NAD/First impressions - Roland Blues Cube Artist

Cleantone

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TLDR - I really like it. Classic tones at bedroom volume. It is very bright. The dual channel mode is my favorite feature.

I got the BC Artist 1x12 a week ago (used, off Reverb). The comments below are related to the stock amp, no tone capsule. I have ordered an Ultimate Blues and NY Blues but don't have them yet. I'll post comments specific to the capsules when I've played them.

Why I bought it:
I saw the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio recently and Jimmy James used a single 12" or 15" (Peavey Delta Blues?) with no pedals. When he needed gain he walked over and turned it up. I was inspired to stick to basics and stop screwing around with stuff that doesn't make me better. I want one amp that can do the styles I like (e.g., R&B, soul, funk, blues, not too heavy rock). Not intending to replicate specific players, just fit the genres. I want to stop wasting time on the endless options in my amp & effects modeler. I'm currently a basement hack, but one day I may make it onto the neighborhood garage and backyard circuit, so I want to have a respectable and capable tool for that level of achievement.

EQ controls:
The first impression upon plugging in is the amp is very bright and also very bassy. I am working with the treble and presence as it can be piercing. The bass is powerful in this one. 9:00 or below is all that is needed. It can do a good scooped mid or warmer/fuller tweedy sound.

I'm not finding sweet spots in the tone controls where you notice a jump or a point after which the change is minimal. The pots seem very linear like in my digital modeler. Not sure yet this is a real thing based on being solid state or if I'm just not feeling it right.

Clean and crunch channels:
I really like the basic sounds in both. There is a change in EQ from clean to crunch. Given there is only one set of EQ controls I thought it would be more of an even gain boost from one channel to the next. I think it is small enough it could be equalized with an EQ pedal, but I'm not bothered enough to do that work. I'd like the channels to have their own EQ like the BC Tour, but oh well. Maybe the crunch is intended to cut through a band mix more than clean, so perhaps there is a rationale to the difference. So far, I set the EQ to my liking on the clean channel and deal with it.

I like the dual mode better than crunch alone as it is fuller and more articulate. I think it sounds great. This could be something that isn't noticeable in a live performance but sounds great at home and presumably in recording. I wish there was a blend control for the dual mode. As is, the blend is by adjusting the channel volumes so there can be a big volume drop from one to the other.

As expected, this is not a high gain amp and that isn't my scene anyway. That said, I have not liked the sound with the gain much past 12:00. The brightness takes over, especially on a bridge pickup. Very sharp, Albert Collins like, but too much. Rolling down the guitar tone helps smooth it out. This is an area I need to spend more time with.

As noted in many online reviews, the clean channel has low headroom, especially with humbuckers. For example, going for a warm jazzy sound I like the neck pickup volume high without pushing the amp into breakup. I really have to knock the channel vol down and master vol up. Not a big deal if I'm just playing that sound, but in a performance it could be a hassle to readjust controls when switching guitars or styles.

Effects:
The onboard tremolo and reverb are fine to me. Not something I've ever gone deep into though I know some people do. They simplify and cover the bases.

Going into the clean channel pedals work pretty well. I'm struggling to dial in a unity volume with an increase in gain and good tone from the Nobles ODR. It has little effect without the level being quite high. Then it gets dark/muddy but cranking the tone knob it gets harsh. The best application I have found for it is on a Strat or Tele bridge pickup, but nowhere else. I have previously used is as a coloring boost but here the low end is too much. I'd welcome comments on best use of the ODR as I have liked it before but know it can be heavy on the bottom end, and this may not be a good amp style to apply it to.

Using a TC Spark boost is very nice. It balances the level of single coil and humbucking guitars and fattens the tone a little, and set to less gain and more level gives a nice push to the amp. I do have to roll that treble back to keep it from getting piercing.

I also set a delay to fairly short repeat and rolled the tone of the repeats way down. It really fattened the sound while keeping the initial attack and articulation. That feels really good in the clean channel.

One week in I am very happy with the amp. I'm hoping that the tone capsules I ordered will scratch the itch of wanting some tone options without sending me down the rabbit hole of playing with settings instead of playing music. Plug in one flavor for the day and roll with it. It is very possible I will settle on one of them to use full time. Worst case, I will pass them along and be happy with the stock amp, or possibly add a pre-amp style always-on pedal to get my flavor and be set.
 
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NoTeleBob

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I've noticed that same gain jump in the BOSS (Roland) Kantana. The volume difference between the clean and dirty channels is significant.

