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> Gear, Gear, Gear!, Yeah, I'm probably crazy.
JVM
post Aug 27 2008, 01:43 AM
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So I'm all over the map when it comes to gear. When looking for an amp, I want it to be versatile. This has lead me to purchase a Mesa Boogie F-50 head and 1x12 mesa cab a few months back. It's also led me to purchase a les paul vintage mahogany and an american deluxe strat. All of this stuff is great gear. Seen as a whole, my setup satisfies the desire for TONE that I've always had.

But...

Lately I find myself searching not just for tone, but for other things as well. Tone is wonderful, but as I've we all know, tone is 1) subjective and 2) equal to more than just the gear a player has. As a player who heavily incorporates gear (a versatile tonal pallette, making use of volume dynamics, "tone knob" dynamics, effects, etc) I've come to realize that for my own style, tone itself is not all there is to it. My setup needs to be extremely versatile tonally, but also very importantly, it needs to be simple. I can't be dancing around a massive pedalboard (which thankfully I don't have), changing guitars every song, and trying to adjust all kinds of EQ settings to compensate for these differences. I just want to play the song.

While it seems counter productive that a person like me, who loves all different kinds of tones would want LESS options, check out this TEDTalks video on choice. Cool stuff by the way.

So, ideally, I want one amp, to be flavored by extra stuff I can put in if I want (pedals). Being that the amp is such a basic and massive component, it obviously needs to be good. But if I want to balance tone with simplicity to reach a compromise, escape from GAS and be satisfied, even if it means settling for less than perfect tone (what is perfect anyway?), I think that more than being a tone monster it needs to be a good base to build off of.

So, rather than searching for that impossible tone, I'm going to opt to just settle for "great" rather than "perfect". So it's quite likely that I will be restructuring my setup in the not so distant future sometime. If you have a look at my TC Electronic Nova System thread, I think that thing is really cool. It provides an answer to me for versatility and quality while still being relatively simple, compared to a whole pedalboard. As for guitars, if you check my "I have found it!" thread on the carvin ct3, I'm still working at figuring out what I want, it might be a semi hollow model now smile.gif But things on that end are progressing.

So I come to the amp question. And what the heck, why cant I find the amp I'm looking for? I'd love some help here. I'm looking for a combo amp with a very solid clean tone that takes pedals well, is fairly loud (enough for gigging unmic'd) and has good headroom. Also I'd love to find a 2x12 or maybe 4x10 setup, for a decent price. I've actually seen a fair amount of options, but I don't know what to go for. I'm so used to trying to find an amp that does everything, that I almost don't know what to look for for a simple amp. Ideally, it would have a nice clean tone with a volume and simple 3 band eq. I'm amazed that I can't find ONE reasonably priced amp that meets my criteria above. Maybe I need to settle again, but anyway, given all of the above, do you think you guys can help me out?


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 02:30 AM
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Well do you only need a good clean tone without a good drive channel? You mentioned you have F50 Mesa head, how come you don't like it. IMO that's all the tone you need. I'm still using my AVT50 Marshall until I find something better, but do know that tone will not come with a "perfect amp". Tone will come from how you play, no matter on what amp. You should be able to adjust to any amp you plug in to. I think that is more important than finding a new amp, specially if you have Mesa that already has good clean.


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inertia
post Aug 27 2008, 02:58 AM
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JVM I hear you man. I have a fender strat deluxe, a les paul, a fender amp and a vox amp. Plus a pod xt and a bunch of pedals I don't use much. I have been holding off on GAS for a bit and have pretty much figured out what I want my setup to be. I basically want an amp with a great clean tone but also a great overdriven tone, not necessarily too heavy like a rectifier though. So I'm looking at the mesa boogie express 5:50, the mesa boogie lonestar, and the fender supersonic.
Pedal wise, I'm tired of all the pedals, I really want something simple. So plan, similar to you is to get the Nova System, and even though I think the drive seems good on it, I'll probably use it with a good overdrive that works great on a clean channel and great on an overdriven channel (fulltone ocd or bb preamp) for a good solo boost or to put me into to a heavier sound, and then a wah pedal. That pretty much covers all the sounds I want anyway, i get the reverb whether amp or TC, delay from TC, modulation and noise reduction from TC, the wah, and a couple simple but effective od/distortion options, I think this will make life simpler and as you say reduce gas. I think the paul and the strat will sound great through this setup. Although there's a still another 4-5 guitars i still want wink.gif
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audiopaal
post Aug 27 2008, 05:53 AM
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Sounds like you should check out the Marshall Vintage Modern smile.gif

I've got the head and 4*12 cabinet.

