1. Great article. I completely agree with your guitar recommendation. Squier CV Teles are really amazing for the price. Fender Deluxe Reverb is am amazing amp as well but I thought you would recommend the Pro Jr. I bought it after seeing one of your videos and it still impresses me everyday.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I do really like the Pro Junior, but live it can run out of headroom very quickly. If you don’t need real clean tones then it will work fine.

  2. HI John, ever since I bought my Traynor YCV40WR, my guitars sound like heaven.I use to own a Peavey Bandit, as well as many other solid state amps.Tube amps are the way to go IMHO.
    I recently changed my pre and power tubes in my Traynor and wow, sounds awesome.Now I did buy this amp new and I paid almost $900 can, you can get one used for around $500 now.
    However, I still have another year warranty on it, and that’s even if I break it.I now realize that I should have bought my dad’s 196? Fender Bassman when I had the chance.

    Great article


  3. I have some great guitars and a couple of great amps but tone starts in the hands and then moves to the guitar and then the amp – and it is carried by cables! Cheap cables will can kill the tone much like bad hands, a crappy guitar or a crappy amp.

    I”m a little confused by your statement that the Deluxe Reverb is the cheapest amp you would go with. There are lots of great small tube amps out there these days. The Vox AC4 is pretty good and it sounds fantastic if you drop in the Mercury Mod for it (but that drives the price way up!). I’ve got a Mercury Modded Epiphone Valve Jr and it sounds fantastic. The Chickenhead version of the Fender Champ is also fantastic: http://chickenheadamps.com/f51.html. Maybe you were recommending an amp for playing clubs. None of these small guys would work in a club but for bedroom practicing they are great!

    I guess I should answer the question posed, I had a 1976 Telecaster and the thing was horrible for me. I got a better guitar before I got a better amp.

    1. Yes I was recommending an amp for playing live. Smaller amps are great, but you can never get clean enough because you run out of headroom. I haven’t tried every amp out there, but this is my opinion based on what I’ve tried. Thanks for the comment.

  4. You hit the nail on the head
    Guitar – Creates more tone through inspiration
    I also have the 61 reissue SG. To me it blends into my body and mind when I play.
    Amp – Creates more tone through components – The better the amp the better the tone.
    I have several tube practice amps but when I get a chance to crank it up a bit, nothing comes close to my 1974 Marshall 50watt all tube head and 4×12 cab. The tone, dynamics and touch sensitivity are beyond imagination – just scary how good it can be. I’d really like to try out the vibrolux too.

      1. John,
        While I have heard that Duane used Marshall head with JBL speakers in Marshall cabinets alot, I also I read somewhere that, early in his career, Duane played through a ’59 Fender Bassman Head. I’ve never read anything about what speakers/cabinets he had hooked to the Bassman Head – have you ever heard anything on that?

  5. Erg, brings me to my next big investment. Have a epiphone les paul standard and looking for a (slight – under 1000) upgrade. Can’t decide, should I upgrade my guitar to either an Gibson SG or Les Paul or a new amp. Hmmm… looks like i’ll be browsing the stores for a while.

  6. Just because there are always a lot of beginners here who want information what to buy as their first guitar, here my experiences:

    Firstly, stay away from the very cheap stuff. More trouble than you are saving…

    In the 250 to 350 $ (or similar in Euro) price range, you get reasonably good guitars which are well built and only have minor inconveniences like a bit too loose tremolo arm or not completely perfect tuners, etc. but nothing that stops you from being inspired by your instrument (hey, I just love my Squier Deluxe Strat which was in the lower end of this price range!)

    Remember: if you want to upgrade the pickups or the mechanics later – everybody who hasn’t got two left hands can do that (and others shouldn’t try to play the guitar anyway ;-) On the other hand, if the body or neck is poorly built, you are basically in for a new guitar if you want to improve. So if you want to save money, find a guitar that is well built, and never mind the quality of the pickups – you can change them later if necessary.

    If you are a beginner, there is basically one decision you have to make about your amp: Do you want a tube amp – like for that great Marshall sound that is probably the reason you started to play guitar in the first place – or do you want a flexible amp with built-in effects (I have a Fender G-Dec Fifteen for this) to try out different styles and settings to find your own sound. It’s one of these two. Everything else is just good as an exercise amp for your bedroom…

    But there is one sure-fire trick to make your guitar and amp sound better than when you tried it in the store: it’s called “exercise”. Do it every day, and you’ll soon be the coolest guitar player in town. No matter what instrument or amp!


    1. My first guitar was a Best Buy $120 guitar/amp combo. Once I got a new amp, it sounded great. I love the guitar. It’s had many issues, but I like fiddling with it. There’s something about the slight struggle of playing it that is inspiring to me. It also has that slight underdog quality – people generally look down their noses at both cheap guitars, and players of cheap guitars (my guitar, like me, feels like it’s got something to prove). My friends make fun of me for it. They tell me to get a “real” guitar.

      Well, after wearing down the frets, and doing countless experiments on it (making my own pickup, digging out a hole to fit the pickups, taking the pickup out after they broke leaving me with a gaping hole that I haven’t gotten around to fixing, etc.), I thought it was time to get a new guitar. What did I buy? A Best Buy special, of course. It was $80 on sale. It’s a piece of shit, in the best way. Couldn’t be happier.

  7. After playing several years i get to the conclusion that is a matter of the combination of a particular guitar and an amp.
    Both together. They have to be like a perfect marriage. And that sound and the guitar’s playability should be the voice of your soul, capable to transmit every emotion with easy.

  8. As a long time acoustic player and expensive acoustic guitar snob, I have come down off my high horse and discovered the world of cheap electrics and the Fender Deluxe Reverb. I have a Gibson LP standard and a handful of MIM fenders and Epiphones. My favorite guitar to play is a stock $99 Fender Bullet strat in Pepto Bismol pink – built in Indonesia. It just speaks to me. I am amazed at what you can get away with with electrics, compared to acoustics.

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