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Surprisingly cool tones from unlikely amps

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by mexicanyella, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    Have you ever thought "Hey, what the hell..." and plugged into some amp that is not known for being a cool guitar amp and been surprised by how good it sounded? And when you started enthusing about it, people looked at you funny?

    Well, here goes:

    I have tried my one-humbucker Squier strat-shaped thing into my old Peavey TKO 115S bass amp before and thought it was kind of cool, but recently I've been trying it out in earnest and am just floored by how perfect it sounds for what I do. It's the first time in a long time I've not been tempted to plug in a compressor pedal with it (for, like, the last twentysomething years, my go-to has been a loud cleanish amp fed by a compressor applying gentle compression and signal boost).

    I think there are a couple of realizations I've made that are the reasons I'm so happy with it at this point:

    1) The preamp itself stays fairly clean and punchy sounding, and it feeds a power stage and speaker that feels kind of pillowy and compressed when you crank it up. I think this is a combination of the behavior of a pushed 15" Scorpion and the amp's built-in DDT limiter circuit. And maybe the power supply rails not quite keeping up. Whatever...it approximates the bounciness of a tube power stage in feel, while preserving a pretty clean, clear tone that can snarl without losing definition.

    2) I've figured out how to use the EQ, and how the sound I like translates into frequency response. With a seven-band graphic EQ, flanked by active hi and lo shelving EQs, it's not much like looking at a Fender or Marshall control panel. But with time, and an interest in playing bass and understanding EQ from that perspective, I figured out where I want to hear dips and peaks and I've ended up with a pleasing sound that doesn't require radical EQ moves even though the amp has the wrong instrument plugged into it.

    3) Once I got over the notion of "bass amps are clean," and started cranking the gain and exploring those sounds, I realized that the amp comes alive--with guitar, bass or lap steel--when you get that gain up around 7. It doesn't sound real distorted, just kind of snarly clean with some extra overtones coming in, but with the compressed-feeling output stage the overall effect is right up my alley.

    I need to record something with this thing.

    Anyone else got a tale like this? I've loved hearing about this kind of experimentation ever since reading about the weird Lab Series L5-based rig Ty Tabor used on the early Kings X albums.
     
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  2. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    One of the most celebrated guitar amps of all time started its life as a bass amp- the tweed Bassman. Fender currently makes a 100 watt Bassman head running four 6L6s, with clean and overdrive channels, and I've often wondered how it would sound with guitar.
     
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  3. El Marin

    El Marin Friend of Leo's

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    I have been a Twin Reverb and a Bassman man for all my life... Now I play a Marshall JCM900 ( The MKIII Dual Master non reverb 100W 1x12" combo, model 2101 )... almost clean (then add some TS808 on it)

    But the first time I plugged my guitar in it I though... "what the hell... this is good"... Now, the amp is mine and have no Twin Reverb or Bassman anymore.

    Maybe the TR sounds more "open" due the 2x12", so I made the combo into head and 1x12" cabinet and got another 1x12". If I play in a small bar I only take one cabinet or none if the bar has any...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  4. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    My amp tweeking friend put a Bassman amp tone cap in my Princeton. Noticeable difference. That might be a factor. I switched it back, but someone else may have liked it better.
     
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  5. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    I bought a used Four Force (5 watt) solid state amp on a whim last year.

    I wanted something lightweight but good-sounding to take to the beach for a family reunion.

    Son of a gun, but that amp was awesome!
    Really impressive tones for such a simple design.

    I since paid it forward to a young local guitar student, but I'll always remember it as being the most bang-for-the-buck guitar amp ever.
    :)
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I once had an Orange Crush 10. 10 Watts of disappointment clad in orange. It really was bad, then I read about adding an external speaker jack and running it into a cab.
    Dang if it didn't sound just fine!. Really nice cleans up to mild crunch. It seems to be a popular mod nowadays to make head units from, or add an external switching jack to small, TDA2030/2050 powered amps. They can sound surprisingly good when all they're doing is amplifying the strings.
     
