Hi folks, After months of lurking (and learning!), I thought I'd get some guts and make a post. I recently invested in a Marshall 2204 MV head (vertical inputs, toggle switches, EL34s, no mods). Right now it's loaded with Sovteks, but I've had someone recommend me Groove Tubes. Now, reading here I notice the common suggestion is try things out for yourself. However, as a student trying to pay for his overpriced education... you see where I'm going with this. In terms of style, I'm going for that nice 80s tone - some early ACDC and such, but with enough overdrive for a VH, G'nR meanness behind it. With this being said, what kind of tubes would lend to this flexibility? Or am I misled to think that tubes would play as large a variable in the equation? As it stands, I'm running the head and cab at 4ohms - the cab being a 1960B with Celestian G1275's in it also @ 4ohms. I'm looking to invest in some better speakers in the future, but it suffices for now. As for an axe, I picked up a new Gibson Les Paul (standard). Any thoughts on different pickups? Currently they're stock. As well, the overdrive on the amp is great once the tubes get nice and hot, but for sustain in leads I picked up a Boss SD-1. At first I felt adventurous and tried out the MXR Zakk Wylde pedal, but I noticed it offered a consistent hum to the signal. Can anyone offer some explanation for this kind of obstruction of sound? ie what causes it in pedals, what can be done to avoid it if anything, etc. My other considerations for OD pedals were the newer Ibanez tubescreamers (can't afford vintage atm but might consider it in the future) and most recently the Tim/Timmy collection of pedals. On that note, does anyone happen to have any clips of the Tim/Timmy pedals? I did a quick search on here but couldn't come up with any working links. Would either of these pedals serve me well in my personal tone quest? I can't help but want to get one just due to the amount of praise for them on this forum Lastly, a couple basic concepts that I haven't caught on to. I don't have an effects loop in my amp currently, but what purpose do they serve? Why would one put some pedals in the effects loop (i've read mainly delays, flangers, etc.) as opposed to straight in front of the amp? Also, what exactly is true bypass, and what advantages does it offer in a pedal? Sorry for the abundance of questions. These are all concerns I've sort of built up and for which I'd been watching for answers up to this point. On an ending note, you guys should be proud of what you've established here. It really is a remarkable forum of knowledgeable players. Definitely something I visit everyday Thanks!