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thinkinglad
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 9
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:52 am 
 

Is that true that Marshall amps are the most cutting upper midrange amps in every live band mixes? What are the other high gain amps that can match Marshall amps in terms of cutting through the densest live band mixes and have upper midrange that is good as the upper midrange of Marshall amps if not better?

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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 8304
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:46 am 
 

I feel like that's a truism that goes around internet guitar forums, and it's based on truth, but it's not an universal axiom of mixing. What frequencies will cut through always depends on the rest of the mix and acoustics. It's not always the upper mids that will help an amp cut, and Marshalls tend to have some attenuation in other areas of the mid frequencies, so it has less area to fall back on if a vocalist, synth or other lead instrument ends up being very loud in the upper mids.

Ultimately, it's not about which brand of amp you're using. Sometimes a Telecaster to a Fender amp will cut more than a Les Paul into a hot-rodded Marshall, even though in theory, it's the latter that should have tons of mids. It's the combination of all factors, including your guitar and the pickups and electronics you're using (and their settings), pedals, cabinets, mic positions, room acoustics, cabinet placements relative to who's listening, etc. Celestion V30 speakers can greatly help in getting a clear sound with most of the upper mids intact. Many other popular speakers attenuate upper mids, including some that are used in Marshall cabinets. "Hot-rodded" pickups like Gibson 498T and Bare Knuckle Rebel Yells will give you nice upper mid-focused overdrive tones. Tube Screamer pedals will make pretty much any valve amp overdrive with a more cutting and focused tone, or you might use an EQ pedal to boost the trebles and upper mids of the preamp. Just having too much gain and compression can prevent you from cutting.

Also, Marshall as a brand doesn't necessarily equate to tons of upper mids. For example, their JVM and JCM2000 can be quite easily set up for "modern" tones with beefy low end and attenuated upper mids. I think the reputation comes from the Super Leads being designed to have strong upper mids. This was relative to the competitors at the time, such as Fender, and it became kinda iconic for Marshall. Some of it carried on to later designs, but the more modern and high-gain we're talking, the less that probably applies. Something like a JVM is not necessarily a mids-heavy amp, unless you specifically set it up so. DSL100, too, can be, but isn't necessarily.

To me, Peavey 5150 (or 6505) is probably the amp that stands out the most in a mix. It's possible set up in a way that gets lost in the mix like any other amp, but with conservative settings, it's a loud amp with some insane brute force in the tone stack. It doesn't cut because it cleverly bumps some frequencies that tend to have more space in a band mix - it just floats above everything else in the mix, and makes other amps sound reedy and weak. As a manufacturer I wouldn't count out Orange either. Cult of Luna use them live in a three-guitar setup (with lots of other instruments too, including bass, clean and harsh vocals, synth, drums, various percussion...) and it sounds very clear and defined. Besides those, Laney and Blackstar also tend to go for similar sounds with their designs. Mesa/Boogie Rectifiers can be harder to cut, and quite a few ENGL high-gain heads can be terrible for cutting, especially with their "Standard" cabs, or the Marshall cabs with Celestion G12T-75 speakers which are ubiquitous in backlines all over the world.

Edit: There's another misconception about mids - especially in amp designs like Marshalls - and being heard in a mix. Many amps are actually designed so that increasing the mid control in the amp EQ decreases the attenuation of all other frequencies as well. In other words, adding mids can also add every other frequency that the amp is otherwise designed to attenuate. That makes it much louder not just for increasing mids, and the sound will be louder in a wider range of frequencies and therefore less likely to be drowned out in a mix.
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infinitenexus
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:35 am
Posts: 1895
PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2020 1:32 am 
 

Nah, just don't scoop your mids and you'll be fine. Also a tube screamer has a nice little boost in the upper mids and most tube amps benefit from one anyways, so that helps. And I second what Ilwhyan said, the 6506/5150 series has a strong midrange, even when scooped. You have to really try to get a bad sound out of them.
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