Amp Designers-Why don't more amps have the adjustable solo boost feature

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by guitarvc, Feb 14, 2008.


  1. guitarvc

    guitarvc Member

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    I just asked Doug Roccaforte this question in a private email, but thought I might ask this of the rest of you.

    Why are most amps designed without an adjustable solo boost feature? The Mesa Rectoverb has an excellent design ( tone leaves much to be desired though ) as well as the Koch Twintone and the Egnater Mod 50 (my personal favorite). They have clean and overdrive, with an adjustable solo boost which actually boosts the volume for solos.

    My Egnater for example has 2 gain and master volume knobs for each channel so that the player can adjust the amount of gain and volume for the clean and overdrive settings. To me this is something that all amps should have from a functionality standpoint, but few amps do.

    I love the sound of the Soldano SLO, Komet Concorde, Roccaforte High Gain 100, Fuchs Frost 100 and many others. But to go from rhythm to lead requires the use of the volume knob on the guitar or a volume pedal...thus either my rhythm tone is muddy or my lead tone has too much gain. Adding an adjustable solo boost seems to be no more than adding another volume knob per channel and a provision to engage via the footswitch. Can some of you share your expert opinions on why it is this way?

    Pros solve this problem by having multipule amps on stage, but the rest of us do not have the budget, road crew or desire to carry around a multiple amp setup.
     
  2. syxxstring

    syxxstring Member

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    Not an amp builder but I'm guessing its actually a relay switching between two potentiomiters, maybe its just two and the switch shorts one out for boosting. There are a lot of ways in theory to do it. My guess is that its R&D, support and build time. They would probably have it if they were being bugged for it.
    Personally I like to use a boost or other pedal for solos.
     
  3. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    This is exactly one of the things I like best about my VAC 22. Play channel 2, set channel 1 volume to where you want and then engage the footswitch for a volume boost for solos. Works great. Since channel 2 is the reverb channel and the verb is also footswitchable it's basically where I live on that amp. Couple it with an excellent master volume that works on either channel and you have overall command of all volume, nonboosted and boosted.
     
  4. enditol

    enditol Member

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    A boost in the loop can achieve the same thing.
     
  5. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    To me it seems more and more amps are coming with dual master volumes. Personally I prefer a gain boost as a solo sound though.
     
  6. modestmelody

    modestmelody Member

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    It may have to do with amp design on some of these. You're going to have to leave yourself some clean headroom that's just not accessible in the poweramp in order to make this work. While most 100w probably aren't going to reach clipping too often in the power amp, you may have to suck out some PI gain, etc.

    The only way to have a solo boost that doesn't change the sound is to have somewhere on the amp to go that's still clean no matter how you set it, and I'd imagine some amp builders don't feel the feature is worth that compromise.
     
  7. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I have that on my stuff, but when you click in the solo MV, the configuration of some of the gain stages changes a little bit to make it a bit brighter. This is because usually the solo boost will be warmer, as the amp is running harder. The brights add in a little more harmonics as well as compensating for the additional warmth of the additional power tube distortion.

    rooster.
     
  8. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    The reason we don't do it on any amps is because we haven't found the need to. Most people either switch pickups to do leads, or already have a good boost pedal they love.

    Most amp designers build things the way they want them, and they branch out when other people express things like this that they would like to see in amplifiers.
     
  9. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

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    True, but neither of my current amps have loops. In my last band, I played a UL and the other guitar player a Rectoverb. We both had adjustable volume boosts for leads and it was awesome. We played alot of dual leads and both of us jumped out in volume. Really, really cool.

    Now neither of my amps have loops or footswitchable volume boosts and honestly, it kinda sucks. I grew to depend on that before and now it's not there. And not, I'm not hauling around multiple amps to make it work. That gets real old real quick.

    Chris
     
  10. ericb

    ericb Silver Supporting Member

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    You are correct sir!!! I respectfully can't agree with the "Satellite Amps' answer above.. Well, I probably shouldn't say that, BUT what I mean is the boost pedals ONLY do volume boosts when in front of relatively clean amps OR post-preamp in an fx loop... Most boost pedals I have don't do a solo boost worth a crud in front of a medium-gain amp... (we all have different definitions of gain though of course) I've played in band after band for many years and everyone I know would want variable solo boosts on their amps.. I have LOADS of kickass amps due to loving them so much but the only ones I've gigged with for quite awhile is an Engl Screamer (yes it has a variable solo boost) and a Tremoverb for the past few years.. The Tverb doesn't, BUT it turns out I can rig the variable fx loop up with a pedal to give the solo boost and it's just perfect... I have so many really really nice amps that don't have it, and it's a really bad thing not to incorporate that in amp design if you ask me.

    It's one thing if someone plays r&b or blues and says "Use your volume knob" but for the types of music that many of us play that doesn't work..

    Either way , I've posted this same post quite a few times in the past and to this day I'm surprised at all the guys who come out with new amps and top dollar ones that don't have this REALLY BASIC FEATURE (but 1 of the most useful)

    ALSO, it's a bit different when you play with a soundman all the time (and the soundman knows what he's doing.. I've done many a sound gig and can always boost the guitarists when they need it) BUT many of us do gigs without soundmen, (I'm responsible for the sound from the stage) and yep it's awful nice when your amp has that option!

