What a fun day in the studio. Recorded a bunch of guitars for a groovy new tune. Used the Blanca for most of the rhythm performances and the Negra for the melodies. Right after lunch I received my new guitar amp, a Mesa Boogie 5:25 Express with a 10″ speaker.
Yesterday I came across the bill for my first Boogie, with a 15″ speaker, which I bought for $1,330 in June of 1979. I used it on The Hours Between Night + Day and on Opium, but in 1996 I started using a Groove Tubes amp instead, and eventually sold the Boogie. The GT uses tubes to create the guitar sound, but since simulates the load of a speaker it is therefore silent on stage. I used the GT for the last time on Little Wing, I think. Then I tried different digital amp-simulations. On “O Little Town of Bethlehem/City of Tihuana, the second track on the album Winter Rose, I used the “Guitar Rig” from Native Instruments. That software and pedal has been unused in a cupboard in the studio for six years because I hated the latency of Guitar Rig. Live I have been using a Line6 Pod-Pro, which features tons of simulated amps… but does not sound very realistic. Stephen recorded his solo on “Silence…” (The Scent of Light) with a Pod and while I like what he played I am not crazy about the sound.
So, fast forward to 2011 and I got sick of the Line6 sound during the Summer tour and started looking for a “real” guitar amp. Jon lent me his Fender Princeton, I borrowed a Champ from Santa Fe’s Kelemen, I considered a Vox AC15 hand-wired… and in the end I ordered another Boogie. The Princeton is super quiet and nice, but doesn’t get the sustain unless one plays really loud. The Champ was a favorite, a little noisier, but with a sweet tone. I could have made this work if I wanted to continue to use the Line6 for effects and sustain. The Vox was out after I found out that everything is made in China.
Well, I turned on the Boogie and it was love after a few notes. I used the amp in the 5W Class A configuration, which is plenty loud. In fact I think I will use it next year without any pedals or effects: just the guitar plugged straight into the amp. And the Boogie is made in Petaluma, California.
I think this is symptomatic for my attitude towards digital tools and the internet, which is this: it’s time to get real, to figure out what works and discard what does not work. Where digital tools are an improvement over the analog world we should of course use them, but where they are not, we need to support analog manufacturers before they go out of business. The same is true for the internet. There are many ways in which our lives can be enriched by the WWW, but we need to drop the stuff that does not. Time to make a few choices.