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But...I could buy some REAL amps...Instead?
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11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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But...I could buy some REAL amps...Instead?

So I live in Guitar Rig most of the time facing deadlines. But living in Guitar Rig makes one hunger for better guitar sounds. So I've been listening over the past months to YouTube videos of the Kemper, Axe, you name it....and for the most part, I keep coming away thinking "Geez for that kind of money I could buy a decent amp (or two maybe) for the small studio here and sound better than any of these boxes.

Has anyone else come to this conclusion? I mean I have a Blackface Dual Showman for clean stuff, I just need one good all around amp for that world of half distorted stuff, and maybe a few overdriven Marshall sounds and I'd be fine.

Any suggestions on a great small combo or even a head (I'd get a 2 12 cab) that wouldn't rival the Axe in cost? I mean, I do my parts in the day so I don't have to worry about waking anyone, and I just think it would sound better than these things (although I do like a lot of what I hear from the Axe, and zero of what I hear from the Kemper).

Thoughts?

TH
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11th May 2013
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The Blackstar HT5 will surprise you as a Marshall-esque recording head...

The Egnater Tweakers are also worth a look.
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11th May 2013
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Snag a used old Marshall JMP, a 2x12 with a Greenback and V30, and a nice OD pedal or two, maybe even a Bogner Red pedal. That should get you anywhere you need to go, save for super death-metal.
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11th May 2013
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Try the Randall RM series of amps with the plug in modules by Bruce Egnater, ridiculously flexible and sound great
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11th May 2013
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First up is the obvious question, what is your ideal sound? "Recommend me an amp" is like "How deep is a hole?", post a clip of how you want to sound, your ideal, because especially if you're used to a really terrible amp sim plugin your ideas of how a real amp sounds are going to be skewed from the real deal, not to mention that with certain eras of certain manufacturers every single amp they produced was different, but there may be a more consistent modern equivalent.

The next thing is to get real about recording guitar. There are tones of great amps out here, the question is do you have the space, mics, pres and chops to get them to sound great on record.

You may not like how the Kemper sounds but its brutally honest to how the individual amps themselves sound and feel through the kit used, and to the skill of the person micing them up, its dry. If you don't like that sound and prefer the more processed and polished tone then you're going to either be better served by a plugin or axe, or you'd better have some good engineering skills, because its really less about boutique or quality amplification and more about how you record and track with the real deal.

I've heard phenomenal tracks using little toy amplifiers and rubbish from dumbles, to get every tone out there or that these machines produce is going to cost you a lot more than an fx unit or a couple of amps In my opinion a better thread topic that would be more useful to you if you're serious would be tracking guitars, space, mics, pres and techniques. You should be able to get a better sound or at least closer to your own ideal, whatever that may be, (like I said post a clip) by spending more on the room and mic locker and perhaps a couple of pedals than on the amp.
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11th May 2013
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Tweeds break up really nice and record very well. Check out Victoria.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
The Blackstar HT5 will surprise you as a Marshall-esque recording head...

The Egnater Tweakers are also worth a look.
I have a tweaker, and it's pretty good... records well, though you need to dial it in as it can get a little fizzy at times.
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12th May 2013
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It all depends on how well you can mic an amp.

The great thing about the AxeFX II and Kemper is a lot of the dirty work is done for you when it comes to recording guitar parts. You don't have to deal with mic placement, loud amplifiers, and angry neighbors. Also, effects are big part of the AxeFX/Kemper units too.

I agree though, I prefer real amps. Could you get a few for the price of an AxeFX II? It depends. I consider the Mesa Boogie Road King/Roadster to be the ultimate studio amp because of the extreme versatility but they each cost more than a Kemper or AxeFxII. But then again, its "hardware vs. software," the amp will be relevant much longer than any digital unit.

As for suggestions: a used Mesa boogie Road King or Roadster! But seriously, if you can find a used combo I guarantee it will be cheap simply because of how much they weigh which is around 100 lbs.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
So I live in Guitar Rig most of the time facing deadlines. But living in Guitar Rig makes one hunger for better guitar sounds. So I've been listening over the past months to YouTube videos of the Kemper, Axe, you name it....and for the most part, I keep coming away thinking "Geez for that kind of money I could buy a decent amp (or two maybe) for the small studio here and sound better than any of these boxes.

