Use Jamming as a Method to Improve Your Musicianship and Guitar Playing

Jamming is the opposite of playing composed songs, jamming reflects a guitarplayer’s character, jamming can be done at any level and with any technique, jamming will make you play freer.

Just some statements about jamming, and all of these statements are true.
Let me concentrate  for this article on the beginning musician/guitarplayer who has been playing for maybe three to four years or so. Maybe your experience is getting some tabs from the net, from books (or otherwise) to help you to play your favourite songs. Well these tabs certainly will help you along the way to get the sound of that particular song. What the tabs cannot do is to make you a freer musician/guitarplayer who understands his/her instrument better. Logical, because the path to get better is a long and never ending process: You can always get better and it takes time and experience, however, there are things you can do to speed up your progress and learning how to jam is one of them.

   Jamming All Alone:

How can you jam on your own you may wonder? Does it not take a few players who create the sound of a band? Yes that is true, but you create that bandsound on your own by playing each instrument at a time:
  ~ You can play a handful of chords and record what your are playing. Play the recording back and start playing basslines along with your recording. Do not know how to create proper basslines? Do not worry, just play anything which makes you feel it sounds like a bassline. Yes you can learn how to create basslines, learn about harmony ect. but for now, have fun and just play. Document for yourself the moments when it starts to sound right, these are the moments which will boost your musical skills. You can record these moments on another recorder (or write them down in tab, or any kind of method which will help you to recall what you played before)
Do the same for your riffs and solos: Just play along with these chords your recorded before to see how well they fitt into the sequence. If you like singing, do the same with your vocals, just sing over those chords while you listen and create vocal melodies in this way.

Not able to record? Do not worry, play your chordsequence on the guitar and sing over these chords whatever comes to you to see what sounds good. Having some recordingtools will help you to document what you do, but for now you can just play. Maybe get some simple recording tools at later stage (later more about equipment)

    Jamming Together:

  ~ Invite some of your musical friends around and start to play together. Avoid proper songs and suggest to play  whatever comes into your head. At first it may sound like a mess, at some point it may sound pleasing. Run a recorder along with your playingsession to document what you play. Listen back to see if it sounded any good. Changes are that the music sounded better when you were playing, you may also feel you did not play that long, but it reality that jam may have lasted 20 minutes just hanging on to three chords. All fine, do not worry. All in all, you will learn a lot from this. Just analyse it, write down what you liked, remember the fun and how you did it and move on to the next sonic adventure.

   Jamming Will Only Let You Play What You Know:

True, if you only playing experience is jamming you may get stuck. You need to push yourself to learn new ideas, techniques ect. You can do this during your practise time on your own. You may want to jam with others to get these new ideas into your system. Playing an instrument reflects your personality, and there are many, many different ways to play, and jamming is only one mode of playing.

   Jamming Will Let You Play At Your Own Level:

True, because you can only play what you know. I have pupils who have had only a handful a lessons, and they already jam with some of the ideas I have given them. They hear sounds in their head and try to use whatever they have learned so far and try to use that for what they hear to make music.
If you are a beginner and you jam with experienced players you may want to check the emotional field: Jamming should not be a intimidating process of showing off musical ideas. Discussing musicial ideas before you play may help to open up the atmosphere and create a friendly environment.

   Jamming and Sound:

Jamming is a great tool to get you going with your effects: One guitar player may use an acoustic guitar while another player uses a heavily distored electric guitar. Jamming is a great way to explore how those two (seemingly) opposite instruments may blend very well together if played in the right way.
Jamming can also be used as an opportunity to check out particular sounds from a certain effect, and how well those sounds will sit in the mix of other instruments.

    Jamming Tools:

It is impossible for me to mention all the brands of various loopstations, delaypedals with hold fuctions, recordingdevices ect.
Anything you can record yourself on will do for now. It may be a phone, cassetterecorder, Ipod, whatever. Once you get deeper into jamming you can look into whatever particular tool is good for your purpose.
I use a lot of different tools. For spontenous sessions I like tools which take minimal effort and give me maximum results so I can get on with making music.
Loop pedals are great for this kind of playing, but there are a lot of them and all of them have their own issues. Just check out what you like.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and may see you soon back in the near future,

Fender Bassman 135 and Marshall JCM 900 Hi Gain Dual Reverb: A Comparison

For this article a few practical points about both these amps, some of their features and how both amps can sound similar on clean settings. N.B: My comments about the Marshall are only for the Hi Gain Dual Reverb series, as there are other models in the JCM 900 series and their sound and  their design is somewhat different! The amp is set-up according to original specs and equipped with the 5881 valves

When you are reading this article you are probably well aware that Jim Marshall based his early designs for the Marshall amp on the Fender Bassman. Both the Fender Bassman and the Marshall amps have changed throughout the years, but some of their basic features remained the same for quite some time.

