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Author Topic:  Steel Gear Costs
Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 18 May 2017 5:55 am     Reply with quote

Something I am trying to understand about a lot of players is this.

We spend pretty big bucks on these things normally:
example:(Rough Guess)

D10 Steel 4000-6000 for a new one
Volume pedal 100-500 depending
Effects $????
Pack-a-seat 150-300
bars/picks 100
Special cables 100
Special strings we like 10-20

But when it comes to putting all that gear through an amp and speaker all I hear is complaints about amps that cost money! I do understand economics but the amplifier is an intricate part of the sound you geared up for right? Why do I get a feeling many don't put the same amount of value there as they do the rest.

All this is just shop talk and means nothing...

Cheers Ya'll
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Doug Earnest


From:
Branson, MO USA
Post Posted 18 May 2017 6:41 am     Reply with quote

I have been thinking the same things myself Mike. And for the record, I am also guilty of being in the cheap ass amp club. But I don't play anywhere other than the shop anymore so really I have all that is necessary and do get a pretty good sound from what I have.

Recently I got to looking at the price of new guitar amps as a sort of reality check. It is nothing to find higher quality factory produced amps such as Boogies for $1500 and up, even new Fenders are up there. Lots of high priced amps available that I never heard of but then again I'm not plugged in to that crowd.

I guess we just got spoiled by having good sounding Peaveys that were $600 or so new and lasted for 30 years, can still be had used for $350 and with a $150 tuneup will probably go another 30 years.

Accounting for inflation the new factory offerings from Quilter, Peavey, Evans and such are still reasonably priced especially considering the features that a lot of them offer such as built in effects.

I don't think these $300 Chinese made things like the Katana, Mustangs and such are a great idea unless you are going to treat them like disposable items.

Yesterday at the shop we were talking about the prices of hand wired amps from shops like yours, Milkman, Little Walter, Fox, etc. Once we started making rough guesses of the costs of components, time involved, and fair profit I guess they are probably not out of line either.

What I can't wrap my head around is a lot of guys who go out and buy that new $5000 guitar, $2500 amp, seat and every other gadget that goes with it - sometimes in multiple quantites.....and can't play diddly. I know they can't because I've heard them! Then again they may not have a $30,000 bass boat, or golf habit, or insert whatever other diversions we have. I guess a lot of them did nothing but work all their life and are trying to have a good time now. It's all OK, just don't try to make sense of it.

Coffee is gone, I'm going to glue some formica and ship some guitars.
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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 18 May 2017 6:48 am     . Reply with quote

Good thoughts Doug and does make sense to me. And yes your right on one account, when I build hardwired custom amps the parts costs alone exceed the cost of a new Chinese fender made by robots. When you tack on the 25 hours it takes me to build the thing I'm making minimum wage LOL... That's why its a side thing I do for enjoyment.

I like those $300.00 Peaveys too and have one myself but I am never apposed to paying for high quality either.

Thanks for the good vibes
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 18 May 2017 7:53 am     Reply with quote

Doug Earnest wrote:


What I can't wrap my head around is a lot of guys who go out and buy that new $5000 guitar, $2500 amp, seat and every other gadget that goes with it - sometimes in multiple quantites.....and can't play diddly. I know they can't because I've heard them! Then again they may not have a $30,000 bass boat, or golf habit, or insert whatever other diversions we have. I guess a lot of them did nothing but work all their life and are trying to have a good time now. It's all OK, just don't try to make sense of it.

Coffee is gone, I'm going to glue some formica and ship some guitars.


Comparison reality check: Apples v. Oranges

Just for comparison, in today's fishing world a new $30,000 bass boat would be the equivalent of a S-10 3p/4k mica-covered mid-priced steel (e.g. Justice, Fessenden), something of better quality than an entry-level guitar but without the bells and whistles that raises the price of the instrument to the $6000 level (e.g. Infinity, Mullen, Show-Pro).

Fully-equipped bass boats with 300hp outboards, top-level electronics, deluxe everything else can easily reach $60,000 with some I've seen over $70,000. Then factor in a $50K pickup truck to haul your new pride and joy to the lake.