Has anyone else come to this conclusion? I mean I have a Blackface Dual Showman for clean stuff, I just need one good all around amp for that world of half distorted stuff, and maybe a few overdriven Marshall sounds and I'd be fine.

Any suggestions on a great small combo or even a head (I'd get a 2 12 cab) that wouldn't rival the Axe in cost? I mean, I do my parts in the day so I don't have to worry about waking anyone, and I just think it would sound better than these things (although I do like a lot of what I hear from the Axe, and zero of what I hear from the Kemper).

Thoughts?

TH
Well you have the source and the recording chain here . Get both right and you will get a multitude of shades you will not be able to achieve with modern digital alternatives.
Amp will depend on your budget and style of music. A friend of mine who does a lot of "fast" projects but hates his AxeFxII has been using a marshall power amp (the gold panel one, 100W dual channel one) with a bunch of quite inexpensive pre's ( alembic, AMT, Matchless, demeter, ampeg...) These can be had quite cheaply and you build up your rig over time if you wish. He has 2/3 dual speaker cabs, open back and closed with different speakers in them. This allows him a huge variety and quality of tone which digital does not replicate.
As an owner of a Kemper (and having reasonable experience with AXEFX) I can tell you that what you have there is an extrapolation of a snapshot of any amp sound. Amps behave differently with different gain structure yet Digital cannot predict that behaviour. Therefore it starts to sound in-convincing and un-organic. Yet he gets a much better tone with his basic but quite versatile rig. Obviously we can do more with our huge collection but no one has complained of his sound yet.
Also digital emulators cannot emulate or extrapolate mic technique at all. And all speaker simulations I heard so far (and we own a few) pale in comparison with real speaker sound. Again Kemper only takes a snapshot but cannot behave like a real speaker cabinet.

Something like his setup is inexpensive an is very versatile. But there are specialised amps out there which are very inexpensive but will cater fo r their style very convinsingly
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12th May 2013
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Hey thanks Yuri, I will respond more fully in about 20 minutes....but first, as someone else suggested....I wanted to post a couple of examples of sounds I'd like to be able to have on hand.

How do we post mp3 examples up here in the easiest way?

Thanks
Tom
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Hey thanks Yuri, I will respond more fully in about 20 minutes....but first, as someone else suggested....I wanted to post a couple of examples of sounds I'd like to be able to have on hand.

How do we post mp3 examples up here in the easiest way?

Thanks
Tom
There is an attach files below the reply window
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12th May 2013
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Ah got it, thx I remember now Yuri.

OK here's 3 examples from some records of the kinds of sounds I find myself having to try to do, and sounds that I personally really like.

The "Fastest Girl" track is great example of that slightly overdriven sound that I find myself trying to get a lot.

The "Moonlight" track is a roomy sounding lead but the tone of the lead is my kind of thing. I contacted the producer....it was a Les Paul through a Bogner.

Finally, the last example is the WALL OF GUITARS IN THE CHORUS in a typical pop thing, love this sound.

So you can see I'm not going to be doing metal. It's pop, country, etc.

Also, I will get shot for saying this up here but....I don't think it's rocket science to mic a guitar cab. I just don't. I've watched Grammy winning engineers put a mic up on a cab, or a even a few feet away, walk away, and the track gets played back and sounds great. I know you can MAKE it rocket science...but I think the right sound in the studio, with someone playing it well, is over half the battle.

I have a modest front end. I have either the Bock 195 or an SM57 to use, and am using a Neve 88rlb into a Duet II. The Neve is very warm, very big sounding. I know I could get better mics, and will, and I will be upgrading the Duet ...most likely to the Symphony, this Summer.

Thanks for any thoughts. I do note that in all these examples there is a lot of room sound going on, so I imagine these amps have close up and room mics going on.

Tom
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Fastest Girl.mp3 (567.9 KB, 347 views)
File Type: mp3 Moonlight Lead.mp3 (298.5 KB, 279 views)
File Type: mp3 Pop Layers.mp3 (649.9 KB, 286 views)
#13
12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Ah got it, thx I remember now Yuri.

OK here's 3 examples from some records of the kinds of sounds I find myself having to try to do, and sounds that I personally really like.

The "Fastest Girl" track is great example of that slightly overdriven sound that I find myself trying to get a lot.

The "Moonlight" track is a roomy sounding lead but the tone of the lead is my kind of thing. I contacted the producer....it was a Les Paul through a Bogner.

