Pushing my JCM800

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by jayess, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. jayess

    jayess Member

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    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 :dude

    Thanks!
     
  2. AL30

    AL30 Member

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    You're going to get recommendations all over the place. So, my first thought would be this.

    You've got a GREAT set-up. Don't mess with it... for now. Learn what you have inside and out. After 6 months to a year of getting familiar with that set-up THEN change things if you need to - get new speakers, try different types of tubes, get new pedals etc.

    Now, on to recommendations.

    Tubes - I personally like Groove Tubes - some hate them. Groove Tubes makes very few tubes themselves. The usually buy and re-brand other companies tubes. I like them because, as a rule, they are stable. Meaning, they test the crap out of them so I can go into any store in the country and ask for EL34 Groove Tubes with a 5 rating and get virually the same tube I took out of my amp. They've always held up well for me and there is that convenience factor. BUT - you pay for it - they are not cheap. And, again, they are usually just re-branded tubes.

    Pedals - you've got a good pedal. There are a pile of boutique pedals that will do what you want - there are also a pile of mass produced pedals that will do what you want. There seem to be a few camps of OD/Distortion pedals - Tubescreamer, Fuzz Face, Big Muff, MXR D+ - a lot of pedals will fall under one of these categories. So, try before you buy. Line the boutiques up right next to the Boss' and Ibanez pedals.

    If you want AC/DC you're on target with your current set-up. And, to make a point, a Boss SD-1 is basically a Tubescreamer - only cheaper. Those are great amps I personally wouldn't do any mods on that amp - if you need more either sell the amp or get a pedal.

    And, once again, take some time and figure out your rig. Then make changes down the road if needed.

    AL
     
  3. jayess

    jayess Member

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    Yeah, I guess the questions are open to simply recommendations and the answer really lies in my ears. But I've just already gone through so many garbage pedals - whether at the store or getting home and just not being satisfied with a purchase.

    Thanks for your advice
     
  4. hear and play

    hear and play Member

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    If everything's working properly, you should be able to get in the ballpark of those tones with what you've got, IF you can play loud.

    If you have to keep your volume down, there may be better options than your current rig. Alternatively, you could begin by investing in an attenuator, but that's an expense and you don't want expenses.

    If you're playing loud and it isn't close to what you want, try and find someone who sounds like you want to sound and have them play through your rig. If they can't get it to sound like you want, it's likely either in need of repair or you need a different rig.
     
  5. pacomc79

    pacomc79 Member

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    That setup is perfect for that sound. Just dial in a little more mids, crank up the volume turn down the preamp a bit and play with the eq of everything until you get it right.

    Honestly besides going through a bunch of pedals made to sound like that I don't really know what to tell you to add to what you've got maybe some kind of boost, maybe a keeley rat.

    If you're going to be impoverished, being impoverished with a JCM 800 and a great cabinet is not a bad place to be.

    I suggest Ramen Noodles and a case of PBR. That should get you there, if not, apply your choice of cheap liquor and you'll be all over it.
     
  6. jayess

    jayess Member

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    Excellent. Sorry if I gave the impression that I'm not entirely satisfied with my rig... It's great for the price I've paid, but I'm just open to new suggestions. In my (very little) experience so far, I find that I'm satisfied with my tone until something else comes along - that is, I don't know any better until I hear something better.

    I've considered the attenuator - both the power brake and THD hotplate. Between the two, the hotplate seems to be getting the better reviews (of those that I've read). Luckily, though, the household I'm in now doesn't mind a little loud guitar (so long as it's rock).

    Are there any pedals out there for sustain alone without altering the tone? Plugged in dry into the amp can achieve a pretty nice acdc tone but the sustain is lacking even in the rhythm.

    Cheers,
    - B.
     
  7. hear and play

    hear and play Member

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    The sustain will go up if you crank it. However, if you're like me, you won't be able to stand being in the same room with the beast at the volume it sounds best at.

    A compressor will increase sustain. There's likely to be some change in tone, perhaps not enough difference that you'll be dissatisfied. Who knows, maybe you'll prefer it?
     
