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pedal gain vs amp gain...or why i have shelved my pedalboard temporarily.....


Bobby D

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well, interesting things are afoot in my rig. interesting to me at least, and maybe some of you other nerds :wave:

 

for the last 15 years, I have largely played through loud clean tube amps, like Fender Twins, Vibroluxes, JC-120s, and other amps that are not gainy amps. I have been using a plethora of overdrive and other dirt pedals to get my sounds. In some ways, it was the safest thing to do, since many tours I did were supplied with varying backline from gig to gig -- usually fender twins or hot rod devilles or amps of that nature.

 

in the early 80s, I did all my touring with a Marshall JMP 50 watt 4 input combo. That amp went to hell and back for me, and still sounded good up until the week I sold it. I got the majority of my sound from the amp, and only used pedals for some color, and also had a clean boost to make the amp go into superoverdrive. That amp rocked.

 

As my career progressed, I upped my late 80s rig to a pair of early Mesa Bookie MKIII heads with mesa 4x12s. i split those amps with an eventide harmonizer, and only used one pedal -- a TC Sustain/Parametric EQ, and that was used as a clean boost for solos. The rig sounded like GOD in stereo, especially when I later traded the Eventide for a TC 1210 spatial expander.

 

then as i went back to more organic music and blues, i drifted to using fender type amps around 1993, and have stayed with them since....except for a few gigs here and there with a Marshall or Boogie.

 

 

so anyhow, now that this is a LONG story -- I have been consistent with my setup a long time now, basically relying on my pedals to get my tones and overdrive. it's easier that way, not being tied to a particular amp to get "your" sound. especially when you are touring with hired backline.

 

But just recently, I got the itch for some Marshall action. And boy oh boy, had I forgotten just how delicious it is to be playing a firebreathing monster like a REALLY good Marshall.

 

I managed tp pick up a mid 80s JCM 800 mod 2204 50 watt head, the basic no frills no reverb, one channel model. This one had been rode hard and put up wet. it was 100% stock, but has been sitting for years in the florida climate, and was just limping along sound-wise when I picked it up.

 

I spent all week (at least most of it) at my amp tech George Sholtz's place. We completely rebuilt the amp -- new caps from George's stash of OEM Marshall parts. All new tubes. Completely disassembled the whole thing and basically put it back together. Had some small issues here and there, but stuff that cleaning and resoldering took care of.

 

I finally got a chance to break her in tonight at rehearsal, and it was a revelation.

 

I had totally forgotten how good it FEELS to play an amp like this. How responsive and dynamic a good gained out Marshall is.

 

A lot of times when I am playing a rig that has Fender Twins, it feels like I have to really "push" the notes out. The amps just don't respond the same way that the Marshall does.

 

I put my pedalboard away, and simply used a wah, my cmatmods signa drive ts808 clone, and a boss PN-2 trem pedal.

 

The tone was just amazing. All the work we put into getting the amp running and tweaked paid off in spades. and it isn't even broken in yet!

 

I don't know, I'm just stoked I guess. It's been so long since I played a nice gained up Marshall with a band. The notes were just leaping out of the speakers, the amp was dripping with gain and harmonics, and that magical place was reached where the difficult becomes easy, and what's in your head can come out through your fingers.

 

I just simply forgot how damn good a Marshall can be. And no pedal I have ever used in my life has ever been that good. HERESY? Well, there's still plenty of room for pedals. :cop:

 

my own little box of rock:

 

jcm800scarlett.jpg

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One of my main rigs is a 76 50w JMP 4 input that had been pro modded with a master volume when I bought it back in 94 or so. One of the best amps I've ever played through. A Les Paul through that thing is unbelievable. Pure Lizzy (see my avatar). Actually I think any guitar I've ever played through that amp has sounded great.

 

I love running a pedal or two (or five) into it as well. Makes a great thing even better!

 

But - I do agree. A pedal through a clean amp can get you close, but nothing beats a good Marshall running hot and loud.

 

Still rockin' the Lunar Module??

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One of my main rigs is a 76 50w JMP 4 input that had been pro modded with a master volume when I bought it back in 94 or so. One of the best amps I've ever played through. A Les Paul through that thing is unbelievable. Pure Lizzy (see my avatar). Actually I think any guitar I've ever played through that amp has sounded great.


I love running a pedal or two (or five) into it as well. Makes a great thing even better!


