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guitar hero

While waiting for Natalie to get out of religion class tonight, DJ and I hightailed it over to Guitar Center, just a few blocks away from the church. GC is to guitar freaks what Circuit City is to gadget freaks. It's a hands-on feast. We try to get there at least once a week so DJ can plug in an amp and try out different guitars. The store was nearly empty tonight, unlike our weekend trips there when twenty people are vying for amp time, most just wanting to show off their stuff to a crowd. So DJ plugged in, trying out what it going to be his Christmas present this year - a Line 6 pod (goes with his amp). When DJ plays, no one else exists. He's completely in his own world. So as he went through his repetoire of Queen, Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Pearl Jam, a small crowd gathered around him, mostly employees plus a few shoppers - DJ just kept playing, clueless to the fact that not only was he being watched, but all these people were asking me how old he is (11) and if he takes lessons (he mostly teaches himself). They all kept telling me how good he is. I know how good he is. But it's sweet to hear other people agree, as I'm just a biased mom and my opinion on my children's talents is pretty much worthless. He finally looked up after he finished playing and noticed the small crowd around him. I thought he would freak out. Instead, he beamed. I've never seen him - Mr. Low Self Esteem - so happy with himself. That smile and the resulting pride he felt from the smattering of compliments and applause at GC is well worth the endless, loud riffs that come from his room all night - and the small fortune I'll be spending on that pod. That's all. Just felt like sharing that.


Thanks for sharing... Made me smile, for more reasons than you'll know (as it will for many parents).

Good choice for gear!That thing smokes.

Sigh. The last guitar equipment I purchased was a DigiTech GSP-2101 Studio Tube Effects processor. I think it's got about a quarter inch of dust sitting on it now.

Now that my wife and I purchased a piano and my little one at least likes to bang on the keys, I might have to bring out the guitars so she has plenty to sample from while she's growing up.

Glad to hear your little one likes to play.

But that one guitar
felt good in his hand
and he knew right away
he'd be a juke . . . box hero
with stars in his eyes . . .

Oops. Wrong thread. Sorry.

Sounds like (reads like?) you're in a better mood than last week. Good.

Maybe you should try to steer him (I know, I know) to an acoustic guitar. It's not as loud.

That just ROCKS!

That must have been just wonderful for him. And it made me smile!

Awesome! My 9-year has a guitar and amp that were given to him, and he wants to learn/tries to play, but although he's been following this nice "play-to-learn" program, he seems disheartened. I am going to show this post to him tomorrow so he can see that "kids" can be good.

Sweet choice re: the Pod. Something else you might want to look at is a pocket-sized amp. He can hear it, but it won't give you a headache. Bought one for mine as his learning strums are a bit much for my eardrums.

start 'em young, that's the way to go.
That's what we plan on doing. Piano lessons start at age 4, guitar at age 8.

That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn't take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was a one way ticket, only one way to go
So he started rockin' ain't never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin'
Someday he's gonna make it to the top

Uh-oh. Now that he's had a taste of crowd adulation, he'll never be the same. Bye-bye college. ;-)

Juke box hero. Priceless.

Anyhoo, great posting. You should get some recordings of him on the sly and post them here.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd appreciate it.

Honestly, get him the PODXTLive instead of the POD. It has its own built in footswitch and he will get more out of that instead of the POD which can be a bit confusing.

The PODXTLive is about 200 dollars more than the POD he's getting. He does have a birthday coming up, though. Maybe I'll email a link to his father.


"Let that boy boogie."

Good damned deal.

Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we was voodoo
The kids was just crass. He was the nazz
With God given ass
He took it all too far, but boy could he play guitar

Heh. Whatever all that means.

Has anyone ever told you that you are an outstanding mom!?

And a daughter in religious classes to boot.

They both go to religion, just at different times. Oh, do I have a story to tell about DJ's religion class last night. Coming later.

Michele -- Let me suggest the Behringer V-amp2. Cheap, and just bangin' performance. It's in the same class of function as the Pod and that Johnson unit (I dont recall, but all the discussion I've seen at the Les Paul Forum makes these three gags a wash, except for the money). In general, I got turned on to Behringer by pro-audio mates of mine. (I do lights. I don't keep up with audio gear.) I was looking for a small desktop mixer, and me old mate (fifteen years now) and current production manager didn't even think about it: "Behringer". That was a damned good steer.

