Best practice amps for those late night sessions?
Since I recently has laid my ever restless guitar fingers on the brand new and super cool Boss eBand JS-8 – adding to my other pieces of tools and guitar practice amps – I thought this might be a good opportunity to look at what may be the best practice amp, or indeed amps, out there for guitar and bass use.
As a guitar player with a rather serious and incurable case of GAS, which luckily is nothing but short for Gear Acquisition Syndrome, my destiny is in part to being constantly confronted with the issue of guitar tone.
You know this vague and oh-so-hard to explain “thing” that guitarists (and even some bass players) can argue about until kingdom come … and still not agree upon one tiny bit.
We only agree about this: we are never, ever going to be totally satisfied with our tone :-)
In this experience lies the fact that any attempt to define good tone, and as such what a good amplifier for practice, gigging or recording purposes is supposed to sound like, largely will end up being a matter of subjective opinions and personal preferences.
The best piece of advice I can give is probably this: You will be best of to take any bass or guitar amplifier recommendations – here or any other places – with a grain of salt and some healthy dozes of suspicion.
Even if someone claims that the new amp x is the best thing since sliced bread and loud music, that doesn’t automatically mean it will be the magic pill you simply must have … right here and now. And even if an old tone snob and tube amp advocate like yours truly here keeps pushing the wonders of tube amps, that does not mean to imply a more expensive tub/valve amplifier is the thing for you.
In fact, when it comes to a bedroom amp, your best option – even sound wise – can in fact be cheap guitar amps. You will likely get more bang for your bucks and a far wider sound palette to choose from with a small modelling amp.
How low can you go?
No, I’m not talking about your strings or vocal cords here. Nor am I referring to being low as being a bad person :-)
Rather, I’m thinking about the volume on your bedroom or practice amplifier. You see, the best practice amp to me is one that sounds good even on a lower volume. And in all fairness, this is not always the case with all tube amplifiers.
Many – if not most – tube amps need to have some amount of gain before that “magic” begins to happen. Many of the modern modeling amps on the other hand sounds great even at bedroom volume, and this is the reason I say that a cheaper amp may actually be better for your practice purposes – at least at home on a more modest gain.