My amp collection - The small stuff


In addition to some ‘real’ amplifiers, I also have these toys. Actually ‘toys’ might be too denigrating of a term since they all serve a real purpose. The Fender Mini-Twin for instance, is easy to plug into if I don’t want to wait for tubes to warm up. This little amp, which was available in the mid oughts for a limited amount of time, has only three controls: gain, volume, and tone (the right-most rotary is actually the on/off switch).  The very dynamic gain control allows you to dial in sweet tones up to a menacing transistor clip, while the volume can act as a master to keep sound levels equal. One piece of advice though if you are contemplating buying a small amp like this. If you don’t want it to topple over, you better use a guitar cable with at least one angle ¼” plug on either end!

The Soloist, design by Tom Scholz of Boston fame in the Rockman series built by his now defunct SRD company, is a very versatile headphone-amp. It has many of Tom’s signature tones, with additional chorus and echo effects that can be switched on. And, ahead of its time, it has an input/output that either allows you to pipe in music from an external source, so you can play along, or hook it up to a soundboard to use it as an effect!

Walter Harley is local bass player whose dissatisfaction with available options to practice at volumes that wouldn’t disturb the neighborhood inspired him to start Café Walter Audio and design the HA-1A. This diminutive practice amp, with just a volume control for the instrument, a volume control for the optional external source to be mixed in, and an extremely flat response, is simplicity in and by itself. But all my G&L basses sound absolutely great over headphones or through a soundboard while tracking; just the sound of your instrument and your fingers. The emphasis on the latter can be rather discouraging since every mistake is amplified. But it forces you to improve your technique!


Practice amps