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

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Okay, Sunday evening update, incoming!

• I brought the rack rig in its current state to a full band rehearsal today. Rehearsing for a Def Leppard tribute show at the end of the month. Mesa 2:90, Syn-2, Jaded Faith Super Clean module, Synergy Plexi module, ISP Pro Rack G, Ashly LM308, and of course the two Korg DL8000rs. I also grabbed the custom Jaded Faith XTC module, just in case I wanted to experiment a bit.

• At the rehearsal studio, I plugged into a pair of Mesa oversized slant Recto cabs, with Mesa-spec V30s. So, similar to my cabs here at home, but not identical anymore since mine here at home now have G12 EVHs in the top positions. But, I digress...

• It's all about volume. This rig wants / needs to be cranked. The louder you go, the crazier it sounds.

• Yeah, the Synergy Plexi really is a better module than the SLO, for what I'm looking to do. I feel as though it is important to add that bit, since there are loads of people getting exactly what they want from the Synergy SLO. They aren't wrong, just like I'm not wrong. But the Synergy Plexi, through the Mesa 2:90, through those cabs, sounded like a cranked up wall of Marshalls in the early 80s.

• Funny enough, we tried several heads for the other guitarist - some Marshall 85th Anniversary head (god awful, thin, harsh, and boxy), a JCM2000 (better, but not by much), a Mesa Dual Rec head that sounded like garbage and clearly needs service, and a 50 watt Mesa rectifier Solo Head. That one finally got the right sound. That, through a current Marshall cab, together with my rig, gave us the Marshall sound we were looking for. With like basically no actual Marshalls. I find it hilarious how often that is the case.

• Anyway, I had been using the Plexi for rhythm (blue channel) and lead (red channel). But I decided to throw the XTC in there and try that for just leads. And you know what? It crushes. It has great clarity and cut, but isn't harsh about it at all. Solos sound just like you want them to in a band mix. It also sounds great alone. There is no flub on low notes, too, and the sweepable mids feature gives me that last little bit of flexibility I'm always looking for.

• So, that had me using the Plexi for 2 different flavors of rhythm. It was hard for me to decide which channel I liked better for this task. I ended up rolling with the red channel for the bulk of the rehearsal, but when playing alone, the blue channel really does sound nice and full and smooth. And no, the two channels are not voiced the same. Incredibly close, of course. Close enough that the shared EQ isn't as big of a problem as it could have been. But they are not the same.

• I pulled the Super Clean out. Why? Honestly I'm just not that good. And I feel as though it really shows when I try to play nuanced, intricate clean stuff. So, heck with it. I'll put it back in if I end up getting a second Syn-2, which is something I've flirted with for ages anyway.

• I also found that less turns out to be more when it comes to the effects processors. For my main high gain rhythm tone, I ultimately ended up setting one of the Korgs to Bypass, with the other set to a simple 6v Chrs/Dly that was in the Italo preset pack. Just a bit of width and character and wetness, but not overwhelming. And I was previously running two different delays on solos. I pulled that back as well. Today really demonstrated that my "more is more and therefore more awesome" approach was really not doing me any favors. Fun for noodling at home on the couch, but with this rig cranked up to rehearsal and concert levels, having too many effects going is kind of a disaster. It was really hurting my core tone.

• I brought one of my 84 Explorers today which has a Zhangbucker O-Bucker in the bridge. I also brought the 87/88 BC Rich Bich (I need to just decide on what year I'm going to consider it and move on already). That has the factory Super Distortion / PAF set. The Bich was darker than the Explorer, and I'd say the Super D behaved like I expected it to. The Explorer, which has A3 mags in the bridge pickup, was brighter and far clearer. Also not a shock. I think something with the tonal signature and heat of the Super D, plus the clarity of the Zhangbucker, with a more forgiving feel, would really have me smiling.

• After we were all wrapped and packing up, I asked the bassist if he could hear the differences after the changes I've made to the rig. He said "oh, you mean like the fact that it actually sounds like a guitar amp now?" Damn him for being right. I'm no longer getting lost in the mix, for starters. And the Synergy SLO module, coupled with the effects I was running before, had the rig sounding shockingly close to digital. I'll be selling the SLO module for sure. And I most definitely have no use for anything other than the two Korgs, and those are also best when I demonstrate some level of restraint.


