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27th June 2012
Old 27th June 2012
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Advice to Guitarists

I know loud amps are cool. I own a few. They can be lots of fun but really when you show up to a session with a 50+ watt amp I think there is just one place you can put it…

If I could give one piece of advice to every guitarist it would be to start collecting the best sounding Low Watt amps you can find.

I’m tired of doing sessions where the guitarist “needs” to be in the room with the amp, turns the master volume down to 2, then turns up the suck-sizzly-12ax7hell-knob. And they wonder “why cant I sound like SRV with my coil split emgs, running into a POS TS clone and a ‘fender’ amp with the master on 2 and the pre on 9.

I say to thee fellow guitarists go forth and buy thine self a princtone reverb, a tweed champ, a tweed deluxe, an 18watt marshall, or any of the wonderful low wattage clones and spin offs out there on the market.

Because I swear the next cold as nails take I have to listen to with angry-wasp-hell-plate-melting-12ax7 distortion is going to result in me kicking shins.

(btw this is not about metal or any of those genres it’s about crafting good tones, regardless of your genre, in and out of the studio. If your amp is too loud for your drummer you need to rethink.)

Ok flame on. Tell me why everyone needs a 200watt marshall major and how your sure high wattage amps are the only way to get good tone.
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#2
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTbreaker View Post
I know loud amps are cool. I own a few. They can be lots of fun but really when you show up to a session with a 50+ watt amp I think there is just one place you can put it…

If I could give one piece of advice to every guitarist it would be to start collecting the best sounding Low Watt amps you can find.

I’m tired of doing sessions where the guitarist “needs” to be in the room with the amp, turns the master volume down to 2, then turns up the suck-sizzly-12ax7hell-knob. And they wonder “why cant I sound like SRV with my coil split emgs, running into a POS TS clone and a ‘fender’ amp with the master on 2 and the pre on 9.

I say to thee fellow guitarists go forth and buy thine self a princtone reverb, a tweed champ, a tweed deluxe, an 18watt marshall, or any of the wonderful low wattage clones and spin offs out there on the market.

Because I swear the next cold as nails take I have to listen to with angry-wasp-hell-plate-melting-12ax7 distortion is going to result in me kicking shins.

(btw this is not about metal or any of those genres it’s about crafting good tones, regardless of your genre, in and out of the studio. If your amp is too loud for your drummer you need to rethink.)

Ok flame on. Tell me why everyone needs a 200watt marshall major and how your sure high wattage amps are the only way to get good tone.
My main amp is a Fender 40 watt tube and it's more than enough. Trouble is the best sound is with it going pretty loud. It's a tube amp. Like 3 or 4 out of 10 on the knob is plenty loud.
Really depends on what music you play.
Look at bands like Radiohead, MMJ, Pat Metheny, the list goes on.
They use smaller combo amps that are less than 50 watts.
Put an SM57 in front and use the mixer for volume. This is especially good when you are like me and use lots of effects like multiple delay units at different delay times and subtle modulations (as opposed to flangers and phasers). These will distort and not sound good at loud volumes. Just not necessary.
When I was a kid I used to dig the Marshalls and Mesa Rectifiers, etc when I played death metal. But I grew out of playing loud as hell. Mellowed out with age.
I love my Fender HR Deluxe. One of the best clean channels out there and nice overdrive either with or without a distortion pedal.
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#3
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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The amp is hugely dependent on the music. 18w amps don't sound the same as 100w amps, neither is better or worse, it depends on the needs.

EVH sounded pretty darn good with his 100w marshall and SRV sounded pretty darn good with his 50w bassman.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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First post... Weird way to break into the gearslutz forums considering the amount of lurking I've done over the past couple years.

Anyways, being a drummer I completely understand where you are coming from PTbreaker. I've been in two bands and it has always been a battle of people saying they can't hear themselves. Bass player can't hear any definition, turns up... Guitarist only hears bass being across the room and in direct path of the bass cab, turns up.. Other guitarist hears he is the weakest in the room and "out of balance" with everyone else, turns up... Soon enough I'm playing my balls off and can't hear my own kick drum right in front of me. So after getting into an argument with a guitarist about how I'm the loudest in the room and not him I decided to stop playing the kick drum completely to see if anyone could tell or notice... NOPE.. They even went on to pat each other on the back about how good of a run through we just had..

I'd really like to know, and I'm not being sarcastic, why 100, 150, 200 watt class A tubes amps for guitars exist. Is there a legitimate purpose for that kind of power?? Both guitarists I work with now have moderate 35 watt and 40 watt heads and have more than enough volume and headroom for a full concert or practice.. So where are these large heads needed? They don't work on a small stage because they will outgun any medium sized p.a. system. And on a large stage you will most certainly be running through a sm57 or 421 or the like. Plus a large f.o.h. system will have more than adequate monitoring so you won't need huge stage volume there either. Can someone explain this in terms other than "because they can"??

