On this episode we'll explain how to pick the right type of guitar amp for any production.
People often use whatever they currently have or pick the "wrong" one because they don’t fully understand the differences between all the available amps and categories of amps. And even if they do, they are often not really sure which of those differences actually matter.
We’ll break it all down into some basic, broad categories, explain the main tone and distortion characteristics of each of them and give you great starting points, as well as ways to figure out whether or not a certain amp is appropriate for what you’re trying to accomplish.
- High gain / crunch / clean
- Tube / solid state
- “British” / “American”
- Hi/lo wattage (“big” / ”small” amps)
- Preamp / power amp
- Different types of distortion pedals
- Tricks for getting the most out of an amp (i.e. using tube screamers for compression/mids/tighter low end, boosting with a pedal vs plugging directly into the amp, using attenuators, replacing/changing tubes, keeping cable chains short, ...)
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This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.
Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.
TSRB 103 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)
[00:00:00] Benedikt: Hello and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I'm your host. Benedick tine. And I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you?
[00:00:09] Malcom: Hello? I'm great. Benny, how are you, sir?
[00:00:11] Benedikt: I'm doing fantastic. I had a brilliant Sunday yesterday. There's no other way to, to call it that or that that's, that was just so amazing. We went cross country skiing, my wife and I, the kids and my wife just started doing that and they really enjoyed it. So yesterday we did our first yeah. We went out there for the first time together and it was really awesome. yeah. And other than that, we spent a plate at it's so many things. I played piano with my kids and I we, we built some bird feeding things to put on the trees in front of our house. And we, yeah. As I said, we went skiing and we chilled and like, we, we did a lot, but at the same time, it was very relaxed, so brilliant weekend, brilliant Sunday and, um, a good Monday as well. So far. So how about you, your week is just starting right?
[00:00:58] Malcom: Yeah, my week is just [00:01:00] started. We have, uh, we've been talking for like an hour already, so it's like seven 30 now in the morning. but, uh, yeah, it was a great weekend for me as well. Did a 10 K run that I was quite happy with. There was some excitement in the race won't even get into on here. I already told you about that. There's no listeners that it was intense. Um, and, uh, what else is new? Oh, so last week I think I told everybody about my new wireless gear that I got my new shiny shirt, Axiom wireless gear. So finally got it in my bag and been testing it out and very happy. But it's just funny dimension because I've been. You know, rigged up with this audio bag and you should head to my Instagram, Malcolm own flood is my Instagram handle and check this out. Cause I got photos of me wearing my bags. So you can kind of get an idea of what I look like wearing all this stuff. And I've been like wandering around the farm that I live on, like testing the range of stuff and like walking down to the road and wandering around. I just, I feel like I look like the Unabomber or something. Just cruising. I'm getting some weird looks from my neighbors and cars [00:02:00] going by
[00:02:03] Benedikt: That
[00:02:03] Malcom: sticking all over the place and just, just listening.
[00:02:07] Benedikt: Awesome. I thought this is going to be another new gear story, but you, in fact, you just tested the gear that you
[00:02:12] Malcom: Just asking. Yeah. I was waiting on some, some components to really be able to use the stuff and that's shown up. So it's all coming together now.
[00:02:21] Benedikt: awesome. Awesome. Oh, that sounds, that sounds really good. Really great. I, so you did get a nice feature or like a nice post about you from one of the comp uh, companies that you use. Right? Like
[00:02:32] Malcom: Yeah. Uh, a boom company called ambient likes some of the photos I take with their boom poles. So they, uh, they threw me up on their Instagram page and then they also sent me a, a t-shirt, which is, um, pretty funny. It's like the most dad joke, nerdy t-shirt ever it's like got to boom poles crossing each other in an accident. It says, boom squad. It's like, oh my God, this is Kiki.
[00:02:56] Benedikt: Yep. It is for sure. It's cool. It's cool though. [00:03:00] Awesome. Great. All right. Yeah. It sounds like a, sounds like a decent weekend though, as well, right?
[00:03:06] Malcom: Pretty solid. Pretty solid. Indeed.
[00:03:08] Benedikt: Yeah. Congrats on the run, dude. I followed that on at least your story and what I, what I saw there and you, you, you, it was a pretty fast time despite everything that happened in between
[00:03:18] Malcom: Yeah.
[00:03:19] Benedikt: that would have been telling me about
[00:03:21] Malcom: Alright. I feel like I should just quickly recap cause everybody's going to just going to be confused, but essentially there was a, there was volunteers controlling traffic and this guy tried to slow down a van that was driving way too fast. And you know, putting runners at risk. And, uh, he like smacked out of his land guy, got out of the van super angry and punched the sky in the face, which was totally not cool. And you should never punch anybody in the face and you certainly shouldn't when you're being an asshole speeding through
[00:03:48] Benedikt: yeah.
[00:03:48] Malcom: a race. Um, Yeah, so they, me and my, my friend, Sean had two. Like jump in and get involved and make sure it didn't escalate beyond that. [00:04:00] And it was a very intense thing, but, um, Benny was saying things like, oh yeah. you would have told the dun sub 50, because I did 53 minutes on my 10 K he's like, you would have been under 50 minutes if that didn't happen, but I'm not so sure because me and Sean were, so our adrenaline was pumping so much that we were like rocket ships after that happened. Not what you expect at a community event. My Lord, it was crazy.
[00:04:22] Benedikt: Yeah. Pretty crazy story. Amazing though. Yeah. I'm just glad you, as I said, I'm just glad you didn't actually get into a fight. It was all could all be solved and nobody was hurt. Seriously. I hope so. At
[00:04:33] Malcom: Yeah. yeah. They get the guy that got punched seemed all right. He bounced back pretty, pretty quick, but it must've been a terrible day for him. Poor guy, just that, you know, it's unfortunate. It's an unfortunate, unnecessary violence, but yeah. So
[00:04:47] if you're
[00:04:48] Benedikt: Not what you expect when you walk into you're at a
[00:04:50] Malcom: Yeah, totally. Yeah. If you want to be a good person, try not to punch volunteers in the face. It's a good motto to live by.
[00:04:57] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Awesome. Thank you [00:05:00] for sharing that. Uh, I feel better now. I think our audience deserves to hear that, so okay. Let's get to today's episode though. And, um, today's episode is about, it's actually a gear episode, but not really about that, you know, not really about having to buy something, but about how to choose the right stuff and, um, to be more precise, how to choose the right guitar, amps, and or tones for your project that you're working on. Topic was top of mind, because I was just recently talking to somebody who's told me that he was always like insecure and unsure which amp or which type of amp to choose for any project that he was working on. And he was, uh, he didn't pay too much attention to the past to that. He used presets and amp Sims, but he didn't really know which amp is appropriate for which Shaun row or which song that he was working on. And I actually had that quite often when I talked to people that they were confused about amp choices and the differences in tone and the differences in models and types of amps that there are actually. And [00:06:00] so I feel like this is something we should talk about at some point in this episode. And I feel like it doesn't have to be so confusing. So we're trying to make it a little more simple and easy to understand. So what we're going to do is we're going to talk about how to know which type of amp to choose for any production. We're going to talk about. Why that is actually, uh, important or let's say we talk about why people struggle to make that decision. It's, it's big due to various reasons. I think they just don't fully understand the differences between the available amps and they, they think it's more complicated than it has to be. And then we'll show you we'll break it down into some basic broad categories, explain the main tone and distortion characteristics of each of them and give you great starting points. As well as, as ways to figure out whether or not certain amp is appropriate for what you're trying to accomplish. So out of all of these options that you have, we're going to try to give you a couple of sort of buckets or categories of amps that you can just go to and pick and choose one of them. And it, it, [00:07:00] chances are that it's going to work. So obviously there's more nuance to that, but there is some like broad categories of amps that you can go to for search for yeah, for a certain situation or a genre that you want.
