Amp Tones, Amp Knobs and Effects Pedals...


RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/29/2010 6:50 pm
So..... I hope to have a meaningful converstion with folks here about our quest for just the right amp for the tones we seek.

We decide that we want a new amp. Lets just say tube amp for the moment, not a SS or hybrid, just a solid tube amp. We go out onto the internet, we seek, read, ask questions.

Also we know that we have an array of pedals. Ok, maybe not everyone, but for the sake of arugment here, this is about people who DO use them.

Often we read a review on an amp that says things like :
* Great Tone
* Has a very nice distored sound on the dirty channel
* Has a very nice clean sound on the clean channel


For the most part, everyone says that about every amp. Sure, there are some who will blindly say, oh no, that amp SUCKS. I couldn't get that amp do do anything. Whatever... I don't buy into blanket statements like that and always ignore them.

So, what am I getting at? What I'm getting at is this.

==== 1 =====
If you take two equilivent tube amps, say 50watts, pushing a 2x12 cab. And you know you're going to be thowing pedals in front of it (or in an effects loop) does it really matter which amp you buy? Afterall, you're GOING to color the tone anyway.

==== 2 =====
If you're going to be using a distortion pedal anyway, do you REALLY need an amp that has a dirty channel? I had a peavy valveking 100w half-stack, I played through the dirty channel with my distortion. I didn't care for it.

==== 3 =====
Again, if you're using all your pedals, does it REALLY make much difference if an amp even has tone controls?

Soooo... I'm thinking for the guy/gal using pedals, you could have a very simplistic amp.
* Single Channel
* Volume control
* Preamp
* Effects loop
* Power amp


I'm bringing this up because I'm dying to build a tube amp. I've seen many kits out there. And my assumptions, even if they are nieve, are that you could get away with a very simplistic design and still have one hell of a whooper that sounded outstanding without all the bells and whistles.


Thoughts?
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# 1
drf46
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drf46
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01/30/2010 1:57 am
[QUOTE
I'm bringing this up because I'm dying to build a tube amp. I've seen many kits out there. And my assumptions, even if they are nieve, are that you could get away with a very simplistic design and still have one hell of a whooper that sounded outstanding without all the bells and whistles.[/QUOTE]

I agree with you sir.....both Weber and Mojo make some nice kits for reasonable prices......and Im sure you can find many other kits available.
Doug
# 2
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/30/2010 3:37 am
Hey Doug...
I've heard of Weber and Mojo. I've also see these DIY kits.

http://www.ax84.com/classicprojects.html
You can buy the kits that ax84.com has from here
http://shop.dobermanamps.com/?Click=363


But, what I REALLY want to build is by Metroamp... I want to build their 100w Marshall Plexi clone. http://metroamp.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=44 :cool:
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Razbo
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Razbo
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01/30/2010 3:38 am
I know little about amps, but I will give you my 2 cents anyway...

Originally Posted by: RickBlacker
==== 1 =====
If you take two equilivent tube amps, say 50watts, pushing a 2x12 cab. And you know you're going to be thowing pedals in front of it (or in an effects loop) does it really matter which amp you buy? Afterall, you're GOING to color the tone anyway.
[/quote]

It definitely does. Do any of your amps or pedals have amp modeling?

Originally Posted by: RickBlacker
==== 2 =====
If you're going to be using a distortion pedal anyway, do you REALLY need an amp that has a dirty channel? I had a peavy valveking 100w half-stack, I played through the dirty channel with my distortion. I didn't care for it.
[/quote]

There's a time & place for everything imo. :)

[QUOTE=RickBlacker]
==== 3 =====
Again, if you're using all your pedals, does it REALLY make much difference if an amp even has tone controls?


It sort of doesn't. I generally keep the amp settings static, however when switching guitars, I can get a quick adjustment to compensate for difference without messing with my pedals.

[QUOTE=RickBlacker]
And my assumptions, even if they are nieve, are that you could get away with a very simplistic design and still have one hell of a whooper that sounded outstanding without all the bells and whistles.

Thoughts?


Definitely agree! My thoughts on the matter do not contradict your assumption one bit! :)
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 4
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/30/2010 4:08 am
Originally Posted by: Razbo
It definitely does. Do any of your amps or pedals have amp modeling?


Not talking about modeling amps like line 6 or peavey vipers... I'm talking raw tube only. Don't be clouding things now....
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# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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01/30/2010 6:24 am
Originally Posted by: RickBlacker
==== 1 =====
If you take two equilivent tube amps, say 50watts, pushing a 2x12 cab. And you know you're going to be thowing pedals in front of it (or in an effects loop) does it really matter which amp you buy? Afterall, you're GOING to color the tone anyway.
[/quote]
It absolutely can make a difference. Plug a guitar and pedals into a 50W Fender tube amp (Bassman, or Super Reverb, for example). and then plug the same guitar and pedals into a 50W Marshall JCM800.

