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Thread: Ultimate Jazz Guitar Amp

  1. #1
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    Ultimate Jazz Guitar Amp

    While there are many guitars that I would call perfect, it is very rare
    to feel as good about amplifiers. What are your likes and dislikes about
    your amplifiers? In other words, what would your ultimate amp be like?

  2. #2
    Jazz Linus Olsson's Avatar
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    I think your amp is just as important as your guitar. I have two amps, both Mesa/Boogies. One is a model called DC-5 and the other a DC-3. The DC-5 is really great, it has a brilliant yet very warm sound with lots of sustain. It's funny because when other guitarists see me with this amp knowing i play jazz, they always go "but that's a rock'n'roll amp!?!". For them a jazzguitarist equals Roland Jazzchorus or Fender Twin but seriously I've never played a better amp than the DC-5. I play a Ibanez AS-200 and a Godin nylonstringed electric-acoustic.
    Linus

    [URL]http://www.reverbnation.com/linusolsson[/URL]

  3. #3
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    there was a similar post out on these forums not that long ago.

    I use a fender hot rod delux. I've never had any problems with it other then the pilot light going out, the tubes probably should be changed in the next 6 months. It's pretty handy, has good rock, blues and jazz tones. It works well with my ES-335. Although some areas of the guitar with that amp is a bit muddy. But I just stay away from those areas of the guitar just simply because... well I don't like to play there.

    I want to pick up the new Roland Cube 60 when it makes it way to my local music store. I've played on one when Roland reps were showcasing them, thought it was a great portable amp with a good tone. I need something more portable since I don't own a car and use metro transport to get around. Jam sessions are a pain that way as I'd have to get a cab or rely on the amp du jour and i'm just not into that.

  4. #4
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakeweiser
    I need something more portable since I don't own a car and use metro transport to get around. Jam sessions are a pain that way as I'd have to get a cab or rely on the amp du jour and i'm just not into that.
    I have a deluxe too, as you know.

    Speaking of portable... Speaking of *really* portable.... I've got a Fender Amp-in-a-Can. It's about 8" in diameter, and about 12" tall, the bottom 6" of which is pure rechargable lead acid battery. It runs on a rechargeable battery that lasts forever. I've gone over 12 hours without recharging. It probably doesn't pump out much more than about 7 solid state watts. Just enough to jam with other guitarists (not quite enough to jam with a drummer or a horn player). But the sound is just sweet. It really (honestly) has a very nice tube sound. (I'm allowed to say that because I own a tube amp). I haul it out into the park on weekends to practice. (Sun, Starbucks coffee, practicing guitar. Good combination). But it's a good candidate for a really portable amp if that's what you're looking for. Give it a try sometime. See if you like the sound. I do. Sometimes I'm even tempted to give up the deluxe for the Amp-in-a-Can. That's how good it sounds. If it doesn't pump out enough power, you can always point a PA mic at it.

    Also worth looking at if you're looking for a portable amp are no-name guitar tube amps from the 60s and earlier. They're easy to pick up starting at about c$200 or so. My other other amp is a Beltone amp, c. 1962. I've tried to find out a little about it, with not a great deal of success. But there are plenty of other similar brands. It probably puts out about 15 tube watts. But 15 tube watts is more than enough to play with a combo. It's very light, and easy to lug around. It's not terribly versatile -- it has one and only one sound -- but the one sound that it does have is a passably good clean jazz sound. If you put a boss blues driver in front of it, you can overdrive the preamp to get a passable bluesy bite, as well.

    There's a store in ottawa that has dozens of these little tube amps of various shapes and sizes, all from the late 50s and early 60s. And you see them regularly in other places as well. Name brand amps like this go for a fortune. But nobody seems to want the no-name amps, some of which are really lovely. You do have to try them out though before buying one. Not all of them are wonderful.

  5. #5
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linus Olsson
    For them a jazzguitarist equals Roland Jazzchorus or Fender Twin.
    Never really understood the Roland Jazzchorus. Twins I do understand (some of them, anyway. No two of them seem to play remotely alike). But geeez they are heavy. Insanely heavy.

  6. #6
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    Yeah I was looking into getting one of those portable amps actually for this summer. However the weather hasn't agreed with me and the park lately as beside this last week we only have had maybe 10 days of sunshine this summer. Perhaps that will translate into a long fall (*fav season)

    Although I'm not convinced they have much of a tone, I'd have to try it out myself. Much like the new Roland Micro-cube. They're cool little things, but I see them as a novelty and even though I'd get one with my discount for probably around 100 bucks or less I decided to buy a bass instead.

