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JimGordon

Another "While We're Waiting" Distraction Thread (preamp/amp/model substitution)

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Like everyone else, I'm waiting for 2.8 to drop (I was originally going to wait until it came out before dropping the hammer on getting a Helix, but......).  While we wait for the hopefully imminent arrival of the Revv Generator/LaGrange/King of Tone/etc. models (and all the behind the scenes software unification of course), I'm curious about what other people might be doing that "breaks the rules" in search of filling in the gaps in modeling.  More specifically, my mindset is that people who state "conventional wisdom" observations as absolute commandments not to break (e.g. "never ever run a modeler with amp models active into the front end of a tube amp, even if it is a clean as hell input") don't quite "get it".  I've seen people say you are "never" supposed to run a pre-amp model into an amp model, or it will sound totally "lollipope".  And yes, I'm running my Helix into the front end of a Fender 90s Hot Rod Deville low input........a bit noisy (yeah, I should really use more noise-gating), but it sounds live and present in a way that the FRFR demo at the Guitar Center when I bought it utterly failed to do.

 

Anyway, I've found that there's a few "holes" in the amp modeling lineup I'd like to fill, and that it seems that some "oddball" solutions seem to work.  Here's some of my cuckoo Frankenstein experiments, so if you have any ideas of your own, let's share:

 

1.  Selmer amps- for a while in the late 60's, David Gilmour's go-to amp choice during the post-Syd, pre-Dark Side era.  My version runs the AC-30 Fawn Brt model preamp into a Whowatt amp, as I've read Selmers were sort of in-between the AC-30 and Hi-Watt.

2.  Vox UL hybrid amps- The Vox Super Beatle and related amps were SS/Tube hybrids that not only were used by the Beatles, but also by Jimmy Page on Zep 2 (see "The Lemon Song" among others).  While not really accurate to the whole SS pre/tube power design, running a Derailed pre into a Fawn Brt full amp seems to approximate some of the "overloaded gain in the pre, fed into a Vox power stage" explosiveness the designers seemed to be going for.

3.  Sunn Coliseum PA- I think I may have gotten this technically wrong- going for a Mississippi Queen sound, I ran the "Stone Age" preamp into an SVT Beast amp (SS power section), but I think the Sunn was all tube.  Maybe swap out the SVT for one of the Mesa all-tube bass amps?  Still seems to really get that "I'm using the wrong amp for the job, but it sounds so right" thing Leslie West did....

4. Early-ish Soundgarden Peavey VTM series- complete guesswork where I reverse-engineered the concept that Kim Thayil was looking for a crude Mesa Boogie caveman (distorted but not smooth/too full on metal) sound, so I ran an Interstate Zed pre into a Cali Rhythm 2 amp. 

5.  Ampeg-ish sound for My Morning Jacket-they have a whole "thick mids, 70s Neil Youngish" thing going on, so I ran a Voltage Queen pre into a Tuck 'N Go amp for a thick, bassy sound.

6.  Tony Iommi's classic Laney Sound from Black Sabbath's first album- I really really wish they had modeled a Laney Supergroup the way Digitech did for the RP-1000......but given that it turns out early Laney amps were essentially first cousins to Marshalls, the Brit P75 Brt model w/ a Deranged pedal model in front of it manages to hit the sweet spot, as the original Park amps were essentially Marshalls with a little higher gain "mutation" going on.

7.  Generally speaking, I've found that the "on paper" idea of having drastically low tone/gain settings for the full amp model when a pre-amp is being fed into it, doesn't actually necessarily hold true.  Pre-amps seem to work well with high channel volumes, and completely variable drive and gain settings for both pre and full amps.  What's your experience?

 

Let's see if we can come up with some cuckoo ideas here.  After all, the great real geniuses of rock didn't follow rules too strictly......that's why they became legends.

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@JimGordon thank you for sharing this!

