Chasing that stereo rack sound...with pedals? With both pedals AND rack gear?

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
***EDIT - For anyone just reading this thread for the first time, spoiler, I ended up using no pedals at all***


Hey all, I've recently started thinking heavily about getting that 80s stereo rack sound. For cleans, for high gain rhythm, for solos, all of it.

I started messing with a stereo rig using a King Kong 50 (for the preamp and power amp) and a 100 Watt 68 Plexi (power amp / loop return IN). I got super inspired by some videos LA Sound Design posted up on YouTube. My results are so so, though. I'm not sure the amps are playing so well together, the loops might be giving me fits, etc. So, maybe I need to look at this starting from scratch.

Can I get there using all pedals, and go into a clean tube stereo power amp? Can I get there with a hybrid of pedals (on a rack tray) and a rack tube preamp and a rack tube power amp? I'm ultimately looking for portability. Something I can take to rehearsals and gigs and just plug into 2 cabs and be good to go. I'd like to keep size under control...A board and a power amp. Or, a rack with a foot controller for everything. I don't think it's wise for this to be dependent upon a board and two guitar heads. I'm not looking to do wet/dry, or wet/dry/wet. Just stereo.

I've got some stuff I've been playing with, maybe these pieces will be good to build upon:

Eventide MicroPitch pedal
Strymon Dig
GigRig Wetter Box (this is a parallel mixer)
Goodwood Audio Output TX (this is a stereo box with phase flip, transformer isolation, and sum-to-mono options)
ISP Decimator II G-String pedal

I think I'd need a stereo tri chorus as well, right? And I also need a compressor? Also, I will need to be able to control everything with one of those programmable looper / switchers, either on the floor or on a board. I want to be able to hit one button, and have magical cleans. Hit another button, and be in high gain, hair metal heaven. Hit one button, and have an epic soaring lead sound. And so on.

I think the biggest hurdle I'm facing is the high gain sound. I'm super hesitant to start throwing money at Marshall in a box type pedals...I'm worried it will sound / feel like I'm playing through a distortion pedal. I'm also insanely picky, and I intensely dislike fuzz, fizz, "hair" and sizzle.
 
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murkat

I like sea otters
Messages
1,682
welcome to the rabbit hole.
Deep breaths for a deep dive!
I have a hybrid setup as well and it works for me.
When I have resolved a few issues with it, I'll post and elaborate more about it.

For High Gain, I would look into a dedicated tube preamp of your taste,
then boost it for solo, etc if needed.
There are some cool pre amp pedal stuff out there too,
But, like you, I have only experienced fizzy fuzzy hairy type sounds...
I am very happy with my synergy preamp setup thou.
 
Messages
1,310
... that 80s stereo rack sound...

You can easily achieve this. Modern pedals (verify they can take a line-level signal) or rack, either way.
Rack pres... ADA MP-1 or -2, Marshall JMP1, Triaxis, modern stuff like Synergy et al.

For that chorus, TERC is gonna be hard to beat, but they are expensive and hard to find. In a pedal FTT TriAvatar is killer. You already have the needed utility stuff, mixer, noise gate. MIDI control is a must no matter how you do it. In your situation especially building a whole new rig, I think I would rack everything (including your pedals and some type of switcher) and build a simple board for up front. MIDI controller, expression pedal(s), maybe a wah.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
I'm digging the Synergy idea, thank you both! I'm feeling like I may be able to get there with an 8U rolling rack:

• VHT / Fryette 2902 or 2505
• Synergy Syn-2, with maybe a SLO module and the other module TBD
• Sliding pedal drawer to mount the MicroPitch pedal, Dig, Wetter Box, Output TX, and ISP Decimator II G-String
• Power Conditioner

So that's 6U of rack space right there. I can honestly probably get a chorus pedal and a compressor on the sliding pedal tray as well. That leaves me with 2U of rack space still to fill. Maybe a rack tuner? A rack wireless? Or maybe rack mount the switcher / looper and use a MIDI floor controller...

Then I'd plug right into my 4x12s here at home, and use the backline cabs at rehearsals and shows.

I feel like this could be totally manageable!

I really dig what I'm seeing with the Synergy Syn-2. I really dig that it has a loop that is stereo return, and it has stereo outs to go to the power amp. It seems like it was made for something like this.