Simple, yet fantastic amp.
The cleans and crunch sounds are awesome.
If you need to play metal on it, just get a good pedal, works like a charm smile.gif
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Juan M. Valero
post Aug 27 2008, 07:38 AM
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mmm first you should know that I prefer racks than Heads, so I'm gonna explain some options...

Well, I think live gear should be easy to use, and easy to carry !! A good combination would be a Rocktron Prophesy (preamp and multieffects) and a good Poweramp (50W is more than enought) + a simple pedal controler. Then your 1x12 cab, it's great and I hope you don't need more volume... anyway you can go for a 2x12... IMHO carrying a 4x12 is an error, too much volume and really difficult to transport.
If you don't want to buy all together you can use the head as a Poweramp conecting the output of the Profesy into the effects return.


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MickeM
post Aug 27 2008, 08:31 AM
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We're going the opposite ways you and I. I'm on the look for a simple amp with no possibilities where I can dial in my sound and be happy with it. Less knobs, less options.
I fell in love with this beauty.
Attached Image

Two channel amp, the clean channel lacks an EQ. It has no fx loop. Just plug n play.


I do need two amps, my H&K Switchblade that sits at the rehearsal room and the Peavey Classic 30 at home. So I do have a great amp for home already (Peavey) with great cleans and teriffic rock tone. So I'll give it some time to sink in because the Orange Rocker 30 suggests I have to pay an extra $600-700 if I sell the Classic 30... but I so much want this Orange biggrin.gif

But my idea was to put the Orange in the rehearsal room and move the Switchblade to home. Several reasons for that. While rehearsing I want great rock tone and keep that tone through out the set. The H&K got that, but with the pedal board having 128 sounds at hand with a simple click is too easy and too much. And I don't want things to be easy, I want it to be simple. I don't have time to search the banks for the sound for the next song so I'm sticking with one sound only and flick between the channels on the amp instead keeping the same settings but for clean/crunch/brit gain/US gain.
I'd rather have this amp at home so I can, in piece and quiet
- dial in the sound for the occacion
- set up the amp with my own sounds (at rehearsal there's no time for that)
- use it to record with (with all it's options I have all the sounds I need right there)

So that amp would be my suggestion to you. The H&K Switchblade.
You will have to take your time to learn it, the stored sounds need to be organised or memorized so you can find what you want instantly. Or else there no use with so many options. Because that is what it is. An enormous amount of options brought to you through a simple user interface. You can even have the effects loop programmed how it should behave in the memory bank.

You opted for these
* "So, ideally, I want one amp, to be flavored by extra stuff I can put in if I want (pedals)."
the Switchblade, one amp, flavored by extra stuff. Such as build in effects (that are patched to the analog signal, so it's analog). You can put in the pedals in serial or parallell and per program bank + selection within the bank have it stored the way you like it. (press store and it stores the lot of the settings)

* "Being that the amp is such a basic and massive component, it obviously needs to be good."
It's good alright, great even in my opinion.

* "But if I want to balance tone with simplicity to reach a compromise"
Building up your tone with this H&K amp means work. Good thing is that this amp doesn't come with a set of useless presets. They are infact good. So you have to spend time and efforts dialing in your tone. But after it's stored it's very easy to find. With one click of a button you'll have the channel selected, the fx loop selected, the internal built in effects the way you put them, the EQ set, the gain and even the bank volume. And that, with the volume, means you'll always have your sound relative to eachother no matter what the master volume is set to. So simplicity is there, after you pass the learning stage because there's quite a bit to learn with this amp. And when it's time to start storing your own sound there's another problem - How to organize it? ohmy.gif That's the most difficult part laugh.gif

* "escape from GAS and be satisfied"
I've got a Switchblade, but still have GAS. Sorry, can't help you there, this isn't the cure for GAS wink.gif

