I had a Music Man 40W w/12" speaker, solid state preamp, tube main amp that I used for every practice, performance and recording w/Hair Theatre. I always thought it sounded a little muddy, but I probably didn't turn it all the way up when we practiced. Now I have a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. It's 40W w/a 12" speaker. It has clean and distorted channels w/a footswitch. You can get just the amount of distortion you want, crunchy without that metal sound you're talking about Dave E. I gotta hear Tone Tubby now. The amp's pretty heavy as it is, so I'd prob'ly want the alnico too.
Fender has a new version of the Super Champ amp. The new version has a distortion/effects chip in it, so I don't know how it will sound. I heard one in the mid-80's that blew my mind it sounded so good. It was a 15w tube amp w/a preamp gain knob that would create a great distorted sound at low volumes. One of those 80's amps is going for $750 now on Craigslist.
I use a Jim Dunlop Jimi Hendrix JH-1 wah wah peddle sometimes that really does have that sound that Hendrix got. If you just leave it on the treble side it gives you that searing tone that Jimi had (maybe not quite as intense w/out the modified Marshalls, but pretty close).
Dave F., your description of your Carvin 12 string electric on the blog, seen in the "beaverface" photo, got me salivating. I've been working a lot of overtime lately, so in an attempt to make up for my prostituting a part of my lifespan away I ordered a 12 string from Carvin w/all the trimmings. It's going to have a sunburst finish that goes from blue on the edges to green in the middle on a quilted maple top. I'll have to hang it in a plexiglass case and never play it ha ha ha. I also just got a Korean-made Telecaster that I plan to soup up w/Lindy Fralin hand-wound single coil pickups. There's a repair shop in S.F. that has L.F.'s that has a blog [www.brawerguitarrepair.blogspot.com
] w/tips on repair. They use copper tape and conductive paint on the back of pickguards and pickup covers to shield from resonant frequencies such as those found near the Coit Tower (take note Dave F.). Maybe it would reduce air traffic controller interference as well.
These are the first electrics I've had besides the Washburn (Stage A-20 or something) I played w/HT that I've had since I was 15. I quit practicing regularly when I went through an apprenticeship, and I didn't want to buy a guitar only to leave it in the closet. The blog has been inspiring me to pick it up again. Dave E., your mention of finger picking being central to much American music on the "listening to NOW" thread has inspired me to pick up a copy of Fingerstyle Guitar magazine, which comes w/a CD and has tab and staff transcriptions of the songs. When I first started playing I had a couple of teachers that taught me finger picking folk rock songs using tab.