In April of 2012 I left my band to fully give all of my musical gifts to my church’s Worship Team. Playing in a pop rock band, and being in the spotlight in the Portland, OR area led me to make some really poor choices, which almost ruined my relationship with my then-fiancee-now-wife, and most importantly, with God.
I love playing live. Perhaps more than any other activity I have ever experienced. However, I love God and my family more, so the choice had to be made.
Fast forward a couple of months – Up until then, I had been using a Fender USA Hot Rod DeVille 2×12 and an Egnater Rebel 20 with my friend and then-bandmate Ryan’s VOX 2×12 cab loaded with Wharfdale speakers. I took an honest look at my setup and felt unhappy. Sure, it was great for venues, but a bit impractical for a congregational setting. It was then that God took me through the following journey in search of the right amp:
* VHT Special 6 (Can’t stress how awesome this amp was, I am just partial to combos for practical and tone reasons. This would be a great practice amp for someone looking for a hi-gain sound)
* Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 1×12 (In essence, this still had too much shear, deafening volume for my uses. Awesome cleans. Glassy, bell-like bluesy tone).
* Fender Excelsior 1×15 (Ok… this amp was just…. interesting)
* VOX AC4C1-BL (A step in the right direction… had it not been a faulty unit)
* Laney VC30 2×10 (No low end. Period).
* Peavey Classic 50 4×10 (I always wanted a Tweed 4×10, until I realized how much of a nightmare it is to carry it, even in a road case with wheels. Plus, 50 watts was just serious overkill for me)
* Fender Tweed Blues Junior NOS (Now, here was what I had been looking for! Cool looks, cooler tone. A set of JJ’s from http://www.eurotubes.com (including a JJ 5751 in the preamp) and some elbow grease, and this amp has been a main staple for me since).
* VOX AC15C1 (One of my favorite amps to play. It is just a bundle of tone rolled into more tone. the Celestion Greenback is my favorite speaker to this day. Sweet, smoky, and inefficient, but 100% awesome).
* VOX AC4TV modded (When I first go this, it was begging me to tinker with it. I replaced the speaker with a GWS Vet 10 and a JJ ECC83 preamp, and an EL84 in the power section. Much better now!)
Finally, my pride and joy….
* VOX AC30C2 (Everything you’ve ever heard about the AC30 is true. Vox stuffs ’em with magic tone dust and sweet chime comes out. It is just a phenomenal amp, which I got at a phenomenal price). This amp too got the JJ treatment from the folks over at Eurotubes.
FINALLY – I always wanted a goldtop with p-90s that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Enter the VOX SSC-33 – Perhaps the most versatile guitar I have played in a long time. The CoAxe pickups are dead silent, even at church with the rheostat lights dimmed, and they have a master mode switch to go from ‘clean’ (single coil) to ‘lead’ (p-90ish). Truly, they are percussive, powerful, and flat out awesome; these pickups have their own thing going on. The neck is substantial without being ‘chunky,’ and it looks fantastic.
Lastly, I recently acquired a VOX DelayLab – Being a fan of delay, I had previously been the happy owner of a Line6 DL-4, modded fully by a Portland local. While it was a fantastic pedal, the lack of a dotted eighth subdivision was a killer… I eventually traded it out for a Digitech TimeBender, which was a great digital pedal, but sucked in the analog modeling side of things. Finally, I landed on the DelayLab. Dotted Eighth subdivision? Check. Digital BPM readout? Check. Tasty modulation? Check. DL-4ish layout and awesome looper? Check and check. Needless to say, this one is a keeper.
I will do more detailed reviews of the things I still own as I get time. For now, I continue to battle with what a lot of guitarists struggle with: being content with the things I own. My wife supports me in my quest for tone, and I love her for that, but she is also helpful in reminding me that there are better things in life than merely things in and of themselves.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” –
I sort of feel like this is what my tone comes out as.