Then, another good friend of mine down in ATL packed up his V-amp2 and sent it to me, in its neat little gig-bag with power supply and foot-pedal. He did this because he was so knocked-out with it that he went and bought the rack unit for his home studio. He rang me up once it was on the way and harangued the shit out of me: "Man, you're not going to believe this thing."

He was right. It's on my desktop most of the time, with a line-out to my hard-disk mix. It's got a headphone out for peaceful relations with the rest of the world (get it?). In action with the band, that line-out goes to my 50 watt Marshall combo, now: yes, I digitally process to my tubes.

It's totally slammin'.

Did I mention cheap?


Great to hear that Michelle, congratulations to you both. Just make sure he doesn't become another Vai or Malmsteen in attitude. (The other extreme.)

So when is he going to be in his first band?

the POD is good for recording and practicing with head phones but when he gets into playing out with friends he's gonna need a Mesa Boogie. So you will have to make a choice - college or a Mesa Boogie. ;-)

The PODXTLive is about 200 dollars more than the POD he's getting.

I would make the jump...Ozone is right about it being good for studio work, but not for playing around with his friends.

You could get the POD, then get the footswitch for it later, but that will cost more and not be as elegant of a solution.

Put it this way Michele, I'd be willing to throw in $25 if you get the XTLive instead of the PODxt. I can think of what I would have wanted/needed guitar-wise when I was 11 and it would have been something that I could easily carry to my friends house to jam.

Forget about MesaBoogie, I really think the amp industry is going to die over the next ten years as amp simulation really takes off and gets really cheap. It's infintiely easier to plug into a snake with the DI output from an effects unit as compared to miking and setting up a real amp.

And yes, I'm serious about the $25. :-) I'm 33 now and I wish that I would have been as serious as your son is at his age. He's really got a talent from what you say, I would definitely push that and get him into lessons somewhere where he can learn to read music. He can easily get a job for life if he works hard at it now.

Ok, I'm getting confused here. You guys - and DJ - know more about this stuff than I do. He has two amps - a small Marshall and a Line 6 Spider. As far as I can tell, DJ says the POD will make his amp sound better, and that he can do things with the POD he can't do with the amp alone.

So what will the PODxt do that the Line 6 POD won't - or more specifically, what's the difference in what they do and isn't the two amps he has now sufficient for the time being?

the pod is an emulator- it can make any amp sound like any other amp. You can take my crap ass Yamaha 4 × 10 and use a pod to make it sound like a marshall set up, or a Vox set up, or whatever. There is a guitar magazine, i think it's guitar player, that shows a given players set up chart in every issue. It also says what setting on the POD to use to get that sound. So yeah, it'll make his amp sound better, and he CAN do a lot more with one than he could with just an amp or two. He can sound like... anyone... without having a room full of amplifiers and speakers.

Weezer uses pods, they just run them through their PA system, if i remember right. they don't even use guitar speakers.

Dont know the diff, personally, between the podxt and the pod. But my guitar player has one of the aforementioned Behringer Vamps and you'll pry that from his cold, dead hands.

um.. re: amps being sufficient. No. No amp will ever be "sufficient". It's a symptom of a disease peculiar to people who play instruments, especially electric ones, called G.A.S., "Gear Aquisition Syndrom".

You might want to consider selling his Spider and getting him one of the more elaborate Line6 amps. There are a couple of models which are basically PODs built into an amp.

In my opinion, the POD sounds great as a direct recording tool, but not so much great into an amp.

(Also beware: It was the POD that gave me my current jones for Mesa amps. After playing around with the Mesa models on the POD, I decided I needed a real Mesa Mark IV ($1700). )

I think I'm going to need a second job. We're turning the garage into a place for him (and his friends) to play music. He's going to want to fill that thing with amps and whatnot, I presume.

Last night he was drooling over a vintage Marshall amp that went for over $2,000.

I think I need a quick lesson in what equipment is absolutely necessary for him to have.

Why you should buy the XTLive:

#1. Ease of use. When you want to switch between effects, on the XTLive it's a footswitch. On the POD, it's turning a knob. Can't turn knobs while playing guitar. :-)

#2. Newer tech. Line6 is blowing out the old PODs for cheap because they are not as powerful as the XTlive.

