Generalized relationship between high-gain amps (which are similar vs. quite different)?

Dr. Caligari

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Why are you using a flat response solid state power amp for guitar? I would expect that to sound like shit. Typically you want a guitar power amp OR power amp simulation, no?

E530 is good. If things don't sound good my instinct is to say the problem is elsewhere in the chain. However, it is tight and bass filtered by nature so if you want a sound that is bigger, looser, sludgier then in that case you might want a different preamp section.

But generally, preamps don't do that much eq wise. Not compared to the rest of the signal chain. If something was wrong with the distortion, tightness, pick attack etc. I would look at the preamp but for general eq the rest of the chain has so much more impact. Speaker is huge obv, but also cab makes a difference, and power section of course.
 

4Eyes

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i have a solid state mosvalve for a "Flat" response poweramp.
Mosvalve power amps are great for sure, I'm just not sure if it's the best pairing for e530. Instead of aiming for a new amp head I'd try proper tube power amp, probably Engl one which is more likely made for their preamps. In my experience Engl preamps are made uber tight, which could make them sound sterile in some way and you need good power amp which will deliver punchy low end (I don't mean flubby) to give their preamps some balls. Pair the combo with some V30 cab and you may by surprised by the results which could kill your GAS for the head....at least for some time.

just my 2 cents..as I'm not entirely sure you're getting best possible tones with your approach, which could be more appropriate for modellers and running IRs into FRFR cabs
 

dspellman

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I've seen a couple of these posted by people occasionally, trying to make a "Family tree" of high-gain guitar amps. I'm wondering if there's any golden source or best-tree somewhere?

The main reason I'm curious is that I'd like to own 2 or 3 preamps, but I'd like them to be "different", at least noticeably so, so it's worth switching between them for different tones, and for fun musical exploring. So I'd rather have a couple from different branches of the gain-structure-evolution-tree vs. all on the same branch.

I love Engl right now, but occasionally salivate over a SLO, Revv, Bogner Ectasy. But even within an amp line, their array of products might be completely differently designed. But if you could basically make two amps sound the same just with an OD pedal up front they're basically the same.

In the realm of $2k-$5k amps. I found there's a lot of options, which is surprising since you usually only hear about the same few amps all the time. I'm surprised the other boutique $4k amps can gain any market share against the big names unless a popular artists plays it.

Some other high-gain amps I knew about, Revv friedman, diezel, orange, victory, randall, bugera, Fryette, carvin, marshall
Some other expensive high-gain amps I just found out about, Mezzabarba, Archon, RIvera, Wizard, KSR, Omega,

Which ones are really "different" from each other? In a good way. 80's metal, prog-metal vibe.
I've run a lot of those amps at one time or another, and I've seen a LOT more (particularly smaller manufacturer gear) at shows like the LA Amp Show (dunno if they'll have one this year, or ever again, but they were outstanding). I absolutely can not get impressed by most of the production amps on the market these days. And yes, I run a modeler, mostly.

I think Wampler makes some of the best "preamp" style pedals, but I'm open to almost anything else.

My experience with preamps is mostly with rack-mount preamps, and I have three, all out of production.

The Mesa Triaxis is a tube preamp with maybe five 12 AX7s that offers choices of a bunch (8?) of the early Mesa sounds. I have a Mesa 2:90 tube power amp to pair with it, and if you really want "Mesa," this is the way to go.

The Egnater M4 tube preamp accepts up to four "personality" tube modules at a time and allows you to switch between those modules as you like. Randall has licensed this technology from Bruce and their modules and the Egnater modules are, I believe, interchangeable. I've paired this with Marshall, Mesa and Carvin tube power amps.

The Carvin Quad-X is its own bird, with four channels, nine 12 AX7 tubes and up to eleven gain stages. It has amazing tone controls, built-in boost and half a dozen FX loops.

You can, if you're actually gigging, put any or all of these into a rack case with a power amp and have a far more versatile amplification system than if you took any two of the production line amps, and it will weigh less as well.
 

JediMasterThrash

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Yeah the mosvalve 962 came with my e530 when I got it so I just been using that and never found anything obvoius wrong with it.
I want headroom, I don't want poweramp distortion, distortion could come from my preamp.

I've been itching for a synergy and if I did was going to get their poweramp module.
The Engl E840 poweramp retails at 1600 with none on reverb.
The SYN 5050 you can get for around 1k.

