The Clone Zone
Is It Even Necessary To Own The “Real” Thing Anymore?
Allow me to set the scene: it’s sometime around 1989 or 1990. Your writer has been playing guitar for about year and has just discovered that Elysian space called the music store. Here is where the pages Guitar For The Practicing Musician (my favorite at the time) come to life. In my local and mom and pop (which is still in business today), Les Pauls and Strats commune next to more radical, pointy day-glo offerings from Jackson, Ibanez, and Hamer; I can barely concentrate on anything else.
But then there’s the amp room. And this is where another epiphany occurred. This is where I beheld my first full stack. It was probably a Marshall, though I occasionally remember it as something different. But I remember not being prepared for the sheer size of something that, to that point, I had only seen in magazines and on MTV.
Today, you don’t need a full stack in your sitting room to sound like you’re playing through one. In fact, a musician can practically own a virtual music store full of amps, pedals, and even guitars without devoting much more than the space of a pull-out couch in their home or studio. Even the most basic modeling technology puts dozens of options at a player’s fingertips in practically any platform out there; amplifier, rack unit, pedal, or software.
But damn. Standing in the shadow of that tolex-covered monolith…that thrill can’t be modeled. The (arguably) most important parts of the experience, the tone, obviously can and without the concerns about portability, maintenance, and volume. But is there something to be said for being in the presence of the real deal? Is that the one advantage that the original article has over modeled or cloned versions?
Let’s consider pedals and amps (without modeling capabilities). Even with all of the great-sounding, ultra-tweakable versions of classic sounds and circuits out there, in both software and hardware forms, sometimes I just dig plugging in the old standard, no-frills Ibanez TS-9 overdrive or Boss CS-2 compressor that lurk deep in my gear closet. There’s some about that ‘click’ of the footswitch and just a trio of knobs that takes me back to the time I was just beginning to discover how cool the electric guitar really is.
Today’s gear builders have given us lots of great reasons to not worry about having original pieces on hands. Whatever kind of rig you need, there are lots of great options to help you achieve all the tonal nirvana you can imagine. But sometimes, only the original will do.
What do you think? Is It Even Necessary To Own The “Real” Thing Anymore?
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