Frustrated....amp shopping

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
Nothing fits....

I have owned and played a Gen 1 , single channel, non-reverb JCM800 4104 since it was brand new, 1982. It is the Canadian edition, with EL34's and metal toggle switches. It does not have anywhere near the gain of the JCM800's I hear online, or in emulations. It sounds great, but it is a one trick pony, a Plexi with a touch more sizzle.

After all these years, I wanted another sound, and something with much more more versatility because I need everything from spacy Gilmour cleans, Hendrixy semi dirt rhythms, Foo Fighter chunk, Boss OD1/Marshall grind and Gary Moore leads.

I loved the Mesa Lonestar clean tone, but it lacked the edge I am used to in the drive channel. So, I sourced a used Roadster. I liked the clean sound, and it's versatility, but the drive channel needed work. I naively thought it was not as "dual rec" as the others in the line up.

Since then, I have used a BB+, Dynacomp, dropping a humbucker (JB jr) in my Strat...all in the hopes of ridding it of that grainy overdrive, hi-fi twinkle on attack and low mid bump.

I have had moments where all the stars aligned, and it sounded good. Then I plugged the strat into the BB/JCM...and it is so much more alive.

So...I decided that maybe it was time to trade the Roadster in for something else. I targeted the Royal Atlantic combo. The clean channel was pretty good, the lo drive so-so, and the hi-drive sounded pretty good. Better and easier to dial in that the Roadster. But it did not make me drool. The Plexi mid-drive sounds were ok, hi-drive was good but maybe a touch"spitty".

I tried the JVM410. Channels 1 orange was good, and the channel two orange and red were really nice. Not a ton of drive but it had the note separation, tone and punch of a good Marshall. Ch3 and 4 needed more time than I had to dial them in. They seemed a little frayed around the edges, even with the master presence at 9 o'clock, and the channel treble at 10 or lower. I guess this is everyone else's idea of a modern heavy tone.

....I live in an area where the Friedmans, Event Horizons, Splawns, Two Rocks, Bogners, Soldanos, Mad Professors, Bad Cat etc just are not available anywhere. We have Marshall, Fender, Boogie, Line 6, Traynor and Orange....

All the amps I try seem to have these overdrive sections that are synthetic in nature, and have those biting high ends stray frequencies that scream Peavey Bandit to me.


Sometimes I think I should just get a Bad Cat Unleashed, sight unseen. Then set up the JCM800 with a mid drive sound, and use the volume control and a boost pedal to get the range of cleans to soaring leads, then use the effect loop on the Unleash for time based effects.... I wonder if that would even work....

Arg!!


What would you do?

:stir
 

FL6

Member
Messages
111
How about getting the 800 modified? If you know a good amp tech or spend some shipping to get it done elsewhere, not ideal but I believe modding amps is a decent alternative. There's not much difference between a Marshall and a Fender and a good amp tech can do anything. Check out the MetroAmp forums as well as powerscaling.com

Edit: Looks like the powerscaling forum is no more but talk to Kevin at londonpower.com if you're interested, he can build you anything you want.
 

DonaldDemon

Member
Messages
9,286
I bought a Splawn. :) Well I traded my KHR100 for it after going through quite a few amps. It will take some time, and some money but you may just need to find this stuff used and take a chance.

If you are accustomed to that crunchy Marshall-type gain then anything other than that may be continually disappointing in the gain dept (trust me, I know). At least you know what you like, it took me quite a few amps to figure out I wanted the bite of a Marshall type circuit.

You may need to compromise on some things. I'd love to have a Mesa clean with a Splawn overdrive but that's just not possible as far as I know so since I mostly play dirty amps I compromise by using the volume knob/pedal for "cleans"
 

Lullabies

Member
Messages
2,054
What I would do ? Get a really good high gain pedal to go with that JCM!

I feel for you OP I have been on an amp search for the ultimate pedal amp. I found the combo I like best so far (Mesa 5:50) but I'm still looking for a head to go with my 2x12 v30 cab. I'm getting a Marshall 1987x tomorrow to go with pedals for fuzz and dirt. I want a JCM 800 so bad but I can't find them anywhere near me.
 

Mrosinski11

Member
Messages
251
Sounds to me like you love a Marshall flavor, and then fell into trying the Mesa flavor for three amps, and one helping of a Marshall that is not universally acclaimed for it's clarity and voicing.

