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  • High Gain Amp-in-a-can

    Here is my question:
    Do you think it's harder to make a convincing copy of a modern high gain amplifier in a pedal than it is to make a convincing copy of mid-gain amps? Or do you think that the abundance of convincing mid-gain amp-in-a-can pedals is because of the sheer volume of people who want them (versus the number of people wanting the high-gain pedals)?


    Below this is my reasoning, which you can choose to read if you feel like it, but of course it can be a bit tedious...


    I think we can all agree that even the best of pedals can't quite get the sound/feel of our most beloved amps throughout history when they're really cooking. At the same time, I think we can all agree that there is an (over)abundance of pedals that aim for that great mid-gain sound (be it a derivation of a Marshall or Vox or what have you).

    Of course we all have different definitions of what that is, but at the same time, it seems pretty evident to me that within this class the pedals are really good, and really close to mimicking verbatim our favorite amps. But when it comes to high gain pedals, it seems like there are a lot less "great" options to choose from. I'm not discounting those that are out there, but it does seem like there aren't many pedals (relatively speaking) which really convincingly cop the most aggressive modern amps. I'm thinking specifically of amps like Diezel, VHT, Bogner, Engl, etc. - and those that do usually cost quite a bit (more the $200). So, above is my question.
    Always without desire we must be found
    If its deep mystery we would sound
    But if desire within us be
    Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

    Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

  • #2
    I think there are plenty of high gain pedals out there good enough for noodling around at home.

    If you're playing music that uses a high gain amp you're probably playing loud music which means you're probably already using a half stack which means you need a head... why would you buy some piece of junk and use a pedal when you can just buy a high gain head?

    Not a lot of guys out there in grindcore bands running a "box of metal" into an AC15...
    Grind
    http://soundcloud.com/thekraken

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    • #3
      I don't disagree with that, but it also makes me wonder why so many people want a mid-gain pedal to nail the _________ tones when usually that amp is at least 50 watts. Even a cranked AC-30 if freakin loud.

      I would say that at least for me it would be nice to have a pedal to be able to jam with a band with that could really nail those modern tones without sounding too tacky and not costing more than $150 or so. I would rather not buy a $3000+ amp and then have to lug it around...
      Always without desire we must be found
      If its deep mystery we would sound
      But if desire within us be
      Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

      Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

      Comment


      • #4
        Well the thing with mid-gainers is people want the nice mid gain breakup without having to turn their amp up all the way. You really don't see people playing an AC30 to the point of getting really saturated and then turning on some goofy dirt pedal

        If you're just jamming around for fun just get a Metal Muff or something, they're fine for that application.
        Grind
        http://soundcloud.com/thekraken

        Comment


        • #5
          If you're just jamming around for fun just get a Metal Muff or something, they're fine for that application.


          I think that idea is at the root of why I started this thread. I personally hated the metal muff that I tried, and I really haven't tried many "high-gain" pedals that I liked that didn't cost a significant coin (>$180, usually). However, most people will say that it's "good enough" for such things. What I don't get is why there are quite a few pedals that are pretty convincing mid-gainers for a decent price, but IMO (which is probably wrong anyways) there really aren't many high gainers that are nearly as convincing.

          Seriously... does Boss even listen to high-gain amps at all to consider the Metal Zone an acceptable pedal?
          Always without desire we must be found
          If its deep mystery we would sound
          But if desire within us be
          Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

          Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

          Comment


          • #6
            Personally I think solid state is in general easier to manipulate into doing authentic high gain than it is into doing authentic crunch. I swear I just posted something like this on TGP, but the issue is that power sections in tube amps have huge voltage swing, creating the sag that you get with cranked Bassman/Plexi/whatever amps. It's a unique phenomenon to slam into the amp and hear and feel it do that thing. I haven't played any pedals that do it. Pedals can do a great job of getting all the things you'd want out of a good preamp, from clean to mega distortion. Mega distortion is what high-gain amps offer to begin with, with usually big clean power sections to amplify the highly compressed and distorted cascaded tube preamp. The preamp distortion can be simulated pretty effectively with solid state components. FETs of various flavors, op-amps with interesting behavior at the rails; hell, even diode clipping sounds pretty good and does what it needs to. The power amp, though, that's the tough part. Since big clean powerful power amps like the ones in a Triple Rec or a 5150 are less likely to contribute a big amount to the sound of the amp compared to amps which rely more on cranking the power tubes to the point of serious overdrive, I feel like high-gain with pedals, if anything, sounds more authentic than lower-gain or crunch with pedals. Really good lower gain and crunch pedals are probably harder to design (though not necessarily expensive, and anyway builders and companies have been working on it long enough that there are a lot of good ones around now nonetheless). But no solid state pedal is going to sound like a cranked power amp, I would almost state that categorically.

            My answer to that question is "run it into an amp that has a power amp that does nice things." That is a pretty good method, and the reason I love, love, love my THD Univalve. Its preamp is pristine, it gets every bit of its clipping from the single power tube. So it's sort of like an "authenticity" knob to put on the end of good-sounding pedals... Oh, and an amp. It's also an amp.
            www.WamplerPedals.com (as of Dec. 2010) Questions or comments? Contact us!
            Jeff@WamplerPedals.com


            "Agreed is like a hummingbird with a shotgun." - Aedes

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            • #7
              *shrug* What are you playing through? A convincing high gain tone at rehearsal levels probably isn't going to happen if you're using some 15w 1x12 amp.
              Grind
              http://soundcloud.com/thekraken

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              • #8
                @Agreed - I really like your reasoning, but I disagree with your conclusion. I hear WAY more convincing low/mid-gain pedals than I do high-gain pedals. That's why I'm wondering if it's because it's more difficult to do, or if it's just a matter of popularity.

                Seriously, though, your reasoning does make a whole lot of sense. But I just don't agree with how "authentic" most high-gain pedals sound. But I must admit that I haven't played some of the more popular ones (Riot, Triple Wreck, Openhaus). I've been wanting to, but I just haven't wanted to drop that much coin...
                Always without desire we must be found
                If its deep mystery we would sound
                But if desire within us be
                Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

                Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

                Comment


                • #9
                  No, you're right in that there are a lot of **************** high-gainers out there. I think it really does come down to popularity. High gain didn't really even become a thing until the mid to late '80s, early heavy clipping pedals were intended to make your BIG ****************IN' TUBE AMP sound heavier, and the idea of amp-in-a-box pedals took awhile to catch on even after Tech21 pioneered it. More attention seems to have been paid to making good low-gain pedals. I don't know why. Maybe early efforts to make high gain pedals kind of sucked and sounded bad and as a result the concept didn't get a lot of traction until the 2000s. I mean, damn, the Metalzone sounds good through maybe 10% of amps, and a lot of pedals are rip-offs of it in their clipping sections (Danelectro Fab Tone Distortion, DOD/Digitech Grunge, more recently the EHX Metal Muff).

                  I don't think you necessarily disagree with my conclusion, it's just that for whatever reason, even though it ought to be easier to do high gain, that hasn't been the object of focus for a lot of builders. Now that it has become such, more and more great high gain pedals are coming out.

                  Remember that the much-loved high-gain Randall heads from the '80s (RG, Century, Warhead II) were cascaded-JFET preamp designs, sort of transistorized modified Marshalls in the beginning then growing into a different thing. And yet good high gain pedals utilizing a lot of the same concepts have taken a long time to come out. I don't know why.
                  www.WamplerPedals.com (as of Dec. 2010) Questions or comments? Contact us!
                  Jeff@WamplerPedals.com


                  "Agreed is like a hummingbird with a shotgun." - Aedes

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In fact, here in Russia lots of builders are into hi-gain. There are adaptations of some Bogner, Soldano, Mesa, VHT, and other hi-gain amps out there and they work pretty well.

                    The reason I think is when you shred you don't want pedals under your feet, you want giant stacks melting and exploding around you.

