Oct 18, 2014

Crate GT212 pawn shop find

Side by side with a Fender Mustang I
          Pawn shops are pretty hit-and-miss with guitar stuff.  It seems like usually the people selling the guitars have no idea what they are really worth, and then proceed to sell heavily used guitars at full price to people who don't know better.

          Today was a lucky find though - a Crate GT212 solid-state amp.  On its own it isn't really special; it's a pretty good 2 x 12" amp combo with three channels and an open back.

          The price tag read $110 - this was in rather rough shape, with dirt, dust, and cobwebs in it and a rend in the leather on the side.  That seemed an okay deal, since the price of two 12" speakers alone would almost definitely be more than that.  I left for a few hours.

          Later in the day I went back and got it for $80.  Now that's more like it!

          Heavy.  Like 50 lbs.  The sides are plywood slabs like 1/2" thick, so it's rugged for sure.  The leather-esque covering was a little thin but good enough.  Knobs were all there, if a bit dusty, everything in good working order and built to last.  Only issue was the ground lead broke off.  This is a bit concerning, and I'll see if I can get that fixed.

          It is a solid-state amp, but doesn't sound like it in any bad way.  Clean channel sounds pretty good, though very bass heavy.  Rhythm channel is great for pretty much all genres of rock, with a good range of flexibility built in.  Solo channel is just the rhythm channel with a boost to gain and further tone sculpting.

           Honestly, I haven't had it long enough to do a comprehensive tone comparison and get a feel for how much I like it, but so far so good - the twin 12" speakers give a much wider tone range than the 8" on the Mustang - the low frequencies are a difference you feel, rather than hear :)

          One very important thing - volume.  The most shocking aspect of this amp is the sheer power of the sound it puts out.  I knew 120 watts through 2 12" speakers was going to be a lot of power. I could not have expected the amount of power I got.

On volume 1 it is fairly quiet and good for practice - all but the absolute lowest volume with low gain is still too much to play without waking the family.

Volume 2 is quite a bit louder, good for rehearsal or seriously loud practice.

Volume 3 can compete with a reasonable drummer, and is plenty for a solo performance in a medium-small venue.

Volume 4 can take on most drummers and is all you would need for most performances.

Volume 5 is plenty for all but the loudest, most obnoxious punk bands performing at very large venues.

Volume 6... no, we don't go to volume 6.

Volume 7... it's like the Fight Club.  Don't talk about it.

Volume 8... Even thinking about it is liable to damage your hearing.

Volume 11 - approved by Nigel Tufnel himself.

Now, it may seem strange that I focused so much on volume, but again, I haven't had it long enough to really gauge tone and sound quality.  It can be reasonably assumed that tone gets worse when volume is raised above 5 or 6, the sweet spot seems to be 2-4.  If you really need it louder than 5 you use a PA system if you ask me :)

Anyway, I'll have a full writeup done sometime in the future, but for now I'll keep playing with my new toy!

Thoughts?  Anyone else had much luck in pawn shops before, guitars, amps, or otherwise?

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