Cheap(ish) amp upgrade? - need some advice.. - Jemsite
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-27-2002, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 111
Cheap(ish) amp upgrade? - need some advice..

I'm currently using a Marshall 40W valvestate with my JS1000, and although the clean channel sounds reasonable, i'm not too impressed with the overdrive, and the line out socket is utterly useless for recording (more buzz than a hive full of bees).. so i've decided i need a new amp

The main problem is money... i'm a poor student living in the land of high guitar prices (england).. so while a triaxis/2:90 rig might sound great, it's not exactly possible atm ... I play quite a variety of stuff, mainly satch/DT, so it'd be nice to have both a tight, agressive distorted sound as well as the smooth creamy satriani "always" tone. the valvestate is more than loud enough for me - I dont gig much, so it's mainly for home use/band practices.

I was thinking about getting a used Mesa Studio preamp (or similar), then running it through the poweramp in jack on my valvestate.. do you think the solid-state poweramp would have much of an effect on the tone?

Or is there anything else that you think would be better, considering that i dont want to spend too much ()?


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-29-2002, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Cheap(ish) amp upgrade?

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-29-2002, 06:33 PM
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Location: Somerville, MA
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Cheap(ish) amp upgrade?

Well, it's a little tough to suggest anything, seeing as you didn't give us a price range to play within. However...

I'd say go with an altogether new amp setup rather than getting a better preamp and running it through your current amplifier. half the "tone" of a good tube amp comes from the power amp tubes breaking up, so even a killer tube distortion from the preamp will lose a lot of punch going into a solid state power amplifier.

And as for the claim that the valvestate series convincingly imitates a tube amp's overdrive characteristics, well, total BS, if you ask me. My experience has been the distortion is fairly typical metal fuzz, and perfectly suitable if that's your thing, but bad for lead work, while the clean channel is really sterile. I've read prelty of glowing reviews about the new VST or whatever they're called marshall amps, but the one time i played one (granted, a smaller one that i didn't get to push too much), i found it very uninspiring.

I'd say the best i could suggest, short of amp modeling, is to swing for a small mesa-boogie combo. not sure how cheap they are in GB, but while they're not cheap in the states, i think proce-for-performance, they're about as good as you'll get. I play a mesa/boogie Rocket-44 that i got for arounf $700, and the clean channel is rich enough for jazz, can bite enough for texas blues, and is extremely dynamic and responsive, while the "contour" overdrive mode is just lethal- thick, heavy, and smooth, yet brutal enough for metal. and the "regular" lead more can make a strat mimic clapton's famous "woman tone."

It's a discontinued model, but you can get the 45-watt Nomad for about the same- a little more flexoble (christ, 6 frickin' channels, lol), but i found that this one was more suitable for my evil purposes straight out of the box, so...

Short of that? Tech-21. if power isn't a problem, the trademark-10. sounds absolutely amazing. if it is, the trademark-60 is your ticket, and while to my ears the higher gain tones weren't as impressive (it maxes out quite a bit below the trademark-10), the lower ones were stellar- the closest i ever got to SRV's tone was on that thing with the bright engaged and a mediumish gain setting on the "fender-y" channel. and this was at a volume i could talk over, lol.

Hope either of these is something you can explore...

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2002, 10:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
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I had the same amp you own some years ago (was my first amp). I didnīt like both channels and did the same you say. I bought a mesa boogie v-twin preamp. The sound improved but it canīt even be near to a real valve amp. I sold both amp and preamps and bought an old JCM 800 50w 2X12. Believe me, the difference is awesome.
The reason is that valves give you a rich and musical tone that solid states canīt give (doesnīt mind if itīs a 200 pounds valvestate or a 1800 pounds HK Zentera)and you notice that instantly. When you use a valve preamp through a solid state part of that sound is lost because of the amp.
My suggestion is: buy an all valve amp. You have a guitar too good for a valvestate...Try second hand market. Youīll find good offers.
By the way, i love distortion much more than amp gain, and they sound MUCH better in a valve amp too.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
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Need a price range to be of any help to you.

My immediate suggestion would be grab or borrow a POD and plug it into the power amp in on your amp and see what that does for you. They are relatively inexpensive for what you get...although your market could be totally different.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions..

for the price range, i was thinking around Ģ250-350 for a preamp.. although in light of what everyone's said, I think i might save up a bit more and go for a proper valve amp.. I dont really think it's worth getting another "imitation" valve amp, tho thanks for mentioning it drew..

I've seen a few Mesa combos (DC5s, nomads, a rocket) go for around Ģ500-600 ($800 ish).. although i'm also starting to consider a marshall jcm, which go for a fair bit less :) .. i'll have to have a listen to both i think - i'm gonna go round and have a play on a mate's JCM tomorrow, but i havent found anywhere round here that stocks MB stuff... ill carry on looking :)

One thing that would be very useful for home recording would be a line out/speaker sim socket.. they seem to be pretty much standard on all the mesa boogies i've looked at, not sure about Marshalls..?
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 02:52 PM
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Let us fellow UK Jemsiters know where abouts you are in the uk (PM/email if you don't want to broadcast it) and someone'll know where your nearest Boogie dealer is.

As far as the DC-5 goes. I won't have anything bad said against it apart from...

dodgy switching of the reverb on/off and a click when using the channel footswitch and a little channel cross talk, which I've learned how to turn to my advantage.

I've had one for years and I dread the day (if ever) it needs replacing.

But... I'm not against modelling amps and have heard practive level tones from an AX212 that were fantastic I've never wound one up to gigging level though. I've seen these 100 watt 2x12s go foras little as Ģ500 second hand and if that was my price range and I was looking for an additional gigging amp in the Ģ5-600 range, that'd be my first port of call.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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Wolverhampton, west midlands
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 03:15 PM
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Ok you're not too far from my old stomping grounds then I think "Sound Control" in Old Snow Hill in Brum is your nearest big dealer. it's just a 10 minute walk from New Street station, and whilst I haven't been for about a year now!!! last time I was there they had ample supplies of boogies If you can get there mid week, they'll more than likely accomodate you with a test drive of anything they're got in stock
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2002, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Posts: 111
ah, last time I was in sound control i was in a bit of a rush so didn't take much notice of the amps.. Nice friendly shop, a mate of mine used to work there (although that was two name-changes ago ).. Not all that many pointy headstocks the last time i checked, tho..

Anyway, i'll have a look over there as soon as i get a chance. Cheers
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marshall amp , mesa boogie , mesa studio preamp , pointy headstock , power amp , solid state power amp , tube amp , tube distortion

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