But - I do agree. A pedal through a clean amp can get you close, but nothing beats a good Marshall running hot and loud.


Still rockin' the Lunar Module??

 

 

oh yes, and thank you for that! I like the Lunar Module a LOT. It has a very cool "voice" to it, and I really dig it. I think it's easily one of the three best fuzzes I have ever owned. And it totally makes me interested in getting my hands on more Skreddy items, ala a Pink Flesh or maybe a Top Fuel.

 

We really got this amp niced and dialed in, it has nice depth and chunk, complex midrange, and plenty of highs. the jcm 800s are bright amps by nature, so i tend to lower the treble and presence on the EQ.

 

just simply hitting the front end of the amp with the cmatmods signa drive (with the switch set to the more compressed and dirty setting), the amp literally was rockin like Dokken.

 

I'm doing some gigs with a white trash rock/country band that sounds like some sort of mix between Hank Williams and Sid Vicious, and I get to flat out WAIL as much as I want.....so this amp is fixin' to get SPANKED on a nightly basis.

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Does your band have a myspace or somethin'?

 

yeah, here's the myspace. band is called "Two Story Double Wide". it's a friend of mine's band, and another friend of mine plays in the band as well, so when they parted ways with their guitarist, they gave me a call. The music is a LOT of fun to play.

 

We are heading to Muscle Shoals Alabama to play the WC Handy Music Fest this weekend!

 

http://myspace.com/2sdw

 

 

it's pretty wild music to play live. i really need a nice old Esquire with a big fat flat pole 50s pickup in it for this band :)

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And it totally makes me interested in getting my hands on more Skreddy items, ala a Pink Flesh or maybe a Top Fuel.

 

 

I play into an Ampeg VL-502, very similar in tone to your Marshall, and was lucky enough to pick up one of the last Pink Fleshes. It's a *perfect* match. The PF just sounds like the amp has a "fuzz" channel. Really organic and natural sounding. I was blown away the first time I kicked it on. Highly recommended!

 

Congrats on the amp!

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I play into an Ampeg VL-502, very similar in tone to your Marshall, and was lucky enough to pick up one of the last Pink Fleshes. It's a *perfect* match. The PF just sounds like the amp has a "fuzz" channel. Really organic and natural sounding. I was blown away the first time I kicked it on. Highly recommended!


Congrats on the amp!

 

 

gnarly. im about to come up on an vl-502. how do you like yours?

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Yeah, it's kinda the same with me, rocco. I just really need a boost pedal. So I bought one, a Timmy. Two, in fact. And a Tim. But that's a different story. I mean, my new metal band is going to require a high gain pedal because the lonestar doesn't do super high gain metal that well, but as for just normal drive, the mesa sounds great when the volume is up a little bit, and I'm hoping the boosts can really do their thing and help liven the tone up a bit.

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gnarly. im about to come up on an vl-502. how do you like yours?

 

 

I LOVE my VL-502! Gets all kinds of conventional and hot-rodded Marshall tones at, what, $400 or so? I've had mine for 6 years or so and have never had any problems with it beyond switching out the power tubes a couple of times. BTW: It's a matter of taste, but I prefer mine with 6550s, not EL34s. The nice thing is that the bias switch lets you switch back and forth without rebiasing!

 

The magic of the VL-502 is in the 5-position mid-switch. You can really change the character of your tone by changing the position of that switch, so be sure to really experiment with different settings at different mid-switch positions before you settle on your sound. There's a lot of room for tweaking in there!

 

I have a paper copy of the VL-1002 manual; the controls aren't exactly the same, but it includes some really helpful starting points on how to set the controls for certain classic sounds. I can't find it online right now, but if I find it I will forward it to you. The VL-502 can go from Stones to Megadeth on the dirty channel, so having some help at the outset can be a big plus!

I'm not a big fan of the clean channel (or the stock reverb tank; I suggest changing that out with a new Accutronics if you're going to use amp reverb), but the dirty channel is genius.

 

OK, now I am rambling. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions once you get it, and I'll keep an eye out for an online copy of that manual!

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Few weeks later:

 

amp gain vs pedal gain...or why i have shelved my amp OD temporarily.....

 

But seriously, I've always tried to use amp OD if I can help it. But then I have to boost it and put an eq in the loop sometimes and I just think why not use a pedal instead. So I tend to alternate. Last night I have the od channel dialed in to be clean, then boosted it with an lpb clone. It got that amp crunch sound perfectly.

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