Are there any amps that don't need to be modded to sound good?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by WilburBufferson, May 13, 2016.

  1. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    One factor might be that many of us older players came up using hand built amps that were what you found in the local music store.
    These were not boutique amps!
    For example a lot of the old Marshalls I've owned had "Shirl" and "Mo" hand written on the inspection tags.
    I expect that after Shirl and Mo got off their shift at the Marshall factory they went to the pub where some of the amps they built were in the backline.
    These hand built amps were the equivalent of the DRRI and TRRI and HRD amps we find in the music store today, but these amps of today were built to a price point in third world countries with the cheapest possible parts and labor.

    I suspect that many of us who came up playing fairly high quality hand wired amps are a bit unimpressed by the third world built amps that look similar and sound similar but aren't really the same.
    Our old vintage amps are expensive and new amps built to the same level of quality are also expensive. While I used to be able to afford a used BFSR or Plexi 100, I cannot really afford them any more, and I can't really afford new hand built amps of similar quality either.

    It's kind of sad that it's so popular to ridicule "boutique" amps that are expensive because they were not built using third world $1.00/ hr labor and third world cheapo components.
    The ridicule of high quality amps fits right in with the popularity of modding cheap import amps.

    So newer players moving toward gigging go on the internet to try and figure out how to spend their money.
    But a $500 import amp and put another $300 into mods.
    Buy a $300 import guitar and put another $200 into mods.
    Buy a $150 pedal board and a dozen pedals for around $1000 or more.

    For that same money I would prefer to buy maybe a used hand wired amp for $1500 and a good used MIJ or USA or parts Fender for $600 or $800.

    IMO the amp should be the most expensive piece of gear we buy, by a good margin.
    IME amps (bigger than 5w) that retail for under $1000 are price point amps built with every part and labor action being compromised.

    Amps that retail for $500- $1000 certainly do the job, and there is no reduced ability to gig and get paid making good music with these price point amps.

    But when players are listening and looking for the next step up in sound quality, either because they are not hearing what they expect from the cheaper AMP (not talking about lazy players seeking great sound with no practice), why not go ahead and buy a higher quality amp that might fall under the "boutique" label?

    Well, maybe because we can only afford a $500 amp this month and will be able to afford to mod it in a few months. Fine.
    Or maybe we don't want to be ridiculed for showing up with a boutique amp (or a PRS) like we read so much of on the internet.

    I think a lot of the reason players mod cheap gear is because forum posters ridicule owners of expensive gear.
     
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  2. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    In a cathode-by as amp changing tubes is more akin to changing strings I guess. But in a fixed bias amp, changing the preamp tubes is like changing strings, but changing power tubes is not. At least for those of us who can't bias our own amps.
     
  3. Iron Broadsword

    Iron Broadsword Tele-Meister

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    I think people get trapped in the "why don't I sound like that other guy" mentality, and a lot of the time it comes down to ability, settings, knowing how to GET those sounds out of an amp/guitar/etc in the first place, and also eq and other things that happen on production music. There are so many factors so often people go nuts and convince themselves there's something wrong with what they have. If you can play, you'll sound good no matter what you're playing through.

    But hey, some people just want to get under the hood of the gear they have instead of hunting and shopping until they finally find the one that works for them. Cause if you can tweak the thing you have then it's way less hassle in the long run, and it's actually a lot of fun to do.
     
  4. mojow

    mojow TDPRI Member

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    Those Ampeg GVT guitar amps were awesome, sadly discontinued, but I see cheap 2nd hand... Magnificent amps! They are not high-gain amps, they are lush & take any sort of gain pedal extremely well. Most underrated amps ever. If you see anything, grab it!
     
  5. Drubbing

    Drubbing Friend of Leo's

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    Playing guitar, buying amps and modding them, are 3 separate hobbies. Forum fiends tend to combine them into one, and some believe they are indivisibly one hobby.

    Personally, I don't buy anything that doesn't sound good to me in a store.
     
  6. Minivan Megafun

    Minivan Megafun Tele-Holic

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    I think forums offer a very skewed view toward a community who typically modifies their gear. Talk to musicians in real life around your town and it would never even have occurred to them to spend money changing speakers, tubes, or any internal parts in their amps to change the tone. If it turns on and makes sound, that means there's nothing wrong with it in their mind - if they want another tone they sell it and get a different amp.

    It never even crossed my mind to change the pickups in my guitar until I started reading gear forums. Now everything I own is modded in one way or another. Chasing tone is a slippery slope.
     
  7. Iron Broadsword

    Iron Broadsword Tele-Meister

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    ^Well said, haha.
     
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  8. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

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    modding is in the mind of the beholder! as with everything on the internet, it is all subjective.

    play music!
     
  9. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I wouldn't buy an amp that didn't sound good right off the bat. There are too many choices these days to settle.