[00:07:12] Malcom: Yeah, Yeah. We, we talked about this a little bit before getting started the episode, just to kind of get organized and essentially what this is going to break down to is just being real logical and organized and, and kind of compartmentalizing different sounds in your head into different categories and giving names to things, and then using that information to make decisions down the road.
[00:07:34] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. So I'm curious to hear what you have to say about this, because I basically prepared the outlines today and it's just my way of thinking about it and it's not a right or wrong thing. And other engineers or producers might look at it completely differently. It's just the way I sort of broke it down for myself to, to get an understanding of the whole thing and to make it easier for me to pick and choose amps. And I sort of developed some terminology, a ways to, to think about or talk [00:08:00] about it. So, yeah. Other people might disagree or, or go differently about it. And I'm curious to hear how you approach this, especially since I know you are a Kemper user, so you have a lot of options at your fingertips in your camper. And we sort of, we all sort of have with amps, but the camper is a special case because you really have like all the apps in the world in one box, more or less. And, um, I'm curious to hear your decision-making process or how you come up with the right sort of Kappa profile or the right actual app, whatever you're using, um, for any given situation, because I feel like it's, it's a pretty intuitive thing for you to do, but it's not so simple for many people out there. And we try to, to explain our thought process behind that. I'm curious to hear what you think about.
[00:08:42] Malcom: Yeah, so I think we should rewind and, and address a common problem for all beginning engineers. And, and by saying engineers, I am lumping and people that are trying to become engineers, but also just in the case of our listeners, our audience, the bands that are trying to record themselves or engineering their own [00:09:00] records. Right. And I don't think anybody starts that road without just recording the amps that they have as a default. Um, and that makes total sense. You're not an idiot. It's it's number one. It's the amp. You have, it is the amp that you have. So if you don't have another amp, of course that's what you're using. But it certainly doesn't mean that it's the right amp. And early on in my career, I definitely did this. I would record the amp that we had available. And it was always the amp that the band brought with them. They kind of always, it was like, okay, that's your amp, that's what we'll record. That's a pretty short-sighted move. Um, cause there isn't an amp that's right. For every song, there's something that's right. For every part even and it usually, it doesn't happen to be the app that they just carried in because you know, people, people buy new apps all the time trying to find the right sound. So making the assumption that, oh, you've already got it. It's just kind of short-sighted I think so I did find that if we started shooting out amps, we would [00:10:00] dramatically improve the result. We'd find, you know, just like this works way better than the other amp that we tried at the start kind of thing. Like instead of using this fender with the distortion pedal, we use to high. Mesa boogie or something. And it's like, and that sounds more way more like we want it, you know, we wanted like a modern rock sound and the rectifier is the one. And so if we hadn't done that, it would have been totally different. And, uh, so that got me thinking, okay, God, shoot amps gotta have amps available. I sort of buy an amps that crazy for a little bit. I got like, I didn't have that many, but I had options, you know, and I would like to work in studios that had options and I'll get the band spring, whatever options they had as well. But the problem with that for me was that they're slow. It's like really time consuming to set up amps and shoot them out, especially if they're combos. And, or you don't have kind of like a tweaking setup where you can have the head in the room with you. I mean, there's, there's all sorts of, it just comes down to it. That takes a lot of time. There's the shootout apps. [00:11:00] So that was why I went with a camper because I can like shoot out 12 amps in 12 seconds.
[00:11:06] Benedikt: Yeah.
[00:11:06] And you could even, oh, if you're watching on YouTube right now, this is Elmo who just woke up.
[00:11:12] Malcom: on your shoulder.
[00:11:12] That was adorable.
[00:11:13] Benedikt: on my, yeah. Now I'm a little nervous because he's crawling around the computer.
[00:11:20] Malcom: Yeah, They have a way of clicking the stop record button
[00:11:22] quite accurately,
[00:11:24] Benedikt: exactly. So, um, yeah, I'm totally with you there. And even I think the camper works well, even if you don't actually use the camper tone. I mean, you can totally can and you do a lot and it's, it's great, but just to figure out which emphasize the right one, it's so quick to do that on the camper. Even if you then go and actually get the real one, but you can speed up the decision making process so much by just going through the different models on a camper, and then you can always go out and rent the real one or whatever. And, um, and I wanted to say that the whole renting thing, people often think that their amp of, uh, that they want to have, like the ideal amp is out of reach or they just have to use whatever they have. [00:12:00] And many people don't realize how accessible that actually can be. Like there are spec land rentals. There is you can have an amp for a week or so, and it won't cost you a fortune. Like you can rent those things. So. You can obviously rent them all and shoot them out. But if you have a way of testing with Sims or a camper or whatever, or just knowing what we do in this, like learning what we teach you in this episode, like knowing the basic broad categories, then you can just pick and choose one or two or three and shoot them out and use them on your production. So it's not, it's not, it's, it's really accessible. It's doable. You don't have to use what you have, although that is what we all do in the beginning, but it might be worth going, looking beyond that. Before we go further into this, I want to say. I know that there are other factors, then the amp that go into a guitar tone. So before people say like, yeah, but there's the cab and the mix and all of that in this episode, we intentionally only talk about the different types of amps and focus on that. And yeah, we agree that the cab cab is very important, but that would [00:13:00] just be too much for one episode. And, um, w you, should, you still have, even if you have a great cabin, you've made the decision there, you still have to have the right category or type of amp for the genre. Um, so that being said, it's all about the amps. So yeah, with the camper is just super quick to compare these models and I assume you have some, or maybe you don't, but I, when I had a camper, I had sort of a, a way of sorting my, um, my, my, my profile. So I had folders or a structured way of a fi going, like finding my go-tos and, um, everybody does that differently. I think I always, the first thing I think about when I think of different amp models is. The amount of distortion. So I think about high gain amps versus cleanups versus like crunch sort of in the middle amps, um, or settings on a camper because some AMS can do all of that. And then you have different channels or settings, but like, these are the broad categories that I go to first. And there are some apps that do the high gain thing really well, and that there are other apps to do the, do the [00:14:00] clean thing super well. And then there are typical rock or blues amps or something like that that can give you a great crunch tone, but they never go to full, um, high gain distortion really well.
[00:14:10] Malcom: Yeah, exactly.
[00:14:11] Benedikt: what, how you think about it?
[00:14:12] Malcom: That is exactly how I think of it? I think of it in brands, like, cause I've just associated sounds with certain Browns brands. Um, so like, you know, the Vox sound is a different type of sound than the fender sound and, and vice versa fender is different than box and, and the marshal is its own thing as well. And then, uh, you know, PV, they've got their 51 50 kind of sound unlock. Um, I mean, there's, there's now some great alternative 51 fifties that do similar things, but like that's kind of a category. Even if I was trying to find an Eva, which is like a 51 50 remake kind of thing, I would just in my head, I'm thinking PV. Um, so I've got to categorize by kind of brand, even though all of these brands have a spectrum of sounds, you know, like Marshall's tries to make clean amps and fender tries to make dirty amps, [00:15:00] but like, what do do, what do they do best? What are they famous for? And I can identify those sounds and where I've heard them and when I've used them, when they've worked and, and think, okay, that's probably a good starting off point. If we go with this Marshall, because this is like, we want classic rock guitar, tones, marshals are the king of that
[00:15:19] Benedikt: Yep. Agreed. So let's give examples for these categories. I'd say some of them, uh, some like actually the ones that you mentioned are perfect examples for these categories actually. So the clean on the clean side, I would think I would immediately think, um, fender, tube amp, or the Roland clean, um, jazz chorus amps when I think crunch or like the story, but not really high gain and sort of a mid-fall word sort of, sort of sound, I think Vox.