The early Fender Bassman came originally as a combo: Speaker and amp all in one box, later versions of the Bassman came as a head with a seperate speaker cabinet. The early version (and the reissue!) came with one channel but did have various inputs for normal- and bright use. Later Bassman versions did have this feature combined in two channels: A basschannel, which creates a more grainy sound, and a normal channel for a brighter guitarsound.

As with both Fender and Marshall, most of their amps carry the same sound. The different models tend to vary in some features. The normal channel on the Bassman 135 can give you a very similar sound as the Twin Reverb. Of course the Bassman lacks reverb and vibrato, but as for its basic sound, it is very identical.

The Bassman 135,  similar as earlier versions of this amp, does have two inputs for each channel: A high impedance and a low impedance. Basically these inputs can be used to bring down your guitarvolume: When playing in a small room you can use input two, when you are doing gigs at larger venues, input one may be the one your prefer.
The Bassman 135 was not designed to give you distortion, it is a clean sounding amp, even when hard pushed, especially  when using the original 6L6 valves.

The Marshall JCM 900 dual reverb came both as a head and a combo version. The headversion of this amp uses only one input. At the back there is a switch for Hi/Low sound. This switch does act in a simalar way as both the hi and low input on the Bassman 135: Set it to low and it will reduce your volume.
The Marshall does have a proper distortion and clean channel, but both channels are very flexible. Channel A will be in most cases used for clean sounds. To get distortion from this channel you will need to put the preamp at higher values (especially when using single coil guitars!) while channel B will create distorted sounds  at much lower preamp values.
To get clean from both channels: Set the preamp values at a low setting and work with the master volume. When you use the amp in this fashion you will find that Channel A can sound somewhat similar as the normal channel on the Bassman 135 (Brigh and trebly), use Channel B on the Marshall for a clean setting, and you will get the more grainy sound from the basschannel from the Fender Bassman.
The distortion the Marshall can create goes from dark, think  60s Plexi, to more trebly modern sound of the 90s.
The Bassman will not give you any of those distorted tones, you will need to use pedals to get similar sounds.

Although the JCM 900 series were around at the late 80s early 90s, the basic sound of the earlier Bassmans could still be found on these amps.

When reading this you may become interested in reissues of certain Marshall and Fender Models, you may even become interested in the various versions both Marshall and Fender made throughout the years, of their basic ampmodels.
What you will find is that both companies produced one basic sound, and they made some variations with this sound. The better you are aware of that basic sound (through recordings of different artists using any of those basic amp designs) the better you are to judge for yourself the differences between the various models and the newer reissues. Be aware that later amps used features requested by  guitar players, features such as reverb, channel switching, master volumes, switches to bring down volume level etc. Sometimes these features are considered as a flaw against the basic design. Maybe you can look at these features as guitarplayers modding their own amps for their own specific needs.
These days we have enough tools to get around some of those issues without modding the amp: You can turn a one channel amp into a two channel amp by using various pedals which will give you different kind of volume- and brightness levels without altering the basic sound of the amp.

Doing reseach on a particular ampmodel is a journey in itself and it can be a eyeopener and a lot of fun too.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article. 
Happy playing and hope to see you soon again,

Silverface Fender Twin Reverb amp with Push/Pull Master Volume and Celestion Speakers, Read On!!

For this article a short brief about the Silverface Fender Twin Reverb.

Anyone reading this article will know the common remark made about these amps: Leave the Push/Pull knob alone when it comes to increasing power (read distortion) on these amps. The results usually are not too pleasing: Harsh in sound and very trebly.

