There were lots of interesting replies to last week’s post on small amps. Thanks for all the tips about some of today’s best tiny terrors!
The discussion reminded me of a cool old amp that’s been gathering dust in my garage — and also of a notion of mine I call the “any old crap” theory. The idea is simple: Any funky old amp, including P.A. models never intended for guitar, usually has some compelling sounds in it. Plus, those old Newcomb, Masco, and Tapco amps are among the few remaining affordable vintage amps.
Case in point: This early-’60s Newcomb P.A. amp I picked up a few years ago at my local cool guitar shop. Actually, my pal/hero Tchad Blake spotted it and bought it for a hundred bucks or so. He was here in San Francisco working on Tracy Chapman’s Where You Live album. When we finished the project, he decided he had too much gear to schlep back to the UK, so I took it off his hands. I used it on Tom Waits’s Orphans album, and then promptly forgot about it till last week. So I fired it up and made a little video demo with an old cheap guitar that didn’t cost much more than amp:
It’s not just perversity that makes me use gear like this even though I’m fortunate enough to own “nicer” stuff. Sometimes instruments that perform eccentrically and inconsistently deliver happy accidents along with their tentative tones and sketchy intonation. They obliterate your comfort zone, which tends to be a good thing.
Anyone else ever experience the “any old crap” phenomena?