Amplifiers & Cab Shoot Out
So uh yeah, here we are, set up to start getting guitar down, as you can see, with a small wall of Mesa goodness. And one thing that I want to point out is that sometimes as a producer, you work with bands that don't really know what they're doing and then you have to really be more dominant and imposing of your view of how the production should turn out for their own good. Not in a dictatorial way but more in that's just your job description. If they're not technically proficient with equipment or playing or whatever it could be, you need to step up and fill those gaps. However, sometimes you work with bands who have a lot of their own knowledge, a lot of their own skills, maybe as musicians, then your job is just to capture them. Sometimes they're really good engineers as well, and in that case, your job is more to manage the session, make sure that they're not screwing things up, of course, and to work with them more as a partner then as the boss. And so a band like Monuments, you h...
ave guys that are extremely skilled in music, writing, playing, all that, but also in recording, like I said before. And John is great is with guitar tones and knows a lot about amps and all that so there's no reason for me to take the lead and pretend like he's just some schmo. So with him here, we're gonna let him get the guitar toned up first the way he likes it and then I'll start refining it with him. So with that.
Okay, I guess, to go on about what I'm starting with here, I've got a two channel Jewel rectifier, and all going into the 4x12 cab, on top here I have a couple of pedals. Just a stereotypical Boss NS2. I've got my signature guitar pedal from Reaper Pedals, which is basically an OCD style overdrive pedal, and then I also have an EQ pedal, and I use this to kind of cut out the fart of the seventh string, which I find just tightens up everything with an amp. And for guitar wise at the moment, I'm using my Minos CatC Develle signature model. And let's see what it sounds like, shall we?
Yeah, let's do it. So what are we plugged into right now?
Plugged into a Jewel rectifier two channel we're on the red channel. The controls are practically all between five and six o'clock which is noon to one o'clock, which is roughly where I start. Because if everything is at noon, it's normally neutral for the amp, so I recommend starting there.
Yeah, I'm gonna echo that. I like to also when setting up an amp to try to find where the neutral setting is. Just so that you know you're starting at a good baseline to work from.
Okay, so. (guitar music) What do you think? It's not bad, is it?
It's not bad, but here's one thing. We already know from having tracked drums in this room, that there's a huge 300 buildup. The 300 buildup in this room is almost to the point of being offensive.
So I have to imagine what it would sound like without that, because I'm hearing that.
I'm hearing that as well.
Anyone who knows about EQing guitars, heavy guitars specifically, know that the 250 to maybe 400 range is a range that you really need to get under control. There's a lot of garbage in there, and the lower end of that can add a lot of flubb, honk and flubb and just stuff you don't really want in the guitar. So this room is bringing out stuff that we would normally be cutting, so we have to be listening to this with that in mind.
Which is kind of interesting.
Yeah, because that's the part we don't want to hear, but then if we cut it too much on here, when we put it through on mic, then it might sound too scooped, and there might not be any note clarity.
Yeah, and I would rather be able to scoop it after the fact than to not give enough of the low mids through the amp.
So that said, I feel, eh about this.
I feel eh about this.
Should we try it through a different cab?
Yeah let's do that.
And see what we do, so we have some more cabs here, we have a 2x12 Mesa cab as well.
Which one do you want me to plug up?
We'll do the 2x12 next.
And then we have the 1x12 Mesa cab and also 4x12 Friedman cab here as well to try everything through. Okay. Let's see what this one sounds like. (guitar music) Sounds cool, as the bottom end's a lot tighter.
Yeah, it's a lot more defined. I already like it better.
Exactly what you said, it's tighter bottom end, a lot more defined, I can hear your pick attack better. It's not just a wash. The other one sounded like a wash.
Exactly, yeah, which I think part and clarity of this room.
That's causing that to do that. But overall I'm not really liking how this one's feeling so far.
Just based on how it feels for me to play.
And as a listener, I'm not in love with it, I just know I like it better than the first thing.
Let's move on.
Should we try it in the 1x12 that I'm currently sat on?
Yeah, let's give it a try through this one.
