Sampson Gainstar 30 musings

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Moods, Apr 20, 2005.


  1. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    I recently received a Star Amps Gainstar 30 from Procos. Over the last 10 years I have been playing some sort of Matchless amp in one situation or another. I can say without hesitation, the Gainstar 30 is a completely different beast. When I say "beast" I mean it.

    I've had quite a bit of time with the amp over the last few days playing in a few different scenarios... One thing that sticks out all the time... THE AMP! That sucker cuts like nothing I have witnessed. It is without a doubt the loudest 30 watt amp I have heard... and it's a tiny 1X12 combo. Easily keeps up with my Germino Club 40 at fulltilt through closedback 2X12. I would guess it's louder. The bottom end on this amp is hard to believe. Solid as a rock even with a bucker on the neck pickup.

    I'm not going to go on and on about the amp. Just a few comments. I haven't had it long enough to be anything but confused. I've never played anything like this amp. Puts you right out in front in a big hurry. Not saying thats bad in any way... lets just say it's very revealing of my less that stellar playing ability.

    The clean channel on the GS is good enough all by itself IMO. The drive channel is pretty useless for anything but lead lines but it sounds incredible doing what it does. The clean channel is a pedal slut and seems to work well with just about anything. You could stay there all night with a couple pedals and never miss a beat.

    Gotta say I like the clean channel voice better than my Matchless. Seems like a flatter response without the high highs and the cushy bottom. The highs are definitely there in spades but they aren't so extended... very under control without a touch of icepick. The bottom end just amazes me. The GS has a more apparent fundemental tone than a C30 but still has a good dose of that Matchless jangle and chime. Really quite amazing to hear both characteristics in one package. Think Matchless meets Dumble with it's own unique voice. Strange...

    If you get a chance, definitely plug into a GS30. Really brings out guitars and playing... maybe more than any amp I have played and maybe more than I want. :p Not sure if I love the GS or I am scared of it. Reminds me of the "GRX"... for you Speed Racer fans. :confused:



    <M
     
  2. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    That's interesting. You are not the first person to describe it as matchless meets dumble. This is another one of those amps that interests me. I'm assuming the clean channel is matchlessy while the gain channel is more dumbley?
     
  3. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    Actually no...

    The clean channel has that Matchless "chime and jangle" as I said but it doesn't really sound like a Matchless IMO. The GS has a flatter more natural EQ response. The amp is very balanced and somewhat controlled more like a Dumble. The feel is every bit Matchless meets Dumble as the sound is. Its not stiff but it's not compressed. Very responsive but it doesn't feel clinical. You can play with a pretty heavy hand and the amp doesn't cave in at all yet it also reacts well to a light touch. It's hard to pin down.

    I hear... Matchless sparkle, chime and jangle in the clean channel with the volume set at 11 o'clock with my guitar volume backed off ... BF Pro Reverb in the clean channel same volume with neck pickup wide open ... 100 watt Marshall with the clean volume turned up to 2 o'clock and the bridge pickup on my Les Paul wide open (LOUD!!!)... AC30 and AC4 with a tele period (Twang!)... add Dumble dust and we haven't even turned on the gain channel yet. It's a wacked amp!

    <M
     
  4. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Moods!

    I was over at Moods' this afternoon and got to hear and check out this amp for a couple hours.

    I think Moods' description just above pretty much describes what I was hearing. I think this an amp that Tag would really dig. Lots of big, firm clear sound. And when it starts givin it up on the clean channel, there's a solid, firmness to it. You don't feel as much give as with say a Matchless. There's give there...but it's not real pronounced. In this way, it captures an aspects of what I get from some the cooler Dumble (and Dumble-type) amps I've played through. It has this feeling of restraint...like it's holding something back.

    He didn't mess with the OD channel as much but it had tons of gain and when opened up a little, would chime right into very cool, sizzling harmonic feedback like a great Dumble or Trainwreck. Again, there was this underlying firmness to each note.

    Like the UG30 and Cowtipper, this amp has a very refined sound. Nothing wild, uncontrolled, wooly, fizzy about it. Seemed to be voiced excellenty for sittin in the mix just right.

    With his LP (one of the best sound LPs I've heard), Moods was coaxing some very Robben-esque tones out of it. Kinda getting Robben's Politician type sound. It's got a big sound with great low-end. Sometimes kind of sounded like a very refined JTM45 to me...
     
  5. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    Cool tunes you broke out yesterday. I enjoyed it!