Fender and Marshall are only the beginning of the biggest divide between amp tones. In between and around those on a continuum you have the classic chimey Vox, the barky Orange, the mixture of Plexi & Twin in the Mesa Boogie.

I grant non-guitarists might not recognize the difference. But, I guarantee you can learn to recognize the difference.

And it all comes down to amp design; to how the circuitry is designed to light up the pre-amp and power amp tubes that it runs.

Originally Posted by: RickBlacker
==== 2 =====
If you're going to be using a distortion pedal anyway, do you REALLY need an amp that has a dirty channel? I had a peavy valveking 100w half-stack, I played through the dirty channel with my distortion. I didn't care for it.
[/quote]
Not necessarily. But you aren't going to get the same type of "dirt" without a pre-amp gain stage. Any distortion or overdrive pedal is really only going to help you focus or tighten the sound (via clipping and or compression). You still need the "natural dirt" that comes from tube saturation (pre-amp tubes & power amp tubes). Otherwise you are only going to get that "buzz" and "furry fuzz" sound.

And since you are looking at it like this, I'd like to put in my favorite 2 cents on the subject: why not get an amp with an awesome gain stage so you don't need a distortion pedal at all? :)
[QUOTE=RickBlacker]
==== 3 =====
Again, if you're using all your pedals, does it REALLY make much difference if an amp even has tone controls?

Only if you don't want to have control over the EQ frequencies. I've seen plenty of amps with a "Tone" knob instead of 3 or 4 tone controls. Some work fine, some don't. My Reason Bambino has a Normal channel with only one "Tone" knob. And it is so expressive (covers so much variation in EQ spectrum bass, mid, treble) it is perfect.
[QUOTE=RickBlacker]
I'm bringing this up because I'm dying to build a tube amp.

Sounds like a fun project! Best of success with it.

You might get some better feedback on the Gear Page. I'm sure some of the gearheads over there have experience with that sort of thing. Not to mention all the actual amp designers and builders that are regulars over there:

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/

Search "amp+kits". I am sure you will get more info than you could ever use. :)

I think you have a good idea with only including the necessary components ("without all the bells and whistles"). But that assumes you know which are the necessary ones, and how best to put them together.
Christopher Schlegel
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Razbo
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Razbo
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01/30/2010 12:39 pm
Originally Posted by: RickBlackerNot talking about modeling amps like line 6 or peavey vipers... I'm talking raw tube only. Don't be clouding things now....


Sorry, I should have been clearer. If you some have amp modeling available, you can judge for yourself the answer to that question. Although an amp's DSP or a modeling pedal is just that: a model and not the real thing, you should still hear some differences. There's just no comparison between a Fender & a Marshall. Nor different breeds of Fender for that matter. Etc. Chris said it all better than I can.

Very interesting project by the way. I'd thought about it myself. Since I started working on guitars, I have learned more then I ever would have, so figured I could go the same route building an amplifier. Any kits I saw were quite pricey for me at this time. Even just the tube racks (or whatever they are called) are expensive. :p
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 7
RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/30/2010 6:02 pm
Originally Posted by: CSchlegelIt absolutely can make a difference. Plug a guitar and pedals into a 50W Fender tube amp (Bassman, or Super Reverb, for example). and then plug the same guitar and pedals into a 50W Marshall JCM800.[/quote]

Sure, I agree. But I was trying to take it further by throwing in the fact that someone will use pedals. Chorus, Distortion, EQ for example. Those three will have a HUGE impact.

But, I do see where, you still have to start with a foundation of the amps tone. And it's that underlying tone that will be affected. And then again, I come back to... If you're coloring it, the importance of the difference in tone becomes LESS important, or blurred. I'd be really interested in having a fender and a marshall side by side.


Originally Posted by: CSchlegel
Not necessarily. But you aren't going to get the same type of "dirt" without a pre-amp gain stage. [/quote] Doesn't both clean and dirty channels go through a preamp stage?

Originally Posted by: CSchlegelAny distortion or overdrive pedal is really only going to help you focus or tighten the sound (via clipping and or compression). You still need the "natural dirt" that comes from tube saturation (pre-amp tubes & power amp tubes). Otherwise you are only going to get that "buzz" and "furry fuzz" sound.
[/quote]
This must be why I'm still not 100% satisfied with my 1969 Kustom solid state amp. It's an old amp. There are no digital circuits in it, it's all old school analog circuits. It has a real twangie sound to it.


