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Amp & Cab Psychology and Philosophy: Why Closed Minded?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ChenNuts44, Dec 11, 2002.


  1. ChenNuts44

    ChenNuts44

    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    To begin, this is related to amps and cabs, but it might be better suited in another area. Use your judgement mods. :)

    This is an open thread with the purpose of simply stating and analyzing the opinions and reasoning of we, the talkbass community, regarding our decision making process on amps and cabs. All posts are purely opinion and flaming is not welcome. I'm curious to hear all of your thoughts on the subject, and if you'd care to attempt to rationalize your thoughts or perhaps state your observations on the subject in general. The following thoughts and questions are difficult for me to word in a way that puts accross the thoughts actually going through my head. They are somewhat generalized because this single chain of thoughts and questions cannot address each individual circumstance/instance. (that's what your posts are for) I will not post my thoughts at this time, but plan to after others have responded. I don't want to start my own post with my own thoughts and opinions. However, I will state that I've been observing these

    The questions and statements:

    Part1: Why do people rule out equipment? Why are they closed minded? Do you notice that people (especially less experienced and/or younger) seem afraid to purchase gear based on what they thought of it and instead rely more on the opinions of others (example available if clarification is required)?

    Part 2: Not everyone lives in an area where great varieties of gear are available. People come to a community like Talkbass.com for information. Some of our members are very highly regarded (and rightly so). These members have a great deal of experience and knowledge. Their opinions are highly valued. However, they are still opinions. It appears that people tend to take these opinions for more than they are (again, especially less experienced and/or younger people). How much do you weigh your gear exploration on what you hear from others? Do you tend to rule things out because you've heard bad things, or do you still give it a fair shot? If you still try these things, are you reallygiving it a fair shot, or do your preconceptions, consciously or not, seem to significantly affect your final thoughts and conclusions on that gear? Does it bother you when you see someone state that their choice of gear is the only choice, and therefore it should be your choice as well? Your thoughts on the subject?

    Once again, this is meant to be a discussion. If at any point this begins to head in the direction of a flame war, I'll be disappointed. Feel free to argue points in an intellectual manner. Present your thoughts and opinions and observe the thoughts and opinions of others. Present your arguments, hear the arguments of others, and enlighten the rest of the community by doing so. As you should know, there is no concrete answer and I doubt anyone's opinion will be swayed. I know at least one other TB member that would be most curious to hear your opinions on the subject, so I hope that you'll take the time to read through and respond to this thread.

    (More questions and/or related questions may be added at a later time... I know that I've forgotten things, but perhaps others will notice the nature of my questions and observations and add in some of their own)

    Thank you all...
     
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    That said, you're going to get a thousand responses along the line of "Listen to how it sounds to you. If you like it, buy it." That's fine, but for the most part, higher price means higher quality, but not necessarily better sound. For instance, Mesa equipment can be pricey, but it just doesn't sound good. Conversely, cheap amps typically sound cheap (bad).

    My suggestion is to listen to bands/bassists that sound good to you, find out what equipment they use, and think along those lines.

    The people in here know I'm open to a wide variety of amplifier brands and I'm very even-handed when it comes to expressing opinions about them. Nonetheless, you might want to seek other opinions if you're not going to buy Eden gear.
     
  4. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hawaii
    I never rule anything out........and the one thing I do know for sure........is the more I know, the more I don't know;)
     
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
     
  6. ChenNuts44

    ChenNuts44

    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    That may be true, but it's not really what I intended to ask for in my verbose initial post. I do appreciate your thoughts, however, though I do occasionally joke around on TB (all in good fun).

    Excellent advise, but again, not what I had intended to ask in my initial post.

    True, though you may not always show it. ;)

    I salute you for taking the time to read my post, verbose as it may be.
     
  7. ChenNuts44

    ChenNuts44

    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    Of course not Brad... ;) (it did take a bit of time to type out)

    I agree about the stigmatization (don't hear that word every day) of manufacturers for various reasons. Gear indeed represents a big investment for most people. Excellent point about avoiding disappointment instead of trial and error.