 

I think that your creative use and exploration of the tools you have at hand is something that more people should do and share. And it is exactly the mindset that gave us musicians the wide variety of tonal expression and styles we have today. I agree with you, that many of our heroes in music broke some if not all rules of howto use their gear, also the rules of music itself, to create new and interesting stuff.

 

Exploring within the boundaries of a system is not less important to me, but it rarely leads to development of something new. I also think that it is important to know the rules/boundaries, their origins, to  break them.

 

The amp-preamp-stacking is something I rarely tried. My own experiments are more of the “putting effects somewhere unusual in the chain”-type and not as systematically as yours. I’ll have a look tonight at my presets for some share-worthy stuff.

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Actually, I think modelers in general provide a great laboratory environment for trying out new signal chain possibilities.  Unfortunately my time tends to be spent more on getting things ready for the next gig most of the time so I personally don't have a lot of time left for exploration.

Although I have no problem with exploring different possibilities, I also recognize that the combining different amps and layouts may help to inspire new sound ideas, the sonic differences in the design of amps tends to be fairly limited and I'm not sure that strange combinations is necessarily the secret to duplicating someone's tone.  Over the years I've played Mississippi Queen through a fairly wide range of different gear, but ultimately what gives the song it's signature sound is a pretty simple combination of things that can be accomplished on a wide range of different amps and effects.  Generally if you choose an amp that's in the same style or family of amps, with a similar guitar and with the right combination of speakers and mic'ing techniques and effects you can produce a decent representation of whatever sound you're trying to emulate.

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The "old school" method of re-amping broke every rule in the book. In it's earlier days they didn't track a dry guitar so they could try different amps later, they simply tracked a guitar part & whether it was through a Vox, Marshall, Fender, etc... was irrelevant. When the producer later figured out the tone didn't work they would run the signal into different amps to change the color of the tone. 

 

With that premise... amp stacking makes perfect sense.

 

Myself... I often use cabinets/mics/ir's as a form of EQ prior to an amp. EG: Running a greenback cabinet with an RE-20 mic prior to an overdriven amp really warms up the tone substantially.... allowing you to push the eq's on the amp very differently than you normally would. 

 

Guitarists have never followed the rules in the past, so why follow them now. Go ahead... run cabinets into amps, amps into amps, amps into overdrives, etc... etc... the consequences have been eliminated with a modeler... you won't blow it up! 

 

If I throw one caveat at this... I find it very beneficial to know the rules before breaking them... YMMV. 

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There are no rules with Helix , just limitations per patch based on DSP.  Thats one of the attractions to this pice of equipment. 

If it sounds good to you , it is good.   IF it sounds cool to you, it is cool.    Let your imaginations go. 

 

I developed a combo lead / synth sound for a song im working on by jacking the hell out of the supro amp for the "pure guitar lead tone", then I split that signal path at the start and treated that path like a bass guitar going straight to the board,  found a distortion model I liked, and put no pre-amp or amp or IR in that path.   Put a sweet verb and delay at the end of that path.   Sounds amazing.  

Maybe this already widely known but I picked the trick up of "thickening" the tone from The Machine from his class on how to mix Lamb of Gods, Redneck. 

 

 

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I doubt that those people don't "get it", that advice is usually presented when someone is trying to solve an issue. I do really appreciate that I can organize the signal chain for how I want it to sound instead of how not damage equipment, lol, and i think THAT is more the future of guitar modeling than getting it more "realistic" than the current tech. At the end of the day a lot of people are trying to make these incredible little DSP computers sound like a heavy-lollipop old amp from 50 years ago, which is cool, but there's so many more possibilities. 

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I run a Plexi pre-amp mod via the 4CM with my Helix into my Mesa Rectifier's power amp section.   Sounds great.  Gets that thick smooth Recto gain plus that classic Plexi spank.  

