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Rack gear placement--Looking for fellow GIT'ers!


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Hey guys.

 

First thing is, I was lucky enough to spend a year at GIT between 99-00, and am looking to get in contact w/ anyone else who's been there.

 

On to the real question.

 

I'm looking for a late '80s death metal tone similar to Metallica's "Justice" days--that is, not warm, not overdrive, not Marshall, and definitely not British. I've tried a Triple Rec over at the Hollywood Mesa and although it sounded nice, it was still slightly tube-ish and dirty. I tried a Randall Cyclone or Titan (don't remember which) in Memphis and, while the rhythm was great, it lacked the life of tubes. If you're into metal rhythm, go with a Randall...I heard it played simultaneously with a Marshall (two guys playing the same part through them at once) and the Marshall sounded like a distorted clean compared to that monster. I really don't know why they continue to be popular in extreme metal, although they sound great for moderate rock like Van Halen. Have also tried a 5150, and it sounded fuzzy.

 

I need a lot of things here, and I've never found this tone in a single pre-amp, and have sadly had to resort to the Monster Rack phenomenon (which I prefer anyway, as it offers more control over the sound).

 

What I need: Good, scooped rhythm tone, American sounding without being brittle, harsh, thin, or raspy. I'm illustrated the bad points of the tone too, to show that I'm aware of their weaknesses.

 

Examples: "...And Justice for All" (thin, brittle), In Flames' "Whoracle" and "Jester Race" (slightly thin), Dimension Zero "Silent Night Fever" (In Flames side band, slightly bassy), Gardenian "Soulburner" and "Sindustries" (the perfect C tone for the first, slightly thin for the second), Machine Head "Burn My Eyes" (especially "Blocked", but a bit Marshall-ish), Dark Tranquillity "Damage Done" (check out "Final Resistance"--using Rocktron there I know). Yes, I love Euro-metal and the Gothenburg Sound. I don't want any dirty or unprocessed sound in the signal, and I'd like it to sound like it was already "sweetened" from a good mastering straight from the cab.

 

Next tone needed: Single string definition, for riffs a la Megadeth's "Killing Road", any variety of Ratt tunes (for those piercing diads!), or for classic "Ain't Talkin 'bout Love" Eddie riffs, enough definition for those sus2 kind of riffs (Queensryche, "Operation Mindcrime"/"Eyes of a Stranger" style),

piercing lead tones at bedroom levels (think any Sinergy record)--don't need this tone in a separate "boost" because we're constantly playing melodically, like any Carcass record--the lead tone IS the rhythm (I don't know why an 81 is considered a lead pickup, it has enough gain for rhythm in this style, but real leads...?)

 

Third topic: Sustain into tomorrow without using regen (I can get this with my ART with regen set to 100%, but it literally holds the tone like a pressed and held doorbell), a la the end of Slayer's "South of Heaven" as it fades into track #2 (once again at bedroom levels)

 

Last topic: brightness and clarity when tapping/hammer pulling, like Rhoads. I've tried tapping with the pick, and hate it. As it stands currently, you can hear my left hand, but not my right whenever tapping comes into play.

 

Now onto my gear:

Variety of Jacksons equipped with EMGs. Why? I like the active sound. My other guitarist got a Dimebucker and it was tremendously weak to my ears...sounded a lot like the stock bridge in his Hamer Slammer. The difference in output between it and my 81 was proven on the LEDs of my compressor, set to 1:1 so the signal was unaffected. Yes, EMG's color the sound and do tend to squash dynamics...I wish I could get rid of that Slayer "growl" in an 81 or the bassy/no mids in an 89, but for the sheer amount of life, definition and tightness they give to the signal, I stay with them. The EMG 60 is especially nice to my ears. Even though I bashed it above, I use the 81 because it's the best of what I've tried. A Dimarzio X2N, their hottest job, is only around 600 something mv I think, whereas an 81 is around 1.2 volts. A Seymour is also weak. I really don't think they make a pickup with enough gain at low volume and enough headroom to suit my purposes (I often have to turn input all the way up on rack gear until it unnaturally distorts to get away from the Marshall sound--not a good solution).

 

Other rack gear, with order changable depending on advice.