Originally Posted by: CSchlegelAnd since you are looking at it like this, I'd like to put in my favorite 2 cents on the subject: why not get an amp with an awesome gain stage so you don't need a distortion pedal at all? :)[/quote] That is a good point. I would offer up that, different people like different types of distortion? Perhaps? Some like a more 80s sound, some like a more 60's fuz, some like more of a metal sound.

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]Only if you don't want to have control over the EQ frequencies.
Well, I'm assuming an EQ pedal in the mix. I've heard of people using an EQ pedal between the guitar and amp AS WELL AS having an EQ in the effects loop.

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]Sounds like a fun project! Best of success with it.
Yes, but.... It's taking my focus away from playing and practicing... :o

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]You might get some better feedback on the Gear Page. I'm sure some of the gearheads over there have experience with that sort of thing. Not to mention all the actual amp designers and builders that are regulars over there:
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/
Search "amp+kits". I am sure you will get more info than you could ever use. :)
Oh yes... I've been searching and finding those site. Which again, has been taking my attention away from practice.


[QUOTE=CSchlegel]I think you have a good idea with only including the necessary components ("without all the bells and whistles"). But that assumes you know which are the necessary ones, and how best to put them together.
Well... Again, I'm thinking very basic but powerfull. Single line in, preamp, effects loop, power amp. All EQ happens with EQ pedals. Yes, I know that's over simplifiying it. There is a lot of circuits in there to make all that happen, and those circuits are going to have a great deal of impact. I know that in dealing with pedals modding that even things like different types of caps have an impact on the tone not just their values.
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RickBlacker
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RickBlacker
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01/30/2010 6:08 pm
Originally Posted by: RazboSorry, I should have been clearer. If you some have amp modeling available, you can judge for yourself the answer to that question. Although an amp's DSP or a modeling pedal is just that: a model and not the real thing, you should still hear some differences. There's just no comparison between a Fender & a Marshall. Nor different breeds of Fender for that matter. Etc. Chris said it all better than I can.[/quote] AHHHH.. Ok. And I do. I have my Line6 PODx3. I suppose I could give that a try. Never thought about it.

[QUOTE=CSchlegel]Very interesting project by the way. I'd thought about it myself. Since I started working on guitars, I have learned more then I ever would have, so figured I could go the same route building an amplifier. Any kits I saw were quite pricey for me at this time. Even just the tube racks (or whatever they are called) are expensive. :p
Yes, I know... The kits are spendy. I've not spent the time doing it, but the kits I've seen have a parts list, I'd be curious to know how much savings you could get if you went to a local electronics store purchased the parts yourself. Granted, you'd have to figure out the chassis situation. I was reading that a lot of the reason kits are spendy is because you're also paying for all the time the person(s)/company put into designing the kit in the first place.

My goal is by the end of the year, to have a DIY 100w head. Just a goal... May not happen but but it's a nice though.
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JeffS65
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JeffS65
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01/31/2010 4:30 am
While I think it has been covered a bit here, I think the amp does function as more than just a vessel for sound put in to it. Anything that is between you and the sound that comes out of the speaker is going to affect the sound, it's a matter of in what form will it affect that sound?

I remamber back in the 80's the local store I went had a guy that simply knew everyone big in the business and the collectable guitars that store got was pretty shocking. The guy wasn't a talker and had credibility in the biz. Point being, he had himself a Jose Aredondo modified Marshall head (originally a purple Plexi, I think). Short of it is, you see the the actually mods, you would think nothing of them. I recall the stuff being really messy to look at but the sound of the amp was massive and I mean MASSIVE. The local guitar tech was good at some pretty spiffy amp mods himself and look at it and thought that the mods weren't revolutionary but the configuration and even some of the lack of 'clean' wiring contributed to the tone. I was told that Jose didn't really much care about tucking wires or anything, just attach point 'A' to point 'B'.

So, I think any resistance in the chain will affect the sound and sometimes fro the better and sometimes...not so much. Not all circuits, wire (gauge) and all that are made equal so it all is bound to affect the sound.

The extent to which each element affects tone from the type of pots to tubes all gets in there.

While the best tone I ever had was on an amp that should not have had great tone, it was because it had a great clean channel and the effects I put in front of it sounded great through that amp. I tried the same set up with another amp and it didn't translate.
# 10
recordist
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recordist
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02/06/2010 4:24 am
DR Z is my cup of tea...
# 11

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