18 watts - EL84's not enough for ROCK?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by CopperTop, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. CopperTop

    CopperTop Member

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    I am curious as to what people think. I currently play a Les Paul into a 18-20W Winfield Amp. This amp uses 2xEL84 and 3 12AX7 in the preamp. Kind of a Vox meets Marshall circuit. I use a 2x12 Avatar Cabinet loaded w/ g12H30 & V30 combo and a HotPlate to knock down the db's. This is the only amp I own currently, I wish I had some larger amps to compare on my own, but............

    It gets a great tone on its own, but sometimes I feel it gets grainy and lost in a band setting. Once I get the gain up to get a good hard rock crunch, the amp is clipping alot and compressing. Sounds great on its own, and is still LOUD. However I feel that it misses some of the girth and thump of the rock tones I hear on recordings.

    Our band plays Hard Rock / Punk (2 guitars, Bass, Drums). I am wondering if anyone else has felt the same way about the smaller amps in a band setting.

    I have been toying w/ the idea of building a 50W marshall, as it seems most of the tones I love come from bands who use a similar amp. I of course would be using a HotPlate or MV of some sort.

    Am I chasing my tail here, or does this sound logical. I am wondering if the girth, fullness and thump I am missing would be solved by using the "big bottle" tubes.

    The volume isnt the issue, the 18W is LOUD through a 2x12...but just seems to get grainy, compressed & lost in a band setting w/ little to no headroom.
     
  2. Holliman

    Holliman Triad Abuser

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    If the volume is there, and you like the tone, maybe look into a treble booster to help cut through.
     
  3. TeamJA

    TeamJA Member

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    build a 50 watter. the el-34's are much closer to the sound i heard in my head. i agree, on its own the 18 watt el-84 tone is great, but once you're rocking, it doesn't work.

    before you build a 50 watter, try swapping speakers. talk to jim at scumback speakers. if you still don't achieve the desired tone, then you'll have some great speakers for your 50 watter.

    i bought a 50 watter from roadrunner and really haven't touched the 18 watt.

    jeff
     
  4. CopperTop

    CopperTop Member

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    I own a BYOC Treble Booster...I use that for solos
     
  5. CADdrafter

    CADdrafter Senior Member

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    just mic the amp through your PA
     
  6. welcometoashley

    welcometoashley Member

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    i think what you're seeing as a drawback of 18watt amps, some people see as a virtue. a lot of people like getting to compressed power tube distortion quickly on the lower-wattage amps...

    i think a lot of it depends on the amp circuit. i've played some 18 watts that felt like they had more clean room than the other. amps with higher wattage and bigger transformers arguably might not be a lot louder volume-wise, but they'll likely feel bigger especially, IMO, in the low frequencies.... the marshall 50 watt will obviously have a lot more clean headroom too. have you tried dialing up the mid-frequencies in your current amp? that might help cut through the mix a bit better.

    also, try putting a 12AY7 or 5751 pre-amp tube in the V1 spot of your amp to help increase a bit of clean headroom. i have a 30 watt TopHat amp and whenever I'm looking for more clean headroom I swap in a 12AY7 in place of the 12AX7 and it helps significantly. granted, it works for that particular amp circuit. your results might be different, but it's a relatively inexpensive option worth trying before taking the plunge on a bigger amp.
     
  7. CopperTop

    CopperTop Member

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    I have tried dialing up the EQ...here is how I usually run it at rehearsal.

    Channels are internally jumpered...Bright Vol. 7-9, Normal Vol. 3-4, Bass 0-3, Mid 4-7, Treble 7, Presence around 4 Hotplate set to 8db.

    Its LOUD, just doesn't have the "feel" or girth to the tone w/ the band. If I am playing alone it sounds nice. Get the rest of the band in the mix and it seems to get lost, brittle and "squishy"
     
  8. BeauZooka

    BeauZooka Member

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    Ditch the Hotplate perhaps?
     
  9. alguit

    alguit Member

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    I have a Budda Twinmaster, 18 watts with two EL84's, and not only is it too loud for many gig situations, but when I DO use it it rocks as hard as any amp I have and also cleans up nicely when reducing the guitar's volume.
     
  10. Structo

    Structo Member

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    Yep, the hot plate is killing the highs.
     
  11. Ben S.

    Ben S. Member

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    El84's work fine if that is the sound you want. But if you are chasing something else, then something else is what you need.
     
  12. boltino

    boltino Member

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    + My Budda Superdrive 18. It rocks as hard as any halfstack I've used. Honestly, I haven't had a gig where I could REALLY open it all the way up. I think a lot of it depends on the amp's design (as to whether 18 watters in general can hang).
     
  13. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    Ask Winnie if the amp is cathode biased. If so, it might make you happier set up fixed bias. Beyond how it feels while you're playing, if you aren't, you should record band practices and listening to how it sounds in context.
     