So, there we have it. I took some video, but it did a ***** job of actually capturing the sound, so I'll likely not even bother posting it.
 

communarchy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
999
Okay, Sunday evening update, incoming!

• I brought the rack rig in its current state to a full band rehearsal today. Rehearsing for a Def Leppard tribute show at the end of the month. Mesa 2:90, Syn-2, Jaded Faith Super Clean module, Synergy Plexi module, ISP Pro Rack G, Ashly LM308, and of course the two Korg DL8000rs. I also grabbed the custom Jaded Faith XTC module, just in case I wanted to experiment a bit.

• At the rehearsal studio, I plugged into a pair of Mesa oversized slant Recto cabs, with Mesa-spec V30s. So, similar to my cabs here at home, but not identical anymore since mine here at home now have G12 EVHs in the top positions. But, I digress...

• It's all about volume. This rig wants / needs to be cranked. The louder you go, the crazier it sounds.

• Yeah, the Synergy Plexi really is a better module than the SLO, for what I'm looking to do. I feel as though it is important to add that bit, since there are loads of people getting exactly what they want from the Synergy SLO. They aren't wrong, just like I'm not wrong. But the Synergy Plexi, through the Mesa 2:90, through those cabs, sounded like a cranked up wall of Marshalls in the early 80s.

• Funny enough, we tried several heads for the other guitarist - some Marshall 85th Anniversary head (god awful, thin, harsh, and boxy), a JCM2000 (better, but not by much), a Mesa Dual Rec head that sounded like garbage and clearly needs service, and a 50 watt Mesa rectifier Solo Head. That one finally got the right sound. That, through a current Marshall cab, together with my rig, gave us the Marshall sound we were looking for. With like basically no actual Marshalls. I find it hilarious how often that is the case.

• Anyway, I had been using the Plexi for rhythm (blue channel) and lead (red channel). But I decided to throw the XTC in there and try that for just leads. And you know what? It crushes. It has great clarity and cut, but isn't harsh about it at all. Solos sound just like you want them to in a band mix. It also sounds great alone. There is no flub on low notes, too, and the sweepable mids feature gives me that last little bit of flexibility I'm always looking for.

• So, that had me using the Plexi for 2 different flavors of rhythm. It was hard for me to decide which channel I liked better for this task. I ended up rolling with the red channel for the bulk of the rehearsal, but when playing alone, the blue channel really does sound nice and full and smooth. And no, the two channels are not voiced the same. Incredibly close, of course. Close enough that the shared EQ isn't as big of a problem as it could have been. But they are not the same.

• I pulled the Super Clean out. Why? Honestly I'm just not that good. And I feel as though it really shows when I try to play nuanced, intricate clean stuff. So, heck with it. I'll put it back in if I end up getting a second Syn-2, which is something I've flirted with for ages anyway.

• I also found that less turns out to be more when it comes to the effects processors. For my main high gain rhythm tone, I ultimately ended up setting one of the Korgs to Bypass, with the other set to a simple 6v Chrs/Dly that was in the Italo preset pack. Just a bit of width and character and wetness, but not overwhelming. And I was previously running two different delays on solos. I pulled that back as well. Today really demonstrated that my "more is more and therefore more awesome" approach was really not doing me any favors. Fun for noodling at home on the couch, but with this rig cranked up to rehearsal and concert levels, having too many effects going is kind of a disaster. It was really hurting my core tone.

• I brought one of my 84 Explorers today which has a Zhangbucker O-Bucker in the bridge. I also brought the 87/88 BC Rich Bich (I need to just decide on what year I'm going to consider it and move on already). That has the factory Super Distortion / PAF set. The Bich was darker than the Explorer, and I'd say the Super D behaved like I expected it to. The Explorer, which has A3 mags in the bridge pickup, was brighter and far clearer. Also not a shock. I think something with the tonal signature and heat of the Super D, plus the clarity of the Zhangbucker, with a more forgiving feel, would really have me smiling.

• After we were all wrapped and packing up, I asked the bassist if he could hear the differences after the changes I've made to the rig. He said "oh, you mean like the fact that it actually sounds like a guitar amp now?" Damn him for being right. I'm no longer getting lost in the mix, for starters. And the Synergy SLO module, coupled with the effects I was running before, had the rig sounding shockingly close to digital. I'll be selling the SLO module for sure. And I most definitely have no use for anything other than the two Korgs, and those are also best when I demonstrate some level of restraint.