Head: 2000 Carvin MTS3200, which I brought directly after trying a triple rec. Good amp for the price. I tried the Legacy and the MTS side by side for an hour and hated the Legacy for being a Marshall knockoff. Also tried a JCM 2000 TSL 100, and just not enough gain (I hate the British sound, it should've died with the Vietnam Era). Settings: Gain about 6.5-7.5 (where the overdrive begins to give way to Dimebag style distortion), mids 5, bass and treble 10, presence and reverb at 6. Master volume on about 1 (Marshall powerbrake supplies volume, low head volume=more clarity)

 

Marshall Powerbrake: Necessity for environment. Considering saving for a Groove Tubes SEII so I can EQ my poweramp as well as pre (converts poweramp to line level signal, also functions as a powerbrake)

 

ART SGX 2000 Express preamp (use it as a direct line in for sterile, "Justice" style cleans, some solo tones--never use with any other gear)

 

Alesis CLX 440 compressor, used as dual mono because I'm recording in an apartment where I can't isolate my cabs (hence I'm also using my cabs as monitors before I run them into my PC, so I need as much processing pre-mic as possible). Considering one side either pre-head (tends to squash signal too much) or in loop (tends to not be very effective). The other side will be used post mic to control room ambiance from cab.

 

Alesis PEQ-450 parametric: currently use both before head and in loop as a wide EQ. (again, would probably be best post-mic, but see above).

 

Alesis MEQ-230 (use as fine tuner after PEQ 450 both pre head and in loop)

 

Loop I'm currently considering Guitar--PEQ 450 left side--MEQ 230 left side--head input--effects loop--compressor left side--PEQ 450 right side--MEQ 230 right side--effects return--powerbrake--cab--compressor right side--PC

 

Any FINALLY a couple other things:

My cabs for my Carvin have a cab out on one so you can run in full stack mode by connecting one cab directly to another, but the head also has 2 outputs to be run in stereo. If it sounds better to run stereo from a head, why do many cabs feature an ext. cab out? (I'm assuming for people who have only mono gear so you can run 2 cabs despite this)

 

Secondly, why have a stereo feature on a lot of rack gear, especially in cases like mine where you don't have a mixing console (just rack to cab to SM 57 to PC), when you can just dual mono mode going to two different cabs simultaneously? (Of course, for stuff like U2 where you need a specifically timed delay/pan to match drums, I understand, but let's assume timing isn't critical here). In short, to me having stereo effects units seems rather useless if a mixing console isn't part of your setup.

 

Do you think it would help to flip the amp's bias switch from 100 watt to 50? I've considered a high gain low watt preamp into some closely matched speakers, but again, to me this would be Marshall-ish, as it pushes the speakers hard and makes them dirty, rather than just being a good preamp.

 

Ultimately, I'm finding that there's something mutually exclusive going on. The sound I like, the old-school Pantera for the first two albums, sounds raging and scooped, but it also sounds small and abstract and far away, like Dime was cranked with a blanket over the cab or in an isolation cab (probably too much compression). At the same time, a huge, Creed-like overdrive sound sounds fat and full, but is too British, vintage and dirty for my taste. Is there any way to cross a compressed, scooped "Justice for All" and Creed fullness (think the open palm mutes on "Higher", even though I hate that band, the tone is impressive) to get a Big Dime/Hetfield? (Metallica's live sound doesn't count, as it sounds overdrive compared to Justice's more American voicing). I've also seen InFlames live on the Clayman tour and have analyzed "The Tokyo Showdown", and the tone difference between when Glenn Ljungstrom was in the band and with Bjorn Gelotte playing guitar is huge. VERY Marshall live...the tone from Jester/Black Ash/Whoracle sounds like a whole different band compared to the live setup.

 

Sorry if I'm sounding cynical or a bit like an asshole, but I've tried quite a bit of configurations, and it just isn't happening. I'm beginning to lose hope.

 

Okay, I'm really out this time. Sorry for the long post, but people here often bitch about not enough info, and I'm just being thorough. Re-read slowly :)

 

I'm sad to say that I don't think equipment is up to the task of heaviness these days, as heavy is increasingly compared with Korn, rather than death metal. The last kind of tone I need is a distorted bass that only an elephant can hear it's tuned so low, and, while amps are powerful and loud, none of them seem to be able to hold a harmonic for 25 seconds at bedroom levels without being noisy while your friend plays a C minor chord distorted and you can hear every string. Unfortunately i think the Nu-Metal crowd is retarding equipment development, as companies are more going toward neck pickup, fat sounds instead of what I've been bitching about this whole post...clarity and huge amounts of sustain at the same time at a stereo or tv volume level.

