choice of a good tube amp. It is pleasant to experience that kind of gear, and getting it to sound right is a good goal, and may help him to stay focused on practice.

  6. Vespa_One

    Vespa_One Tele-Holic

    Feb 14, 2017
    Fender Mustang III V2 should be all the amp a player needs well into the intermediate level. Smoke on the water played out of time by a beginner does not need the nuances of a tube amp. Plus it may be helpful to try many different sounds to learn what you like. I've been playing 35 years and just realized I like compression sometimes thanks to the mustang. Other bonuses include consistency of sound, maintenance and reliability. I vote modeler.

  7. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    I have only modeling amps but that tends to be because they sit at the crossroads where reasonable affordability meets reasonable function. (my usual amp budget is @$50.. ;-) If I had 1k to spend on a amp I might choose something different, but I don't feel any current name brand amp is substandard, all are better than the buzz boxes we had in the '70s. If he already has the Vypyr I would say go with that , there is little that it won't do that other modelers will do, for the type of playing he will be doing I would suggest setting up a nice patch using a Fenderish voice (or the Budda if so equipped) and staying with it, until he has his hands happening. You can then use the modeling to audition some other options. If after doing that he feels that a larger modeling amp is what he wants, then get that, but 1K buys a lot of amp especially second hand, the number of lightly used 1500 amps that are available in the 1K range is staggering. He might decide he likes the V fine (you could always rig up a speaker out and run a 1x12 cab for jams & gigs or simply mike the thing, I often use a Spider 15 for small gigs), the 1k could then go towards a nice acoustic or a second electric.
    Cliffyg62 and xafinity like this.

  8. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Sep 21, 2012
    Katana 50 . It is simple to use , sounds Great , and is under $200 Bucks .
    Big-Tele and privatesalt like this.

  9. VintageSG

    VintageSG Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2016
    Gibson LP?, each to their own... :)
    Amp wise, there's so much choice nowadays. Does he have any interest in recording himself to gauge his progress?. Ease of recording via a built in USB thingy to Audacity is easier and cheaper than using a Redbox DI ( or similar ) twixt amp and speaker or mic to a USB mixer or interface and there aren't many valve amps that can do that. The Laney Lionheart 5 head and the Laney Ironheart Studio head are two that come to mind. It seems a lot of the modellers offer USB direct recording with speaker emulation. Some other valve amps feature a line out or DI out, but you'd still need some sort of interface.
    The current crop of Boss, Blackstar and Fender modellers seem to be well liked, and via the magic of Youtube, they sound rather good too. I noodled around on a Blackstar ID:Core and the stereo effect with reverb was awesome. I'll stick with glorious mono and glowing glass for now though.
    Best thing to do is drag him round a few shops to listen to a few. If he's not confident to play in a shop, play for him. I hate playing in shops!
    Get him to spring for a Digitech Trio+ too. They're great fun and a great practice tool. Much more fun than a metronome.
    Cliffyg62 and privatesalt like this.

  10. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 24, 2015
    my Mom's basement
    use what he has and spend the 1000 on lessons

  11. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Dec 3, 2014
    Toowoomba, Australia
    I would say keep it simple to avoid distractions. I'm a passable acoustic player, but I've never really come to grips with electrics because I spend too much time messing about with them and not enough playing. Also suggest to him that "more" isn't synonymous with "better", and as xafinity says, he might be a lot better off with more modest gear (with emphasis on the amp rather than the guitar) and some lessons.
    Cliffyg62 and privatesalt like this.

  12. rad1

    rad1 Tele-Holic

    Aug 5, 2015
    Santa Cruz CA


    A better guitar might be needed right away depending on how bad, or difficult to play, the one he has is. Amps can, and should wait. He really won't even know what he likes until he has played for a while.

    Having said that, I'm a strong believer that a person has the right to spend their money any way they wish.
    kuvash likes this.

  13. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Holic

    Jan 15, 2013
    Heart O' Dixie
    So he has a modeller - which model does he like? That would be the target amp. Since he's an adult, maybe trade up to a name brand guitar - Fender Standard or Gibson. Lots of options.