I'm going to have to give a LOT of thought to the foot controller. I don't use wah or expression pedals, so I can simplify things even further right there. That may help keep the cabling between the floor controller and the rack as simple as possible. Then I'd just plug right into the rack. I'd really prefer to have absolutely everything contained in the rack except the switcher.

Definitely a lot of little details to consider here still.

I'm looking at a few chorus pedals for this - Free The Tone Tri Avatar, Mr. Black Stereo Vintage Ensemble, and Neunaber Inspire Tri-Chorus Plus.
 

mlkIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,622
I am also looking at doing this sort of rig and just made a thread on it (didn’t see this).

I am looking to copy Dean Deleo’s rack rig which he uses that big stereo sound and uses some (very little) traditional pedals. For that chorus sound he’s known for he uses a Rocktron Intelliflex (for verb and delays as well I believe) and it sounds great. I’m going to literally try to copy his rig so I’ve just ordered a Demeter TGP-3 from James and looking at a VHT power amp. All I can find from VHT though is the 50 watt ones and although that is probably enough for the gigs I play, my STP tribute is starting to play some pretty large venues and headroom is something I really need for the clean sounds. Will be using a Port City 2x12 cab but looking for 4x12 options locally.

will be using this rack rig with a Morgan AC20 deluxe head and my port city 1x12.

posted all this to say I am going down the rabbit hole with you and hopefully can get some advice and help here along the way!

Also for chorus pedals check out the Hardwire Stereo Chorus. I think the FTT is def the best but the hardwire sounds really great and much cheaper. The multi setting rules.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
I am also looking at doing this sort of rig and just made a thread on it (didn’t see this).

I am looking to copy Dean Deleo’s rack rig which he uses that big stereo sound and uses some (very little) traditional pedals. For that chorus sound he’s known for he uses a Rocktron Intelliflex (for verb and delays as well I believe) and it sounds great. I’m going to literally try to copy his rig so I’ve just ordered a Demeter TGP-3 from James and looking at a VHT power amp. All I can find from VHT though is the 50 watt ones and although that is probably enough for the gigs I play, my STP tribute is starting to play some pretty large venues and headroom is something I really need for the clean sounds. Will be using a Port City 2x12 cab but looking for 4x12 options locally.

will be using this rack rig with a Morgan AC20 deluxe head and my port city 1x12.

posted all this to say I am going down the rabbit hole with you and hopefully can get some advice and help here along the way!

Also for chorus pedals check out the Hardwire Stereo Chorus. I think the FTT is def the best but the hardwire sounds really great and much cheaper. The multi setting rules.


Good to know I'm not alone in this! I was also looking at those VHT power amps, and it looked like the only ones in stock were the 1U versions. I don't know, maybe that would be all the power I need, but I can't wondering how rad it would be to get a 2902 and have some crushing KT88 power on tap!

I'm also really looking forward to the looks on some faces if / when I pull this off and start rolling up to gigs with an old school rack setup :)
 

mlkIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,622
Good to know I'm not alone in this! I was also looking at those VHT power amps, and it looked like the only ones in stock were the 1U versions. I don't know, maybe that would be all the power I need, but I can't wondering how rad it would be to get a 2902 and have some crushing KT88 power on tap!

I'm also really looking forward to the looks on some faces if / when I pull this off and start rolling up to gigs with an old school rack setup :)

I am leaning toward to VHT 252 power amp. Prices are just high across the board. I've seen them sell on reverb for 750-900 bucks for years and the two for sale right now on Reverb are 1200 plus shipping. Of course I messaged the guy and said I'd only be able to offer 800 and sent him multiple links of sold ads and he got offended lol. Gear prices are really crazy right now
 
Messages
1,310
2902 is a badass amp no question. 1200 is ridiculous used, you can get brand new with a warranty for like 1500.

As far as the pedals, make sure they can take line-level or you're gonna run into trouble.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
2902 is a badass amp no question. 1200 is ridiculous used, you can get brand new with a warranty for like 1500.

As far as the pedals, make sure they can take line-level or you're gonna run into trouble.

