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  1. #1
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    12.09.17 @ 07:17 AM
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    Default Amps, Pedals, and Mods

    Hi guys. Been a while since I've last posted. I thought I would give you an update on some interesting gear changes I've been engaged in lately.

    I've recently decided to put my electronics background to use, and modify and build some stuff. I don't know why I've never done it before.

    I've been trying to take some new approaches to my tone lately, so I've been experimenting with different gear than I'm used to. Rather than trying to generate my high gain sound solely through my amp, I've taken the approach of using a medium gain amp with an overdrive out front. First, I tried the off-the-shelf pedals like the Badass '78, OCD and others. I couldn't really get excited about any of them. I decided to mod my Tubescreamer TS-9 to TS-808 specs, which was insanely easy to do. It already had the correct IC chip, so it was a simple matter of changing out 2 resistors. The result was extremely satisfying.

    I decided that while my Peavey Classic 50 4x10 was a great amp, I needed to try something different. After a little research, I decided on the PRS SE 30 combo. It is a little pricey, and once you get the lead channel gain turned up past 12 o'clock, the distortion is a little "fizzy", but it has some other redeeming qualities.

    First of all, the construction. All jacks, switches, and pots are chassis mounted. Although the tube sockets are board-mounted, the board looks extremely durable and thick. Much thicker than the green board used by Peavey, Fender, or Marshall. The layout and components on the black board used on the PRS SE are outstanding for an overseas produced amplifier. Much higher quality than others I've seen. For these reasons, I decided on this amp. I can forgive the fizziness of the lead channel because I'm not planning on generating my higher gain sound from the preamp alone, and because I believe a speaker swap will largely eliminate the issue alltogether.

    Secondly, the clean to medium tone of this amp is very impressive and unique. I wanted to kind of develop a tone that not everyone else on the block has, and I believe this amp will do it. I know, there is going to be the inevitable, "You should have got this amp, or that amp". I know there are more expensive, and better out of the box options for great tone. I've owned a lot of them. That's not the point of what I'm trying. I'm trying to explore the potential of medium priced equipment to achieve extraordinary tone. I'm using a "do-it-on-the-cheap" mentality. I want people to look at my gear and think, "How the fuck did you get tone like that from your gear?"

    One important component of my tone is going to be my choice of overdrive pedal. Although my modified TS-9 is impressive in front of the PRS SE30, I felt like I wanted a little more drive from the pedal. After researching many forums, I decided on the General Guitar Gadgets ITS-8 kit. This kit can be ordered with a mod kit that comes with components with every mod available with the pedal. All together, it was about $75. I decided to build the pedal using the "Very Expensive Boutique" mod. This mod is designed to emulate the Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive pedal, which sells for $450. After receiving the kit, and spending about 8 hours to build it, I was ready to try it out. All I can say is "Wow!" I don't know if it is exactly like a Landgraff or not, but it kicks serious ass!. Basically, if you have your drive and level set anywhere below 12 o'clock on the sweep, and your switch set to silicone diodes, you will get stock TS-808 like overdrive. You get past 12 o'clock, and that's where the magic happens. I have the silicone diodes set up with asymmetric clipping. I didn't use the provided Germanium Diodes, but it was an option. The other side of the switch is LED clipping, which tends to be a little warmer, with less output and high-end definition. The middle position on the switch bypasses diode clipping alltogether, and is great for a clean boost with level up, drive down. I have found my overdrive pedal.

    I've decided the only modification I will make to the PRS SE30 will be to change the speaker to a Hellatone 60 (broken in Celestion Vintage 30). This should break up a little sooner than the stock Eminence designed 100 watt speaker that comes stock in the amp, and hopefully eliminate any of the fizziness.

    I have also purchased a Fender Blues Jr. that I am experimenting with. I have ordered a BillM mods basic mod kit for the Blues Jr., which will alter the tone stack, and provide an adjustable bias. Once the mod is complete, I will evaluate if I want to change out the stock speaker. If I do, I will probably go with the Hellatone 30 (broken in Celestion G12H30). I'm hoping that after the mods, I will be able to achieve some pretty sick higher gain tones with my GGG ITS-8 pedal in front of it. Right now, the stock equalization of the Blues Jr. just doesn't sound great with the overdrive in front of it. The mods should help.