    Eric
     
  11. guitarvc

    guitarvc Member

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    All I know is Egnater has acheived it beautifully, so has Diezel with the Einstein, Bogner with the Shiva (only on the overdrive channel) and Koch with the Twintone. All it takes is to add another master volume that is footswitchable. So many guitarists I see in the clubs take a solo and it barely cuts over the top. A guitar solo should be equal in volume to that of the lead vocalist. Any lead instrument should be about 15db louder to be heard with clarity.

    I make sure to mis my band's live sound to where the lead vocals, lead guitar solo, horn solo, keyboard solo, etc is about 15db louder than the rest of the band...thus solos and lead vocals are heard with clarity.

    I just wonder why more am p builders haven't caught on and implimimented a solo boost feature. Any builders out there with an
    answer?

    By the way, Valvetech amps sound great and are pretty inexpensive. I heard a couple at an amp shootout here in Chicago a few months back and...very nice!
     
  12. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    Sir, yes sir - yes sir

    Been doin' fer yearz

    To The OP:

    hook up a barber launch pad or volume pedal to your efx loop, then fagetaboudit
     
  13. frankencat

    frankencat Lex Luthier Gold Supporting Member

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    The problem with the boost in the loop is that you have to run like 40' of cable from your amp out to the front of the stage and back. This is not something I want to do. A better way to do it is to make a loop box that can be switched remotely. I have made them before and am currently in the process again. If one of the pedal builders would make one it would sell like hot cakes. (You can give me 1% for the idea ;) )
     
  14. ericb

    ericb Silver Supporting Member

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    Check out Lyle at Triad Audio. He makes one... Some other guys do too but for some reason I'm drawing a blank on them

    Eric
     
  15. cochese

    cochese Member

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    While the solo boost function on Mesa amps is a nice feature and the same results can be achieved with many effects loops this is really something a soundman should be doing. I can see where an amp designer might not want to complicate his design with additional switches and relays all for the sake of something that is usually done at a mixing board. Does a vocalist or a sax player need a boost switch?


    How's this for a novel idea, instead of the guitarist trying to blast above the band with a boost switch how about if the members of the band play softer while he solos. This is called dynamics. I'm sure all of us guitarists rememeber to turn down while the vocalist is singing or when someone else takes a solo.
     
  16. guitarvc

    guitarvc Member

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    I respectfully disagree, as the band volume for the most part for the overall rhythm portion of the song stays at the same volume throughout unless the song calls for a lowering of volume. Clearly when Led Zeppelin was playing Whole Lotta Love, it was just plain loud, and Page would boost his volume for the solo either by switching to another amp that was louder or the soundman would boost his signal. In the old days players would use the volume control on the guitar and the rhythm tone would suffer. Other times the solos werent loud enough. How many times have you seen a live performance where the solos were barely audible? For me it has been a bunch. To add an adjustable solo boost in an amp doesnt seem to be that difficult. I would like to hear from some of the builders why they don't include that as a feature?
     
  17. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    Tis is one of the reasons I bought an Aiken Sabre...2 channels plus a boost on the M channel..brillant...
     
  18. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    all well and good for blues bands with guitarists using non-master volume amps. not so good for crunchier styles of music with higher-gain amps.

    +1
    after years of frustration with my old 2203 marshall (it gave me a rhythm crunch i love, a lead tone i love, and a guitar-turned-down clean tone i love, just not without changing my master volume each time) i rigged up a little relay in the amp that switches in a variable resistor between the ground lug and ground of the master volume. i saw no need to create a second master volume, as i wouldn't be switching in a quieter sound, just a louder one.

    i think i used a 500k audio pot as the resistor (it's been a few years), and rather than trying to get dc power for the relay out of the amp circuit itself, i just ran a jack on the back from the relay, and made a little box for my pedal board that took 9 volts from my pedals' power supply and put it across an output jack when i stepped on it. any ol' cable between the box and the amp served to power the relay.

    with my new boost knob on 0, the ground lug of the master volume stays grounded, and there's no difference in level. as i turn the boost knob up, the signal gets further and further blocked from going to ground, and gets louder as a result.

    now i have a real lead level boost that i can adjust, and i also as a side benefit am able to kick on the boost, turn my guitar down, and have a usable clean sound at a good level, all from a one-channel amp.

    i use a drive pedal for gain, which it will do, not volume, which it really won't in front of a master volume amp. now i can control my gain and volume properly, a real bonus when playing without soundmen or multiple amps.
     
  19. cochese

    cochese Member

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    Studio and live playing are entirely different animals. I really started to change my ideas on dynamics when I started doing most of the singing. The fact that when you hear bands live and can't hear the guitar solos just drives home my point even more about the lack of dynamics that most bands have. If you want to use your approach then it seems the soundman should be able to turn you up for the solo if he's able to get the vocalist above the band. I've never had a problem hearing Robben Ford or Eric Johnson live and I don't think they have solo channels on their amps. In the studio many times when a part stands out you will find that other instruments are being turned down. Rock has a very narrow dynamic range in terms of recording.

    Whatever works for you but if you want to use Zepplin as an example and think the lower volume rhythm parts are using full bore distortion listen again. Those guitars are pretty low gain by todays standards.
     
  20. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

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    Play loud rock music live much?
     

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