And I'll just pause here and say that this process right here some of it is a luxury. Not all of you are gonna have multiple amps and heads to work with. Some of you work with only digital amps. And if you love guitars and guitar tone, you should all aspire to have as many heads and amps and cabs as possible. But, I've been involved in situations like on my own band's record once, where this literally took ten days, because we had sixteen guitars to try with ten different heads, five different cabs and about seven microphone options. We literally tried every single thing until we found the perfect tone. So yeah this can be very time consuming and if you're on a budget or working with clients that don't have time or whatever, sometimes maybe a digital amp is the solution. But if you can get to the point where this is doable and you have the time, you really should. So yeah, let's here the 1x12. (guitar music) I'm hearing you so loud.
So, do you mind. Maybe standing?
Standing behind the cabs?
Yeah, you pick so hard, that I'm hearing your pick attack over the cab, and I don't want to feel like there's false definition.
So if I go over here, then.
And pro tip here. Hold on before you play. Pro tip, when you guys are tracking base or tracking guitar in the control room, if you're with a player who plays really, really hard, you are gonna be hearing the pick attack in the room. Don't let that trick you into thinking that there's a lot more attack on the sound than there really is. So right here I got tricked I think. So let's hear what it actually sounds like. (guitar music) Yeah that's the most focused one so far.
It is, I still don't like how the amp is feeling at the moment though. It feels kind of spongey.
I feel like, I'm not saying that I want a massive amount more of low end, but I feel like not quite enough. If we could tweak that on the amp.
But I'm not in love with the amp either, but I do feel like that is the most focused cab so far.
So do I.
As you predicted.
As I predicted, yeah. And yeah, so should we try the Jewel rectifier 3 channel?
Let's do it.
Yep. And what cab do you want to start with, should we start with the 4x12 again?
Why don't we go in the same order?
Same order, okay.
Did we try the Friedman?
We didn't, actually.
Let's do that. Before we finish.
Yeah, okay let's try it.
Yeah, always let your tube amps warm up before you switch them off standby. And then always switch them on standby before you turn them off.
Do you want me to sit over here again so you don't hear my pick attack.
Well it wasn't an issue with these, it was just an issue with that one, so.
I'll tell you. (laughs) (guitar music) So I have an interesting take on this one. I like, I mean it would need to be more controlled, which you could do with multiband compression, but I like the size of the low end on the Friedman, though I don't like much else. I feel like the low end from the Friedman with the definition from that might be a nice thing to do. Like maybe even put like a rolled-off D6 or something, a microphone built for low end on this and just blend it very very quietly under a very focused mic on that. Just something to consider. But what did you think of it?
I thought it sounded okay. Again, the same problem I had with the first 4x was that there's a lot of 300 in this room. And that is all I'm hearing from the 4x12s at the moment. Whereas the 2x12 and the 1x12 was a lot more focused and you didn't really get as much of it in the picture.
What did you think of the low end though, on the Friedman?
The low end was tight.
I liked it better than the low end on any of the other ones so far.
Kind of had that monstrous quality I like. So. Let's try the uh.
Let's try the 3 channel Jewel, yeah.
I'll switch it out for you.
Let's put this down.
Cool, we're on standby here?
Okay, so we're going into the recto cab. We're at 8 on this one, I believe.
Alright. Good to go back here.
Okay, I'm gonna change it to the, first I'm gonna start with the orange channel. At modern put all the controls to noon. On here. As well.
Do you ever find yourself just going with the orange channel?
Sometimes, yeah. It's got a little more bottom end than the red channel.
Sometimes I feel like the red channel's too much.
Yeah. And also on the back I'm choosing the diode rectifier switch as opposed to the vacuum tube rectifier, with the bold mode on as opposed to spongey, so it's a little bit tighter. Okay, um. Okay. Let's see if there's any. Let's turn the master up. (guitar music) I already prefer the sound of this.
Oh yeah. (laughs) Night and day.
Yeah. (guitar music)
Play like a single note kind of riff.
Okay, I'm just gonna turn down the gain a little bit. Cause it's a little bit too high for me.
Okay. Now you guys should know that Brown is actually a pretty, as far as heavy music goes, a pretty low gain player. The heaviness comes from how hard he hits. (guitar music) I like this already. Like I like this better than anything I heard from that so far.