I have been using the amp for some time now with the stock speakers. Not sure which kind of speakers they are, as the label is gone. They look like an Oxford and another one. Yes two different speakers in one amp! Anyone aware of the habits in the Fender company will know that they used up all parts they had lying around at the time. Both speakers do carry same serial number, this number has been added by Fender, although both speakers are of a different make.
The speakers sound fine, do not want to go into much detail about them here as this article is about the Celestion speakers and the Twin Reverb.

As experiment I tried a speaker cab which carries two 12 inch Celestions: One is a G12H and the other one a G12 vintage 30. Using this cab and guitar being plugged into vibrato channel, while volume is set at about 8, and the master at about 2 while the push/pull is engaged. The result is warm, fuzzy distortion. Nothing like what I heard with the stock speakers. Disengage push/pull, and distortion is still there, but not as full on.
This was a welcome suprise, especially when most people in the know seem to mention do not use the push/pull.
I guess using Celestions on a Silverface Twin Reverb is not quite common, most people do not have a desire to make their Fender amp sound like somekind of Marshall. Well, the sound is not quite Marshall, the Fender characteristics are still there, but the amp does sound different with the Celestions being used.

The good thing about Twin Reverb is that the amp does have a speaker input socket, which means you can use any outside cabinet with whatever speakerset they have. Simply disengage the speakerjack of the internal speakers and plug the speakerlead from your external cab. into the amp’s speaker input socket and hey presto, your speakermodification is done!.
I feel the stock speakers are fine for most sounds, but if you want that fuzzy Californian sound you may want to give the amp a try with any Celestion speaker you have.

   Does it make much difference which Celestion you will use?

No not really, the difference will be that any of them will break up at a different point, and the details of the sound will be different, but all of them will give you that warm fuzzy sound I mentioned before.

  Will any JBL or Jensen speaker give similar results?

This is what I do not know, as I have not heard any of them, and my feeling is no, because of the common advise to leave the Push/Pull alone.

If you too feel you could improve on the sound of your broken up Silverface Twin, try experimenting with different speakers to see how they behave soundwise.

   What kind of Valves?

Again one of those questions which is hard to answer. I use Groove Tubes for various reasons, but they are mainly my amp tech’s reasons rahter than mine. I would like to experiment with various kind of valves, but you will need a few sets of different brands of valves to get a good idea of what each kind of brand can offer soundwise.
Overal the sound of the amp is good, not too bright (That is when I use the older, stock speakers) not too dull.
My opinion is: The tone controls of the Twin are quite active: If your speakers are too dull you can always brighten them up with a different setting from your amp. If your speakers are bright by nature you will end up with a overly bright Twin, which may not be what you always want!

Whatever modification you make to the amp soundwise, there is always a payback. An external speakercabinet is therefore an ideal solution, as you can change the sound on the spot without altering any sounds you already have.

For next article some more insights into the Marshall JCM 900 dual reverb and the Silverface Bassman 135, and how close those two amps can come soundwise.

Enjoy experimenting with your ampsetup and hope to see you here soon again.

What Makes a Good BassPlayer?

Someone who plays their notes with strength and power. Notes which sound full and round. This is not about having a loud amp, it is about digging into your notes to get your notes out of the bass with strength and confidence. This not only applies to bassplayers, guitarplayers should also dig into their strings to create a better sound.

Someone who is able to outline the structure of a song (playing the chordnotes) without the support of any rhythm instrument such as guitar or keyboards.

Someone who can create variations in feel of the song without altering or upsetting the tempo of the song.

Someone who can play the same feel, but vary their choice of notes, this to keep the song fresh.

Someone who can play supportive. Bassplaying is all about the support and feel of the music, it is not about being flashy. This does not mean bassplaying is boring and repetitive, no you can be as inventive when you play the bass as when you are when playing the guitar.

This list is by no means complete, the facts I mentioned here are only  some of the main characteristics which make up a great bassplayer.


Steely Dan and How to Improve Your Solos

This article will not be about Steely Dan, I only use them as a example what you can do with your solos.
Steely Dan were well known for hiring different guitarplayers to create different sounds into their songs. Each guitarplayer they hired had a unique take on playing solos. At some point even Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits was asked to contribute some of his single string skills to one of the Dan’s songs.