I use an EQ before the poweramp already to crank the 250 for low punch, and up the 2.5-3k for cut. Does a tube poweramp really do anything more than emphasize some frequencies?
My biggest concern with a tube poweramp is that it's sound character would change dramatically with volume. And also fan noise. And probably price.

Definitely double-no on the V30's though. That hi-mid spike is annoying and primarily has that "sounds like everyone else" generic metal sound. I do like my tone quite a bit, even more so than most tones I hear pro's play (especially in a mix). This thread was originally more about just having another amp for sonic exploration, not necessarily to fix any problems with my current setup. The only problem I'd say I have is the buzzy highs but EQ and presence mostly takes care of those. But don't want to replace that with the V30 3.5k chainsaw.
 

4Eyes

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Definitely double-no on the V30's though.
try creamback then...

tube power amps do colour sound and it's not just boosting some frequencies, but also harmonic distortion and transformer saturation.. get a 100W for headroom and you won't have to worry much about drastic changes in sound that come with increased volume levels.

If you really want to get new head for exploring new tones - get some multi channel amp for versatility, avoid them and get simpler (less knobs) amp if you want more raw/organic sound (think SLO for example)
 

dspellman

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Why are you using a flat response solid state power amp for guitar? I would expect that to sound like shit. Typically you want a guitar power amp OR power amp simulation, no?

E530 is good. If things don't sound good my instinct is to say the problem is elsewhere in the chain. However, it is tight and bass filtered by nature so if you want a sound that is bigger, looser, sludgier then in that case you might want a different preamp section.

But generally, preamps don't do that much eq wise. Not compared to the rest of the signal chain. If something was wrong with the distortion, tightness, pick attack etc. I would look at the preamp but for general eq the rest of the chain has so much more impact. Speaker is huge obv, but also cab makes a difference, and power section of course.
1. Preamps (depending on the preamp) do a whole lot EQ wise. My Carvin Quad-X, for example, has active controls for each channel plus assignable 5-band graphic EQ, plus built-in noise gate, bass cloaking, a reverb tank, etc. Four separate channels with up to eleven gain stages. You can still find these things used for around $350, which is a lot less than a couple of premium pedals.

2. I've found that a basic power amp doesn't change much about the sound, and that's exactly what's supposed to happen. I moved from a Carvin TS-100 (50W/50W stereo rack mount tube power amp), which is insanely clean, to a Mesa 2:90, to a big Marshall, to a 1500W solid state power amp, and there are very few (or at least extremely subtle) differences in sound, normally. I have three Atomic Reactors (two 18W, one 50W) with Harry Kolbe-designed tube power amps, and there's very little opinion expressed by these power amps.

3. A flat response solid state power amp is perfect for guitar. This is particularly true if you've got a lot of things going on before the power amp. I've run both tube and SS power amps behind preamps and modelers since the very early 90's, and there's really very little difference. Before my current Helix, I was running an HD500X with a Two-Notes Torpedo C.A.B. The HD500X we mostly all know about, and it was fine on its own. But the C.A.B. brings some amazing cabinet IRs to play, and it also offers tube power amp sims, so whatever differences you hear between an EL84, EL34, KT88, 6L6 when driven are there in spades. The combination of the HD500 with the C.A.B. will run under $500 used these days (again, cheaper than a couple of premium pedals) and will give you seriously spectacular results.

4. I have a 1971 Carvin solid state amp with a massive 2x15 (Altec Lansing 418-8A) ported cabinet with a mids/high horn. Picked it up at a church rummage sale, dirt cheap. A Gibson 335 plugged into it sounded amazing. A 7-string even more so, since the bottom end was crystal clear. The amp puts out around 200W, and the whole thing represents where we were going (since tubes had largely disappeared in the US) before Nixon opened up trade with China. Carvin had pretty much solved the harmonics issue with an overdriven SS amp (one of their techs invented a circuit that has become public domain at this point), but with a modeler or a preamp pedal out front, that's moot. OTOH, the clarity offered by the extra power and the wide-range cabinet offers a LOT to a player using an extended-range guitar.
 

dspellman

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Definitely double-no on the V30's though. That hi-mid spike is annoying and primarily has that "sounds like everyone else" generic metal sound.
A brand new V30 has that mids/hi spike. A broken-in V30, not. I have a couple of amps with *really* well broken-in V30's, and they're a treat. You can find some companies that actually break them in for you -- Avatar is one. They run a V30 through a breaking-in process and then re-sticker them as "Hellatone 60's". Worth a listen.
 

