Could really use help

  • Considering buying a spark
    Older guy. Not good at most digital things

    I’m not interested in the backing tracks or chord listing
    I want, at the end of the day... is to be able to go downstairs and get a great tone
    Push a button and get jimmy page, bb king, sabbath...

    I have tube amps and pedals
    But I’d really like to know how the spark tone is if I just want to jam some iconic classic guitar tone

    People have recommended a Kemper power profiler

    Huge price difference
    I don’t play out anymore
    Mostly honestly it’s through my headphones


  • @michaelstachnik To give you some context, I’m and older guy, have way too many tube amps and guitars, also have Kemper and Helix, still in a cover band (that isn’t rehearsing due to Covid and the fact there are no gigs) and spend weekends at the girlfriend’s house who a) doesn’t want amps there and b) doesn’t necessarily want to hear me practice our band’s 45 tunes (SRV, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Joe Bonamassa, Cheap Trick, Greenday, Foo Fighters, Joe Jackson, Collective Soul, Aerosmith, Jett, Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, Billy Idol, The Black Keys, Molly Hatchet, Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz to name a few), which means rehearsing with headphones.

    I don’t use backing tracks or need to see chords, just need to play the songs from my IPad to a device so I can play along. As some of the tunes are in “E flat”, I use an app called Anytune Pro+ where I can pull songs from my iPad library and adjust the pitch so I can bring an A440 tuned guitar to the girlfriend’s house and use Anytune to adjust the song to A440. Anytune has a loop function which helps if you need to loop something to try to learn it. I put all my band’s cover tunes on Anytime and use the Bluetooth streaming from Anytune/iPad to the Spark.

    I find the Spark to be perfect thing for practicing with headphones at the girlfriend’s. I have been able to find and tweak enough tones/presets from the Spark Tonecloud to be satisfyingly close to the tones I need for the types of bands I listed, clean, dirty clean, crunch, high gain, etc.

    The Spark has the 4 presets that you can override and save to (and select from the buttons on the amp), but I need way more tones for the 45 songs. In the app, you can save Tonecloud presets to various categories (pop/clean/rock/metal/etc) or you can just put all your downloads into one category. What I do is make a list of tones that work for a song and once I like a certain tone/preset I just write it down. For example I found a preset on Tonecloud that was called “Slash Clean Guitar” and I saved it in the Blues Category in the App and it happened to be the 5th tone in that category. I use this clean tone on a single coil neck pickup for “Tore Down” by Clapton/Jeff Healey. On my paper list of songs, next to the song name, I wrote Blues/05 Slash Clean Guitar. When I want to practice “Tore Down”, I look at my list, click the preset area at the top of the Spark, click the Blues Category and then click 05 Slash Clean Guitar which loads that preset instantly to the Spark, then I start playing the song and jam along. Selecting the preset this way thru the Spark takes only a few seconds. I jammed last night on about 10 songs in about 45 minutes, look at my list, find the preset in app, select it (which loads it to Spark), hit play on the song and play along.

    You can search in Tonecloud by band names or tone names (and its not the greatest search function, usually work best with one name searches like “slash” or “Clapton” or “clean”) and you may have to “preview” a bunch before you find one close enough to download to your app. Once you download, make a list of where you put it, and then you can modify it as you need. I find a lot of people use way too much reverb/delay/modulation and I just turn those off. Also people like different amounts of bass or mids or treble based on either the guitar they have or personal preferences, so you may have to tweak EQ/gain, etc. Also note that the Tonecloud has tones by people using the Spark and also Bias Amp/Bias FX created presets, so tones not created from a Spark will sound pretty bad. There isn’t a way to tell if it was a Spark created preset or a Bias Amp/Fx one until you try it. I have about 90 or so Tonecloud downloads that I’ve saved or modified.

    People complain that as delivered, the Spark has too much bass (there are threads about changing out the speakers and putting foam in the port to attempt to correct this, one of them I responded to), but I have not found this an issue when using the Sparks headphone out. What I have found is that not all headphones are created equal and have found the Presonus HD9 ($79.95 on ebay) to be one of the better ones (and these happened to be the one that was the early headphone bundle options, and I like them better than the Sennheiser HD200 Pro that is a bundle option now for $50).