In an ideal world guitarplayers should have enough theorectical and technical knowledge to execute exhiting solos for whatever song they are asked to play over. Because the world is far from ideal I will give you an insight how you can approach the subject of playing great solos:

      Mood of the Song and Your Solo:

Whatever song you listen to, most of them will fit into a certain style, a particular category of music. Usually this style will draw on a set of rules, sounds if you like, what creates the unique sound of the style. This style will have its own rules on what kind of solos will work, they are the so called stylistic cliches. Listening to particular styles a music will give you an insight in the sound of this kind of solos. Hopefully, over time, you will learn to play solos using some of these stylistic cliches. They will not make you sound great or unique but they will work and will teach you what to play and what not.
Once you know how to work in some styles you may want to play about with the cliches and use them at your own disgression. Later more on style.

When it comes to style, Steely Dan were unique in joking about with the style, they created solos in pop song which used a lot of jargon from Jazz Rock, or whatever genre they were thinking of at the time, to make them fit the right mood of the song.
This kind of approach makes up for more creative- and individual solos.

When it comes to mood each song conveys a particular mood, this mood can often be defined in day to day language instead of musical jargon. A song can sound angry, happy, sad, upbeat, shy ect.
You may want to get your solo fit the same kind of mood of the song, this would be logical. On the other hand you could also go in opposites: Create an upbeat solo in a sad song.
Is this a hard thing to do? Well it is just a matter of trying. Most theory about scales and harmony will try to teach you just that, but you could also get similar results by thinking about your playing and experimenting. This may be more fun. True, you have to approach your guitarplaying in different ways each time you play, and you will only get there by hard work (it is all about playing really!!)
Creating a contrasting solo with regards to the mood of the song will do a similar thing as what the Dan tried to achieve with their songs: All these different guitar greats had different takes on styles and the sound of the guitar. All in all you need to become a cameleon with a lot of different colours, but it certainly is a lot of fun!.

          Harmony versus Melody:

To get different moods in your solos you could think in terms of harmony or melody.
Playing solos where you use only chordtones of the song will get you to play harmonically. It will give you different results compared to playing melodically.
Melody, on the other hand, may disregard the chords of the song and live a life on its own.
Successful melodic solos can stand on their own without support of any chord. Harmonic solos may find it hard to make sense on their own.
Ideally you should be able to play in both ways. Just think of how you approach your solos and start to experiment with both ways of playing. Sing along with whatever you play, this is always a great way to improve your melodic twists.


If you are familiar with particular styles of guitarplaying why not experiment with any of the following: Play bluesy over a non-blues song.
Play atonal with lots of dissonant (wrong) notes, and slip back from time to time to playing in the right key of the song.
If you are mainly a pentatonic guitar player why not slip in some chromatic notes to spice up your sound. Disregard your pentatonic patterns and just play some notes where you go up fret by fret over one string. Create some fast runs in this fashion to get some energy in your solos and before you know it you will start to sound like a really creative player instead of someone who just plays notes out of a tin.

Have a listen to the solo in Steel Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years. Listen to how the notes dance up and down and in some respect start to live a life of their own with regards to the backing of the song.

Have a go at trying a variety of soloapproaches on one of your favourite guitars. Once you get happy with the notes you produce why not try some of your favourite effects, this will open up new sonic possibilities.
Hope to catch again soon.

Divide Up Your Practise Time

Your time spend with your guitar will be rewarded if you organise the moments you spend with your guitar.
For this article a handful of tips some of your may find useful.

           Give Your Fingers a Workout!

Typically when you start learning to play the guitar you will need some excercises to loosen up your fingers. Fingerexcercises are not only for beginners, a lot of intermediate players of the guitar need them as well as they may not use all their fingers correctly. Once your fingers know how to navigate around the fretboard they will remember this, but the fingermemory needs to be trained and a lot of people tend to skip the essentials. A lot of people even feel this is boring, but just remember: Noone in this world was born with the abililty to play the guitar. it is a skill learned over time and anyone can learn this skills.

         Material to Play………..Songs!

Fingerexcercises are only a tool to get you going, the music is what you want to play, and part of the music are songs.
Once people discover they enjoy playing songs they tend to forget the hard work of scales, chords, fretboardknowledge ect. because it is boring………………
It is true that songs are what most listeners would like to hear you play, but you need a direction for those songs, you need to know what you can do with these songs rather than just playing them using the same old chords and rhythms that you have learned in the beginning.

        How Do I get these Songs to Sound any Better?

