My New Amp…For More Than Acoustic Rock!

By Jim Fusco:

Hi folks, Jim here. I just made a big purchase, so I wanted to share it with everyone, especially because it will re-shape the way my guitar sounds.

I’m so excited to get my Fender Blues Junior amplifier!! It’s pretty small in size, no more than a foot and a half or so each way, but man, does it pack a punch. My old amp, a HUGE Fender one, was way too powerful for anything I used it for. I could never turn it up past 2.5 on the dial!

Plus, my old amp was a solid-state amp. With solid state amps, you need to add your own effects. For instance, I always like using an “overdrive effect” to get my distortion sound. I even bought a guitar pedal called the “Tube Screamer” to get the tone I wanted. A solid-state amp just means, you plug in your guitar and the sound comes out of the speakers. Simple. It reproduces whatever you put into it, just louder.

Fender Blues Junior Amp

But, the new amp is called a tube amp. This particular one is ALL TUBES because it has a tube pre-amp and tube driver.

What does that all mean?

Well, I’m new to this, too, but here’s my explanation. Think of the tubes as those old TV tubes people used to use. Actually, this is the SAME EXACT THING! Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you want to go back to that old technology?” Well, there’s many resons:

  1. The tubes take time to “warm up” when you turn the amp on. This tells us that the sound from my guitar is going through the tubes for amplification, and thus “warming up” the sound. With a solid state amp, it goes directly to the speaker. Going through the tubes naturally processes the sound. Think of talking into a hollow tube. It makes your voice more “warm” sounding because it’s bouncing around in there.
  2. The tubes create a natural “compression” effect. This is really great for me because it makes individual notes sound as loud as when I play chords. So, I have better control over the volume of my solos when I’m playing rhythm guitar most of the time and a solo for 30 seconds!
  3. It’s real “overdrive”. All those guitar pedals I own (and it’s quite a few) try to emulate the sound of an overdriven amplifier. “Overdrive” means that you’re pushing too much sound through the tubes and the signal starts breaking up. It goes from “clean” to “dirty” sounding. With a tube amp, I can naturally overdrive my guitar to get the real sound out of it. It’s what makes some guitars cost more and others cost less. Since I have some really nice guitars, I’ll be looking forward to how they “really” sound when overdriven.
  4. It just sounds amazing. I plugged into this thing at the music store and I felt like a rock star. The notes seem to organically “grow” from the speakers, rather than just explode. It makes the chords sound better. It makes my playing sound better because you actually hear things like 7th chords. Plus, it makes things like those crazy back and forth solos possible, too.
  5. It’s a heck of a lot smaller, and therefore more portable. My old amp weighed more than Chris.
  6. It’s still got power. This new amp is only 15 watts of power. Doesn’t sound like much. My old amp is about 150 watts. Too much power! But, 5 watts of tube amp power are equal to 40 watts of solid-state amp power! So, really, we’re talking about an amp that’s got the equivalent of 120 watts here. But, I might just be able to turn this one up a bit and experiment with more sounds without waking the neighbors!

Hopefully this shows you how passionate I am about this purchase, and that I really do my homework when I’m getting something new. I’m so excited to take my guitar sound to the next level and you’ll LOVE it, too!! I’m going to be posting different articles on ALL of my equipment (guitars, etc) and I hope Jeff and Chris will, too. Now I gotta check my front porch when I get home…