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Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:36 am
Posts: 488
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:45 am 

Hey guys,
So I need some assistance here. I've been writing a lot of music lately and need a new 3-channel amp in order to perform the kind of stuff that I've been doing, which is post-rock/post-metal. I need something that has a round, warm clean tone, a nice slightly-overdriven grit, and then a lead channel that is super saturated.

The stuff I'm playing is basically like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYe44xmDCYE

Think bands like Isis, Rosetta, Cult of Luna, If These Trees Could Talk, etc.

Right now I've been using a Digitech RP-355 floor unit which does the trick for individual patches, but the switching sucks and lags and the really high gain models just don't sound anywhere near as good as that of a tube amp.

I was at Guitar Center last week and playing a Marshall DSL40, which was kind of okay.... I wish it was chunkier and a little more oomphy with its distortion. I've been out of the gear loop for a long time, and I know there's tons of new stuff out there.

I have a Carvin Bel-Air right now which has a great clean sound so I may just A/B between that, but that brings into conflict some looping issues because I use a lot of delay, so if there is one amp that I can plug my effects into with its effects loop and switch between overdrive channels, that would be perfect.

Or even if you guys have recommendations for a really good distortion pedal that actually sounds good at high volume, I would be totally open to that too. This search is mostly driven by my dissatisfaction with the Digitech distortion models, which sound like shit when you turn the volume up beyond bedroom practice levels.
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Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 8258
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:06 pm 

I'm sure you realise this, but in that Isis song, the bass is very very loud, and separated from the guitar tracks in terms of frequencies (or so it seems to me).

I'm not sure how you can get that extremely crunchy, raspy distortion tone - it's not only a matter of saturation and preamp gain, clearly. Too much saturation smoothens the tone into indecipherable squeeling mush, rather than giving it the rawness and bite you're hearing there. Maybe some overdrive pedal with asymmetric clipping, like Boss SD-1, would do the trick. Maybe they even had some speaker cone breakup? My gut says it's an Orange valve amp overdriven with a SD-1 or similar.

Considering your other requirements, that tight, clear tone with grinding rasp in the distortion, lots of tonal options, and insane amounts of gain on tap, that all sounds like a Marshall JVM to me. Up to you to choose the model, but there's a 50-watt 3-channel one that's fairly affordable given the quality of tones you presumably get (never tried it). I have a JVM 410, and the OD1 channel is incredible. Just within that channel alone, you can find anything between face-melting brutal tone and classic rock crunch. With a JVM, you get a programmable footswitch. If I'm not completely mistaken, any of the footswitch channels can be programmed to have effects loop turned off or on. You can't program the EQ pot settings and there aren't switches that affect EQ, but there are three different gain modes for each channel that are controllable via footswitch channels, and each channel has its own 3-band EQ anyway. You can get the two OD channels to sound quite similar if you want, and if that's not good enough, there's the Satch signature model where both overdrive channels are the same, I think.

I always recommend using an overdrive pedal to drive a distorted valve amp harder. Distortion pedals have their uses, but they are very situational. Could be there's a pedal that gets you exactly what you want, but generally an overdriven valve amp will always sound better.

Overdrive tip: turn down the pedal's own distortion/drive/gain pot. Crank the level pot for a stronger overdriven sound, adjust preamp gain accordingly (read: turn it down), put tone at 12 o'clock and adjust from there according to taste (at max it will be tight, stiff and bright, and at 0 it will be terrible low mids mush most likely). After that, start experimenting with the drive pot. If you put it too high, and you have a lot of distortion coming from the preamp, your tone will sound unfocused like there are two different kinds of distortion in it. Not good. With an overdrive pedal, you don't actually need any drive at all coming from the pedal in order to get an overdriven, more saturated tone. Use the drive pot to affect the nature of your distortion, not the amount of gain as such.

Edit: Maybe that crackling, crunchy bite in Isis' guitars is some kind of a fuzz effect? I have no knowledge whatsoever of those things, but I think bands like Isis do use them.
"A glimpse of light is all that it takes to illuminate the darkness."


Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:57 pm
Posts: 3131
Location: Singapore
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:36 pm 

It doesn't sound like anything complex to me. British voiced amp (Orange, Laney, Blackstar, Marshall) being driven hard. It sounds more like the 'rock' channel being cranked hard rather than the 'metal' channel being cranked moderately. But its nothing specific IMO, its more of how you EQ the settings and how you play (remember, good tone comes with good playing!) That crackly bite thingy sounds like a by-product of amp noise rather than some effect.

Any JVM is a good buy though, just stay away from the DSL and MG! I also recommend the MA series for something a little bit cheaper.
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OSHIEGO (SGP), death/thrash.

Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:04 am
Posts: 234
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:57 pm 

I was in the same boat you're in a few months back: Just getting into the swing again and looking for new equipment. What I ended up getting was a Blackstar (which didn't even exist when I was jamming back in the day) and I love it. I have two different guitars and create two completely distinct guitar sounds with them and just one amp.

I'm sure you could find one that not only nails that tone with nothing more than a Boss SD-1 (best DOD pedal ever, if you ask me), but also offers the versatility to do a whole lot more. And, like Somefella pointed out to me a while back, if you're an old-school Marshall guy like me, Blackstar was founded ex-Marshall employees so they know what you want.
So heavy if you breathe it your lungs will collapse.

Chainsaw Omega
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:43 pm
Posts: 132
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:53 am 

The shit you're going for doesn't really call for super-high gain sounds a la Mesa, Engl, and the like. You're best bet would be a good 2 channel amp that is footswitchable and a drive or distortion for your "third" channel. You're on the right track with the DSL 40. Despite Somefella's opinion, I quite like the tones, and it is in no way in the same league as the garbage MG series. I had an original 90s 50 watt DSL head and thought for the money, it sounded pretty damn good. As good as my JCM 800? No, but totally usable.

Another option which I think is quite good is the Blackstar HT series. Have used everything from the 1 watt combo to the 100 watt head, and the tones were great. The gain can get pretty saturated on them, and the ISF voicing knob thing can give you a lot of tone-shaping options. Think of it like this. Turned to the left, it's kind of 5150, Mesa sort of frequencies. To the left, you're in more of a Marshall/Vox territory. I do find that Blackstar has its own distinct tone though, which is a good thing.

As for the Digitech multieffects thing you're using, ditch it asap. Digitech makes good stuff, but those are not one of them.

you didn't give a price range or if you intend to gig or not, but my recommendation based on the bands you cited, would lean heavily toward a Blackstart HT40 combo. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

As for a drive/distortion, that would be up to your ears. That particular Isis song sounds like a ProCo Rat or a Boss SD-1 to my ears. You could also check out the Fulltone OCD. It's kind of like a tubescreamer plus. The tones they produce definitely mesh well with an already driven amp and are kind of voiced towards what you're into anyway.

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