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Mesa owner frustrated


sourgrout

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I hope this is the right spot for this thread.... I've been playing boogie stuff for about 4 years and need some help refining my sound. Heres my set up:

Guitar: Schecter C-1 elite(jb type pu)

Strings: Ernie ball power slinky (10's)

Tuning: Std. dropped one whole step (D)

Effects: Boss chorus pedal before preamp

Amp: Boogie DC-10 2x12 combo open back

speakers: (black shadow)

 

Very simple setup so far...

My issue is the sound is way to muddy, and I'm getting frustrated about what I should do to fix it. I play in a band and we play heavy hard rock and I need a thick heavy distortion but without the loose sound. I have played the amp through a 4x12 boogie cab and it sounded great but still was alittle grainy with too much mid range. Ive tried every type of setting on the distortion channel possible but its a no go. THe tubes are a year old so they should still be ok.

At this point I considering these options any input would be awesome:

1) Anderson H-2 pickup for bridge

2) 2x12 closed back with v30's

3) v30's in the combo itself

4) commpression pedal

5) fx processor(dunno what kind)

 

I do keep the lead channel controls at respectable levels bass around 5, mids around 3.5, treble around 5.5, presence 4.5, gain around 7.5

 

Please any suggestions would be killer, Ive been playing for several years and I am ashamed that I still dont have this {censored} figured out. Oh you can go to www.secondafter.com and listen to some of our tracks to get a feel of what were trying to do and my current sound.

Thanks

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I think it's the Mesa that you've got as opposed to a problem with the settings you are using. I've always thought of the DC series amps as voiced a little more toward classic sounds which are midrange heavy. The Recto series stuff seems more suited to a more modern sound with more scooped sounding mids and tighter sounding dirt...

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Originally posted by TigerInATrance

I think it's the Mesa that you've got as opposed to a problem with the settings you are using. I've always thought of the DC series amps as voiced a little more toward classic sounds which are midrange heavy. The Recto series stuff seems more suited to a more modern sound with more scooped sounding mids and tighter sounding dirt...

 

 

I agree!

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Tremoverb, sir. I used to have one with a 2x12 and it was it for tight, big overdrive. 4 voicings... It had a passably good clean, and an ubercrunch scooped riffage mode that was fun for wearing a bandana and making ridiculous faces in teh practice space. I mainly used the "classic" overdrive, which was a good, slightly dark low midrange sound good for rhythm work and the unfortunately named "blues" mode, which was really fantastic, the sound modern Marshalls ought to be making. It was really thick sound that stayed tight and defined, didn't sound cheesy, and worked in a lot of musical settings. I miss that thing, I had a cool custom shop one all in white tolex... played it through an Orange 4x12 once and just about had to have sex with it it sounded so good.

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Originally posted by Weatherbox

Tremoverb, sir. I used to have one with a 2x12 and it was it for tight, big overdrive. 4 voicings... It had a passably good clean, and an ubercrunch scooped riffage mode that was fun for wearing a bandana and making ridiculous faces in teh practice space. I mainly used the "classic" overdrive, which was a good, slightly dark low midrange sound good for rhythm work and the unfortunately named "blues" mode, which was really fantastic, the sound modern Marshalls ought to be making. It was really thick sound that stayed tight and defined, didn't sound cheesy, and worked in a lot of musical settings. I miss that thing, I had a cool custom shop one all in white tolex... played it through an Orange 4x12 once and just about had to have sex with it it sounded so good.

 

 

 

I agree with all of that( i own a Tremoverb half stack w/mesa 4x12 recto cab) and it did sound exactly what he said like, except that paired with the recto cab, it had too much loose low end bass rumble....maybe with a trad. cab, it would be ok....or with that orange...i dunno..

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other options

Turn up your mids and turn down the gain. It will be much cleared. The mids is where a good clear, cutting guitar tone sits.

Check out Orange. The Rockerverb for instance. From what I have heard (clips, word of mouth) they are heavy, but clear and tight.

there are other amps out there too, but my strongest advice would be more mids, less gain. It will take a while to get used to (I had the same trouble when I was younger, and changing some settings helped) but you will probably be happier in the end.

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I'm not sure what your speakers sound like, cause I've never played through them before. But speakers might help the issue a little bit. Check out this site and see if you like what any of the speakers there do to the sound. Very cool clips imho.

Pickups might be another change (you mentioned them also) and would be cheaper than a new amp.

