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The problem with amps and pedals

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I use a Spark amp for practicing and this has come after trying a couple of modeling amps like the Marshall cube series. What I found was that these amps have so many features and functions you can adjust that I was often spending my precious guitar practice time trying new settings or tweaking some feature rather than actually playing the guitar and improving my guitar skills. I’m not saying these modeling amps aren’t good, but rather they can be real time wasters especially when trying to learn the guitar. What I have done with my Spark amp is to set up the 4 presets with varied guitar sounds that I can use for various styles such as clean, blues, reverb and chorus styles. These suit what I am trying to achieve in my playing. I then ignore all the rest as I consider that I still have lots of adjustments to the sound within the controls of the guitar itself. Apart from volume, the only other control I use on the amp is the gain control which tends to thicken the sound and adding some distortion.

My ideal set today would be a small valve amp with reverb and nothing else to play with. Pedals can come later…..

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I know exactly what you mean.

There are some people who love spending time tweaking sounds and others who want to focus on playing.

I recommend this: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=611815

There are a number of amps in this price range with these features.  Take my word for it, you can do an awful lot with a tube amp like this before you would need to move up.

I actually don't suggest modeling amps for beginners because it is just too much to deal with while you are still learning to play the instrument.


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Posted (edited)

As someone who is trying to develop foundational playing skills, I feel the most benefit I can get from my practice time is to focus on the actual playing skills of fretboard , timing and feel. Often, when practicing I lower drive settings to get a clean sound which allows me to identify buzzes and squeaks that need addressing. I find that some pedals can mask these issues.
So, when would I suggest pedals start to really benefit my playing? Firstly, I think they really assist in the final preparing and fine tuning a actual performance. Secondly and definitely NOT a practice focus, they are fun to play with to open up the sonic possibilities of the guitar and just relax and chill. Finally, they are definitely required if you want to emulate certain sounds from bands such as Dire Straights, (but read my first point again!).

Edited by Technojeff
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