    Good point about people effectively taking the easy road and bringing up peer pressure. You have shown yourself to be both open and assertive and from what I've observed, always given an unbiased and accurate reflection on gear you've used.

    Me too

    true to reasonable extent

    [​IMG]

    Excellent response. This is the type of response that I'm looking for. Thanks for taking the time to write that up, Brad.
     
  8. people only listen to what the want to hear, but cheap gear is poor quality and to most people sounds bad, one needs anothers opinion to help there ignorant judgements, but most of the opinions i readon here i cant take into account, either out of my price range or not availible in my area, guitar center carriers fender, crate and ampreg (slm), and gk, oh yeah and swr, 5 or 4 rands depending on how u count it, music go round has a little more variety, but not much because that is wat most people buy a round here, to get a dif brand u HAVE to mail order, or drive a few hundred miles, but u might not get a chance to hear it, u just go by peoples opinions, and soundclips from people who use the gear, i have ahd to do that before, but if u do listen make sure you check out wat kind of style they have, and their experience. check out as many reveiws and ask as may poeple as possible. but if u can get ur hands on it, see how it sound, does it have the features u want?, how about the weight, if u can only carry 50 lbs, dont buy a 100lbs cab
     
  9. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Opinions and biases are different with every person. People naturally feel pride in their decisions, whatever their basis was for that decision.

    Example: (Me) I fortunate to be able to afford expensive gear, and I'm finnicky about my sound. If I have to pay twice as much for a TAD bit difference in sound, I go for it. Is it twice as good for twice the price? Heck no. Bit worth it to me? Heck yes.

    (Those on a budget) Why pay twice as much for a piece of gear when it only sounds a tad bit better. Would be wasteful for you. Save your hard earned dough, and be happy.

    That's what's great about choice, gear in all categories are available.
     
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Good points, Eric.

    One of the things I find kind of amusing here is when people take criticism of their gear personally... as if the gear somehow defines them. For me, it's cool if someone thinks something of mine is nice. By the same token, if they think something of mine is ugly I won't lose sleep over it;). If they think I'm ugly, ouch... but I'll still sleep well tonight:D

    IME very few things actually suck. Here's a simple example: I generally don't like Warwick basses. This is based solely on the basses I've actually played, yet you'll never hear me seriously say they suck for a very simple reason. I've heard people absolutely smoke on Warwick basses.

    I realize the problem in the Warwick+me equation is me, not their basses. It's strictly personal preference.

    I've played lots of gear that's not highly regarded that I think could get the job done, in all price ranges. The final arbiter of what you choose should be what the gear does in your hands.
     
  11. ebozzz

    ebozzz Supporting Member

    May 17, 2001
    Denver, Colorado
    That's true. And, I'd like to add that more expensive may not lead you in the direction of the tone that you're looking for in my opinion.

    Very even-handed! :D ;)

    For most people, money certainly plays a big part in the decisions that they make regarding gear. I have to say that even if I could afford anything that I wanted, I don't know that I would target something just because it was expensive. I am not saying that that's how you go about deciding on what you feel is needed now.

    Even if I could afford anything that I wanted, I would still be checking out the options that were available to me in an attempt to make a purchase that got me the best value for my dollar with the tone/features that I was looking for. If that means that I had to buy expensive products, then I would save for it if it was beyond my means. Although, in the brief period of time that I have been chasing gear as compared to many of you, I've come to realize that there are some less expensive products out there that are very under-rated. As Brad mentioned in his post, the Cirrus was once one of the products that fit that description. Are there others? The answer is, without a doubt!
     
  12. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    This whole subject is, of course, very subjective; that's a given. There are many solid practical reasons to buy a particular piece of gear: price, sound, features, build quality, appearance and manufacturer's reputation. These things are tangible and fairly easy to quantify.

