Does it come as much of a surprise after all the equipment dogma I've spewed over the last few years? I like tube amps. Not really fond of the single digit wattage thing, but I'm rather fond of my 50ish watt JTM. On Sunday that's what I play through. On Thursday nights, though, I'm found at the WMU campus participating in worship with a group called Intervarsity. The venue is about 150 yards away from the nearest allowable parking area, and pushing an 85 lb 2x12 combo on a wheeled dolly through the leftovers of a Michigan winter is not practical. So I picked up an old Fender Champion 110 solid state amp at a pawn shop a few weeks back. 25 watts, 10" speaker, little money, low risk, easier to tote around. The thing is, this little solid state amp, with its little ratty speaker and the effects that I've chosen over the years, produces a sound closer to what I hear on many modern worship recordings than any of the usual tube powered offerings that I've played at my local GC. At our current volume, which I'd estimate as peaks well below 85 dB, the little speaker fills the 250 seat auditorium with a delightful sound without being miked. I still like the big JTM, but rethinking the non-modeling SS vs tube thing for church...
It makes a lot of sense to be mobile, it puts the music where it needs to be without undo stress on the player.
SS isn't necessarily bad as long as one is aware of the limitations (usually volume and lack of cut, especially with modellers) and the low weight is a huge bonus. I have a Tech 21 Trademark 60 here, which sounds an awful lot like a well-made Marshall MG30 (which I also have here, waiting for a heart transplant) but the Trademark is easily outgunned by a Marshall 18watt clone with a greenback in it. Some of the small Fender SS amps can sound good, and likewise the old Vox Pathfinder 15s (with a single 8" speaker).
For about 10 years I used a little Dean DGX15 + Korg processor and most of the time it gave me everything I needed including great tones. Having previously carted an AC30 everywhere it was wonderful to be able to load in carrying everything in one go. It was only when the amp failed and couldn't be repaired that I started building amps in order to get something that sounded good again.
I hear ya'. I love my Mesa/Boogie Mark IV...but 94 lbs for a 1x12 combo is getting harder & harder to justify as I hit my 40s. I still gig with it with my band, but I just (literally yesterday) bought a Roland Cube for use on Sundays. It's a decent sounding amp with the versatility I need and it was $200. Sure, I'd love to go for one of those Boogie Mark 5:25s, but I'm finding it hard to justify $1800 for a portable amp.
At my previous church I used a Line 6 Pod Live (XL, I think) and I got pretty good at coaxing some good tones out of that.
Long story short, I'm also beginning to rethink my "tube only" mentality.
So, the SS thing went away. Since 2016 I have the big JTM 2x12 50ish watt, and the Hi-Tone 30/15 watt 1x12 "JP". Earlier this week I was cleaning out the basement and in a mildew stained box, under a stack of papers and folders, I found the last of my old stash of vacuum tubes from when I owned a 70's Marshall 100W JMP master volume head. I forgot what that sounded like. Here they are:
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