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Life in Fenderland

(My ongoing love/hate relationship with classic tube combo amps)

Installment 1 - The Back Story The Fender Musical Instrument Company has played a major role in the development of popular music in this country, both with its guitar innovations and the development of all tube amplifier designs. The iconic "Fender Clean Tones" have become the soundtrack for a generation of American bands, both onstage and in the recording studio. Old concert photos and videos of the Beach Boys in the middle '60s show them rocking out with Fender guitars and a solid back line of Fender amps. Chuck Berry's performance contact was famous for including the backline requirements for promoters to provide two Fender Twin Reverb amps. These are just a couple of examples, and it's safe to say that everyone from America to Zappa has plugged into a Fender amp at some point in their career. And it's not just the old guard; I recently watched an Austin City Limits live performance on PBS featuring indy guitarist Ryan Adams and his band, with Adams jamming in front of a "mini" stack of four Princeton Reverb amps. The amps are everywhere... As a recording studio owner, I have tried to acquire musical equipment to assist my clients in getting the music out of their heads and onto tape as it were. Early on I discovered that in some cases if you want a particular sound in the studio you need to obtain a particular device, i.e. if you want the sound of a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar you need to buy a damn Les Paul (I now own five!). So this is the sordid story of my trials and tribulations in attempting to put together a reasonable collection of Fender tube amps to provide that classic "Fender Clean Tone".

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