I put this rig together over several years, culminating around 2001. I was considering a new half-stack or combo amp, but couldn't find the right combo of preamp, reverb, and speakers, so I cobbled together some racks to suit my taste. Yep, it is post 2000, and I'm using racks. And it is the rig I still use today. I love the sound and versatility.
This is a basic "power strip in a rack." I don't recall why I chose the Samson PowerBrite PB9 over other racks, other than the possibility of a decent price. The only notable feature is a slide out fluorescent light that might be helpful on a dark stage. I've never used it. The power button on the front is a big push-button, which is a tad too easy to accidentally press.
The Rocktron Piranha is an amazing analog tube preamp. The versatility in tone is incredible, ranging from a beautifully smooth clean channel, to a standard overdrive, to a blistering nuclear metal distortion. The rock and metal sounds are the target design of the preamp, but the clean channel is so nice, with a perfectly tunable taste of overdrive, that I use this as my main jazz amp.
The secret sauce of the Piranha is the movable center point for the mid-range tuning. This effectively lets the Piranha take on the character of many other amp models, with excellent results all around. The only sound you won't get dead-on is the Mesa Dual-Rectifier, but if you want it, you can get close enough.
The Piranha is a cinch to set up, as it relies on familiar amp knobs and basic buttons, instead of a bunch of digital nonsense. The trademark Rocktron noise reduction is easily tunable, and the built-in effects loop is very handy. All presets are controllable via any MIDI foot pedal (like the Rolls Midi Buddy, which I own but never use), but once you dial in your tone, you'll rarely change between 2 or 3 presets.
I picked up the floor model from a Guitar Center for a decent price and have yet to replace the two stock 12AX7 tubes. I can't believe Rocktron discontinued the Piranha, as it might be one of the best tube pre-amps ever made. Good luck finding one on eBay.
TC Electronics is well known for their crystal clear reverb effects, and this budget TC Electronics m300 rack is no exception. It is actually two effect units in one, a reverb box and a delay/modulation box. The reverb section contains all of the usual TC reverbs, and the delay section includes all of the standard modulation effects, including delay, chorus, flange, phaser, etc. The most interesting effect for me is the "Dynamic Delay", which increases the amount of delay decay based on the intensity of the signal, i.e., how hard you play the guitar. The m300 has plenty of preset memory, and can be controlled with a MIDI foot switch, but I don't use any of that stuff. I keep the m300 in the effects loop of the Piranha, which is ideal for reverb and delay, but is on the wrong side of the preamp for guitar effects like flangers. But it works great for me, as I just dialed in a light reverb setting, a light amount of the Dynamic Delay, and left it there ever since.
I was (and am still) debating whether to get a tube power amp, but in the mean time, I opted for finding a reasonably transparent solid-state power amp. The Rocktron Velocity series is generally known for a clean signal, so I grabbed (yet again) a floor model Velocity 120 from Guitar Center. It does the trick, and gets painfully loud if needed. It is a stereo power amp, but I only use one channel. Being solid state, there aren't any "load" issues to worry about. Each channel also has a "definition" knob which can brighten up the signal. I leave it completely off.
One 70W 12" speaker is all I need. I was planning to build my own speaker cabinet around a particular Celestion speaker, so I grabbed the speaker specs from the net, and modeled the correct "tuned" cabinet dimensions by using some speaker cabinet design software. Just as I was about to buy the materials, I stumbled across a Three-Quarter Back speaker cabinet in the Mesa Boogie catalog that had the exact same dimensions, along with their own Celestion speaker. Clever designers they have there. So I bought it.
A little plywood, black paint, black automotive carpet, and rack rails. Piece o'cake.
After using strat-style guitars forever, I noticed a glowing review of the Godin LG in Guitar Player, and found myself ordering one. The LG is a Les Paul style guitar, with the shorter 24 ¾ scale neck. The model I have is solid mahogany, with a gorgeous transparent red finish and two red-hot Custom P90 single coil pickups. The Godin neck is incredibly comfortable to play, as is the general contour of the body. The mahogany is pretty heavy, but the weight is worth it when you hear notes sustain seemingly forever. I've never used a guitar with P90's before, and the ones in my Godin are fantastic. Using just the volume and tone knobs, I can swoop from clean and delicate to brash and loud. This is a guitar that can both swing and rock. The factory setup wasn't great, so I had Stephen White replace the nut and set it up. Now it plays beautifully. I string it with Thomastik-Infeld Superalloy 10's.