The eagle has landed. NAD! BluGuitar Amp1 Mercury. Initial impressions and a few questions inside.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by guitarman3001, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    Came in last night and so far have had maybe two hours with it.

    Out of the box experience - I rewired my pedalboard which was set up to use with a TMTR. Wired the delay and modulations in the loop, compressor and autowah and low gain dirt in front of the amp. Hooked the Amp1 up to a Marshall 1965 4X10.

    Fired it up, started on the clean channel. "OMFG what have I done! This thing sounds horrible!" I could not for the life of me get a nice clean tone. No matter what I tried it was thin and slightly distorted. Played with the clean volume, the master volume, all the tone knobs, nothing...it sounded thin, brittle, and would not clean up. Started thinking i might have to send it back because I need a pristine clean tone.

    After some basic troubleshooting, I determined that I am a complete idiot with a PhD in idiocy. Turns out my low gain pedal was turned on and the knobs had also been moved during the pedalboard rewiring. I turned the pedal off and there it was - very nice clean tone. As good as my TMTR? Nah, not even close (I think Fender Blackface and Supro clean tones are the best out there), but it's a different type of clean tone which is very nice on its own.

    Following the suggestions in the manual, I then moved to the Vintage channel and got that dialed in. Very convincing vintage driven Marshall Plexi/JTM/etc.. tones but with a gain knob that lets you dial in that vintage breakup at any volumes. Really nice tones here. AC/DC and Free tones can be found here.

    I then moved to the Classic channel and dialed it in using the custom controls. I found that I liked it with the custom tone control all the way to the left. It turns into a very organic, woody sounding JCM800-ish tone. ZZ Top, Allman Brothers, higher gain AC/DC, etc... Basically a very full midrange while still maintaining those bubbly Marshall upper harmonics and the percussive lower mids.

    For me the tone knobs worked best with mids about 8, treble between 2 and 3, bass around 4. Pretty much how I run most Marshalls and Marshall-based amps.

    I messed with the Modern channel a little but in my current bands I don't have much need for that one. It would be great for a heavier band though - one of my previous bands would have been perfect for it.

    Overall, solid A on the tones.

    Minor quibbles -

    the custom controls on the side are tiny. I couldn't turn one without moving another one out of place. Unless you shine a light right on it, it's hard to see where they are set. I ended up having to turn them by using a guitar pick in the slot.

    The boost is before the gain so it only adds more dirt and cannot be used to add more volume, except on the clean channel. For me it would be perfect if there was a switch to change the location of the boost circuit and choose before gain or after gain. The way it is now it's great to goose the dirt channels but I'd still prefer it after gain for a volume boost.

    There are no clear specs regarding what external footswitch might work with it. The manual says any two button footswitch without LEDs will work and some with LEDs will also work. I didn't find that to be the case with all of the footswitches I have sitting around. I found one that sort of works, it's a two-button Marshall switch with LEDs. That one does work but the LEDs are backward. I need one with LEDs that work normally, for example, Clean channel=LED off, Boost turned off=LED off, etc....

    Because of this I'm debating on whether to keep looking for a footswitch that works or just mount the thing on my pedalboard and use the preset mode and set it up for clean, vintage, and classic, without being able to turn the boost on or off. I'd use my low gain pedal in front of the amp in place of the onboard boost. I also understand that I can set it to preset mode AND add an external footswitch which would give me access to all 4 channels plus the boost. So, I'll probably look for a footswitch that works...

    Overall, tonewise it's about as close to a Marshall as I've found. I have a Friedman and it's right up there with it. I've also demo'd one of the 20 watt JCM800s and although I don't have one available to do an A/B, from what I remember the Amp1 Classic channel is very reminiscent of it.

    QUESTIONS -

    For those who have an Amp1, have you found a small form-factor (like the size of an MXR pedal or smaller) two-button footswitch with LEDS that works properly with the LEDs not being backward?

    Those of you mounting the Amp1 on your pedalboard, how did you do it? Did you buy the magnetic mounting kit or are you using velcro or dual lock or something like that? If using velcro, did you remove the Amp1's rubber feet? Does the bottom of the amp sit flat on the board and work well with velcro?

