Boutique high gain... Hot Cat vs. Gainstar??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by starvingartist, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. starvingartist

    starvingartist Member

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    Gents... a few questions:

    I need an amp that can handle metal. Not super tight chugga chugga stuff, but more of an organic roar tone. I love Opeth's later guitar tones and the heavier Porcupine Tree stuff. I'd like to be able to pull off a convincing Tool tone too.

    That said:

    1. Are the Hot Cat and Gainstar equal in terms of the amount of gain they produce?

    2. How would you describe the difference between the gain character of the Hot Cat vs the Gainstar?

    3. Is there another high end boutique amp that does super high gain better than these two?

    Thanks
     
  2. wsaraceni

    wsaraceni Member

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    since the guys in porcupine tree used to use a hot cat, and now use a lynx, i think it'll be right up your alley. i love my hot cat 30r.
     
  3. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    Can't comment on Bad Cat.
    You might also have a look at VHT's offerings.
     
  4. Probos

    Probos Gold Supporting Member

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    I've heard that the Gainstar's drive channel can't get as aggressive as the Hot Cat can. I love my Hot Cat 30r -- it can cover a lot of ground and the tone is excellent.

    The Lynx looks very similar to the Hot Cat, but at 50 watts you're gonna get a bit more "umph" and I'm sure it tightens things up a bit.
     
  5. Metalmike117

    Metalmike117 Member

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    Have you tried to run an OD or boost in the front of your Hot Cat? Also have you tried running it into a 2x12 or 4x12?

    -M
     
  6. Lution

    Lution Member

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    I wouldn't consider either of them to be Super High Gain amps.... Perhaps Elmwood or Bogner might be more in the gain area you are looking for.
     
  7. wire 247

    wire 247 Member

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    I have both the hot cat 30 and the lynx. I played the gainstar and did not like it at all, It was darker sounding and not as high gain. I would recommend the lynx. It has a little more mojo to it with extra 20 watts. I also like the clean channel better, there is more versatility in the lynx. I love both but the lynx gets more use. The hotcat does not have a channel switcher so you use a a/b switcher but the lynx has a midi footswitcher that I like better.
     
  8. wsaraceni

    wsaraceni Member

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    the hot cat 30r has a great clean channel and channel switching.
     
  9. Mikey Likes It

    Mikey Likes It Silver Supporting Member

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    I had a Gainstar 30 and found the high gain tones to be over-the-top and definitely different. "Dark" is one of the adjectives. That is one amp I'd recommend you try before buying.
     
  10. schaljo

    schaljo LEGEND

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    Budda Superdrive series
     
  11. mcgriff420

    mcgriff420 Member

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    I had an early Sampson HC30 and a current spec Gainstar. Nearly identical except..

    The HC is more raw on the crunch side where the GS is a little more refined -maybe at the expense of some gain/saturation. I found both to be very uncompressed.

    The clean sides are more of the same, the HC is slightly more raw and uncompressed, where the GS is a little more polite. Both sound GREAT when the clean channel is cranked past half.

    I kept the GS over the HC because the GS's EQ was more flexible on the clean side and it was better at those in between tones. The GS doesn't leave me wanting for more gain, but I agree the HC can get slightly more aggressive.

    All in all there are probably better amps for the tones your chasing. I'm really intrigued by the Elmwood and Superdrive.
     
  12. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    HOt CAt definitly does an organic roar, and that is a great description of the sound actually.
    I A/B ed mine against my Mesa IIC+ the other day, and the Hot Cat does not really go to the hard hitting crunch sound that the 6L6 amps get, more of a furry roar.
    I'm getting tingles just thinking about those tones.
     
  13. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    I'm running my Hot Cat 100R Custom Shop through my '73 Ampeg flat back
    SVT 8X10 and you should hear the guts this set-up has.

    It's not as loud as through my 2x12, but oh man the bottom in standard
    tuning sounds as if you've drop tuned without doing so.
     
  14. Rev2S

    Rev2S Member

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    I agree with what others have said here. The Hot Cat is not too compressed...it's more raw sounding...I have a HC30R and the thing is a beast. I didn't care for the Gainstar that much. Play both and see which you like better.
     