/rant
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
First post... Weird way to break into the gearslutz forums considering the amount of lurking I've done over the past couple years.

Anyways, being a drummer I completely understand where you are coming from PTbreaker. I've been in two bands and it has always been a battle of people saying they can't hear themselves. Bass player can't hear any definition, turns up... Guitarist only hears bass being across the room and in direct path of the bass cab, turns up.. Other guitarist hears he is the weakest in the room and "out of balance" with everyone else, turns up... Soon enough I'm playing my balls off and can't hear my own kick drum right in front of me. So after getting into an argument with a guitarist about how I'm the loudest in the room and not him I decided to stop playing the kick drum completely to see if anyone could tell or notice... NOPE.. They even went on to pat each other on the back about how good of a run through we just had..

I'd really like to know, and I'm not being sarcastic, why 100, 150, 200 watt class A tubes amps for guitars exist. Is there a legitimate purpose for that kind of power?? Both guitarists I work with now have moderate 35 watt and 40 watt heads and have more than enough volume and headroom for a full concert or practice.. So where are these large heads needed? They don't work on a small stage because they will outgun any medium sized p.a. system. And on a large stage you will most certainly be running through a sm57 or 421 or the like. Plus a large f.o.h. system will have more than adequate monitoring so you won't need huge stage volume there either. Can someone explain this in terms other than "because they can"??

/rant
Welcome to GS! Mr Drummer!

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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AyA View Post
Do you track drums?
Yes, though I'm not sure how it's relevant.

I'm not saying that loud high wattage amps are bad.

I'm saying that in the studio it's better to bring in an amp that can breath in its power section rather than bringing in a big am and killing its tone by putting the master volume on 2.

I'm not anti loud. I'm against bad tone. It's not a genre thing.

It's cool if you have a peavy 6505 (metal amp), and it sounds great opened up. But is it really practical to track with? What if you have to be in the same room as that? What if your band is going for a live vibe and you only have a live room to work with?

I remember talking to someone that owned a fender twin (as I have too) and they mentioned that it is great for cleans but always sound cold as they are never able to turn it up past 2 or 3...

Bands come in expecting the noise war that they experience at practice/on stage to be relevant in the studio. It's not. there's nothing to compete with when there is a mic 3" off the cone.

I'm just ranting at this point... anyhow yay small amps. I like em. I think they are more practical.
#7
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
Can someone explain this in terms other than "because they can"??
High powered guitar amps exist for a multitude of reasons:

1) Some people actually do need the wattage when playing large venues and running multiple 4x12s
2) Headroom - a small wattage amp will not be able to stay clean and be able to compete with a drummer, not everyone uses distortion all the time.
3) The tone and response of the amp is different. This is especially true for higher gain and heavier tones. 50w amps don't generally sound as good or as punchy as a 100w Mesa, Diezel, Bogner, etc, when you need that certain oomph 100w is usually the way to go.

So yes you can mic amps, but it really comes down to the tone you are going for. In practice I would say you need at least 30w to be able to stay clean and compete with a rock drummer.

Also it should be pointed out the the watt/volume relationship is not linear. A 100w amp is not twice as loud as a 50w. Speakers also have a hug impact on perceived loudness.

Bottom line is you should choose the amp based on the situation and tone desired, there is no one size fits all solution.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
First post... Weird way to break into the gearslutz forums considering the amount of lurking I've done over the past couple years.

Anyways, being a drummer I completely understand where you are coming from PTbreaker. I've been in two bands and it has always been a battle of people saying they can't hear themselves. Bass player can't hear any definition, turns up... Guitarist only hears bass being across the room and in direct path of the bass cab, turns up.. Other guitarist hears he is the weakest in the room and "out of balance" with everyone else, turns up... Soon enough I'm playing my balls off and can't hear my own kick drum right in front of me. So after getting into an argument with a guitarist about how I'm the loudest in the room and not him I decided to stop playing the kick drum completely to see if anyone could tell or notice... NOPE.. They even went on to pat each other on the back about how good of a run through we just had..



/rant
Welcome to GS

I've experienced this kind of thing many times. My Ac30 is plenty loud for the music I play. Like Verve mentioned 40 watts is more than loud enough.

I think the problem is people equate big sound with big amps. They dont realize that mic technique and post production has a lot to do with it. I've heard big amps sound wimpy and thin and small amps sound like tear-your-face-off the tsunami is coming.