    Last question - Anyone using an HX Effects with their Amp1? How is it? I read one review that mentioned that the HX doesn't work well with the Amp1. I'm still thinking about it though....
     
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  2. LordByron

    LordByron The Dude abides!

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    I've got the Mercury Edition. No answer on the footswich, as I use the One Control (which is fantastic IMO).

    I use mine with an HXFX regularly. No issues whatsoever. It's a great combo, in my book and makes for a killer rig, especially where small and light matters for load-in. I grab my goldback loaded 1x12, and toss the HXFX, Amp1, and cables in a messenger bag and I'm ready to roll. :)
     
    KWR likes this.
  3. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    Cool. I'll probably end up velcroing it to my pedalboard and using it with the Marshall 4x10 where space allows and a Mesa 1X12 the other times.

    You're not getting any noise issues with the HX?
     
  4. gulliver

    gulliver Supporting Member

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    I have an HX FX, you often need to set things quite low IMHO. I can see people setting levels too high, just because it says 1 - 100; and thinking it sounds crappy when going into a gainy channel. The optimal setting, though, might be 9.
     
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  5. rauchman

    rauchman Member

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    Great info....thanks. My Peavey Classic 50 head finally died last week, and am in need of an amp replacement. Want to move away from a traditional half stack, and the BluGuitar variants, are at the top of the list.
     
  6. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    What cab did you use with the amp? I found the clean channel sounds pretty stellar no matter where you put the little tone knob on the side. It's even better if you turn its volume high so it starts to distort a bit, then roll back your guitar volume knob. I use mine with either a 4x10 with 10" Greenbacks or 1x12 with Eminence Maverick.

    I do agree the side knobs are too small, too fiddly and hard to see or feel their position. But they are kind of "set and forget" type controls so it's not too bad and the controls themselves are pretty powerful.

    Note that the overdrive channel has bright caps on it so if you run gain low you might find it harsh when used with humbuckers. With single coils the default gain range is fine. I almost sent mine back because of that, until I realized I could use MIDI CC 20 to adjust the max gain on each channel. So I set the gain on those to about 60% of the max which lets me run the gain knobs higher thus negating the bright cap. The clean channel works best with full gain though.

    No ideas about footswitch, I use mine with a Line6 Helix Floor for switching and fx. The Amp 1 poweramp works really nicely with the amp sims from the Helix btw.
     
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  7. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    So far I've used it with a Marshall 1965 4x10. Sounds great through it. I have a Mesa Mini Rec 1x12 cab I plan on using too. I'll be using that for band practice and gigs with tiny stages.

    I didn't know it had a bright cap on the dirt channels. I did notice that it sounded brighter when the gain was lower so that makes sense. I don't use midi but I did see that it has a low gain mode so I'm going to try that to see what kind of difference it makes. I'm happy with it as is though but I'm always open to making something sound better. I've already set it to low power mode because I never have the need for 100 watts and also to protect my smaller cabs.
     
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  8. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    Low gain mode works but it will make your clean channel be just clean as it cuts the gain on that as well.
     
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  9. CarlGuitarist

    CarlGuitarist Member

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    Any dual footswitch with latching switches should work fine. Whether the LEDs work or not depends on their forward voltage I believe. Shoot Thomas an email, he can probably send you a schematic.
     
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  10. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    That's actually perfect for me. I need a completely clean clean channel. My bands play a lot of funk so I need it to be very clean for that.
     
  11. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    That's what I thought too but I have a footswitch from a Peavey C20MH and it doesn't work with it. For some reason that's an oddball FS that doesn't work with pretty much any other amp. The FS I have from a DSL20C works but like I mentioned, the LEDs are backward.

    Another minor annoyance I'm finding is that I wish there was an option for a simple 3-button FS that would let you choose between three preset sounds, like the amp itself when it's in preset mode. I'm finding that that's all I really need - just Clean, Vintage, Classic. I can get a boost in front from a low gain pedal or compressor. I'd really like to have the option to switch between Clean, Vintage, and Classic from a footswitch but I really don't want to buy the optional controller, which is as big as my entire pedalboard and has a ton of features I really don't need.

