My amp collection - Mesa/Boogie & Fender


If I elect to do so, any of the acoustic instruments with pickups installed is amplified by a 2000 model Fender Acoustasonic Jr. combo amplifier. In addition, it functions as a sound source to play long with when the CD player is hooked up. The transistor amp is stereo, with 40W per channel driving 2 8” speakers and a piezo horn. Channel 1 is to be used for the acoustic instrument and has volume, treble, mid, and bass controls. To rein in any potential feedback, this channel is equipped with a notch filter control that can be used to remove the offending frequency. The string dynamics control can be used to tame the harshness often associated with piezo pickups for a more natural, warmer sound. Finally, some reverb can be mixed using the reverb button. Channel 2 can be used for an external source, microphone or a second instrument. It has a phase switch to filter out external noise. It only has a volume, treble, and bass control. The balance of reverb between channel 1 and 2 can be dialed in using the reverb send control. Additionally, chorusing for this channel can be switched off with a dedicated button. Finally, in the master section, one can find the controls for the chorus effect as well as for the reverb. This amp became part of the collection in a straight-up trade for the Mesa/Boogie DC-3 (see my story on the Artist II) at Guitar Center since that amp was superseded by my rack gear.

The Phil Jones Bass, aka PJB, BG-400 Suitcase Compact is a lightweight 300W bass amplifier with 2 independent channels, each with input level and 3-band EQ. A channel can either be muted or set to an appropriate sensitivity: LOW for basses with active onboard electronics or HIGH for passive basses. The only onboard effect is a Limiter/Compressor. It is also an ideal practice amp with its AUX input for an iPod/MP3 player and headphones output. The overall volume is set by a single Master control. On the back one finds a DI output (with ground lift), effects loop send and return, and dedicated output for a tuner, now hooked up to my Peterson Virtual Strobe II, and preamp out to connect to an external power amp. What mat surprise many, the amp’s 4x5” speakers and bass port give plenty of lows, oomph, punch, and whatever other adjectives used in the context of bass tone.

The most used combo amp in my collection is a 2001 Mesa/Boogie Subway Blues, an all-tube 20W amp driving a single Eminence produced 10” Vintage Black Shadow speaker. And strangely enough, about a year after I got my rack gear, I spotted it at American Music and just though that a small practice amp that is easy to shlep around would be a worthwhile addition to my amp collection. So in effect, this is the actual replacement of my Mesa/Boogie DC-3 (see above)! The 5 controls are simplicity in and by themselves: volume, treble, middle, bass, and reverb. Especially the middle tone control serves a dual purpose. When turned past 2 o’clock, it also adds some additional gain for nice overdriven sounds. The bright/fat switch allows you to make optimal use of the sound shaping controls for both single coil and humbucking pickups. A beautiful little amp which is easy to shlep around and, as the name already may allude to, is perfect for blues! I use this amp in my current band, the Cedar Park Rangers with drummer extraordinaire David Turim and my musical soul mate guitarist James Allen, augmented by a few pedals. All mounted on an Aclam L2 SmartTrack aluminum pedalboard, the guitar signal enters a TC Electronics PolyTune 3 tuner which has a buffered input to compensate for long cables. It is followed by a Windowpane silicon fuzz and a Wah, both made by BBE. The signal then goes into the Carl Martin Quattro multi-effect pedal, built in Denmark and providing a compressor, 2 distortion effects, i.e. crunch/overdrive kicked into high-gain when both switches are engaged, a great sounding chorus, and an even better sounding echo that mimics some of the warmth and sonic deficiencies intrinsic to tape echo and other vintage echo effects. Since the amp’s internal reverb broke (squeal!), the Strymon Flint has been employed as the final effect in the chain, not only replacing said reverb but also adding a tremolo effect. Delightful! The Subway Blues and the effects get their juice through a Furman SS-6B Pro Surge Protector combined with the TrueTone 1 SPOT system, whose single output rated at 1,700mA max does the job just fine!


Combo Amplifiers