New Strings on Your Guitar: When is it Time to Change to a New Set of Strings??

For this article a short brief for when it is time to change to a new set of strings.

A typical issue with new guitars is: The strings have usually been on that guitar for quite some time. Why? Guitar was manifactured at some point, shipped and located in a store or warehouse for some time. Some retailers are keen to change the strings on any of their new stock, however not all retailers will do this. It is a good habit to get a new set of strings for any guitar that you have bought recently.

    Old Strings: How can you tell the difference??

Worn, old strings have lost their brightness, they do sound dull and usually will feel different on your fingers.
Strings loose their brightness because they are dirty, stretched and played a lot.
“I clean my strings regularly with a cloth, will my strings still wear out?” Yes they do, especially for those of you who do keep their strings clean I would say: Make a habit of changing your strings from time to time. New strings will make your guitar sound better and they will feel better, and therefor make your playing experience more rewarding! It really is that simple.

                    Clean your strings:
You can use a cloth, wrap about two strings at once in the cloth and rub the cloth along the whole fretboard. Do this after you have played your guitar for about and hour. You will notice some dirt will be left on the cloth, this is normal and this is the dirt which will typically stick to your string if you do not clean them regularly. Over time this dirt will corrode your string, and this will ruin the brightness of the string.

                   Clean Strings but………….:
You play often, clean your strings but still, the string will wear out. A typical sign on a worn out string are fretmarks: Little black marks made on the string by the fret. If you dig in your strings you will have more fretmarks. Once fretmarks appear on your string, the string will not longer tune up properly, and intonation will become an issue. Time to change strings!!

                  I use Fastfret so…………….:
Fast fret is a product on the market http://www.guitar.co.uk/accessories/maintenance/271-ghs_fast_fret

which you can rub on your strings, it will make the string feel like new, but it will not resolve the issue of fretmarks and streched strings. Feel will be restored but not the brightness!
Whatever you do, there is no substitute for the effect of changing your strings: It will revitalise your guitar and  improve the overal soud and feel!

                Lose of Brightness, How can You Tell?:
Play on a amplified electric guitar of which you know the strings have been on for quite some time. Compare the sound of this guitar to another unamplified electric guitar for which you have changed the strings recently. When you do this test, try using guitars of similar woods and neckconstruction: Bold on necks cannot be compared to necks which are set-in. Bridges which do have a floating tremolo cannot be compared to fixed bridges. All too complex for you??? Compare a Les Paul with something similar, compare Strats with a similar kind of guitar.
You will be alble to tell the difference, and it will also teach you some basic tone lessons about neck-and bridge construction, which does contribute to your tone. If you are not sure about neck construction and their differences start your reseach right now!!

              Why do these above tests on an unamplified electric guitar?:
Because an amp can makeup electronically for the loss of brigthness in your strings. Once you have new strings on your guitar the amp will enhance your tone, and will make the whole guitar sound so much better.

        Create Your Own Habits:

A lot of experienced guitarplayers will change their strings on a regular basis. If you gig and play often you may want to change your strings once every week, once every two days, all depending on your playing style and own preferences (New strings are usually quite bright, some players prefer the sound of played in strings which have mellowed their tone just a bit).

Beginners are often told to change their strings once every two- to three months. This in itself a good habit, but with the guideline which I gave you above, you can check the condition of the brightness of your strings
for yourself.

               Strings, What Brand Should I Use?:
Experiment for yourself to see which kind of brand you like best. The biggest difference is brightness and how long this will last for: Some stringsbrands do sound very bright in the beginning and then start to loose their brightness very soon while other brands may not be a bright and will keep their brightness for longer.
Experiment and enjoy.

Hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Songwriting: Finish Your Songs!!

Writing a finished song gives a satisfied feeling. It is important to know when you have finished your song.
Logical? Not for those guitarplayers who do not write often, as they lack the experience.
Songwriters who write all the time may work on several songs at the same time, less experienced writers may work on only one song at a time.

When you are not writing often changes are you work on something, get stuck after a while, leave it, and before you know it, months have passed by without finishing that songidea. When you come back to that idea later on, the inspiration may not be there anymore, and you may have forgotten what your idea was all about.
Try to keep at your song as much as you can, and try to finish it as much as you can. Try to have a least a melody of some kind and some sort of form. Do not worry about your lyrics not being good. Once you have an idea what the song will be about you can always finetune your lyrics, as long as you have a rough version you should be fine since finding the right words takes time!.