I feel like we could get more note maybe. Out of another one.
But I like the size of it and I like the feel of it, I like the low end. It's pretty good.
I think it's pretty good too. Let's try the red channel though, because the red channel has a little bit more attack to it.
So let me just get all the controls to noon on this one as well. (guitar music) Some single note riffs as well?
I like that a lot better.
A lot better, that sounds great, doesn't it. Should we try that channel through the 2x12?
We should just for the sake of being thorough, try it on all of them, my opinion, but I feel like we already know that this is an option, a good one, so far.
Exactly, yeah, I would agree to.
Okay. (guitar music) Eh.
I kind of like it.
I like it to a degree, but it's kind of papery, I feel like.
A little bit, it doesn't have the bottom end, but you have to think about when the bass is there as well, is that gonna take over.
It's a little bit more focused, isn't it.
It's a little more focused, but I feel like we can get a better focused sound elsewhere.
I just, there's something I don't like about it. Like it doesn't push right to me.
Okay. That's fair enough. Should we try the 1x12?
Absolutely. And the Friedman.
Yep, and the Friedman as well.
Just go for it. (guitar music) Honestly, I don't like it.
You didn't like it?
Well because look, I feel like it sounds a lot more low-endy. I don't know, I feel like between the four speaker one and the two, we have something better than that on this. But I like that the best with the original amp.
Do you like it?
I can't hear it from all the way back here, so I should probably, I'm gonna have a listen over here, and see what it sounds like, so.
It sounds little muddy. (guitar music)
Yeah, it's a little bit muddy, isn't it?
Not as much clarity.
Yeah, not much at all. I was expecting the opposite.
I was too.
That's why you never know, you just gotta try it.
Alright, I'm going into Friedman now.
Yeah, Friedman, I'll do that.
Okay, cool. Yeah, there you go. We tried the 1x12 with this rectifier and it had the most focused, tight sound. Interestingly enough, we tried it with this one and it sounded the muddiest out of all the amps, so again, no preconceived notions, you just try. And go with what works.
Okay so this is the 4x12 Friedman, right?
Okay. (guitar music) That sounds pretty good.
It's got that big low end like it did last time.
Not as much note clarity as the 4x12.
Nope. Let's listen to the 4x12 one more time.
Okay, let's do it, yep.
Let's make sure it wasn't just the fact that it was different tricking us. (guitar music)
Yeah, it sounds really good that cab, yeah.
It's like the most balanced one, in my opinion.
Exactly. Yeah, I agree.
Though we probably could get some nice low end out of the Friedman.
But I feel like I actually liked the low end on the Friedman better with this one.
And I like the overall tone, everything else through this one, this amp.
Yeah, if it was just one cab we were using, I'd choose that head with that cab.
Because it sounds fantastic, yeah.
If we had nothing else to use.
And weren't able to ever combine anything. This is the best.
And that's just with all the controls at noon as well. Obviously there's gonna be a little bit of tweaking here and there to get the desired sound. But overall the first impression was that that sounds great, isn't it.
Do we want to try the third amp, just to.
Yeah, let's try the Mark V as well.
And I'll just swap here.
This one's on standby now.
Okay, let's swap this over into AO, let's turn all the reverb off.
So I've never used one of these before. I'm not familiar with, I'll let you do the honors.
Okay let's start with channel two. And then turn all the controls to noon again, the master down, and with this amp we also have the option of an EQ as well, which we can use post settings here so that can also shape the sound a little bit more as well. So. (guitar chord) So we're on Mark I thick mode on channel two. EQ is off for the moment. And we're gonna turn it to 90 Watts. Okay. Let's give that a whirl.
Through the 4x12.
4x12, yeah. (guitar music) It sounds pretty good.
It's got a lot of note definition, I like that. It's not very aggressive.
So, like, I don't feel the attitude out of it.
Though, out of all the things that we've tried, as far as just good notes, especially on that single note riff
It's the best.
Should we try channel three, cause that can get a little bit more aggressive?
Yeah. Let's try it.
So where's that.
Are you switching the back?