[00:15:48] Malcom: Vox
[00:15:49] Benedikt: I'm not the biggest, low end, not the, not the, the, the shiniest top end, but like an aggressive mid range sort of crunch sort of tone. Yep. Pretty punchy. [00:16:00] And when I think high gain, um, I think what you said, like 51 50 PV or. Um, or the German names like diesel or, uh, angle, things like that. Sodano obviously like sort of these high gain amps and, and those amps, like the bigger sort of high gain amps. They, they have clean channels and they have crunched channels often. Like they are sometimes 2, 3, 4 channel amps and some of them, and we get to that later, why that is, but it's just what I mentioned. Some of them have pretty great clean tones. So it's a weird thing that I, for the crunch stuff, I have a couple of apps that I would go to. And for the high gain things like amps, some of those I would also use for shiny cleans, but not so much for
[00:16:45] everything in between. It's weird. Like I feel these apps can do the extremes really well. So, we're going to talk about why that is and w why I think that is. And usually the crunch sorta amps are like one-trick ponies more or less, I think about like a [00:17:00] plexi or a, uh, an AC 30 or you know, like these AMSTI. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you can, you can get some decent overdrive and distortion out of them and some of them take pedals really well. So some of the marshals, especially that's a different thing, but I, I think they are less versatile versus the big high gain amps can do high-gain well, and often also really shiny clean cleans.
[00:17:22] Malcom: Totally. Yep. yeah. Like a dual rectifier clean channel is pretty cool in my opinion. Um, but it's, you know, it's not what you think of when you think of a message dual rectifier, you think of big, you know, early two thousands rock guitar.
[00:17:34] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That brings us to the next like the next one is going to be really quick. And then the next, the third thing on my list, that that is where I go into explaining why the clean and the, and the high gain goes so well together for me at least. So the next point here is to versus solid state. There's not so much to say about this. I think it's just important to know that there's these, these two concepts, there's there's tube amps, and there's solid state amps. At some point [00:18:00] manufacturers thought we don't need tube circuits anymore and solid state what's the new thing. And it was. It didn't need as much maintenance. It was cheaper. Um, so they, they built these sort of amps, but tubes never really went anywhere and everybody got back to two amps. Eventually there are some exceptions, there are the Randall amps, for example, these are high gain amps that are solid state. Pataro used them for example. So they have a tone, they have a sound. So there are a solid state amps that are actually great. There are hybrid designs, like the Wolf state Marshall series, that actually is pretty decent. So they have a transistor power amp, but a two preamp, um, those designs can work well, but they are the exception. So most people that actually use physical hardware amps, um, use tube lamps, I think. So the Mo uh, th these are the common go-to options.
[00:18:50] Malcom: Now I will do want to mention that if you are using digital solutions, like, uh, a Kemper pod called cortex or amp [00:19:00] Sims and your computer. I still think of these, the exact same way when I'm looking for an app inside. One of the things I think too, for solid state, because they have these digital solutions now sound so good and real that it's kind of the same. You just like, if you choose us all state modeled app, it's going to sound like that. And if you choose a tube modeled one, that's gonna sound like a two bam. So it's the exact same. You just think of it as if you have real amps in front of you.
[00:19:22] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. The one thing I think that's solid state really does well. And that's the reason why it's used for bass amp. So often for modern basins is it gives you a lot of headroom and it gives you really clean cleans with a lot of headroom if you want that. So in order to make a bass amp really loud in order to be able to turn it up really loud without distorting it, you need a very powerful, very clean amp with lots of headroom, because the low end has so much energy and we need a big, uh, a big amp again with clean headroom and solid states. Amps can do that very well. Tube amps tend to distort earlier. So an AMPAC bass amp is an epic tube. Bass amp is going to [00:20:00] be really loud, but it's also going to be dirty or dirtier than. Date sort of base em, so that's the one thing, at least in my, the way I think about it is that that's all it states, amps have a lot of headroom can be clean and they can have a very precise distortion characteristic as well. So it's not, it's not worse or better or anything. It's just different. So yeah, but w I, I think we can agree that most people like, or we, uh, we, uh, we have gotten so used to the way the tube amps sound and the way they saturate in the store that most people like. Tube amps and the way they sound and S and if we want to use solid state, it should be an intentional thing probably. And there's only a couple of amps that we would call go tos, maybe so. Okay. So, but the next thing, you know, is the really important thing for me. And a lot of people might view that completely differently, but I think in those two categories as well, like after I've decided if I want high gain or medium crunch sort of gain or clean, I think British versus quote unquote American. So in my head, the British [00:21:00] designs are the mid forward dirtier designs like Marshall, orange, the VOCs, but walks is, has, is it's almost its own category of amps. I think the AC 30 just has a sound.
[00:21:11] Malcom: Yep.
[00:21:12] Benedikt: You know, like at least to, to me. But I think the British classic a little more mid forward, a little dirtier sort of amp design versus the more high sounding, massive, huge, and modern sounding high gain American sort of modern design. That's the way I think about it. So this would be Mysa Sodano those sorts of amps. And, um, maybe, so I said before that the high gain amps and I mean the more modern American designs as I call them, I think they. They work well as clean up sometimes. And that's because they have a lot of headroom. They have, they usually pretty powerful amps. They are often like a hundred Watts, 120 Watts, something like that. And they are designed to be pretty precise and they have a massive, low end. They have pristine like top [00:22:00] end. It's a more Hi-Fi sounding thing versus the more British amps they, they often can't even do real cleans because even the cleans will be slightly distorted. So I had an orange at some point. And if you ever played a plexi or an 800 or something like that, can't get clean tones out of them, but they are never really clean. You know? So the it's always a little dirty, a little more mid forward and not so shiny and big as the, the other sort of side of amps. So that's the way I think about it. And I think part of it has to do with the power and part of it has to do with the. Tube choice and just the overall circuit design that's designed to be massive with a big, low end and a shiny top end versus the mid-fall word, crunchy, dirty sort of thing. At least that's how I think about it, how I perceive it.
[00:22:46] always a subjective thing.
[00:22:47] Malcom: like this all translates to how I perceive it as well.
[00:22:51] Benedikt: Cool. Awesome. Cool. Yeah. So, um, I think it's helpful to think about it in those broad categories, because [00:23:00] it doesn't matter as much as most people think if you use, let's say a Marshall or an Orange, of course they are different amps. They're going to sound different, but if you choose an amp that uses the same tubes and a similar circuit design, and if you swap out the amp on the same cab, it could have less of, it could make less of a difference versus like using those amps and swapping out the cab. So the cab could have a bigger influence on your tone, then the amp, if you use two amps out of the same category, so it's going to be different, if you use a plexi versus, or like an 800 Marshall versus a rectifier, maybe that is going to be a bigger difference. But if you choose two amps of the same category, the difference won't be as drastic, or if you've ever compared a rectifier versus a Soldano versus a Diezel versus an Engl versus, you know, all of these high gain amps, they can all do the job pretty well. It's a matter of taste and it's like subtle differences, but I think all of them would work well on a modern metal record. And the cab will make a bigger difference
[00:23:58] Malcom: Yeah,
[00:23:59] Benedikt: switching between those [00:24:00] amps.