  8. jayess

    jayess Member

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    I've sampled very few compressors - any recommendations?
     
  9. hear and play

    hear and play Member

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    No, I've never used one. Hopefully others will contribute.
     
  10. pacomc79

    pacomc79 Member

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    Barber Tone Press
     
  11. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    Of the compressors I've owned (most of the higher-end pedals) the HBE Comp Retro is the tops in my opinion. Keeley makes a nice one also as does Analog man, but the HBE stands out to me.
     
  12. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow, a lot of very good questions!

    Tubewise, if you're not happy with what you've got, it would be worth asking a separate question here. My favorite place to get tubes is Lord Valve (do a google search), he tests more thoroughly than Groove Tubes, costs less and has much more useful information about what advantages and disadvantages his tubes offer. Plus he gets them from more suppliers, so there's more variety there. Of course, the ideal would be Mullard or Brimar preamp tubes and Mullard power tubes, but that'd set you back $300+?

    For sustain, with a Marshall the main thing is to be able to turn it up. JCM800s want to be up above 50% in the master volume before you turn up the preamp. An attenuator would help a lot with this, I'd suggest you look at WEberVST's MASS as well, it's a lot less expensive than the Hotplate and safer than the Powerbrake.

    Speakerwise, those old recordings were done with G12M25s, G12H30s and G12M-65s. You can get copies of all of these now, the least expensive alternative would be to sell the Marshall cab and buy an Avatar cab loaded with your choice-Hellatones would be highly recommended.

    Overdrive and sustain can easily come in a pedal, and there's a crate-load of good ones out there. You might find that the best solution would be to add a second pedal with a slightly different tone-one OD driving another, both set fairly low gives a whole other world of sustain. Since you've got the TS thing covered, maybe a cheap second choice would be the DOD Bad Monkey-gets great reviews. To make the SD-1 more authentic sounding, gettting the kit to mod it (JRC4558 chip and a couple of resistors) would be a great way to learn and improve the sound at the same time. For sustain, the Keeley and Analogman compressors are great, if you could find a used Dynaross that'd be the cheapest (run about $80-90).
     
  13. el34power

    el34power Member

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    OK Here we go... I have a JCM800/2203. I too am a big AC/DC, Van Halen fan. So here is what i use to get (IMO) good tone for these. Obviously you will get 10000 opinions but since your are so close with your current rig.
    Tubes are important to a certain extent. I have a NOS tungsram in v1. It's a very powerfull tube. In V2 and 3 i use NOS RFT ubes. These don't have to be NOS tubes but i had them... V1 needs to be powerfull....
    If you like the old ac/dc and Van Halen. At one point swap the speakers for Greenbacks. For the paul, find a Very good PAF pick up. As a pedal. A Keeley BD-2 is awsome to push that input.The SD-1 is good but like the TS's its a bit to "smooth" of an OD to get the "gravel in the cab tone". The greenback/PAF combo is crutial IMO. VH Aholic will back me up on this for sure. Try and find some of his clips. You will see what i meen.
     
  14. Cary Chilton

    Cary Chilton Senior Member

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    stay from hotplates IMO, b/c the tone becomes bloated.
    I will suggest calling Mr Stephenson in Canada at stephensonamps.com. If he will take the order, ask him to install a power scale into your amp. It is like a variac device like EVH used, but safe and it is modded into your amp! THen you can play at any volume and you can also change the tone and gain properties by adjusting the voltages and it is IMO 100% transparent. I had this modded into my non master, super lead MkII.

    peace

    Get some greenbacks, or eminence wizards and/or red fangs. Or try all of them in one 4x12. Tonal complexity and more mic'ing options. No rules here, just have fun, the young EVH did!
     
  15. ROKY

    ROKY Member

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    Lots of great suggestions, so far .

    Given what you have I think the biggest positive impact you
    could have on your rig, right, now would be changing speakers.

    If you can't do all four,right now, do at least 2

    The hard rock tones that you want are calling for a speaker
    with more midrange emphasis, which is what Marshall tone
    is all about.

