Smoothest high gain heads?

Messages
26
Hey all! I'm thinking of adding another amp to the arsenal. Whatever I add, I'd like it to be the smoothest, most polished high gain amp I can get. So, I thought I'd ask everyone their opinions! What I mean by smooth high gain - no harsh frequencies, nothing "sharp" about it, not overly stiff, etc.

I'm not looking for fuzz. I actually run screaming away from fuzz. I don't like buzzy, fuzzy or harsh distortion. I'm looking for an amp that, when tracking with it, already sounds as close to polished and produced as possible. I have STL Libra, and almost every IR that Celestion and OwnHammer make. I'd like to be able to go through my Suhr Reactive Load, and, with the right IR selected, already be right where I want to be. I'd like that "studio microscope" to not reveal anything unpleasant. Something that already sounds like it's double tracked. I'm looking for something super refined. Open, 3D, polished...these terms come to mind.

I dig this KSR Juno clip quite a bit:


But there aren't too many other clips of that head around, and the ones that I have found, don't really sound like that. It's hard to really know for sure what I'd be getting, and it's a heck of a risk to take for such a pricey head that I can't play through first and has a long turnaround time.

There are tons of fancy high gain heads on the market, but finding demo clips that I dig is proving to be quite difficult. Nearly all of them seem to be brutal, modern metal sounds, which is not what I am trying to achieve at all. I'm going for the idealized 80s rock sound. You know, the way it sounds in your head, afterward, looking back on it with rose tinted glasses.

It would be ideal to have:
• A lush, pretty clean channel
• A kick ass high gain channel for the kind of rhythm guitar I play (I go beyond what I think most consider to be crunch rhythm...we're talking Tom Scholz levels of gain. Like, the opening power chords of "I Think I Like It" off of Boston's Third Stage record)
• A saturated, liquidy and full lead channel

Don't worry about budget, but I'd like to avoid anything that is just legit unattainable for whatever reason. So, nothing crazy like Trainwrecks or Dumbles, nothing really hard to find used, like a Cameron or a real Jose, etc. Let's stick to stuff that is either in current production, or that I can realistically and reasonably find on the used market.

Also, one more thing...please don't post "Soldano SLO" unless you can provide a clip of one doing exactly what I'm talking about!
 
Messages
26
Smooth & 80's rock = SOLDANO SLO .
Like, I desperately want to believe this, but I can't seem to find even one single clip of a SLO doing what I'm talking about. And I keep trying. I'd love to have an excuse to get a snakeskin SLO, believe me! Can you point me towards any examples of this?
 
Messages
755
Yeah I've been wondering about those. I need to see if I can find any clips of any of the Mark amps doing the specific thing I'm looking for...
I'm not a Dream Theater fan, but John Petrucci has been a long time Mark user, and was the first thing to pop into my mind for shreddy high gain stuff on a Mark
 

JB6464

Member
Messages
3,518
Like, I desperately want to believe this, but I can't seem to find even one single clip of a SLO doing what I'm talking about. And I keep trying. I'd love to have an excuse to get a snakeskin SLO, believe me! Can you point me towards any examples of this?
Gary Moore-Still got the blues "live"
Warren D'Martini-Ratt
George Lynch-Lynch Mob

Warren and George definitely plays 80's liquid lead style solos with their SLO's .
 

NorCal_Val

Member
Messages
12,490
Hey all! I'm thinking of adding another amp to the arsenal. Whatever I add, I'd like it to be the smoothest, most polished high gain amp I can get. So, I thought I'd ask everyone their opinions! What I mean by smooth high gain - no harsh frequencies, nothing "sharp" about it, not overly stiff, etc.



It would be ideal to have:
• A lush, pretty clean channel
• A kick ass high gain channel for the kind of rhythm guitar I play (I go beyond what I think most consider to be crunch rhythm...we're talking Tom Scholz levels of gain. Like, the opening power chords of "I Think I Like It" off of Boston's Third Stage record)
• A saturated, liquidy and full lead channel
Suhr PT100SE fits your requirements, perfectly.
 
Messages
26
I don't know, I feel like there is still a graininess to that one that I hear in a lot of the Soldano clips.

The 2 clips that have always stood out to me for any Soldanos have been these two:



But I'm still suspicious of both...and since they are both the audio in the room, I worry that there are things I don't like in both that would become far more prominent under the studio microscope. I worry they would both present as fuzzier / grainier than I like...
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
5,660
Dude in OP's video has quite some chops. That helps a lot.

I would say most high gain amps can be dialed to have a pretty smooth gain. Turn down the presence but not too much and set the low end just right for lead tones. Use the neck pickup for even smoother and roll back the guitar's tone knob. Throw on some delay and reverb. Usually this tone works just for high gain leads and is not so good as something where you change between leads and rhythm.

Modelers are particularly good for these sounds as you have a ton of EQ options to mess with it.
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,073
I don't know, I feel like there is still a graininess to that one that I hear in a lot of the Soldano clips.

The 2 clips that have always stood out to me for any Soldanos have been these two:



But I'm still suspicious of both...and since they are both the audio in the room, I worry that there are things I don't like in both that would become far more prominent under the studio microscope. I worry they would both present as fuzzier / grainier than I like...
Well the SLO definitely has the upper mid bite which can be perceived as grainier, in a full mix I think it's amazing.
I guess the Bogner 3534 could seem smoother because of the fuller lower mids and not as much natural top end. But I think the red channel can get pretty "bitey" as well?
I probably prefer the Bogner blue channel and the SLO crunch for my personal tastes - liquid enough.
I have found Mesa's higher gain to be very smooth in general, but very prominent in your face mids which can be overpowering.
 

G34RSLU7

Member
Messages
1,992
friedman JJ jr? not really expensive, portable and has a nice clean channel!

I'm going for the idealized 80s rock sound. You know, the way it sounds in your head, afterward, looking back on it with rose tinted glasses.
definitely look into Friedman amps, they are EXACTLY what you describe!

 
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