This quality level would compare to a $6500 Mullen with a $3000 Telonics amp/pedal, and $350 seat.

Pro-level rods and reels can and do cost $500 each, and it's not unusual to find 10 or more of these rod combos in a rod locker.

Steel playing is WAY less expensive to get into at that level. It's strange, but I don't hear nearly as much whining about prices at the two bass fishing forums I participate in than I do here in Forumland.

Probably many, maybe a majority of bass fishermen, go for used boats simply because of those costs, though I can't say for sure. Maybe they go new and just factor in the costs of boats and trucks like a second mortgage on a home.

You can go fishing from the bank at a farm pond with a Zebco 202 rod/reel combo and a can of worms. And you can play steel on a Carter Starter or a Little Buddy. And both can be a fun thing to do.

Just sayin'... Wink
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robert kramer


From:
Nashville TN
Post Posted 18 May 2017 7:58 am     Reply with quote

This is to the the year 2000. So $2472.65 plus for a Twin Reverb would go a long ways for a high dollar amp today. Or buy a $350 used Vegas 400 like Buddy Emmons used a lot.

http://spiretech.net/~benboom/Music/ampprices.htm

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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 18 May 2017 8:02 am     . Reply with quote

Ha! Herb, we won't even get into my wife's sewing and quilting equipment! That stuff is on Bass boat levels
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Joe Ribaudo


From:
New Jersey, USA
Post Posted 18 May 2017 10:17 am     Re: . Reply with quote

Mike Scaggs wrote:
...we won't even get into my wife's sewing and quilting equipment!

It was a beautiful day when my wife decided to get serious with quilting. I encourage and support this wholeheartedly! I hardly ever see that sidelong glance when I walk in with a new pedal or mic preamp.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 18 May 2017 10:53 am     Reply with quote

Or my wife's Embroidery Machines (with an S).

I'm not denigrating anyone's "boutique" amp but many I see are using Fender designs for their amps and even some I see are using pre-punched Mojotone chassis. Thus the cost of design and development is relatively nothing. Its the cost of the parts, "manpower" and overhead (including test equipment). Small quantity parts purchases can get pricey so that does have to be figured into the final cost. Leo Fender used a lot of cheap "crappy" parts that he bought in large quantities but amazingly the amps sounded great. Some of the caps were +/- 100% tolerance!

Along with the amp, the speaker is the weakest link. The best built and sounding amp can be crap if the speaker isn't right.

I probably look at amps different since I'm an ex amp tech and have worked in electronics since 1960 including a tech at a NASA Apollo tracking station. I had a General Class Ham License and a 2nd Class FCC Radio Telephone license.

I have to admit I'm a cheap ass too when it comes to amps, but I'll be 80 this year and although I'm picking regularly (with a 1981 Franklin I bought new) who knows how much longer. My $350 Carvin BX500 is more than adequate.
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David Nugent


From:
Gum Spring, Va.
Post Posted 18 May 2017 2:28 pm     Reply with quote

One common theme that I notice in posts regarding the 'Katana', 'Mustang', or Roland 'Cube' series amps is that weight inevitably becomes a major part of the discussion. It seems that some players are willing to compromise a little (or a lot)on tone if the amp weighs in at under thirty pounds or so.
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post Posted 18 May 2017 4:04 pm     Reply with quote

I'm currently using a 33 pound Quilter Steelaire. But I used to own a Peavey LTD 400 with a black widow, and it sounded great. I don't know what it weighed, but it was heavy. I guess between 60 and 70 pounds. I also had a Music Man twin, which also sounded great, but which weighed more than 70 pounds.

I'd rather spend $3 or 400 than $1500+, but my back is worth more to me than the money. Now that I'm officially a decrepit old geezer, I need to focus on preserving what little strength I have remaining.
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Tony Oresteen


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 18 May 2017 6:06 pm     Reply with quote

When I moved to Newnan 10 years ago, my amps looked like this:



Now this is all I can take out:



Age. I too am now a geezer.