Last edited by PTbreaker; 28th June 2012 at 09:22 AM.. Reason: typo, yeah I'm neurotic
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTbreaker View Post
Y
It's cool if you have a peavy 6505 (metal amp), and it sounds great opened up. But is it really practical to track with? What if you have to be in the same room as that? What if your band is going for a live vibe and you only have a live room to work with?
Sometimes you need that 6505/5150 tone, especially for metal. For live recording use baffles and gobos to cut down on things. Amp attenuators can be useful too, although sometimes they suck out too much tone. Plus don't forget about the speakers, they have a volume sweet spot as well, and sometimes you need to push a lot of air for them to sound their best. Also the dynamic mics like SM57s tend to sound better with louder amps.

Smaller wattage amps are great studio tools, they are just not right for every situation.
#10
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTbreaker View Post
Welcome to GS

I've experienced this kind of thing many times. My Ac30 is plenty loud for the music I play. Live Verve mentioned 40 watts is more than loud enough.

I think the problem is people equate big sound with big amps. They dont realize that mic technique and post production has a lot to do with it. I've heard big amps sound wimpy and thin and small amps sound like tear-your-face-off the tsunami is coming.
Excellent point, excellent amp the AC 30. Maybe one of the most diverse amps ever. I know a guy who gets killer clean channel stuff, then hooks up a good modeler and gets killer heavy metal tones. Very unique sounding, you know when its an AC 30.
To reiterate, yes the sound your after should dictate the amp. But tube are key for me. Say you have digital effects, but don't want to kill the tube tone, just put it in the effects loop and you still havbe pure tube tone through the power amp. Smaller amps can do loud metal stuff, but a Marshall stack would not do subtle very well.
#11
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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What about a thd hot plate. You guys are saying that the master volume sucks tone, but if you kept an attenuator to go between the head and cab for session work would that be better?
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tplaysguitar View Post
What about a thd hot plate. You guys are saying that the master volume sucks tone, but if you kept an attenuator to go between the head and cab for session work would that be better?
I have mixed feelings about attenuaters but overall I feel they are a better solution than wandering into fizzy 12ax7 hell.

In my defense I'm linking two clips to demonstrate big tone from low wattage amps. I know the second one is cheating kinda but I've had a hard time finding good demos of low wattage metalish amps. I dont know why someone would post a "tone demo" of an amp clipping the input section on their camcorder but that is a different rant.

Tungsten Mosaic Amp Part 1 demo by Greg V. - YouTube <--champ style circuit. Notice the sm7b whoda thunk.

Mesa + Orange Dark Terror Tonality Test - YouTube <--ok yeah I know there is a boogie in this. but seriously shut your eyes and listen. which side sounds sound thicker? my ears tell me it's the left. That's the orange.
#13
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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My main rig for a while was an SG standard with a Mesa dual rectifier and a 1960A cab. Then I bought myself an acoustic and never looked back.
#14
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Sorry to de-rail, but what is up with the extremely terrible Close Captioning of youtube now?? Can I shut it off? Last night it was a German dude speaking english, and I don't think it got 1 word correct. Stupid.

Back to regular programming.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Seems to me that stacks have become part of the Rock n Roll schtick. It's a stage look from before Clair Bros and Showco got their acts together; pre-Woodstock years. Although, I know plenty of instances where empty stacks are visible and a 15 watter is miced up behind the back line.

One first-hand I know right now; a very big tour just getting going across Europe with a few stacks visible, and a miced AC 30 behind. The look is still important as part of the show.

In the studio, it's really never been necessary, IMO. Seems that most metal tone comes from pups and pedals, although I'm not familiar with the subtleties of 6505/5150 tone. Maybe something there, but not for the audience. Maybe .5% would recognize the difference on a good day. YMMV, of course.

As long as there's Rock n Roll, players and audiences will love the look of stacks.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Fletcher-Munson curves.

Louder sounds better, but that doesn't mean that the amp needs to be loud, only that the perception of louder sounds makes us believe that it sounds better.

This is a sensitive and multi-layered topic for sure, but it is possible that the "better tone" of a loud amp is more the result of the way the sound is perceived rather than the amp actually producing a more pleasant tone.

This can either mean:

Loud high wattage amp = great tone

or:

Low wattage + better (or louder) monitoring = great tone
#17
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisc_o View Post
This is a sensitive and multi-layered topic for sure, but it is possible that the "better tone" of a loud amp is more the result of the way the sound is perceived rather than the amp actually producing a more pleasant tone.
Possible, but not probable. Power tube saturation and speaker cone breakup are some reasons why louder amps sound better.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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we were getting a bunch of prototypes from an amp builder named donovan that was making only low watt amps and they blew the standard hi watt amps out of the water in recording situations. a studio i worked at for a few years got an emerysound low watt head with a 1x10 cab and that shit was the most versatile amp ever. you could hot swap the tubes and it came with a box full of different tubes with descriptions of what to put in where to get different tones.
#19
28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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and i'm not trying to sell anyone on these guys, but we got better tone than a vintage jmp and an orange head (don't remember the model).
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Possible, but not probable. Power tube saturation and speaker cone breakup are some reasons why louder amps sound better.
Johnnyc, it's easier to get power tube saturation, output transformer saturation, and (depending on the speaker) cone breakup, with smaller amps.
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28th June 2012
Old 28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Possible, but not probable. Power tube saturation and speaker cone breakup are some reasons why louder amps sound better.
I'd say it's as probable as the placebo-like effect of A/B tests where it is discovered that the preferred choice is the exact same as the alternative, only having been made the teensiest bit louder.