[00:24:00] Malcom: totally. Yeah. We said we wouldn't get into cabs and stuff, but just to remind everyone the guitar and the cabs make a bigger difference than the amp, in our opinion, at least I think your opinion as well about here.
[00:24:13] Benedikt: Okay, cool.
[00:24:15] Malcom: Right? Like, do you agree with that? Like it's like, like the amp has kind of, I mean, the type of amp makes a huge difference. Like that's what we're saying. There's like this ballpark thing you have to get. Right. But after that, it's kind of less of a thing.
[00:24:27] Benedikt: Yeah. And do you agree with the categories that I, um, explained? So is there, or is there an additional category that you have in mind? And for me it's really very simple. It's like these two categories and the different amounts of gains sort of, that's basically all there is to it, but maybe you have a different sort of a category that I haven't thought about. As I said, I think, I think the Vox thing is almost a thing on its own. but maybe you
[00:24:51] Malcom: yeah, I like, so I think our list is really ordered while here it was like high gain crunch or clean and say crunches, the goal. I'm like, okay, that narrows it down to [00:25:00] me for, and it's like edge of breakup crunch, maybe let's stick with, so like not, not classic rock crunch, but like the softer side, but definitely it's not clean. Um, and so like, I'm like, okay, Vox is definitely a contender in there. And when I say Vox, all of a sudden I'm like anything that mimics at AC 30. So like Morgan AC twenties are some of my favorite apps on the planet. They're so good sounding. Um, and they do that job really well. Um, but then I would also be like, okay, what about some of the smaller. Um, wattage fenders that do break up as you push them like a champ or something, you know
[00:25:30] they, they get, they get nasty and, and do that job as well, but totally different. But in, it's still, uh, like edge of breakup crunch option for me, and then a quieter plexi, like you said, it doesn't really do clean. It's still dirty, but it's cleaner. So it's like, that's another flavor of, that same job for me. Um, so it's like crunch decides what brands and models I picture working, and then I can quickly look at those different options to see which one is actually gonna work.
[00:25:58] Benedikt: Totally totally.[00:26:00] Versatility is maybe a thing we could mention. So if you only come, if you can only have one amp and you need different styles, different tones, then maybe a classic 801, um, like Janel version is not the right choice. Maybe you need, uh, an app with more flexibility. Maybe you need some. There's actually a pretty cool modern martial amp that I don't see a lot of people talk about, but I, I really love it. Most modern martial designs are not so popular and most people go for the classic JCM 800 or the plaque CS, but there is the Civi M amp. There's a 50 watt version and a hundred what version? And it has. Marshall says it has all the originals, legendary Marshall circuits, the analog circuits in one amps, it's almost a modeling amp, but completely analog. It's heavier. It's like crazy heavy and has all these it's like, I think it has four channels and each of those channels has three different voicings or so, so like it's a lot of circuits in one amp. But they all sound really [00:27:00] great. And you can, at least in theory, that's what Marshall wanted to do with this. You can have an 800, you can have a plexi, you can have a moderate 800, you can have all these options of 2001 amp. And it actually is a really great sounding amp and that is super flexible, super versatile. So that might be, we're thinking of. then also as a, as we sat at the high gain, modern amps oftentimes also have different channels. So versatility is a thing. But yeah, so I think we are on the same page then to me, the next thing that I want, I like to think about is if I need a lot of volume or not, and how the amp will behave, if I turn it up. So what I'm saying here is there's high and low power or voltage amps sort of there's this, these 100 Watts or 120 Watts amps, but you can also buy a 15 watt amp or even below that. And then I had an orange at some point that had the cool option of you could turn off some of the power amp tubes, and then you could [00:28:00] sort of bring it down from 30 to 15 and even to seven and a half, which could give you different characteristics and you could drive it harder. So all that to say, I don't really care about that too much. That's why it's not top priority on my list here. It's just the next thing I think about, do I really need a lot of volume and if so, why? Exactly. Most of the time, I don't need that in the studio. But it's worth thinking about, if you let's say you do, I don't know a live recording and the, the amp has to be for whatever reason, the band that the amp has to be loud in the room and like you know, like these sort of things. So maybe if the amp is too small, but you still want clean or crunch tones and not the store too much, maybe you need a little bit more power in order to pull that off because it will distort otherwise, those are the kinds of things I'm thinking about.
[00:28:45] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I would say that's a good way to think about water. Just like the higher wattage, the longer it might stay clean. That said, there's told the high wattage amps that are like really just built to be dirty, but in general, that's kind of a good rule of thumb. I personally love [00:29:00] sitting around the 50 watt range. I find that it's like, uh, a good spot that gives me, like I can get really dirty and it's more than not enough usually where with a hundred Watts, sometimes you have to push it so hard to. Loud and the store to get the store, but it's like, it's like, why does it have to be so loud?
[00:29:17] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Which, which I think we should go to the next point here to explain that further, because the concept of an amp usually is that there is a preamp where this is the input where you plug your guitar in, then there's the gain knob and there's NICU or something like that, the tone section. And then all of that goes into the power amp and the power amp is just what you need in order to turn that up and bring it up to a speaker. So the signal that that can drive a speaker because the line, the power amp, uh, the pre I'm sorry, the preamp will give you a line output signal that is pretty weak, that can't drive a speaker. So you need a power amp in order to bring that up. And, uh, so you have a signal that is, that is capable of driving a speaker. [00:30:00] That means that most of the tone comes from the preamp and the power amp is just there in order to make it loud.
[00:30:08] And yeah, power apps have a sound, especially tube amps, of course, but that was just a, by-product a side effect of it. Actually, it was just meant to be able to turn up the tone that you created in the preempt. And back in the day, those power M's had to pre pretty powerful because PA systems weren't that great. And you had to have a really loud amp on stage in order for that to work. So these days it's not as important anymore to have that sort of volume.
[00:30:36] Also some of the early and legendary amp designs have been designed to be bass amps as well. So you need the power in order to have enough headroom, again, to be able to reproduce loud, clean tones for a guitar, but especially for a bass. So, uh, like a fender bass man or something, this is a bass amp and a guitar amp, same for the Ampex V4 and other designs. So there you [00:31:00] can, you need those powerful power amps in order to be able to play clean tones loud, that all being said, it's just the sound of the power amp is not as important as just a side effect of turning it up with a tube circuit. You could also have, if you have something like a camper with a power and built into it, it's a solid state amp. That's really powerful. And that is just clean volume. It sounds the same whether to turn it up or not, and only tube circuits give you that extra bit of like, it's not even better. It's just a different sound if you really crank them, but it's not nearly as important at people as people think it is. So. A lot of people think the bigger amp for some reason sounds more powerful or that a smaller amp is better because you can crank it more and then it sounds better. The reality is it's mostly about the volume and the headroom and the power amp sound itself is not nearly as important as people think it is. Most of the tone comes from the preamp. It's really like that. There's no magic with the power amp. And even I've seen people and it's the last thing I want to [00:32:00] say. I've even seen people a lot of times really overdoing it with the power amps. So there is this, there is a sweet spot where it sounds great. And then there's this yeah it sort of breaks up a little bit. It can be pleasing sounding, but if you go too far, it will actually sound worse oftentimes and you lose dynamics and it can break up too much. And so it's not about cranking it all the way. You have to find the sweet spot and it's not so easy to do, especially because the amp will be so loud that you'll have a hard time judging that standing in front of it. So a lot of times when people think they found the sweet spot or the amp sounds better, it's just that it's crazy loud in the room. And they just liked the feeling of a loud amp in front of them. But if you compare it at the same volume, it wouldn't be as big of a difference.
