Guitar Amp

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I've been shopping on eBay looking for a new guitar amp. I can't help it. Its the curse of the guitar player/bass player/drummer, etc. Even though at 34 I know I'm never going to be a rock star, it doesn't prevent me from wanting nice gear, even if Im not even in a band right now.

It reminds me of a cover band I saw once when I was in high school. It was after some school dance or something and me and a bunch of my friends went to the brown derby (a knockoff of the famous california version) on the beach. There was a band playing in the lounge (which we were too young to get into), but the bathroom was through the lounge, so I walked through to get a look at the guitarists rig.

The guy in the band had what amounted to about the nicest amp you could buy at the time, the Seymour Duncan Convertible series. This was an incredibly expensive amp at the time, and even moreso if you bought the extension cabinet, which this guy had. I was expecting to hear some pretty amazing stuff once they started, but my expectations were unrealistic. I mean, it was a a restaurant lounge after all. Once they started playing I got up from where we were eating dinner to check out their set. They started with a cover of 'Infatuation' by Rod Stewart (this was 1986, of course), playing to like 5 people. Once the guitar solo started it became clear that the guy was a pretty awesome guitarist, but once the solo was over it was just a matter of going through the motions covering the rest of the song. The rest of the set was all covers contemporary to the time period, which is to say that they sucked. The guy always shredded when it came time to solo, but just looked sad and bored during the rest of the songs.

I just couldn't see at the time how you could justify blowing what probably amounted at the time to several thousand dollars on an amplifier just so you could play Rod Stewart covers at the Brown Derby lounge. There were 5 guys in the band. It probably took 5 years of gigs to pay for that amp with his cut of the wages. Of course, now I realize that just because you can't live your dream of being a rock star doesn't mean you can't buy the same gear they have. Its a way of appeasing your inner aspirations. You might not have the talent or the looks or whatever, but you can at least have the VOX valvetronix that Dave Grohl likes, or the Mesa Boogie triple rectifier or TRIAXXIS that James Hetfield uses, or whatever. The companies that make the gear don't care if you're famous or not. Your money is just as green as those guys is.

This all reminded me of my first electric guitar amplifer. Like many guitarists starting out, my first amp was a Peavey. Peavey is kind of the red-headed stepchild of the rock world. Anyone who plays has used their gear at some time, but has always gotten rid of it once they were able to afford something better. Unless of course you're Eddie Van Halen and can have them custom make you an amp to your exacting specifications. Anyway, my Peavey was a Pacer, and my dad bought it for me. We drove way the hell over to north Tampa somewhere to get it, and I thought it was great because I had an electric guitar already, but nothing to make it loud.

Of course, it was actually a piece of garbage. It was really designed to be an instrument amplifier, like for a keyboard or something. Still, it had distortion built into it, but it was really awful sounding and the amp had really bad 60 cycle hum and used to pop and click a lot. Here are some comments about the Pacer from

Price Paid: US $50 (and it was way too much)
Peavey makes some decent amps (this isn't one of them)
If this thing came up stolen I prolly wouldnt buy it again
I'm still undergoing therapy today because of this amp
This amp is prety lifeless and dull

Heres a picture of one. Not mine, of course. I haven't seen mine in close to 20 years. I loaned it to a guy I was in a band with and he mysteriously 'lost' it. I wasn't really too broken up about it.

Im pretty surprised I managed to ever get even moderately good playing guitar with this amp. Fortunately, not too long afterwards I managed to get a Marshall (which had problems due to the high humidity at our house) and then eventually a Roland Jazz Chorus, which I used for years afterward and still regret getting rid of.

So now once again, Im looking for a new amp. But thats the curse of the musician that won't let the dream die. Once I get this new amp, maybe I can join up with a group and get a gig over at the Brown Derby. I wonder if they're still open..hmm.


At 7:29 AM, Blogger ub asD. said...



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