Shask

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Yeah the mosvalve 962 came with my e530 when I got it so I just been using that and never found anything obvoius wrong with it.
I want headroom, I don't want poweramp distortion, distortion could come from my preamp.

I've been itching for a synergy and if I did was going to get their poweramp module.
The Engl E840 poweramp retails at 1600 with none on reverb.
The SYN 5050 you can get for around 1k.

I use an EQ before the poweramp already to crank the 250 for low punch, and up the 2.5-3k for cut. Does a tube poweramp really do anything more than emphasize some frequencies?
My biggest concern with a tube poweramp is that it's sound character would change dramatically with volume. And also fan noise. And probably price.

Definitely double-no on the V30's though. That hi-mid spike is annoying and primarily has that "sounds like everyone else" generic metal sound. I do like my tone quite a bit, even more so than most tones I hear pro's play (especially in a mix). This thread was originally more about just having another amp for sonic exploration, not necessarily to fix any problems with my current setup. The only problem I'd say I have is the buzzy highs but EQ and presence mostly takes care of those. But don't want to replace that with the V30 3.5k chainsaw.
Tube Power Amps have a reactive interation between the power tubes, output transformer, and speakers. This is where a lot of feel comes from with tube amps, what gives that living, breathing feel to chugs and sustain when playing. Its just not what you hear, but what you feel as you play.
 

Dr. Caligari

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1. Preamps (depending on the preamp) do a whole lot EQ wise. My Carvin Quad-X, for example, has active controls for each channel plus assignable 5-band graphic EQ, plus built-in noise gate, bass cloaking, a reverb tank, etc. Four separate channels with up to eleven gain stages. You can still find these things used for around $350, which is a lot less than a couple of premium pedals.

2. I've found that a basic power amp doesn't change much about the sound, and that's exactly what's supposed to happen. I moved from a Carvin TS-100 (50W/50W stereo rack mount tube power amp), which is insanely clean, to a Mesa 2:90, to a big Marshall, to a 1500W solid state power amp, and there are very few (or at least extremely subtle) differences in sound, normally. I have three Atomic Reactors (two 18W, one 50W) with Harry Kolbe-designed tube power amps, and there's very little opinion expressed by these power amps.

3. A flat response solid state power amp is perfect for guitar. This is particularly true if you've got a lot of things going on before the power amp. I've run both tube and SS power amps behind preamps and modelers since the very early 90's, and there's really very little difference. Before my current Helix, I was running an HD500X with a Two-Notes Torpedo C.A.B. The HD500X we mostly all know about, and it was fine on its own. But the C.A.B. brings some amazing cabinet IRs to play, and it also offers tube power amp sims, so whatever differences you hear between an EL84, EL34, KT88, 6L6 when driven are there in spades. The combination of the HD500 with the C.A.B. will run under $500 used these days (again, cheaper than a couple of premium pedals) and will give you seriously spectacular results.

4. I have a 1971 Carvin solid state amp with a massive 2x15 (Altec Lansing 418-8A) ported cabinet with a mids/high horn. Picked it up at a church rummage sale, dirt cheap. A Gibson 335 plugged into it sounded amazing. A 7-string even more so, since the bottom end was crystal clear. The amp puts out around 200W, and the whole thing represents where we were going (since tubes had largely disappeared in the US) before Nixon opened up trade with China. Carvin had pretty much solved the harmonics issue with an overdriven SS amp (one of their techs invented a circuit that has become public domain at this point), but with a modeler or a preamp pedal out front, that's moot. OTOH, the clarity offered by the extra power and the wide-range cabinet offers a LOT to a player using an extended-range guitar.

1. Cab for example still matters more, which was my point.

2. Ok, matter of perspective I guess, I would say power amp makes a difference.

3. But you're talking about using a power amp sim. I was obviously talking about using the power amp without power amp sim. Did you even read my post?

4. ????

Feels like you just wanna disagree/argue but I don't have time or energy to get into that so in that case you're wasting your time.
 

Dr. Caligari

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A brand new V30 has that mids/hi spike. A broken-in V30, not. I have a couple of amps with *really* well broken-in V30's, and they're a treat. You can find some companies that actually break them in for you -- Avatar is one. They run a V30 through a breaking-in process and then re-sticker them as "Hellatone 60's". Worth a listen.

