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Author Topic: Amp without lifier - OR - the the ampiest circuit
smgear

Posts: 170
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Post Amp without lifier - OR - the the ampiest circuit
on: June 21, 2013, 07:52
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I’ve got to rebuild my long sold amp collection when I move back to the US in a few months. But truth be told, I really don’t want to amass a collection even though I prefer a range of 'real' tube and even ss tone over most digital modeling (the Kemper profiling amp kicks ass though). So I want to build something, but I want it to be somewhat particular. My motives/requirements are:
1. approximate a good clean tube tone as well as some of my favorite drive/gain colors/attributes in the smallest possible footprint.
2a. I’ve been banning big amps from stages (mostly churches) for years as a sound guy. I sympathize with players, but medium sized venues with contradictory acoustic designs don’t respond well to uncontrolled tube power. I want a convincing analog amp ‘sim’ that I can plop at the end of the pedalboard chain in those situations, preferably with a balanced output I can plug straight into the house. (preferably far more responsive than something like a sansamp)
2b. Similar to the above, but used for direct recording at home.

Since I have the enviable position of starting from scratch, I’m mulling over a couple possible directions. Most likely I’ll do some kind of modular approach and will likely include:

1. Let’s call it a Noamp (but I'm sure that name is taken) - A unit that approximates an amp response with line and low-z outs. This can act as a standalone ‘amp’ (modeler?) for recording or direct into the house. This is the big grey area for me. I think that adapting an od circuit(s) like the Fetto Deluxe or maybe something like the suproish honey bee or lumpy’s jelly roll might work nicely as they all have pretty convincing tube-like response and sensitivity and clean up well at lower volumes. The Fetto’s voltage sweep/compression is a great feature to have for something like this. I’d probably add some additional post-od EQ and I could also add some attenuation for cabs. The issue is the overlap between tone, boost, tube type, and overdrive. I’d like this part of the chain to be fairly transparent or at least start from a good clean floor, but it is technically the ‘amp’ and therefore color is part of it’s mandated nature.

I recall Joe saying something in another post that one of his ‘formulas’ is a fiendmaster -> booster -> simple amp. I agree with the simplicity of that so I’m wondering if I could achieve something similar by building that chain and replacing the amp with a responsive od circuit like the Fetto. I’d have a footswitch to engage each section. It wouldn’t be a perfect amp representation, but I think it might be pretty good. I’d probably bookend the OD with loops so that I can insert reverb/trem and/or tone stacks. I could theoretically switch between a couple OD circuits/flavors, but I want this unit to be simple and small. I'd rather handle that with:

2. Variable Tone Stack - Quite easy as there are thousands of great pedals and schematics for a fender/brown/supro/whatever. type sound - many with nice breakup. I’m thinking about maybe housing these circuits in something resembling a 500 series case. I’d like to be able to pop/swap modules in and then cycle through/bypass them with a foot switch. I’d have an optional effect loop

3. Small amp head for practice/recording. I could probably just build something like a ruby amp or a couple very basic tube amps (with more obscure tubes) as needed for home/recording use.

The biggest challenge is the Noamp. I understand the role of tubes, stages, rectifiers, sag, etc. But with the prevalent stacking of OD's/dist/fuzz and the presence of so many surprisingly realistic ‘amp tone’ based pedals on the market begs the question of whether I really need the amplifier or can just build around the tone stack and/or od to get a similar tone that I can just capture directly.

Any glaring faults in the plan? Any suggestions for good ampish OD/s pedals like the Fetto that might be good to consult? Any features I should add? Anything that I’m missing? Anything that I’m full of?

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: Amp without lifier - OR - the the ampiest circuit
on: June 22, 2013, 03:45
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The Fractal Axe FX II is perhaps the most amazing piece of gear ever made if you haven't seen or heard it. Really pricey (damn expensive period) if you include the floorboard. I have a little ,fairly cheap Hughes and Kettner Tubemiester 18 combo with their Red Box system and it plays really nice with PA's and recording .There are alot of of pedal sized amps now just do some of that painstaking mind numbing research.This is a pretty big project and really ambitious so I just think you are full of ideas. Looks like a good plan to start , get it going and find out what the real issues will turn out to be ?

smgear

Posts: 170
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Post Re: Amp without lifier - OR - the the ampiest circuit
on: June 22, 2013, 05:05
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thanks for the info! I do like the Axe FX II, although, apart from the price, it also feels designed for more high gain styles. I go for more of a simple earthy clean and gutsy breakup tone so I'd wouldn't be using 90% of the features. I do still have my old Digitech 2120 tube modeler which at 15-20 years old still holds up as one of the best sounding preamps/modelers out there. That HK indeed looks sweet, I'll add that to my 'consider' list.

I've done plenty of mind numbing research already and only scratched the surface. I'm sure everything I want exists, but most of the pedal amps that I've demo'd or listened to seem pegged around a breakup point and overly stiff. I haven't come across any that start at a rich clean tone and pass nicely through the breakup stages. I'd like to do this all without tubes, but some of the low voltage tube od's are pretty sweet (lightning boy's soul drive for example). So maybe using two of that style of design (with slightly different tone or tubes) might get me where I want to go - engaging either or both as needed.

My thinking is also that I'd like to create/find my own base tone in the main amp section - I think everyone should cultivate their own sound. I value versatility, but I think it's a two edged sword that more often distracts you. I'd rather commit early to a particular sound than waste untold hours selecting the 'perfect fit'. As for the tone stacks, those would just be for particular styles, as needed, and I think it would just be much easier to have them neatly rack-mounted than trying to manage a huge pedal board. But, I'm open to ideas.... It's all out there somewhere, but the gear world always needs more confusing derivatives, right?

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: Amp without lifier - OR - the the ampiest circuit
on: June 23, 2013, 04:59
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Frank Marino built his own preamp to define his sound and control it , that is what he said somewhere, no clue on the specs.. Never thought I would say the Internet has TOO MUCH info on it ever geez ?

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