  14. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Holic

    May 29, 2016
    I'm for the tube amp. I know a guy who started playing a year or so ago. He's in his mid to late 40s I suppose and he was all about modeling amps. He got into guitars head first and started making up for years of missed action doing research and buying and selling various gear, but like I said he liked his modeling amps. He kept telling me about what he was looking for and it needed to have all these bells and whistles, while at the same time I was shopping for a tube amp (eventually settling on a Hot Rod Deluxe) and I told him I was just trying to keep it simple. Well then a few months later he tried a few tube amps out and now he can't go back.

    I so detested the sound of a solid state amp when I was younger that I virtually always played unplugged. It's not that I knew better, it's just that I preferred the sound of the guitar unplugged and my amp just seemed to kill that noise. Organic would be the word I'd use to describe it. And it wasn't until I bought my first tube amp (Fender Champion 600 which can be found pretty cheap) that I finally enjoyed the sound an amp I owned had to offer. To each his own though.

    After playing the champ for years I bought my HRD and after that the Champ just didn't do it anymore. Funny thing though, I got it out again just this week and I'm in love with it all over again.

    Bottom line, no person's opinion will be an answer for what you or your friend want, but I've never been a fan of solid state amps before I even knew what that term meant.
    privatesalt likes this.

  15. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    As others have said, I think he could do no wrong buying a cheap, light modeler for now that will let him know (approximatively) what his tastes in amps are. Additional advantages: headphones for silent practice and ease of recording.

    A Mustang or a Super Champ X2 (hybrid digital-tube, and a good one at that) give you very good blackface and tweed sounds. All he has to do is find a couple of patches he likes, not spend his time tweaking. I guess the same applies to a Katana.

    Also: before he settles on an LP, take him out to play a few reasonably good teles and strats :)

    The idea of saving some money for lessons is very, very good.
    kuvash and privatesalt like this.

  16. luckett

    luckett Friend of Leo's

    Jun 14, 2011
    It looks like he's already got what he needs. He'll sound just as bad into a $1000 tube amp as he will into that Peavey Rage.

  17. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Holic

    Sep 14, 2016
    not houston
    im with you on the tube amp. maybe a few pedals.

  18. Jules78

    Jules78 Tele-Holic

    Dec 12, 2016
    Northern VA
    Mesa lone star used. Very versatile and excellent value at $1,000 used for a combo.

  19. privatesalt

    privatesalt Tele-Meister

    Jan 31, 2014
    Wow! Thanks for all the posts...great info! It's great hearing everyone's opinions and experience. I'm sure alot of you get the same question from family and friends.

    I have a Mustang 3v2 so could set him up a few presets quickly. It's kind of weird recommending a discontinued amp (I wish they would have kept producing it! Fender messed up but that's another story.) Anyway that would be one advantage. We'll be getting together some when we can. I'll be teaching him a little. Of course time is limited so he'll be on his own most of the time maybe with YT videos. (I liked that idea of pro lessons if he wants to get up to speed quick).

    I also have a Peavey DB15 and was in awe when I went back to it after playing the M3v2 for a long time. That big fat 'in the room' tubey warm tones. And just the pure analog simplicity of it. Nothing digitized. All analog from your fingers to your ears. I wonder if it effects the techniques you develope..your style?

    I love the M3v2 too though. Nice if you get tired of one tone you can switch. And it does have a great sound.

    I don't think he's stuck on a LP. I had another friend tell me it had a larger radius neck and may be easier because flatter and more space between strings maybe? IDK.. I'm not sure what neck is easiest for a beginner. I went from LP to tele to strat. Now I have all 3. I've been wanting to venture out myself, there's so many awesome sounding guitars on YT.

    Again love hearing the opinions on this subject. Thanks for the input! Hope to hear more chime in!
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017

  20. pictacado

    pictacado Tele-Meister

    Oct 17, 2013
    Super Champ X2.

    It is a modeling amp, a tube amp, and sounds great.
    guitarmikey, freatles, Alaman and 3 others like this.

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