#3. Ease to carry around. The XTLive is a much more robust unit compared to the POD.

You know your son better than I do, if he likes tinkering with knobs and stuff, the POD will be just fine. But if he really wants something easy to use, the XTLive seems to be the better choice.

I'm watching the POD discussion with interest because my 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old step daughter both need some amp simulation and effects for the wide range of styles they play (Jimi Hendrix, SRV and Led Zep to Green Day, Disturbed, White Stripes, Chili Peppers, to T-Bone Walker, BB King and Buddy Guy). I have been following the Johnson J-Station auctions on eBay, but the prices are a little high for what they offer. I am leaning toward some varient of the POD now, even though they are much more expensive.

With regard to amps becoming obsolete, NEVER! Simulations have been in the works for more than 20 years, and they are no where near where they need to be to replace the real things. I am a tone junky and have a room full of vintage Fender amps from 1956 through 1964, and there is NO substitute for the tone of real tubes, tube rectifiers, and real aged speaker magnets. Nor can you simulate the smell of fat power tubes warming up 45-year-old tweed in a cold studio;-) A POD can help you approximate most amp/speaker/effects combinations in the confines of your bedroom, but you will NEVER sound like Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan in a live setting.


Another option would be to try Guitar Rig, available here: http://www.nativeinstruments.com/ You can download a free demo that will run for 30 days.

Guitar rig is much more sophisticated and flexible than either the J-Stations or POD's. You have more basic amp models, effects models, speaker cabinet choices, mic placement choices, and even types of microphones. The drawback is you are married to your computer.

My daughters and I have used it for practicing through headphones, and I even ran it through my laptop and into an amp. You can purchase a pedal board for it, too. It is not nearly as portable as a POD, and since it requires a computer, it is not as bullet proof. Sonically, however, I think it is superior.

This probably isn't the best choice for your son, but he would think you're pretty cool if you downloaded the demo and let him noodle around with it for 30 days.

Good Luck!

Okay, we've heard from Foreigner. Now let's hear from Travis Tritt:

Bobby played his guitar on the hard side of town
Where it's hard for a poor boy to find the money
He had dedication, he had the heart and soul
Somehow knew he was born to play

People said "Get a real job, support your family
'Cause there's no future in the road you're taking"
He never said a word, the dreamer just kept on
But late at night you could hear him say
He said

"I'm gonna be somebody
One of these days I'm gonna break these chains
I'm gonna be somebody someday
You can bet your hard earned dollar I will."

Wow, sorry to clog your comments.

I just checked out the PODxtLive. $399.00 at Musician's Friend. At Guitar Center, you could probably get them to drop another $50 off that price.

It looks pretty damn cool, and I think I might have to buy one for myself (ok, I'll share it with the kids, too).

But it would be hard to shell out that much for an eleven-year-old--after all, it will be obsolete by the time he is 13 or 14 and he'll want something else. I justified buying nice strats and basic Fender tube amps for my kids because they are timeless and will stay with them through future guitar and amp purchases. But amp/effects modellers are like computers--they're always being replaced, upgraded and trashed.

But amp/effects modellers are like computers--they're always being replaced, upgraded and trashed.

Maybe I'm unusual, but I'm still playing my 1992 Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal petal along with my Crate (yes Crate) effects unit which is getting very old. Both will go on Ebay shortly. :-) Tube amps are nice, but the difference I hear in sound is only audible to the most discerning listeners (i.e. my kids and wife don't know the difference).

My experience with the XTLive and POD have been on numerous visits to Sam Ash and GC (which I despise GC, but that's another story). The XTLive I will have in my mittens after the 1st of the year. :-)

Michele, if all you can muster is the POD, that will be perferctly fine as well (I wish my parents would have front up the cash when I was that age!). I'm a techno freak and trying to think of "what I would have wanted at 11" would be something that would switch on/off easy and asks to be played around with.

Now you just need to hook him up with some early Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult.

For anyone who isn't running around on a big-time stage with a monitor team running his own custom mix back at him everywhere he goes (which means: nearly everybody), an amplifier will always be essential. This is especially so at the beginning.

Always move your own air. Grow up learning to move your own air, out of your own cabinet.

