Amp distortion "not enough for metal"?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by doc, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. doc

    doc Member

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    I don't quite get this. I see numerous reviews of amps that include a statement along the lines that the distortion is ok for blues or classic rock but not enough for metal. Frequently these are amps I've owned or played that in my experience can go to a complete wad of buzzy mush with the amp's distortion. Very few of the pro recorded metal tones I've heard are as severely distorted as that, usually those sounds are EQ's a bit differently and have a modest amount more distortion than heavy classic rock, but nowhere near as distorted as what these amps can generate. I also am of the opinion that many amateur players use way more distortion than their heros do in general. Can anyone straighten out my thinking on this? Maybe some of you Keepers of the Metal Flame can chime in?
     
  2. Primakurtz

    Primakurtz Member

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    You, Sir, are exactly right. IMHO.
     
  3. ToneGrail

    ToneGrail Member

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    Reminds me of this one time that this guy in the band that played before us borrowed my Marshall JCM800 2204. He plugged it in, dimed the gain and asked me if the thing got any more distortion. I rolled my eyes. Mind you, I normally keep the gain knob around halfway up, where the sweet spot is. Needless to say, his playing was so sloppy with tons of farty choked notes whenever he attempted to take a lead. He was so used to hiding behind all that distortion that he wasn't even aware how bad his playing sucked.
     
  4. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    I think what the reviewers mean to say is the amp doesn't have enough compression for tapping and other shred techniques when played in the bedroom. They're just putting it in terms that fuel the fantasies of their average readers.
     
  5. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Member

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    Kinda strange to have this discussion without talking about specific amps.

    It's more a question of the sonic character of the amp than how much gain it has. The Lone Star Classic is a good example. In simple terms of how much gain is available by cranking the knob to 10, there's quite a bit there. Maybe enough for metal. The problem lies in the sonic character of the amp. The LSC is a wonderful, sweet, warm tone machine. By design, it does not have the tight, elastic low end and cutting highs that are required for aggressive metal tones.

    I agree that most modern amps have plenty of gain, but gain is a secondary part of the equation. Either an amp is voiced in such a way that it can do convincing metal tones, or it's not.
     
  6. joolzriff

    joolzriff Member

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    i met a guy in our rehearsal studio that had 3 dist boxes hooked up and still wasnt enuff...... yeah u r dealing w/ kids that havnt been down the rd yet also the distortion carries the bad playing,give em a while and they will back off..
    another thing is WE SHOULDNT keep thinking of album tones,these albums have lots of production and bass behind them...i think kids think they need more bass on the guitar eerrrrhhh NO....
    i have VH1's demos and the guitar sound like an average marshall until ted templeman done VH1 for real......ask TED about EDs tone thats where it came from...know waht i mean?
     
  7. doc

    doc Member

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    So, in your opinion, what they should usually be saying is "this amp doesn't have the EQ capability to allow good metal tone" rather than "not enough distortion"? I know that some "metal" amps have "resonance" controls and other EQ options, but some that seem to be OK for metal don't. I totally get that my vintage Ampeg is never going to make it for metal - it can't generate strong, stiff lows or cutting trebles - it does thick, chewy mids in spades. My Peavey Envoy, on the other hand, other than the limitations of the open back, single 10 speaker, IMHO can generate a suitable tone if put through a bigger cab. I'm sure that the Peavey would be categorized by many as "not metal enough", however (in fact one recent review stating that the Bandit was "not metal enough" without a pedal was one of the inspirations for this thread).
     
  8. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm guilty of this to some degree: I think many people who are not that into metal tend to think of metal as a lot of thrashing around with very distorted guitars. Actually, a lot of people who are into metal (mostly young, newbie players) treat metal this way too. As a result, some of us think that if that's not how we'd use our amp, then it's probably not a great amp for metal.

    I think that accounts for part of the phenomenon you're talking about.
     
  9. Release

    Release Member

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    I think they're talking about the razor sharp attack kind of distortion that some amps just can't get. Not on big, full riffs, but the precise single note runs.

    It's almost like the difference between a single coil and a humbucker..... that tightness and focus that you can't get from a single coil with high gain.
     
  10. cugel

    cugel Member

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    perhaps a high gain head and a nice eq pedal would get you there.
    but you want to stand out so the added versatlity of a dist pedal helps.
     
  11. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    For me, metal was defined in the 1980's....with relatively low gain amps hitting the sweet spot. I never cared for that Rectifier kind of "metal."