Regarding the line level issue, if I do decide to go with the Synergy Syn-2, I'm actually going to be in good shape, since it looks like that unit has a switch on the back that allows you to choose either line or instrument level for the loop. Very cool that they thought to do such a thing!
 

jaxjaxon

Member
Messages
931
Well I run a Wet Dry Wet set up. I use all fender amps no tubes no FX loop straight into the front, clean high head room. Because I am using three amps I started looking for a Leslie effect unit not just a stereo unit but a three output one and the only one I could find that would do this is a old rackmount unit by DigiTech RPM-1 Tube rotary speaker emulator. Left/Right out for the Horn section and Center out for the Rotor section. So being that I need to keep all the signals split to make the unit work like a leslie I had to find true stereo pedals in puts and outputs. And trying to find a dirt pedal that will do that was not easy, I found a company that makes all there pedals like that Source Audio one series. Now I can do really wild sounding stuff. As far as using a switcher I have one but its not stereo so it is used for the center out rotor section with my mono pedals and my stereo pedals are set up by them selves. I am thinking about getting another 8 pedal switcher to hook up the stereo pedals to using two switching lines for each stereo pedal. And no I dont use this setup playing out, only the larger amp and the mono board.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Switcher, tuner, 2 spaces above the shelf for the pedals... If you think you need 8, get 12. Trust me hahaha.


I think what I'll do is a learn a lesson from my pedal boards...I started with a Nano+, immediately outgrew it, got a Nano Max, and now it's not going to work anymore, etc...I think I'll get all my components first, get my sounds and functionality dialed in, and THEN I'll figure out what rack I need to fit it all into
 

teofilrocks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,523
Ah the excitement and planning for a stereo rig - I love it. I've tried the Synergy SYN-2 into a stereo tube power amp, drive pedals into a clean amp, and straight up amps. I've settled on the latter. I switch between 3 amps. However, if I had a better power amp than last time (a Mesa 50/50), I would give the SYN-2 a go again. May still in the future. Probably with a Friedman BB-BE and SLO module combo: clean, two flavors of crunch (w/ or w/o boost pedal if you want) and high gain. I just haven't found drive pedals + clean amp that does it for me. They just don't sound as big or rich as amp gain to my ears.

My setup is in two studio racks and naturally doesn't move, but there are still elements that apply to a live rig. For instance, I have a pedal drawer and a rackmount loop switcher (RJM Rack Gizmo) with a MIDI foot controller (RJM Mastermind LT). I have a spare Voodoo Labs GCX loop switcher that would also work. The thing I like about it is that there's only one cable on the floor - MIDI w/ phantom power to the controller. I use it for channel switching, pedal loops, effects patches, even effects levels on my PCM80.

The effects part is where I see things getting trickier for you. The 80s rack guys all had line mixers (or multiple line mixers) for parallel mixing their effects processors. Do you want your effects in series or parallel with each other and the dry signal? If you add a tri-stereo chorus, that would make 3 stereo effects you want switchable control over (assuming you don't also add reverb).
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Ah the excitement and planning for a stereo rig - I love it. I've tried the Synergy SYN-2 into a stereo tube power amp, drive pedals into a clean amp, and straight up amps. I've settled on the latter. I switch between 3 amps. However, if I had a better power amp than last time (a Mesa 50/50), I would give the SYN-2 a go again. May still in the future. Probably with a Friedman BB-BE and SLO module combo: clean, two flavors of crunch (w/ or w/o boost pedal if you want) and high gain. I just haven't found drive pedals + clean amp that does it for me. They just don't sound as big or rich as amp gain to my ears.

My setup is in two studio racks and naturally doesn't move, but there are still elements that apply to a live rig. For instance, I have a pedal drawer and a rackmount loop switcher (RJM Rack Gizmo) with a MIDI foot controller (RJM Mastermind LT). I have a spare Voodoo Labs GCX loop switcher that would also work. The thing I like about it is that there's only one cable on the floor - MIDI w/ phantom power to the controller. I use it for channel switching, pedal loops, effects patches, even effects levels on my PCM80.

The effects part is where I see things getting trickier for you. The 80s rack guys all had line mixers (or multiple line mixers) for parallel mixing their effects processors. Do you want your effects in series or parallel with each other and the dry signal? If you add a tri-stereo chorus, that would make 3 stereo effects you want switchable control over (assuming you don't also add reverb).


Your floor controller setup is exactly what I'm hoping to achieve!

