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Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 12:10:32 -0500 (CDT)
From: bor
To: Michael at amptone.com
Subject: an amp you may have missed

I really dug your site. I'm beginning to think that small amps are the way to go myself... I'm not partial to any particular kind of amp but i've found that in the studio, even with "metal"-oriented things, the one track of small tube amp stands out and rages more than four or five tracks of floored preamp through cabinet simulator. Keep up the good work!

My favorite amp in my collection is a 3.5 watt monster that is not often revered like the tweed champs and can be found at according prices. It's a Gibson Skylark, circa '61, that I picked up for $80 a couple years ago. These amps came in a couple of different configurations-- mine looks a bit like a wide-panel tweed, with a slanted baffle and back-mounted controls; later they came in a tacky little box with front-mounted knobs that looks a bit like a silvertone cabinet, and these are not as common but can be found even cheaper. My particular model has two knobs-- one for volume, and a switchable knob for tremolo speed (the trem is cranky but when it works reliably it sounds damn good!). If you look carefully, there's a picture of two of these in a "Gibson family portrait" in the back of ritchie fliegler's "amps!" Book.

Basically, this thing just lives for distortion; blues or stadium rock or whatever. Like most Gibsons it has a "mellower" sound, brightness-wise, than anything fender was putting out, but my tele still cuts glass through it. Say nothing of the tone my paul gets of it. As soon as you turn it up to a useful volume, if the paul is on "10" through the bridge pickup, clean is almost out of the question. Turn it up a little more and it gets loud, of course, but the power tube distorts wonderfully. I find it a little too woofy to use on the neck position at these volumes. You can get a gorgeous clean out of it with judicious use of the guitar's volume pot. I've played a couple others besides my own specimen and read others' commentary on harmony central, and I think these qualities are common in this amp-- even after I spent $130 restoring it to spec, it still rages like no other little tube amp i've tried. A lot of dealers will try to yank an appalling $300 out of these suckers but they are relatively common and local dealers will often sell for $100 or less.

I recently brought this thing on stage and I can't complain. The only problem was that the sound guy seemed to apply a subharmonic synth or something to the amp, probably because he thought it couldn't kick it low-end wise. Yuck. Guess I should have told him that the thing already has astonishing balls for a box about a foot square on the front. I was playing in drop-c and whenever I would hit the low "c," it sounded like I was playing through a dying peavey through the pa. :)

Try one out if you get the chance, and let me know what you think!

"Ron Traweek" wrote:

>> OK, in 1965, there were no PAs, and you needed that kind of rig [100 watt amp] to
>> project, but nowadays even small clubs usually pack several hundred
>> (if not thousand) watts of PA power. It's not like you aren't going to
>> be miked anyway . . .
>> -jg

>You still have to play to the volume level of your drummer. The drummers I
>have worked with will drown out a very small amp every time.


This brings up a point that needs more attention. In the 60s, drums were scaled down, and quieter. Drum kits have gotten louder and louder, along with guitar amps. Blame the Who.

The guitar amp has to be at least 30 watts, preferably 50 watts, to compete against the drummer -- assuming you are not using a PA. But usually a PA is available, so a 3 watt guitar amp could be turned up arbitrarily loud to match the drums.

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