I’m in the market for a new guitar amp. The one I have now was bought in early 2001, and Fender discontinued the model shortly thereafter. Actually, I think they discontinued it within a week after my purchase. I don’t blame them; it’s a piece of crap. It’s so obscure now that you can’t even find anything about it online. I originally paid for the Fender Rock-Pro 1000 100 watt head unit and 412 speaker cabinet, but it took Musician’s Friend a month to realize that they’d stuffed my order in a corner in their warehouse and hadn’t yet shipped it to me. By the time I got it, I was so frustrated with their customer (non)service that I figured I wasn’t going to let them know that they actually sent me the 412 cabinet plus a 100 watt, 112 combo amp, which was $150 more than the lone head unit for which I paid, which gave me 5 speakers instead of 4, which was completely pointless because I’ve never needed that much sound, which didn’t matter in the slightest to me. I’ve heard in the days since that event that I actually could have demanded the head unit, too, since that’s what I ordered, and not sent back the 112 combo since it was their error. I’m not sure if that’s true, though.
Let me clear up some amplifier terminology real quick. A cabinet is a passively electronic case of speakers, a head is just the power supply, input jacks, and sound control, a combo is the head unit and speakers combined into the same casing. The 3-digit number refers to the number and size of speakers: 412 means four 12″ speakers, 210 means two 10″ speakers, 115 means one 15″ speaker, etc. Moving on . . .
I gave the 412 cabinet to my friend Seth right before I moved to Seattle, but I still have the 112 combo. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a better quality amp for a while. I want something that’s going to be a reasonable size, but also packs the reasonable punch. I’ve considered another 112 combo, just one of a better make than my current one. But it’s actually not that easy to find 112’s, which I find odd. Well, I should clarify: to limit myself to a 112 combo amp considerably limits my options as not every model of amp has a 112 version. I think the best choice for me will be a 212 combo. Lots of sound, not too huge, but still big enough to be impressive. When in Carbondale I played my roommate John’s Mesa-Boogie Nomad II 212 a lot, and that thing would bring a tear to your eyes as it would bring blood out of your ears. I’ve considered one of those, but I’ve also considered going more classic, like a Fender tube amp. The Mesa-Boogie is a tube amp, too, and I only intend to buy a tube amp, but the Fenders look more vintage, where Mesas look more . . . typical. I’m going to be using that tax rebate money (which will hopefully actually be sent out, which will be in May) to buy it, along with the little money I’ve saved, along with any birthday money I get from, say, parents and grandparents. I’ll start seriously looking in May but won’t make a decision until at least mid-July. This puts my price range at about $800. If I’m thoroughly impressed by one in the $1000-$1500 range, like a Mesa-Boogie, I’m willing to go into a little debt for it. I intend for this to be the last amp I have to buy in order to have an amp. I clarify that because I may someday buy other amps, but this next purchase will be the amp that I’ll stick with my whole life. This is a big purchase for me. And since it’s a big purchase, and since I intend on keeping it forever, I’ve looked into at least one other brand that is a tiny bit outside of even the $1000-$1500 range: Orange. Orange amps are used by all kinds of punk, indie, and emo rockers. I first remember seeing them at shows in the late 90’s, and they catch the eye with their stand-out color and vintage look. Now, I’m not so lame that I’ll just go buy an amp based on only seeing musicians I like using them, but if so many of these guys have had them, they’re worth looking into. The only thing is, an Orange 212 combo is $2100. But if this is the final serious amp purchase, it might be worth it. It could be worth having that debt for a while longer, knowing that I’ll be able to pay it off, and knowing that I’ll have it 20 and 30 years from now. My future teenage son can bring his friends over to the house when I’m not home, and he can show them “dad’s room” and they’ll see my 20-25 year-old Orange 212 sitting next to my Gibson ES-335, Les Paul Studio, Ibanez JS-1600, and Fender Thinline Tele (hey, as long as I’m dreaming I’m going all out), and they’ll be all impressed, and the next day at school they’ll tell their other friends how cool Humbert’s dad is. So really, this purchase is not just about me having a better amp, but about Humbert Eugene’s social life.
One last note: I found this while searching for image links: http://alexplorer.net/guitar/text/guitar/wars.html