 

For a great EQ primer, see

http://www.recordingeq.com/EQ/req0900/primer.htm, as it gives a band by band analysis of suggestions of what to cut and boost (I don't go by "shapes", because they tend to ignore fundamental frequencies for the sake of a pattern).

 

Thanks

Aaron

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my friend, you have written a book. not enough information is not good, but too much is also not good. i read your post thoroughly, and perhaps i'm just stupid, but i don't really see any immediate questions. perhaps you might want to scale down or ask one question at the time. we're all A.D.D. here. oh, look, a giraffe...

 

-jim

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I did say to read slowly ;)

 

But seriously to the questions:

 

Suggestions for the tone I tried to describe.

 

What's the deal with stereo when you can run dual mono (when not using a mixer).

 

Also whether switching to 50 watts would break signal up better at lower volumes, or just be same tone, less volume...my cabs are both 300 watt jobs, and I don't think a 50 head pushing a 300 watt cab is going to do much good

 

Most of it is my random assorted bitching, considering people say, well, why don't you try this...most of it's just my musings on what I've already done.

 

Also suggestions for where to place the compressor...either before the head (which I think I'll scrap...the lack of hiss isn't worth the squashed tone one gets when a compressor is in front), in the loop or post mic (again, due to lack of isolation of cabs from monitors, I'd prefer the post-mic only as a last resort). Also whether to put the compressor before or after the parametric/graphic combo.

 

I'm a more is more kind of player. I've never heard a tone that was decent to my ears without a great sound guy and a lot of high end components...unless you're talking about a vintage tone, which, when I hear most guys talking about "great tone", it eventually comes out sounding like SRV or EVH...which isn't bad, but it also simply isn't hot enough, clear enough, or heavy enough for what I need. The bright side is, I doubt I'll need many "in-between" tones. I also tend to dislike using the volume knob as a form of gain control during recording...I remember reading an interview with Annihilator's Jeff Waters where described his tone as keeping his pot around 3/4's of the way around and then applying all his gain...which I think is an okay approach, but, when I try it on my '81's, I get a kind of weak, no attack kind of sound...of course, it may also be the pot, from the factory the Kelly has a lot of play in the low end of the knob and only begins to be audible about halfway up.

 

Jeff's cleans are great though...check out "Liquid Oval" from Carnival Diablous...for some reason Annihilator is the only band I've ever heard where I can hear the clean and know it's Jeff's playing. If only he and Chuck Schuldiner had played together before Chuck's passing...

 

Anyway, the questions are above...the rest is optional...my opinions for the interested :)

 

Aaron

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read slowly?! i haven't got all night!

 

i can sympathize, being from the south myself. we tend to talk way too much. ;)

 

stereo vs. dual mono: stereo implies some sort of stereo signal (like a ping-pong delay, a nice reverb, just about anything that pans) where as dual mono means that the same signal is being sent to either side.

 

switching from what to 50? from whence thou cometh is just as important at to whence thou art going.

 

are you looking for speaker distortion...because the only speaker distortion i know of is a just a touch of breakup, ala "vintage tones". the lower the wattage, the easier the amp will be to break up...it's easier to get a 10w amp to break up at bedroom levels than a 100w amp, provided we're talking about non-master volume amps...

 

-jim

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Jim:

I'm an educated one (college student), so not only do I talk too much, but I talk too slowly too :)

 

I don't really understand the stereo vs. mono thing when running a rack without a mixer to a single cab for the following reasons. Both my CLX 440 and PEQ 450 have "A" and "B" sides. On each "A" and "B" side there is an L and R in and out, which to me would be dual stereo, because you could run from the 2 speaker outputs on the head into L and R and then out of L and R to the cab, which theoretically means you could run 4 cabs from the entire unit, right (dual stereo=4 cabs)? Also, if your cabs have ext. out jacks like mine, you could run 6 cabs, because one cab in every stack has an ext out. jack, usually the bottom. Since I just use one cab for recording, I just run them mono, and use the whole unit more like 2 independent devices than a stereo device. (As for things I don't understand, like side chaining, I don't even bother).

