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The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps (Book & CD) Hardcover – September 1, 2007
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If you're a guitarist and/or Fender aficianado, you will obviously like it, in fact probably already own it.
But even just a casual interest in Fender amps will be enough to pull you in. Lots of period pictures, lots of history and great writing. Even the technical explanations are downright interesting. You may not know or care about cathode follower tube circuits, or solid state vs. tube rectifiers, or tone stacks, or cabinet coverings, but you'll still enjoy how the author presents all this...and then suddenly, one day, you'll discover that not only did you understand it all, but you now have strong opinions about all these amp components. This is as fun a read as I've seen.
One warning: if you don't already own a Fender tube amp, after you read this book you will. So consider the purchase price of the book just a down payment on your new obsession.
A couple words about the included CDs: They're pretty enjoyable, especially CD2.
CD1: Greg Koch plays a somewhat eclectic combination of vintage amps and guitars. They are mostly historic pieces...sort of. For example he's doing demos of historic Fender amps for this 60 history, a significant book, and yet he's using a pieced together Bassman transplant head of dubious origin in an aftermarket cabinet. The Bassman is a landmark Fender amp. They can't locate a reasonably original one to demo for a few minutes? Seriously? Also Mr. Kochs' personality and junior high sense of humor get old really fast. He's a helluva guitar player, but it's like he can't stop himself from talking. He just needs to play, not talk.
CD2: This is really a fun CD. It's various guys from Fender (mostly marketing, engineering, and project directors) playing through modern and reissue amps that they were involved in seeing to market. These guys seem to get along great, and they can all play. So here you've got guys playing the amps that they delivered to the market, their "babies". It's fun to hear them talk about and play these amps.
Like I said, if you don't own a Fender tube amp (or even if you do) and you read this book...beware your bank account.
The participation and cooperation of the folks at Fender is obvious and welcome. Beyond that there are comments by other industry figures such as Hartley Peavey. The book traces the lineage of Fender amps from the very first K & F products through to the Cyber Twin, the SuperSonic and the offerings of 2007. At the end one gets the feeling that they have come to understand the place each model holds in the Fender lineage in depth.
If that knowledge isn't enough in itself there are two CDS in the back with samples of a number of Fender amps, both vintage and modern. The vintage samples are performed by Greg Koch and treat you to some great amps from the past. The modern samples are performed by people from Fender with plenty of explanation of the thought behind each model's creation.
The end result of this book is to give you a thorough, up to date history of the Fender amp line from its earliest days to the present, some fine pictures of examples and explanations of these amps by people that know the facts. It appeals on a technical level and on an asthetic level. I couldn't imagine a more enjoyable discussion of Fender amplifiers.
I find everytime I consider another amp this is my reference book for all things amplified from Leo. It covers the early years, the CBS years and the rebirth of Fender amps and most everything in between and does it well.
I recently came across a 65 Fender Vibro Champ for sale. In referring to this book I found out everything I needed to know ( the pictures in the book are well done although I wish there were a few more back shots...)to determine the amp was legit and I should purchase it which I did. I even have friends borrow it so they can use it to verify information on an amp they own or wish to own...
Another plus is the attached CD which gives you a tone taste of some of the amps highlighted in the book. You can read about it and then hear it. How cool is that?
For me this is a super reference source & I highly recommend it.
If anything, I came away with a bit more of an appreciation for the non-vintage-style amps. Not that I would ever buy one, LOL.
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