[00:32:43] Malcom: Yeah. Dolby. And there there's a lot of things to consider there, even though you're close miking, a cab, cranking it in the room is going to create extra stuff, bouncing around. It will affect what is captured in that microphone. Um, sometimes that's nice. Sometimes it's not. I find that more so than the pre-amp actually making a difference. It's that you're [00:33:00] hitting the speaker harder and the speakers starting to react different. And there's a sweet spot for that, for sure. But like again, with 50 Watts, I can obliterate that speaker and go way too far. Um, like with, with like an external cab. So it's like, you don't need a lot to hit a speaker heart, a 20 watt amps going to be plenty loud. If you want to drive a speaker,
[00:33:18] Benedikt: Yeah. Oh yeah, totally. Right. Sometimes people think they hear the power amp, but they actually hear the speakers saturating because there's limited movement that the speaker is moving, but there is, there's a limit to that. And if the speaker reaches that, that limit it, won't, it, it will move differently. Will saturate. There will be, if you think of a speaker as a, as a, like a full picture of sine wave movement, but the speaker goes in and out in the smooth. As soon as you hit that limit, there are going to be wrinkles on that sign wave because the speaker is compressing and moving faster and it's going to add additional harmonics. So people will hear the speaker saturation and compression and think it's the power amp, but oftentimes the speaker reaches its limit before the actual power amps. So yeah, you're right. That with a 50 watt or even [00:34:00] lower you have more flexibility maybe because you can reach the power M situation, but you can also drive the speaker hard and you, you know, it's yeah, it's a good, it's a good compromise, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Honestly. It's much more important to pick the right amp design, um, the right amount of gain distortion that you want and the right sort of tone, like, as I said, like massive, low end, or do you need a more mid forward thing? You know, these sort of things are way more important than worrying about the power amp. That's just what I wanted to say.
[00:34:32] Malcom: Awesome.
[00:34:34] Benedikt: Cool. Now the next thing is interesting because we all, we all, we, we talk about amps all the time, but we all know that a lot of the amp tones or guitar tones that we love are not just the amp, but the pedal and the amp in combination, like you can plug directly into the amp and that will give you those characteristics that we've been talking about. But there are some amps, at least that's again, the way I think about it, that take pedals very well. [00:35:00] And there are others that don't do that as well, to me, at least. And then. You can sometimes turn a medium gain app into a high gain monster with the right sort of pedal and with other amps that doesn't work really well. You can do, you can take a really cool clean amp, put a distortion pedal in front of it, and he can sound massive. You can choose the clean channel on a high gain. And like there's all these different combinations and options. And I wonder how you think about that because again, I'll, I like to, to not overcomplicate this, I'd like to keep it simple. I rely on the amp characteristic first and I only add pedals if I can't get what I want out of the amp. And I usually, uh, typically don't do the clean channel, but distortion pedal thing, I typically choose the, the appropriate distortion. Uh, channel and the right amp. And if I feel like it's not enough, or it needs some extra character, I might boost it or put something in front of it. If the EMP takes it well, but I usually don't use a clean amp and then get the distortion [00:36:00] from only from the pedal. But I know people who do that and it works well for them. It's
[00:36:04] just, I just,
[00:36:04] Malcom: Totally.
[00:36:05] Benedikt: wonder how you go about
[00:36:06] Malcom: Yeah. I do have thoughts on this. I'm the same way I find that. amps generally do the job best for, for determining the primary tone. Um, so like that's where 90% of it is coming from is the amp choice and the gain structure of that amp. Um, and when you think about pedals, I like especially game pedals, um, be that a distortion or an overdrive or whatever. I think of it as. I'm trying to make an amp in a box, really. They're like, okay, we need to make a distort like a, a JCM 800 in this or whatever it'd be. And Yeah. they, some of them do a really good job, but like, they're thinking about the footprint, you know, there's a lot more room to make that work inside of an app generally. Not to say that pedals can't do it for sure. Now the only time that seems to change for me is with like fuzz tones.
[00:36:57] Um, so with fuzz tones, it seems like it's [00:37:00] all about putting it into like the most clean and full sounding amp possible because if you're putting it into like a high gain or, uh, like even like plexi kind of distorted app, it's like the, the tone has already been squeezed and turned into like this little narrow thing. Um, and the fuzz doesn't have as much to play with or something it's. So for whatever reason, I'm finding that, uh, I like clean apps for fuzz pedals, but otherwise it's usually the amp distortion.
[00:37:26] Benedikt: Yeah. There are these special cases where the pedal is the tone where like, I agree the firs, although I sometimes like the classic big Malphurs or something can work in front of a distorted amp and you people do that live all the time where they switch that in and out, so it can work. But in the studio, if I have the option that we'll try it on a more massive sounding, cleaner, more headroom tablet, amp, and then crank the pedal more. So I agree there. There are also special cases. Like if you want the typical Swedish death metal tone, there's the agent too. And stuff like that. The only the pedal sounds like that. It's not really good sounding, but the ugliness is what you want there. You want the [00:38:00] chainsaw sort of sound. And that comes from that solid state pedal that just has that sound. So yeah, there is applications for in special cases for those types of things and then some amps just take them really well and other stones. So I always think about, again, the JCM 800, for example, is an amp that takes pedals very well for me. So I can turn it up to the amount of distortion that I want. And then I can throw a tube screamer in front of it, or as a more aggressive distortion pedal. Um, it will just work really well. there are other amps that don't do that as well, or like, yeah. And then, yeah, I think, I don't know that that's, that's subjective probably, but I always think about. Um, an 800 as an amp. That takes pedals. Well, for me, that's just almost my go-to for things like that. Plexes can be cool sometimes, but they break up a little in a more dirty, ugly ways. Sometimes the, the 800 tends to sound smooth, even if you put a really aggressive distortion pedal into it, though.
[00:38:56] Malcom: Yeah, yeah, I agree. And it's funny that because like the only use of pedals [00:39:00] we're really talking about enjoying is stuff that just causes the app to get hit harder, you know, like a tube screamer or a boost pedal, all we're doing is just taking our guitar chain and thrown it into that amp a little harder with a, maybe a slightly differently cute curve, you know? Um, and, and we're still relying on the amp to the store, but because we're feeding it more, it's distorting more. Um, so we're just getting more of that and really is what we're doing. And I, I'm a huge fan of short cable runs for recording guitars, but I find the less cable you have in front of the amp, the better. And I know there's people that with like a fender Strat in the trouble position and a fender amp, like clean app that are like, oh, no, like I want to lose some of that high end with a long cable. Um, and, and that's fair, but in most cases I would say, try and try and have a short cable and accept that super bright new string thing and give, give your mixing engineer that room to play.
[00:39:51] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it does make a difference. The longer cable makes things starker. In fact, there's even this, I don't know if you know that about the classic [00:40:00] ACDC tone, where they used back in the day, they used the first sort of wireless systems that were available. And those didn't like, it's like no cable is between the guitar and the amp and they didn't compensate for that. So it gave them a really bright, aggressive, transient, heavy tone that what they used on stage and what they liked in the studio when they tried to plug into the Amsterdam, the sound was different. So they use those crappy wireless things in the studio as well to get that same tone. Um, and yeah, and, and, and on later models and on modern, like wireless devices, there's oftentimes a switch where you can adjust the high frequency etching, attenuation to sort of mimic what a cable does. Um, so longer cable runs make a difference for.