    What I think chen is getting at is what are the intangibles that guide us in our decisions. For me, after considering all the above practical matters, it comes down to the question "does it feel right; am I getting good vibes from it?" Also, and very importantly, "will it stay the hell out of my way when I'm playing?" Unfortunately, those are things that you really can't know for sure until you use it a while.

    I think this is why some very nice high end gear ends up for sale not long after its purchase. You buy it for the tangible reasons mentioned above, and sell it after it fails to meet the intangibles. It may also explain why some people hang onto "cheap" gear for many years.

    YMMV, IMO, IMHO, etc.;)
     
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
     
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'd be willing to bet that a large part of this is because some folks are looking for that "thing" that makes it all better, makes it come together, gives them their sound, etc. Unfortunately a great deal of tonal issues can be solved with practice. Put in the time in the shed and then people might realize how much more they can appreciate good gear, in any price range.

    This may sound hypocritical from a guy with a few basses (;)) but I can honestly say I'm not looking for my sound, I have it. I just enjoy different basses and the vibes they bring to the mix. Ultimately, it still sounds like me.
     
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'm not used to this kind of respect.
     
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    The topic applies to any kind of gear, not just amps/cabs.

    When I first started out, whatever I could afford was fine. Then I got an Ampeg SVT and life was wonderful (esp. when we had roadies).

    During my hard rock phase, image drove my choices for basses: USA Jacksons and Charvels and Hamers. I wouldn't have bought them if they weren't also good basses, but Fenders were "out", pointy headstocks and flashy paint were "in" so that closed the deal.

    The heavy metal crowd aren't the only ones concerned with image. Some get vintage instruments simply because of the Gee Whiz factor, others go for high-dollar boutiques with exhibition-grade schpurled bubovandire tops for the same reason. Some go with the current fad, whatever that may be. (Just to reiterate, I'm not saying most people, just some).

    That said, I don't care why someone chooses a particular bass or amp (as long as they don't judge my choices). There's lots of great gear out there, so even is someone makes a choice based on so-called "wrong reasons", it'll probably still work just fine. Heck, there's great diversity even between those who choose gear for the so-called "right reasons".
     
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Well, here's my real view. I pay attention to the gear I see on stage at live concerts and on TV. When I go to a live concert, the first thing I do is get my wife seated, then I go up to the stage to see what's on the back line. I have to say, the most common brand I see is SWR. I suspect that's because the venues often supply the back line, and SWR is reliable, powerful, and amenable to many styles of music. I do see a lot of Eden at the shows I go to, and I suppose I'd see more Ampeg if I went to more rock shows.

    My point is that professionals make their living playing music. What better endorsement than seeing Nathan East's Eden rig up there on stage with Eric Clapton or Fourplay? What originally drew me to Eden was its professional endorsers. That caused me to go try it out, and finding that it sounded great, I bought it.

    Now, if you watch and enjoy, say, The Grand Ole Opry, you might end up with Peavey equipment (although I know for a fact that they strip out the electronics and speakers and replace them with Eden).

    These biases and prejudices are not coincidental. You're not going to see Crate, Yorkville, or the like on a national act's stage. Not because of some unreasonable bias, but because they don't meet the professional musicians requirements.

    Your "closed-minded" remarks remind me of the old hippie mantra back in the early 70's. If you don't agree with me, you're closed-minded. Well, after I hear an amplifier suck, I know I don't want one. If enough people I respect say an amplifier sucks, again, I don't want it. It's called judgement. And yes, I can be judgemental, and it's OK.

    Amen.
     
  18. ebozzz

    ebozzz Supporting Member

    May 17, 2001
    Denver, Colorado
    You know, I've got this feeling that you're probably right about that. :)
     
  19. ChenNuts44

    ChenNuts44

    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    No Munji, I'm sure you're not... ;)

    However, I tend to be a very respectful person with a good sense of humor.

    Also, thanks for your real view.
     
