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Playing, Practicing, Recording solo (no band). Best amplification for this?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by DHart, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    I have a feeling that there are many players like myself. We only play in our music rooms at home, and have no plans to play in a band (been there, done that, done with it.)

    In addition, I pretty much always play sitting down, and do a lot of recording of my ideas and compositions to the computer.

    Does a conventional guitar amp, sitting on the floor, make the most sense for this kind of playing, practicing, and recording?

    Perhaps not.

    First of all, floor amps don't sound that great in this kind of setting because they are pointed at your feet. You can tilt them back to point toward your head, which certainly helps. Or position yourself a good distance from the amp (IF your music room is large enough to allow that). But still, the positioning of the amp on the floor isn't necessarily the best way to go. One can get an amp stand, raising the amp to your level, which is a big improvement in sound delivery - but does that work well when at your computer? And most conventional guitar amps lack USB output to the computer and may lack headphone or line output options, as well.

    Perhaps there's an even better kind of amplification system for this particular type of scenario. For the player that has no intention of "playing out", nor performing, nor playing in a band.

    For myself, the "desktop" console solution seems ideal, especially since I use the computer for multi-track recording. My approach uses the Yamaha THR10, which is about the size of a loaf of bread.

    The THR10 has a full compliment of digital tonal effects: several reverbs, delay, compressor, flanger, phaser, tremolo, noise gate. It provides great clean tones, plus a variety of crunch tone models, five user-programmable presets, with Gain, Volume, and Master Volume controls, plus three-band equalizer, allowing considerable control over one's sound.

    Add in USB connectivity, digital interface to the computer for recording and playback, 1/4" headphone output jack, and Line Input jack for playback from MP3 player or iPhone or other audio input device. Lastly, the built in stereo speaker system sounds superb. The only thing that the THR10 lacks is the ability to provide a BIG, DEEP, RICH, FULL tone...

    ...enter a pair of ample-size studio monitors, and voila: BIG, DEEP, RICH, FULL tone is on tap, even at very low volumes, with both clean and crunch tones. This is especially great with clean tones because it is Hi-Fi.

    I feed the studio monitors from the headphone output jack on the THR10.

    The set-up all sits conveniently, at hand's reach, on the recording desk.

    [​IMG]

    One can sit there, immersed in the richness of the stereo studio monitors, which are directed straight to your head and ears - to practice, play, and record. The tonal capability is versatile and diverse, and sounds great at everything from low conversational volume levels to a thundering loud output.

    So, to those of you who, like myself, just play at home, sitting, don't play in a band, and want great and versatile sound quality - this is a solution which you might appreciate.

    My three conventional amps continue to sit on the floor across the room, seeing little to no use most of the time. At this point, I could easily do without conventional guitars amps entirely.

    As for my numerous guitars... no plans to get rid of ANY of them! :twisted:

    I hope this post may help others who play their music in much the same was as I do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
    Finck, Jakedog, TeleTex82 and 4 others like this.

  2. BoogerRooger

    BoogerRooger Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 3, 2009
    Suffolk Coast
    When I read the thread title my immediate thought was THR10.

    My other home modelling set up is a zoom G3XN into an Orange Micro Terror aux channel into a Blackstar HT 408 4x8 cab. Does a similar job but many more amp models and effects, plus drum loops and looper. It sounds huge through the 4x8.
     
    DHart likes this.

  3. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    If you have the budget, I'd go Axe FX or similar. You don't even sound like you actually need an amp. Just a killer modeler and some great monitors for your PC recording setup.

    In your shoes, I doubt I'd even own an amp.
     
    TeleTex82 and DHart like this.

  4. Milspec

    Milspec Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 15, 2016
    Nebraska
    That is one of the reasons my THR10 sits on the table where I play as well. I still need the other amps though when I just feel like opening things up a bit, but yes, the THR10 fits the bill for a lot of people.
     

  5. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Interesting! And I think you're right, I probably don't need an amp. But I have no idea what an Axe FX is, so I'm going to look into that.

    Killer modeler and great studio monitors probably would do it for me. :eek:
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
    Jakedog likes this.

  6. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 13, 2014
    Finland
    I'm anti modeling :eek: :p,
    So an analog preamp with speaker emulation, into studio monitors or even good computer speakers, is my choice.
     
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  7. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Holic

    920
    Apr 25, 2011
    Turdcaster, WA
    Been doing something similar for years, but without the computer (modeling, recording playback), using a small mixing board and some small powered bose computer spkrs used for monitors or akg 240 cans. I've never been into the computer interface and prefer analog pedals. So have the pedal board tube buffered with an ehx lpb2ube and also have a loop switch to insert in an old vox tonelab tt that goes into the mixer (along with a channel for the laptop for jamming along with YT vids)..or can re-route the pedal board out to my tube amps. Anyway can easily do headphones, powered monitors or the tube amps. But its a rats nest of cables.
     
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  8. ajm763

    ajm763 TDPRI Member

    20
    Dec 14, 2008
    Southwest Ohio
    Coming at this from the other direction... Playing only in the music room at home I had used modelers exclusively though studio monitors and headphones for a very long time. They sound very good and are extremely useful for playing without disturbing anyone else who may be home. And often cheaper than owning multiple real amps.

