A lot of musicians these days get sucked into the world of high tech hardware and complex Amplifier systems. Frequently preached by my compatriots is that if an amp has less than 3 effects it was probably made before 1910. Not true. For over 60 years guitarists have salivated over the Gibson Les Paul, and yes, it is most likely one of the best guitars of its time. But where they get it wrong is that people are misled into believing that low cost means low quality. I, personally, have played over 8 basses and 6 guitars, the fender precision is a personal favourite but when comparing a gear4music bass to a Warwick Vampyre the price difference of £350 or more does not compare to the difference in quality. The only way you can get a badly made instrument is when the electronics aren’t wired properly or the frets are the wrong width etc. These flaws are a rare occurrence and are generally a manufacturing error and not an overview of the Company or the instrument.
The main reason that changes a guitars sound is either the string vibration and the wood it’s made from, this is much similar to what drum stick manufacturers use to ensure both sticks make the same sound. The strings and the wood resonate at different pitches and the string must always be at a higher frequency otherwise the sound will clash. I visited Denmark street in London (which has some of the best music stores in the U.K.) and picked up a couple of basses and didn’t look at the price tag and tried them out, one turned out to be a Warwick Corvette valued at £449.00 and the other was an SX valued at £120 but the sound was crystal clear on both, the Corvette had better pickups and a mildly clearer sound but the SX was very versatile and sounded deeper. It just goes to show that price isn’t everything.
Amplifiers have evolved from Transistor to the Valve and back again, it’s hard to decide between them and it gets even more complicated when tube systems are thrown into the mix. However, one of the most consistently fantastic amp makes I have come across is Orange; not the most widely acknowledged of amps but is known among musicians. As is with most brands a certain price tag accompanies the name, Coca Cola, Nike and so forth. This remains the case when the Marshall amp was invented, a great amplifier when it first came out and still remains at the top of its game but when a price comparison of two 100 Watt Amplifiers (not combos) results in a £200 price difference then either one is has a terrible sound or the other is a Marshall. The Orange amp is not mildly worse than the Marshall amp but better in comparison. It provides a clean sound with less buzz. (This does have to do with pickups as well as amps though). It is though a shame that Jim Marshall passed away recently and we all remember his contribution to music.
I believe I have presented enough evidence for you to make a constructed decision on your choice of equipment, of course if your rich you might as well blow your load on a 1950’s Les Paul or a 60’s J-bass. As always some tech remains at the peak of brilliance.
Guitar & Bass Magazine