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can you identify an amp head by sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by steviecsg, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. steviecsg


    Aug 16, 2002
    it is possible to associate amp heads according to the 'signature' sound?

    say for instance you take a generic fender jazz and a generic no name 2x10 and 1x15. would you be able to say "oh this is the swr sound, this is the trace elliot sound, GK sound, aguilar sound....etc"?

    and is it possible to make this distinction regarding speaker cabs alone, keeping the bass and amp head constant?

  2. I'm sure someone somewhere can do this. I don't think I could though.....
  3. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    not I
  4. My personal opinion is no. While some amps are voiced particularly, with the myriad options of basses, cabinets and EQ, I don't think you can listen and establish with any kind of authority that - "this is an SWR SM-900."

    I could be wrong. But I'll give you a dollar if you can.
  5. No.

    However, give me a choice of say, an Eden and SWR, and I'd definitely pick them out. Some vary quite a bit and could easily be distinguished if given an A/B choice.

    Caveat edit: ...with EQs run flat.
  6. Nope. Me either. I can play 4 different basses through my Ampeg, all at the same EQ settings, and it'll sound like a new amp every time.
  7. reminds me of a audio rag (don't recall which one) that took a bunch of audio 'experts' and had them try to identify (blind) a bunch of speaker cables, including some $100/foot type. None of them could tell which was the $$ stuff and which was lamp cord :D
  8. The differences are there, but to my ears they are usually pretty subtle (at least between solid state designs). But of course my "subtle difference" is perceived as "night and day" by someone else.

    In my experience the speaker cabinets have much more variation, especially in low frequencies - I´d rather have a cheap head and a good cab than vice versa.
  9. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I would say yes, provided I was playing it. Amps feel different as well as sound different, so if I were playing I could probably tell you at least what brand amp I were playing. Different models would be hard, unless it was a solid state vs. a tube amp.

    In a mix on a CD? That's a toughie. Certain songs, maybe, but not many.
  10. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Sometimes. Like, that industry standard "P bass through SVT" sound is kinda burned into my head by now, so many people use it and it's so prototypical that it's easy to recognize.
  11. Danksalot


    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    GK is one that is easy for me to recognize in the mix on a CD.
  12. The only sound i can identify


    Musicman thro

    Warwick thro

    Fender thro

    thats it

    Tho i reckon on a blinde hear i could pick my EBS stuff with no probbies

    but on an album..its hard to say..!!
  13. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000

    I've known people who have made this claim but never prove themselves right. As someone mentioned earlier, given a choice between two brands, sure. But out of the clear blue , I'd say no way.
  14. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I guess it's like being able to tell what kind of car it is when you hear the engine. Some people can do this pretty easy with certain types of cars (Mustang, VW, etc.). But asking to name the actual model of amp is like asking them to name the color of the car.
  15. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I could probably identify a GK head, but that's iffy.
  16. I had a blind friend a few years back who could tell the denomination of a bill by feeling it. I know, I know! Id have never believed it either until I saw it with my own two eyes. No shortchanging him at the supermarket!
  17. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Spanky...that is too cool. Do you know how he did it? Do people really try to rip him off?

    Oh...on topic stuff...I doubt that I could.
  18. Well, back when I was working in a recording studio, we would have people come in all the time with a recording and say, "I want this sound." (They were usually referring to a particular guitar tone.) I prided myself on being able to tell which guitar and amp were used. (In those days, the choices on guitar were almost invariably either a Fender Strat, Fender Tele, or Gibson Les Paul. The choices for guitar amps were restricted to Fender, Marshal, or Mesa Boogie.) I thought I was Mr. Recording Expert because I could tell the difference pretty consistently. Then, I discovered that the guy who owned the studio (and taught me everything I know about recording) could also identify the compressor and eq settings, the amount of delay used, and even the MICROPHONE that was used on the recording. He could whip up that sound in a flash. This was a very humbling lesson, and I realized that I still had a LONG way to go.

    I don't see why you couldn't do this for bass, too. It would take some practice. I've learned that listening skills can be developed just like any other skill. I know that I have two preamps that "model" different bass amps, and each model sounds significantly different from the others. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the eq settings. I suppose you could fiddle with the knobs and force certain amps to sound like certain other amps. But I don't think you could make a transistor amp sound like a tube amp, or vice versa. I also wouldn't presume that I could personally do it, unless I took the time to train myself to do so. I've never attempted to do this. When I listen to recordings of a bass, I'm mostly paying attention to the part that is being played, not the tone of the rig.

    p.s. In Jr. High, we had a blind teacher. Once, somebody dropped a few coins on the floor. He could tell which coins had fallen on the floor (and how many of each) by the sound they made. I was pretty astounded by this.