    I think the GS has some Dumble characteristics but I don't think it sounds as refined as a Dumble or a Bruno. I find it to be very unique yet not as custom sounding. The voice sounds more old school but it has that horsepower like a Dumble. Definitely has an easier feel IMO. The lead channel is more on the lines of the Dumble or UG30 but it too does not sound as custom, shaped or extended to my ears. The clean channel opened up has an incredible vintage amp feel and gives it up something fierce IMO.

    I do like your "refined JTM45" comparison... it's a tuff sounding amp to be sure. It's really hard to pin down. I need to play a couple gigs in bigger rooms with the amp to really know if it's going to work. It could be one of the best amps I have played but it might not be my thing. Could also be exactly what I have been looking for. It's definitely not about good or bad... one thing for sure, that amp plain smokes. It's like you said "not sure that's the Moods tone".

    Talk soon

    <M
     
  6. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    I received my GS15 the other day and had a rehearsal that night. I was using a Shiva w/2x12 cab and I have to say the GS filled the room with as much dispersion and volume as the bigger Shiva. They sound nothing alike though. I agree with how Moods described it, with my McInturff Taurus lets just say I was content with no pedals at all and had a huge grin on my face . . . .the feel of the amp was better to me than anything I've owned before (a fair number of high dollars amps).

    The clean channel to me is fantastic, chimey without the mid scooped soound, notes seem to have a bit of natural compression yet they are stout and large. I was a little disappointed to discover the FX loop does not work on the clean channel, but I guess I can adjust.

    The amp weighs a lot but feels extremely well made. . . .and frankly for the price I payed, compared to other amps I've owned, I feel it was by far the best deal in amps out there right now.

    Hope I didn't derail the thread.

    Oh yeh . . . this amp has alot of "Bloom" . . .the OD channel maxed is as rich an OD as I've heard.
     
  7. tedwoods

    tedwoods Member

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    I'm glad you like your Star amps,guys!Enjoy!

    Ted
     
  8. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    HI Tedwoods . . . . . .any words of wisdom from experience ?
     
  9. tedwoods

    tedwoods Member

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    Well,the more i play the more I dig the amp!

    I've tried fiddling with the tubes a bit,put in some GT 12AX7-M's in the first positions.It really made the lead channel smooth and honey like without detracting from the clean channel's detail.

    Now,I want you guys to try something and tell me if my ears are fooling me or not but I think turning the loop knobs all the way up with nothing plugged in affects the overall feel of the lead channel.I like what happens,it's like a mild compression and overall fattening-I don't know, but I just wanna make sure...

    Now,the lead channel clearly sounds good on its own but in a band it's just amazing how the frequency balance sits just perfectly.
    I got the crunch-less high gain-tones by keeping the gain at 2:00,trim at around noon and the guitar volume backed off.
    Also,the voicing of the cut-brilliance knob is really great on this amp(unlike some earlier Sampson designs).No shrilness whatsoever!
    The amp does not suffer from the usual homogenised feeling of high gain designs since it manages to provide superb touch responsiveness at its high gain tones.
    And you've got to love what it does to different pickup configurations under high gain:Humbuckers,P-90's and single coils all sound amazingly different yet never too stretched...a first for a high gain design for me.
    Last thing I noticed was how great the speaker sounded in both clean and high gain tones,a tough task for a V30!Trying some of my amps through the Star cab confirmed this and also trying the Star through the Matchless 2x12 cab or the Z-Best improved the presence(bigger cabs)but did not do much for the voicing balance.
    My back'll certainly be happier to know that...

    Keep posting your findings guys.Who knows?Maybe we'll even end up doing a Star amps Roll Call!!!
     
  10. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    You nailed it Ted... and thanks for the advice before I purchased the GS. I will try turning up the effects loop later today and get back to you.

    It's funny, I didn't really care for the OD channel at first. After messin' with it I am finding what I was hoping for. I'm not a big high gain player. I like old school tones for the most. I had to turn the gain down to 10 o'clock and turn the trim up to 3:00 to get the attack I am looking for with my Les Paul. I'm getting a very cool JCM 800 vibe from that channel. Really nice rubbery feel with notes that seem to stick to your fingers. Man does this amp cut and without even a tiny hint of harshness... in either channel.

    I can't imagine changing the speaker... seems like a near ideal match in both channels. I generally don't like V30's, but like Matchless amps, it seems to sound "right" with the GS.

