For the last 6 years or so, I have been something between an amateur and semi-pro gigging guitarist. I played multiple times a week at casinos, private events, bars, festivals, I pretty much did it all. Like so many others, the COVID pandemic put an abrupt stop to that and it's only just now (October 2021) that I'm getting back in the game.
I've always played both lead and rhythm guitar, and generally have been the only guitarist in a band. My live rig has always (again in this semi-pro period) consisted of a 50-watt tube combo, and an array of pedals. I was never a die-hard about tube amps, I just always liked them and never gave any attention to anything else.
The pandemic period made me take a long look back at playing music, what I want to play, how I want to do it, all that existential stuff. One major thing I considered is my live rig. The tube amp/pedalboard thing was getting just a little bit messy at the end, and I was really noticing that my sound was inconsistent when playing at different venues. Again, not a huge big deal, but it can be a pain in the ass, futzing with your settings minutes before a gig starts, trying to un-muddy or un-treble or whatever. Plus, my tube amp is pretty freaking heavy, so is the pedal board. Typical stuff that just kind of wears you down.
My post-pandemic gigging return is with an 80s cover band. I'm the lead singer, and get to play with another guitar player. This is a load off my shoulders for sure. But, even being a rhythm guitarist, this is 80s music. You still need overdrive, compression, delay, chorus to cover music from this era.
I recently read an interview with John Bohlinger of Premier Guitar
where he talked about the grind of being a hired gun guitarist playing in the Nashville clubs. He said he pretty much just brings his guitar and a Boss Katana amp. It's lite, loud, has every effect (digital modeling) you would ever need, and is consistent and dependable. Welp, that's good enough for me.
I went out and grabbed a 100 watt Katana for $200, and I gotta say, it's fantastic. Great touch-response to to the sound. Everything I would ever need in one little amp. I can even plug it into my computer and utilize the Boss Tone Studio to program presets and tweak effects. I can direct out into a PA, and it even has an effects loop if I want to break out my old pedals.
So, while I never thought I would buy a digital modeling amp, at this point I can't see why I would use anything else in a live situation. Have you ever made a similar transition? Do you go back and forth? I buy an amp like once every 7 years, so I'm always into something practical, and also kinda proud that I was open to trying something different. Here's to trying new things! Cheers!