Tag Archives: amplification

Gigging With Vintage Tube Amps

GigBeing a guitar player, I take every opportunity I can when it comes to getting out there and playing with friends, whether its in a hotel, a stage or in the corner of a pub. The experience of gigging is something which I feel is invaluable to the growing musician, and something which can greatly help you to hone your skills, improve your listening, and become a better, well-rounded player on the whole.

This experience often comes at a cost though, often there is little money involved, and aonly a few drinks on the house for your troubles. This means that it is sometimes quite tempting to bring as little equipment with you as will suffice in order to get a sound from the guitar. Some may decide to bring only their ten watt practice amp and mic that up, some may go even further and show up toting only a guitar, a strap and an extra high e string, and plug directly into a mixer. This issue gives birth to something of a dilemma: in order to gain all of that vital experience playing in a band situation outside of the home, is it necessary to care about the sound of the guitar and bring decent equipment, or is it ok to make do with the easy option and bring the bare minimum. Do you have to sound good to make the experience worthwhile, or is it enough to just be playing with others, regardless of tone?

The advantage of digital effects processors is that they are usually compact, stuffed with effects and amp sims and – perhaps most importantly – are very mixer friendly. This is why the majority of player will show up for a gig with a guitar and a multi-effect processor from either Boss or Line 6. The best part of the crowd in local bars and restaurants will likely be unable to tell the difference no matter what, and as long as you are in tune, relatively in time and there is always at least one person singing, its all good.

I, however, believe that the tone is always important when playing with other musicians. If you are to really enjoy the night, and therefore play your best and really get into the groove with your bandmates, you must like how you sound onstage. A good sound makes a happy band, a happy band makes good music, and good music makes a good night for everyone involved, both audience and band. This is why wherever I play I bring a tube amp with me. While some may consider it to be an extra thing, heavier than effects pedals and guitar combined and hard work to transport without a car or a taxi and not worth the effort, I believe that the benefits make it totally worthwhile.

A mic'd amplifier sounds better!
A mic’d amplifier sounds better!
For shows in bigger places, your tube combo amp acts as your own personal monitor: no more calling through the mic for the sound guy to give you a little more on the left monitor and less on the right! Not to mention that the sweet, warm tone from a tube amp sounds amazing when mic’d up and sent through a good PA system. As far as gigs in those smaller places are concerned, it is even better. You don’t need any kind of sound reinforcement at all, and are completely self-sufficient. All control is yours, and it allows you to tweak your sound with ease in order to dial in that sweet spot for each song you play.

Given the choice between digital effects into a mixer and a real boutique tube amp having your back on stage like your best friend, I know what I’d take any day of the week.

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Boutique Guitar Amplifiers

20w Combo BackThe three most important things a guitar player wants from an amp are tone, tone and tone. This is why boutique products are always the better choice. There is nothing quite like that moment when you try out a new boutique amp for the first time: you can see that every detail has been meticulously thought out, and that it has been cared for and loved every step of the way from conception to testing. You find a place to set up your new best friend, plug in your favourite guitar – savoring every moment – and flick the switch that starts the magic. The tubes start to glow with a deep red aura, warming up to deliver that rich, deep tone they were born to give, and then when the time is right you strike the strings and the rest of the world ceases to exist for the briefest, sweetest of moments.

Blues Power 60wDesigning and building amplifiers can be a simple manufacturing process, or it can be a kind of alchemy, mixing just the right tasteful amount of wood, plastic, metal and glass into a thing of beauty. This is the main difference between the boutique amplifier builder and the standard amplifier manufacturer. Bigger companies have the wrong idea; they exist for money only and so they deliver products as quick and as cost-effective as possible. Cheaper components, automated manufacturing and thousands of the same product are the result.

The boutique amplifier company is another creature entirely. These companies are smaller, more personal and care more for the quest for the perfect tone than anything else. Components are carefully sourced and chosen purely for their effect on the sound of the amplifier: if the more expensive component is the better one to use to get the desired sound, then the more expensive component is the one that is used. Even if it has to be flown in from the other side of the world.

Conan applies the finishing touches to a set of custom speakers
Conan applies the finishing touches to a set of custom speakers

With so much attention to detail, careful component sourcing, and hand crafting, boutique amplifiers are often more expensive as a result. But to skip over them in favour of a cheaper model from a bigger manufacturer is false economy. When a tube amp is used for extended periods of time, the heat from the tubes and the vibrations from the speakers put the internal components under a huge amount of stress. Cheaper components will not handle this very well and will often break sooner, and with devastating results. The boutique amplifier, however, is ready for this. The quality of the components means that boutique amps not only sound better than their mass-produced counterparts, but they also last much longer and – thanks to the flexibility of the designers – can be custom made to look better too.

 

Introducing…

Hello world!

baroni

This is the first official post from Baroni Lab. We are an Italian company which produces vintage-modelled tube amplification for musical instruments, as well as an astonishing range of effects pedals.

Keep your eyes open for regular updates of news of our events, as well as links to some of our product reviews and the occasional review, guitar tech tip and general musings of all things tone!

If you like what you see, please feel free to get in touch through our website or email.

http://www.baroni-lab.com

info@baroni-lab.com