Now, I know, I'm one of the big proponants of "tone is in the fingers" around here, so I can think of about 15 guys who are going to call me a hypocrite for posting this.
But I'm gradually becoming less satisfied with the basic nature of the distortion on my TSL head- it's great, it's just definately a marshall and I'm not THAT big on the marshall sound (although, i gotta admit, if you want a good amp for playing heavy rhythm guitar, this thing absolutely SMOKES)
The one thing i can say in my defense? This clip IS of me playing.
It's from a track I cut about two years ago, running my 7620 into my johnson j-station direct into my laptop, shortly after I got the Tone Zone 7 installed in the thing. I've always felt that this is probably the best guitar tone I've ever gotten on tape, or at least the closest to "my" tone, the one I hear in my head. So, I'm looking for an amp that can do this.
Of course, the logical question here, is "Drew, if you like the tone, then why not sell the amp and just buy a poweramp for the J-station?" Couple things- first, the tone isn't QUITE perfect. Here, it's a little overcompressed and slightly overdistorted- the sustain is almost ungodlike, and there's a time and a place for that (i.e- the chorus melody right at the end), but ti doesn't sound quite natural in places for the solos. That could be fixed simly by tweaking the preset, of course, but there's also a slight graininess to the high end, almost like there's a VERY faint octave doubler in the signal, for lack of a better way to describe it. It's more pronounced on the lower notes earlier in this solo, and as this is a mp3 clip of a mp3, some of it is hidden by the encoding, but I'd like a SLIGHTLY more organic yet cutting version of this. Also, I'm not 100% sold on any of the other patches- the Mark-I is nice, but that's about the only other one i used with any degree of frequency when i was recording mostly with this. I'd like to be able to dial up a nice clean tone every once in a while too, you know?
So, here's what I can give you on this patch- It was the Recto preamp, with a decent amount of reverb and a light delay, compression on (can't remember the exact settings, but obviously a little too much
) and running into a 1x12 cabinet model, as this model with a 4x12 was WAY too bass-heavy to use- sounded like crap in a mix. Once again, tone zone bridge pickup, in a basswood 7620. All the clean-ish and rhythm tones were drawn from the same settings, with just the volume rolled back- if you can hear the fingerpicked double stops in the background, i REALLY liked how this cleaned up, too. Or at least the character of the tone when it did so- nice and bluesy, while still having that "dark" sound to it.
As for guesses, naturally the dual rectifier comes to mind, although probably with EL-34's for a clearer low end and a little more midrange sparkle (as an added bonus, you can get pretty close to a mark-I sound out of the vintage mode, and the raw mode was a hell of a lot of fun to play with), as well as a mark-IV. Of the two, so far the rectifier's been my favorite, as the absolutely amazing lead channel on the IV is great, but Rhythm 2 was, for me, completely uninspiring, and the lack of two footswitchable distortion channels for me would be a bit of a deterrant (you could argue the EQ makes for two footswitchable distortion channels, but i found myself using it to get the tones i liked out of that channel for both rhythm AND lead, and it doesn't allow much in the way of a footswitchable volume boost (I LOVE the "Solo" function in the recto for these reasons)). At the same time, i haven't quite nailed this tone with a rectifier yet... I'm off to the North Attleboro Guitar Center momentarily, to spend some more time tweaking it (you really can get some good lead tones out of the modern voicing on channel three, suprisingly- i hate to say it, but that might be my favorite channel on the amp) and see if the addition of a delay and a reverb in the effects loop (plus maybe a compressor there or out front) will get me any closer.
Any suggestion for either other mesa models or other amplifier brands? Price isn't a MASSIVE object, as for the time being i have a moderately disposable income, but at the same time I feel as if i'm not nearly a good enough guitarist to own a Bogner Exctacy or somehting.
Whatever suggestions you guys could offer would be most appreciated.