Now if I had a bunch of roadies hauling the stuff for me....
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Newnan, GA

Too many guitars, not enough time to play
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Dustin Rigsby


From:
Parts Unknown, Ohio
Post Posted 18 May 2017 6:06 pm     Reply with quote

Herb Steiner wrote:
Doug Earnest wrote:


What I can't wrap my head around is a lot of guys who go out and buy that new $5000 guitar, $2500 amp, seat and every other gadget that goes with it - sometimes in multiple quantites.....and can't play diddly. I know they can't because I've heard them! Then again they may not have a $30,000 bass boat, or golf habit, or insert whatever other diversions we have. I guess a lot of them did nothing but work all their life and are trying to have a good time now. It's all OK, just don't try to make sense of it.

Coffee is gone, I'm going to glue some formica and ship some guitars.


Comparison reality check: Apples v. Oranges

Just for comparison, in today's fishing world a new $30,000 bass boat would be the equivalent of a S-10 3p/4k mica-covered mid-priced steel (e.g. Justice, Fessenden), something of better quality than an entry-level guitar but without the bells and whistles that raises the price of the instrument to the $6000 level (e.g. Infinity, Mullen, Show-Pro).

Fully-equipped bass boats with 300hp outboards, top-level electronics, deluxe everything else can easily reach $60,000 with some I've seen over $70,000. Then factor in a $50K pickup truck to haul your new pride and joy to the lake.

This quality level would compare to a $6500 Mullen with a $3000 Telonics amp/pedal, and $350 seat.

Pro-level rods and reels can and do cost $500 each, and it's not unusual to find 10 or more of these rod combos in a rod locker.

Steel playing is WAY less expensive to get into at that level. It's strange, but I don't hear nearly as much whining about prices at the two bass fishing forums I participate in than I do here in Forumland.

Probably many, maybe a majority of bass fishermen, go for used boats simply because of those costs, though I can't say for sure. Maybe they go new and just factor in the costs of boats and trucks like a second mortgage on a home.

You can go fishing from the bank at a farm pond with a Zebco 202 rod/reel combo and a can of worms. And you can play steel on a Carter Starter or a Little Buddy. And both can be a fun thing to do.

Just sayin'... Wink


Herb, you know I love ya, but, I'm going to have to disagree with your apples to apples comparison. The bass boats and pickups are usually paid for on the installment plan. Steel guitar equipment usually isn't . I think that's why most folks balk about the prices for some of these things. Almost every musician I know is a "cheapskate",myself included. I'd love to be able to afford a new lightweight D-10. It's just not in the cards. I have figured out that wheels and lighter weight accessories can make it more palatable. I recently forked out the cash for a Rick Johnson cab,loaded with a Jensen neo 15 (an idea I got from Jay Ganz) to complement a musician head. It wasn't cheap, however, Rick is a master craftsman and my back thanks me. It also sounds and looks killer too. I say a musician should buy the best equipment he/she can afford,but add this one addendum given to me by a wise sage. "The bottom line is you can either play or you can't , it's just as simple as that. No amount of high dollar do-dads can turn you into an instant Buddy Emmons ! " I still struggle with the being able to play part. When I get around super hot steel players such as yourself, my feet get as cold as an Eskimo skinny-dipping in the middle of winter !

I humbly submit myself for rebuke by my steel playing brethren .
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Bill L. Wilson


From:
Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 18 May 2017 7:08 pm     Amps, Amps, and More Amps. Reply with quote

I'd much rather have the '64 Fender Princeton Reverb, I bought for $1500 than a $3000 knockoff clone. I only use it for guitar or to practice my steel playing thru it here at home, but it has a gorgeous sound with that Rajin Cajun speaker in it. I like the Little Walters, the Milkmans, the Quilters, but I'll stick with my Fenders and the old Peavey. Besides, I just bought a brand new motor home.
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Tony Oresteen


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 19 May 2017 3:47 am     Re: Amps, Amps, and More Amps. Reply with quote

Bill L. Wilson wrote:
.....Besides, I just bought a brand new motor home.
.....