    I've pretty well abandoned all of my EVH gear, with the exception of the EVH Frankenstein Humbucker that I have installed in my LTD strat. My two main guitars are my Floyd equipped LTD strat, and an American Standard Strat which I've outfitted with a JB in the bridge, and two Hot Gold Lace Sensors in the middle and neck. I had Warmouth make me a HSS pickguard with one volume, one tone to get rid of the annoying stock volume placement. The result is a pretty sick looking strat. My third guitar is a Les Paul copy that I built from BYOguitars. I put a Schaller tunable stop tail on it like the Wolfgangs have, and a Floyd locking nut. It plays outstanding. I still haven't upgraded the pickups in that guitar yet. I've got an Epi pickup in the neck, and the bridge pickup is out of an LTD GL-256. I'm thinking about a set of Alnico II Pro pickups for that one.

    Anyway, I'm extremely satisfied with my results so far, and they should only get better. I'll keep you posted.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  2. #2
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Received the Hellatone 60 for my PRS SE30, and the BillM Basic Mod kit for the Blues Jr.

    Hellatone sounds great in the PRS SE 30, and evened out that high end fizz. Also has a better overall tone and breakup than the stock speaker. The difference is huge.

    The mod kit for the Blues Jr., which only costs $22 is the cheapest and best upgrade I've ever done to any piece of gear I've ever had. The difference in tone is night and day. It really opens up the amp. I thought the amp sounded good before I did the mod, but after the mod, it was like a totally different amp. It's like the amp from the factory had a restrictor plate on it, and the mod kit removed it. Totally different sweep on all the tone controls, the tone sounds bigger. More usable volume, and the bass is not flubby anymore.

    After the mod, I've decided to upgrade the speaker to an Eminence Canabis Rex.

    More to come.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  3. #3
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    I got my Eminence Cannabis Rex on Friday. I put it in the Blues Jr. Friday night, hooked the speaker up to my P.A., and played some isolated Van Halen guitar tracks through it for about 5 hours to loosen up the suspension.

    I'll try to give some general observations on the C. Rex vs. the stock speaker. The bass tones are much more pleasing and pronounced. There is much more headroom on the Bass side now. Mid range tones seem to be more prominent with the C. Rex, although it seems to be in the low mid range. I found myself pulling the Midrange knob down a bit, and boosting the Treble knob. The highs are much more mellow, and pick attack is much less harsh.

    Overall, there is a dramatic improvement in tone over the stock speaker (no surprise). It will require some significant adjustments to your tone controls from where you had them set with the stock speaker since the tone difference is so large.

    Since this particular speaker seems to really bring out the low mids, I believe it may be necessary to perform the "Presence Control" mod on the Blues Jr. in order to have a little more control over the higher mids, and bring back some snappiness to the pick attack. The only reason I would want to do the Presence mod is that the amp sounds terrific clean, but when you play with a dirt pedal in front of it, the midrage is almost overpowering the overall tone. When you pull the mids down to a comfortable level, you lose some of the higher mids that would make it sound better.

    I may just use the Blues Jr. for my clean, to heavy blues tones, and A/B it with the PRS SE30 for the high gain stuff.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  4. #4
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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Hey man, cool to hear that you're doing this stuff! I've been into this type of thing for a while now, and it's tons of fun isn't it!? (I've built a few full tube amps, pedals, rack units, recording preamps/gear, etc etc)

    Anyway, if you are going for that "budget minded awesome tone" thing, definitely look into Warehouse Guitar Speakers (WGS). They are very fairly priced, but are NOT budget speakers whatsoever. I actually like them more than some of the more "premium" speaker brands a lot of the time.

    For example, I have a cab loaded with real Celestion Vintage 30's, and a cab loaded with a mixed set of WGS's 2 versions of V30 clones. I use them interchangeably. All 3 sound just as "good", and just have subtle differences that are sometimes favorable for certain guitars or amps running into them.... I end up using each of the 3 speakers about 30% of the time, and if I had to pick just one to have in my studio, I'd probably pick one of the WGS versions....


    Another idea I had (that most people don't seem to think about, not sure why) is depending on how much room you have in your amp's chassis, you can often build an overdrive type pedal right into the amp. Make a hardwire-bypass switch to the front end of your amp input and boom, you can run it stock, or with the pedal pre-piped right in. That's always cool not having to carry a handful of pedals around with you to gigs, etc., and adds to the "wow, how does he get THAT tone" mystique haha
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 05.05.13 at 01:33 PM.