Finally, the last example is the WALL OF GUITARS IN THE CHORUS in a typical pop thing, love this sound.

So you can see I'm not going to be doing metal. It's pop, country, etc.



Also, I will get shot for saying this up here but....I don't think it's rocket science to mic a guitar cab. I just don't. I've watched Grammy winning engineers put a mic up on a cab, or a even a few feet away, walk away, and the track gets played back and sounds great. I know you can MAKE it rocket science...but I think the right sound in the studio, with someone playing it well, is over half the battle.

I have a modest front end. I have either the Bock 195 or an SM57 to use, and am using a Neve 88rlb into a Duet II. The Neve is very warm, very big sounding. I know I could get better mics, and will, and I will be upgrading the Duet ...most likely to the Symphony, this Summer.

Thanks for any thoughts. I do note that in all these examples there is a lot of room sound going on, so I imagine these amps have close up and room mics going on.

Tom
The first example is kinda generic sound you can get with a number of blackface fenders but also with modern amps like %13, DrZ (quite inexpensive) or some other emulations of BF fenders made today. We had a gretsch going through a deluxe reverb 2 days ago in a session and it was that sound (or close as I am listening to an mp3 on computer speakers - sounds flat).
The second sound you can get with any number of "british sound" amps made today with el34's in the power section. Was that a Shiva? Or a duende? (6v6's can be made to do that too sorta)
The third sound too muddy for me on computer speakers to make out.

Speakers and room will play a big part in this. Mics not so much as long as you use a suitable type (ribbon, dynamic...). Placement does matter and will depend on the room, type of mic and the sound pressure.
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12th May 2013
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Hey Yuri...according to him it was a Bogner Ecstasy in the second channel. Rhythm guitars through a Matchless HC 85.

Curious...do you ever use slight limiting or comp on tracking stuff like this? I remember going through an LA3a while tracking guitars once and really liked it...

thx
Tom
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Hey Yuri...according to him it was a Bogner Ecstasy in the second channel. Rhythm guitars through a Matchless HC 85.

Curious...do you ever use slight limiting or comp on tracking stuff like this? I remember going through an LA3a while tracking guitars once and really liked it...

thx
Tom
Hey Tom. Never in tracking (unless someone wants to use a pedal for a country kinda feel) Occasionally in the mix for glue (very light or to grunge up the sound with something like sta-level or phoenix)
Ecstasy. Hmmm, I guess it does that "british" thing too to a point (I am not a huge fan of that amp). Wonder if it was the 120W el34 power section.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
"Geez for that kind of money I could buy a decent amp (or two maybe)
Know what`s the problem with the digital stuff? In 2, 3 years, something faster, stronger, prettier, more accurate and like-the-real-thing stuff comes up.

Buy a couple good quality small tube amps and you are already there for most stuff. In a couple years, when you`d be due buying the new greatest digital does-it-all, you buy a couple more to complement your arsenal and you are made. Forever.
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12th May 2013
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You can 2 heads and 2 cabs and be pretty covered. Get something British and something fender. Now get a closed back cab and an open back cab. You would be surprised how much the cab changes sound. I could do most sessions with that setup.

For crunch I really like divided by 13. For clean look for an old bandmaster or something.

Sometimes I take my tweed and 2 cabs to a session. I just switch cabs. I'm rarely asked to change amps.
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12th May 2013
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Good points all.

I have a store credit that would almost pay for a nice cab, and I've been looking at the Mesa Vertical Recto cab with 2 12 Celestions, anyone have any opinions on this cab?
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
You can 2 heads and 2 cabs and be pretty covered. Get something British and something fender. Now get a closed back cab and an open back cab. You would be surprised how much the cab changes sound. I could do most sessions with that setup.

For crunch I really like divided by 13. For clean look for an old bandmaster or something.

Sometimes I take my tweed and 2 cabs to a session. I just switch cabs. I'm rarely asked to change amps.
Have you checked out 3rd Power Cabs? This is another cab I hear amazing things about, it has the ability to alter whether it's open or closed...not cheap though but a lot of raves about it...

3RD POWER | Switchback
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Have you checked out 3rd Power Cabs? This is another cab I hear amazing things about, it has the ability to alter whether it's open or closed...not cheap though but a lot of raves about it...

3RD POWER | Switchback
Looks really interesting. I do like having different speakers though. I like Greenbacks in closed back cabs and Eminence legend 15" in my open.