[00:40:40] Malcom: Yeah. And, and keep in mind, that's not just cables, like anything you stick in the way, like when you stick a pedal in the way it's got to go through all this extra circuitry to get out of there. And there's, there's going to be some kind of loss, um, and alteration to the, to what's coming out of your guitar at all those steps. So, um, just only whatever, whatever is essential to [00:41:00] the chain should be there. Otherwise be as close to that, as you can.
[00:41:03] Benedikt: Yep. And I think, I think that's too much for this episode, but I want to tell people that why it's crucial, if you use a pedal board to do your homework, do some research there because. It's more complex than you might realize. It's not only that you should keep only the essentials in there, but also the order of things matters. It matters if you use a buffered or unbuffered pedal and stuff like that. And if the tuner is first to last in the chain, depending on the model and all those things, so just it's worth doing your research there and setting up your pedalboard properly and maybe experimenting also with the order of things, because it makes a difference. And, and I know for a fact that a lot of people just put the stuff on the paddleboard connected and, and that that's all they think about. But there's more to it. So yeah, I think that that's worth knowing then I think. I know that people are going to be like, yeah, but Pells are so much more than, than so versatile. And a lot of tone comes from the pedals and yeah, if you've ever seen people like Kirpalu, uh, create their [00:42:00] guitar tones, they use all sorts of pedals. And it's much more than just the amp. So I know as, for, as we said, for special occasions, special effects or certain types of gnarly distortion, you can't do that with an amp and you need those pedals and there are tons of them and we all love them. And it's cool, but still everybody, I think goes for a certain amp design first and then with the pedal in mind, maybe that they want to use, but this episode is more, it is about the amp more than the pallets, because there's just so much talk about when it comes to pedals. And we realized that they make a difference in that there are hundreds, thousands, I don't know of different models. But still understanding the basic amp concepts is crucial for all of that. I think. So let's talk about some tricks for getting the most out of your amp. Like some actionables we've discussed the different designs we've discussed, which ones we like to use for certain things. Maybe we should recap real quick. So just a couple of examples, modern metal or [00:43:00] metal chorus, things like that. It's going to be PV messa. Sodano this category classic rock or punk rock tones, or like, I mean, if you think rock more or less, and also, and also like more gnarly tones with pedals in front of them would be the marshal orange category to
[00:43:19] Um, and then clean stuff, depending on how clean you want. It could be, um, fender, twin, Roland, jazz, chorus, uh, maybe a clean channel of a big high gain amp. If you want shiny modern sort of clean. You know, and then there's the AC 30, um, that is really punchy, has a little bit of a smaller, low end to me, but it's like really aggressive, bright sounding if you want it to be. So, and also indie rock distortion is great on an AC 30, I feel like.
[00:43:47] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. It is a very cool chimey grip, but still clean somehow
[00:43:53] Benedikt: Yeah. So, yeah. And what, like blues, what would you use for a blues or more?
[00:43:58] Malcom: blues.
[00:43:59] Benedikt: [00:44:00] sounding thing,
[00:44:01] Malcom: yeah, like for blues, I'm like a fender guy cranked up a little bit, but for but if it's like rock as the primary and maybe rock like blues rock, but like, you know, blues rock means rock to me. Um, that's when I switched into Marshall mode.
[00:44:16] Benedikt: Lexi, something
[00:44:17] like that?
[00:44:18] Malcom: I'm, I'm a huge 800 guy.
[00:44:20] I love eight hundreds.
[00:44:21] Benedikt: Me too. And there's also different models of that by the way. And they try, and it is not an 800. There is like the different, you know,
[00:44:27] 20, 20, 22 0 4, 22 0 3. There's the ma the, the biggest difference is probably between the master volume version and the one channel, um, the, and the one without a master volume. And then there's, multi-channel versions of that. And like, you know, there's different designs basically. So there's a version of the 800 where the gain knob is also the volume knob, and then there's a version of it. You have a master volume that you can turn down and then there's a two channel option, I think. So please, don't quote me on that. I'm not entirely sure about all the different models, there's different eight hundreds for sure.
[00:44:59] But I like
[00:44:59] [00:45:00] the
[00:45:00] Malcom: I'll have a sound. And actually, you know, we said that like choosing the right. It gets you in the right ballpark. And it's not that important after that part point, but, um, if you want to be, if it's like the more homework you do the better, you know, so if you look it up and like you're checking out a band that has a tone, that's similar to what you're hoping to get. And you're like, oh, they used 800 try and find out what one, you know, um, because like rage against the machine as a 2, 2 0 5. And that sounds very different than I can't think of it out of the 800 record. That would have been like a two to a four right now, but probably all the other ones,
[00:45:32] Benedikt: Yeah,
[00:45:33] Malcom: you know, um, it like, it's just, it is quite different.
[00:45:36] Um, and you know, both are going to get that job done. They're both Marshall distorted amps, but, um, if the more, you know, the closer you're going to get to what's in your head,
[00:45:45] Benedikt: yeah, exactly. So, okay. Yeah. Then, um, I think that sums it up really, really well. It's just important to not use the. Let's say to give an opposite, like a bad example, if you have, if you have a [00:46:00] first practice amp, for example, was, I don't know, some small combo amp or maybe a fender or something like that, but then you decide to show in a metal band and now you're cranking the fender to get the distortion. This will never really sound like your favorite metal bands. So maybe you need a different amp now. And, um, I see so many people do exactly that they, they start with a Strat and maybe a fender amp, and then they joined this metal band and they just keep what they have when they should actually use, I don't know, an ESP and PV or something, you know, and, and vice versa. So, um, I mean the other way around is probably more doable. So because those bigger AMS are usually more flexible, but still maybe a great fender amp or an AC 30 will still be better for your credential clean tones than the high-gain monster you have right now. So that's basically what we're trying to say. And now for the tricks for getting the most out of them, There's things that are very common that we do in the studio to manipulate what an amp is doing on its own [00:47:00] to make it even more suitable for the genre or to compensate for their weaknesses. Maybe one popular example would be, uh, and so many heavy bands do that myself and I do that all the time. Myself included is for example, using a tube screamer and front of an, a high gain app. And we don't do that for the distortion because the gain will give us much more distortion than the tube screamer. The tube screamer actually sounds more like a blues sort of distortion. And it's kind of not a really beautiful distortion to me, but what it does is if you turn the gain all the way to the left, like the, the, the distortion, I dunno what it's actually calling the chip screen. This is called gain. I think so.
[00:47:36] Malcom: whatever the 31 is.
[00:47:38] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. The one on the left. If you turn that all the way to the left or just to obtain the amount of it, maybe then you won't hear much additional distortion from the pedal, but the right dial, the one on the right side that says, I think, what does it say on the tube
[00:47:53] screamer? it's
[00:47:53] intuitive at this point.
[00:47:55] Malcom: output. Isn't it.