But listening to a few songs on your webpage, here's what I notice about your sound (and this is all subjective)
- not much treble at all. Sounds like a neck pickup into a midrange-y amp with a lot of gain. I never like that combination.
- sounds like you try to dial in the sound you're looking for by yourself, and then bring it to practice/stage/studio. When I do this, I almost always find my sound to be much darker than I wanted.
- very saggy attack, almost smeared sounding. This isn't bad, but I don't think it's what you're going for; I'm guessing you're looking for something a bit more responsive.
- very lower-mid heavy for this genre even though you have the mids scooped a bit.
- the recording engineer did a decent job with drums and bass in my opinion but absolutely picked the wrong mic and/or placement for the amp.

Now some thoughts: changing the speakers or pickups probably won't solve all of those problems. And a pedal compressor, which you mentioned, will probably only make things worse by chopping off the attack of the signal. A multi-FX unit won't do anything unless you know exactly what you want with it.

Idea 1: Use a heavier pick. I generally find that heavier picks give more attack to the sound.

Idea 2: If your combo is open-back, try a closed-back cabinet. These will probably sound more focused.

Idea 3: Try using a treble booster before the amp and lower the amp's gain a little bit. A cheap way to do this is to use an EQ pedal, boost stuff above 3kH, and boost the output level.

Idea 4: When you mic the amp, use a brighter mic (try the Sennheiser e609 Silver - $100) and keep the placement close to the center of the cone. The recorded stuff sounded like an SM-57 close mic maybe 3-5" off the center of the cone; if my guess is correct, it will yield a very dark sound.

Idea 5: Ultimately, even with these solutions, to my ears it simply sounds like the wrong amp for the job you want it to do. As Tiger mentioned, the sound you're getting reminds me very much of some of the more "classic" sounding amps - Voxes, Marshalls, and Oranges mostly. Selling your amp is a big thing, so not sure how you'd feel about it, but the recommendations above (Mesa Rectifier & Tremoverb, and Peavey) both seem to fit.

Also try posting this in the Amp forum; I find that most Amp forumites are into heavier sounds while most Effects forumites (such as myself) are more into classic sounds. YMMV.

Hope this helps ya, dude.

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I don't know just how much gain you need to add, but maybe throw a stompbox for distortion or overdrive in front. I've always liked the way a vintage amp's clean channel sounds with a distortion pedal in front of it. It's not your traditional headbanger sound, but IMO it sounds better anyway.

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This is my reply to a PM that the OP sent me. Figured I'd post it here in case others are having similar problems.

Hey thanks for your input,


No problem dude...

I'm thinking of maybe another amp but I dont want to rule out the ither possiblities first.


Makes sense to me. Amps are expensive...

The DC-10 is an open back 2x12 combo so maybe adding a 2x12 closed back may help. But I have owned several other amps in my time, always having this sort of issue for the most part.


This last sentance led me to believe that the issue has less to do with the amp and more to do with your playing/your guitar/tone controls.

I owned a dual recto and 4x12 recto cab for about a year and liked the distortion but the clean channel is not as nice as the DC-10, also I have had a marshall jcm dsl 2000 head, a mesa dc-5, peavey transtube solid state head(sucked) and mesa 50 rectoverb which was also muddy. So far the DC-10 is the best I have found but like you said it sounds and feels very spongy.


Did the Dual recto sound muddy and spongy also? And yeah...it can be hard to find multi-channel amps where the clean and distortion both sound killer. I don't play much music in the style you do anymore (more classic stuff - non-master volume amp with a few stompboxes) but I've recorded a decent bit. Used to have a Mesa Boogie Maverick 4x10 dual-channel amp...but it was a bit of a different animal than the DC series I think.

I'm trying not to have a complicated setup and am trying to get just a great tone via guitar+amp. I have not tried a peavey tube amp so maybe that might be an avenue. Any suggestions.


Aight here's some more thoughts; if I were in your shoes, here's what I would do. Keep in mind, my goal would be to get as much tone with as little dollar as possible.

For this style music, a full rhythm sound (imho) is the most important. Clean sounds and lead sounds take a backseat. (To contrast, in the music I play, it's more likely the opposite of that...though not always). The basic components I'm working with on my amp are (1) Tone controls, (2) Tube options, (3) Speaker/cab options. But I'm going to talk about them in reverse order.

(3) Speaker/cab options. I would either go one of two ways: option A would be to buy a 4x12 cabinet loaded with Vintage 30 speakers (my favorite for this sound). Option B would be to buy a THD 1x12 close-back cab with a Vintage 30 speaker. If I gigged a lot and recorded less, I'd lean towards option A. If i recorded more and gigged less, I'd go with option B. But open-back cabinets would not be my first choice...and I have no experience with Mesa speakers so I'm not sure how they'd compare.