I'm not sure I understand why, as I expect it's all DSP driven... so it's programmed in. It's like they're trying to mimic the older amps where gain was done by overdriving a transistor and a volume boost was inherent to the process. Not really a feature IMHO... I just want a little dirt. I get the feeling that it's for the kids who get a "ooh, it's so loud and distorted!" grin when they flip to crunch. But I think they do it by handicapping the clean channel volume so that the gain channels can be comparatively "loud".

But, you can reprogram the amp and make those issues go away.

Can you use the BOSS Tone Studio or similar with the Roland? I know it works with a slew of their products. That might get you what you want. A computer hooked to the Kantana gets you access to all sort of features, programmability, and downloadable stuff.
 

Cleantone

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The gain between channels is controllable with the channel gain and volumes, so not a problem for me. You can set it to unity volume level and just get the increased saturation. But I think there is a mid bump in the crunch channel. Since there is only one EQ section any adjustment affects the other channel. I don't believe there is any user access to the settings. The documentation and promotional materials are cagey on how it is constructed but it is a combo of analog solid state and digital modeling, all black box to the player short of opening up the chassis. And I wouldn't know what I was looking at anyway.
 

Cleantone

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OP post #1 referenced this guitarist in this group :)

Saw them in Denver in the fall and just found out they are opening for Jack White here in June! Jimmy James is my current favorite. I can only hope one day I'll simply enjoy locking down a groove like you can tell he does.
 

billy logan

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June is soon already!

In the vid in post #6 Jimmy James is playing a Silvertone guitar; some of its details and contours makes me think it's manufactured by the same company that made my old three-pickup TrueTone. I believe the model name of my old TrueTone is (confusingly) Jazzmaster.

Happy/wistful/sad/then happy again - thinking about Curtis Mayfield's life. (CM originated Move On Up)

That IS a really poppin' Move On Up by Delvon Lamarr!!! ime

btw, I found a couple other Delvon Lamarr YouTubes; all of Delvon Lamarr's drummers are ime really good; the fellow in the Move On Up vid is my ime fave.
 
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Blrfl

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I'm not finding sweet spots in the tone controls where you notice a jump or a point after which the change is minimal. The pots seem very linear like in my digital modeler. Not sure yet this is a real thing based on being solid state or if I'm just not feeling it right.

The current generation of Blues Cubes (along with the Nextone and Katana) are digital modelers under the hood. The analog solid-state parts get the signal in and out and all of the other behavior is software.

As noted in many online reviews, the clean channel has low headroom ... I really have to knock the channel vol down and master vol up.

That's par for the course. The firmware built into the amp is modeled after a 5F6A Bassman, which isn't famous for having a lot of headroom.

I'm hoping that the tone capsules I ordered will scratch the itch of wanting some tone options without sending me down the rabbit hole of playing with settings instead of playing music. Plug in one flavor for the day and roll with it. It is very possible I will settle on one of them to use full time.

The clean channel model in the Ultimate Blues capsule is based on the Super Reverb (crunch may be, too) and has a lot more headroom. I find it pretty flexible and leave it in full-time; you probably don't want a lot of in-out cycles on the socket. Roland goofed not putting a switch in that allows switching between the tone capsule and the built-in firmware.
 

Cleantone

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Roland goofed not putting a switch in that allows switching between the tone capsule and the built-in firmware.

I want that too (they did it for the demos!) but can see the case for pushing it away from the other multi amp molders and am ok with it. I’m more wanting a blend control for the dual channel mode. That would make it 10x more useful and really differentiate in the market.
 

ruger9

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I've had one for a couple years now. It's fantastic. I have the "Ultimate Blues" tone capsule in it, which is supposed to be a Super Reverb on the clean side (I don't hear it), and a Marshall Super Lead on the dirty side (definitely is). In my situation, it would be much less useful to me without the tone capsule.

I use it in my classic rock band, and it's perfect. It sounds great (in a band mix, as good as any tube amp), it can get LOUD if needed, but still sound fantastic when turned DOWN. it's LIGHT AND EASY TO CARRY.

It would never replace any of my tube amps for home use, but it lives at the rehearsal space, I gig with it, and it's every bit the amp, in that scenario, that my tube amps are (live in a band mix).

My only complaint is that I wish the speaker was jacked instead of hardwired, that way I could use it as an extension cab if needed. Better yet- if it had an external speaker jack to plug in another 8 ohm cabinet, that would be the bees knees. Sometimes you need not more volume, but more coverage/spread.