Finishing your songideas is important, at some point you will develop a feel for when your song is finished, or even get a feel for when you are on to something.
Experienced writers will know this. For people who write all the time I would also recommend to finish their songs, do not leave collections of half-finished ideas on your hard-drive. Nothing more frustrating than having to patch up half finished songs. Better to take them through right to the end.

Be not too critical about your songs, it takes time for the good ones to come through, and only when you have finished a song you will be able to tell whether it is good or bad one. On average you do need to write a lot: A collection of fifty songs may contain five good ones. Really? Yes, but you may just write for fun, so these standards I set out here do not really apply. Just write and enjoy what comes out of you. 

Hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Songwriting: Use Unamplified Electric Guitar as Inspiration

For this article a short brief to kickstart the writingprocess. There are many, many ways how you can start your songwriting. There are many elements which make up a song, listen to this song which sums it all up:

Okay now you know what makes up a song let us have a quick look at how you can start your  own writing process:
Pick up an unamplified electric guitar and start noodeling around, play around with chords and melodies until something hits you. Can things be any simpler?? Once you have some basic ideas, flesh them out a little more, just have fun……………

Why oh why Eddie use an unamplified electic for this process? Good question, and I will tell you why: Give me a Strat, plug me in into one of my Marshalls and I hear Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Satriani or……………………….and one of the reasons is, the guitar and the amp defines your sound so much that it will make me play like any of those players I mentioned. Cool!? Yes, but there are times you may just want to be around without any referencepoints.
When you use an unamplified electric guitar it will just give you the pure sound of nickel strings and wood. It is pure, naked open and not defined. You are starting the process right? No sure yet what you want your song to sound like style-and tonewise. What a better way to start your writing than being completely open and fresh?

Once you have a better idea of what you want your song to be like you can plug the electic into any of your favourite amps, add effects to it to see what it sound like with all this clutter in between your guitar and amp. If all of this leads to nothing you can always unplug (or just turn volumecontrol down!) the guitar and start again noodeling from scratch.

If you feel you have a finishished song idea it may be fun to adapt this song for an acoustic guitar. When you go to the acoustic, be free, use fingerpicking and be not afraid to make changes in feel,number of bars and yes even the melody of your song.

Working in this manner you may end up with versions of your songs mainly for electric or acoustic guitar. It is just one of the methods which may work. I find it an absolute joy how an unamplified guitar works each time as source of inspiration for whatever I want to do.

For futureblogs more about writing and guitartechnique and playing.
Have fun and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Fender Twin Tones From Marshall JCM 900 SL-X

For this article some more updates on what can be achieved with the Marshall JCM 900 SL-X amplifier.
What I will mention in this article is not only relevant to the JCM 900, but to almost any Marshall amplifier, as most Marshalls amps share a similar tonal character.

In the last article on this blog I mentioned the use of the Pro Co Rat and the DOD FX87. Using both of these pedals creates a kind of tubefeel including tubesag when you dig in your strings.

To get a Fender kind of sound out of your Marshall: Turn down the preampcontrols as much as possible, work with your volume, open it up as far as you want to get any volume. The amp is now ready to accept pedals, the characteristic Marshall sound is gone, but not to worry, amp will sound very dynamic when using any kind of booster pedal.
I worked with the Pro Co Rat as booster, and mainly used the filter of the pedal and placed the volume of the Rat at unity level. The DOD FX87 adds a bit of shine on the overal sound. The sag feel I mentioned before is mainly created by the Rat, but using only the Rat or the DOD, and the sag is a lot less noticable. Using both these pedals creates the magic touch. Use tonecontrols on the amp to any setting you like. Place a compressor before the Rat, and a EQ after the DOD if you like.

          No Rat and DOD FX87?

Don’t worry, all you need is a booster and something which can change the tone, next you may need some kind of exhiter.
What about if you do not use any pedals at all? Will you still get that sound? Unlikely, because the Marshall will start to sound very tiny and it will need some kind of boost and tonal change, to give the overal sound more body.
There are plenty of ways to do it as long as you can create a boost and a change in tonal character you will be there.