Are you now going out on that world tour Smile ? Space in it for the amp & guitar? Nice rig!
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Newnan, GA

Too many guitars, not enough time to play
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 19 May 2017 3:15 pm     Reply with quote

Mike, while I agree that the boutique amps aren't really extravagant, at half the price of a D-10 (and a Milkman Half and Half is my main amp), I think people spoiled by having squillions of good-sounding Peavey steel amps on the used market. Hell, many of the top pickers still use a cheap Peavey as their main amps.
Yes, I've drooled over your amp (and Phil's and Dr. Z's) and two kilobucks isn't that much, but it's still a good thing that there is an affordable entry option that isn't really much of a compromise.
As a side note, when I did my 3-way amp shootout on YouTube, several people liked my 197? Session 400 over either my Twin or the Milkman
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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 19 May 2017 3:57 pm     Reply with quote

Lane Gray wrote:
Mike, while I agree that the boutique amps aren't really extravagant, at half the price of a D-10 (and a Milkman Half and Half is my main amp), I think people spoiled by having squillions of good-sounding Peavey steel amps on the used market. Hell, many of the top pickers still use a cheap Peavey as their main amps.
Yes, I've drooled over your amp (and Phil's and Dr. Z's) and two kilobucks isn't that much, but it's still a good thing that there is an affordable entry option that isn't really much of a compromise.
As a side note, when I did my 3-way amp shootout on YouTube, several people liked my 197? Session 400 over either my Twin or the Milkman


Oh yeah, I completely get all that and I don't disagree in many ways. The thing with my custom builds is they are mostly used by guitar players who desire a custom hand wired amp that clones there vintage stuff that refuses to hold up on the road and under constant use. I know that as I repair that stuff weekly. When we have done blindfold test my amps win 9 out of 10 times. Guitars and violins get better with age, electronics deteriorate. Jack here on the forum has years of experience and could chime in on that as well. I don't build a tube steel amp as most are pretty sensitive to weight and there is not much I can do about that when I have to use big iron etc, it is a drawback for sure.

All I was saying is some, not all, but some really complain about a 1000 bucks for an amp but will gladly spend 6K on a new steel. I think the amp is just as important to your over all sound and should be considered as such. That is not to say a 350 used NV400 won't get the job done because to some it will. Other guys like a Quilter, stereo steel, telonics, little walter, milkman, or a number of other amps. They are all fine machines. Some guitars seem to work better with certain amps as well.

Sure is fun Smile
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Bill Miller


From:
Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
Post Posted 19 May 2017 4:37 pm     Reply with quote

I'm one of those who spends a lot on gear and I have no delusions about being worthy of most of it either. It's just an expensive hobby that I enjoy and being an aging bachelor I don't have to justify it to anyone. The Telonics TCA 500B I bought last year is simply a joy to own. Apart from sounding great it has has so many useful features built in. At home I seldom use the speaker, it is switched off on the rear panel and I go from the direct out through my studio monitors. The thing is incredibly quiet and yet it can put out 500 watts and is light as a feather. It has a very decent dobro simulator which gives a second instrument at the push of a button. To me the kind of engineering that goes into a piece of gear like this has a premium value. No question I could have bought a good sounding vintage Peavey for a fraction of the price, but it would fall short in many other ways. Before the Telonics I had a Sarno Revelation Preamp and a TC Furlong powered cab. That was high end gear too and I enjoyed the heck out of out it for years. Thinking back I've never regretted any of the expenditures I've made on music gear. Some may see it as a "waste" of money and they have a right to their opinion. One guy was questioning the wisdom of one of my purchases and I reminded him that he'd laid out sixteen grand on a snowmobile that he got to use about five times a year. I asked what he figured that machine was going to be worth in ten years time. That deflated his position quite a bit.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 19 May 2017 6:49 pm     Reply with quote

Boss GT amp simulator into Tech 21 powered speaker, mic'd into the PA. Technically, the sound is being shaped at 3 different stages, not including the guitar. The amp is still important, but I am not touring with a major act; just play local gigs. I think that is where most players are at these days, no matter the talent level, which does indeed vary greatly. I play alongside people with equipment worth thousands of dollars more than mine, and get just as many compliments on my tone as I do for my playing. More so, maybe.