    I love my Delux though, it's a great gig amp and has the tone I've been looking for

  7. #7
    Banned User Vihar's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Hmm... Jazz Chorus is one awesome beast if you go for HUGE clean sound. I use it with my Tele. Portable? No, man it is huge as its sound, lol.

  8. #8
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    My brother is a guitarist and he has recently bought a new amp, but he has had so many problems that it's not even funny! He bought a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe but it had a problem so he had to take it back and get a replacement. The same thing happened again to the next amp and the guy in the shop thought it was a problem with the batch because another custmer had the same problem. So he changed to a Peavey Classic 30 and, what do you know, it broke again; some rattle somewhere, he thought it was the valves but they changed them all in the shop and it still had the same problem. He got a replacement... which broke... he got another replacement... which broke... Finally he gave up and thought "forget about valves, they're too much hassle!" and got a Line 6 digital amp, which he's not really happy with but at least it works!

    Anybody else had similar events with those two amps?

  9. #9
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    Eureka. I've found my ultimate guitar amp. And I had it all along.

    I've been playing a fender deluxe for a while now. Love that fender clean channel sound. But I'm finding it a little too clean these days. I've been listening to a recent recording I did, and the sound I'm getting these days is just so clean it's almost like an accoustic.

    I noticed an old Boss Blues Driver 2 (BD-2) sitting on the shelf yesterday. I've never really used it much, and have never really played with it on the Deluxe. So I dropped it in just to see what it would do.

    I think I've died and gone to heaven. It's beautiful!

    If you nudge the gain up to the point that the sound just starts to break up, you get this lovely touch of overdrive on the high end without losing all the clarity you need to play dense jazz chords. Shades of Kurt Rosenwinkel.

    As a freebie, you can adjust the BD-2 so that you get a pretty clean jazz tone with the guitar volumn knob set on 5, and a decent cruchy blues sound with the volume knob set to 10.

    I'm struggling a bit with the fact that I've dropped a transistor-based tube overdrive emulator in front of my tube amp. :-/ But it just sounds so damned good.

    The sound is still a little bass heavy, but I've found that I can actually compensate by playing the bass strings more quietly to get a decently balanced sound.

    I also lowered my neck pickup quite a bit last night. That helped. Oh yes. And dropped back to 11-guage strings from 13-guage strings. That helped too. I guess I had a busy night.

    Next project: gonna try shimming the nut a little on the treble side so that I can lower the action a bit more. So many things to try. So little time.

    Gotta go play some more. Later.

  10. #10
    Banned User Vihar's Avatar
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    You don't do too much bends, right? With a fairly low action I can't go without buzz, so I have to keep it around 5/64" at the 17th fret. I use 11's too, and fingerstyle.

  11. #11
    Jazz Linus Olsson's Avatar
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    When I play through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe I can't find a setting that sounds good all over the neck, playing on the bass-strings the sound is muddy so I lower the bass on the amp and now the treble-strings sound too light! It's the same thing with the Roland Jazz Chorus. The reverb on the fender is really awful too. I don't find the clean sound on the roland that huge. I know that the distorted sound on my mesa/boogie DC-5 is really great but the clean sound... it's just THAT hugh, sparkling clean and well-sounding all over the neck! There just doesn't seem to be one spot where it sounds too muddy or too light.
    Linus

    [URL]http://www.reverbnation.com/linusolsson[/URL]

  12. #12
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    I was told that there is somebody at Voo-Doo Amp.,which could made a custom amp for guitars,if you bring aroung five CD's with the guitars sound which your like.

  13. #13
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    i STILL prefer Marshalls...

    and count on my pedals to give me that jazzy tone

  14. #14
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    velvet polytone

    i just bought the sweetest amp for the sweetest price. there was a polytone mini-brute on craigslist (sf bayarea online classifieds) for $190! so i figured something must be wrong with it. turns out it's some girl who knows nothing about guitars and is moving soon so is anxious to be rid of said amp. the thing has been sitting in her closet unused for the past five years. i get there and it's a near mint 1980 polytone mini-brute II! the amp body is covered in black velvet, totally 70's (so cool). it sounds magnificent. the reverb still works wonderfully, which is a rarity in polytones so far as i've read. and it still has the original sales slip, amp cover and manual. before this amp, i was using a gallien-krueger mb112 with an electro-harmonix reverb pedal. it was good, but doesn't stand a chance against my polytone. i used to have a big fender 2x12 blues deville which sounded great but weighed 80lbs and had temperamental tubes. i play jazz solo and in a couple of small combos and my rig for the time being: 1995 gibson es-165 straight into my black velvet polytone.