I tried the Mesa route and was super frustrated.. The fender route beyond cleans didn't do it for me either. Some love the JVM, for me it was too compressed. It was like a poor fax copy of what I wanted.

I ended up driving three hours to the Amp House in Al. and tried a Friedman, a Matchless Independence, Splawns, Germinos... I realized then that I was definitely a British Marshall voiced type guy. Quite a few of those amps I would have been happy to take home. I bought the Quickrod because it did it for me and was affordable.

Moral to the story? For me, it was don't look for saltwater fish in freshwater. Even if you have to take a day and drive a ways to get to the fresh water. The thing was, while I was taking and returning amps left and right, including the JVM, a Dr. Z, an Egnater, and a whole series of Mesas, me and my friends thought, man, I must be super picky. Once I got the Splawn and no tweaking was necessary, and I've played through other relatively uncompressed Marshall voiced amps, I realized I wasn't that picky at all.... I've just been looking for a quality Marshall voiced amp in Mesa land... and it was like .. Duh.

Another words, if you can, make the drive to somewhere where you can try these amps, instead of driving yourself crazy.
 
Last edited:

toneboy

Member
Messages
551
Nothing fits....

I have owned and played a Gen 1 , single channel, non-reverb JCM800 4104 since it was brand new, 1982. It is the Canadian edition, with EL34's and metal toggle switches. It does not have anywhere near the gain of the JCM800's I hear online, or in emulations. It sounds great, but it is a one trick pony, a Plexi with a touch more sizzle.

After all these years, I wanted another sound, and something with much more more versatility because I need everything from spacy Gilmour cleans, Hendrixy semi dirt rhythms, Foo Fighter chunk, Boss OD1/Marshall grind and Gary Moore leads.

I loved the Mesa Lonestar clean tone, but it lacked the edge I am used to in the drive channel. So, I sourced a used Roadster. I liked the clean sound, and it's versatility, but the drive channel needed work. I naively thought it was not as "dual rec" as the others in the line up.

Since then, I have used a BB+, Dynacomp, dropping a humbucker (JB jr) in my Strat...all in the hopes of ridding it of that grainy overdrive, hi-fi twinkle on attack and low mid bump.

I have had moments where all the stars aligned, and it sounded good. Then I plugged the strat into the BB/JCM...and it is so much more alive.

So...I decided that maybe it was time to trade the Roadster in for something else. I targeted the Royal Atlantic combo. The clean channel was pretty good, the lo drive so-so, and the hi-drive sounded pretty good. Better and easier to dial in that the Roadster. But it did not make me drool. The Plexi mid-drive sounds were ok, hi-drive was good but maybe a touch"spitty".

I tried the JVM410. Channels 1 orange was good, and the channel two orange and red were really nice. Not a ton of drive but it had the note separation, tone and punch of a good Marshall. Ch3 and 4 needed more time than I had to dial them in. They seemed a little frayed around the edges, even with the master presence at 9 o'clock, and the channel treble at 10 or lower. I guess this is everyone else's idea of a modern heavy tone.

....I live in an area where the Friedmans, Event Horizons, Splawns, Two Rocks, Bogners, Soldanos, Mad Professors, Bad Cat etc just are not available anywhere. We have Marshall, Fender, Boogie, Line 6, Traynor and Orange....

All the amps I try seem to have these overdrive sections that are synthetic in nature, and have those biting high ends stray frequencies that scream Peavey Bandit to me.


Sometimes I think I should just get a Bad Cat Unleashed, sight unseen. Then set up the JCM800 with a mid drive sound, and use the volume control and a boost pedal to get the range of cleans to soaring leads, then use the effect loop on the Unleash for time based effects.... I wonder if that would even work....

Arg!!


What would you do?

:stir
i think you should try the kemper.
i have been where you are.
when you try the different amps on the kemper it makes you understand
why it is so hard to find the right amp.
as you said,its very hard to locate many of these amps to try.
the kemper allows you to do just that.
if nothing else,the kemper is a great tool for helping you to choose the right amp.
 

LPMojoGL

Music Room Superstar
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,171
Mesas don't do Marshall, period. I've had lots of em, and have decided that I'm just not a Mesa guy.