Yeah, just gotta find the right, there you go. Let's turn the master down. So with this one we have a mode called extreme which I'm gonna turn on. (laughs) And then there's a bright mode as well and all the controls will be at noon as well. So let's try. (guitar chord) This will be on 90 Watt mode as well. (guitar chord) Let's try this. Okay. Okay. (guitar music)
Sounds like there's a high pass filter on it.
Yeah, I hear like no low end.
Are you hearing low end over there?
No, I'm not actually.
Which is kind of bizarre, isn't it.
There was a lot more low end on the other channel.
Yeah, there was, wasn't there. All the controls are at noon. That's very bizarre.
Yeah, that sounded really thin.
Yeah. Let's try it from here, one second. (guitar music)
Okay, do you want to stick with channel two and then try it through the other cabs?
Why don't we, let's do this, so that we don't waste our time. Let's put it through the Friedman, because that's the low end king out of all these. And if it still sounds really thin on the Friedman, then we can pretty much safely say this amp is not gonna get used.
Okay, yep, that's fine.
So I'll put it in the Friedman. (guitar music) It's got more low end but the wrong kind.
It has got the wrong kind, it's very very muddy.
Yeah, it's just boomy and.
Then again, that could be this room at 300.
Yeah, it could be, but I don't know. (laughs) I mean there's nothing pleasing about that.
No, there isn't.
Plus, again, if we're just going for some low end enhancement, we already got better results with something else.
Exactly, and so far the Jewel rectifier multi-Watt three channel sounds the most aggressive. With all the controls at noon.
So. That would probably be the one that I'd choose right now.
That's the one I would choose as well. If there's time I would be curious to try like I said, like maybe a kick-drum microphone on that one through the Friedman, rolled off, if we can get it in phase, just as an experiment, cause I've done that before and it sounded great.
But that's if we mic this guy up and feel like maybe there could be just a little more bottom or a little more roundness.
But, you know, this right here, this is a classic setup anyways.
This is actually what I used on the Devon Townsend tour of America, this exact configuration, an oversized 4x12 and a Mesa cab, so it appears that I chose wisely.
And this is the same exact setup that I used on my first few tours, and I think is the guitar tone on my band's first album and on many albums. It's interesting how in some ways you always end up going back to the classics when it comes to metal guitar tone.
And a lot of people like to try the new and expensive and hot modern amps, but somehow dual recs, 51-50 block letters,
Yeah, somehow, they're classics for a reason.
So even if you wanna have a big amp collection, you should always make sure to at least have those three, because 80% of the time you're gonna end up going back to those.
As you guys heard, they just sound right.
Yep. So I'm gonna go through each of the four speakers in this oversized 4x12 Mesa cab now. I'm gonna see which one sounds better to my ear when I get my ear close up. For this, the amplifier's gonna be really quiet, and I'm just gonna see which speaker has the best tonal quality at a low volume. Whether it's gonna be slightly louder or there's gonna be any variation between the four speakers, basically, and then Al will try to re-emphasize that basically.
Yeah, exactly. So once I'll play while he's listening. But once we do that and we take note of which speaker he thinks is best, we're then going to mic up each speaker with a in the exact same position and record them and see if the microphones agree with him. Most likely they will, but you always want to have some sort of a reference when you do stuff in audio, because you just never know, and especially, we're in this room that adds a lot of 300 garbage, we're not totally familiar with exactly what it's doing, so we want to just double-check what he's gonna hear. His ears are great, but we'll still double-check it regardless. Cool.
Yeah. (guitar music) Give me a second. It's only coming through two speakers. So.
Try where I had it.
Yeah. Okay. Let's try this now. (guitar music) Okay, good.
Top right is slightly louder to my ears.
And a little bet less harsh, it's got a little bit more roundness to it, so let's try and see if that is good.
The microphone test.
Yep, the microphone test.
Okay. And remember, don't do this part loud, it has to be exceptionally quiet, otherwise you're just gonna blow your ears.
Turn the amp back on and I just want to demonstrate that we can we can hold a conversation.
We can have a conversation over this amp volume, so yeah.
It's not too loud at all.
And it's only for a couple of seconds, so as long as it's only a few seconds and it's quiet, it's completely fine. So yeah.
Cool, let's move on.