The effects loop is one of the best (no signal/tone loss) I've ever heard.

I don't even use the big footswitch with it... I bought a single-button footswitch I use for switching channels, that's it. I generally use the dirty channel for all rock rhythm and solos, occasionally I'll use the clean channel with an OD for a semi-clean (Stones type) sound. I also use the clean channel for dead clean tones, such as Sultans of Swing.

PS- I don't find it bright at all. And I am not a fan of bright, I generally run away from bright. I find it's EQ works quite well, and it can be as bright or as warm as I want it to be.
 

black_doug

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Good review @Cleantone

If I bought a SS/modeling amp this would be the one. I've tried it out and was impressed. I still prefer tubes. For now.

And I was really hoping DLO3 would include Toronto on their latest tour but I'll have to wait. I bought a cd instead. And a shirt.

if-you-have-met-or-talked-with-guitarist-jimmy-james-then-you-know-this-is-his-favorite-word-f...jpg
 

Blrfl

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I want that too (they did it for the demos!)

It wouldn't be difficult to build a harness for one capsule. Pin 3 on the socket is the DC supply. Disconnect that and the amp can't see it. Cycle the power on the amp and it will run the stock firmware.
 

tfarny

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I had the stage version for a while, played a couple of small gigs with it. Plenty of power, but ultimately it sounded only good to me, not great. Something about the midrange didn't sit right with me, hard to say what.
It's a well made amp for a reasonably price, and a lot of people seem to get great sounds out of them.
 

NiceTele

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I had the stage version for a while, played a couple of small gigs with it. Plenty of power, but ultimately it sounded only good to me, not great. Something about the midrange didn't sit right with me, hard to say what.
It's a well made amp for a reasonably price, and a lot of people seem to get great sounds out of them.
My BC Stage was quite good, but played up beside a HRD 4, the Stage really sounded flat, but that's just my preference.
 

billy logan

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Welp. This post sure is an unfocused mess!!!:

There's a Roku TV channel called "Qwest - Jazz & Beyond" It's on Roku TV channel 1111. It may be showing:

the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio - Live (not "live" but a concert video) 7:41 a.m. to 9:14 a.m., tomorrow morning, Sunday, June 5, '22.

Shows on that channel are repeated fairly frequently. You could probably find a website that would tell you the future listings; in other words, tomorrow a.m. isn't your last chance to see it.

The on-screen guide is flaky, as in unreliable: rn, 9:40 p.m. Central Time, it says "Charles Tolliver - Live" but they stopped showing that in the middle of the announced time slot and switched to showing "Rare Muddy Waters" from like 1968 ... Blow Wind, Blow. Sam Lawhorne, Peewee Madison, on guitars. edit: Muddy Had been playing his red Tele. But now, different clip, different band he's playing maybe a Guild ? on "Long Distance Call"

So now I have less confidence Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio will be shown at exactly the time tom. a.m. I mentioned.
(btw Mr. Waters is one charismatic singer and slide player)

EDIT: OK great. I missed the show this (Sunday) morning. But according to the (not 100% reliable) on-screen guide it will be shown again Tuesday June 7 at 9:26 p.m. Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio "Live at Jazz à la Villette Festival"

For all I know it may be even just available on YouTube.
 
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Barquentine

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I had the Artist for a few weeks but returned it. It had great reviews so I spent many hours playing around with it but couldn't find tones I liked. It felt brittle and cold to me. I went back to a tube amp for a while but I'm now using a Quilter Cub that I'm pretty happy with.
 

Peegoo

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The brightness takes over, especially on a bridge pickup. Very sharp, Albert Collins like, but too much. Rolling down the guitar tone helps smooth it out. This is an area I need to spend more time with.

One of the realities of playing guitar in a combo is learning how to get an amp's tone to sound best in the mix.

Many years ago I was playing my Doc Z MAZ38 1x12 on a gig and I was getting the best tone I ever had with it. Several people commented on it, including band members. A few days later I plugged in the amp to play it and the tone was piercingly ice-picky. I adjusted the tone for a nice full sound and figured the knobs go out of position when dragging the amp around.

Next time we played out, my amp was getting buried, even though I was cranked up loud. That is when I learned the trick about having the guitar take up its own space in the mix: not too boomy with plenty of upper mids. It really makes the guitar cut through without competing with other instruments for space in the mix. I could hear me and I could hear everyone else.

I think this is the most common reason why many guitarists in bands play too loud.
 




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