So, there we have it. I took some video, but it did a ***** job of actually capturing the sound, so I'll likely not even bother posting it.


I love the realization you came to that “less is more.” I had a similar experiences this week when I (finally) had a rehearsal and then a show last night on a big stage with a massive sound system where I could really get air moving. It all really matters in the context of the band, seems obvious, but a lot of these nuances we obsess over totally end when you have to actually play with other people.

What I was telling you about Salvation CAE pre, the things I loved about it but also my potential consternation with it when the band came in, well it sort of came true but also surprised me.

My main high gain sound has been the Uberschall red channel, wound up high and big and fat on the low. There’s a section in one of our really long songs where we have a improv jam that I alternate from rhythm to lead back and forth and for simplicity sake I just play my leads with the rhythm sound. Feels fine, plays fine. Then at the end of the song when I have my “big epic prewritten solo” I threw on the “dedicated solo sound” of the CAE mod, and it just didn’t feel right. More slinky, compressed, less tactile feedback, made me feel like I didn’t have as much control. Yet, it’s always great when I’m playing alone!

Makes me just feel as if all I really need is one high gain sound. Maybe boost it/carve it with an OD a bit when I take leads, but having a sound that is markedly different from my main sound just makes me feel disconnected. Keep it simple.

Funny enough though, I found that CAE worked well when I wanted something a little more relaxed in the mids and not as forward for rhythm in songs where I sit under the vocal and are more chord centric and less riff/rhythm centric. Let all the notes of the chord ring out and not be too fat and forward.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
I love the realization you came to that “less is more.” I had a similar experiences this week when I (finally) had a rehearsal and then a show last night on a big stage with a massive sound system where I could really get air moving. It all really matters in the context of the band, seems obvious, but a lot of these nuances we obsess over totally end when you have to actually play with other people.

What I was telling you about Salvation CAE pre, the things I loved about it but also my potential consternation with it when the band came in, well it sort of came true but also surprised me.

My main high gain sound has been the Uberschall red channel, wound up high and big and fat on the low. There’s a section in one of our really long songs where we have a improv jam that I alternate from rhythm to lead back and forth and for simplicity sake I just play my leads with the rhythm sound. Feels fine, plays fine. Then at the end of the song when I have my “big epic prewritten solo” I threw on the “dedicated solo sound” of the CAE mod, and it just didn’t feel right. More slinky, compressed, less tactile feedback, made me feel like I didn’t have as much control. Yet, it’s always great when I’m playing alone!

Makes me just feel as if all I really need is one high gain sound. Maybe boost it/carve it with an OD a bit when I take leads, but having a sound that is markedly different from my main sound just makes me feel disconnected. Keep it simple.

Funny enough though, I found that CAE worked well when I wanted something a little more relaxed in the mids and not as forward for rhythm in songs where I sit under the vocal and are more chord centric and less riff/rhythm centric. Let all the notes of the chord ring out and not be too fat and forward.

It's so true. And I obsess over details like crazy, too! The bulk of it is out the window when cranked up with a band.
 

Il_Falco

Member
Messages
69
Tommy

Really cool sounds. Do you still use the fx with kill dry and a mixer? The Plexi sounds great here. Now I am interested in that module as well.. grrrr. Thanks a bunch.

No in all seriousness. I really dig the detailed walkthrough of this topic.

How crucial do you think the poweramp is for the marshall-esque sounds? could you get away with another poweramp and still have that sound?
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Tommy

Really cool sounds. Do you still use the fx with kill dry and a mixer? The Plexi sounds great here. Now I am interested in that module as well.. grrrr. Thanks a bunch.

No in all seriousness. I really dig the detailed walkthrough of this topic.

How crucial do you think the poweramp is for the marshall-esque sounds? could you get away with another poweramp and still have that sound?

Correct. I’m sending a separate feed off of the Syn-2, which gets split, and goes to both effects units. Those are both set to kill dry, and go back to the Ashly LM308, to be mixed in parallel with the dry tone. You can’t see the Ashly here since it’s in the back of the rack.