This is where your journey on the guitar and in music starts! By learning about keys, tempo, chords, what you can do with those chords, how they are being formed ect.
All of this can be broken down into little segemants to guide you through the wilderness.
Make goals for yourself to solos over the songs you play, create new intros for them, learn to play some of the chords in different places.

        Your Practise Time:

You could start your guitarsession with a few fingerworkouts. If you have been using excercises for a some time, have a look at them again, do not just repeat the same old hash: Work on all your fingers, get all fingers to work at a similar strenght in ANY place on the fretboard, work on slides, hammer-and pull offs, bends ect. Create your own excercises based on what your own playing needs!  Enough to keep you going for quite some time.

From there you should move on to your songs, but don’t just play those songs as you have been doing, no break them down, analyse them: Ask yourself what key these songs are in, get to know all the different parts, the feel of the song. Memorise the song, learn to play it without the aid on any books or chord/lyricsheets. Listen to different  versions of the song and have a look at how you play the song. Ask yourself why you play the song the way you do. In most cases you probably do not know, you probably never thought about this. Can you play this song differently? Yes, anything can be played in a way how you like it!
All in all I would call this the theory section of your practise session. Use this time to find out as much as you can about all the things you need to get better at, break it down in little sections and keep revisting this material and keep working on it. In this way you create your own practise scedule based on the material you like while at the same time working on new skills.

At the end of your playing session you should reward yourself with playing whatever you like playing and having as much fun as you can.
Remember: Each session should focus on something new, do not just play what you already know.

How you should go about finding fingerexcercises, theory for scales, keys and chords I leave up to you as there is plenty of material out there. You need to get to grips how to use this knowledge for what you do or would like to learn, do not just copy material without any reference to your own playing.

How long should I practise for?
As long as you feel is needed. I think doing it regularly is more important rather than dividing it up in hours or minutes. If you love the guitar noone should have to tell when to pick up the guitar and play. Whatever time you have available is good.
If you find it hard to get time, create moments of routine for yourself when you practise the guitar. Hopefully these habits will start to feel natural to you after some time.

Think about what you do, keep at it and enjoy.
Hope to see you soon again with more new insights in how to improve your level of guitarplaying

Learning Scales: What You Need to Know

For this article a few words of guidance to get you through the process of learning scales.

Why would you like to learn scale? You probably can play by now a handful of chords and with these you can probably play most of the songs you like.
When it comes to playing single notes you probably can play most of the simple intros of your favourite songs.
Why on earth would you like to burden yourself with the thought of gettting into scales?
Because it will help you with music theory, get to know the fretboard better, become freer on the guitar, and with music in general. All of these issues are deep, and ongoing goals. Not everyone does have the patience and willingness to stick to these goals and fight their way through it.
Get into learning scales because you feel you would like to know more about your instrument and music in general, do not get into it because other people tell you so!

For those who decide scales are for them there are a few steps you can take to make the subject clearer and more fun:

Most people will get introduced at some point to the Pentatonic scale. Often people will get scalepatterns and with that they have to do it. Then they often get confused: What are all these patterns about? How do they work? What is the relation between all of them?

My own approach when it comes to teaching scales is to introduce students to the major scale. Usually I will give the example of key of C because it relates to the keyboard, which is visual and most students do understand what they can see.

From the major scale I will then make the relation to the relative minor scale (Still a seven note scale!). From there I can then jump to the Minor Pentatonic scale, which contains similar notes as the relative minor. Of course the Minor Pentatonic Scale only contains five notes instead of the usual seven. But hopefully, by now, students can see the relation, and they will also have a better understanding where these scales come from.

What happens next in a unguided situation: Students get bombarded with scalepatterns which show these five notes all over the fretboard. Good for the abstract and dedicated student, wrong for the majority of learners: Too much information, way too soon, which leads to frustration and confusion.
My  own solution to this issue is to introduce students to one pattern, let them to get familiar with this, get them to play with it. Once students feel confident with this one pattern, and they also understand what lies underneath these five tones, then it is time to move on to the next scalepattern.

Follow this process through for all the other four remaining patterns and you get the picture.

The previous example may be a ideal situation, as most people will get a lot of patterns at some stage but they will still be unaware of how to use them. Usually it depends on the students own willpower and motivation to break down these scales and to see the bigger picture.
It also helps if students like a certain style of music where a lot of improvisation is the norm. Once I have given them a scale they immediately know how to use it to play riffs and melodic ideas. Students who are not familiar with the idea of improvising usually need more time to get used to the idea of playing spontenous musical ideas. 