But can't beat the flexibility of the switchback.
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I've also seen a few other cabinet makers that make the back removable. You can look around a bit and maybe find more speaker options.
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I have a few Egnater amps and I had a Tweaker 88 for a weekend, I sent it back, the Tourmaster is probably the best amp out of the Egnater line and then I'd look at either a used Mica Tol or maybe something like a Renegade. I found the tweaker to be a big disappointment.
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12th May 2013
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Scuffham S-Gear would get you close to those sounds its only $99 bucks and a free trial. Once I started using s-gear I stopped using my amps for recording its that good IMHO.
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12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
The Blackstar HT5 will surprise you as a Marshall-esque recording head...

The Egnater Tweakers are also worth a look.
I bought a Blackstar HTR5. (its got a little reverb in it, which is the "R")

It is a great Marshall style amp, pretty spot on, will get you pretty/very close to a Vox tube amp, and, I'd say 60% of a clean Fender amp.

I have a '67 BF Pro Reverb, and with the Blackstar, I'm covered for all the styles I want to play.
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13th May 2013
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Scuffham S-Gear would get you close to those sounds its only $99 bucks and a free trial. Once I started using s-gear I stopped using my amps for recording its that good IMHO.
Yeah I have it. It's a nice plug, but still a plug in. Not the same for me.

TH
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13th May 2013
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I bought a Blackstar HTR5. (its got a little reverb in it, which is the "R")

It is a great Marshall style amp, pretty spot on, will get you pretty/very close to a Vox tube amp, and, I'd say 60% of a clean Fender amp.

I have a '67 BF Pro Reverb, and with the Blackstar, I'm covered for all the styles I want to play.
Yeah I hear good things about that amp, and the Egnater Tweaker...

I'm mainly looking for those Marshall type things, and some Vox type chime, like you have the clean covered with the Showman...
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13th May 2013
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Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
I bought a Blackstar HTR5. (its got a little reverb in it, which is the "R")

It is a great Marshall style amp, pretty spot on, will get you pretty/very close to a Vox tube amp, and, I'd say 60% of a clean Fender amp.

I have a '67 BF Pro Reverb, and with the Blackstar, I'm covered for all the styles I want to play.
Good grief I just hear this thing here:
Blackstar HT-5R: Jamie Humphries solo track - YouTube

If that whole track was done with the combo that's some REALLY good news ...
TH
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The black star is an awesome amp, though for those tones I'd prefer a real plexi, you could also go there with a tweed deluxe imo, and a Mesa electradyne or transatlantic could also fit the bill. Tbh you should be able to achieve this with any reasonable mid gain amp (in fact you'll mostly get everyones personal favorites), but also easily with any amp sim, the Kemper eats those sorts of tones (I've even heard pod farm do passable stuff for those pop crunch tones), they're somewhat synthetic sounding pop tones anyway, the critical side in getting there is the arrangement/production which I'm pretty sure you've got sorted already so it sounds like you're more interested in just changing your workflow here. Recording a real amp isn't rocket science, but it can be surprising just how different it sounds in the room and on record, those engineers that just slap a mic on and it sounds fantastic have an awesome signal chain, room, amp, guitar, player and years of experience to make it look that easy and sound that good. It can be costly and take more time than you imagine to nail a tone and crisp full sound that you're after, certainly longer than dialing in an amp sim, do it right though and the results should be worth it and regardless should you find it's not for you it's still very informative about how you should approach guitar even with sims and what to listen for.
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Good grief I just hear this thing here:
Blackstar HT-5R: Jamie Humphries solo track - YouTube

If that whole track was done with the combo that's some REALLY good news ...
TH
Just like on that Comcast commercial "I'm Tryin to Tell Ya"

In my little home studio, put a sm-57 in front of it, through a very modest clean pre that has some some gain ('57's need gain! an FMR RNP) and I got that Marshall thing going.

I took it to a little jam with live acoustic drums and an amped bass and it gave me everything I wanted. On the Fender side it didn't quite have that bell like clean tone but honestly, if I were gigging, I probably would leave the BlackFace Pro Reverb home. (Too heavy and still too loud with a great attenuator and all the other tricks)

I think we've PM'd before? Maybe I'll send you a Dropbox link of something I did with it.
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If I could afford a Kemper I'd be all over one in a heartbeat.
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