I have tried this set-up with smaller Marshalls, and very similar results as to what I mentioned here before.

         Fender Twin Versus Marshall:

Some of you may wonder why on earth would someone bother changing a good sounding Marshall into something tiny as this? Well that is all up to you, I myself like the idea of getting as much out of one amp as I can, and backing down on the Preamp does give you more options to change to tonal character of the amp drastically.
Try similar approach with a Fender Twin and you will not succeed: It is very hard to overdrive a Twin with its preamp. The amp will give you clean, putting up any of its volumecontrols will make the amp louder but not change its tonal character. Marshall amps, on the other hand, are more versatile in this respect: Most of the tone of the amp is created by putting the pre-amp up. Backing down on pre-amp volume will make a change in tone, also the amp will take on the character of whatever preamp pedal you put infront of it. 

          Extras on the JCM 900 SL-X:

The SL-X does contain a few extras I have not mentioned before in any of my previous articles about this amp: The Low/High volume switch as the back of the amp, and the Effectsloop, also located at the back of the amp.

The Low/High switch acts as a Low/High input on any older amp. Does this cut the wattage down? Well, I feel using the High, will boost the bright sound, and does make the overal sound louder. Older Marshalls used to have bright inputs and normal inputs. These days you do not find them any more, but by adding a switch of this kind Marshall does give a nod to its past.

The Effects loop is useful for various applications: Obviously just as a effects loop, but you can also use the loop as a booster for the poweramp: Plug in a patchcable in the return (or the send) and it will add more boost to the amp. Make sure you open up the volumescrew of the Effects Loop! Does the amp change its tone by adding a patchcable to its in-or output? No, it will just add more volume to the poweramp, depending on how far you have opened up the screw for the volume on the Effectsloop. You can use this approach if you need more volume to your overal tone, and it will work.

Enjoy for now, and hope to catch you soon again.
Eddie

Marshall JCM 900 SL-X + Strat= Jimi Hendrix Tones!!

For this blog a brief article how the Marshall JCM 900 SL-X responds to various guitars in particular the Fender Stratocaster with its single coil pick-ups.

A quick search on the net reveals what people think about this amp: There is a lot of talk of people finding this amp trebly. Most people seem to agree that the SL-X can produce dark and more modern Marshall sounds.
Most of the videos you will find on Youtube seem to be done with the Metal guitarplayer in mind. This is a pitty, since the amp can produce a lot of different tones, and if you are after a affordable Marshall which can give you those Plexi and JMP sounds, look no further because the SL-X can do this very well. Of course the amp can go further and give you a lot more sounds, this in itself is a good feature.

             Plugging Straight Into the Amp:


Using the amp without the use of any pedals and any guitar will sound fantastistic: Humbuck style guitars sound full on clean settings, dialing in more Gain and Preamp Volume, and the amp starts to break up to however much distortion you want. Using a bit of Gain and adding up the Volume with the Preamp will create a darker kind of distorted tone. There is plenty of headroom in the Preamp, even when using humbuck style of guitars, before you get that full-over-the-top kind of distortion. Using the same approach, but now backing down on the Preamp will create a more trebly kind of distortion, since the Gain adds more treble: Very useful, especially when you are using a guitar with dark, muddy sounding humbuckers.

Using a Fender Strat for the first time with this amp, I was somewhat disappointed: Very trebly, and harsh, but hang on——I went straight from Humbuck guitar to Single Coil Strat, without altering any tone, gain or preamp controls. When using a Fender Twin amp you can do this, and all what changes is the sound of the guitar, with the SL-X you may need to tweak your settings. Once I had turned down my treble, prescence and changed the gain and preamp I was very surprised, very surprised indeed as I could dial in Hendrix sounds without too much trouble. When I added an EQ to my signal things did get even better, but more on this later on.
Getting Hendrix tones out of your amp is not just dialing in the right kind of settings on your amp, it helps if you mimick some of this trademarks of his guitarplaying, like some of his chordvoicings, use of bass-and melodylines within the chords. The speakers and the kind of guitar you use will also have an impact. If you are after the Hendrix tone you will need to experiment with your settings, guitar, pedals and speakers. However, it was a surprise to me, to say the least, that this amp can get so close to the tone Hendrix seem to have on most of his live recordings.

