Hey all. I was hoping to find some recommendations from more experienced electric guitarists on this one.
I'm a long-time acoustic player who has been playing more electric (an Epiphone Sheraton) of late when leading on Sundays (with the guitar plugged directly into our church sound system). While the guitar sounds great, I have to crank the channel on the soundboard and my guitar to 11 just so it's moderately loud. Rather than my buying a pre-amp, or a good amp that can act as one, I was wondering if most multi-effects processors act as pre-amps, thus giving me the desired signal boost along with adding a little dirt to my guitar's sound? I'm unfamiliar with effects pedals/processors, and have seen many that boast "pre-amp modellers"...but I'm not sure what that means. Can anybody help?
Thanks again everybody. I will definitely have to bring my guitar in to give some of these multifx units a try before I buy. I'm currently looking at the BOSS ME-70 or the GT-10, the Line 6 POD XT Live and also the DigiTech RP-500 or RP-1000. It seems that most of these will do what I want- serving as an amp/pre-amp to feed into the PA and giving me some nice effects to play with. I've noticed that for the price, a lot of reviews claim that the amps and effects in the RP-500 seem to sound better in a side-by-side comparison to the more costly Boss or Line 6 products.
Dave H's comment about the -20dB pad is very important - if the signal is being padded then you will lose a lot of volume.
Now, if you MUST continue play through the desk it would be better to get a modeller than just a multi FX processor, because this will simulate the way in which a guitar amp shapes the instruments tone and makes it sweet instead of nasty. The Boss and Line 6 units mentioned so far are decent, although if you're a novice then you may find getting good tone quite difficult as they're a bit pants on factory settings and should always be tailored to your individual setup.
However most multi-FX/modellers won't give you much of a boost at clean levels - you may have to use a booster anyway. If you don't want to spend too much, try the Behringer PB100 - should be about 30 bux, or half that used. There are many much nicer (and more expensive) models available, but this will let you try first to see if it does what you want.
Now, about amps. Are you SURE you won't use an amp? There's a couple of small fender units, like the GDEC junior and Vibrochamp XD that fall within your budget, have built in effects and would make your guitar sound much sweeter. Just popping a mic in front of the speaker will let you boost volume FoH. They are also small, light, self-contained and will let you play the guitar away from the PA rig.
It depends what you mean by mimicing the sound, rather than the power, but they certainly don't act like a power amp, but do just sound (in a limited way) like the amp they're supposed to represent. The output level will tend to vary according to which amp is being modelled - based on my experience with a POD Pro and Behringer stuff - with some having more gain and therefore potential output levels than others. I've never tried to use them to particularly boost signal (the POD was for recording) but I don't remember there being huge output levels.
On the 'good amp' side of things, I might do things slightly differently within your budget but I want to help you get where you want to go, rather than tell you to use a different road entirely.
Hey Benjamin, apart from the 2 I mentioned earlier $300 will get you something very usable, depending on what you want and how loud you'd like to be: you could spend a LOT LESS than your budget and have something decent. Because I'm UK based I've looked at Musicians friend website for US prices.
Small, cheap and good: Vox pathfinder 15R - $119. I've played them and they sound good. Nice cleans, decent drive tone. Small, light but with enough volume for stage use in a worship band and a *quiet* drummer.
Small and classy - Vox AC4 TV 10" speaker - $250. It'll do classic amp tones, and the 10" speaker gives it a depth that belies the small size.
A bit bigger and a little over budget - Bugera V22 - $350. I've heard them, and they genuinely sound good - much more than just acceptable. It's a classic sounding amp, and has good clean to crunchy tones
Like the above - Jet City Amplification JCA2112RC 20W $350. This is a great rock amp, decent cleans and great drive tones.
A versatile hybrid valve amp - Fender Super-Champ XD $300. These have had a strong reputation for good tone and flexibility. Well worth checking out if you don't need a bigger amp.
A high quality solid state amp with versatile tones - Tech 21 Trademark 30 $320. It's very well made, light enough to carry easily and is entirely analogue. It also has useful features like XLR out for DI into the PA. I have a trademark 60.
I've stayed away from complicated modelling amps because they require very careful setting up to sound good, whereas with any one of these you sound be able to plug in, twiddle a few knobs and use your ears to get a good sound quickly. All of these are also small and easily carried, since you're unlikely to need lots of power in a worship setting, and I'd be happy to use any of them personally. I'd suggest you visit a few music shops to try these specific models - you may also find you can negotiate the price downward a bit more.
Thanks for everyone's assistance! A couple of days ago I picked up a used POD XT LIVE for $200 CDN. I will say that the Amp Modeling certainly does what everyone has said-- most of the amps really boost the sound of my Epi through the PA. I'm looking forward to using it next week when I lead. And while the POD is equipped with more effects and mods than I would ever need to use (especially the patches that come with the device) I've managed to get some really nice tones by customizing from the ground up.