Once you get to grips with the Major scale and the minor Pentatonic you may get curious to see how the modes work. Well the seven modes can be introcuded in a similar way, as they all relate back to the same major key I mentioned earlier on.

Have patience and stick to it.
Hope to see you soon again,

Learn to Mute All Your Strings

Muting strings is one of those techniques which can make your strings sound a lot darker.
Most of you readers will be aware of this technique when it comes to muting your low E and A with the technique called “Palmmuting”. This technique is used in a lot of Rocksongs, usually it is applied when using distortion on the electric guitar.
Why not extend this technique to ALL your strings? Not a problem you may say, true but watch out:

Stratocaster players or anyone with a vintage style bridge and a Strat style electric, will find that they will need to adjust their handposition when it comes to muting the top E, B and G string. The volumecontrol also seems to be in the way, you will need to curve your pink around it to get comfortable.

Start by putting your palm accross the whole bridge, this will now be at a different angle compared to when you only mute the low E and A.  Try your usual technique and watch ( and listen! ) what happens when you try to mute your G, B and E when using the same technique. Changes are you will need to adjust your palm.

A similar story for acoustic guitarplayers, you will need to adjust the postion of your palm as well.

This technique may be easiest for guitarplayers with a Tune-o-Matic style bridge (Les Paul style of Guitars). The Volume and Tone controls on these guitars seem to be well spaced enough, position of your palm should not have to change too much from how you normally hold it during playing.

  What is the use of this Technique?

Muted melodies on your top strings which will stand out in the mix. These sounds are also good for percussive playing all across the fretboard.

Too many ideas to mention really, just try it, experiment and see how you can fit it into your style.

Have Fun.

I am Left Handed, Should I Get a Left Handed Guitar or Buy a Regular Righthanded Instrument?

This is a common question being asked by beginner students who happens to be left handed.
My answer to this issue is: Get comfortable with the guitar you already have. If you happen to have a right handed guitar, and it feels good, keep it and use this for your playing. If you have a righthanded guitar and it feels not good you could change the strings and turn guitar upsided down and play in this manner. If you feel this is a little clumsy, you could buy yourself a left-handed guitar.
When you shop for a left-handed guitar you will notice you have far less choise than the right-handed player.

I have had students in the past who were left handed but they were equally comfortable with both a left-handed and right-handed guitar.

If you are a left handed beginner and you are not sure what to do, just get started with whatever guitar you have. The whole idea of learning to play the guitar is new, and for anyone new to the guitar, you will need to get comfortable with holding the guitar, placing your fingers on the fretboard and start to get sounds out of it. This itself is a unfamiliar feeling, and it does take time to get used to it. Once you get used to it you will be able to tell what it better for you.
Be patient for now, give it a go and see what works for you.

Hope to see you soon again with more articles about tone and guitarplaying technique.

Using Multiple Amps for your Guitar Rig

Fed up doing gigs or rehearsals with a muddy guitarsound? Not getting enough volume from your amps for your guitarsolos? Blame your bandmembers, or the songs or your own gear for having such a weak and thin guitarsound.

How much thought do you give yourself when it comes to your overal guitar set-up? Are you aware of the various options which lay open for you as a guitarplayer to get a better and solid guitartone?
For this article I will examine the ins- and outs about using more than one amp. You do not need to be famous or super rich to get a much better guitartone than what you have at the moment. Anyone in the world can achieve a big guitartone such as some of the more well-known guitarplayers use (and who we all seem to admire).
I will not detail the various technical options as in how to connect your gear, am more interested in the thinking behind the whole process why you could use several amps at once, and what the consequences will be for your tone and playing as such. My thought is: Once you know why guitarplayers go into this kind of set-up, it may be possible for yourself to figure out what it is you need to do to give yourself a much better tone.

    One Amp is enough or………………..??

