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Help me pick a good rack effects unit


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  • Help me pick a good rack effects unit

    I've got a Digitech 256 DSP XL 1 space rack unit.  I dig it because it'll turn a mono signal into stereo since I have a stereo poweramp and stereo cab so it works out in that aspect, but I hate it because there is a knob to adjust volume in and volume out, and it seems to KILL the pure tube fun.  When I had my Mesa Studio Pre, I could hook it straight amp to amp and it was loud, organic and ballsy.  But eventually it got old since it was just a dry signal, so I'd hook in the Digitech.  Instantly it killed all the amp's balls because it had more fine tune volume/signal controls to go through.  It seemed to compress the drive more and if I turned it up louder on the volume knobs, it always wanted to get really close to clipping or would clip.  It has a set of LEDs on it that let you know if it's clipping and to turn the volume down, but anytime I want to get close to rocking out with it, it has too much and starts to want to clip.  Also when I used it in the plug on the back for the effects loop for rack level effects instead of stomp box type effects, it wanted to clip REALLY easily, even without much volume.


    Perhaps I wasn't holding my mouth right or had the knobs set correctly or whatever, but I want to just get away from this effects unit and get something that's not such a tone sucker and just has a few good delays, reverbs and maybe a little flange, phase, or chorus from time to time...and a harmony effect would be cool too >: )  


    Anyone have any recommendations that don't cost $43200320? 

  • #2

    not sure I followed the various setups you've tried, but it sounds like it was typically being run as:


    guitar > maybe some pedals > Digitech > Mesa

    Have you tried? guitar > Digitech > pedals (espec the boosts) > Mesa?

    Granted, you'd be boosting the modulations (and dirtying them up...not always nice), but you might get away from overloading the digi's input stages....often digital effects will have a finite input range to work within and it takes a gentle tweak to get the modulation to work without distorting it badly.


    Alternatively, you could look into getting a touch more distortion but less signal amplitude going into the Digi. This could be done be adjusting your settings on the pre-Digi effects.... If you are getting the clipping from just the guitar alone, you must be running some insanely hot pickups (I guess).

    Digitech usually handles a pretty wide range of inputs without problems... could there be a backpanel compressor or inputstage gain control that needs a tweek?

    If the processor does what you want (other than the compression/clipping) then it seems like it'd be easier to get the pre-signal straightened out... I certainly wouldn't expect it to just drop into your existing setup without some tweaks to your gain stages (guitar/pedals/Digi/amp) ... that kinda plug-n-play just hardly ever happens, ime.

    Blind Doc Jones' Pickles....Cures What Ails Ya


    • lefort_1
      lefort_1 commented
      Editing a comment

      HM....here's another way to look at things:

      The old Mesa pre was doing what it should do...increase the gain being slapped into the amp's front end. The Pre's job is a "dirty" one, in the world of signal electronics.

      The Digitech is also doing it's job: being a signal modulation box, it's supposed to take an input and CLEANLY phase/flange/vibe/reverb, etc...but not change the gain structure much....that's precisely why it has signal limiters.

      The sad truth is, very few (if any) rack units/floor pedals do BOTH good distortion AND modulation. As the player, you need to figure out which you want: guitar > modu > gain/od/distortion OR guitar > gain/OD/etc > modulation...and then figure out how all that plays with your amp when you have IT set for the proper contribution to your gain structures. I"ve seen very few setups where someone plays thru a single box, then into an amp....well, I have, but those were folks who played those raft-sized floorboxes back in the 90's....and honestly, the cheesefactor in those things is unpalatable (to me).

      If you really want some basic floor effects in a single box, my old standby (que the jokes/laughter) was the old Korg PME series, with all those plugin modules....damn thing makes nice sounds, you can re-order your signal chain easily and they are fairly cheap (I got both mine for < $180, each with 4 modules).

      Anyway, good luck with that,


      Toan Quixote


  • #3

    Get a TC G major, run in FX loop.



    • hangwire
      hangwire commented
      Editing a comment

      I have an inbanez hd1000 delay/harmonizer which has a modulation lfo that I would be willing to let go on the cheaps if you want to try