Neo-Soul Guitar Amplifiers

Neo Soul guitar Amplifiers

Hello Neo-Soul lovers! Today we're gonna talk about amps, specifically in relation to R&B/Neo-Soul music!

We’ll go over a few recommended amps, then, we’ll go over a few examples of Neo-Soul amp settings!

Let’s Begin

Research Before Buying☝️

Before buying a new amp, you better know what you’re looking for!
Some amp manufacturers aim towards particular audiences like Metal and Rock players though some can be defined as more ״general sounding” (like Fender or Marshall). 

The Neo-Soul guitar player will prefer warm, old-school and natural sounding amps. This aspect of guitar sound will serve the Neo-Soul style much better than a modern, “colder” sounding amp.

5 Recommended Amps For Neo-Soul Guitarists 

neo-soul guitar amps

 

Marshall DSL40CR

Marshall DSL40CR guitar amplifier

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Sound👂

The Marshall DSL40CR is a classic sounding, warm and strong amplifier!

It features a wide EQ section - bass, middle, treble AND presence and resonance knobs. With more control over your EQ, you will be able to tweak your sound exactly to your liking.

Remember, the Neo-Soul guitar sound is all about the clean channel so these extra features (presence and resonance) will help you tremendously, especially when transitioning from rhythmic to lead guitar sounds.

Operation ⚙️

This amp is extremely gigable! The Marshall DSL40CR has 2 channels you can toggle using a foot switch (each of these channels can be used into 2 gain modes) which makes it extra comfortable when transitioning between parts of a song (and solos of course!).

This amp also allows you to toggle between 20W and 40W modes. This feature is useful when playing small gigs like bars and restaurants or even when playing at home.

Neo-Soul compatibility 🎸

Pairing the Marshall classic tone with a Fender single coil guitar will give you a nice contrast between the shimmering sound of a Fender guitar to the round, warm sound of a Marshall amp.

This combination creates a beautiful, old-school and balanced tone, perfect for Neo-Soul!

The Marshall amplifier will also compliment many other guitars like PRS and Gibson (that are mostly equipped with Humubcker pickups) which is also popular among Neo-Soul guitar players.

VOX AC30

Vox AC30 guitar amp

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Sound👂

Not many realise this today but the Vox sound is right up there with history’s greatest! It has been used by giants like The Beatles, Brian Adams, Queen, U2, and even Jimi Hendrix!

Operation ⚙️

The Vox AC30 has a built-in spring reverb and a bass and treble EQ knobs.
This EQ is different from other EQ systems found in guitar amps, it has no middle control!

The bass and treble EQ bands will always compensate in the mid-range so if you will turn both of them down, you will get a signal loaded with mid-range.

Neo-Soul compatibility 🎸

This Vox amp is a little more “biting” than the Marshall and Fender amps. It shares a certain Vox character with boosted mid-range and treble. This creates a beautiful warm shimmering sound, perfect for Neo-Soul guitar players.

Fender Blues Deluxe

Fender Blues Deluxe guitar amp

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Sound👂

The Fender Blues Deluxe is a well known, popular old timer!

It sounds like a Fender amp no doubt about it, but if you know the “common” Fender glossy sound, this model is a little more feisty, especially around the mid and high areas.

Handling ⚙️

This is a good tube amp at a reasonable price, especially if you can find a used one. It is perfect for gigging and touring and can be found on many stages. It is solid, dependable and will serve you well!

Neo-Soul compatibility 🎸

On this amp, there are two different inputs in two gain levels. In Neo-Soul sound context, input 2 (which is softer) is bringing out both the “vintagy” warm sound of the amp without the “boomy” effect of the other input.

Fender Hot Rod Deville 2X12

Fender Hot Rod Deville guitar amplifier

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Sound👂

This beautiful redesigned tube amp is also a popular industry standard. It has a beautiful shimmering clean tone that goes amazing with single coil, humbucker or P90 pickup guitars.

Operation ⚙️

It is also a very versatile amp with a wide selection of gain options (that can be controlled by a foot-switch), it is a solid and stable amp (though a little lighter than you would expect) and definitely strong enough for gigging!

This might be one of the most common Fender amps out there and you’ve probably heard it a million times in Youtube videos, live shows, rehearsal rooms or wherever.

Neo-Soul compatibility 🎸

From a Neo-Soul perspective, this is a good and useful amp! Why? First, the “Fendery” glossy sound goes hand in hand with the vibe of Neo-Soul. Second, this amp enables you full control over your guitar sound so you could shape it exactly like you need it!