 

Signal path is basically GTR > RECTO > FX SEND > PLEXI PRE-AMP MODELLER > RECTO FX RETURN

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19 hours ago, JimGordon said:

7.  Generally speaking, I've found that the "on paper" idea of having drastically low tone/gain settings for the full amp model when a pre-amp is being fed into it, doesn't actually necessarily hold true.  Pre-amps seem to work well with high channel volumes, and completely variable drive and gain settings for both pre and full amps.  What's your experience?

 

Not sure where you got this... Most people would, I think, agree that you can and should (if desired) hit the front of the amp (preamp) just as hard as you need to get a desirable tone.

 

Channel volume comes after the power stage of the amp model, so has no effect on preamp gain. High channel volume can sometimes push blocks placed after the amp too hard, but that's the long and short of it.

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6 hours ago, codamedia said:

If I throw one caveat at this... I find it very beneficial to know the rules before breaking them... YMMV. 

 

+1

 

 

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7 hours ago, gunpointmetal said:

I doubt that those people don't "get it", that advice is usually presented when someone is trying to solve an issue. I do really appreciate that I can organize the signal chain for how I want it to sound instead of how not damage equipment, lol, and i think THAT is more the future of guitar modeling than getting it more "realistic" than the current tech. At the end of the day a lot of people are trying to make these incredible little DSP computers sound like a heavy-lollipop old amp from 50 years ago, which is cool, but there's so many more possibilities. 

 

I get what you're saying, but I'm talking more about people making more sweeping blanket statements like "never run amp models into a real tube amp" as a rule of thumb, as opposed to answering "why doesn't it sound 100% like a Marshall when I run this into a 15 watt Vox".  Obviously, a person asking that question is looking for an exact, completely accurately cloned sound, and it is pretty established that any outboard amps/pre-amps/guitar cabs will add their own color.  My own preference is a sound that is "pretty close", but sounds fairly "live" like a real amp, and I'll take that bit of inaccurate coloring if it makes the overall sound not too "polite" and bland.

 

Obviously, certain rules that involve equipment safety ("don't hook up your Helix power supply to a Variac") always should be listened to, lol.

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2 hours ago, BBD_123 said:

 

Not sure where you got this... Most people would, I think, agree that you can and should (if desired) hit the front of the amp (preamp) just as hard as you need to get a desirable tone.

 

Channel volume comes after the power stage of the amp model, so has no effect on preamp gain. High channel volume can sometimes push blocks placed after the amp too hard, but that's the long and short of it.

Sorry I wasn't more clear- I was talking about a situation where I'm trying to blend amp sounds, but not so much that it has crazy amounts of stacked gain.  Like my attempt at a Selmer model, which when you listen to that late 60s Pink Floyd sound, is a bit rough and tumble, but not necessarily with a lot of extraneous gain in this case.  That being said, when I use the studio tube mic preamp to add some "neutral" gain to the main amp model, all bets are off!

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8 hours ago, codamedia said:

The "old school" method of re-amping broke every rule in the book. In it's earlier days they didn't track a dry guitar so they could try different amps later, they simply tracked a guitar part & whether it was through a Vox, Marshall, Fender, etc... was irrelevant. When the producer later figured out the tone didn't work they would run the signal into different amps to change the color of the tone. 

 

With that premise... amp stacking makes perfect sense.

 

Myself... I often use cabinets/mics/ir's as a form of EQ prior to an amp. EG: Running a greenback cabinet with an RE-20 mic prior to an overdriven amp really warms up the tone substantially.... allowing you to push the eq's on the amp very differently than you normally would. 

 

Guitarists have never followed the rules in the past, so why follow them now. Go ahead... run cabinets into amps, amps into amps, amps into overdrives, etc... etc... the consequences have been eliminated with a modeler... you won't blow it up! 

 

If I throw one caveat at this... I find it very beneficial to know the rules before breaking them... YMMV. 

 

That sounds like an interesting new take.  Right now I'm focusing on recreating a wide variety of "established" sounds and recreating my old RP1000 patches, but once I go full on "let's see what new and strange things I can come up with", I'll give that a shot!

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