  20. amper

    amper

    Dec 4, 2002
    US
    This is a subject near and dear to my heart...so you'll forgive me for going on a bit long here...

    Over the last year or so, and particularly in the last couple of months, I have been re-evaluating all of my decisions about my gear. I have the goal of finally nailing down just what it is I want and accumulating a pile of stuff that makes noise that I'm never going to get rid of.

    I have come to the conclusion that unless you live in California, it is damn near impossible to find most pro-level gear to try it out before you buy it.

    For example, I am an independent technology consultant when I'm not playing my bass, so I drive all over NJ and PA for work, plus my family is originally from NYC, so I'm there pretty often. Along the way, I hit every music store I can. Over the last few weeks I have visited many, many dealers in the Philadelphia and New York City areas, as well as the whole strip of NJ in between. I was looking for SWR's Interstellar Overdrive and Power 750. Nobody had it in stock. In fact, no one had much SWR stock at all.

    Now, SWR is not exactly an unknown or unpopular brand these days, and if I had trouble finding this stuff in the most densely populated area of the country, including the largest, most important city in the country, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to find gear in other, less populated areas. I finally broke down and ordered both units from a local dealer who gave me a somewhat better price than Musician's Friend. If I like how the stuff works for me, I'll probably go through the whole process again to find a dealer with 2 Son of Bertha's that I can play through at the same time (2 1x15's are my preferred config).

    So, I can understand easily why people would have to rely on the opinions of others to help in gear purchasing decisions. This stuff is expensive, and it's not always easy to demo the gear before buying it, even if like me, you have the ability to hit most of the better music stores in three or four states within a week. On top of that, you really need to demo the gear in your playing situation (i.e., with your band) before you can really tell whether the stuff is truly going to work for you. I don't know about you, but all my bass gear sounds completely different at home than it does at rehearsal or at a gig. This could be because I live in an old house that resonates like a drum, but still...Although I can usually tell if a particular piece has the flexibility in sound to suit me, I have made a few misjudgements. The Trace Elliot 4x12 cab I have sounds terrible with my band, but great solo. Oh, well.

    I will admit that some of my problem with finding gear stems from the fact that my preferences tend to be far left of center (I'm having Warwick custom make me a 30" scale fretless Corvette Proline 4-string with chrome hardware, and I'm getting the SWR Stella to use primarily as a guitar preamp), but I still seem to have much more trouble finding things than I should. Now if I could just find a Focusrite Red 5 power amp, or an EV B-410 cabinet... Whenever a company does manage to get a product to market that I like, it tends to get discontinued.

    On the subject of quality or expense--don't let anyone else (or peer pressure) make these judgements for you. Use what your ear, your eye, your experience level, your usage patterns, your desire, and your wallet dictate. Personally, I tend to buy only top-quality gear, which tends to be expensive. I hate buying cheap substitutes. Nearly all my gear is of sufficient quality to be viewed as "vintage classics" a few decades later (if they're not already) I appreciate quality, and I'm willing to pay for it. For this reason, it takes an exceptional product from a company whose reputation is that of an "entry-level" manufacturer to impress me. Mind you, I've been playing music for about 30 years, so it's not as if I'm going to buy something I'm not already reasonably sure I'm going to like or use. Again, this is all personal opinion. One advantage of having top-quality gear is that you can usually get most of your money back out of it if it ever becomes time to sell it.

    Everyone has a bit of that desire to be part of "the in crowd". This is why the younger set especially tries to identify with a larger group. Gear making purchases at that level also frequently involve the parents, so corroborating opinions can be a great help.

    That said, I'm a pretty good judge of people (I think), so when someone else starts spouting off or exclaiming how great their gear is, I can usually tell from the context wether I should take their opinion seriously.

    One last note--the rise of the giant music retailer (in the Philadelphia area, this means Guitar Center and Sam Ash) is causing a horrible homogenization in the varieties of available gear. This is making it ten times harder to find what you're looking for if your tastes are anything like mine.