A word of personal experience when it comes to buying tube amps on eBay – count on investing at least another couple hundred dollars getting your cool vintage amp up

A word of personal experience when it comes to buying tube amps on eBay – count on investing at least another couple hundred dollars getting your cool vintage amp up to speed and reliable, especially if it’s from the ‘70s or earlier.

Your auction find will most likely require a new set of tubes, new filter caps for the power supply – very important, as old electrolytic capacitors dry up with age, causing 60-cycle hum, “ghost notes,” tube failure and possibly complete amp failure – and a new speaker. Speakers can suffer from age, and blow as soon as you play through the amp for a half hour.

Replacing the speaker in an old amp is not always a bad thing. It is one of the most dramatic mods you can make to an amp to improve the tone. I’ve had old amps that sounded absolutely anemic until I installed a new speaker.

If you take an amp to a tech to have them recondition your vintage snag, be careful with what you ask them to do. Make sure they do as little as necessary to make the amp stable and reliable without affecting the amp’s tone. I’ve heard many a sob story of an amp sounding amazing when purchased, only to sound terrible upon its return from the repair shop. This usually means the tech got carried away changing out more parts than absolutely necessary. This certainly isn’t to say that all techs don’t know how to improve the tone of an amp; you just need to know your tech well and trust his judgment. Only replace what is necessary.

Well, that does it! Next month we’ll cover a specific list of things to ask your tech to do to your vintage amp.

Peter Stroud
Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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