Amp-In-A-Box: Where's the logic?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by effcee, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. effcee

    effcee Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Here's something I've wondered about: If I run a Marshall-emulating amp-in-a-box through a Blues Jr., why would the Fender then sound like a Marshall? How does that equation work out? How can the sound of the fx pedal trump the sound of the amp it's being run through?

    I'm not saying that I expect any amp-in-a-box to sound exactly like it's intended emulation. But I'm just trying to understand what it might be about the character of the pedal that would come through more strongly than the sound of the amp.

    What I'm looking for here is some kind of technical info which might explain this, not the obvious simplifications such as, 'A pedal emulation will never sound like the real thing.' Most of us gather that much. I want to know how an 'fx trumping the tone of the amp' design might be effectively achieved (relatively speaking, of course.)

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. Heady Jam Fan

    Heady Jam Fan Member

    Messages:
    8,944
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
  3. tnt365

    tnt365 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,984
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    Set your amp to sound as "neutral" as possible. For example, a very clean Fender Twin Reverb at low volumes with a Plexi-Drive or Crunchbox (or any MIAB) will sound more like a Marshall then that same amp cranked and EQ'd trying to achieve "Marshall" crunch.

    At some point it all becomes relative I guess, but for practical use it works.
     
  4. justnick

    justnick Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,673
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    EQ, dynamics and breakup characteristics.

    Check out the CB30 in front of my SFPR. Definitely doesn't sound like a Princeton.

     
  5. Bucksears

    Bucksears Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,705
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Location:
    Clayton, NC (just east 'o Raleigh)
    +1
    I've never been one to get into 'transparent overdrive' pedals because I WANT a dirt pedal to color my tone. I WANT a Vox-inspired sound out of my Super when I use my CM AC-Tone or a Marshall-y sound using a Plexitone.
    Aside from having a bit of a dip in the midrange, a Blackface Fender amp doesn't have a very imposing EQ.
     
  6. JasonAz

    JasonAz Member

    Messages:
    1,010
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2011
    Location:
    ny
    i was just under the impression that this pedal was mainly for people who dont want to use an amp and run the pedal direct to the PA
     
  7. JRBain

    JRBain Member

    Messages:
    1,310
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    This stuff is overstated at best and fabricated at worst.

    The 'overstatement' occurs when people talk about how remarkable it is that they can run an overdrive into the clean channel of their amp and it sounds like the lead/mid-gain channel of that amplifier (My my, I wonder why that could be?), or when people claim that the 'amp-in-a-box' sounds a lot more like the 'amp' than it actually does. (and actually just tweaks the EQ a bit or whatever)

    The 'fabrication' occurs when people conveniently gloss over the fact that their 'amp-like' overdrive doesn't sound 'amp-like' through a mediocre practice amp, and sounds most 'amp-like' through a good amplifier. I wonder why that is? ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  8. fieldsroyal

    fieldsroyal Member

    Messages:
    1,980
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    Bris Vegas Australia
    Buy a Menatone - they invented the FET amp in a can design - still the best IMO
     
  9. effcee

    effcee Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Howdy, Nick, good to see you here! (It's me, SuperEffCee.)
     
  10. vanguard

    vanguard Member

    Messages:
    2,530
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    yep. the TBIAC absolutely DOES vox-ify my fender tube amps. even if they're breaking up, the mena adds the "krang", slight compression, and swirling mids.
     
  11. whaiyun

    whaiyun Member

    Messages:
    3,602
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Windsor/Detroit
    What's swirling mids?:huh
     
  12. Heady Jam Fan

    Heady Jam Fan Member

    Messages:
    8,944
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Belongs on that '**** pedal geeks say' thread ;)

    Quite different than haunting mids
     
  13. telepunk

    telepunk Member

    Messages:
    1,323
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    Technically speaking (and I am not an expert), the reason it works is that you're essentially changing the circuit. Think of it this way (very simplified version): Normally your guitar is feeding a signal into your amp which is just a circuit feeding a speaker. When people "mod" amps they are changing the circuit to change the sound, right? Well, a pedal is, more or less, doing the same thing temporarily. All you are doing is introducing new modifications to the circuit by way of a guitar cable. It’s not as if the circuits are running parallel, you are running your guitar signal through both in series, so the result is something completely different (or only a little different if that’s the design and goal).

    I think that is what you were asking.
     
  14. effcee

    effcee Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    So, here's my problem (again): Not all clean, 'neutral' sounding amps sound the same to being with. So even if you rely on a 'blank slate' to produce the sound of your amp-in-a-box, you're still relying on a very unpredictable factor. I guess that if one assumes that all clean amps have a similar sound, then it all makes sense. But if you're playing one Marshall-in-a-box through a clean Vox, and another one through a clean Orange, they're going to come out sounding fairly different, right?

    I guess the whole thing relies on choosing a pretty 'clean/neutral' amp to start with, and I'm probably over thinking it all. But it's just one of those concepts that kind of makes my brain itch whenever I think about it.

    "Then stop thinking about it!" Bah-dum-dum! LOL
     
  15. cajone5

    cajone5 Some guy Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,724
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    That's why pedals have EQ options. To help compensate for variations in the clean platform.
     
  16. vanguard

    vanguard Member

    Messages:
    2,530
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    it's the term that gets tossed around to describe the almost "chorus" sounding thing that happens in the mids when a good vox amp is starting to cook. does sound a bit douche, i'll admit it.
     
  17. effcee

    effcee Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Ah, good one, cajone5. That one's helping to scratch the brain itch.

    I've always thought of the amp-in-a-box's tone controls as something which only mimics the various shades native to the intended amp-model. But if those tone controls are also thought of (or intended as) a way to also manipulate the 'blank canvas' (the amp that it's being played though), then things start making a bit more sense. I suppose... :huh
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  18. Dire

    Dire Member

    Messages:
    45
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    I think amp-in-a-box pedals are ideally/primarily for use with an amplifier that has an extremely clean tone uncolored by amp overdrive, like a Roland JC series (with the built-in distortion turned off of course). I think the secondary use for these pedals is for use as sort of a drive boost and tone enhancer for a similar amp to what the pedal is supposed to be emulating.
     
  19. jrmgtrplyr

    jrmgtrplyr Member

    Messages:
    299
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    effcee - you are right, the same amp in a box, set the exact same way into a fender, then a vox and then into something else will sound a little different. That is 1 reason there is more than 1 amp in a box pedal and people all have their opinions on which is best based on their experiences and the sounds they are going for. Even to say I want a Marshall in a box is too general, which Marshall? what era, what tubes, what wattage, slight break up marshall sound, heavily driven? ???????? - Marshall really has several classic amps that people all think are the best and are used all different ways. The idea of an amp in a box is to open tonal palettes and get you close to tones you like without having to carry around 15 amps to play all the tones you want. Usually the best place to start for that is pick an amp, any amp that has a basic good clean sound that you like and can dial in. Then go on the hunt for boxes that help shape your tonal output getting you close to sounds of the other amps you might want. Just because some people will say you need a Fender with a Tim and an OCD and a KOT - you might find the amp sounds you like with a peavey classic and MXR or Boss. You just got to go try and as far as one of your original statements of how can a pedal trump a amp tone - step on a wah - that surely trump the amp with a sweepable EQ.
     

Share This Page