    However... A couple of years ago, upon seeing the "empty nester" finish line approaching, I found myself wanting a real amp. A tube amp. I researched it and found a great deal on a Gibson GA-5 reissue in like-new condition. No comparison to the modeler. Even with this small amp there is something different - in a very good way - about having a real amp in the room with me.

    Over time this lead to amp #2, a H&K Tubemeister 18 and 1x12 cabinet (with power scaling down to 1 watt or completely off as it has a built-in DI for recording) which also works out extremely well for home use.

    And I'm now shopping for amp #3...

    I still use the modelers - but the modeler has never put a smile on my face the way the real amps do. Even at home by myself in the music room.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
    DHart likes this.

  9. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Holic

    920
    Apr 25, 2011
    Turdcaster, WA
    I concur; a nice work around is to do the tube buffered thing. My old vox tonelab is buffered with the ehx lpb2ube and has a germanium frequency booster right after the guitar and before the pedal board or the tonelab is also followed with another tube pedal (lone wolf harp attack). Anyway this really warms up the monitors AND when going out to an old se6L6 and/or pp6v6 amps...its nutz. And you still can get a low volume thing going by using the tube amps' volume as the master volume. I have an array of 4, 8, 10 and 12" spkrs and a Weber Z-Matcher that help with selecting the proper volume ;)
     

  10. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Woooh... now I'm really getting confused! :eek:
     

  11. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    You've really opened my head up now! (Been learning about the Fractal products.). I'm still quite content with my THR10 setup, but Fractal AX8 is tempting!

    I'm impressed as can be with the M-Audio BX8 set, I use another pair of these with my big screen TV and they sound awesome.
     
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  12. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 13, 2014
    Finland
    I like to keep it simple. Ideally preamp plugged into powered speakers. There's quite a selection available in analog preamps. From cheap copies of the Tech21 range to tube preamps like my Blackstar or Two Notes Le Clean, Le Crunch, etc. The Two Notes range, at least, has lots of options for increasing the number of cables too: https://www.two-notes.com/en/le-crunch
     
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  13. RL52

    RL52 Tele-Meister

    118
    Jul 9, 2013
    USA
    Mac, Garage Band and Jam.
    Decent headphones.
    Happy with it.
     

  14. IronSchef

    IronSchef Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    As I was reading about the “amp on the floor” I was thinking THR10!

    I have basically the same setup for my iMac. I really like how you can record BOTH a dry and effected signal through the THR10’s usb interface!
     
    DHart likes this.

  15. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    It's really worth looking into. Most people who look down their nose at modeling have been swayed by the cheap stuff. Line 6 spider, Fender Mustang, Vox Tonelab, etc.

    It's all decent sounding stuff, that is light years ahead of what they were making 10 years ago. But those things are kiddie toys compared to something like a Fractal or Kemper. There really is no comparison.

    And while it's true they cost as much a good tube amp, when you buy an amp you get one amp. When you buy a Fractal or similar you gets tons of them!
     
    DHart likes this.

  16. ajm763

    ajm763 TDPRI Member

    20
    Dec 14, 2008
    Southwest Ohio
    Well said, and I use modelers myself - I started with Line 6 POD's of various generations and moved on to tablet- and PC-based software like AmpliTube and currently PositiveGrid Bias Amp and Bias FX.

    My issue with the high-end hardware modelers is that you are basically buying a proprietary computer system and computer systems have a half-life of about 3 years or so. So while a good tube amp will last for decades these hardware modelers are going to be obsolete in a few years. The software will continue to evolve and get even better (and with that more complex) and will invariably outgrow the hardware platform it is running on.

    So I would like to see Kemper or Fractal release a PC-based product where the hardware can be used for more than one purpose and upgraded as the software complexity increases.
     

  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    Sometimes you only have a few minutes for a quick jam. It's faster to have a small SS amp with presets you set before: clean, dirty, metal mayhem, and a tuner. You can rip it before the PC boots or the tubes warm up.
     
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  18. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Good point. I was looking at one of the Fractal units, which is like a large pedal with foot switches all over it. I think I would prefer something that would be software-based for the Mac.

    Is there anything that is software based for the Mac that sounds as good as the Fractal gear?

    BTW, when you read the reviews on Fractal’s website, written by so many top level guitarists, you’ve got to know that Fractal stuff must be truly top shelf sounding.
     

  19. DHart

    DHart Tele-Holic

    651
    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    What Blackstar preamp do you have and how would you rate it vs. the Two Notes Le Clean?
     

  20. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 13, 2014
    Finland
    I have Blackstar's HT-Dual. I have not tried Two Notes preamps myself, so cannot compare sounds. They have separate 2 channel models called Le Clean, Le Crunch and Le Lead (or something like that).

    Two Notes preamps have a lot more options for connections, including MIDI, and separate EQs for the channels.

    The HT-Dual has only 16V power source connection, instrument input, and two outputs: to guitar amp and the emulated output that I plug into powered speakers. The EQ is common for both channels and I prefer the voicing of the low gain CH 1. CH 2 gets too dark for me when I dial in CH 1. Others might disagree. I crank CH 1 which gives me some crunch. It cleans up when I back guitar volume a little or play gently. Blackstar has an ISF dial in the EQ which is supposed to voice their amps from scooped "American" to thicker "British".
     
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