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johnbeamon

Please help me implement amp "Sag" better

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I'm trying to decipher some of the vocabulary people use around Sag, and how they configure other params like tone and volume around changes in Sag. I understand that higher Sag replicates a lower-voltage behavior in the power section of the amp. It causes an enhanced power section breakup associated with EVH's "brown sound".

 

I've heard different YT artists say that sag makes an amp more "spongy", more "dynamic", and "warmer". In my mind, spongy and dynamic are opposite terms. I typically expect an amp to get a little louder when played harder, and I find Sag eliminates that entirely. I'm missing the term "dynamic" used by people like Rhett Shull and Rick Beato. When I add Sag to a Helix amp, I get more breakup and a distortion that is brighter and crunchier, NOT warmer. I know one artist who raises Sag in every new preset by default. I like the sound of his presets online, but I hate the sound of higher Sag in my own equipment. I just feel like I'm missing something.

 

I don't find Sag makes amps more dynamic; I find it compresses against volume jumps. I don't find it makes them warmer; it makes them notably brighter. When people start using holistic phrases like "it opens up" or "the tone is richer", I can't really judge those. But I can judge that my own Plexi in my own FOH disappears into the mix when I raise the Sag, at all. I've heard Tim Pierce compliment the way a Park starts to sag when it's pushed, and the stock P75 block disappears into the mix where I play. Rick and Rhett did a Marshall+Variac video and talked about the tone getting better, richer, warmer, when it wasn't clear in the video. They talked at once about it being compressed and being more dynamic, which are opposite terms. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills and missing something important. I'd welcome some sort of tone-related feedback, maybe with references to sample sounds online. Thanks.

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I don't mess with Sag a lot, but from the times I've used it, it feels somewhat like a limiter or compressor in a way.  When I'm dialing in the Helix I'm constantly watching the signal meter on my mixing board, and what I see is it levels out the initial sound of you hitting a power chord for example.  Normally there would be something of an instantaneous peak when you first strike a chord, but with Sag turned up it takes that away for a moment, but then it can come back before it begins to fade.  The end result is what some might be thinking of as "spongy" in that it compresses then bounces back like a sponge.  To the ear it's not unlike a moderate compressor, at least for me.  I find it useful in conjunction with Bias to reduce the sound of the pick attack and smooth that out a bit.

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16 hours ago, johnbeamon said:

It causes an enhanced power section breakup associated with EVH's "brown sound".

 

I don't associate SAG with the EVH Brown Sound, that lower voltage did a lot more to the entire amp than create SAG
The best example I can think of is Neil Young Cinnamon Girl or Rocking in the Free World. The chord hits... then swells to the full volume (ever so slightly). 

 

16 hours ago, johnbeamon said:

I've heard different YT artists say that sag makes an amp more "spongy", more "dynamic", and "warmer". In my mind, spongy and dynamic are opposite terms.

 

I'd call it spongy, not dynamic.... although a great players can use it to his/her advantage along with how they attack the guitar so I can see where the terms get conflicted. 

 

16 hours ago, johnbeamon said:

I don't find Sag makes amps more dynamic; I find it compresses against volume jumps.

 

That exactly what SAG does. The harder you hit, the more it compresses... low notes are particularly noticeable. 

 

16 hours ago, johnbeamon said:

I can judge that my own Plexi in my own FOH disappears into the mix when I raise the Sag, at all.

 

I believe the Plexi amps in the Helix are based on an early 70's "Super Lead"... those don't SAG in real life! Not stock! They have solid state rectifiers and more than enough power to handle what gets thrown at it for a signal. Amps with natural Sag are the Tweeds, some VOX models, the JTM45, Supro, and likely a few others I am not as familiar with in the Helix. The TWIN, the Hiwatt, the Plexi, the JCM800, The Mesa's, and most of high gain amps, etc... those don't SAG!  

 

IMO... the default settings within the Helix are usually a great place to start in regards to SAG if you want AMP accuracy. 

 

Just my 2 cents on the subject...

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