V30s can be very different depending on when they were manufactured because of differences in the construction. Also breaking in a speaker occurs over a long period of time. You can't just break in a speaker over a few hours and it's fully "tamed". It's gonna change over the years. And v30s, at least modern ones, are spiky. If somebody doesn't like that they should avoid them.
 

JediMasterThrash

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Actually I got my cabs from Avatar, great company. Got custom green piping and everything. A pair of 12" speaker cabs with the removable back (Currently it's off to fill the room, I debated if I should put it on when playing live though to put more sound out front). They said they played loud rap music on it at high volume for a couple of days to break them in.

Does the harmonic distortion / transformer saturation actually come into play if you're leaving plenty of headroom?

But yeah, signal chain. After my preamp is noise gate, pitch/harmonies, chorus, delay, reverb, doubler, back to the engl for instrument to line voltage, then to a line-level graphic EQ then the power amp. I don't really want to create any new distortion/saturation at that point.
 

devastone

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I would say the SLO is the grandfather of the high gain amps, the Rectifier and 5150 are derivative of that. Eddie owned a SLO, as did most of the hot players in around '87-'88. It drove Boogie to come up with a competitor (the Rectifier) and when Eddie started with Peavey he wanted something similar with more gain.

Tim Pierce shows the list is in the video around 2:20 -
 

Shask

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I would say the SLO is the grandfather of the high gain amps, the Rectifier and 5150 are derivative of that. Eddie owned a SLO, as did most of the hot players in around '87-'88. It drove Boogie to come up with a competitor (the Rectifier) and when Eddie started with Peavey he wanted something similar with more gain.

Tim Pierce shows the list is in the video around 2:20 -

The SLO is basically a modified JCM800.

I would say the JCM800 2203 is the grandfather of all modern high gain amps. (Technically Plexi, but.....). Almost all higher gain amps are built on a JCM800 framework.
 

JediMasterThrash

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Yeah a JCM800 was the classic iron maiden sound, been wanting to try that out as well. Or at least the Synergy 800 module should I go that route.

It's weird that some places call the SLO 100 a high-gain monster with more gain than you'll ever need, while some say it didn't have enough gain which is why the 5150 added more.

I mean I Run my engl at noon gain and think that's enough, after pitch harmonies and quad-tracking it would be a mess if every track had the gain at 11. I find a solid yet subtle multi-voice chorus thickens the sound better than cranking the gain up more.

IN reality, i think my desire for a SLO stems from my desire to try a SP77. All the clips on youtube of an SP77 just sound amazing, and very different from the SLO100 clips. Unfortunately it seems the build quality on the SP77 is hit or miss. But stuff like the SP77, the ADA-MP-1, JMP-1, Gallien Kruger 250ML, I find these have their own solid unique tone in vids. While so many other high gain monsters sound quite the same.

Plus when I was looking for those, I was searching for something that really excelled at that 80's mid-gain rock sound, poison, queensryche, ratt, etc.
 

laxu

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It's weird that some places call the SLO 100 a high-gain monster with more gain than you'll ever need, while some say it didn't have enough gain which is why the 5150 added more.
I honestly would not trust the word of anyone who says a SLO doesn't have enough gain. It's got plenty. Most high gain amps out there have way more gain than anyone would reasonable use and at some point you just add more noise rather than anything else.

If you're going to go for Synergy I'd just get the SLO module for that. I haven't had the chance to try that stuff but honestly I feel that having a lot of the high gain amp modules is not as useful as having more cabs with distinctly different speakers.
 

ExMachina

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If you're going to go for Synergy I'd just get the SLO module for that. I haven't had the chance to try that stuff but honestly I feel that having a lot of the high gain amp modules is not as useful as having more cabs with distinctly different speakers.
At that point you might as well use IRs unless you really need to feel that air move. And all of this leads us back to using a modeler.
 

laxu

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At that point you might as well use IRs unless you really need to feel that air move. And all of this leads us back to using a modeler.
I don't necessarily disagree but if you insist on all analog then the Synergy stuff will do fine. If you prefer the sound of a cab in the room like many do then real cabs are what you want. But for just recording I'd go with a reactive loadbox and IRs or just a digital modeler.
 


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