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Are there any decent rackmount preamps for country?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by T-Money, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. T-Money

    T-Money TDPRI Member

    Aug 9, 2005
    South Weber, Utah
    I know this may be sacreligious to talk about now a days, but are there any decent rack mount preamps for playing country? I've come out of the Nineties playing Rock and Variety stuff. I currently have a Marshall JMP1 midi preamp and Mesa Boogie 50/50 power amp (6L6's) through a quadraverb for effects.

    But over the last few years I've been playing more and more Country and can't get the pop and twang that I want through my rack gear. So do I buy a whole new stand alone setup and a/b it with my rack or is there something that will work in the rack?

    I know I may be stuck in the late eighties and nineties, but I get some killer rock sounds from my gear, and don't really want to give it all up. I recently played through a Hot Rod Deville - which had great clean tones and a Vox VTX 120W two twelve (pricey), that might do both fairly well. But what other options are there out there? I'm leaving it to y'alls experience to help me out. Thanks in advance.


  2. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

    Mar 10, 2003
    Allston, Mass
    I know that some jazz guys love the cleans on the Peavey RockMaster, which it the only rack pre I've ever had, and I never used the cleans.

    ...So there you have it. I'm useless, but the Peavey unit is eral chep when you find 'em.

  3. Mike Dickerson

    Mike Dickerson Tele-Meister

    Mar 17, 2003
    Paragould Arkansas
    Mesa Boogie Quad Pre Amp. Not made anymore, but they do great clean sounds.
    Bobbyoso likes this.


    TELETAMER Tele-Meister

    May 20, 2005
    the boogie studio pre or quad should do what you need.
    i know a couple of country guys that swear by them- they are great for lap and pedal steel as well.
    you also might look into an ada mp series pre if you can deal with something programmable- the cleans on them are great and have built in compression if you need it.
    Bobbyoso likes this.

  5. TexGoneNW

    TexGoneNW Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2003
    Victoria, TX
    Carvin Quad X

    Look for the old Carvin Quad X with footswitch on eBay, with MIDI capability, if possible.

  6. Daddy Elmis

    Daddy Elmis Tele-Holic

    Jun 19, 2004
    The Digitech GSP2101 is quite good. I still use mine (bought in 96) for its digital effects. It has tube (2- 12ax7) and ss distortion paths, compression, eq (graphic and parametric) and every digital effect you can think of.

    Like most, the presets are over the top but can be tamed. There are several clean/country patches that are quite good (snappy/twangy) with a good single coil axe.

    The unit is midi controllable, and also is controlled with its own pedalboard (the Control One or the Johnson J12) that operates faster than midi.

    They are regularly available on eBay for around $300.

    Mine's performed flawlessly since I bought it new in 96.
    Jakedog likes this.

  7. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Fort Collins, CO
    Re: Carvin Quad X

    I agree. I have mine hooked up to a mixer for headphone rehearsals and practice. Does the Country Clean VERY wel.

  8. InstituteOfNoise

    InstituteOfNoise Tele-Holic

    Jan 12, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've been a past fan (still am) of Kasha Amplifiers. I'm doing a lot of work with them now. They just went back into business and have some amazing stuff coming.

    Check out their new site at

    They have a new preamp coming out in September, with more stuff to follow soon after. They are taking pre-orders now.

    There are some sound clips I did with my modded Rockmod II+c that is very close to the new production version coming out. They are on their soundclip page. There is everything from heavy rock with a Les Paul, Blues Strat stuff and a Gretsch 6120 doing some country/rockabilly stuff. The clean channel is just stunning!

    They were all using the Rockmod run into an Atomic Reactor 112 amp. Which you don't always need a modeler to use. I love the Rockmod into my Atomic's! (18w EL84 amps)

  9. BB

    BB Friend of Leo's

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    I have an ART Power Plant that does the country thing
    ( along with nice Marshall / Vox tones ) very well.

  10. T-Money

    T-Money TDPRI Member

    Aug 9, 2005
    South Weber, Utah
    Rack mount preamps

    You guys are great with all the feedback. I'll have to look at the Kasha stuff.

    The Art, ADA and the Digitech stuff, I have some experience with. I think my Marshall JMP1 out does most of that stuff, IMO. I had a Hafler two channel thing that had some pretty good tone for clean sounds and blues stuff - I think they went out of business. I also had a Mesa boogie Studio preamp for a couple of years, but I cant remember what that sounded like for the clean stuff, since I played mainly rock stuff then.

    Does anyone have exp. with a Mesa Boogei Triaxis for clean sounds? I know they do the overdrive sounds well.

  11. JoeAArthur

    JoeAArthur Tele-Holic

    Jun 9, 2005
    Hughes & Kettner Attax.

  12. Honga Man

    Honga Man Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 6, 2003
    Check out a Hafler T2 or T3 if you can find one. Good clean tone with as much footswitchable tube preamp distortion as you want for when your rock buddies come over to jam.

    Personal guilty pleasure: using rack gear. Shhhh, don't tell anyone I never sold my 80's stuff.

  13. e-merlin

    e-merlin Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 13, 2004
    Garden City, KS
    I had a friend who made his living playing Country with a TubeWorks setup. The TubeWorks Real Tube II is awesome because they can do the two channel thing or you can combine channels.

