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Mustang vs Marshall

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  • Mustang vs Marshall

    I played at a party last week end and got a chance to use both of my Little 15W Marshalls. I've owned a 15W Valvestate for many years and picked up a newer MG recently. The two amps sounded a bit different. The MG has a much brighter tone compared to the VS. I had to run the EQ full up on the VS and crank the MG's treble way down to get a match.

    I ran a Vox Stomplab multi effects pedal in stereo and had the pair sounding very good. The place we played had a huge vaulted ceiling and the natural reverb was amazing.

    I played with another guitarist for the first time. We both got along well, had both brought guitars we built ourselves so we had allot in common to talk about. Playing wise he was pretty good at catching on and was able to follow the song sheets on most of the songs we played. He took queues on when to play leads with simply a nod so it was obvious he's been playing a few years. He leads were OK and his chord work was fine.

    The biggest issue was the tones he had dialed up on his Mustang III amp. He picked it up at a pawn shop and hadn't owned it long. My overall impression wasn't very good. I didn't hear a single decent tone come out of that amp. I suspect he had all low volume over gained settings saved that were more suitable for practicing in a bedroom. They didn't work in a live setting with a full band, that's for sure.

    You have to tweak an amp in a live setting to sound good in a live setting and that usually requires cutting all that gain way down and cleaning up the natural string tone. It was obvious the driven was too high and no one could tell weather he was playing the right notes or not, especially for the classic rock stuff we were playing.

    I would have liked to be able to hear him play better, it was obvious he had the chops to do so but his playing was masked by too much drive. He admitted making changes to adjust his sound involved reprograming the amp which simply isn't something that's easy to do in a live setting. People are expecting you to play and you simply have to go with what you got. He eventually found one preset with less drive that sounded a little better, but it was no where near tweaked for live playing.

    What this boils down to, is the settings you use for practice, aren't going to be the same as what you might use live. Gain can destroy a good performance if you have to much and chances are what you thought might sound good when playing at low volumes are no where close to being right for a live venue because you're simply guessing what might be right when playing with other performers and dealing with natural room acoustics.

    In comparison I was using nearly clean settings with a tad of drive to emulate tube drive and when I turned my guitars volume down 1/3 it cleaned up 100%.

    When we took a break he couldn't get over how good my guitar sounded. I explained to him about my observations and he's going to try setting things up as I suggested for the next time we get together.

    After that I explained to him he needed to cut the gains of all his presets in half and get at least 50% clean happening for his live settings. Let the amp volume do the rest. If he sets up his clean amp and cab modeling first then add enough gain which cleans up when he dials back on the volume 1/3 he's in the right ballpark.

    Its not something you can just whip up and expect those settings to work in every situation. This is one reason why people prefer effects pedals because you can in fact tweak everything without the hassle of having to build and save patches.

    With a programmable pedal or amp, I use a method that works pretty good. If I build say, 10 patches that sound good at low volumes of for recording, I'll build an identical 10 that have half the drive and added clean volume so the DB levels are about the same. This way I can use the cleaner setting for live and still have the same tones I'd use for practice.

    When I play live I write down the patches that worked best and worst and take the time to tweak those a little so I can switch patches without those huge changes that make them unusable.

    The other thing I do is set the guitars volume down 1/4 and I place a DB meter in front of the amp. I then adjust the volume levels of all the patches so they match. This way I'm not going to have major volume dropouts or boosts switching between patches.

    The guitars volume can be used to tweak it up or down from there so you can get a boost when needed and this removes allot of the guesswork building patches.

    I also pattern my presets from the cleanest at say patch#1 to the most driven #10 with gradual increases in gain as I step the numbers up. This way I can quickly find the best gains for a particular song.

    I avoid having to jump over two muted jazz tone settings simply going from clean to lead. The settings themselves can have varied tones and effects but having the gain step up makes it allot easier in jam situations where you might not know what songs coming up next. Of course separate boxes make this simpler because you can simply bend over and tweak as needed.
    Last edited by WRGKMC; 03-15-2017, 02:49 PM.

  • #2
    My brother picked up one of those Mustang's but gave up on it. The SS Marshall's I tried were better. I used to own a SS Peavey Standard which sounded great at the time but the new SS ones I tried called the Vypyr series sounded awful. I wound up getting a 5W Blackstar tube head which sounds great even with the master volume lower. I'm hearing good things about new Class D SS amps (I think that's what their called) so there's hope for SS yet.


    • #3
      ^^ The SS amps that sound best have either FET's or Mosfets as power transistors. Unlike standard bipolar junction transistors FET's actually operate closer to how tubes do.

      They contain a Source which acts like a Cathode in a Tube.
      They have a gate which acts like a Grid
      They have a Drain which acts like an anode.

