ToneQuest: Bangers & Mash — Blankenship Amplification

Somewhere along the way, guitar amplifier tone got carelessly shoved into two broad categories – American and British. Fender being the quintessential American tone and Marshall being the obvious default for midrangey and reverb-less British tone. Within each, of course, there are distinct variations… Ampeg, Magnatone, Valco and Gibson, for example, are also American through and through, yet they remain distinctly different in sound and construction, and would rarely be mistaken for a typical Fender. Among British amps, Hiwatt, Sound City and Vox present equally diverse varieties of “British” tone that won’t be confused with a classic plexi Marshall head. But simply adding reverb or delay to a British amplifier will often throw listeners completely off as to its origins, while plugging into the Normal channel of a vintage Fender brown or blackface amp with the right guitar can produce an exceptional “Marshall tone.” Our recent experiment with our ’62 brown Vibrolux and a Goldtop Deluxe Les Paul with Lollar mini humbuckers rammed this point home with alarming clarity…. The point is, labels don’t always serve creativity and discovery well, and in the realm of supposed “vintage amp tone” where different examples can vary so dramatically, labels are worthless in generating much more than “skull chatter,” to quote Kye Kennedy. But, we still crave “Marshall tone,” whatever our individual perceptions of that sound may be. Well, since you asked….

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