* "even if it means settling for less than perfect tone (what is perfect anyway?)"
Yep, very objective. A couple of the presets that amazed me were of a cranked Fender and a cranked vintage Marshall. Just beautiful and rather amazing to make such good job on both! With Marshall, Fender, Mesa Boogie as benchmark amps you'll never hear anyone say "wow, it sure has hughes and kettner sound charachter". Then all the way up to hi gain territory, your own choise of british flavored or US.
But if you're looking for Fender tone, you're better off with a Fender. But mind that you'll have difficulties coming off as a Marshall using a Fender. And the other way around, if you strive for a Marshall, get a Marshall and so forth. Same with a Mesa Boogie. If you want an amp you can fool 99,9% of the population with beliving it's a Fender, Marshall or a Mesa Boogie (concidering there are many different models but minding just the character) you could do just that.
I used to have a Marshall head and in fact I'm more happy with the Marshall sound I'm getting from the Switchblade, strange as it may sound but that's a fact.
* "I think that more than being a tone monster it needs to be a good base to build off of. "
I think here you'll have both a tone monster and a good base.


Two notes of imperfection with the Switchblade.
1) There are two versions of the pedal board. The old one has a weak MIDI cable attchment inside the board. Mine broke during a gig so I couldn't reach my sounds, had to do the channel switching etc on the amp. Got my pedal repaired with a sturdy connection now so... knock on wood.
2) You have to use a noise gate if you're on hi gain. Either between the guitar + input or in the fx loop. I'm not sure since I don't have one, but I'll be getting one soon enough since if you're not playing and don't turn the volume down on your guitar while on a hi gain setting it will howl.

This is my own half stack wink.gif Go for a 50W, 100w like I got is just insane (were no 50 watters when I got mine). But I pulled two tubes and mine's 50 w now and still very very very loud.
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mattacuk
post Aug 27 2008, 08:40 AM
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Are you not happy with you Mesa F50 ? ohmy.gif


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Noangels
post Aug 27 2008, 08:51 AM
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IMO the best amp you can buy to be versatile enough for anything you throw at it at the moment is the Hughes and Kettner Switchblade 100watt/50watt head.
The onboard digital FX unit is good enough to throw away any pedals you may have and you can concentrate on playing rather than tap dancing each gig.
The 4 switch pedal is perfect and sturdy enough to kick around the stage,without it breaking.
You can save 128 mid banks to use with the pedal easily,but thats over kill as most guitarists will just use one bank of four presets for their tone.
It doesnt take too long to come up with one or two banks that fit your setlist perfectly

Clean,Broken,dirty,and over the top for your solos-with individual verb and delay if needed

I have done the preamp and poweramp for years,and the Blade sounds a lot better and is easy to dial in any tone you like

concerning the lack of noise gate on the blade,yeahh it does need it-and I solo on ultra chanel with the drive maxed fully but its kind of cool to fight the head when playing the leads.my hard rock ryth tone is still ultra but with less gain and feedback is held at bay.I only have to roll of guitar volume if theres a long rest


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fatb0t
post Aug 27 2008, 01:35 PM
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You know,I have a Mesa F50 combo too that I'm not entirely pleased with either to be honest. I almost always run my pod through it's clean channel....

I've been trying to find a new amp as well. The cleans aren't that clean (they usually require a chorus pedal or a univibe or something) and the crunch is pretty good. The solo option where it boosts the tone up is pretty good... i dunno, it's good. It's not GREAT.
Kind of hard for me to explain it...
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JVM
post Aug 27 2008, 05:10 PM
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QUOTE (fatb0t @ Aug 27 2008, 08:35 AM) *
You know,I have a Mesa F50 combo too that I'm not entirely pleased with either to be honest. I almost always run my pod through it's clean channel....

I've been trying to find a new amp as well. The cleans aren't that clean (they usually require a chorus pedal or a univibe or something) and the crunch is pretty good. The solo option where it boosts the tone up is pretty good... i dunno, it's good. It's not GREAT.
Kind of hard for me to explain it...


I kind of agree. It's really good, but not quite what I'm looking for. It's too valuable I think, to keep around when I would only be using it for it's clean channel. And even then there's less headroom than I would like. This is why I'm looking for a different amp.

I suppose I forgot to mention my budget, which is around maybe $1100 max. Thats why I was hoping to find a nice 2x12 or 4x10 amp with a good clean channel (I'd be fine with a totally clean amp) for that price, but there seem to be very few that aren't made in china or somewhere, makes me worry about the quality.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 07:18 PM
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For that money I really can't tell what can be a good purchase. If I were buying a one channel amp, I would go for a JMP Super Lead Half Stack. That's just my preference, I like vintage Marshalls. Reissue also exists but it is more that 1100$ i think.


