#1
I've had a solid-state Crate amp for a good while now and I'm thinking about moving on. Right now, I've got an older version of the FW120 solid-state Crate amps (120 watt, has effects I don't use).

A problem I've had with it recently is that it has an annoyingly loud buzz. I don't know if this is a system malfunction (keep in mind, before this amp, I had two older versions of it which they stopped manufacturing because it was a defective model. They gave me my current one in place of the two broken ones) or if there's just a problem with the amp that I could get fixed in a shop.

The reason I haven't gone and gotten it checked out is because I only use it while playing live shows and when I'm playing with the volume between 6 and 8, you can't hear the buzz. Unfortunately, I'm gonna be recording a CD soon and I've learned from past experiences that the buzz is very prominent in the mixes. I'll most likely go get it checked this week but part of me also wants to get a new amp so I can get a more refined sound and something that will kick more ass live. So I might as well start looking in order to help me decide on what to do.

I like to explore lots of genres but for my band, I play pop-punk, ska, reggae (I try to stay away from upstrokes and instead try to get the "feel" by playing a different way or whatever, haha) and just personally in my style, I like doing funky stuff along the lines of John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'm the only guitarist in my band so I play rhythm and lead parts. I surprisingly play more solos than the horns and they vary from being very melodic to sort-of shreddery. Skill-wise, though you won't hear it too much on the songs on my myspace, I'm very good. I don't like shredders but I'm not opposed to some fast playing, as long as it sounds good in the context of the song.

My bands myspace is here: myspace.com/theretrotones. Don't listen to "Ginseng," that wasn't done with my set-up. Neither was "7 More Reasons..." as that was recorded on a Fender Hot Rod Tube Amp in place of my buzzy amp (I liked that amp but I think I might prefer the sound my amp makes). Besides that, those two songs are older and don't really represent the sound that will appear on the next recording. "Jagerbombs and Skanks" would probably be the best song to listen to to get an idea of my playing style and sound. I know it's not the greatest recording (especially since the person who mixed it kind of turned me down too far, that won't happen for the next recording, haha) but hopefully it gives you a fairly good idea at what I'm trying to go for. "Ode..." will be recorded on the same CD but I don't really like my sound in general for that recording.. Both these songs are basement recordings and are recorded with my set-up. I think that recording revealed to me that at a high volume, my amp sounds sort-of electronic and fake-ish if you know what I mean. It doesn't feel real and raw enough I don't think.

I like a nice clean sound (usually I'll turn my bass up and keep the treble and middle near the center. I think most of the treble in my sound comes from the Tele. I enjoy the deep sound that comes from using the neck pick-up but it doesn't have the attack and punctuation of the bridge pick-up, so I try to balance it out using the amp) but when I turn my distortion on, I expect it to be heavy but also have that accent and "hit" that punk bands have to their sounds. Is this too much to ask from an amp/guitar set-up? Whenever I try to explain what I want, it sounds like I want too much.

The closest thing I can think of as an example is Billie Joe Armstrong's sound on their earlier records like Dookie and tracks like "Nice Guys Finish Last." Take "Nice Guys Finish Last": the tracks heavy but you can feel each hit like "DAH, DAH!" and then when he palm mutes, you can hear the "chug chug chug" like in a metal song or something. I think some of this could be attributed to his playing style which involves a lot of thumb and shoulder attack but since I grew up listening to Green Day, I basically play the same way where I punch downward (this is how I'll will be recording as well, standing up and putting my whole body into each hit).

As far as my set-up, I'm playing a Mexican Telecaster (love it so I'm not switching that) with the bridge pick-up always on and as far as effects, I use a Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal as opposed to the distortion on the amp (I love this distortion, I set the tone and distortion levels all the way up and keep the tone in the center, this may change of course depending on the amp I may start using. But as you can see, I like a lot of distortion to fill-up my sound with just enough attack to emphasize my notes) and on one or two songs, I'll use my Dunlop Crybaby Fasel Inducted Wah Pedal, usually coupled with distortion.

The very highest I will spend is $1000 dollars but that's only if the amp at that price complete blows an amp at $700 or $800 out of the water (I play a Mexican cause it sounds just as good as an American and it's about $700 less). I'm thinking a half-stack with tubes since I wanna be able to fill an entire room up with sound (as opposed to a solid-state which sits low on the ground, then again, there's always stands) and tubes to get a more pure sound (I'm correct with that assumption, right?). Also, I don't wanna buy used, I've already had too much experience with faulty equipment so I don't wanna risk having to go through that again. Thanks to any suggestions and for the people that made it this far with all the text. I just wanna make sure I'm not wasting my money and making a wise investment.