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Little Amps, Big Sound
Old 22nd May 2006
  #31
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frans's Avatar
With a 5 watt amp you can make the preamp tubes work a bit and the poweramp section tubes work a lot - THAT is, what small amps are about: poweramp distortion. It is totally different from preamp distortion. Of course you can turn up your 100 watts head all the way and mic that - allthough you really need a (fitting, treated, good sounding) big room for that as the mic will want to be placed a bit more distant from the cab, not because of high volume/mic overload but because the different frequencies "meet", say 2 feet from the cab instead of, say, 1/2 foot with the volume down. Some of the newer amps won't let you turn up without preamp distortion...so they don't sound so much different loud or half-loud.
Anyway, experiment with all kinds of cabs, big and small.
For a cover of "surfing bird" I once mic'd an electric razor instead of a guitar... I mean, it is just one chord anyway, is it?
Old 22nd May 2006
  #32
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightsun
"Bees in a can" great expression, never heard it before! Is that origional?
That's something I heard somewhere. I adjusted the threshold and attack a bit, and now it's mine.

David Brown
Old 22nd May 2006
  #33
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deaddeaddead
i keep hearing things about recording with small amps sounding bigger than if you were to play through, say, two 4x12"s... is this true? is everyone in agreement on this, or it just a rumour? what did i miss? whats the science behind that?
Obviously the amp, room and mic placement are important variables in a guitar sound. In my experience, the actual player is the most important variable as they will make an amp sing regardless of size. For example, Clapton on the John Mayall's Bluesbreaker album used a Les Paul Standard through a fifty watt Marshall combo; then on Cream's Disraeli Gears he used a 335 or SG through full 100 watt stacks; and then on Derek & the Dominoes he primarily used Blackie, the nearly $1,000,000 mongrel Strat through a Fender Tweed Champ. While different in tone, the same player created huge sounds on pretty different amps with different guitars. Who knows how many different amps & guitars Hendrix or Page used in the studio(BTW after Zeppelin II, Page pretty much used a 100 watt half stack for the rest of the Zeppelin's recording career. I believe a Fender Telecaster & a Supro Thunderbolt wer used on Zeppelin 1. The Supro is a 30 watt amplifier with a 15" speaker-not exactly that tiny of an amp).

With that being said, small combos offer more options with mic placement. In a medium sized room, a 15 watt amp can cause less bleed into other microphones. A single speaker combo amp has less mud than a 4x12 closed back cab-an open backed combo will typically cut through a mix better due to this lack of mud. To get a huge guitar sound, you need to use whatever works. All you can do is experiment with your options. What amps are you using? How big is your room or wherever you record? The guitar pickup type, humbucker vs single coil, also has a huge influence on how the amp will react as well. Good luck on your search for tone.

Audible
Old 22nd May 2006
  #34
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HudHudson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku
And Derek and the Dominos with Fender Champs.
And Clapton's first solo record had a Champ all over it, too...just listen to the solos in "Let It Rain."

One of my favorite small amps is the 20 watt Marshall PA 20 head. I'd plug that into my '69 basketweave 4x12 and it was rock city.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #35
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deaddeaddead
i keep hearing things about recording with small amps sounding bigger than if you were to play through, say, two 4x12"s... is this true? is everyone in agreement on this, or it just a rumour? what did i miss? whats the science behind that?
Are you asking about wattage? physical amp size? speaker size?

If you are talking about wattage, there's a lot of people that use loads, like the THD Hotplate to get the speaker distortion they want without having to imitate the opening scene of Back To The Future. Some people do this out of necessity (apartment recording), some to prolong their speakerlife, and some (probably most) for the sound.

Be sure to check out the Z vex Nanohead. It's .5 watts and screams bloody murder. Most of the settings have a great squeezed sound.

All this said, I don't know anyone using low wattage amps or load setups for "clean" guitar tones. I've been loving the REDDI direct, or the Mesa Boogie lonestar line for that stuff these days, but I've heard a lot of people hate them (lonestars) for clean tones so to each his/her own.
Old 20th June 2006
  #36
Here for the gear
 

Figured I'd chime in - I'm getting ginormous sounds out of a Marshall MG15CDR - that's a 15-watt amp, mind you. It took me quite a while to learn mic placement, but that's my issue, not the amps. I use two settings, one with the Contour at 9 o'clock for crunchy, buzzy metal, and one with the Countour at 10 and a half o'clock for a more even, bright sound - both with the Gain at 3 o'clock. Not bad for the size (or money).
Old 20th June 2006
  #37
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nathanvacha's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DestroyYouAlot
Figured I'd chime in - I'm getting ginormous sounds out of a Marshall MG15CDR - that's a 15-watt amp, mind you. It took me quite a while to learn mic placement, but that's my issue, not the amps. I use two settings, one with the Contour at 9 o'clock for crunchy, buzzy metal, and one with the Countour at 10 and a half o'clock for a more even, bright sound - both with the Gain at 3 o'clock. Not bad for the size (or money).
Wow, I vote we bestow upon you the honorary title of 'Super Engineer' if you can get good guitar sound out of a marshall mgheh.
Old 20th June 2006
  #38
Gear Addict
 