    Someone mentioned the hellatones .. good call .
    Also consider a pair of Eminence Governors, those might
    mate/balance well with the GT-75s.

    Later you could swap the other two out, for, say, a pair
    Eminence Wizards, for a great blend mids, lows, and highs.

    Eminence is making some toneful and affordable speakers, now.

    Also as someone pointed out, you want an *excellent* tube
    in the V1 slot -- something with a lot of gain. Don't balk at
    investing in at least one high quality tube for that spot.

    If you're not looking for the power section to be a big
    factor in your distortion tone, you might consider a pair
    of KT88s, they will make your 800 very punchy with a lot
    of kick ... I think you'd really, really dig the results.

    JJs are my pick for KT88s .. just have a tech rebias.

    Otherwise, the JJ EL34Ls are very good sounding, and reliable;
    not classic squashy brilliant like a Mullard, but I think those tubes
    are better suited for the NMV Marshalls, anyway.

    To sum up : you should definitely look at replacing at least 2
    of the speakers in that cab, if funds are tight .

    I think the speakers will be the "main thing" influenceing your
    sound right, now for AC/DC,GnR, EVH flavored tones .

    A properly tuned 800 thru a good cab w/ a LP will cover a lot of
    ground.:cool:
     
  16. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    From one starving student to another....

    This is a great forum, but it's easy to get gear envy. My advice is to stick to whatever gear you have now (and you've got a GREAT base for the sound you want), and get to know it for a while. Whenever I deprive myself of new gear for a while, I always end up finding great new sounds in what I already own. I can't suggest it enough.

    My other suggestion is to play with the cheap or free elements of your tone before making any other purchases. Everything from pick gauge and material to string type and gauge to attack to hand positioning to touch has a HUGE impact on your sound, and you can experiment with these elements for next to nothing.

    Best of luck navigating the tone-at-any-price wonderland that is TGP! It's an amazing place full of knowledgable and patient folks that are eager to help.
     
  17. heybulldog

    heybulldog Member

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    you have a great amp -one of the all time classics- i have a 4104 which is your amp in a (not so) easy to carry 2X12 combo. it is the amp that was used on a bunch of great records- i would forget about this brand of tubes or that speaker replacement -just make sure your gear is properly maintained ( proper bias-caps in good shape) - if you cant get great, i mean Great! classic rock sounds out of your marshall stack you need to practice!

    the 1960 cab (one of the all time great 4X12s) i belive should be 16 ohms not 4. this leads me to belive that the cab is: A -rewired, or B actualy a 16 Z cab and you are running your amp incorrectly wich is not good. i would return your cab to 16 ohm to get the true marshall sound.

    pedals? all the high end stuff is cool if you are a dentist that paid off your student loans but if not get one of these ( not in this order) mxr distortion plus($69), rat 2($69), ts9($99) big muff($54) if you cant get great tones from this set up something is wrong.

    you have great gear -rock on brother

    PS X2 what pinko said
     
  18. dave s

    dave s Member

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    Sometimes, the less you know the better! For example, my son uses my JCM800 50w in his band. He knows nothing about amps except where the volume knob lives.

    At one of his recent shows, I was FLOORED by the tone coming from the amp. He plugs in his PRS SE, turns on the amp and WAILS.

    And it sounds great-bone stock.

    dave
     
  19. Scott Cioe

    Scott Cioe Member

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    For new tubes, check out the Electroharmonix...

    I think they sound great for Marshall, and Marshall-type amps. I currently use them in my VHT's and like the fat quality they bring to the game.
     
  20. jayess

    jayess Member

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    hey "heybulldog",

    On the back of my 1960B cab is a switch for mono or stereo. With mono, the left speaker input jack is 4ohm, the right is 16ohm.

    In stereo, both input jacks are 8ohms.

    Not knowing much about electronics and the different ways of addressing the ohms on your head vs. that of your cabinet, I set the output of my head to 4ohms to match the 4ohm input (mono) on the cabinet. Alternatively, I suppose I could have set the head to 8ohms and use one of the inputs on the cabinet (setting the cabinet to stereo), but I was told that this would only use two of the 4 available speakers.
     

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