We all love tube amps. Yayy, tubes. Some of us love amp models. Yayy, models. And how about those cheap little solid-state amps?
Oh, come on! Am I really the only person who digs the barking attack and corrosive crunch of the subcompact tubeless combo? Will none step forward to sing the praises of those brave little badgers of the amp kingdom?
That’s more like it!
Anyway, I love these things. So many applications, and not just for plinky little intros before you slam on the überstacks. They’re great for layering over tube amps—the fast attack and brittle distortion can really sharpen the fangs of overdubbed riffs. And sometime they just sound satisfying all by themselves.
I needed to crank out a few primitive rock cues for a 15-second TV spot, and figured I’d use each one to feature a solid-state fave. Starting, of course, with the mighty Marshall MS2 Micro Amp. I’ve used these on a zillion sessions, sometimes even tastefully. I love pairing it with short, slappy delays—it creates this cool, surreal sense of space. All three guitars on this clip were played through this amp.Micro Marshall
Not subtle. Not polished. Not even close to being in tune. What’s not to like?
Next up: The amp that lives under the workbench where I build pedals and tweak guitars. The 1×8, 15-watt Vox Pathfinder has a cool, quirky tone and a nice trem sound. The clean tones work great with aggressive fuzz pedals—they really bring out the “spit.” But the Pathfinder can also sound downright pretty, in a humble sort of way. The four guitar tracks here were all done through the Pathfinder.Vox Pathfinder
FInally, just a taste of my newest amp, a ZT Lunchbox. It isn’t really in the same category as the other two amps—it’s more expensive, and is offers a much more realistic simulation of a traditional tube amp. Also, this tiny combo is rated at 200 watts, and drives big cabinets without breaking a sweat. Anyway, don’t take the deliberately trashy tones here as entirely represent ice of this impressive ampette.Lunchbox
Okay, fess up. Who else has a solid-state confession? It’s alright—you’re among friends.