                 It’s All in the Gain:  

Like with so many amps, the gain- and preamp will add a lot of character to your tone, and this amp is no exception to this rule.
Want more treble from your Strat?: use more gain and add more prescence to give your sound more sparkle.
Opening up both the Preamp and Gain will give you a very trebly kind of sound. I personally like to use either the Gain or the Preamp. It is true that both controls need to be activated to get any sound, but you will only need to open them up a little and then you can add more on the Gain or Preamp, depending on if you want treble or a darker tone. Finetweak the overal sound with your tonecontrols and you are ready to play.
Still not happy? Want even more treble? Bring out the pedals!!

                 Pedals: Treble Booster

I have “discovered” a new kind of treblebooster, which works very well with nearly any amp.
Why on earth would someone want more treble from an amp which does have enough treble on its own? Good question!! Because not all treble is the same: By using pedals you can overload other pedals, and this will react with the Gain and Preamp of the amp to create a somewhat unique character.
During the 60s most guitarplayers created distortion by adding more treble. Add more treble to a humbucker in bridge postion and it will start to break up very soon, switch pick-up setting and in most cases the amp will clean up.
It is with this thought in mind that I use the following pedals to create a similar effect:

    Compressor—->Rat—->DOD FX87—–>EQ

The Rat’s distortion is hardly on, the filter is opened up to add more treble and I keep the Rat’s volume at unity level. The DOD FX87 is a simple enhancer, it will add sparkle and can sound like a valve operated kind of unit. It is primitive, and to most people’s ears will sound too trebly, but for my purpose here it is excellent. I somewhat overdrive the FX87 with the Rat. The EQ is a luxury of some sort. You can dial in some more treble or darker sounds. When using the Strat, I found myself backing down on treble on the EQ while dialing in more bass at the same time.
The pedals are there to add the finishing touch really. One could do without any pedals, but since I like this set-up I wanted to try it and found that the results were quite good.

                 Future  Marshall JCM 900 Articles:

It is my intention to create more articles on the JCM 900 series, I would like to create some articles for the use of some well-known Bosspedals in combination with the SL-X. I also want to create a article where I compare the SL-X with the Dual Reverb.
If you are interested in using any of these amps I would say keep an eye on some of the future articles on this blog.

Hope to see you soon again.
Eddie

Marshall JCM 900 SL-X Review

For this article a review for the Marshall JCM 900 SL-X, the 50 watts head version of this amplifier. This amp was made by Marshall between 1993 and 1999. The design of this amp is loosly based on a modded JCM 800.
The name SL-X stands for Super Lead Extended.
The SL-X is a one-channel amp which contains two master controls which you can set-up for different volume levels. You can access the different channels by using a latch footswitch. Any general latch-footswitch can be used to toggle between Master Volume A and B. Unfortunately the amp does not contain two sets of tone controls since the SL-X is just a one channel amp.

 


Controls:

Footswitch    Prescence  Bass Middle Treble Master Vol. B Master Vol. A  Gain         Pre-Amp
Master Vol. B                                                                                  Sensitivity     Vol.

For anyone familiar with Marshall amps these controls look quite familiar as most Marshall amps contain similar tone controls. Like with any Marshall, the treble is the most active tone-control, bass and middle are there to enhance your sound, similar to the prescence control. To fine tune your tone controls you may want to use an external EQ pedal to add a bit more body to the overal sound of the SL-X

Looking at the controls you will notice something unusual: A Gain and a Pre-amp control, which are basically two pre-amps. These two pre-amps add  most of the character to this amp: You will need both of them to be turned up to get any sound  out of the amp.
The Gain control adds more treble to the amp, this is the control which adds a more modern touch to the sound of this amp. On moderate settings this control can give you the crunch sound of the 90s
The Pre-amp control adds a darker sound to the amp: Using this control mainly and you will be able to get the sounds of the Plexi and JMP Marshalls from the late 60s and early 70s.

At the back of the amp there are two direct outs: one for plugging into a power-amp and one to be plugged into a mixer or recorder or anything of that kind. There is an effects-loop as well, which can be used  for plugging in any rackbased kind of effects. For stompbox-based effects you may want to plug them directly into your input at the front of the amplifier.