    It looks like my best option at this point is to just mount the amp on my pedalboard and use it in Preset mode. I'll have to give up a couple of effects pedals though. Or I could get rid of all my pedals and buy a Line 6 HXFX. I had previously looked into it but I was worried about the distortion tones not being as good as my pedals, but if I use it with the Amp1 I'd be getting all my dirt from the amp and just using the HX for the other effects which I understand are quite good. And it would let me assign one or two of the footswitches to change channels on the amp and turn the boost on/off if I want to.

    Basically my pedalboard would be just the Amp1 and the HXFX.

    Decisions....
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
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  12. gulliver

    gulliver Supporting Member

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    ^ The ODs on the HX FX are usually great, within most of the setting range. Here is a comparison I made with a real Klon. As I turned the gain up, the real Klon was much better. At lowers settings, they are virtually the same. As you mentioned, if you're using the amp for distortion, you just need a little kick from the OD, if at all.

     
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  13. LordByron

    LordByron The Dude abides!

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    I did with my original HXFX. It turns out there was some sort of known issue with the earliest HXFX units that introduced a high-pitched cyclical hum in some circumstances. I sent mine in and they replaced it under warranty and no issues since.
     
  14. thawn5150

    thawn5150 Member

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    I have an amp1 ME ,love it. I just use a Roland one button footswitch at this time for accessing the clean channel and I use the footswtiches on the unit itself for vintage,classic,modern. I just tied my amp1 down with some cable ties which seem to work well( on a pedal train board) The only thing in my effects loop is a xotic compressor,empress delay and a mini decimator pedal. Ive heard mix reviews of the HX effects some guys seem to love em others say it mucked with their tone
     
  15. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    Yeah, I'm a little hesitant but if I can get a great deal on an HX I'll give it a try. My biggest concern was the dirt tones on it but that was when I was planning on using it with a Twin Reverb. I won't need dirt from the HX if I'm using the Amp1. I've read that some of the earlier production run HXs had some noise issues but that is fixed on the current ones. I really like the fact that the HX can also be set up to work as a footswitch for my amps. I'll definitely be doing that with the Amp1 if I do get it. All I'd really need to control is the boost.
     
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  16. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    Any of you using your HXFX with the 4 cable method? I've read that in some cases the HX causes ground loop hum. Should I be preemptive and order a ground lift box?
     
  17. LordByron

    LordByron The Dude abides!

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    I just use mine out front. No ground-loop issues that way. :)

    BTW, most of the dirt pedals in the HXFX are great. I really like the Timmy and PoT versions, in particular, but there are a bunch more good ones.
     
  18. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    Cool. I'll need to use 4 cable method though.
     
  19. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    After another day with it while "working" at home, I can confidently say that it's absolutely worth trying.

    Today I set it to low gain mode and it opened up a whole new world. More clean headroom on the clean channel, the bright cap is more easily compensated for by turning up the drive channel's gain, which doesn't get overbearing on higher gain settings and the tones are still as Marshall-ish as I've seen.

    Add BluGuitar to the list of amp makers who make a better Marshall than Marshall themselves.

    The three different voicings, vintage, clean, and modern are brilliant. They really do sound and feel like you'd expect from an old school cranked Plexi, a JCM800, and I'm not sure what the Modern is supposed to sound like but it is great for harder rock and metal.

    The ability to set the entire amp to lower gain, higher headroom mode also adds a lot. I haven't seen this feature talked about much but IMO it opens up a lot more tonal options.
     
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  20. rauchman

    rauchman Member

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    Excellent info...thanks. Curious if you tried the Iridium or the pre Mercury variant, and if so, why did you choose the Mercury? I'm very torn between the 3. The ultimate goal is to have one of the Amp1 variants as the amp, a Boss GT1000 and a new vertical slant 2x12 cab. Not sure on the speakers yet. I can then do away with the non working Peavey Classic 50 head, Boss ME-50 and Fender M-80 cab from eons ago. I'm very speaker sound ignorant. What speakers are in your Marshall 4x10, and do you like them?
     

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