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When Jim plays amps at 10
  • Hey Jim,

    I tried playing my Princeton 65 RI' real loud ( say 6 ) in my bedroom and what scares me is the little nuances in my playing . Like string noise , picking sounds and everything else is just magnified. Was this a bump you had to work through?
    Efforts have been made to make my amp just like yours excluding the upgrade in internal electronics and output transformer.

    Brimar 6v6
    Sylvania ax7a
    celestion g10v
  • broadcaster - What a good question!

    There are many variables I uncomfortably encounter segueing from my NY apartment to the stage- sitting verses standing, a light touch verses heavy downstrokes (to cut through), a mellow sound verses a more snarly sound that picks up unexpected nuance that I have to contend with.

    I am lucky enough to play out on 10 at least once a week and even with that frequency I experience a slight "shock" and readjustment time during the first tune. The most frustrating part for me is losing part of my guitar vocabulary because of my sound. Chord melody, clear triads and a dynamic range with a huge spectrum.

    I might suggest ALWAYS standing and playing on 10 but honestly, I don't do that myself and despite my shortcomings- I've logged in thousands of hours playing on 10 and standing that I can draw upon.

    What I try to do is bring both dynamic levels to the music. Just because we can go to 10 doesn't mean we have to. All that said- if I'm not accustomed to playing on 10 - with all technical issues ignored- I have an adjustment period that ranges from instant sheer delight to feeling like a tonal imposter for a minute or two.

    It's weird. Kind of like getting used to your own face...

    I don't want to belabor the point or go astray from the topic - but I've been playing a lot of nylon string acoustic and when I pick up a telecaster- for a while it seems strange that the sound is coming from a different direction (from the amp) other then the soundhole.

    One of the amazing and rewarding aspects of guitar is it can be so many different "instruments"! We can basically sound like Wes, Vai, Albert King, Segovia, Django or Charlie Christian and all these tonal options require a readjustment of technique.

    It's good you are aware of this. If you don't mind the advice, my suggestion is simple- Just keep playing on 10 (if possible) and my guess is you'll be fine. You'll naturally and intuitively adjust. Additionally, I adjust my strap so my guitar is "high" (as opposed to Kieth Richards) and I match the height to where the guitar is in my sitting position. That's one variable eliminated, though the neck angle and perspective is still slightly different.

    Thanks for the post and have a great day- Jim
  • Great topic, and great insight from Jim! I've been thinking this subject myself lately. I play bar shows, but not all that often anymore, and even if I'm not cranking to 10, I still feel that "shock" that Jim mentions when I go from home to club volume.
    If I can offer an observation/ piece of advice that has worked wonders for me, and might for you as well- turn your amp up a bit when you're practicing at home.

    I think most of us have to do the large majority of our practice at lower volume, whether it's due to a neighbor on the other side of the wall in an apartment building or a wife on the other side of the wall in a house. We're not jerks, so we try to be considerate and turn our amps down so we don't bother anyone. With the amp turned way down, we instinctively get a little heavy handed to make sure we can still hear ourselves well. And with the amp turned down, the consequences of that heavy handedness aren't very audible.

    I became very heavy handed without realizing it at one point, mostly due to practicing at too low of a volume, or even on an unplugged electric. It's a bad habit. When I would play the occasional gig and have to turn up, that "shock" would happen, and coupled with energy from the gig, I would feel like I wasn't in control of my instrument. This would cause me to start playing timidly, and that's a sinkhole that's hard to climb out of, especially at a gig when there's nerves and energy etc.

    What has helped me is to practice with the amp turned up a little (obviously not to 10) and to try to control the volume with my fingers. If it's an amp that's normally on 2 when I practice, I try turning up to 3 or 4 but playing lighter to keep the overall volume the same. Loud amps are a control game, and this practice idea helps to work on that control. Plus, technique issues like those string squeaks become obvious and I can correct them. I even make little games with myself...can I turn the amp up to 4 and control it well enough that my wife doesn't get upset in the next room? That's progress!
  • I live in a apartment too. And my neighbours don't like if I playing on to 10 with my Princeton Reverb. ...and my wife too. ;-).
    So normaly I play on Max 3. And that's oké, using my thumb like The Great Wes Montgomery .

    (Netherlands - Europe)

  • thanks for the lengthy and very down to earth reply.
    I remember years ago , a purchase was made for the "playing the blues" lesson , I learnt the rhythm pattern , practiced it real real hard , went onstage for a jam only to freeze hearing my own broadcaster sound like steel knives through a deluxe reverb. I was literally afraid of my own sound!
  • Jim said
    "The most frustrating part for me is losing part of my guitar vocabulary because of my sound. Chord melody, clear triads and a dynamic range with a huge spectrum."

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but it sounds like this is almost a "lack of headroom" complaint? Why not bump up into the Vibrolux if you want more clarity at the same volume? I feel silly even saying this, because obviously you know what you're doing, lol, so I'm surely misunderstanding.
  • ruger9 -You make a good point- but it's all a compromise - and I prefer the "sweetness" of a Princeton to a Vibrolux.
  • Oh, that's cool. I get simply liking one amp over another... again, I felt almost silly posting, because it sounded like I was giving you amp advice, which is laughable! I have learned MUCH from you, your tones, and your talks on gear!
  • ruger9 - I love your posts! We've all been doing this a long time and I hope I can still learn something from everyone. Have a great day- Jim

  • This is an interesting question and I was a little surprised to hear that Jim needs a little time to acclimate to the volume at the start of a live show. But I'm sure each day when Micheal Phelps jumps into the pool it feels a little cold and he needs to get used to it yet again.

    Like many on this forum I've been spoiled by the sweet, thick, clean tones of a Fender Princeton. I also like the tone I get from my tele when I have the volume pot full on. Especially for chords and rhythm more than soloing. So I usually don't fiddle much with the guitar volume. Instead my only effect is a clean boost. So I put the amp on 5 where I get a nice clean tone just shy of breakup and use the boost for a solo. Most places I play the amp is miked through a PA, so everything is fine.

    Jim was taking about compromises and mine happens when playing without a PA. Since I like to play clean and also am not comfortable with playing through a Princeton on 10, I sometimes use my DRRI. Needless to say it's not the same as the Princeton.
  • i have heard Jim play his SF PR on 10, and on more than one occasion the amp was moving so much air, that I could feel it pounding against my chest.

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