    So you will have to get “comfortable” with initially setting up the Spark (there is a Bluetooth connection for the app, and a separate one for streaming the songs fro your device to the Spark), and going to Tonecloud and searching for presets and downloading them and tweaking them, but once you’ve done that its pretty simple. I did all my Tonecloud saving/tweaking the first couple weeks I received the Spark (in April) and just now simply use it to bring up my saved presets and play along to the cover songs to keep my chops up. When Covid ends and the band starts playing again and adding new songs, then I’m sure I’ll be searching in Tonecloud for new presets as needed.

    Also to give you more info, as related to my practicing with headphones, I also have and tried the a) Yamaha THRii, b) Headrush gigboard, c) Hotone Ampero, and d) Line6 Amplify TT and a few other cheaper things I can’t remember now. Some have buttons to change presets or the ability to use a Bluetooth pedal for presets (which is lacking from Spark), but overall, I prefer the tones from the Spark and its ease of use (I rate the Amplify TT as close second).

    Hopefully my experience and detail will give you enough knowledge to figure out if the Spark will fit your needs. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • man what a great answer.
    Thanks for all that.

    Im in a very similar situation so that all helps.
    I was also considering the yamaha thr30ii
    It gets some pretty good reviews.
    But again has features that arent that important.
    Its for my home basement practice space so wireless isnt a top priority

    Whatever i buy, will mostly be used for practicing with headphones.
    Also i still like cranking my computer monitors and playing along without the phones.
    My older yamaha is pretty good for that.
    I had read that the new 30ii has a better sound from the speakers than the spark...but i wont be comparing constantly.
    I want a good sounding amp / headphone amp that I can go from BB to Metallica without changing a bunch of pedals or different amp.

    Most of my playing is typically Stevie, Freddie King, Jeff healey, albert king, jimmie vaughan especially early thunderbirds
    But i still like classic zeppelin, Classic billy gibbons tone also.

    A bunch of people have recomended the Kemper Powered amp head.
    Thats right around 2k even used.

    Sounds you play most of the same music i like and are pretty happy with the spark.

  • @michaelstachnik The Yamaha may “have better sound from the speakers” but in my opinion the actual guitar tones are inferior and the adjustability of the tones is inferior.

    To me the “better sound from the speakers” comment, without taking into account the actual tone of the presets is like going into Best Buy to get a new TV and the sales person tells you that the 15 year old CRT/non HD TV they took in on trade has better sound than the new 4k OLED TV....would you buy the old TV?

    The Spark is a little more bass heavy on presets and playing music than the Yamaha when using the speakers, but to me not an issue to outweigh the better tones and more extensive Tonecloud options the Spark has.

    By the way, I never thought of using the Kemper. In googling, it looks like if I get a special cable that Y’s into two jacks and input into two jacks at the rear to feed sounds from my iPad and do a bunch of menu things to adjust/direct the input and feed the output of both the ipad input and guitar input to headphone jack out, I can use the Kemper like I use the Spark, but sounds like more hassle than its worth as I got a headache just reading what I need to do!

  • Thanks for all the help

    I’m absolutely terrible at manuals and directions
    So easier is better

    Honestly, my family is usually right above my basement music room
    So I’m almost always jamming to songs from YouTube videos of my favorite players through my headphones and Yamaha old desk amp

    Sounds like the spark would be pretty cool

  • I have a tube amp that I like but hardly ever use because it's loud.

    I have an HX Stomp which I love and use mostly with headphones. Not great for playing over backing tracks. I sometimes use it since getting the Spark.

    I got the Spark like 6 months ago and I find myself playing through that more than anything. The tone is good but not as good as the first two. It's just so damn easy to plug in and play. You can also get pretty good tone through the speakers at lowish volume which I prefer to headphones.

  • @michaelstachnik I'd recommend the NUX mighty lite or the latest NUX mighty air.
    Perfect solution of rechargable long life battery, and on the latest model... wireless guitar ,
    the amp mods are great from A to Z..
    PG will probably be releasing something similar in 2 years time or so.
    Don't bother waiting, get this unit instead.
    It's more versatile in its uses.