    I just can't get over how loud and how flexible the clean volume is. With the volume set from 9:30 to 1:00 the amp sounds feels very much the same and the dynamics are pretty similar. However, you go from about the same volume as my 15 watt Spitfire at 9:30 to what sounds the same volume as my Germino Club 40 at 1:00. After 2:00 that sucker is so freakin tough it's scary.

    What kind of effect units are you guys using for the OD channel? I need something small that will work with the loop. Sure wish I could switch the effects from my board. What kind of EQ settings are you using?

    Here are mine with a Les Paul:

    Clean Volume: 10:00
    Treble: 12:00
    Bass: 11:00

    OD Gain: 10:00
    Trim: 3:00
    Treble 2:00
    Bass 12:00
    Brilliance: 10:30 (I agree, this one works well)
     
  11. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    I'm using a DSL EchoTap only right now although my OCD will be in next week so I'll let you guys know if that offers any useable flavors.

    I have not messed with the FX loop without anything plugged in. I'll try that tonight though.

    regardring the overdrive channel, so far I like the gain maxed with the master around 9-10 o'clock. I haven't found many useable tones with low gain yet . . . . I'm sure I've just not tried enough tweaking . . . but man full out I love this amp in the drive channel.

    I'm also going to plug up my Bogner 2x12 and see what it sounds like . . . . . a lot of changes coming (Voodoo hummers, OCD) so the next week will be experimenting. . . . . . but I can't wait.

    Friggin great amp !

    PS . . . . .the Germino Club is next
     
  12. tedwoods

    tedwoods Member

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    Great!It's nice to be in accord with excellent TGP members like you guys.

    My clean channel settings are identical to Moods'.
    Drive channel settings vary but the all around one seems to gravitate towards:
    Gain:2-3:00
    Trim:12:00
    Treble:12-1:00
    Bass:10:00
    Master:12:00
    Brilliance:12:00
    This works without any major changes for both humbuckers and P-90's and I can roll the volume a bit for crunch and then go back up for leads.

    My amp came with a sheet of paper stating that the front three preamp tubes should be JJ and the back two EI's.
    While this is a great combination I think it favors the clean channel more than the drive one...Short plate JJ's are great tubes but in multiple gain stages they might become a bit too aggressive in the midrange and slightly bloated and clouded in the lower midrange.
    GT's are much more balanced.
    And also EI's,while they add nice detail and shimmer they can thin out a bit too much at the driver position.
    JJ's on the other hand make exellent driver tubes,especially under heavy pummeling.
    The gain channel benefited from this GT/JJ combination while the clean channel did not suffer one bit,the mark of a great design.

    I'm not a big fan of effects,so I can't be of any help there...but the TTE(the only "effect" I've got)sounds incredible!

    It sure is a pleasant surprise to get an amp named GAINstar and discover it's also a CLEANstar!

    The loop thing would be more evident if you plugged in a patch cord rom send to return and then unplug it...(?)

    Great vibes with this amp,anyway!

    Ted
     
  13. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    Ted

    Tried the cranking the loop and I didn't hear much if any difference.

    Recorded a couple tracks with the GS today. Sounds pretty amazing on tape. Surprisingly like a Marshall when pushed hard. I'm betting the EL34's in the 30 really influence the voice.

    I still like clean channel being pushed with an overdrive pedal better than the gain channel but it's getting close. Gonna try a tiny mod in the gain channel Sampson suggested and see if I can get all the way there.

    Diggin it more every time I play it!

    <M
     
  14. Timster

    Timster Member

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    This thread has me GAS'n a bit, but I think I'll wait for the Sirius Reverb and/or Blues Star models to come out before I make a decision..
     
  15. TaronKeim

    TaronKeim Member

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    What's the mod that Mark suggested? Just out of curiousity:D

    -TJK
     
  16. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    So does this amp have anything in common with the Hot Cat?
     
  17. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Not much, IMO Mike. Better cleans. More even/refined sounding. More low-end. A little firmer feeling too.
     
  18. Moods

    Moods Supporting Member

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    I'll never tell :D Probably not a good idea to give tech advice/info on Sampson's amps. Should'a left that part out of my post... my bad!

    <M
     
  19. TaronKeim

    TaronKeim Member

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    You Bugger You !!!:p

    -TJK
     
  20. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    Interesting that you bought a Gain Star, knowing you'd only use the clean channel. But from the clips of the CAA OD100, it's a high gain amp, but it's forte seems to be cleans, so I guess that shtuff happens.

    I liked the Hot Cat, but I found it needed considerable volume before the harshness went away. I also found it VERY difficult to dial in. How's the Gain Star in these areas?
     

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