 

So, ON TO QUESTION #1 :) (poking fun at myself here, don't take offense):

 

Is there a tone difference going from each speaker out on the back of a head to its own individual cab as opposed to going from the head out to a cab, then from that cab's ext. out to the other cab?

 

Question #2: Will the tone be hotter and more responsive to harmonics if I turn the bias switch from 100 to 50 watts? I assume not, because the cab is 300 watts, and 50 watts going into 300 would be pretty wimpy. I don't want to push the speakers hard, because, as you said (and inadvertently answered a question I had), I don't want to push the speakers hard if the resulting tone will be vintage or dirty instead of a modern high gain distortion.

 

Question #3: Considering my compressor and what I've tried (keep in mind I've a 2 sided compressor, so I can use it in 2 separate places in the effects chain), where do you think would be a good place to put it? I've tried it as the first thing I run into, which kills the tone even on 1:1 with a high threshold, and I've tried it in the loop, which has more tone, but doesn't have as much of a tonal effect (hence my desire for an SEII so the power amp will be taken into account instead of just the ineffective fx loop). One thing is for sure and that will be one side will be just before the PC, to control volume and add punch.

 

Question #4: Any advice for a head that has the tone I'm seeking?

 

All the rest of my ramblings are merely what I've tried to do with my sound so that people don't have to keep replying with suggestions I've already done. To date I've tried Randalls, Marshalls, Mesas, Peaveys and Carvins, and am not really happy with any of them. I'm beginning to sound spoiled I know, but, considering I've dumped probably $10,000 or more into music since 96, I think I should have a tone I like by now, especially in the harmonics and sustain department, because as it is now, the sound "dies" too quickly or the harmonics kind of whimper instead of shriek...if I can't produce them straight from the cab, they aren't going to get on the hard drive.

 

(BTW: The guitar is set up for E, and, although I have it in E flat right now, it doesn't significantly affect the action, etc, so I think the majority of my problem is that the string simply isn't vibrating long enough to produce a signal...of course, even with generous vibrato, eventually the tone of the pick strike dies and one begins to just hear the rubbing of the string on the wood, sort of like when you vibrato a string without striking it).

 

Aaron

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A suggestion for question 4. You mentioned trying Mesa stuff but did you try any of the Mark series amps? ...And Justice For All (and Master of Puppets) was recorded with a Mesa MarkIIC+. Those are pretty rare and in demand but another option could be a Quad. They are basically a rack preamp of the Mark III and MarkIIC+. Just a thought.

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Ok, as the guy above me stated, "Justice" was recorded through a Mesa Mark series amp. From what I know, in the following years, James was using a Mesa Mark IV with the mids completely scooped and an outboard parametric EQ. Kirk was using a Triaxis (which has several Mark series sounds) through a Mesa Strategy power amp (not sure whether it was the 400 or 500 though).

 

For an In Flames - Whoracle sound and to get the sustain for days without regen sound, the Triaxis's Lead 2 Red would get the sound you're looking for. That sound is also the lead channel on the Mark III or the second overdrive on the Quad preamp.

 

Megadeth's "Killing Road" was recorded with a CAE (custom audio electronics) preamp, I do believe along with Jackson guitars (Kelly and King V neck-thru models), Seymore Duncon pickups, 10-50 gauge strings... I think you'll only get that EXACT sound through a CAE if you had their settings and complete setup... In relation to the Mesa gear, I think the Triaxis Lead 2 Green (Mark IV medium gain) sound can approximate that breathy crunch...

 

So, as for the preamp, a Triaxis, a Quad or even a rackmounted Mark IV would probably get you in the ballpark of the sounds that you're looking for...

 

btw, excellent choice of tones lol, all stuff that I grew up listening to.

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Concerning the EMGs, Dimebucker etc. I did have a B.C. Rich Virgin with the 81 bridge and 89 neck compliment for a while. I did think the pickups were well matched and had a good bite for heavy rhythm work, but they did lack a lil something that was really hard to place.