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Tjchep
post Aug 27 2008, 09:11 PM
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I mean. If I were in your situation then this is what I would do.

Go grab a pod xt for practicing, and get a pedal board together to use with your f50, you don't need to spend all that money on a brand new amp. Tone is in the fingers, the more you use the amp the better you will like it, your ears will adapt to the sound of that amp, and you will like it.

tj


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 09:16 PM
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QUOTE (Tjchep @ Aug 27 2008, 10:11 PM) *
I mean. If I were in your situation then this is what I would do.

Go grab a pod xt for practicing, and get a pedal board together to use with your f50, you don't need to spend all that money on a brand new amp. Tone is in the fingers, the more you use the amp the better you will like it, your ears will adapt to the sound of that amp, and you will like it.

tj


TJ said it nicely, similar to what I tried to say. If the clean on F50 is good, then you can buy a very good pedalboard and form your Tone around this gear. I agree with TJ, tone is in the fingers, no gear changing is gonna help you get a "better tone", just different.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Aug 27 2008, 09:16 PM


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JVM
post Aug 28 2008, 01:16 AM
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I'm not trying to get a better tone, necessarily. To quote myself, "Seen as a whole, my setup satisfies the desire for TONE that I've always had." From my experience jamming with people (playing pretty loud, enough to get the tubes burnin') and listening at concerts, I have a more than professional tone (by that I mean better than I've heard at many big gigs).

And I like the f-50. It's just not the amp for me for a few reasons: It has way more gain than I need.. my style tends towards clean and a bit crunchy. At the volume I play at jams, turning the gain halfway up on the clean channel is already nearing on more than I want. I don't use half of the features of the amp, so I'm not looking for a "better" amp, but just something that I would use more fully, which I hope to find for a smaller price than the mesa, but it seems very hard to do.

However, you guys might be right. There doesn't seem to be an amp out there that has the qualifications I'm looking for (largely due to $$$) so maybe sticking with the f-50 is good for now. I was hoping to use some of the cash from buying a less expensive but more specific to my style amp towards other parts of my gear.


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Tjchep
post Aug 28 2008, 01:46 AM
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QUOTE (JVM @ Aug 28 2008, 01:16 AM) *
However, you guys might be right. There doesn't seem to be an amp out there that has the qualifications I'm looking for (largely due to $$$) so maybe sticking with the f-50 is good for now. I was hoping to use some of the cash from buying a less expensive but more specific to my style amp towards other parts of my gear.


Well, think of it this way, even though you want a simpiler set up.. if your happy with the f-50 now, keep it. Who cares if it has more gain than you need, I'm sure one day you'll explore some different styles, and will eventually need the gain. The f-50 is versatile as hell from what i've heard, and if you got that specific amp you need, then that amp will probably be good for one or two styles. Even thought it might sound a bit more suiting to the particular style.

I don't know though man. If I wer you i'd keep the amp, keep tweaking it, buy some nice pedals and get a nice setup. IF your still not happy, then sell the amp and get something different.

One more thing, I always felt tone had something to do with confidence. You HAVE to be confident in your sound in order to sound good. And, it can take a while to become confident with a piece of gear, but once you do. I've found it was always worth the wait.

How long have you had the amp anyways?

tj

This post has been edited by Tjchep: Aug 28 2008, 01:50 AM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 28 2008, 12:05 PM
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There is another option if you really don't like the Mesa (I don't understand why you bought it in the first place if so). You can sell it, and with that kind of money you can buy a Super Lead from Marshall. It's pretty straightforward all-tuber, and it rules on crunch.


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JVM
post Aug 28 2008, 01:09 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Aug 28 2008, 07:05 AM) *
There is another option if you really don't like the Mesa (I don't understand why you bought it in the first place if so). You can sell it, and with that kind of money you can buy a Super Lead from Marshall. It's pretty straightforward all-tuber, and it rules on crunch.


Again, I do like the mesa. It just isn't the amp for me. Also my style is tending more and more towards blues, jazz and rockabilly type stuff and I find myself using distortion less and less. As for the super lead, it seems to me that the head is more expensive than my mesa's head plus it's cab and too much for me to want to spend on just a head.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 28 2008, 01:11 PM
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For blues, jazz and rockabiliy you could check out some Vox, or Marshall. They have simple amps, and some of them are relatively cheap.


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