Vince Tuckwood (Monkey68.net)

Hmmm… A bitter-sweet feeling today as I list my Vox AC30 amplifier on eBay (and no, that’s not it in the picture, that’s my Budda Verbmaster – which you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands!)

It’s a beautiful amplifier – does everything for which it’s renowned – the AC30 claims lineage to The Beatles, Brian May, Peter Buck, Radiohead and everyone in between. A legendary amp.

And yet.

And yet…

I just can’t find myself in this amp – I can dial in all of the above and more, it’s incredibly flexible, but I haven’t been able to settle in the two years I’ve owned the amp. I gigged it twice

[it’s too loud for most local gigs and so very, very HEAVY!!!]

but the rest of the time it’s been in my studio, for recording and incidental practice when my current live amp has been elsewhere.

It’s sad. I so wanted to like this amp, and am still impressed by the tones available. But I finally reached the point where I had to admit it’s not for me.

And, of course, I’ve begun to turn my sights to a replacement

[what do you mean, Mrs T? Of COURSE I need one]

That got me thinking of the musiconomy, the flow of money through music equipment. Here’s what I know:

  1. Most musicians don’t make enough money from their music to pay for their equipment
  2. We are besieged by the advertising story of ‘elusive’ perfect tone
  3. We hear great players (SRV, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, et al) and, more often than not, give greater credit to equipment than to the players fingers – reinforced by the marketer’s assertion that we can buy some of their talent

[we can’t, they are genius players]

And we buy.

And we buy.

And we buy.

And we get disappointed that the ‘tone’ for which we’re searching doesn’t sit in the new box. And the shops scalp their margins off us. And the piles of equipment that never quite ‘fit’ fill up cupboards and studios the world over – until, sometimes, we decide to sling it on eBay to at least recycle some of the value back into the musiconomy.

All we can hope is that we learned something through the owning.

In the two years since I bought the AC30, I’ve invested time, energy and, yes, money in my playing – I’m a better player now, and increasingly discerning about whatever endangers the signal path between my guitar and amp. I am more certain than ever that the tone is in my fingers.

And not in the AC30.

Why?

Because there’s too much AC30 in it.

Yes, I can dial up all those other players

[and believe me, I was tuning in something close Brian May’s tone last night as I reached my sell decision, it sounded amazing]

but maybe that’s the issue. I don’t want it to sound like them. I want it to sound like me.

So I’ll sell… and I’ll buy whatever’s next – the musiconomy will take another turn – and I’ll hope that it’s a blank enough canvas to welcome me home.