Marshall DSL is the cheap answer. And it's a good one if you're just looking for more gain, while retaining that Marshall sound. You can try one from MF, and send it back if it's not your thing.
Same thing with the EVH amp. More modern sounding. Might be good for you, might not.
Splawn Streetrod had a vibe that didn't work for me. People either love or hate em, it seems.
Soldano Hot Rod 50s go for a decent price used, and have all the gain a person could want. Like the EVH, more modern sounding.
Bogner Shiva might do the trick for ya if you can find a used one close by to check out.
Fargen Olde 800 MkII would probably be awesome for you, and can be found used for a good price. It's what I expected the Tophat Emplexador to be like. I really like the Fargen, and think any Marshall gain lover would, too.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
I bought a Splawn. :) Well I traded my KHR100 for it after going through quite a few amps. It will take some time, and some money but you may just need to find this stuff used and take a chance.

If you are accustomed to that crunchy Marshall-type gain then anything other than that may be continually disappointing in the gain dept (trust me, I know). At least you know what you like, it took me quite a few amps to figure out I wanted the bite of a Marshall type circuit.

You may need to compromise on some things. I'd love to have a Mesa clean with a Splawn overdrive but that's just not possible as far as I know so since I mostly play dirty amps I compromise by using the volume knob/pedal for "cleans"
No Splawn in a 500 mile radius of me, I wish I could try one.

The compromise I seem to have to make is a great clean sound and jumping through hoops for the gain side.

Brrrrrrrrr
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
How about getting the 800 modified? If you know a good amp tech or spend some shipping to get it done elsewhere, not ideal but I believe modding amps is a decent alternative. There's not much difference between a Marshall and a Fender and a good amp tech can do anything. Check out the MetroAmp forums as well as powerscaling.com

Edit: Looks like the powerscaling forum is no more but talk to Kevin at londonpower.com if you're interested, he can build you anything you want.
I really don't want to modify it....it is sooo pristine.

That's why I thought maybe the Bad Cat Unleash, but it does not solve the two channel issue....
 

Mrosinski11

Member
Messages
251
How far away are you from a boutique dealer?

My own personnel opinion is that if I can't try the amp first, then buy it from somewhere that has a decent return policy (you might pay cost of shipping.) That limits the choice a great deal. Some builders offer a return policy as well. Henry at RedPlate gave me 3 days to make sure I was happy with my build.
 
Messages
2,904
OP, if you couldn't cop those tones with the JVM then I don't know if you'll ever get there. The JVM does Hendrix, high gain, classic rock, and nice cleans to boot.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
Sounds to me like you love a Marshall flavor, and then fell into trying the Mesa flavor for three amps, and one helping of a Marshall that is not universally acclaimed for it's clarity and voicing.

Moral to the story? For me, it was don't look for saltwater fish in freshwater.

Another words, if you can, make the drive to somewhere where you can try these amps, instead of driving yourself crazy.
This is the crux, I believe....

But the drive.....it is seriously long.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
i think you should try the kemper.
i have been where you are.
when you try the different amps on the kemper it makes you understand
why it is so hard to find the right amp.
as you said,its very hard to locate many of these amps to try.
the kemper allows you to do just that.
if nothing else,the kemper is a great tool for helping you to choose the right amp.
I recommended it to a friend, believe it or not. But...he was never a straight into a tube amp kind of guy. He plays with a lot of effects, like the Edge, but with a touch of NIN. He ended up with an Axe FX system.

I would prefer a great solid tube tone, (with the occasional wah, compressor) with transparent time FX over top. The feel is just so rewarding.

Maybe a Kemper is in my future.... at this point, I am so turned around...
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
11,246
Mesas don't do Marshall, period. I've had lots of em, and have decided that I'm just not a Mesa guy.

Marshall DSL is the cheap answer. And it's a good one if you're just looking for more gain, while retaining that Marshall sound. You can try one from MF, and send it back if it's not your thing.
Same thing with the EVH amp. More modern sounding. Might be good for you, might not.
Splawn Streetrod had a vibe that didn't work for me. People either love or hate em, it seems.
Soldano Hot Rod 50s go for a decent price used, and have all the gain a person could want. Like the EVH, more modern sounding.
Bogner Shiva might do the trick for ya if you can find a used one close by to check out.
Fargen Olde 800 MkII would probably be awesome for you, and can be found used for a good price. It's what I expected the Tophat Emplexador to be like. I really like the Fargen, and think any Marshall gain lover would, too.
I am in Montreal Canada, no MF here, and cross border shipping....sucks.

None of others can be found new or used anywhere in a days drive from me. It pisses me off to no end. A Shiva seems so right.... but I have never laid eyes on one. The only Bogners you find are Line 6 models, Alchemists, etc.

Fargen, Top Hat....they are dreams from a far away land.
 




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