[00:47:57] Benedikt: It could be output could be level, could be [00:48:00] something like that though. The one on the right side, um, it's so intuitive for me, I don't even know what the would it says, although I'm using it all the time. So if you turn that up, that's the output of the pedal. And what that does is it just puts more level into your amp. So it's, it's actually pretty much the same as like cranking the, the gain knob on your amp. So it can boost an amp that doesn't have enough gain with the chip screamer, but that's not what I do with the high gain combination. That's just one thing you can do with it. Use it as a booster for weaker amps. What I wanted to say is I turned the, the distortion of the tube screamer all the way down. I've find a spot on the tube on the tone knob, usually a little bit on the brighter side that I think sounds cool. And then I just turned on the pedal. And what that does is it has a box tone. It means the pedal has a unique sound to it. It compresses the low end a little bit. It makes the low end, a little bit smaller and more controlled, and it has a mid forward sound. And what that does is you get a title low-end, you get a less boomy Wolfie sort of low end that [00:49:00] these massive amps often have, especially when you go into jugs and Palm, your Palm and stuff, they can really become a little uncontrolled and, you know, um, so the tube screamer sort of compresses that a little bit and controls it more. So I just think it sits better in the mix. And then also it has this mid-fall word characteristic that gives you extra attack, an extra scratch, like an extra pick scratch, or pick attack almost. I find it just cuts through the mix better oftentimes. Um, so I like that about. And then there is this, this weird overall compression where I feel like I can use less distortion on the actual amp, but I still have all the sustain in my Palm use. For example, I really like that about a tube screamer. So the moment I turn it on, I feel like I can turn on the game quite a bit. But when I do Palm Utes, the tone doesn't die in between. It still has this, you know, after every single jug that's and if you turn off the tube screamer, it just dies too quickly. So it gives me additional sustain without much [00:50:00] more distortion, which results in the clearer tone and more cord and notes definition.
[00:50:04] That's the best way I can describe it, I think. And that's what most people use it for. So it's not really about the distortion at all. It's just about the way the pedal sounds it. Just turn it on that's what you want.
[00:50:13] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. It's just like a little tightening and then like a little transient poker gives is really nice too. It's just a, it's like a little bit the tone's a little more finished now and, and Yeah, my, my most common pedal boost pedal hands down. So I'm just like, oh, this amp sounds great. I just wish we could hit it a little bit harder and, you know, guitar volumes always max. So boost, pedal in front just a little bit louder outbreaks up a little bit more without turning up the gain more, which sounds different Um, and,
[00:50:42] Benedikt: on the pedal though, but for some pills, I think it's pretty much exactly the same as just turning up the input like the game, but sometimes it sounds different. Totally.
[00:50:49] Malcom: yes. Yeah. It pedals have sounds again. Right? So it's like, if you got a boost, you like that just kinda throws more of a certain frequency into it. That's going to change the, response
[00:50:59] Benedikt: That's the, [00:51:00] that's the thing, the frequency response of the pedal. I think it's the beauty of ramping. Again, we talked about that in a different episode where you can go in and EKU your UDI before you hit the amp, which is a beautiful thing because the amp will react completely different to the input signal, depending on the frequency content and a lot of boost pedals do exactly that they might have a title low end, or they might have a Midland push or whatever.
[00:51:19] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I find, I tend to like ones that have a little bit of a shine to them. So they'll like the top end breaks up a little sooner, uh, into the amp. Cause it's hidden. It just louder. Um, I like that.
[00:51:31] Benedikt: Yeah, you got to know that tubes and analog distortion in general is like a non-linear process. That means that you, it reacts to the input signal. So two different input signals will give you a different result. It's not a mathematics. Clean process. That's the same, every time, no matter what you send into it, it's like it, it's totally programmed in an input signal dependent. So the tone of the paddle you use in front of the amp, it's going to affect which frequencies are going to distort [00:52:00] first. You just said it will come. If the, the top end distorts a little sooner, you get a different characteristic. But if you send for example uh, uh, a first pedal Intuit that has a lot of low or something, or that makes the low low-end distort earlier, you get a different tone, you know, like all these things just the, the amp just reacts completely differently, depending on what you do. So I like the boost pedal thing did you just mentioned, and it's, it's cool for people to know that not all of them are the same. So you might be looking at different boost pedal options, and they probably will sound.
[00:52:31] Malcom: Yeah. definitely. Yeah. Like any, or not any, some, some distortion pedals when you turned on the game, they pretty much shut off. Um, but like the two screamer, like I said, you can just have the gain full heat until the left, not doing anything. And it's still as has, it's essentially like a boost pedal. And there is other distortion pedals. You can totally do that with as well. I think the super overdrive works pretty good if that's the one I used to have, I can't really remember now, but like gain super low on that, but it's got like an IQ curve to it that is different.
[00:52:57] Benedikt: Yeah. Uh, the, the famous clon, [00:53:00] pedal, for example, that everyone's raving about where they try to ridiculous prices for the original ones on the used market, which is kind of crazy. But, you know, there are certain panels that have a signature sound and in most cases, by the way, you can buy the reissue or the modern version of it. And this is, it's just going to be fine. You don't have to spend 10 X the amount for the original vintage one. It's just bullshit. In most cases, I use the Maxim tube screamer, which is in fact, the original evanesce designed from the eighties. They designed it back then for the original 800. Um, and still people are willing to pay five times that for the original one,
[00:53:34] even though it's the exact same circuit to this day in the Mexican overdraft that I use and it's like 120 bucks or something, so, you know.
[00:53:41] Malcom: It's so crazy.
[00:53:42] Benedikt: Yeah. Anyway, so, okay, cool. Then, there's something I want to mention, and that is, I don't know if you do that a lot that is using attenuators to bring down the actual volume that you send into the cab while still being able to crank the amp.
[00:53:58] So I don't do [00:54:00] that a lot. How about you?
[00:54:01] Malcom: No, because normally I'm not in a place that I need to be quiet. Um, so it's not really a problem. And there's normally like, just haven't really run into that. I need to turn it down to get a dirtier. That's not really a thing, but that said, uh, there was one on the chain. I can't remember if it was on, but like we were using a Stevenson app and it was either built into that. Or we had it going into like an IRR capture or something, and there was an, a tenured built into that. So I played with it just for the fun of it. And, uh, and, and it's cool. Like, yeah. So, well, well it's not relevant or that relevant and using an attenuator, um, for Benny and I. Oh, I should just quickly see if you're not showing an attenuator, is it allows you to turn down the amp before it hits the speaker. So it's between the amp and the speaker. So you? can drive the amp super loud, max it all out, if you want it to, and then turn it down before it hits the speaker. So your amp is working really hard despite the speaker not being very loud. That's kind of the idea [00:55:00] for us. Again, it doesn't seem like it's something super relevant, but for our audience, it might be exactly what you need. Cause if you are, I know people that have attenuators and live in apartments and record rock guitars using real amps in their apartment and attenuators make that very much more possible, right? Because you can have your aunt pushed without it being loud, essentially. Um, you are going to be missing out on that speaker, moving kind of action. Like we talked about using the output to change how the speaker response. Um, but in general, it's not really that big of a deal. If it's quiet, I think it'll be.
[00:55:32] Benedikt: There's two cases that I can think of that, that make it worth using an attenuator. The first is that what you just described, the scenario where you just have to be quiet, but still want to use your real amp. And the second one is I think, where, you, you have a one channel amp with no master volume and you want to have it clean but loud for a no, no. The other way around, you want to have a dirty, but quiet. And you only can, you can only get the tone that you want when you, by [00:56:00] cranking the amp. And then you have to bring it down. That's the case with some amps, like if you have a plexi without a master volume, for example, and you just have to turn it up in order for it to distort, then it's going to be crazy loud and you need an attenuator to be able to play at a reasonable volume. So in those cases, it's almost a must to have.