  15. Eddie V

    Eddie V Member

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    I own a Hot Cat 30R 212 combo and it cranks someting fierce, very awesome. It channel switches and ABY's, has a very warm sweet clean tone and takes pedals great.
    I played a high $ PRS at Guitar Center into Budda 18 superdrive 112 combo and was floored by the volume, tight high gain tone and pretty good clean tone this amp got. I think I was pressure testing the windows in the boutique room with my volume and I couldn't believe that this 112 combo sounded soooo goood. People kept stopping and looking into the room ( not because I was playing anything great, just because of the tone) I had to come back with my own guitar (Suhr V60's modded Fender Strat) and it was incredible for the tones this amp got. I am getting one just to add to the family and play in stereo with my Bad Cat or Dr Z Mazerati 112 combo. All these amps are great, you just need to play them to see which one you want. I want them all!!!
    Best of luck and enjoy the journey.:drool
     
  16. Jason_86_951

    Jason_86_951 Supporting Member

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    I've got my Gainstar sounding unreal these days, by far the best sounding amp I've played/owned. I like it a lot more than the Elmwood, I had if that helps, and yes I play metal too.

    It's very tube sensitive and I found the stock tubes lacking bigtime. Initially it had this strange mid/dark thing on the gain channel, after a some experiments with different tubes it came alive. The trick is to put some brighter preamp tubes in V2-V5 and a 5751 in V1. This does lower the high gain a touch, but it LOVES boost pedals this way and it's easy to push into late 90's metal tones.

    I found the Zendrive to be the best boost pedal for this amp by a long shot.

    Speakers are a HUGE tone shaping tool with this amp as well. The stock Star/V30's are ok, but for cleans I love Celestion Blues in an open back cab and for gain a pair of Eminence Red Ryders are killing it in a closed back cab.

    I recently A/B this amp with a Diezel Einstien, both for cleans and high gain. While the Diezel "slightly" did better Tool metal tones, and had more clean headroom, the GS beat it out in every other area.

    While I haven't got to play a HotCat, I can get some very convincing Porcupine Tree tones out of the GS.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  17. starvingartist

    starvingartist Member

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    A bunch of great responses, thanks guys.
     
  18. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    I just fiddled around on a HotCat at a dealer today. It is the newest revision, 30R combo, with FX loop and footswitch with channel blending, and the mid norm/boost/boost+ toggle thing. The guy described it as boogie rectifier/marshall/fender switch, but I think it sounded very marshally all the time.

    Spent about 45 minutes playing around with it, and I LOVED it. If I can talk them down a couple hundred I will probably go pull the trigger this weekend.

    I didn't have my guitar with me, so I was just playing with a stock $600 60's style strat or something....I'm more of a gibson guy but I felt like trying out something with single coils.

    Anyways, it sounded GREAT, but I will agree with many of the other posts that it is hard to dial in! At first I was not impressed but I started doing what is suggested...start with the dials below 9 oclock, and then work up, instead of starting at noon and working back and forth.

    The 5 position tone control on the clean channel...I actually really liked it, very different settings. The Brilliance knob has a huge play across the range and I think its pretty evenly tapered.

    The edge control for channel 2 was also a great control allowing very different types of overdrive.

    The master volume was excellent, even taper, and gets some very good tones at daytime-home levels. Not sure if you could play an apartment during sleeping hours without tone degradation, but that is quite a stretch anyways.

    Te overdrive was very thick across the frequency spectrum. at some settings the thickness with a cheaper strat with single coils was equal to what I get with me Gibson LP Supreme with a WCR godwood and darkburst in it! However it was not muddy at all, I could still enjoy and pick out the nuances of more complex chords, even minor and diminished ones, with high levels of overdrive.

    They didn't have a Gain Star, so I can't compare.

    I did play a Bogner Duende for a bit too....I like the HotCat more, maybe its the EL34 sound, or the bigger headroom, but I thought the HotCat with the 1x12 had a larger sound stage than the Duende through a 2x12.

    Hopefully it doesn't get snatched up anytime soon!

    Hope it helps.
     

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