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Can't get tube amp to sound good.

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(@losodo)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

Sup all,

I'm having an irritating problem with my effects processor and my tube amp, a Digitech RP100A (I know, cheap piece of crap but the price was right) and a Peavey Classic 30 (quite an older one, at least over 5 years). I've got a cheaper Ibanez as well (SA series, but it works).

The effects sound great through headphones when I'm trying not to wake up the neighborhood, but when I plug into the amp the effects lose alot of the mood I get through the headphones. I've tried tweaking the limited EQ in the pedal, tweaking effects parameters, and on and on... but it just sounds like crap no matter what I do.

I'm guessing theres probably a few reasons why the setup sounds so bad:

1) Cheap effects processor (not to slam Digitech but it IS a low end processor)
2) Bad pickups in the guitar?
3) I like to use modulation effects (chorus, flangers, etc) so maybe I should get tubes better suited to that end?
4) Bad speaker in the amp?

I'm not running the effects inline, I'm using the effects return jack for that. At first I hooked it up inline and after hearing it, I was like "Wtf!", lol.

Maybe I should be using analog effects through a tube amp or does that even matter?

One thing's for sure: no more multi-effects processors for me. I'm gonna try a chain of dedicated units soon...

If anyone has any insight/advice I'd love to hear it. 8)

EDIT: Oops, did I post this in the wrong place?

First I bought it, then I paid for it.


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Most multi-efx units that sound great through headphones and through a small practice amp sound terrible through a larger, more powerful amp at higher volumes. You just have to tweak the pedal. Bring the gain way down on distortions and overdrive, and reduce depth on effects like chorus.

Many people love effects, but they do not work well at gig volumes. A super-distortion will sound like air and get completely lost in the mix. Often you will not be able to hear a solo at all. And effects like chorus and phase often sound very muddy on stage. They can completely ruin the whole bands sound. So you have to bring all the levels way down to sound good at volume. The best live effects are those that just sound "barely on".

Playing an amp like the Classic 30 is way different than playing through headphones or a practice amp. These amps have to be played at volume to truly appreciate how great they sound. Do not get rid of this amp, they are famous. If you cannot play at volume, look into an attenuator that will allow you to crank the amp up and maintain low volumes. But still, to really know how great an amp like the Classic 30 sounds you have to play it LOUD. This is a gigging amp, not a bedroom or practice amp.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

All good points Wes!

Losodo: I've never tried the Digitech RP100a, but if there is something that simulates various speaker cabinets (it has amp models doesn't it?), then you might try disengaging the cab sims.

You might also try going straight into the guitar input of the amp rather than the effects loop.

Another workaround might be to set the amp for as clean a sound as possible, and then plug your multifx in - see what happens.

Give it a try.

Best regards.


   
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(@moonrider)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1305
 

Sup all,

I'm having an irritating problem with my effects processor and my tube amp, a Digitech RP100A (I know, cheap piece of crap but the price was right) and a Peavey Classic 30 (quite an older one, at least over 5 years). I've got a cheaper Ibanez as well (SA series, but it works).

:roll:
You do know you're committing a serious offense torturing a good tube amp like that don't you? :wink:

1: Yank that processor out of the chain for now. You can put it back later if you want.
2. Plug straight into the amp.
3. Turn the volume knob on the amp all the way down.
4. Turn the amp on, and while it warms up, warn the neighbors you might get a bit loud for a few minutes.
5. Turn the volume and tone controls on your guitar all the way up.
6. Turn the amp volume up to the point where power chords get a nice crunch for ya when you dig in with the pick, but a gentler attack allows chords to voice clearly. Yes, this is going to be loud.
7. adjust the tone controls on your amp until it sounds"just right"

Take a few minutes to play like this and listen carefully to the beautiful sounds you're making. Use the volume and tone controls on your guitar and listen to how they affect the sound.

Now put your guitar down and ask yourself, "Is there anything I really need to add to this sound, or is the only problem now the fact that if I play at this volume all the time the neighbors will lynch me?" If there's effects you want to add, follow Wes' suggestions, which will work much better now that you've adjusted the amp to sound its best. If the only problem now is that it's stupid loud, trade the fx box in and get an attenuator.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


   
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(@losodo)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

Wow, thanks for all the great advice everyone.

It's my first tube amp and as embarassing as it is, I've never really had it turned up. I live in a small apartment. It's my fault I suppose, hehe. I got that amp by luck, just before I was about to buy another amp (solid state) off of somebody else. I was told that the Classic 30 was loud enough to be heard in a band (which I've yet to find) and that tube amps are better than solid states (not trying to start a flame war... that's just what some people have said to me).

I'm absolutely still looking for a band so I'm glad I bought that amp. When I brought it home for the first time and turned it up it almost blew me out of my apartment window, lmao. Can't wait to crank it up again.

Thanks again for your advice everyone, you've given me something to think about and I've learned something. 8)

First I bought it, then I paid for it.


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

A basic rule I always follow myself is to make sure the basics are right. So get rid of the RP100 immediately and don't bring it back until the basic sound from the amp is right. This could involve using EQs and attenuators. Once this is done properly bring back the Rp100. Start by setting it to 'bypass' and listen to how it all sounds. If your sound has become somewhat lifeless, sell the RP100. It's a pretty old digital device and somewhat crude by today's standards and even on bypass it could have a negative impact on your chain. If it doesn't ruin the sound start by adding one effect at a time, and leave any modeling, speaker sims and overdrives off, no matter what the circumstances. Do not add any other effects until the previous one is set up exactly correct.