Mid-level gear like this holds up well enough, and produces satisfactory sound. My 80's Boogie was always in need of 100 bucks worth of work, or tubes, or something. Even though it sounded great on its own, I usually just used it to power the GT unit because I needed all the digital bells and whistles anyway.

I don't complain about higher end equipment because I still hold out for hope that some day I might need it and will be able to afford it. So please keep building great amps and guitars! And since Doug Earnest is in on this thread, here's another thank you from a very happy Stage One owner! High end enough for me Very Happy
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 19 May 2017 9:10 pm     Reply with quote

I had a pile of 60's Fender amps that had those fiber boards on the inside rotting out. The most basic parts of the amp where turning into dust after 50 years. It was an uphill battle keeping them in playable condition. I would have needed to gut them and replace just about everything.

I had a perfect Fender Deluxe Reverb and glorious Showman. They got me through thousands of gigs and sessions. But after playing through one of Tim's Milkman amps I realized that I was better off selling them and using the money for a new hand made Milkman.

We are in a golden age of amps right now.
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Daniel McKee


From:
Corinth Mississippi
Post Posted 19 May 2017 9:22 pm     Reply with quote

I have significantly cut down on what I use. At this point I have my volume pedal and a small Washburn amplifier, which I am very happy with. I have a Peavey 112 amp but don't use it like I did. I have no problems with effects and such but I prefer the sound I get with a simpler setup. Plus it weighs less when I move it around
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 19 May 2017 11:10 pm     Reply with quote

i love my Dr. Z Surgical Steel amp. Not cheap, but just wonderful-sounding.
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Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post Posted 19 May 2017 11:14 pm     Reply with quote

I may be out to lunch, but I am a firm believer that for stage use, you can't have great tone in a light package; it takes a heavy amp & guitar to really sing. Which is why I bust my hump carrying a PV Renown 1-15", or a 70s twin w/JBLs, a small Fender (for stereo delay) and a D-10, which I believe sounds better than an S-10 because of the extra weight.

A well known steeler, I forget who, once said something that stuck with me all these years: "It is one thing to fight it getting from your house to the stage & back, and another thing to 'fight it all night' trying to get a decent sound".

No small amps for this cowboy. When I am too old to schlepp my D-10 & amps, I'll let my girlfriend take over carrying my stuff.
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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 20 May 2017 5:07 am     Reply with quote

I think there are relatively few that will "gladly pay 6000" for a new guitar. There are some, but most will prefer to spend less. I could afford it, but I would rather have several guitars, even though their value adds up to more than that. There is nothing wrong with the Rittenberry, Derby, Justice and Desert Rose guitars that I own. And not a thing wrong with the Peavey, GK and Carvin amps that I use with them. I also have several boats, here is a picture of the boat I built last month, I have 140.00 invested in it. Very Happy

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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post Posted 20 May 2017 5:27 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
electronics deteriorate


Very true, especially capacitors (and Tubes). The sad part, in many cases, an old Fender amp is "recapped" and although it may have better signal to noise ratio and less distortion the new (better) components change the characteristic sound of the amp and it no longer sounds like "the old Fender".
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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 20 May 2017 5:51 am     Reply with quote

Jack Stoner wrote:
Quote:
electronics deteriorate


Very true, especially capacitors (and Tubes). The sad part, in many cases, an old Fender amp is "recapped" and although it may have better signal to noise ratio and less distortion the new (better) components change the characteristic sound of the amp and it no longer sounds like "the old Fender".


I am guessing once the work is done it sounds like the old fender when it was new... Im not old enough to know first hand (56)...

I guess it's kinda like running the original tires, belts, and hoses on your 55 Chevy Very Happy
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