New Rig Day (ISP Theta Combo, Blue Sky verb, & Roland JC40)

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Bearitone, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    First I want to talk about the Blue Sky. Big disappointment. For some reason I've held off on this pedal for the past 5 years trying a BUNCH of other reverbs before finally convincing myself to splurge and buy it.

    Yes its good but, given its reputation, I was expecting to be blown away. I'm not. I don't notice a significant difference when going from mono to stereo, I don't feel the low/high damp knobs do enough to justify having their own knobs (just throw a tone knob on there), and I find the shimmer setting basically unusable. Also, with no control over depth/speed of the modulation the "mod" setting is a little annoying after a few minutes.

    In my opinion (don't come at me hating) the MXR 300 is better for modulated reverb, the Hardwire Supernatural is better for plate reverb, the EHX Oceans 11 is better for hall reverb, and the Boss RV-6 is better for shimmer.

    I basically think every reverb on the Blue Sky is already being done better by one pedal or another. Unless you have to have that signature Blue Sky shimmer setting, I say skip the Blue Sky because you aren't missing anything.

    Next is the ISP Theta Combo. What a beast. Parametric mids, built in Decimator, and built in "pre-preamp" on each channel which works pretty well as a tightening boost. I love it so much I sold the rest of my rig (OD808x, Tightmetal Pro, Mosvalve 500w poweramp, Avatar 412). The only pedal I kept (other than my tuner) is my Behringer HM300 for chainsaw stuff. I plan on grabbing the Vector 212 extension cab in the future.

    This thing roars. It does bedroom stuff just fine but, comes alive at higher volumes. The overall voicing (as flexible as it is) is definitely along the lines of a Recto. Also, the gain structure of the Theta is more refined, less raw/gritty (think EVH 5153, not 6505). I wish it leaned a bit more towards a 6505 both in voicing, and in the raw grittiness of the gain structure but, you can't have everything.

    The clean tones are phenomenal. Full bodied and chimey. Without exaggeration, easily on par with anything boutique. Not a thing I would change.

    I'm considering having the pre-preamps on both channels modified to really make this amp an all-in-one machine.

    For channel 1, the pre-preamp doesn't have enough gain to actually make crunch tones. I'm thinking of having that turned into something along the lines of a Fulltone OCD.

    For channel 2, it tightens up nicely but, I want more. I'm thinking of having it modified into something like a TC Int Pre. I'm looking to get tight, gated, Meshuggah-style tones.

    The Swamp Thang speaker that came with it actually holds its own pretty nicely however I plan to try something different in the future. The ST is sort of scooped. I see how it could pair with other speakers nicely but, since this combo only has one "guitar" speaker I want something with more mids. (I have another thread on this topic)

    I tried a Legend V12 in there and it was awesome but, I couldn't keep it (unrelated story) so the Swamp Thang is back in there. @mcleanab (who actually used to own this exact amp) has got me gassing for an Alnico Cream but, I'm also eyeing a Weber Direwolf. The description makes it sound pretty vicious.

    Last is the Roland JC40 which is actually a gift for the girlfriend so, technically not "mine" but, I'm including it here anyway. This thing is great! Classic JC voicing, smaller package, all the features you would want from the standard size JC120 except for the extra channel (which I'm not sure why you would want anyway). It also gets loud AF too. Unless your trying to stay clean at stadium volumes with zero assistance from a PA system, I see very little incentive to grab a JC-120 over a JC-40.

    As for the overall tone, I don't think there's anything I can say about this amp that hasn't already been said. Pristine cleans, beautiful chorus and vibrato, pleasant reverb, shitty distortion. Its your standard JC.
     
  2. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I felt the same about the Blue Sky when I had one. I'm spoiled by my Big Sky, so it was comparatively pretty lame to not have a dedicated modulation control. Plus I'm not really a fan of spring or shimmer reverbs, which made almost half of the available switch combinations worthless to me :lol:

    Glad you're digging everything else! Don't see a lot of talk about the ISP amps
     
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  3. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    Honestly if it were me i would strip down the blue sky and make a mini sky.

    It would be mono, no fav switch, just a tone knob (no damp knobs), no norm-mod-shim switch (it would just be normal a the time) and put the predelay as a trim pot on the inside.
     
  4. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Awesome, glad you like it, I was thinking nothing would beat preamp pedal into mosvalve for you.

    I have the theta preamp pedal, and it takes external boosts very well. If you want some different boost options, I’d just build a small pedalboard to go with it. Thats what I do with everything, even with my axe FX, I run my pedalboard in front.
     
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  5. jclogston

    jclogston SS.org Regular

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    Interesting as I was thinking about picking up a jazz chorus 22 and a theta pedal for home use...
     
  6. youngthrasher9

    youngthrasher9 SS.org Regular

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    I owned the Theta head for a good bit. I loved the thing but mine looked like someone spilled a 40 on it and thus a couple of the pots were intermittent. Totally unrelated to the quality of the amp, just taking an opportunity to bitch about stupid owners.

    I did encounter one thing, however. It will not take fuzz. At all. I had a phase where I thought I wanted to play doom stuff so I ended up selling mine because of it... honestly I wouldn’t mind having one of those heads again. Congrats!
     
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  7. mcleanab

    mcleanab Theta Sagan Swords

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    Glad to see that beast get a good home!

    When I moved from Boston to Bloomington, IN for three years, the first thing I found in the mom and pop music store was another ISP Theta Combo! Couldn't believe it... I have the rack preamp and I think I might have had the Theta Pro by then, but I was trying to downsize so I traded the Combo for a Triaxis... both of us regretted it. I eventually grabbed up the Combo at the mom and pop store so I've had a Combo back in my life for a while... SO GLAD I was able to find that second one...

    Keep experimenting with speakers!! I loved the 65 watt Creambacks in there too, but settled on the Alnico Creams...

    And I couldn't be happier with the Vector 2x12 to compliment the Combo... I never get really loud, but man, it's a wall of gorgeous sound with the Lexicon MX300 and MPX-1 running with it... I don't think the Vector will disappoint...

    Post some clips when you get a chance!
     

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