  14. dandythomas

    dandythomas Member

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    I have the 18/30 Winfield amp. I mostly run it in the 18 watt mode so that I can get it breakup a bit sooner. I also use it with an attenuator, but I have a Weber MASS light that has seperate level controls for the higher and lower frequencies. I usually attenuate the lower frequencies more than the higher ones - as I find the amp has a lot of bass response using an oversized 1x12 closed back cab with a greenback. Using an attenuator does knock down the big thump from the bass as well as rounding off the top end. The more you attenuate the more mushy the amp gets and feels. Also, when you really push the distortion on the amp it also compresses significantly and takes away from the low end thump. I typically run the volumes between 10-11 oclock and use the attenuator to knock the volume down a little (too much attenuation just doesn't sound good). I use a clean boost to add an extra kick for solos and find this to sounds better to me than cranking the volumes alot higher. It really sounds big that way and doesn't compress as much as cranking the volume controls.

    I have changed to a 5751 in V1 to knock down the pre-amp gain a bit. I also switched V3 (the PI) to a 12AT7. This allows me to crank the volume controls a bit higher without so much preamp distortion. This would allow you to get more headroom out of the amp with less compression in the preamp. That, along with removing the attenuator should give you more solid low end, more cut, less compression, and a bit more headroom.

    One other thing I did was replace the rectifier with a 5V4. This dropped down the voltage in the power tubes a little, allowing me to get breakup happening sooner so that I didn't have to use as much attenuation. If you want lots of bass and headroom, though, I would stick with the 5AR4.


    It is worth noting that EL84 tubes are not known for their headroom though.

    Andy
     
  15. CopperTop

    CopperTop Member

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    Yes the amp is cathode biased (as most of the 18 watt style amps are) and my model is older and uses a EZ81 Rectumfryer. I also play a Les Paul w/ PAF style pickups.

    A couple of folks have mentioned some suggestions:

    The highs are not the issue, plenty of highs....the girth and wallop isn't there it seems for what I am playing in this band (LOUD, FAST, Punk/Hard Rock...think SuperSuckers, Hellacopters, Nashville *****, Ramones, Cult, AC/DC etc)

    As I have stated the tone is there, when playing alone. Add in a 2nd guitar player, bass and drums...the dynamics get lost, tone is "buzzy" and compressed. Great lead tone, but rhythm tone lacks the punch for this genre IMHO.

    Which is why I was asking if a 50w (Thinking of a JTM50 or 1987 plexi) would give me the thump / girth I am looking for without being "buzzy" or compressed.

    The circuit in my amp is "Plexish" (its basically the AX84 November amp if you care to check out the schematic http://ax84.com/media/ax84_m282.pdf That stuff is all greek to me, but from what I gather it is a plexi preamp w/ el84 power section)

    So while I like this circuit, I am thinking that I may just need more "balls" to acheive the tones I am looking for in a BAND context, not my bedroom:dude

    The bands we emulate dont use 18 watters.........so maybe I SHOULD just move up to the larger amps and be done w/ it?
     
  16. Stu Blue

    Stu Blue Member

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    Try Diming the Bass and Presence and twiddle the normal vol (down?)... works on my JTM45 anyway...(25-30watts loud drums and bass). Keep the mid lower than seems reasonable alone...
     
  17. CopperTop

    CopperTop Member

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    I find if I get the Bass on this amp too high its gets farty, creating more mud which is why I run it on 0-2 on the bass channel.

    Maybe EL84's just are not the way to go for my style. I love the amp when wailing classic rock and blues, where the music has more dynamics and room to breathe. Like I said though in a hard rock context it gets blurred and lost and my rhythm just doesnt have the impact and punch I want.

    I went for this amp after owning a Hot Rod deluxe..which was LOUD, but had crappy drive. I figured the 18w would help out in the volume dept. allowing me to crank the amp more....which it does. Add the band though and it gets lost. So part of my thinking here is that the 50w would give up the goods, but not be overly compressed and buzzy due to the wattage/headroom and different power section (EL34 vs. EL84)?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  18. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    The Hot Plate is not only messing with your highs its messing with the fullness and compressing your sound. Remove that sucker before you buy another amp. I can't imagine needing an attenuator with an 18 watt amp in a rock band. They work great in the bedroom with small amps but they kill em in a band mix.

    $.02

    <M
     
  19. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Supporting Member

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    Boltino is right on about amp design....however....The Budda is the loudest 18 watter I've owned...far louder than a Badger 18, Quidley 22, Aiken Intruder ect....but it still isn't going to have the big sound of an EL34 or 6L6 amp...It just isn't...There's just to much compression going on with the 18 watters, and the bottom end just can't be as tight and artticulate...It's the way the tube sounds..
     
  20. Stu Blue

    Stu Blue Member

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    Opps. I forgot you play a LP... less is more with them. Back in the day, with real Plexis People like Thin Lizzie ran Presence on 2, and 5 for everything else, gain/vol 5/6. With the gain as high as you are running it you get too much buzzy distortion... dump the attenuator and remember the vol control on your guitar. Less is more... Although Clapton's Beano Tone was LP +JTM45 running bass on 10....
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009

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