I'm hoping that I'll be making things easy for myself, is that what I'm primarily looking to get out of it is the huge, 80s clean, a massive high gain rhythm sound, and an epic, soaring lead sound. So, there's really just 3 combinations I have to get. Anything I can get it to do beyond that is icing on the cake.

The Wetter Box is a parallel mixer, so I can incorporate that. Both the Eventide Micropitch and the Strymon Dig have the ability to do kill dry, if you want, but they don't have to be run that way, so I've got great flexibility there. I need to be mindful of whatever chorus I end up getting...

I know the Syn-2 is full MIDI controllable. What I'm not totally sure about is the Dig and the Micropitch. The Dig has an expression jack, and the Micropitch has an Expression Jack and a USB jack, which I think can be used for MIDI. So, I need to really study up on just how much control over those I'd be able to have via a MIDI switcher on the floor, or if they'll both basically be and always on thing, just one setting, and just bring them in and out of the chain with the loop switcher.

I may decide to take the plunge initially with the Syn-2 and the SLO module, plug that mono into the Loop Return of my 68 Plexi, and see if I even want to proceed in that direction (with the Synergy). If I dig it, then I can start looking into my stereo tube power amp options, I guess.
 

teofilrocks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,523
Your floor controller setup is exactly what I'm hoping to achieve!

I'm hoping that I'll be making things easy for myself, is that what I'm primarily looking to get out of it is the huge, 80s clean, a massive high gain rhythm sound, and an epic, soaring lead sound. So, there's really just 3 combinations I have to get. Anything I can get it to do beyond that is icing on the cake.

The Wetter Box is a parallel mixer, so I can incorporate that. Both the Eventide Micropitch and the Strymon Dig have the ability to do kill dry, if you want, but they don't have to be run that way, so I've got great flexibility there. I need to be mindful of whatever chorus I end up getting...

I know the Syn-2 is full MIDI controllable. What I'm not totally sure about is the Dig and the Micropitch. The Dig has an expression jack, and the Micropitch has an Expression Jack and a USB jack, which I think can be used for MIDI. So, I need to really study up on just how much control over those I'd be able to have via a MIDI switcher on the floor, or if they'll both basically be and always on thing, just one setting, and just bring them in and out of the chain with the loop switcher.

I may decide to take the plunge initially with the Syn-2 and the SLO module, plug that mono into the Loop Return of my 68 Plexi, and see if I even want to proceed in that direction (with the Synergy). If I dig it, then I can start looking into my stereo tube power amp options, I guess.
I don't think the DIG can be controlled via MIDI. Strymon didn't start implementing MIDI over 1/4" TRS in their compact pedals until after the DIG came out. I believe it's just their basic favorite switch, so no bypass control. The Micropitch does have MIDI over TRS.

I still have to figure out the Wetter Box a bit more, and how it would work with a loop switcher. It's not as straightforward as say an RJM Mini Line Mixer.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
I don't think the DIG can be controlled via MIDI. Strymon didn't start implementing MIDI over 1/4" TRS in their compact pedals until after the DIG came out. I believe it's just their basic favorite switch, so no bypass control. The Micropitch does have MIDI over TRS.

I still have to figure out the Wetter Box a bit more, and how it would work with a loop switcher. It's not as straightforward as say an RJM Mini Line Mixer.


I just sent an email to RJM, asking a bunch of questions about the rack mount Effect Gizmo and Mastermind LT MIDI foot controller, and whether that would be the combination that would work for me :)

It would be cool if a simple snake that is just MIDI and power could also make the Mastermind LT basically a "one cable" setup.
 

teofilrocks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,523
I just sent an email to RJM, asking a bunch of questions about the rack mount Effect Gizmo and Mastermind LT MIDI foot controller, and whether that would be the combination that would work for me :)

It would be cool if a simple snake that is just MIDI and power could also make the Mastermind LT basically a "one cable" setup.
Hope it works out for you. The current Effects Gizmo rack is quite a unit with stereo capability. And it will power the Mastermind LT nicely over MIDI ;)
 

ctreitzell

Member
Messages
4,757
yeah, guys, Fryette is just flat out at the moment
demand is very high and supply is low
I've been blaming COVID

@support was talking about the LXII recently
something about transformer wire being special, IIRC

I just bought two VHTs; a 2562 and a 2902
I have yet to hear them both simultaneously with my multiAmp rig
I'm much more enamoured with the 6L6 2562 than I thought I would be.
For cleans, tho, the 2902 KT88s is where it's at for me
The 6L6 sounds glorious, but the cleans just are not in the same league as the KT88s
that is purely my opinion, tho
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Okay, so check this out, I drew up a possible setup, using an RJM Effect Gizmo and Mastermind LT:




Now, there are a couple of things I should note here:

• This only works if I order the Effect Gizmo with the full stereo mod.