 
  Marshall: Max Out All The Contols!!:

Anyone into playing electric guitar will have heard this comment before but hang on: Most of the time when guitar players max out all their controls it will also destroy the tone and character of the amp. Yes, maxing out the controls will make the amp loud, very loud indeed, but that is all you will get as most of the subtle  character of your sound will be lost.

Is there no truth in the comment than at all? Yes there is some truth in this comment but it relates to older amps, most likely to amps of the 1960s which only had one volume and some tone controls. Turning up the volume on any of  these amps will create power-amp distortion, which most guitar players seem to like. Turning up the amp will create this power-amp distortion.

Looking back at the controls of the SL-X you will notice both pre-amps, turning these up will add character to the distortion, the master can be used to adjust the volume to taste. Most of the character of the sound is in the pre-amp controls, there is no need to turn up the master to add more distortion.  In most cases you will want to adjust the volume to the room where you play: Playing in smaller room you will probably not need much volume to get the sound you like whereas using the amp on a stage it will be likely that you will turn the amp up a bit more to get the sound you want. Logical eh?

On a side-note: Remember why distortion pedals were designed orginally? To mimick the power-amp distortion to create distorted sounds on a fairly low level.

  
     Speakers and Valves:

Originally the SL-X was equipped with 5881- or EL34 valves. You can experiment with different valves as it will make a change to your overal tone.
The amp I used was set-up with its orgininal 5881’s. I used the amp in combination with Celestion speakers: a Vintage 30 and a G12H. This combination seems to work quite well for this amp.
When it comes to speakers, you can use any speakerset you like, however Celestion speakers add to the character of the Marshall sound. Marshall has been using Celestion speakers since day one. Experiment with different kind of Celestion speakers to find the ones you like most of all.
If you want to change the type of valves, be careful: The amp may need rebaising. It may be an idea to get advice from an experienced amp technician.

     Sounds:

Experimenting with the settings of the SL-X you should be able to go from Crunch into Classic Rock, Early 80s Metal and more extreme versions of Metal. The amp is also great to get-just broken up- blues sounds.
Overal I feel this amp will give you access to the older and newer Marshall sounds.

For next blog I will go into detail how well the SL-X responds to various pedals and to guitars equipped with different pick-ups.

Hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

The Marshall Tone: Amplifier and Speaker

For this blog a short article about Marshall amps and their tone: I will go into detail about the orgins of the Marshall amp, why it became popular and what creates the sound we all seem to know as “the Marshall Sound”.

Before I go into detail about the amp just a few words about the equipment bands used at the beginning of the 1960s:
It was quite common during those days for bands to amplify the vocals through the P.A system while the sound of the guitars and bass came mainly from amps being used on stage.
Think of any concerts you will been to recently and most likely, the sound you will have heard came mainly through the P.A speakers placed at each side of the stage. In the early days of Rock ‘n’ Roll P.A systems were relatively small and mainly designed to amplify the vocals, the amps for the guitars and bass were not amplified through the P.A and therefore could often not be heard very well.
As bands started to play louder and louder guitarplayers wanted their amps to be louder as well. Most of the amps of the early 60s were not designed to be played at full volume, and a lot of rock players were dissatisfied with the volumes their amp could produce.
At some point Pete Townshend of the Who got in touch with James Marshall with the request to build him an amp that was loud enough to produce the volume and tone he wanted. In a nutshell, that moment in time was the birth of the Marshall amp and sound as we know it today.

Jim Marshall based his amp design on the Fender Bassman, which was an American amplifier and import duties made this amp more expansive in the UK. Jim Marshall felt he could produce a similar amplifier at a cheaper rate. The result was the beginning of a successstory for  James Marshall.
One of the main differences between the early Marshall amp and the Fender Bassman was that the Marshall amp would break up quicker in sound to produce a smooth, distorted tone. The Marshall amp was also brighter in its overal tone. The Bassman used Jensen speakers whereas the Marshall used speakers which were produced in England under the name Celestion.

Here is a clear link about the history of the early Marshall amps:
http://www.aracom-amps.com/info/history.html

The early Marshall amps tend to be darker in tone because the distortion is mainly produced by the poweramp, later models use a design where the distortion is produced by a mix of Pre-and Poweramp, resulting in a brighter distorted tone.

