One-trick Pony... what's wrong with that?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by jhundt, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    IMO... I think you are viewing it from the wrong angle.

    it's not an attraction for all the digital modeling fans... and Fender isn't marketing it as such.
    It's an attraction to those that still prefer the simplicity of a traditional amp.... but would prefer a modern version of it and some of the conveniences that may bring.

    (It should go without saying, but of course there will be some overlap in those generalities)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    FenderLover and Telecastoff1 like this.
  2. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2015
    I was lucky enough to get exclusive tickets to see Paul Simon at the Agora in Cleveland when he was filming One Trick Pony.

    Steve Gadd
    Eric Gale
    Tony Levin
    Richard Tee
    The Jesse Dixon Singers

    Clair Brothers doing the house sound. It was an amazing show.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    bftfender likes this.
  3. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 20, 2012
    Beirut, Lebanon
    THe best amps are usually one trick ponies
    8trackmind likes this.
  4. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

    Jan 1, 2013
    Salt Lake City
    Good ideas here. 'One-trick pony' can be a putdown for any amp with strong character.

    Even the simple little 5F1 Champ clearly knows at least two really useful and quite separate tricks, fairly loud tweed OD and moderately loud tweed cleans, and that's before we do 'out of control' Champ noise and flub when dimed. But you won't probably mistake it for a non-verb Princeton, a Microcube, or a Blues Jr. Too much character.

    The other most-often-labeled one-trick pony is the 5E3. But as noted it can actually do a *lot* of sounds. Heck, only if you think Larry Carlton sounds like Neil Young is it a one-trick pony. But sure, it has about as strong a character as an amp can have. If you don't like some part of that character, you probably shouldn't own a 5e3.

    Nothing at all against clean pedal platforms, but does their 'blank-slate' character make them multi-trick ponies? Or are the tricks farmed out to the pedals?

    A smart 2-channel amp, or one with effective boost, fat, raw, MV, etc, certainly can do more tricks. But too many knobs and switches still mean you're likely to use it for just a very few sounds, as @jhundt noted. A modeler that does any sound you want in a way that convinces you is certainly a fun piece of gear. But in some sense it then has no character -- all tricks, no pony.

    And all of that is before we go back to the fact that tone is in the fingers. Carlos Santana, David Gilmour, or Mark Knopfler sound like themselves almost regardless of what they're playing on or playing through. You can buy their gear, but you can't buy their fingers...
    P Thought likes this.
  5. gridlock

    gridlock Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 1, 2011
    Tampa, Fl
    I own two one-trick-ponies that cover all of my amp needs.

    E9DB4F9A-4DF1-41CE-BCDD-1826B1FD8616.jpeg 67965919-228F-4469-87FF-ABF0A613C63B.jpeg
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
    Paul G. and stevemc like this.
  6. 2 Headed Goat

    2 Headed Goat Friend of Leo's

    Jul 28, 2012
    age 8
    Nothing. Esp one that's a good trick... or pony...

  7. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

    Mar 2, 2006
    San Benito County, California
    ha! when I was reading this I was thinking of Eric Gale. He played kind of 'one thing' BUT... it is a really cool thing... we should all be so lucky!
  8. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jun 2, 2003
    Well, I am somewhat guilty of using that phrase. But it's true that some amps, especially many tweed types have limited tone control effectivity. You turn the knobs and very little really happens. Some amps have much better tone circuit. So I feel it's justified sometimes. You cant make a 5E3 sound like a BF. But you can get the BF close ish to the 5E3 in some cases.
    But it's very true, we often set our amps where we like them most the time and have other things for "pony tricks" like 5 way switching and pedals!
  9. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    May 8, 2008
    portland, or
    One great trick from your pony is better than a bunch of mediocre tricks ...
    8trackmind likes this.
  10. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 14, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    Easy. Depends on what the "trick" is. If the trick is a great clean sound, then that also serves all the pedal users, etc., and is not a limitation. If the "trick" is one flavor of amp OD, that's pretty limiting and easy to see why many people would find that a deal-breaker.
  11. 6stringcowboy

    6stringcowboy Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 14, 2014
    Central North Carolina
    I had a Mesa that was a stable full of ponies and i spent too much time trying to figure out how to ride them all. Sold it, got a 5e3 clone and spent about a week figuring out what i liked and never change the settings. I can change the sound with the volume on my guitar as well as my right hand or a pedal, and couldnt be happier. I play 90% originals and have my sound dialed in so no need to be able to mimic specific guitar sounds for covers. Im glad we dont all like the same sound, it would be really boring.
    Ricky D. likes this.
  12. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2017
    York PA
    i grew up in good ol Lititz pa..Claire..Tait towers..some of my school friends been working their since early 80;s. The new Rock building is crazy amazing..they set the stages up in it & do a rehearsal before taking to tours now,,the neighbors were complaining a mile

    in the streets of lititz i have met
    Thomas Dolby
    Rob Halford
    seen 2 stones stages being built
    U2 Zoo TV stage
    met Steve Howe at corner of Broad St
    & Yes used to practice down on lil old Water street in a warehouse...they were killer to sit & listen to..there jams where insane
    there is others i just forget..oh yeah..Yes or maybe ASIA in 81ish..playing pool at YP Pizza that is now Scooters restaurant
  13. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    I am fully in favor of one-trick pony amps that do the right trick. Once the right amp settings are set I only want to manipulate picking approach and maybe volume and tone controls on the guitar. Channel switching inspires me to dink around with switched channels and balancing settings between the two and ends up as a distraction.