    I did mod my AC15C1. But not because it sounded bad. More out of curiosity. I did the bright cap clip, and put some nicer tubes in it. It made a huge difference. But I also liked it the way it was. I've never modded my Marshalls. I feel no need to mod my boutique 18 watter. Come to think of it, I've owned piles of amps and that Vox was the only one I've ever messed with.

    I really believe that in an overwhelming majority of cases, the amp ain't the problem. Neither are the pedals or the guitar. If you catch my drift...
     
  10. Pcaluaru

    Pcaluaru Tele-Meister

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    OMG! Who ridicules expensive boutique amps... LOL come on... ??????? Give me a break!

    Hard to ridicule hand made PTP works of art.. that in "most" cases sound fantastic and last for decades...


    When is the last time you read someone post up on a Two Rock thread and say that two Rocks suck and so and so China Riff/PCB amp is so much better? Doesn't happen! & would sound foolish if it did. Yet.. just about every thread on any "off the shelf amp" there is "that guy" that seems to think its his/her duty to inform said users all the WHY's a China Riff/PCB sucks..

    Why?


    What I and other would like to do (most hold our tongues) is ridicule the owner of said boutique amp when they try to ridicule someone who loves an amp of lesser quality. Choosing an amp is personnel... its subjective in what we all hear, what we value and what we want. Every amp no matter how expensive or inexpensive, tube or solid state has a vibe.... Joe lunch bucket is as fired up about his amp just as much as the guy who loves his boutique amp... this site is about sharing enthusiasm of gear.. NOT breaking down someone's love and opinion of his/her amp/guitar...
     
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  11. Carl_Tone

    Carl_Tone Tele-Meister

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    Fuchs ODS 50, 1 Celestion G1265 and 1 Eminence RWB in a JDesign 2x12. A pignose G60VR with a similar Fuchs cab for added girth.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Carl_Tone

    Carl_Tone Tele-Meister

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    Also anything by Kingsley, especially like his Bastion 40w

     
  13. Drubbing

    Drubbing Friend of Leo's

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    Well you answered your own opening statement. Many people are not going to pay Western hand built prices for stuff. That is a small part of Marshall and Fender business these days. People struggled to afford it in the 60s and 70s and it's still expensive, so it's left to those who feel the difference is worth it, to pay it.

    But where do you think all the parts for these expensive Western hand built amps come from? The same countries that are now building the cheaper amps. The only real difference I can see with the hand built stuff is the labour costs. When Asia builds hand-made amps, they'll be probably just as good. But cheaper.
     
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  14. GroverRover

    GroverRover Tele-Meister

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    There are lots of amps that sound just fine totally stock. The problem come with chasing "better". As an example, I have a Fender DRRI that sounded perfectly fine stock (except for a very microphonic v1 tube). I have changed some of the preamp tubes, and am running a different speaker. It doesn't mean that there was anything wrong with it, I just made it more to my liking.
     
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  15. Unionjack515

    Unionjack515 Tele-Holic

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    That is one perilous-looking tower-o'-amps!! You are clearly a fan of the stacking technique...monitor on CPU on shelving, speaker on speaker, cable on cable on cable on cable....looks like you've got it perfected
     
  16. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

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    It's all subjective though isn't it, and the OP's question is impossible to answer constructively. What sounds great to one person might not be the next guy's cup of tea. When I buy an amp I buy it because it sounds good as it is and not as a potential modding platform. I can understand the fun in messing around with swapping out this and tweaking that, but I don't have the time, experience or the inclination to.
    There are a lot of great amps out there; the OP just hasn't found his yet.
     
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  17. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Friend of Leo's

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    image.jpeg image.jpeg I have a couple. But I don't mod, other than tubes when they go bad or a repair when needed. The SF Bassman has had tubes, been recapped, a few resistors replaced, but it's never been modded to blackface or anything. I also use it as a bass amp with another cab. The Carr is stock as far as I know.

    Jammed last week with a guy with a new Hot Rod Deluxe, it sounded great.
     
  18. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    "Are there any amps that don't need to be modded to sound good?"

    Yes. all of them. There are no "bad-sounding" amps, in my opinion, just amps that sound more appropriate for certain contexts than others, and players who lack imagination to visualize those contexts.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
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  19. Iron Broadsword

    Iron Broadsword Tele-Meister

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    No, there are definitely some terrible amps out there. Unless you mean that they make great boat anchors.
     
  20. Lunchie

    Lunchie Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've had my Princeton '68 RI for 6 months and left it bone stock. Orange Terror series are fantastic. Everything from the micros up to the Duals.

    I've found over the last year or so from my semi hiatus from gear forums that I don't feel the need to tinker. Gear forums are a lot of fun but will ruin you financially ha!
     
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