I am in process of finding a nifty nice amplier for church playing ... as you know, most amplifers are real loud and basically, when you crank them up, the sound guy does not have much control of the house sound .... so like to hear from you guys your experiences and what amps you have found works ...
Always good to have a backup. I started getting into low-wattage tube amps when my brother and I found several Harmony practice amps one summer with an average price of $50. I still have one of those, and its a great little amp for recording or living room playing.
It's a cool little amp, but you have to peg the volume pretty much all of the time so it's difficult to get a clean tone even with single-coils. Back off the guitar volume and you get close, but there still a little breakup. Personally, I'm alright with that.
It also sounds really cool when slapping a clean boost in front of it. My brother got me a Seymour Duncan pickup booster a few years ago and it will just hammer the input of an amp to give a tube amp a completely different character. Reminds me of that funky switch that was on the back of the Mesa Boogie Nomad.
I've been wondering how a real amp-head with a remote speaker and enclosed spkr/mic combo would work. We could still keep the stage volume down, but have honest guitar amp tone ( I have a 70s silver-face Vibrolux that sounds amazing ), and I could keep my own pedals in front of me, and the head off to one side for control. Currently we go direct from a modeler into the house, and the house system loses something along the way. It's a nice big system, but It still leaves a handful of tone behind in the translation. BTW we use in-ear monitors for the band, it's a little funky sometimes, so I pull one out to hear the house mix and drums.
I see this done all the time in churches in my state. I'd love to try it as well, some time. I'd have to set it up each week, but it might be worth it.
I tried one of my pedalboards through a SansAmp GT2 tonight for rehearsal. The tone wasn't as good as the Pod XT Live, but the ability to turn individual effects on/off, or tweak a sound easily was really nice.
The SansAmp sounds really nice on its own, but it didn't work as well with a string of pedals in front of it as I'd hoped.
That sucks about the modelers. Is it "mandatory"? It never ceases to amaze me the crazy decisions that are made when it comes to sound. I like what I heard someone say at out church when he heard someone complaining: "
It's drums, bass, and electric guitars...it's going to be louder than you play KLOVE in your car. Get over it."
Haha I love my Christians a little rough around the edges. Francis Asbury style!
I think what it comes down to is what inspires you to really lead people in worship. If you not only hear but feel great tones you're more likely to get into that heartspace of worship. Having said that, size of your venue will make a difference. Obviously a large venue would require a larger amp, even if it is mic'd and used as a monitor. I've seen where some guitarists have the amp sitting in front of them tilted towards them so they can hear.
Tube vs. transistor: My personal preference is tubes all the way but there are great modelling amps out there (Line 6 and Vox, for example) that adequately capture the tube sound (chimy clean when played soft with a nice break up when pushed). Do you want more clean headroom? Then consider a slightly larger amp turned down. Speaking of tubes, as already mentioned, there's the "fat" American sound (typically 6L6 power tubes) and the mid-rangy British sound (typically EL34 power tubes). Then there are lower wattages variants - 6V6 and EL84.
Speaker(s): For one thing you have a choice between open back cabinet vs. closed back and single vs. multiple speakers. And then you have a choice between all-pupose full range speakers (Jensens, Celestian G12T) or more mid-rangy speakers that will break up when pushed (Celestian G12M greenbacks, Vox Bulldogs). I have a 4x12 cab at home loaded with Celestian greenbacks for that "woody" sound but it just wouldn't fit in at our church.
My own setup is a Mesa Boogie Mk II that I've had from the late 70s with the original full-range Altec Lansing 12" speaker. I play for a church that seats about 100 so I have it turned down and get a nice clean sound out of it. For overdrive I use two Radial Electronics Tonebone tube pedals: Tonebone Classic and Hot British. The combination gives me a nice fat clean to crunch to very overdriven tones. I'd bet you could get nearly the same tonal combinations from an affordable 50 W modelling amp. When all is said and done, the church body probably can't hear all the nuances in your tone BUT like I said, if you feel inspired by your tone then you're more likely to lead people to the cross. Cheers!
I say forget the amp and connect a POD XTLive to a DI box (or better yet use the X3 that has XLR out). You'll get such a huge variety of tones and sufficient amp/cab modelling that you'll be able to do any song you need to and you won't have to worry about affecting the house mix.
I also doubt that more than 2% of your congregation will hear the difference between a mic'd amp and cab or the modelled equivalent.
BTW, I own the Epiphone Valve Junior head and play it through an ADM 2X12 half stack. The only sound I really like out of mine is a clean strat. Maybe I should check into some mods, power soak or something else. I don't really like much that the XTLive does though it.