[00:56:16] Malcom: yeah.
[00:56:16] Benedikt: in most cases, it's actually not. And again, there's no magic to power M sound usually. And you have to know that there's a, trade-off, there's a sacrifice because these attenuators, they also have a sound, most of them, at least some more, some less, but they will color your tone. And you, what you think you are you are getting from the power amp might not be worth, might not be worth it because the sound of the attenuator is actually worse than what you're, what you're getting from the paradigm. So it's always this trade-off and it's, it's hard to compare these things and you have to be really careful and compare it to the equal volume after you've recorded it, to figure out whether the attenuator is really worth it. But in those situations where you just have to be quieter or you want to use the distortion, but it's just too loud, then it's almost a must. [00:57:00] And then those are great.
[00:57:01] Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. They, uh, it's worth keeping in mind that your amp works with the. When doing this, um, cause like, like whatever you've cranked it, you have, your amp is working that hard despite how loud it is now. Um, so you can burn out an app if you're not careful, you can burn out the attenuator too, that they don't last forever. Generally. Um, their job is hard. Uh, so careful with that I would say. Um, but, uh, you know, thinking back I wanted one, uh, when I was playing live and used real amps before the camper days. Um, because I think, I think it was a Vox. I can't remember what I was playing, but I had some amp at some point that was like, you turned it down, just like the volume, a little tiny bit almost at one. And it's like, oh my God, too loud, like for a live show. And like, you know, it was like a 300 person room. It's not tiny and it's still too loud for the room. So it's like, I just send you way to actually give you some control over the volume on some of these like, especially fender amps, you know, just high watt fender amps that are just so, so loud. There's no in between.
[00:57:59] Benedikt: [00:58:00] Yeah, that's true. We have this problem in our, in one of my bands where our guitarist always complains that he's, he has an 800 and he's like, I'm on. And he even has a massive volume, but still he's like, I'm, I'm like below one, if I turn it down any lower, it starts to sort of disappear. Like there's, it's almost like an on and off switch at this point. Like, I can't get any lower, but it's still crazy loud. So
[00:58:22] Malcom: just send you a waiter might help.
[00:58:23] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Now that the working hard part brings us to the next thing here is just real quick. I was just want to mention it because I know that a lot of people don't pay enough attention. Tubes need to be replaced every now and again, or need to be there. Your app needs maintenance and. You might buy a used amp and it might have the same tubes and it folds the last 20 years and you don't know, and you just keep playing and it works. But you, until you change the tubes until you praise you, replace the tubes, you don't know what that amp could actually sound like because they definitely change their sound degrees. It gets worse over time or at least [00:59:00] different. and it's a drastic difference after a couple of years, so they need maintenance. And also you can change the tubes and replace them with different ones. So that's also a thing that's pretty, that's not too hard to do actually. And, uh, you could turn an amp into a slightly different sounding amp, or you could change the characteristic by just swapping out tubes. You need to do research before that. And I don't recommend anybody who doesn't know what they're doing to open up an amp and start experimenting with that. But it's, it can't be done there. Even amp Sims these days, they give you different tube options we can swap between them. Um, and if it's a great way to learn about that as well, like if, for example, the, the neural DSP. Army got mPerks scruffier plugin that I love and have, um, you can switch between three different tubes, um, in, in there, and you can have a listen to what they like and see what that sounds like. And it's actually a pretty noticeable difference. So changing tubes in your amp Campion option, but just make sure you, you replace them or have them checked every now and again. And if you're using the same amps for the past [01:00:00] decade and you already bought it used, it's maybe time to check it and maybe replace them.
[01:00:04] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. it could keep it good. Um, another thing recording projects, go on quite a long time sometimes. So you don't want to have an amp die part way through tracking, uh, like to go down and then you have to come back and it sounds different. It's like a bummer. I'm so careful with that. So just getting it to service before a big recording project probably worth it. Um, they, they have to be biased correctly. So again, I would recommend hand it off to somebody who knows what they're doing. Um, it's not, it's not rocket science, but it's, you know, you also don't need to even bother thinking about it. Um, now I would say though, we're getting kind of to the tweaky stuff. So remember we're talking about tubes, but changing the tubes, isn't going to make the wrong amp, the right amp, you know, um, it's going to change the right amp into a slightly different version of a right amp, you know? So you have to get that like initial bucket, correct? First.
[01:00:52] Benedikt: Exactly and that's, that's about that's about it actually for this episode. I don't want to get into much more detail than that. Um, it's just [01:01:00] some, some tricks that I had in mind to, to make the most of what you already have, if you are in the right category, but you still feel like there's some missing, you're missing something. These are things you can do. Um, trying different pedals, boosting the amp, make taking advantage of the, of the box tone of your pedal. Um, trying different cable lengths, um, using attenuators replacing, changing tubes. These are just things you can do to further tweak your already, um, appropriate amp. But all of that is, is, um, useless. If you're starting out with wrong.
[01:01:31] Malcom: Yeah. And of course, capture DEI because your mixer might have the right amp.
[01:01:37] Benedikt: Exactly. Okay. So I hope that helps as always rules are meant to be broken. So if you know all these things, but you still want to use something completely different or whatever, then feel free to do it. Of course, like if you want to make a metal metal record with an AC 30, uh, more power to you, it's of course possible. And people do all sorts of weird things, but it just helps us a starting point, I think. And I [01:02:00] think you should know the rules before you start breaking them because you just have more, more overall knowledge and control and more options. And you just, it's going to be a much more intentional process and less training.
[01:02:11] Malcom: Told her. Yeah. It's all about getting those memory markers in your head of like, okay, you know what? I've, I've achieved that. And like typical rock sound with, with an Marshall. They got, now I know what that is. And we can recreate that if we want to. But right now I want to try something different. So we're going to use like this broken amp from my mum's old record player and see what that sounds like, you know, like, like have that, you know, we know what the real version would sound like if we went down the, the most typical road, but let's try this and see what we think.
[01:02:40] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. And there's no excuse to use your crappy practice amp just because that's the one you happen to have. There is absence, same principles apply. If you can get a decent sounding, amps them for, I dunno, a hundred bucks or 200 bucks or something, or you can just rent the real deal from a backline company and you get a well, well [01:03:00] serviced, great amp that you can have for a week or so. So there's no excuse, just do it, put it in your, on your budget and, um, yeah, just use the amp that is appropriate and works for the genre.
[01:03:12] Malcom: Absolutely.
[01:03:15] Benedikt: Thank you for
[01:03:15] Malcom: Um, Yeah. Before we go, come join us at self recording, band.com/community or search for the self recording band community on Facebook and come hang out with us there and chat about stuff like guitar tones and using record players as AMS.
[01:03:30] Benedikt: Exactly. Thank you for that Malcolm. It's funny how we talk about like, mentioning that and telling people about the community. And we actually should do that in the beginning of the episode, but then I completely forget five minutes later.
[01:03:43] Malcom: Yeah, we started talking about me getting into fights while running and stuff.
[01:03:46] Benedikt: Exactly. Exactly. So thank you for mentioning that. Yeah. Go to the recording band.com/community as well. Welcome set. And we'd love to hear your opinions because we know the guitar players definitely have opinions and we want to
[01:03:57] Malcom: Totally. Yeah. Yeah. If you've [01:04:00] done, uh, an unusual like recording scenario that worked out really well, I'd love to hear it posted in the community, share what you used, you know, um, that sometimes funky things do really cool stuff.
[01:04:11] Benedikt: Absolutely. All right. Thank you for
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