Why on earth would someone like to use more than one amp you may wonder? Two comboamps will give you two speakers (or may be even more). The sound travels nor through one but two soundsources, making your sound fuller and more detailed. Sure this must be better or………….?
Well, no single set-up is perfect, anything you use does have its own effect on the endresult. Logical? There are not many guitarplayers around who do have one set-up which will cater for a Jazzgig, a metalgig, a folkgig ect. all at the SAME time. You need to look into what you need, what you like and how you can get there with the gear you have.
Using two amps will give you a particular sound which is different from just using one amp. The detail of each amp is lost, you will get just one guitarsound instead. This one guitarsound should be dealt with accordingly: You will need to look at the overal sound and adjust each individual amp to get the sound you are looking for. The sound of each amp is there to help the overal sound, not just that one amp.
If you are new to playing through two amps you may feel that your settings  of the past from your favourite amp may no longer work. The amp does now need to work in tandum with the other amp to create one sound. It should not take you too long to get used to. Overal you may want to keep the volume down as you are now using two amps. Keeping the volume at a reasonable level will help you to obtain a balance between the sound of the two amps. Mind you: I am talking tonesettings here not just volume, but keeping volumelevels down will help you to achieve a better mix between the tones of both amps.

     When Do You Need Two (or more) Amps?

When you are using guitartones which mix various sounds you may want to use various amps. The one, well-known example is delay: Use one amp and your delayed tone is mixed with the dry sound of your guitar. When you seperate each signal to its own individual amp the result is a much clearer ( and bigger, spacious ) guitartone. 

When you use loops where you use various instruments (think Bass, Keyboards ect.) which are all part of the same sound you may want to seperate each instrument into a different amp. It will give you a much clearer and less cluttered sound.

In a nutshell: One amp will not give you the seperation of sound which two amps will give you. On the other hand your sound gets dilluted between two amps and there may be occassions where you do not want that at all.
Personally I would prefer one simple, amp set-up if I was to a do a straight forward blues gig. That one amp would be enough. I would enhance the amp with only a handful of well-chosen pedals. Too many amps can make the set-up complex and you need to think carefully about what goes on soundwise.


         Speakers  and tone variation

Okay, you have come to the conclusion that you want to use two amps. Should you choose medium range combo amps, stacks or maybe halfstacks?
Going back to what I mentioned before about volume think about this: Four 15 watt combos would give you a similar powerrating as one 50-60 watt half stack. In other words: You could similate the sound of a stack by using various smaller combos. If you are using amps which all have different speakers your tone will have a lot more variation than those four similar speakers from your stack.
Using amps of a different kind can be useful: Different speakers, different sound coming from each amp. It may also make it harder to get the right balance. Again, you could try and see what works. You may want to choose your amps on the basis of sound they can give: treble or bass or maybe even amps which do not have a specific tone at all.    

         Gigs and Seize of Your Amps

When you are gigging a lot with other musicians around you, you do need a cetain amount of power just to be heard and to feel comfortable. If your band is not too loud a few combos may give you just enough power on stage. Make sure your combos do contain a line-out (or headphone socket) which can be taken to the PA to get your amps heard in the venue.
If your onstage sound does not have to be too loud, a handful of small combos may just do the trick. It makes transporting your gear also a lot easier instead of using that bulk stack.

         Details of Sound Each Individual Amp

For most of the time you may wnat to play through a set of four amps, but there may be moments when you just want to use the tone of one particular amp. You could use A/B boxes to select that one amp for a particular moment while cutting out the sound of the other three amps. In this way you do not need to compromise on any of your favourite guitaramp sounds.

        Does it Ever Stop?

When it comes to sound and your particular guitar set-up you need to ask yourself questions? What do I really need for the kind of playing I do? Am I the person who is interested in experimenting hours and hours just to find some other guitarsounds? ( and other ways of making music! ) Am I getting the best out of my gear? Some people think it is about money and brands. It is more important to be aware of the sounds which are out there and to have a vision for yourself what you want to achieve soundwise.
Over time you will develop you own approach to sound.
In the beginning, when people start to get into effects and amps, it is quite common to get impressed with the sounds you can get from a few simple effects such as delay, reverb, chorus and flange. It is after some time, when you come to realise that all these effects will make you sound like anyone else, that you start to break things down and look into the details of how you can get these effects (and amps) to work for your own, unique style of guitarplaying.
There are these moments when you have groundbreaking results for yourself, these moments can be quite pleasing. It is from these experiences that you grow as an individual and develop your own take on sound and guitartone in particular. 

happy tonehunting and hope