    And the Peavey Rock Master is another good choice. Three channels and about half a dozen effects loops will let you do whatever you want. Plus, Peavey stuff is bulletproof and cheap.

    I can also highly recommend the Peavey TubeFex. It's basically a TransTubeFex with a two tube preamp. Preamp and effects in one unit! The cool thing about the TubeFex compared to other tube effects units is that the TubeFex runs enough power to the tubes to get them happening. I'm tuning my setup with a VTM 60 (single channel amp), 2 Classic 412ES cabs, and a stereo effects setup including the TubeFex. It will be a killer setup for just about any kind of music.

  14. f69tele

    f69tele Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2005
    New Ulm, TX

    I've used the rackmount version of the Rocktron Replitone the past 2 years. Set on the clean amp (fender twin) with reverb and delay and compressor. I also used a Boss CS-2 between the guitar and the preamp. Single rack space. They don't make them anymore, but I picked mine up off of Ebay for $100. This unit is like a POD in a single rack space. Worked for me and all I play is traditional country.

  15. David Barnett

    David Barnett Poster Extraordinaire

    The old Alembic preamp that is popular with bassists is just a version of the Fender Twin/Showman preamp section, minus the reverb and tremolo. It should work well for clean guitar.
    SPUDCASTER likes this.

  16. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Fort Collins, CO

  17. f69tele

    f69tele Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2005
    New Ulm, TX

  18. Opaltone

    Opaltone Tele-Holic

    Aug 12, 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    Re: Rack mount preamps

    At the risk of being ridiculed here, I'll also admit to being a rack user :) I've used the Triaxis ever since it came out, and I continue to use it because I do love the cleans. And I love to play with subtle stereo effects. But there's a catch with the Triaxis: I wouldn't recommend it with the stock tubes, nor even with all 12AX7s that its designed for. The stock setup tends to be overly-compressed, with buzzy overdrive. Here's how I overcame that with careful tube replacement:

    V1 (input for Lead 1 modes only) - early '60s Raytheon black-plate/halo-getter 12AX7A [the model for my avatar]. Lean, twangy, dynamic, clean & clear, but with a wonderful transition into lovely harmonic distortion - kind of a bright snarl.
    V2 (main input for clean and Lead 2 modes; driver tube for Lead 1 modes) - early '80s Mullard CV4024/12AT7WA. Raises overdrive threshold (= better cleans) with a smooth, sweet and thick clarity. Has great, solid lows and low-mids, with breathy highs that don't get harsh at all. This is the savior of the Triaxis clean modes.
    V3 (lead/clean mix tube) - '50s RCA black-plate/triple-mica 5751. It is essential to lower the mu at this position to maintain the clarity the CV4024 provides. This is my favorite 5751, and it provides a dynamically-lively, rich, tonally-balanced character.
    V4 (Lead 2 modes driver) - '50s Mullard long-plate/halo-getter 12AX7. Clarity, dynamics, frequency extension, plus solid lows that really bark when pushed; this tube deserves all of Mullard's mystical reputation for sonic magic. Don't mistake the later-production, short-plate Mullard 12AX7A for being a viable substitute for the lush long-plates - they're just not the same.
    V5 (preamp output/send and effects loop) - '50s GE black-plate 12BZ7. This is a longer-bottle tube (+ ~3/8"), and it draws twice the current [don't worry, it works fine here without damage], and the same mu (100) as a 12AX7. The result: a very dynamically-responsive, bright and clear tube that adds about 2dB to your signal. This means you can either lower the output to the same sonic level, and drop the noise floor a couple of dB, or you can leave the output level the same and goose your power amp with a little more oomph. I also use a 12BZ7 as the input for my power amp (Mesa Boogie 20/20 stereo EL84).

    Like I said, I love my cleans. But I usually hover around the clean-to-edge of breakup zone, and control the overdrive with my playing dynamics. These tube subs allow me to do that with my Triaxis. I would have sold it years ago if I didn't discover these tube improvements. Oh yeah, I also love the way I can use midi continuous control to morph my preamp settings in the Triaxis. Very expressive.

    - Thom

  19. JohnnyAtomic

    JohnnyAtomic Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 18, 2003
    Little Rock, AR
    Alembic F2B Kicks BOO-TAY. Some of the best clean tones ever for Guitar OR Bass.

    Yep, basically just the preamp from a Showman in a single rack space. I just sold mine a couple months ago, I know I'm gonna regret it later, but that was the only way i could swing getting my 56 Fender Twin.

    Johnny Atomic

  20. RebelRyan131983

    RebelRyan131983 NEW MEMBER!

    Oct 9, 2017
    Aurora Colorado
    I really wish I had the personal experience to know what replacement tubes would make the tonal impact on my gear that I'm looking for. I appreciate your sharing.
    If you don't mind me asking, do you have any opinions on good replacement 6L6 power amp tubes? And possibly (although I know it's an obscure application), a good 5AR4 rectifier tube for my Fender vintage reissue '59 Bassman LTD combo?
    If at all possible and not too much to ask- do you have a favorite 12AX7 preamp replacement tube for clarity and nicely balanced mids with a bright but not overly harsh treble response?
    Again, I appreciate your time and any suggestions you may have

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