Saturday, January 27, 2007

Have I Sold Out?

Have I sold out? I have been the quintessential analog snob when it comes to guitar and bass amplification. I've spent the greater part of my adult life pissing in the general direction of anything and everything new. During my years at Shangri La, we had just about any classic guitar and bass amp available. All of them were painstakingly maintained to original specifications. Pristine examples of '59 tweed bassmen, twins, deluxes and champs were strewn in every corner of the place. The Marshall collection belonged in a museum. Vox AC15s and AC30s? Had a roomful. And if so much as a handle or knob had been replaced, we would point and laugh. I had the luxury of access that allowed me to develop a finely tuned sense of outrage when forced to work with non-vintage equipment. I was an elitist of the first order.

I am no longer at Shangri La. Sadly, most of the amps, along with the room to record them in, are still there. I'm now living in a small house and have been jones-ing to make some great guitar sounds in a small room...with neighbors close at hand. No more, "Lets put two Marshall 100 watt rigs in the big room and see how loud they'll go" for me. Even my '65 Fender Champ would probably get me in trouble. What to do...what to do?

Well kids, I crossed the line and got my hands on a Line6 Podxt...that's right, a FAKE AMP. Fuck it man, you gotta do what you gotta do, right? I've had Gary Miller telling me to chuck my amps and try this thing for months now. What?! Chuck my '58 Ampeg B15? My '62 Fender Showman? My SVT? How can this little kidney-shaped piece of crap replace the handful of great amps I still had in storage? How? Just by plugging in...yup. I plugged my Strat into the little red plastic anti-christ and it was like experiencing the first of the twelve steps. I had to admit that I was powerless over tubes, transformers and greenbacks. My musical life had become un-manageable. Faced with the prospect of writing and recording guitar and bass parts in my living room without my trusty drugs of choice, vintage tube amps, I was paralyzed into non-productivity. All those little meddlers whispering in my ear, "try the pod, go on, it's ok" were really pissing me off. And now I had to make amends to the gods of tone and admit that I was wrong.

I've only spent a few days with this little gem so I don't feel qualified to write a proper review. I've only just scratched the surface of it's capabilities. But I suspect that it will prove to have more to offer than I will require. I've already discovered most of the trusty guitar amp sounds that I'm used to. Then I went to the Line6 web site and downloaded the bass amp/cabinet models. I own a vintage B15, a Polytone Mini-brute, an Ampeg SVT, heads by SWR andTrace Elliot, along with an Acoustic 370, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'll be spending more time in front of my Mac and much, much less at the chiropractor's office in the future.

Is the Podxt the ultimate answer? Probably not. Is it a suitable replacement for an amp on a live gig? Time will tell if old school tolex junkies like me will flock to kiss the hem of its garment. But I have to say that I am impressed. When deciding which amp to use for a specific part, there should only be one thing to consider...what soundsthe best...period. And the Line6 Podxt sounds pretty friggin good to me. Have I sold out? Don't ask til you've tried one.

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