Michele -- Everybody involved in this nonsense drools over gear all the time. (That's what my 'AxeBites' column is all about.) "Vintage gear" is for collectors and investors, unless one gets occasionally lucky, like me. Working gear is a different thing.

For a person in DJ's position, I say a fifty-watt combo with 2×12" speakers should do the trick nicely. He can hang with authority next to someone playing a real drum kit (digitals are a different thing) with a rig like that. I say: Marshall or Fender. Can't miss.

A Pod-like processor offers astounding versatility of sounds to be piped through the tubes. That's what that's for.

I don't want to stray too much farther afield here, but Brian, you're right. I still have my original TS-808 and TS-9 Tube Screamers, original Big Muff Pi, original Vox Wah, and a pink square buttoned Ibanez analog delay. But in my opbservation, the all-in-one modelers do tend to go the way of computers more so than the analog stomp boxes.

I fully agree with Billy Beck. A fifty watt tube combo (2×12 or 4×10} combined with the PODxtLive will give him everything he needs. The POD will give him the wall-o-Marshal stack sounds at low volumes in the garage, and will move plenty of air through his pant legs when you're not home or when he needs to be heard over the drummer.

For blues and classic rock gigs in small clubs, I use a 20-watt 1964 Fender Deluxe Reverb which has one 12-inch speaker. Fender has reissued this amp, but I have not listened to the reissues. For bigger clubs, I use a 1964 Fender Super Reverb which has 40 watts and 4 10-inch speakers. Sometimes I pair this with a 1958 Bassman which has the same power and speaker combinations, but a vastly different sound that complements the Super. Both of those amps have also been reissued.

If I were playing harder rock/metal/grunge like my daughters, I would probably get a 50-watt Marshall 2-12 combo. However, I would go for the more basic, vintage-sounding models rather than ones with bells & whistles. As Billly suggests, use the POD for bells & whistles, and let the amp assualt the audience with it.

Mark -- Damned right. For anything up to about 125 seats, I use a Fender Blues Jr., which is the biggest 15 watts I ever saw or heard. Anything bigger than that gets the Marshall 4210 JCM 800 with the 1×12" Celestion speaker, and if the venue's big enough, then the hum-heads ("sound guys") get to mic it. That's what they're for.

I was working out in the yard and thinking about this, and realized that I'd neglected DJ's Line 6 Spider II. That's thirty watts, with the 1×12" Celestion.

I say he's rigged, for now. Watch the garage action. When a serious drummer comes along and they're to the point where they all know what a rhythm-section is and does, a step up to fifty watts and 2×12" might be in order.

Aside from all that, it looks to me like the Pod-type unit is all he "needs".

And I still say Behringer. Big bang for the buck.

He hooked up with a friend of his who plays the drums - rather well, too. I'll do a video of them when they allow me to stand in their presence while they play.

Can't post. Post soonest.


"Can't wait."

Hah! Billy, I got my 14-year-old a blonde Blues Jr. from Musician's Friend last year for Christmas. She loves it, and so do I! Her sunburst made-in-Mexico 60's reissue Strat sounds great through it, but she needs a little more crunch and sustain for some of what she's playing--maybe a little delay and a lusher reverb, too (the little short spring unit just ain't up to the standards of my vintage amps). Hence, my quest to add a little more tone to her stocking. Of course, she would rather add a 'burst Les Paul to her quiver, and that would probably provide the boost she needs.

Mark -- I dunno, man. I don't think the guitar would make the diifference. I run four guitars through mine: '03 Mexi-Strat, '95 SG Special, '77 LP Custom, and a '62 ES-355. They're all stock pickups, including the 355's PAF's. I know what you're talking about. To me, it's a simple power issue. When I turned the BJ all the way up, I can get about >

... that close to real harmonic rollover; the point where the guitar can hear the amp and feedback. This is uniform across all those guitars. It's a whole different play with the Marshal.

I copped my BJ at GC, Atlanta, after testing it against one of its big brothers. (The Hot Rod.) When it came time to make the play, I thought about packing that kind of a wallop in something a bit heavier than a bowling-ball...


Never looked back. I love the BJ, and I love hearing about other people loving it.

(I know how I truncated this comment. That won't happen again.)

when that happens DJ will start looking at PA gear.