To close this somewhat negative post with some positive news: the Ibanez SA line might be cheap but it sure is a very fine guitar. :D


   
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(@97reb)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1196
 

I'm using a Boss ME-50 into my Epi 5W head and other amps. I am using the effects on the ME-50, but the knobs are barely turned up. The louder I seem to get the less I really need any of the effects.

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Yeah, it's hard to beat the sound of a good tube amp. But tube amps themselves have to be tweaked to get the best tones. So experiment with different EQ and gain settings. You can get more various tones out of a tube amp than you might expect.

I use a Zoom pedal with my tube amp for gigs, but I have all the effects and distortions tweaked down. Gain on distortions goes from 0-30, I think the highest setting I'm using is 20 for a heavy Metal type distortion for rhythm guitar. On others I have the gain set way low between 5 and 10. That is just to give you an idea of how I've turned gain down. I only use a few effects like chorus, phaser, and reverb and almost all of these are set at their minimum settings. But these effects sound BIG at high volume, I wish I could take chorus down a little more.

Just a personal opinion, but I have always felt that too much effects is very distracting. Instead of listening to the actual notes played, you are drawn to listen to the effect itself. Maybe that's just me. But if I use any effects at all I try to keep them minimal.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@mattypretends116)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 530
 

Yeah, it's hard to beat the sound of a good tube amp. But tube amps themselves have to be tweaked to get the best tones. So experiment with different EQ and gain settings. You can get more various tones out of a tube amp than you might expect.

Just a personal opinion, but I have always felt that too much effects is very distracting. Instead of listening to the actual notes played, you are drawn to listen to the effect itself. Maybe that's just me. But if I use any effects at all I try to keep them minimal.

I agree. The only thing I think I might start using is a slight delay. Other than that, I'm completely dry.

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:


   
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(@losodo)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

@MattyPretends116: Yeah, I love delays. Use them myself.

@Wes: You're definately right. I don't crank up the effects too high, but I think they were WAY too high for that amp. When I turned it up (I happened to be using a flanger) you could REALLY hear the swooshing, even when I was muting the strings WITH the noise gate set pretty high, lol. Gotta keep the effects low and amp high. Thanks.

@97reb: Yup, a lesson I've learned. Very low effects at high volumes.

@Arjen: More great advice. I really should be setting up the amp first, then add effects if needed. I've never used any amp modelling through the device and honestly I never use distortion/overdrives, but I guess that's because the unit doesn't have any distortion except through the amp modelling (which is REALLY bad).

I know that alot of people feel like effects are for people who can't play, or people use them to sound better than they actually are (not saying that anyone here was saying that). I use them because you can get a mood that is otherwise impossible to get without them, but as is the case with many things: too much of anything is a bad idea. Well, except playing guitar. 8)

Hmm, what's everyone's opinion on using analog effects over digital through tube amps? I've heard/read many times that analog is the way to go, that analog sounds 'warmer'.

First I bought it, then I paid for it.


   
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(@corbind)
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Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 1735
 

Yea, I had a phaser effect on the intro of a song and it sounds great at home. Live, the phaser was "on" too much for my liking. So I tweaked it at home so it's like it's almost not on so it should sound good at the next gig. Or not...who knows.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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(@losodo)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 27
Topic starter  

Yeah...

@corbind

Dude, your sig is awesome. *makes shaolin pray gesture* 8)

First I bought it, then I paid for it.


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Dennis: What I do is make two banks of effects. One is for low volumes and has higher mix levels, the other is for rehearsals/gigs and has way lower settings. Saves the hassle of changing everything every darn time. As for analog versus digital: it really doesn't matter. You can have great digital effects and great analog effects. Unfortunately, and with all respect, the quality of the digital effects of the RP don't even come close to the quality of your amp and in this instance the unit might break more then it fixes. As an example an old tape echo unit sounds quite different (warmer or more lo-fi,whichever you want) whereas digital ones sound more hi-fi or sterile. It really depends on what you're after, always use your ears and ignore tech-sheets. :D

The general use of effects is pretty okay to me though: Pretty much *every* recording you hear these days have been processed like there is tomorrow. The key is to get it to sound the way you want (using things like compressors, EQs, reverb units, mini pitch shifters to fatten things up, attenuators) but do in a way that it seems like the amp has always sounded like that. In general: if you have someone listen at your sound and the first thing they notice is an effect it is too high. Also note that these kind of general rules are for convention music: if you feel there is a good reason to break these rules, by all means do so.


   
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(@losodo)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

@Arjen: That's some more fantastic advice, man. Thanks.

Sometimes I can get a little heavy on the effects when I'm alone and just having fun with them. It definately gets to the point (if you go too heavy) that you're playing the effects, not the guitar.

If I was to nail down one guitar player who made me pick up a guitar in the first place, it's the The Edge... and he's an effects junky. It's not too hard to get into the 'general vicinity' of his sound but it's easy (for me) to go overboard, which is usually rectified pretty quick, lol. And it was that which was makin' my amp sound like crap.

You know, I never even thought about making the amp sound right FIRST before I introduced effects into the chain (noob)... And yeah, I'm gonna get rid of that lame unit and get something a little better. A small chain of dedicated effects instead of a multi-effects processer next time.

And you know what? I took the advice of a few wise people earlier in this thread and removed the effects entirely, just to see. And at higher volumes that amp sounds frickin' awesome... I don't need as many effects as I thought I did before.

Isn't is interesting how sometimes, even though your eyes are open, you can still be blind?

Thanks again for the great advice everyone. 8)

First I bought it, then I paid for it.


   
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(@guitbusy)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 93
 

That is the awesome thing about these forums is they help you "see". I learned a couple things from this thread that I need to try also.

Older Newbie


   
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