Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Touch Sensitivity

So the other day

I went to Ethan's house and we listened to some of his fantastic amplifiers.

He has a pretty dreamy collection. What's nice is the variety of the sounds they all put out. And each amp makes you play a bit differently.

He has a Ampeg Reverb Rocket combo (1965 he thinks). The Ampeg is bright and jangly (not strident at all.) It just has high end for days. I immediately started playing "House of the Rising Sun" on it. And that was with a Les Paul with mini-humbuckers!
The Ampeg is very cool but not, we decided, what we needed for Tyrannosaurus Mouse just now.
One thing I found interesting about this amp is that, especially compared to other amps of the period, when you played harder the amp got louder. Just louder. The same "sound", but at a higher amplitude.

Which is funny because when most people talk about the "touch sensitivity" of an amplifier they're talking about how the amp sounds clean when played lightly but becomes dirty as you hit the strings harder.

Shouldn't this be the pattern of my psychedelic jacket?
Sometimes you just want the amp to make a louder sound though, and otherwise sound about the same at a given volume setting no matter how hard you play. But the Ampeg, doing this, makes it seem like it ironically isn't touch sensitive. When, in fact, it responds exactly to what you're doing.

"Touch sensitivity". It's hard to define then. Well, I guess trying to describe sound with words is like dancing about architecture isn't it?

The other odd thing is the way compression affects an amp. For instance, the Blankenship Fatboy Extreme has (I think) a Deluxe-ish front end which makes it very compressed. At the same time it "opens up" into a sweet overdrive as you play louder into it. Ethan's Rickenbacker amp (similar to a Deluxe) does a sweet thing with its compression. So does my Lil' Dawg Mutt.

Other amps are somewhere in-between. I have to say that all those mid-'60's Fenders have a similar feeling to them, but they all sound different. And boy, does his Princeton Reverb sound nice. We may just use that and my Mutt the next time we record.
All you could want to know about Fender Twin Reverbs. I know this: I'm selling mine. Come on over and buy it!

The Stompbox Blog.

The best part of this "100 Free Resources for Teaching Yourself Guitar" is number 49:  about Vodka.

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