    I bought a used digital modeler when I took up bass because it seemed like a cheap way to get a tuner, compressor and a few models to experiment with...and I didn’t really know what I wanted yet. Now that I have that figured out, I have one patch for bass and that’s all I use, that patch right into an old SS power amp and a bass cab. A bunch of ponies got an early retirement, right there.

    I came up with patches that worked for my guitar and lap steel in that thing also, and the lap steel one is great but I haven’t been able to come up with a “one do-all patch” solution for guitar yet. I can get a pretty good clean or a pretty good crunch but remain unsatisfied with efforts to find a crunchy sound that cleans up and sounds good when I back off at the guitar. Unless I am playing bass I just drag out an one-trick pony amp that I like and consider the modeler as a backup.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  14. kingofdogs1950

    kingofdogs1950 Tele-Holic

    Sep 10, 2006
    Franklin, Texas
    I want a pony.
    What amps will qualify me for a pony?
    I have a Mojotone 5f11 Tweed Vibrolux.
    It has a volume and a tone control.

    rangercaster likes this.
  15. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    That's my story, too. Mine was a Mesa Studio 22, a very cool amp, a thousand sounds. Unfortunately, I just couldn't nail the exact sounds I wanted, spent 90% of my time tweaking the controls. I sold it off and built a Mission 5E3 kit and never looked back. That was ten years ago, and I still love the tweed Deluxe. Two basic tricks for me: the famous 5E3 vicious overdrive and the amazing fat beautiful cleans. I'm just a two-trick pony myself, so we get along just fine.

    Brother Schmee, you need to get a decent parametric EQ pedal and spend some quality time with a BF and a 5E3. At lower volumes you can get the Tweed + parametric EQ pretty darn close to the BF sound. At higher volumes, the stiff power supply on the BF will show through, no sag and bloom there.
    schmee and 6stringcowboy like this.
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    The term one trick pony was coined for other than guitar amps, and likely applied to something used for doing tricks.
    Guitar amps are not used for doing tricks at all, but once the swiss army knife amp movement happened, amps did start doing some tricky stuff.
    Note that the swiss army knife amps appeared when there weren't as many pedals available and pedal boards had not appeared yet.
    So in a way, those early multi channel and modded Marshall amps had some tricks built in, tricks the way the horseless carriage was a trick when nobody in town had one.

    Even when those amps with higher gain and multiple channels became available, some players who could have one didn't want one.
    This may have seemed odd to those who assumed everyone wanted to step on a switch and sound totally different.

    Since we now understand that quite a few players really like an amp that goes from clean to nasty by the guitar vol knob (we do understand that, right?), the only reason to call amps that do that wide range of sounds "one trick pony's" is scrounging for a vacuous insult.
    I suppose it might make more sense to insult BF/SF Fender amps that really don't do much more than clean and slightly less clean, but the handy term clean pedal platform has replaced one trick pony there.

    Maybe calling amps like Tweeds and vintage Marshalls one trick pony's comes from the myth that tube amps only sound good cranked.
    The number of players online who still seem unaware of the fact that Marshall cleans are a thing, suggests that users of the term one trick pony might be largely in the dark about vintage amps.

    I personally come from the perspective of playing other instruments not equipped with switches to change the sound.
    Nobody calls a fiddle or a tenor sax a one trick pony, despite the lack of buttons and knobs.

    Given the testimony from those who found a two sound amp too limited and switched back to a one sound amp capable of a range of sounds, it seems that the channel switching amps are really the one trick pony's.
    Some do end up using just the clean channel turned up on a channel switching amp though, and ride the vol knob for the gradual range instead of the less natural switch effect.
    Or run a classic Marshall turned down to a clean volume and add pedals to make it distort.

    I miss some of my vintage Marshalls, sold before the boutique pedal thing happened, and before I got into fuzz.
  17. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 14, 2004
    New England
    Had a pony. Bet you're jealous!

    It's not all its cracked up to be, though. Out in the boonies, equines are free this time of year. It's going to be six months of puttin' hay in front of 'em and shovelin' up behind 'em.

    Large horses are mostly docile. It's an evolutionary thing. After thousands of years of domestication... well, the rowdy large horses were put down 3000 years ago.

    Ponies know exactly how tall they are. They'll pick a tree branch exactly that high and run under it.

    They're also very skilled at stopping from a full run for something like a gopher hole or a stick.

    Motorcycles are so much better than horses.

    Van Halen's old Marshall was a one trick pony. It did a pretty cool trick until one day it didn't.

    I'm not surprised. It was arbitratrily Variiac 'ed every night.
    King Fan and kingofdogs1950 like this.
  18. FLHT

    FLHT Tele-Meister

    Mar 25, 2019
    San Diego
    Riding a horse is like riding a motorcycle that every once in a while jumps three feet sideways, turns left and takes off full throttle, all on its own, without any warning whatsoever.
    kingofdogs1950 likes this.
  19. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Holic

    Jun 21, 2019
    Paris, France
    Nothing wrong with one trick ponies from my point of view. I love limitations because they are vehicles to my imagination.

    I imagine it’s a different thing if you’re in a cover band though...
  20. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Rhode Island
    Last Saturday I ended up in the house band by mistake (no-show situation). I had my Orange Crush, one setting, no pedals and a Firebird I (single pickup at the bridge).

    By varying my tone and volume controls on the guitar, and my right hand picking I was able to cover Rock, Funk, Blues, Reggae, R&B and even a few ballads.

    Nobody complained.
    telemnemonics likes this.
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