This happens all the time when demoing, for example, a compressor where it is really the make-up gain that is making one think that it is sounding better than the unprocessed signal.


It happens all the time. Don't underestimate the effect of sheer volume when monitoring any source.

You may be correct, though. I'm really just hypothesizing for the purposes of the discussion.
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28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTbreaker View Post
Johnnyc, it's easier to get power tube saturation, output transformer saturation, and (depending on the speaker) cone breakup, with smaller amps.
Yup, small amps can be great for getting it at lower volumes. There is still a tonal difference though, an EL84 breaks up sooner than an EL34, they just don't sound exactly the same.
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28th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisc_o View Post
It happens all the time. Don't underestimate the effect of sheer volume when monitoring any source.
I agree, and don't want to completely discount the sheer volume aspect. Just for me personally I enjoy the amp tone more when it's loud, even if I'm not in the same room. In fact I'ld rather not be in the same room when cranked and prefer hearing it in the control room at lower levels.
#24
29th June 2012
Old 29th June 2012
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Are you for real trying to tell guitarist to use their EARS???

lololloll
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29th June 2012
Old 29th June 2012
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Originally Posted by wakestyle View Post
Are you for real trying to tell guitarist to use their EARS???

lololloll
yeah I guess if it's not loud enough to make your bits wobble between your legs it must not sound good.
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29th June 2012
Old 29th June 2012
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What makes you think that everyone either wants or needs power tube distortion? I play jazz with a few high-wattage Mesa stereo rack rigs. None of them are anywhere near cooking, but stay clean no matter how hard I dig in. That's what I want, and why I use 100W/side stereo.
#27
29th June 2012
Old 29th June 2012
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My main amps are my 35-watt Two Rock, a 60-watt Silvertone Twin Twelve which sounds good at all volumes, 60's 22-watt Fender Deluxe, 50 watt Plexi and a 3-watt lexicon rig. Most of my sessions are at home studios, though more and more I'm going to the bigger studios.
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2nd July 2012
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I own four guitar amps and three of them are under 30 watts. And the loudest one is my 10 watt '58 Fender tweed Harvard

Loud is not just the wattage.
#29
3rd July 2012
Old 3rd July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
why 100, 150, 200 watt class A tubes amps for guitars exist.
Most guitar amps in that watt range are Class AB, not Class A.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
Is there a legitimate purpose for that kind of power??
For studio work? Not really. If for some odd reason you 'must' have the specific tone of a 100+ watt amp's power section completely saturated, you can always slave the amp to a very very clean and uncolored solid state amp via a reactive loadbox to get a more manageable volume out of the speaker and STILL get all the tone from the power section of your favorite 1.21 gigawatt all tube head. But, if the whole point IS to heavily saturate the power section, then that's even MORE of a reason to use a low wattage amplifier. For even the most brutal modern metal this earth has experienced (on a recording) you would need no more than a 50 watt amp (most MODERN metal tones [not classic metal like Judas Priest, etc] do not use heavily saturated power sections at all, most of the distortion tone comes from the preamp section).
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3rd July 2012
Old 3rd July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LogWagon View Post
I'd really like to know, and I'm not being sarcastic, why 100, 150, 200 watt class A tubes amps for guitars exist.
Actually they're class AB. Class AB idles the power tubes with no signal thus they run cooler, but the power tube(s) are never idle with class A. Class A amps are very inefficient and generate a lot of heat even in the 5-10 watt range. Under that amount of heat they eat power tubes a lot quicker. Class A is only practical for really low wattage.

Why do 100-200 watt guitar amps exist? Because back in the 1960s PAs were either nonexistent or not very good. By the early 1970s a good PA was $$$ and they still weren't that great. When the Beatles were at their peak, the screams from the audience were so loud that they couldn't hear themselves and the screams drowned out the PA. That was one of the reasons they stopped performing live. For everybody else, back then the only solution was bigger guitar amps.

Also driving the bigger amps back then was styles such as country and R&B that wanted clean sound with lots of headroom. Those 100w amps in the 1960s weren't initially intended for overdrive, they were marketed for clean sound on loud stages.

In today's world of advanced sound systems there is no need for big guitar amps anymore, esp in a small club. Too many guitar players who want to be the next Eddie Van Halen find it hard to give up the visual impact of full marshall stacks behind them.
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