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“I like the old tube amps – I’ve yet to find that sound through other gear, so I stick with them”: Eric Johnson on why he’s not fully switching to amp modellers yet

The guitarist is sticking with his favourite tube amps while on tour.

Eric Johnson performing live

Credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

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Eric Johnson has waded once again into the debate surrounding digital amp modellers and tube amps, revealing that he’s sticking with tube amps for the time being.

Last year, the guitar icon shared that he had been trying out the Neural DSP Quad Cortex and praised the amp modeller. However, he admitted that while he liked working with it and would continue to do so, it wasn’t going to replace his original rig.

And he reiterates his preference for tube amps in a new Guitar World interview. When asked if he might switch to a modeller, he says, “Oh, no. At this point, I’d have to say probably not. But don’t get me wrong – technology is coming along. I think at some point, overall, it’s going to keep getting better to the point that maybe they will replace tube amps for a lot of people… but not for me.”

However, he says that he wouldn’t mind swapping his current setup for a modeller in the future if he was touring far away: “Having to cart around a bunch of heavy gear, man, it’s hard. But I think that technology still needs to be worked on.”

When he’s asked what he likes about his current rig, he shares, “I kind of like the old tube amps. They have this certain kind of old-style sound and tone that I find really works for me. I’ve yet to find that sound through other gear, so I stick with it. I have three distinct setups, and I’ve never found one amp that would do all three just how I like them.”

Johnson is currently on a G3 tour across the US, with the original trio – Johnson, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani – reuniting as G3 for the first time in over two decades, something that Satriani described as a “dream come true” in a statement last year.

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