                    If what you mean is that one can't make a good hi-gain pedal without tubes and transformers you're just partially right, but this rule works for medium and low gain sound also. In fact, "modern" sound is usually something hybrid by nature.
                    Great deals: IRG(x4), HeartfeltDawn, phishmarisol, mcerreta, cleverbastid, tattoedsailor, Secret Seasons, jhamnett, thefool, Overwhelmed987, MegaTom, pbone, bvester, tomr63, ashasha

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                    • #11
                      I don't think you necessarily disagree with my conclusion, it's just that for whatever reason, even though it ought to be easier to do high gain, that hasn't been the object of focus for a lot of builders. Now that it has become such, more and more great high gain pedals are coming out.


                      ok. To clarify - what I was disagreeing with was the idea that many of the current high gain pedals are really good. I thought you were using the logic of "it ought to be easier to build them" to then conclude that in fact there are lots of them that are really good. That part I would disagree with because, to my ears, there really aren't many that can really get a smaller/quieter setup (like a 15-30 watt head with a 2x12) cooking in a convincing manner.

                      Obviously your logic makes sense though, and I agree that it ought to be easier. Thus I would say your conclusion is that the reason there aren't many great high gainers is because there has been a lack of focus on that area, as opposed to the idea that it's just more difficult.

                      Interesting. Anybody else have any ideas?
                      Always without desire we must be found
                      If its deep mystery we would sound
                      But if desire within us be
                      Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

                      Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In fact, here in Russia lots of builders are into hi-gain. There are adaptations of some Bogner, Soldano, Mesa, VHT, and other hi-gain amps out there and they work pretty well.

                        The reason I think is when you shred you don't want pedals under your feet, you want giant stacks melting and exploding around you.

                        If what you mean is that one can't make a good hi-gain pedal without tubes and transformers you're just partially right, but this rule works for medium and low gain sound also. In fact, "modern" sound is usually something hybrid by nature.


                        I have noticed AMT Electronics, but being here in the States, it's sometimes hard to hear about other products.

                        I definitely agree with what you're saying about wanting giant stacks melting your face off, and that is fun, but unfortunately it's just not realistic for pretty much everyone. Heck, there are plenty of pics on the 'net of major acts using fake "stacks" as a stage gimmick, and behind those they have a head or 2 driving a halfstack (or two). The absolute best live tone I heard for really heavy stuff was Adam Jones from TOOL, and he just had 2 half stacks mic'd up, but man did it freakin slay. But even that is just unrealistic for most people because the heads he was running were each 150 watts or more.
                        Always without desire we must be found
                        If its deep mystery we would sound
                        But if desire within us be
                        Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

                        Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is confusing to me, maybe give an example? Is the high gain you want like, Metallica, or is it much more gain, like muddy doom/sludge.

                          I think if you mean Extreme metal then yes, there are perhaps no good analog pedals, because there's no focus on buying and developing in that area.

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                          • #14

                            Great deals: IRG(x4), HeartfeltDawn, phishmarisol, mcerreta, cleverbastid, tattoedsailor, Secret Seasons, jhamnett, thefool, Overwhelmed987, MegaTom, pbone, bvester, tomr63, ashasha

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                            • #15
                              I'm definitely not thinking muddy doom/sludge. I don't like those tones, so I can't really say much about those kinds of pedals.

                              However, like I listed above, I'm thinking of high gain amps that are very tight and articulate. VHT, Bogner, Framus, Engl, Diezel, Cornford, Elmwood, and of course there are many others.

                              Also, this isn't to say that those amps are monolithic and can't do other things - they can. But rather, this is just a question posed about pedals that can effectively cop these tones.
                              Always without desire we must be found
                              If its deep mystery we would sound
                              But if desire within us be
                              Its outer fringe is all that We shall see

                              Good Deals: Vinhoff, guitarslinger (3x), crwnedblasphemy, soundchaser59, Dimebag11, DarkCide, allan wwodrum, shesky, Scott K

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