The power amp question is a tricky one. If you think about it, I’m getting that sound with a little bit of a Plexi circuit, and nothing else in the entire rig is Marshall at all. The Mesa 2:90 is a simul-class stereo power amp, running 6L6 output tubes. 8 of them, in fact. You can actually put EL34s in the class A slots, but I’m not even doing that.

Theoretically, a Fryette 2502, or maybe one of those massive Marshall power amps, should do the job. But I had a 2502 last year, and I prefer the character the 2:90 adds. I’ve never tried one of those Marshall power amps. While there are other power amps I’d still like to try (just out of general curiosity), I do strongly suspect the Mesa is a big part of what is making me dig this. The coloration and the feel are so important to me.

I’d love it if I could get the same results from a single space power amp, like the Syn 5050, or the LXII. But, I doubt I would. Maybe tonally I’d be in the same ballpark, but there is just something terrifying and ominous about the 2:90. You can feel it and hear it when it’s cranked up.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Tommy

Really cool sounds. Do you still use the fx with kill dry and a mixer? The Plexi sounds great here. Now I am interested in that module as well.. grrrr. Thanks a bunch.

No in all seriousness. I really dig the detailed walkthrough of this topic.

How crucial do you think the poweramp is for the marshall-esque sounds? could you get away with another poweramp and still have that sound?

You know who would have some insight here? @communarchy. I got the Plexi module from him, and I believe he is rocking an LXII.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
Turn it back up. I mean yah thats impressive for string-noise-louder-than-amp tone, but the first clips...yeah.

Oh, I totally agree. But those low volume clips are about as loud as I can play at home. Now you see why it’s such a challenge for me to try out gear here at home. It’s not until rehearsals that I can really get an accurate sense of what’s up.
 

communarchy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
999
You know who would have some insight here? @communarchy. I got the Plexi module from him, and I believe he is rocking an LXII.


Good question. There’s an extra gain stage in the Plexi module which makes it more of a hot rodded Plexi than an actual Plexi circuit. Having had a few superleads and currently a boutique Plexi clone by Verellen, I’ll say that it’s not the power section, it’s the volume that is the difference. And to some degree the feel of the power section. I think power section has less to do with it tonally than feel, compression, and extension of high end and low end.

It very much sounds like a hot rodded Plexi. Any recording of it, regardless of power section, will show that. Does it feel like one? Probably pretty close and I think the cathode adjustment switch can go a long way to dial in that feel. I mean did a video for Tommy at shouting volume for the tone I thought he was going for after long talks with him, and it pretty much sold him immediately on it and hasn’t looked back. It definitely does that sound.
 

Tommy Von Voigt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
851
You know, I was initially pretty down on those full volume clips from Sunday. Not because of the sloppy playing - it is what it is. I was down on them because I feel like they just don’t capture how enormous it really sounded in the room. But after watching them a few more times since, I think they do at least get the idea across. I think you can get at least some sense of where things are at.

Looking back at the 40 pages of this madness, and seeing how relatively straightforward the setup is at this point, I do feel some regrets. I could have gotten here so much sooner! But, where would the fun have been in that, right?
 

Jambo

Member
Messages
282
You know, I was initially pretty down on those full volume clips from Sunday. Not because of the sloppy playing - it is what it is. I was down on them because I feel like they just don’t capture how enormous it really sounded in the room. But after watching them a few more times since, I think they do at least get the idea across. I think you can get at least some sense of where things are at.

Looking back at the 40 pages of this madness, and seeing how relatively straightforward the setup is at this point, I do feel some regrets. I could have gotten here so much sooner! But, where would the fun have been in that, right?
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy… you KNOW you wouldn’t have gotten here any sooner. Had you gotten the Plexi unit earlier you’d have wondered if it was really gonna be it. You’d still have gotten the Fractal, sold the synergy and tried to make it work. Eventually giving up and coming back. You’d still have wondered about all of the other modules and tried them out. You are still curious about the Alnico Creams, so you’re not done yet…. Take it from an old guy, you NEVER will be… except for maybe a season. LOL

One thing I’ll definitely give you props on… this is all but impossible to attempt while living in an apartment! I can NOT even imagine trying to come to any conclusions of a big rig playing at low volumes. I’m blessed with a couple acres and a studio detached from my house that I can BLAST volume 24/7 and still changing things up. Agreed on the plexi module though, it just clicks so many boxes for me.
 
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