  15. #15
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    The quest for the perfect amp continues, with interesting results.

    I just bought a new guitar -- a very pretty Gretsch arch-top -- which is a significantly better instrument than I've been playing to date.

    What a joy! I've been really fighting my ES-135. I was talking to somebody recently about how I feel like there are songs that I want to play and songs my guitar wants to play, and they often aren't the same tunes. But playig the Gretsch is effortless. Anyway. Enough strutting and prancing. I've got a new guitar. So there. It's beutiful. I love it. Back to the subject at hand.

    I've been playing on a Fender Deluxe. On advice from this forum I went looking for an amp upgrade to go with my new instrument. Although I really like the warm tone I get out of this amp, my one complaint would be that it tends to be a bit boomy in the bottom end. In the wrong kind of hall it can be unbearable.

    I wasn't able to locate Polytones anywhere in Ottawa, and the Mesa D series amps are, unfortunately, discontinued, and are -- I"m told -- hard to come by.

    I played a number of F series Mesa amps. Very strange. The F-30 is, to my ears, very harsh, as is the Nomad 45. The D-50s and D-100s were interesting. As someone suggested in this thread earlier, the clean channel response really is very nicely balanced. You can dial in a sound and get a consistent response all over the neck. But the clean channel sound on all of the mesas was, to my ears, rather cold compared to the classic fender clean channel sound. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to get them to warm up a bit. It's a nice sound, but not the sound I crave.

    Funny thing is... while I was trying out a few of these amps, I was playing on one of the store's gretsch archtops, and I noticed that the pole pieces in the pick-ups were adjusted over a very wide range. The bridge pickup pole peices for the center strings were sticking out almost 1/4" above the surface of the pickup, while the bass string pole peices were almost flush with the surface of the pickup. I had no idea you could do that.

    When I got home, I decided that I'd give this a try on my new guitar. Five minutes of fiddling with pole peices solved all the problems with low end boominess on my Fender Deluxe! Seriously. All of the problems. The two low-end pole-peices are now pushed back a bit (about 1/8"). I'm getting a nice even response all over the neck now. I was compensating with technique by seriously underplaying on the low strings. But that's not an easy thing to do. Now, I can get full dynamic range on the bottom strings, really digging in if I want to, or I can lay back comfortably without having to work at it.

    I have to admit that the new Gretsch was much better to start with. It has a lot more sparkle without being oppressively harsh. Even before the adjustments, it didn't sound bad. And it doesn't seem to feed back at all -- which was a big problem on my previous archtop and contributed significantly to low end boominess, I'm sure. (The Gretsch has two heavy braces running down the center of the guitar , which, I think, would account for the difference).

    I'm not sure how much of this is attributable to the fact that this is a significantly better instrument (it is), and that the pickups are much more suited to what I'm playing (they are), and that the tone controls roll off much more gently (they do). I half suspect that single-coil pickups are more suited to the fender (the Gretsch has single coil pickups, the other archtop has humbuckers), but I'm not sure about this. On limited evidence, I'd guess that the Mesas are happier with humbuckers, but I'm not sure about this either.

    I am sure that adjusting the pole peices properly made an enormous difference.

    I have actually seen somebody play an archtop -- a Gibson ES-175 -- with a penny taped over the bottom two pole pieces on the neck pickup. This probably does the same thing as adjusting the highly adjustable pole-peices on the Gretsch pickups. And it makes it clear that even top-of-the-line instruments with top-of-the-line pickups have problems with bass strings. This might be something that you should to try if you're struggling with low-end on a Fender amp.

    Moral of the story, grudgingly drawn: you may have perfection in your hands already if you would spend the time to figure out how to use it properly. The other moral: adjusting pickup pole peices is a good way to cure boomy sound.

    Next project: figure out how to use my effects pedals properly. :-/ (I also recently bought a line 6 MM4 modulation modeler, which has a really nice emulation of a Fender Tremelo wich works *really* well with the Deluxe -- highly recommended! -- but I've already blown todays quota for off-topic posting).

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