Fender Twin Reverb

Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp

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Sound👂

This beautiful (and maybe a personal favourite) amp is another Fender classic! The original Twin Reverb amps were manufactured between 65’ to 67’ but the reissued models are not less wonderful.

This popular amp was used by Giants like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Steve Howe (Yes), Johnny Marr (Smiths), Jack White and many more and its addictive shimmering sound will keep on being an industry standard for years to come.

Neo-Soul compatibility 🎸

The Twin Reverb amp is a perfect choice for a Neo-Soul guitar player, its character fits beautifully with this genre and it's a little more gentle than the other amps in this list.

Extra ⚙️

This amp comes with a built in spring reverb and it should be your first choice if you're aiming for a glossy shimmering clean tone!

Neo-Soul Amp Settings

Neo-Soul amp settings

In this section, we are going to discuss Neo-Soul type of playing and Neo-Soul sound concepts. We just can’t go over every amp, there are just too many out there…

What we can do is teach you how to approach the amp and the guitar sound from a Neo-Soul perspective.

Let’s Begin!

We came up with 3 different types of “jobs” that a Neo-Soul guitar player has in a Neo-Soul band: 

1. Slow Neo-Soul Guitar Part

2. R&B guitar playing

3. Lead Neo-Soul Guitar

DISCLAIMER - this is just a blunt assessment of the “general” EQ among many different guitar amplifiers, this is why we care more about the sound concept rather than the actual amp settings. You’ll figure that out by yourself.

Slow Neo-Soul Guitar Part

 

 

In this recording, you can hear a “standard” type of Neo-Soul guitar part. This type of playing is very typical to the genre, and if you like this genre, these voicing, hammer-ons and chord choices may sound familiar.

When playing this kind of guitar part, the sound approach is rhythmic but you are not the one who carries the song harmonically (this is usually done by the keyboard player).

On the other hand, your place in this moment is not in the front either (like a lead guitar line for example), your place is somewhere in the middle and you have to be smart and creative enough to nail it!

Amp Settings For This Type Of Sound

 Bass - We don’t want a “boomy” sound, but we also don’t want our guitar to sound small. Approximate bass settings should be from 2-5, depending on the amp.
Middle - We don’t want frontal attacking guitar, therefore, the middle should be rather low 0-4, depending on the am
Treble - The guitar in that type of playing should shimmer over the mix, so the settings should be around 5-6.

R&B Guitar Style

 

 

Many people get confused between R&B and Neo-Soul, these definitions are all messed up… Just for basic understanding, there’s old R&B (James Brown, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Louis Jordan and many more) and new R&B (“The Way I See It” album by Raphael Saadiq is a great example) which is more modern from many different aspects.

The Neo-Soul we hear today is rooted deeply in old R&B as well as in other genres like soul, funk, hip-hop and more. The R&B, as its name, is more rhythmic, therefore it derives element from funk and soul, like the next guitar part:

Amp settings for this type of sound

Bass - We want a thin guitar sound, why? Because we need to hit the guitar harder and faster than in a romantic slow song. Approximate bass settings should be from 0-5, depending on the amp.
Middle - We don’t want frontal attacking guitar, but we definitely need “to be present” in the mix! Middle eq settings are approximately 2-6, depending on the amp.
Treble - The guitar in that type of playing should cut right through the mix in order to help your hips move! Treble approximate settings would be 6-8, depending on the amp.

Lead Neo-Soul Guitar

 

 

Another “job” you may have as a Neo-Soul guitar player is to take on these frontal lead melodies. That type of Neo-Soul guitar playing is usually accompanied by pedals and with a try to resemble a synthesizer sound.

Therefore, the goal is to get a healthy, full-body guitar sound that could ride nicely in the frontal section of the mix.

Amp settings for this type of sound

Bass - as mentioned before, we want a full-body sound, this means that the bass is going to play a bigger part here, settings are approximately 5-8, depending on the amp.
Middle - We want a frontal guitar, but we definitely need to be gentle as it is not heavy-metal! Middle eq settings are approximately 4-6, depending on the amp.
Treble - The guitar in that type of playing should cut right through the mix in order to take on the lead position! Treble approximate settings would be 5-7, depending on the amp. 


That's all for now fellas!

If you just love Neo-Soul music be sure to check out the other Neo-Soul articles on our website!

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