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  7. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Any SS Peavey Amp from the 80's
     
  8. blakestree

    blakestree Tele-Meister

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    I recently got an Orange Micro Dark as, really, just a toy. I've been very surprised at how good it sounds through my 2X12.
     
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  9. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I was just going to mention my Peavey Backstage Plus. I've had guys at a gig wonder why my rig sounded so good with a "lowly" Peavey. Then they looked at my pedalboard and saw my Zen Drive and agreed that it was the reason for my tone. Truth was, I never even had it on.
     
  10. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted

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    Ditto on the Backstage Plus. Mine is from 1986 and sounds really good, I think due to the Eminence speaker. I modernized mine with a few deletions and fresh grille cloth to not look so dated.

    IMG_20161002_104317654.jpg
     
  11. dan1952

    dan1952 Friend of Leo's

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    I have one of these in my shop, and I can't find a usable tone. However, a lot of people say that it looks like Darth Vader. I think it looks like the grill off an old Willys Jeep.
     
  12. RoyalBaby

    RoyalBaby Tele-Afflicted

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    One of my sons had a little karaoke machine thing and you could plug a guitar in. Sounded fairly awful but it had a built in Echo which was a lo fi slapback type effect. Sounded really cool. Worked even better with harmonica.
    The karaoke machine imploded at some point sadly.
     
  13. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    Ha! Yeah, I went to a small stage, low-volume gig once with my Peavey Audition 20 and a couple guys from the next band were doing what I remember as "incredulous sneering" as I set up...but afterwards the sound guy said it sounded great out front and was easy to place in the mix.

    Hopefully that wasn't PR-speak for "I just tanked your fader and the sound cleared right up."

    I don't think it was, though...that little amp wasn't super-loud but it had a great almost-clean rhythm tone that really sat well alongside the other instruments in that band.
     
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  14. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I used to play bass through a TKO with a BW speaker. Great sounding bass amp and I imagine a good sounding guitar amp with a 15".

    I actually have a Big K Kustom bass head that I use with clean guitar through a 2x12. I really think for guitar clean tones that a bass amp really works.

    I also have a small Bronco Tweed SS amp. It has an 8" speaker I believe and it pretty weak, but plugged into a 4x10 extension cabinet it roars!!
     
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  15. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sad isn't it....

    My Special 130 from '83 is a fantastic sounding amp, I gig with it everywhere. I removed the logo and tell tale aluminum rails just to stop musicians from judging with their eyes. I get nothing but compliments on my tone, then when I show them my gear I don't know if they are more appalled by the old solid state amp or the Line 6 digital multi effects I have running into it :p
     
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  16. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    I think I read somewhere that Johnny Rzeznick (sp?) of the
    Goo Goo Dolls did one of the recordings with a tweed SS Bronco driving a 4 x 12. I have never seen a tweed SS Bronco but if I ever do, I'm trying it out.

    I took the spiky Peavey logo off my Audition 20 when I started actually using it for band stuff, and replaced it with a big cast pot-metal International Harvester logo. Not one person has ever commented on that in, like 20 years. Hasn't stopped me from pointing it out though.
     
  17. cincyguitarplay

    cincyguitarplay Tele-Meister

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    I hear people on here talking about how great certain solid state amps sound...so I figure I would give that one a try....almost all dont work for me...unless you play buzzy sounding metal.
     
  18. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I suppose some would consider the Vox Pathfinder 15R to be an "unlikely amp" for "surprisingly cool tones." Solid state transistor circuitry, 15 watts, 8" speaker...did I mention SS circuitry? :twisted:

    But while some may still balk at the very notion that any SS amp could deliver cool tones, TDPRIers know better. The owners club thread has continued to sing its praises for 9+ years, with more than 3,000 replies.

    And I also agree about SS Peavey amps, '80s versions on up through TransTube. Great cleans.
     
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  19. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Which one or ones?

    Considered operator error?
     
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  20. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    Assuming you mean Peavey?

    If so, the big hidden feature of my Bandit was the clean channel. It does a great clean sound by itself but really shines when paired with pedals and modeling units. The drive channel is OK but is a rather one dimensional, usually fitting into the prominent guitar music around the time of manufacture.
     
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