  5. #5
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    12.09.17 @ 07:17 AM
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    Thanks MJ. I'll check out that speaker site. I brought my SE 30 to band practice for the first time on Sunday, and I have to tell you, I don't think I've ever been happier with my tone. I'm running my ITS-8 pedal in front of it, and use the clean channel for my crunch rythym tone, and my lead channel as my lead channel. I shut my pedal off, and I have a nice clean channel on one side, and a nice bluesy overdrive channel on my lead side.

    The great thing about this rig is it has great gain, but still remains transparent. You get very distinct string separation when playing chords.

    I think my next project will be the BSIAB pedal from GGG. I want to try that in front of my Blues Jr, and see if it makes it sound like a half stack. I've seen some pretty impressive results on Youtube using a Fender Champ.

    I'm fascinated by the idea of building an amp. If I do, it would probably be a Ceriatone 18 watt TMB Combo. I'm just not sure I'm ready for it at this point. The stuff I've done so far has involved one or maybe two nights of working on it after work, and I'm finished. I know building an amp from the ground up is going to take a little longer, and a lot more patience. I'm more of an immediate gratification guy. I would really have to temper my desire to rush through it so I can hear what it sounds like. I'd hate to start off building an amp at the right pace, then fuck it up toward the end because I was in a rush to get it done.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  6. #6
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    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
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    Cool thread!
    Hey! Any of you guys tried the Bogner Ecstasy Blue/Red pedals? I tried both last wekkend, and all I can say is WOW! I've never bee a big ditortion pedal advocate as they never seem to sound how I want 'em too, but these are described as a true "preamp" pedal. The EQ is very responsive, and they are loaded to the tits feature wise. Best part is the sound. The blue is much more like a vintage Marshall type tone, the Red, full high gain. The richness/response of both is incredible. They are pricey.....around 3 bills street, but they seem very worth it. I know not everyone is a Bogner fan here, but just thought I'd pass it along, as they are a very easily tailored pedal for a variety of styles. I would assume the Blue would be up the alley of most of the VH Linker Ed tone disciples. Very plexi-ish....and comes with a Variac setting to boot! Gives a little more squashed spongey response like a real variac does.
    JJ

  7. #7
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    I've tried the Bogner pedals, and they are very impressive. I think the goal of the pedal is to give you a very similar tone as a Bogner amp through your Fender clean style amp. They are feature rich, and well made. With that being said, they want an obscene amount of money for it.

    When I ordered my ITS-8 kit from General Guitar Gadgets, I have to admit my expectations were low. I looked at it as a fun project that, when done, would probably half-ass do what it claimed it would do. Man, I was really wrong. I was extremely impressed with the performance of the pedal. It did everything they promised, and then some. The theory behind the kit that I put together is that it is supposed to deliver the tone and performance of a Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive. I don't know if it does or not, since a LDO is over $400, and I've never seen one personally, or know anyone that has one. What I will tell you is that I can't find an overdrive pedal in any store that sounds better. The best part is, the pedal only cost me about $75.

    Honestly, I'm pretty excited to build the BSIB
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  8. #8
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    11.11.17 @ 08:39 AM
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    I just bought a Line 6 120 IV it arrives tomorrow on my birthday. Should I still have to buy the EVH pedals or what is a good setting on this for EVH sound

  9. #9
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Happy Birthday.

    Don't be too disappointed if the pedals you get don't sound "right" going into that amp. For whatever reason, pedals into solid state amps sound different than they do in tube amps.

    You should be able to manipulate the on-board effects of the Line 6 to get some very good results though.

    I'm a tube amp guy myself. I've been through Line 6, Fender, Peavey, and Vox solid state amps, and have found the following to be true:

    -I couldn't be happier with the sounds I could get in my house. Jamming along with the backing tracks, they sounded great. I was actually happiest with the Vox.

    -I couldn't get any of them to sound good when playing with the band. They didn't cut through the mix very well when playing with gain. They did however, sound very good clean.

    I've also had a couple of them shut down on me halfway through a gig when playing outdoors in the heat. Thermal circuit protection shut the amp down. Fortunately, I had my back-up Peavey Classic 30 on hand.

    I don't want to rain on your parade about the Line 6. If it's for your personal use at home, it will be great for you. Congratulations.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  10. #10
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    11.11.17 @ 08:39 AM
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    Just for home use and thanks bro

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    11.11.17 @ 08:39 AM
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    So I love the Line 6 120 IV. Got it really dialed in as far as the crunch, and phaser. But I need a Flanger. Is the EVH one worth it? Or is Boss or something else just as good? Thanks for your time

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    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Thanks man

 

 

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