 

The Dimebucker actually pisses me off. Bill Lawrence is the guy who made the L500XL blade humbuckers that Dime, Nuno B. and even Billy Joe of Greenday used. The Dimebucker is nothing more than an overpriced imitation of the L500XL blade humbuckers. I do have a K500XL (same make, the K from when the company was called keystone for a while) in one of my guitars that does sound great, very dynamic. It to, lacks a little something that I find really hard to place though.

www.billlawrence.com if you're interested in looking any of their products up though.

 

If you like active output, but want some more of the passive sound, I've seen several good reviews of www.mastertonepickups.com products. They have outragiously high output and are all military spec shielded. They're supposed to have extremely long battery life too. I've been thinking of getting an SPA-2 and vHO myself to try out. Maybe that's something else that you can look into.

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Staley

Did you like it there?

 

Everybody else:

 

I was under the following impressions:

Hetfield used the Triaxis/Strategy combo beginning in '91. Kirk had a far less complicated setup that I really never bothered messing with (who would waste a slot with 2 pickups of the same kind? I have an 81 in the neck of my V and an 89 in the bridge, and the tone difference between 2 81's would not be that great). I thought Puppets was recorded with Marshall/Gibsons until Metallica signed a deal with Mesa/ESP/EMG in '88.

 

Killing Road might've used a CAE, but I was under the impression that Marty used a Blue Voodoo as well.

 

In reference to what I've tried:

Considering I live in Arkansas and we only get Crate, Carvin and Peavey here, I'm not really in the position to try a lot of Mesas. I was under the impression that a Triple Rec was an improvement on the sound, but it was a bit too warm and full for my taste. I'd like a wide Creed rhythm sound, but again, I've never heard anybody with a full, "crunchy" sound as opposed to a full "overdrive" sound. I usually find most amps only have a very narrow range of where they hit that crunch sweet spot, usually with the gain and presence around 7. I tried a Nomad while I was there too, and they weren't bad amps, but again, I wouldn't pay that much to get something close but not quite right. I want to get away from the warmth, away from the overdrive, more to crunch. The only reason I don't go solid state is that it's lacking something, as well. I called Michael Wolf over at Mesa and he suggested a Mark IV as well, but, is a Triaxis' rendition of a Mark IV as good as a real Mark IV?

 

My thoughts on the 81 and 89:

The 60 is hands down a pickup I love for a warm neck humbucking sound. I had John Carruthers over at GIT put an 81 and an 89 in a V of mine with BTC controls, because I wanted both a Paul sound as well as a "warm" and "cold" (say Iron Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow" vs. "One" kind of cleans) at the same time. It didn't get as warm as I wanted, but it's a nice variation nonetheless. I like the 60 for the warm, and a 81 for a cold clean. I hear EMG will still sell you 60A's if you special order them (60's with alnico magnets) so that might be an option. Rick Hunt over at EMG is a great guy, and he even mentioned something about making an 89 with ceramic magnets for a less warm sound that I was looking for.

 

Another imporant aspect I'd like to get is an amp that's volume knob is "transparent", as in, it doesn't affect the tone or warm it up or break it up, but rather perfectly preserves the tone at any volume level...ie you can sustain for 20 seconds or more on 1 or on 10, it doesn't help the gain in any way, just increases volume. I've considered getting an after burner in my next guitar, but again, these gain boosters just seem to boost volume and brittleness rather than create any kind of harmonic sensitivity. I'll be glad when gain and volume, in the future, can be more easily separated. The volume of an output signal should have nothing to do with an amps tone, merely the hottness of an input signal, with the poweramp being "transparent". I also have a DGCFAD guitar with an EXG midrange scooper with an SA/S/81 setup, and it helps the definition a bit. I wish my Kelly had an EXG (only one volume pot). For some reason, my S is a lower output than my SA though.

 

So, are we all in the Mesa camp here? Any other suggestions about the stereo stuff or compressor placement that I asked?

Lastly, when you guys use a low watt high gain amp, how close do you like to run your head wattage to your speaker tolerance? I don't want to blow a 50 watt speaker with a 50 watt head because they were too closely matched and, does the ohm rating make much tone difference?

 

Aaron

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Ok well you also have to account for that you will NOT get a tone close to Creed's as they [and all other recordings] have soo many other variables involved like Mic's, mic preamps ad/da etc.....on and on! I understand the direction of tone however that you're going at though.

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Hey Devolve, I graduated from GIT in Sept.95, best time of my life !!

