Seymour Duncan Convertible

Seymour made them in the ’80s and it was the first amp to feature power scaling. It could go from 100 watts to one watt. It had different modules, like cards, that would go into the amp and they had tubes in them with different gain stages and preamps. Mine is set up with low gain and it sounds like a cross between a Deluxe Reverb and an early Mesa/Boogie. It’s pretty fun. I talked to Seymour about why they stopped making them and it was just way ahead of its time. They were expensive to make and it almost bankrupted the company, plus they had problems with the cards breaking. You can find them for under $500.

Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb Reissue

They are arguably some of the greatest Fender amps built in the last 40 years. I took notice because other cats had been commenting on them saying that they sound better than the original ones! They just came out, but I think they’re one of the most underrated modern amps around. Plus, they’re very affordable—you can get one for under a grand, which is a third of the price of an original one. I don’t trust new amps. Well, I certainly don’t trust boutique amps because they blow up. I’ve always had bad luck with them. You just can’t lose with a good, old Fender amp. The wacky thing is that the silverface reissues sound nothing like the blackface reissues, which I didn’t think sounded good at all. But these sound unbelievably good. I don’t know who is building their amps over there now, but they are doing a good job.

I have an original Twin and Super in mint condition and they are good amps. I do have a Fender amp in my live rig—they’re just called Dumbles. They sound like Fender amps. For an upcoming gig at Red Rocks with the blues band I’m using two high-powered Twins (one from 1958 and one from 1959) along with two ’58 Bassman amps.

Honorable Mention

Jim Kelley Amps

I have nine of these amps—two of the very first of the Suhr reissues, which sound exactly like the old ones, and seven original ones. They’re essentially 60-watt Deluxe Reverbs with just a huge amount of headroom. Everyone calls them the “poor man’s Dumble” and they truly are. They have such a great, open sound.