Check out the 5W Epiphone Valve Junior. The combo is available for around $139 and the head for $100. Avoid the earlier version with hum. The new one is VERY quiet and loves pedals. Great tube tone. Google and you'll find simple mods that take it to a higher level, although many seem to love it right out of the box. After experimenting with low-wattage amps for a year or so, and owning a Songworks 1/4W, I have to say this really is quite an amazing amp for the price. For myself, it is exactly what I was looking for.
Old 20th June 2006
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle
Check out the 5W Epiphone Valve Junior. The combo is available for around $139 and the head for $100. Avoid the earlier version with hum. The new one is VERY quiet and loves pedals. Great tube tone. Google and you'll find simple mods that take it to a higher level, although many seem to love it right out of the box. After experimenting with low-wattage amps for a year or so, and owning a Songworks 1/4W, I have to say this really is quite an amazing amp for the price. For myself, it is exactly what I was looking for.
It's a great amp, especially for the price. Not simply a great $100 amp. I changed a preamp tube and two resistors and it made all the difference. Mine gets used often and I have quite a few amps to choose from.

Back on topic, I've never heard anything about small amps sounding bigger. In fact, all of my small amps get fed to an attenuator, then a vintage Marshall 4x12. The point of the small amp is to get the power tubes cooking, as previously stated. Not that there aren't other uses. You can get some cool verb with a champ in a big empty room. Or if you're looking for some barking mids, those 6 & 8 inch alnico speakers can deliver. These amps tend to have very little headroom and break up very early on the volume knob, so probably not the best amp for cleans.
Old 21st June 2006
  #40
Gear Maniac
 
Bolt Thrower's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightsun
This tweaked my intererst and tried to get a price and can't find much. Is it out of production?
Sorry man, I just realized that I never answered this. Yes, the Sig284 has been out of production since 2000. Apparently it's a pretty sad tale. The designer (John McIntyre) worked for Lace Music, makers of the strat pickups and such. Then some sort of business conflict came up between Lexicon and Lace; Lexicon was only distributing the amp and Lace made it. This I heard from a story on the Harmony Central Sig284 user reviews page, where a guy needed tech support and they passed him on to Lace.

According to the story, Lace was stuck with the parts for 300 amps that were never built. Perhaps Lexicon wanted to own the design, and without that it wasn't worth their time to distribute. That could possibly make sense, given that Lexicon's original motive with the amp was for great-sounding sales demos of their reverb units.

Newsflash:

There is a Signature 284 for sale on eBay! $569 as a Buy It Now, which I think is a solid deal. According to Harmony Central, people have paid $450-$999 for them since they were discontinued. Original MSRP was $1099.
Old 21st June 2006
  #41
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AdamJay's Avatar
 

i picked up a 1962 Harmony H303A on ebay for $135

5 watts
original 6" Jensen Speaker
original Westinghouse and RCA tubes.

the thing exudes Blues. i can't stop using this amp. Its very similar to a Champ but without the breakup the Champ gives you when you turn it up to 6 through 10.
The Harmony on 10 sounds alot like the Champ on 6, and is just about the same volume as well. But its also very wooley. The cabinet is made out of this wierd old 50's era composite board, like the stuff they made cheaper console (furniture) TV's out of. The whole damn amp probably weighs no more than 5 lbs.
Anyways, that cabinet and the 50C5 output tube really give it this tone that i've never heard another amp come close to.

I love my Vibro Champ but if you can find an H303A and you record any kind of guitars besides palm-muted metal - you'll get lots of mileage out of this amp for recording.

Only thing to be concerned with this old Harmony amps is it doesn't use 6L6's, 12AX7's, or the EL34's that alot of folks are used to.
It uses a 35W4, a 50C5, and a 12AU6. You can usually find these on eBay and RCA is the most popular brand for tubes of these types, it seems. I lucked out and found a couple old 60's Zenith mantle radios at an antique store for $5 a piece. I salvaged 2 each of the tubes the Harmony uses from these. All Zenith branded and they sound great. I've seen mixed sets of these tubes (RCA/GE) on eBay for $5/set.
Old 21st June 2006
  #42
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AdamJay's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
I don't do much metal recording so I'm very curious--what particular small combo amp would be suitable for metal sounds? Do the metal guys consider a 50 watt 1x12 combo to be a "small" amp? When I think of small I think of 15 watt Fenders or Ampeg 1x10's or 1x12's. And I've never been able to get a metal tone out of either without sticking some kind of metal-sounding distortion pedal in front. And even then it's not the same as a 5150 or similar.

Brad
Check out the Randall RM20B.
its part of the MTS system. I use the XTC (Bogner-ish) and 1086 (Plexi/Rectifier/NuMetal) modules with it. Have had it for a couple weeks now and its doing the metal thing just right.

20 watts and one 12" Greenback, also has a "tube boost" section which is like a tube screamer built into the preamp section.

big sound for sure.

two "metal guys" have came in since i picked it up and both decided not to use their pods and use the Randall instead. Which was my initial goal. Get the kids off the ****ing pods!!
Old 21st June 2006
  #43
Led
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Led's Avatar
"without having to imitate the opening scene of Back To The Future"
Oh man I loved that scene sooooo much when I was younger. Interesting to note that for lead stuff, you can get amazing amounts of feedback from 5 to 6 watt amps without damaging the guitarist's or your hearing.
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