 

As for amps, I've had both the Triaxis thru a 2:90 and a Mark IV, and the Tri can't quite cop the Mark IV with a V curve on the EQ...that is the exact tone as Michael Romeo's rhythm tone on Symphony X's "Divine wings of tragedy"..that's my fave tone for thrash/death metal. Rectifiers are too coarse for this, unless you EQ the hell outta them. Next week I'm getting a Hughes and Kettner Access, I tried it with a Behringer exciter and it sounded CRUSHING !!! Thru my Mesa 395 it should be awesome.

 

Speaking of which, have you tried enhancers, like BBEs and Behringers or Aphex? maybe that's what you're looking for, the really add something, a crystal sparkle to clean tones and scooped madness to distortion. Give it a try if you can.

 

 

Manu/Anunnaki

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It's good to see some guys who have been through the same. I only went up to the Journeyman's level (I was severely burned out by that time), but ohhh the memories...the droves of people outside smoking, everyone bitching about those solid state Fender combos that nobody liked...

 

So would this be a good analysis guys? Triaxis good for tonal variety, but for the one sound I'm seeking, a Mark IV?

 

Btw, if anyone can understand my question on stereo outputs and wattage and cabs and stuff, I'd like your opinions :)

 

Aaron

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Marty didn't use the blue voodoo on Youthanasia at all. That deal was for publicity, not recording. I have a friend with a blue voodoo and personally don't think they sound that great. They're both noisy and very grainy sounding.

 

The Triaxis has the Mark IV's preamp circuit, but lacks a full 5 band EQ and only has the "dynamic voice" control, which is a preset EQ curve. This is why James used an outboard EQ along with the Triaxis.

 

Armory is right about the fact that you're not going to get a "Creed" tone out of a Triple rec very easily (wondering why on earth you'd want a creed tone anyway). In my experience with the Dual Rectifier series, I've unfortunately played them through Vintage 30 loaded cabs, which I think sound very nasal. If you're going to try a Rectifier, try it through a few different speaker cabinets before you completely pass judgement on the tones you can get out of it.

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Grinder:

Yeah, but...a Recto is too dirty...I like the crunch of dime, but not the smallness...

 

I hope I don't have to turn the bass and drums down to make the guitar sound fuller...

 

Dirty vs. distorted is the comparison I think I'm looking for

 

Know where I can listen to a mark IV? I checked out the SPA 2, it sounds great...

 

Only one problem...I need 3 tones, the distortion, a warm tube clean, and a bright solid state clean...so I want a 3 hum guitar...

 

does the usual Jackson/ESP/B.C. Rich crowd even have a 3 hum job these days? I think I'll go with an SPA 2, SPA 1 and a vHO

Aaron

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the recto is more of a crunch sound while dime's high-gain randall sound was more of a high-gain scoop sound, lots of treble and lots of focus

 

the mark IV does not sound as "dirty" as the recto. It's not so much for all out crunch as it is for smooth high-gain. You can get thin tones out of it if you cut the mids and boost the treble too much, but all Mesa tone controls are VERY reactive, so a lil tweaking in one band affects the whole tone because it reacts with the other tone controls.

 

you can listen to a Mark IV at any mesa dealer, most guitar centers etc.. if you go to www.mesaboogie.com i think that they have a dealer list somewhere off of the main page

 

The Triaxis can definitely handle the distortion and it does have two clean tones on board, the Mark I fat clean (kinda like an old fender style) and the Mark IV hyper clean (closer to a solid state, but still has a bit of tubiness to it). Personally, I don't think that having a 2 humbucker over a 3 humbucker guitar will make a huge difference between warm and solid-state cleans..

 

I don't know of many stock guitars (besides one of the jackson stealth models) that has 3 buckers, several have the two humbucker and 1 single coil configuration though

 

where did you happen to get soundsamples of the SPA btw? keep in mind that the SPA 1 and 2 sound alike, the only difference being that the SPA 2's output is lowered to better match the vHO in overall volume.

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Originally posted by jimfowler

my friend, you have written a book. not enough information is not good, but too much is also not good. i read your post thoroughly, and perhaps i'm just stupid, but i don't really see any immediate questions. perhaps you might want to scale down or ask one question at the time. we're all A.D.D. here. oh, look, a giraffe...


-jim

 

Best post ever!!!!!:D:cool:

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