…and acoustic guitar players prefer California Blondes…
I have an original California Blonde by SWR that I use for my acoustic gigs. The “Blonde” is actually a portable PA, capable of handling any acoustic instrument as well as vocals at the same time, though I’ve never had the occasion to use it in that capacity. But for playing my Yamaha APX-900 through it, there’s no better amp!
Since I first heard a California Blonde, I have always been impressed with its sound. Not only is the sound HUGE, but it’s warm and clear, with lots of bass response, which could be a bit problematic, but luckily the EQ is very reactive, and getting a balanced tone out of the amp that’s suitable for a particular instrument is super easy. And when I finally got one, for playing clean, it became my go-to amp. For my solo acoustic gigs I normally use my Fishman SA220 SoloAmp, and it works like a dream. But when I’m just playing my acoustic with my band, I invariably go with the Blonde.
During summer, my church band operates with a fairly skeleton complement of musicians, and today was no exception as we only had our bassist, another guitarist, and me, so I decided to forego my normal electric rig, and go with an acoustic setup, which consists of the California Blonde, my pedal board, and my Yamaha APX900 acoustic-electric guitar.
Talk about a match made in heaven! My Yamaha APX900 is a concert jumbo, and as with that size guitar, bass response can be an issue. But plug that guitar into a California Blonde, and there’s no issue at all. The Blonde’s 12″ speaker has no problem generating lows, so the guitar sounds so much bigger than what you might guess at first blush with a concert jumbo. Add to that the other-worldly SRT pickup system of the APX900, and the combination just oozes tonal goodness. On top of that, the Blonde also has a little tweeter driver (you can see it in the upper right-hand corner behind the grille cloth in the picture above) that adds some sparkle to the output. The end result is a rich, complex acoustic tone that makes a gig totally enjoyable.
If there is a drawback to a California Blonde, it’s the weight, which is 50lbs. But considering the sound that you get out of it, it’s a small price to pay. Besides, I have a hand cart that I use for transporting it to and from my car, which makes it a lot easier to bring to gigs. But weight aside, I’ve never played through a better acoustic amp.