(2) Tube options. I would do a search for both 12ax7/ecc83 (same thing, different name) and 6L6 tubes and go for ones that people describe as "clear", "bright", and "defined". Not sure what tubes you have in there now, but if they're stock Mesa tubes, it might help a lot. Then again, it might not...but you need some spares anyways. If I wasn't feeling up to searching/scouring for tubes, I would give Bob at EuroTubes (www.eurotubes.com i think) and tell him that I had a Mesa DC10 and wanted to try out his tubes. He should be able to match the Mesa bias range so that you won't have to get that done by a tech. In my experience, JJ tubes work very well and Bob is absolutely a stand-up guy (very good prices too).

(1) I'm going to come back to this one later.

I'm not familiar with the guitar/pickups you're using...is it like a Les Paul? PRS? Strat? Tele? Something different? For this genre, I usually like humbuckers or P90s. If it's a cheaper guitar and they're stock pickups, I'd suggest replacing them as my Epi Les Paul's stock buckers were very muddy. Go for something vintage styled, or maybe a little bit hotter, but not much. You play heavy music, but a lot of guys who do end up using vintage guitars and the pickups that come with them. As far as options...there's a lot of flavors available in the aftermarket world, and most are just different shades of good. Maybe give Acme Guitar Works (www.acmeguitarworks.com) a call and get their opinion. If they disagree with me, believe them ;-) they know their pickups.

Well hopefully at this point you've got a guitar with good pickups, and a good amp with a good cab to play through. Now is the time to start turning the amp knobs. I'm not sure if the DC-10 has interactive tone contorls (my Mesa Maverick did) but regardless you want to start with the knobs neutral and begin with the treble. Turn this knob until the amp is just about as bright as you can stand it...now turn the bass until you feel a nice thump in your chest when you palm mute/chug. Find this spot, then turn the bass down 2-3 notches. You'll lose some of the fullness listening to the amp by itself, but it will play along with the bass and kick drum much better this way. Mids are last to be effected. Basically, turn them as high as you can without getting too muddy and without losing your sound.

If you've never dialed in an amp this way, it might take some getting used to. But try it out with your band before you give up. If it's still too bright, go ahead and drop the treble a bit. But as a rhythm guitarist, your goal is bright and chunky, not deep or thick (you don't want to be thin either, but a lot of the time you'll have all the thickness you need for most things just from the gain).

Also don't be decieved by CD sounds...I guarantee you that 90% of the stuff you listen to will feature double, triple, or quadruple-tracked guitars. In the studio, there's no other way to get that thickness; none. Live is a different story, mostly cause there's all sorts of volume and ambiance that makes everything sound bigger.

Also btw a lot of the guitar deepness on heavy records is really just the byproduct of well-written guitar and bass parts that complement each other. If you listened to these tracks soloed, they'd probably sound a lot less deep.

Oh by the way the sound man did use a shure 57 and had it about a foot away from the cabinet, which was weird.


It's normal to have mics anywhere from right up in the grill up to 3-4 feet out from the amp...but I'm guessing he didn't put it on axis. Recording is a whole other can of worms though...I'd be more than happy to talk about that too but it's kinda pointless until you like the sound of your amp in the room with the band playing.

By the way, this is just how I'd go about it. There are many other equally valid ways of trying to get the same thing. Your milage may vary.

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Oh, I thought of another thing.

EQ pedals offer all sorts of options for tone control.

And one other thing: if you're amp doesn't have a solid-state rectifier, you might try to find one that's compatible. They can really help tighten things up a bit dynamic-wise. I know Ted Weber sells something similar, not sure if it's exactly what you'd need though. www.webervst.com

Dave

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I have a vox ac-30 and I'm laughing. I mean, yeah, its got great tone, but I can't imagine playing anything heavier than "Bohemian Rhapsody" through it. Or possibly a distorted Neil Young type sound.

How do you set it up for playing metal? Maybe run a Metal Zone through it? :D

Originally posted by dZjupp

get a vox ac-30


you laugh now, but it would solve your problems better than anything you could imagine, or a matchless or something like that.

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couple things I've tried so far with quite an improvement.
First put all the original mesa tubes back in the amp, and I have a feeling my power amp tubes which only a year old were going out.
Second I used my eq pedal as a flat signal boost before the preamp, and this has helped as well.
Third removable casters were removed and with the amp on the stage it really projects the bottom end out.

so far a huge improvement most likely due to the tubes, which is wierd because when I have had tubes go out before they went out with style, like within the time we play a song the tubes would just melt down and die, but these ones really still had alot of volume left but i guess were just losing there punch and clarity.
The eq pedal as a boost really helped with harmonics and dynamics so thanks for the input there

so I think next will be V30's in the combo and a closed backed 2x12 cab with V30's.

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