      This is over simplified but FET's use a field effect within the silicone to allow transistors to flow similar to how the grid/screen is able to act like a valve when as its electrical field polarity changes to act like a valve or a gate. Ones simply works within a solid using low voltages and the other works in a vacuum using higher static energy.

      Older Peaveys like the blackface amps used standard Bipolar button type power transistors. These are a throwback to older SS amps which reached they're peak in the 60's before FETs were used allot. The early amps sounded very sterile and overdriving them sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard.(if they simply didn't blow up like may old vox amps did) Peavey combined the cream of the crop of the older technologies with the black faced series.

      Made them allot of money because all those components had been around a long time and were very cheap. The quality of the builds were bargain basement however. They simply made so many and sold them very cheap which made them popular. They functioned reasonably well too.

      After that peavey started making a professional line and a consumer line. The top end stuff is built very well. I in fact have one of they're top end power amps and its all high quality stuff. Its like day and night compared to the old black faces junk.

      Peavey got into making full tube and Trans tube stuff, half tube half SS. I wasn't much impressed with they're lower end stuff. They have harsh highs and mids and lack bottom end in most of the combos I've heard. (including the one I own) They're Classic series are cheap knockoffs of fender amps. My friend who played in a band with me for 6 years had one and it lacked the bottom end Fenders produced. I haven't tried they're new Vyper amps. Peavey has jumped on the modeling amp series like most have.

      Last edited by WRGKMC; 03-22-2017, 05:09 AM.


      • #4
        I have a Fender Mustang IV and it is definitely a gig worthy amp. Very well designed and cheaply built in China. It has a stereo power amp so the effects can be muti-dimentional like a Roland Jazz Chorus. The Fuse software allows detailed editing. It's not what you've got but how you use it.

        The best amplifier I have ever had is a Yamaha DG80-112. It replaced a Fender Twin Reverb that I hauled around for fifteen years and paid for it twice when you consider the cost of replacing tubes. The DG80, on the other hand, has been maintenance free for nearly twenty years and, with no tubes to wear out, there is no gradual deterioration of the sound.
        "Isn't it a pity, isn't it a shame,
        how we break each other's hearts
        and cause each other pain"


        • #5
          ^^^ No Doubt. Like I said, the guy had low volume bedroom tones dialed up and reprograming patches on the spot at a gig in order to blend with other players was too complex for him to do on the fly. The band wasn't going to waste time while he finger fiddled around trying to get a decent tone.

          I have the same issue with multi effect pedals. If I create good patches for recording they may or may not be good for playing live. This is why I create a group of them for live and a group for recording, each having varying degrees of drive from clean to driven. The live patches are setup with a loud amp and have less gain then I'd use for recording. I make sure I have several with mild drives that mimic mild tube saturation which clean up when I turn my guitars volume down.

          Most experience I had with Yamaha's were they're original solid state Blackfaced series. My buddy owned one of they're combos and I played through it many times. It had some unique tones and it could produce warm tones. I preferred them over Peavey and many others like Randall being made then. Randall was incredibly sterile sounding compared to the Fenders I was using. I got stuck using a 60W combo for a number of years. I was happy to unload it.

          I had a Sunn Concert lead (which I still Own) which was (and still is) one of the best solid state amps I've ever owned. They were way ahead of the times when they designed they're amps and used FET's for tube tone. They did something very cool to get closer. They used inductive coils in the power amp to emulate the compression of an output transformer. The coils produce EMF which soften the transients most SS amps suffer from. They also put an overdrive circuit that mimics what Leslie West got when he recorded Mississippi Queen playing through a Sunn PA head by overdriving the Mic channel into the power amp. (he blew his guitar amp before a gig and had to use it as a substitute and simply cranked the thing up to 10)

          Twins are on the top of the list as being an Iconic amps. Incredibly loud but because its a combo it was also a high maintenance amp. In fact I saw Roy Buchannan play at the Phili Spectrum once and he smoked one within the first song they played and he had to pull out his spare and play the song over again. Frigging ear piercing with a Tele. I was able to get those same tones with my Bassman at half the volume.

          If I had my choice of twin type amps it would be the rare Marshall Twins. They get the upper mids guitarists die for and give you the string touch most fender amps miss.


          • #6
            When the Yamaha DG series of amplifiers came out, my neighbour was the regional Yamaha rep. It was a great job for him because he is a very good guitarist who can effectively demo the products.

            He want to Japan and created sets of patches for the full line of DG amplifiers. He told me that his priority was to make patches that were "usable" for the working guitarist. When I got my DG80 I took it over to his studio and he showed me how to get the best out of it.

            "Isn't it a pity, isn't it a shame,
            how we break each other's hearts
            and cause each other pain"