      Tonecontrols:

Anyone who has ever used a Marshall amp will have noticed that the tonecontrols are fairly passive: Turn up the bass and the overal sound becomes a little darker. The mid tonecontrol tends to be more active and the treble is where the secret lies: Turn this up and you will notice what it does to your sound!
Compare this to the average Fender amp and you will notice a big difference: Tonecontrols on most Fender amps are smooth and linear: Turn any of them up and you will hear your sound change accordingly.

As a rule of thumb one could say that older Marshalls —up and till about 1973— tend to be darker in sound, the ones produced after that period are brighter in sound. One of the reasons for this are changes in musical taste and habits: Guitar players wanted more from their amps: Master Volume controls to control the overal volume of the amp,  Channels which could be set-up for different sounds: One for clean and one for distorted tones. 

    Celestion Speakers:

One part of the Marshall sound is the speakers you use to amplify the amp. Celestion speakers have been there since day one, and they are still the speaker of choise for Marshall amps.

    The Marshall Sound Throughout Time:

It is true that early Marshalls do have a different sound compared to ones later produced, however the main characteristics of the sound, the brightness and clarity, can be found on any model of amp Marshall has ever produced. Most of the changes made to Marshall amps over time have been made because of requests of their users: Guitarplayers wanted Master volumes, spring reverbs, effect loops, just to make their amps fit into the musical trends of the day.

For next article I will have a closer look at the JCM 900 series and what kind of sounds you can get out of them.

Happy Playing!!
Eddie

Marshall Factory Tour Videos.

This article is the fist one of a couple of articles about Marshall amps I will put together over the next few weeks.
Marshall amps, as any guitist will know, are absolutly wonderful to play through. They can blast you away in your tiny room or they can shimmer and shine and make you feel like the sun is shining on your back.
The most well-known documented Marshall sounds are probably the studio recordings of Jimi Hendrix. Most of his playing shows the dirty and clean sound of the Marshall, and then there is AC /DC to show you that Marshall roar.
I only mention these two names because most of you readers will be aware of those artists but, of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Marshall is everywhere and anywhere. Even bands and artists who do not use Marshall amps, may use the sound these amps produce. Basically in the world of guitaramplifiers there are only a handful of sounds, and the Marshall sound is one of them.

Before I go into detail about the Marshall sound and do some A/B tests I want to leave you with two videos which tour around the Marshall factory in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, in England:

Here is part one:

It is fashinating to see where those amps are being made. Anyone who has ever opened up their Marshall amp may have seen one of those testing stickers. Now you know what they stand for and how the actual testing takes place.

It is also great to know that you can get your amp serviced at the factory, no matter how old, or what kind of condition it is in. Of course, this may be more something for readers who happen to live in England rather than for those of you who live abroad, as shipping costs would add a lot to the final bill.

Enjoy for now and see you soon with more Marshall news.
Eddie

Keep Plectrum ready whilst using your fingers to play other ideas. Watch Plectrum/FingerStyle Video!!

Today a very short article about how to hold a Plectrum, whilst still being able to use your fingers.
You may wonder why you want to do this. Being able to use a plectrum and to keep it tucked in your fingers while using your other fingers for fingerpicking ideas is very useful.

Watch this video where I explain the technique in detail. Sorry about poor soundquality. Hopefully futurevideos shall have greater soundquality, well lets us hope so as I spend most of my playingtime on sound, amps, and guitarpedals.

In the next few weeks I want to create more articles about Valveamps by Marshall and Fender, the big difference between them, more on the Marshall JMC 900 series as I have been lucky to try and A/B test a few of them side by side.

I will try to create article on a weekly basis, when this does not happen you know what goes on in my life: Everything goes up and down, and Eddie is working hard on getting it all in balance again.
Enoy for now and hope to see you soon again.
Eddie

Using Fender Twin Reverb for Your Guitar Playing at Home

Happy New Year to all of you readers. Today an article about the Fender Twin Reverb. I will mainly concentrate on how you can use this amp to the best of your benefit, will not go into detail about its history and the different versions which have appeared throughout the years of its production.
If you are interested in the Silver Face versions, here is a good link:

http://www.freeinfosociety.com/article.php?id=275

   
      Layout Controls:

The Fender Twin reverb was originally designed to give you a cleansound at any volumelevel. As any experienced guitarplayer will know: Turn up the volume of any amp (especially those from the 1960s and early 1970s) and at some point the amp will start to break up, because the amp does not have enough headroom to give you a clean sound. The Twin Reverb was designed to overcome this problem.
The amp does have two channels: A Normal channel and a Vibrato channel which contains Reverb and Vibrato.