    Mike
     
  12. Melodyman

    Melodyman Member

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    It's simple really, alot of players aren't in bands and play at home at lower volumes. They try to emulate album tone for inspiration.

    Nothing wrong with that imo, as long as they don't carry that philosophy over to if/when they ever join a band or have to make an album. Than the parameters change...
     
  13. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I think thats the heart of the matter. Recording requires much less gain than most think and many recorded heavy guitars are multi-tracked and very compressed....going back as far as Sabbaths first album.

    There is no way on earth to replicate a multi-tracked, highly compressed guitar and guys that don't know figure the closest thing is massive amounts of gain.

    This is also a problem i've seen with modelers. They tend to model the recorded sounds of a given amp rather than modeling the amp standing in the room.
     
  14. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I get your point but I don't jive with the idea that high gain necessarily covers bad playing. To a point, it can, but it also takes another set of skills to play with lots of gain. Take a guy thats used to playing totally clean and give him a super high gain rig....you'll hear more extraneous noise than your ears can handle.

    Im not totally disagreeing, just saying there are different skills needed for different styles of playing. If your buddy sucks, well then he sucks, but pehaps your rig just didn't suit his style of play.

    FWIW, I play a 2204 also and it's more than enough gain for me. So i'm not upholding one as better than another...just different.
     
  15. aman74

    aman74 Supporting Member

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    This is a big part of it. ​

    Yes, the OP is correct that a lot of the guitar gods are using less gain then it appears at first. Slayer, for example, is a very heavy band, but it's more about their attack, aggressive style and Marshall's cranked up. It's not a super saturated tone, but add in the bass and the drums, etc...

    So when someone wants that tone at home without a band or making a recording the lower gain sound isn't going to cut it. Also, there's nothing wrong with that and I really hate to see people consistently criticising people who want a lot of gain as someone who's just going to get lost in a mix and they don't know what they're doing...blah blah blah.

    Another part of this phenomenon is what your point of reference is. A lot of guys around here consider Deep Purple about as high gain as anyone ever needs. That's fine, but realize that everyone is not you.

    The OP really needed to point out amp and band examples. There are in fact styles of music that do require a certain type and amount of gain. You simply can't say that they are just going over the top. A JCM800 isn't the upper limits for everyone and every style.

    It also gets really old to hear people have this constant negative attitude towards metal. It's always about how they're just kids, they hide behind gain, they don't know tone, etc... It seems quite ok to have this ignorant attitude, but if you slag a 60's/70's guitar god all hell breaks loose.

    The majority of metal heads I know are far more open-minded than the blues and classic rock crowd. I'll listen to Godflesh just as soon as Chet Atkins. You don't find the reverse nearly as often.
     
  16. D4vidgd

    D4vidgd Supporting Member

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    The newer Mark series Mesa Boogie heads :D
     
  17. Zero

    Zero Member

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    I agree. Controlling the strings, under high distortion, can be difficult. On the other hand I understand what people are saying when they say high distortion masks bad playing in that with high distortion even if you mess up there's always something coming out, whether it be noise, or real notes. Where with clean, if your lack of skill stops you dead in your tracks, there's a big gap. A big meatball on your face.
     
  18. ToneGrail

    ToneGrail Member

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    I'm not one of those people. I love myself some metal. Motorhead and Slayer are some of my favorite bands. I just think that some misguided individuals actually think there is a lot more gain going on there than there actually is.
     
  19. hippiebob

    hippiebob Member

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    How do I get my Deluxe Reverb to sound like a Mesa stack?



    Kidding. :D
     
  20. aman74

    aman74 Supporting Member

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    I wasn't pointing to anyone specific to this thread. I was just blowing off some steam about the topic in general.

    Yes, I agree that some folks think there is more gain than there is...I spoke to that as well.

    In some cases there is a whole lot of gain though...nothing wrong with that either...just another style.

    It's not as simple as saying "turn down the gain and turn the mids up". There can be truth to that in some situations, but it's not a hard and fast rule. People love to say that guitar is a midrange instrument so turn up the mids. What they fail to realize is that the WHOLE guitar is still a midrange instrument. Either way it doesn't really matter. You can make your music work for you either way. Plenty of bands tune down and use a lot of gain and make it work for them.

    It's silly for someone coming from the perspective that Judas Priest is the heaviest thing they listen to or play to try and apply those rules to someone elses music where it isn't appropriate.

    Again, not aiming this at you. Just adding to the discussion.
     

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