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Jazz amps need to produce an absolutely crystal clear sound. While of course many jazz guitar players use a lot of gain, the most important attribute is that clear tone. The clarity of a solid state or combo amp might give you an edge. That said, tube amps tend to produce more internal noise, so you might have a difficult time achieving the specific guitar tone you want. On the other hand, solid state amps are usually a bit more “transparent” when it comes to signal.

It’s time to say no. Not only have audiophile tech innovations like Pono and Tidal been hilarious failures, they are priced out of reach of the average music consumer and self-consciously pitched towards those with disposable income. In contrast, low-bitrate MP3 is the Occupy to vinyl’s Wall Street. No matter how crappy your internet connection is, how basic your device is, or how little money you can spend, anyone can pirate low-quality, lightweight audio files or rip them off YouTube. Now, what a beautiful thing that is.

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Blues guitar is often defined by its light, natural-sounding distorted crunch and a pleasant, round tone. You’ll also need to use the natural expressiveness of the guitar to be able to play both softly and loudly during a blues song, and so I always recommend blues musicians going for a tube amp. Set your gain right where you can play lightly for a nice, clean tone, but where you’ll also get some tasty, soulful distortion when you dig into a note. If you’re getting a tube amp, I’d recommend getting something with a lower wattage so you can crank the gain right on the amp and use its natural distortion settings (no need for fancy pedals in the blues).

We are conditioned to think that great vocalists are just born that way — “gifted,” “blessed,” and we wonder if we were given those gifts too… Really? No. Shut up. Try to remember that this is not true. You need to put the work in if you want to be great. It starts with getting yourself a good vocal coach.

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Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic “concrète” music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.

The main thing I have students do in music tech class is make original music and lots of it. So the question immediately becomes, how do I even begin to objectively assess that stuff?