• I am also still waiting on RJM to confirm that the full stereo mod makes the CS Out jack stereo. They've confirmed that the inputs stay mono, and all the loops become stereo, but I need them to confirm this includes the CS In and Out. I figure it would have to, since the CS In is normalized to Output 5-8. Otherwise, I guess I'd have to skip the CS feature and just go out of Output 5-8.

• As far as I can tell, it is on me to split the signal into left / right, which, as you can see, I would be doing with my Output TX. This has a split sum feature, which allows you to take a mono signal and make it mono left and right. If anyone knows of a device that can do this as well, let me know, because...

• I'd prefer to use that Output TX on the L/R outputs that will go to the power amp. It has a stereo sum feature, that would allow me to sum everything to mono just prior to the stereo power amp, in the event I go somewhere that only has a single, mono cab.

• I'm also waiting on RJM to explain how the Tuner Out works. Like, can I select that with the Mastermind LT, and when doing so, does it mute the rest of the audio signal, so I tune silently on stage?


Here's what is wild about this setup:

• I can control the Effect Gizmo, the Syn-2 modules, the Micropitch, and even the EQ pedals (if I get ones with MIDI I/O), all with the Mastermind LT. That would be on the floor, with just a single MIDI cable running between it, and the rack. It will run off phantom power. The possibilities for my different presets is staggering.

• This ALL FITS inside an 8U rack case - 1U power conditioner, 1U rack tuner, 1U Effect Gizmo, 2U of space for the sliding pedal shelf, 1U for the Syn-2 preamp, and 2U for a Fryette 2502 or 2902.

• Going to gigs and rehearsals, all I'd need is my backpack guitar case, and the rack (I'd get one of the ones with wheels and a handle, like luggage). Plug into whatever cabs are there, and boom, done. I should probably mention that I live and play in NYC, so this is a MAJOR bonus, and no, basically nobody brings their cab(s) with them to gigs here.


Here are some things I still need to figure out:

• I just ordered a Syn-2 and a SLO module. I'm going to test it out by just going power amp in with my 68 Plexi. That will at least tell me if this is a keeper. At that point, I can figure out what my other module purchase will be. But this whole thing is dead in the water without a preamp that will give me 80s high gain for rhythm and solos, with no fizz, fuzz, etc. The Dirty Shirley is on my radar, but I was also thinking about perhaps one of the Fender modules. It's hard to know for sure, since almost every video you find of people using the Synergy modules is all dead dry, scooped out, and usually doing the BROOTALZ. I wanna hear them doing some Scorpions. Or bust out the solo for Glory of Love. Anyway, I digress...

• If I then decide to proceed, I will have to figure out if I want to go with the Fryette 2502 or the 2902. I'm reasonably sure the 2502 would give me all the volume I could ever want, so I think it may be down to tone. And, I really don't know which to choose.

• I have no idea what compressor or boost pedals to go with. I see the compressor getting turned on for clean tones, and the boost could be a maybe for high gain stuff, when I really want to send things into metal meltdown mode.

• For the chorus, I have to have stereo in, and the only ones I'm seeing that can do this for me and help me get that 80s rack sound are the Neunaber Inspire Tri-Chorus Plus, maybe the Mr. Black Stereo Vintage Ensemble, and perhaps the Boss Dimension C Waza edition (though I'm not totally sure with that one). I looked into the Free The Tone Tri-Avatar, and it is mono in. The Fulltone TERC is sadly out of the question, since it is far too much money to allocate to one effect, and it takes up a rack space. So far, I'm leaning towards the Neunaber. Hey, maybe Eventide will suddenly release the Tricerachorus as a standalone pedal, though!

• For the EQs, I'm looking at the Source Audio EQ2, at least for the stereo chorus. They are kinda pricey, so I'm not sure I'd want to get one for the front end as well. 2 of those units are a good chunk of change.

All thoughts, suggestions, opinions, critiques, etc., are welcome!
 
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