Guitarists (myself included) tend to live in an unusually backward-technology world. Meaning, what was made back then was generally always considered better and more valuable than what is being made now. The proof is in our love of all things vintage, whether we’re talking tube amps, guitars, or effects.
While there is certainly some validity to the argument of certain aspects of “older is better” being true (I would argue that this is true if we are speaking about vacuum tube production, wood availability in guitars, etc.) compared with what’s currently available now, continuing to make the claim of “older is always better” when discussed as an ENTIRE category of guitar gear I would say is false. And I still love vintage gear, but let’s explore this a bit and really think about it and remove our blinders for a moment.
First, Some Background…
When people most often think of vintage Marshalls, the most highly regarded are the non-master volume series including the model 1959 100 watt head produced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It’s hard to argue against the amp that Hendrix, Page, Van Halen, Clapton and many others used.
And while I would agree that they are incredible amps, the REAL game changer in my mind for Marshall was when the company introduced its master volume series of amps in 1976. The models 2203 (100 watts) and 2204 (50 watts) heads became instant hits, and quickly began to outsell the non-master volume versions by the late 70’s. Why? Well, they sounded great at more reasonable volumes which essentially made them more practical for guitarists who couldn’t always play at full volume and crank up a non-master volume Marshall inside a concert arena.
It has been some time since we wrote our Fuzz Feast series about both vintage and recent fuzz options on the market. After seeing the prices of original fuzz units climb, I wondered what the boutique market now had available in 2015 as far as the most accurate of Fuzz Face clones. During my search, I stumbled across Sonus Pedals based in the Netherlands and its Fuzz Face 1966 replica.
Most readers at this site understand I’m a big time “amp nut” – with a special love for old Marshalls in particular. Some readers have even complained, “Too much Marshall!” in terms of content and asked me to pay attention to some other amps out there.
Well, o.k., I’m going to move away from the Marshalls, but not too far for the moment as the Mojave AmpWorks Peacemaker and Plexi 45 certainly share the Marshall heritage – in the case of the Plexi 45, its circuit is as dead-on of a true JTM 45 clone as you’ll find in any new amp built today. The Peacemaker however, adds some twists to the legendary Marshall tone, which we’ll dig into shortly.
This past November, I had the pleasure to attend the Aerosmith show at the Shoreline in the Bay Area, with the added treat of being able to go backstage in the tech area prior to the show to get the full lowdown on what else? – the gear! I have to thank Brad Whitford’s personal guitar tech, Greg Howard, as well as Brad himself for taking the time out to meet with me and chat.
The stage sound during the show was perfectly mixed and sounded great. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s setups were both for the most part straightforward and based around the use of some of the best vintage guitars and amps along with a limited use of effects.