The controls and Lay-out of both channels are as follows:

Normal Channel:

Input 1  Input2  BrightSwitch Volume  Treble  Middle  Bass

Vibrato Channel:

Input1  Input2  BrightSwitch  Volume Treble Middle  Bass Reverb  Speed  Intensity  MasterVolume 
                                  (The Master Volume may be a Push/Pull Switch depending on which model you have)

As you notice, both channels have similar tone controls and a bright switch. The bright switch can boost the brightness on both channels. This switch can be engaged when the volume-and treble of the amp are at any setting, which is quite useful to give you an extra brightness boost at low volume.

    Two Channels, What’s Up Then??:

Two channel amps are nothing new, they have been quite common since the late 1970s. Most two-channel amps will have one channel which is dedicated to clean sounds while the other channel acts mainly as a Distortion/Overdrive channel. Looking at the Twin Reverb, this is not the case: Both channels can give you identical sounds if the controls are set in similar ways. There is no distortion or overdrive on the amp, even the Push/Pull switch does not act as an overdrive as some of you may think. No, it is merely an extra, clean volumeboost.
How useful are two identical channels then? Well they are not completely identical, as the Vibrato channel will give you the Vibrato-and Reverb effect, while the normal channel is without any effects whatsoever.
A practical use for both channels is to set them up with a different tonal contrast: Set one channel up for a more bassy sound, while you use the other one for a, contrasting, more trebly sound. Use an A/B box to toggle from one to the other channel and you can now play with having two different sounds coming from one amp. 
The push/pull is very useful at giving that extra volumeboost for your solos. The Push/Pull will only work on the Vibrato-channel, again, this is very useful as it can create that extra volumeboost for when you need it.
Originally designed to add more signal to the Vibrato, as this effect takes away a bit of your original signal. The Push/Pull boost compensates for this loss of signal.

Another useful purpose for the Push/Pull function is: Use the amp with two guitarplayers, guitarplayer one is plugged into the normal channel, guitarplayer two (who is also playing leadlines from time to time) is plugged into the vibrato channel while the Push/Pull is engaged. When it comes to playing solos, the signal of guitarplayer two will be a tad louder because of the Push/Pull boost. Clever thinking, and that for a company which was not doing that well in the mid 1970s!!

    Speakers:
   
When you do your research on the Fender Twin Reberb you will notice that various speakerbrands will be mentioned. Yes, the Twin Reverb was fitted with different kind of speakers, which all have their own impact on the overal sound of the amp. A speaker will have an inpact on any ampsound, try any amp you have with a different speakerset, and chances are the amp will sound different. If you are interested in getting a Twin Reverb it may be an idea to try the amp with different speakers until you find the ones you do like. My feeling is you will like the sound of the amp anyway regardless of with which speakers it is fitted.

   Using the Twin Reverb in Your House at Low Volume and with Pedals:

Most Twin Reverbs you will find will be of 80-or 100 watts, which you may feel may be too loud for using in a living-or bedroom situation. Well hang on there: The amp does have two inputs on both channels, these inputs are for low-and high inpedance output guitars. Lowoutput guitars are single coil type of guitars such as Stratocasters and Telecasters and the like. High output guitars are humbuck guitars such as Les Pauls. Want less volume? Plug your guitar into input 2 and it will bring down the volume, use an EQ and compressor to restore for your loss in bass and treble and you are back in toneheaven. Want a bit of dirt? Use any of your favourite Overdrive/Distortion or Fuzz pedal and the amp will respond very well to them. 

   Conclusion:

The Twin Reverb is an excellent amp to give you that American sound, if you want a more agressive distortiontone, just use any distortion pedal and the amp will take it well. Use the distortion on one channel, while using the other channel for clean sounds and you have a perfectly two-channel amp.
Does a Silverface sound any worse that a Blackface or any of the older versions? Shall we leave that discussion the the experts for today? All I would say at this point: Let your EARS be the judge of what you hear, not what you read. Experiment with different pedals and speakersets and see what you like best of all.

Happy Playing and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie