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Thread: New Members! Heavy Metal Amp Guide

  1. #9

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: IL

    iTrader: 0 needs a wiki!

    Fender M-80. Not really worth mentioning, but it was my first amp. Solid state, decent cleans, but the gain channel was just flat out the worst I've ever heard.

    Crate SS head +4x12. Okay for a SS amp, had built-in DSP with chorus, delay, etc. Gain tones were a lot better, but still not exactly what I was looking for.

    Line 6 Flextone XL. I really liked this amp for what it was, a first gen attempt at modeling. Decent effects, decent gain tones. I didn't really care for the clean models though. The problem is that it really ran out of steam quickly and kinda got buried by a drummer, despite being 100w.

    Spider II 2x10. I bought this because I wasn't in a band, and was moving to an apartment in Phoenix, and wanted something smaller and light. Better sounds than the Flextone, actually, and I quite liked it, despite it not having an effects loop.

    Peavey ValveKing head, 2x12 V30 loaded Avatar. My first real tube amp. Good cleans, good lower gain tones, I quite liked it for that. However it got rather farty and loose the higher the gain went, which I didn't care for. Not really a good metal amp, more classic rock, IMO.

    Mesa F-50. A two trick pony; really nice cleans, borderline Recto-ish gain tones. I didn't really like the lead sounds at all though on this one, so I sold it rather quickly. I was actually pretty disappointed, because I thought this amp would be the ticket for me.

    Peavey JSX. Nice head, very good albeit slightly sterile clean tones, really cool crunch channel tones. Ultra channel is about as useful as tits on a bull. Just too much gain, and sounds very solid state. I ended up selling it because in the end it sounded too compressed for my tastes overall, and I really didn't need the bulk of a heavy tube head and 2x12 cab.

    Mesa DC-5. To me, the be all/end all at this point. Amazing cleans, awesome breakup tone on the clean channel with the pull boost option, and fantastic, versatile gain tones. Very linear with the gain sweep, so it can be used for nearly anything. The GEQ effectively adds a third channel, because it effects both the clean and gain channels and definitely has a profound effect. I love this amp, and don't see me selling it anytime soon, but rather buying another amp to supplement; something more with a British accent.

    Guitars used: Ibanez JS2000, RG421 (both basswood), SC420 (mid scale mahogany bolt-on). PRS Korina SE, PRS baritone (mahogany). Various 7 strings from Ibanez, Schecter, Carvin, and Agile.

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  3. #10

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Manhattan
    ME: Forshage, EBMM
    MA: Blueridge BR-40
    MB: Dingwall Afterburner
    Rig: Soldano HR25, Mark V:25

    iTrader: 13 (100%)

    Between my stepdad and I, we've had quite the assortment in the basement over the years. I'm going to keep it to the more "high-end" tube stuff:

    Epiphone Valve Junior head with stepfather's Fender 2x15: My first tube amp. A bit loose and crunchy. Great for The Who and Rolling Stones-style sounds when wound up, but NOT a metal amp by any stretch of the imagination. Great for harmonica though!

    Crate Powerblock with stepfather's Fender 2x12: Got around the same time as the VJ when Musician's Friend was blowing them out for $99. Surprisingly good gain sounds, super light and small, very powerful and punchy. Used as both a bass and guitar head and sounded great in both applications. Too bad they don't make them anymore. Great for sparkly cleans and classic rock through hard rock.

    Orange Tiny Terror with Orange PPC112: One of the first "serious" mini-heads, and my first ever real tube amp. Great if you're in an AC/DC cover band; not good for much else. Sold it pretty quickly.

    **RECOMMENDED**Blackstar HT-5 head with Fender 2x12: God, I miss this amp. Great cleans, great gain sounds, incredibly versatile, responds well to pedals, sounds great at low and high volumes, just loud enough to keep up with a drummer with a good cab. Traded to Mike Sherman for an Eden tube head. I want to get another someday. I don't think there isn't a sound out there you couldn't get with this thing aside from maybe a high-headroom Fender clean tone.

    Vox AC50CCP2 2x12 combo (stepfather's): Low-gain channel does great Vox sounds; high gain was fizzy, buzzy, and loose till it got STUPIDLY loud. Also weighed a ton and was far, far too loud. He ended up selling it and getting the Egnater.

    Vox AC4TV 1x10 combo: Great mid- to low-volume clean tones, small, light, and portable. Howls like a banshee when turned up and records beautifully. Great for classic rock sounds and chimey Tom Petty stuff. Kills for harmonica. Still have it kicking around.

    Fender 1973 "homebuilt" Dual Showman with Fender 2x15: My stepfather built this monster with his father from Fender and Macintosh amp parts back in '72 or '73. Pushes 100W of Fender clean through a 2x15. Great as both a guitar and bass amp and takes pedals well. Incredible cleans, great reverb, awesome tremolo. Never got it loud enough to make it break up, as it as just far too loud. Not for metal, but a monster regardless with or without pedals.

    **RECOMMENDED**Jet City JCA2112 combo/JCA20H head: Crazy good-sounding little 1x12 combo. Really only does a few sounds *well,* but those sounds are awesome. Great for Jimi through to classic metal with a boost. Seriously loud too. 75% of the lead tone of my Budda for 25% of the price of a new one.

    Egnater Rebel 30 combo: Perhaps the most versatile low-gain combo amp I've ever played. Never gets to "metal" levels of gain, but awesome cleans, great grindy breakup, awesome lead tones, and good crunch too. With a pedal or two could probably do classic metal. Plenty loud.

    **RECOMMENDED**Mesa F-30 head with Fender 2x12: Two-trick pony: beautiful sparkly cleans, crushing modern rhythm. With some knob tweaking you can get some decent lead tones, but it doesn't necessarily "sing." Makes a surprisingly good mid-volume bass amp too, especially if you like some grind in your sound.

    **RECOMMENDED**Budda Superdrive 30 Series I 1x12 combo: My current "main amp." The singing lead tones from this thing are AMAZING, and the gain structure is very "high gain boutique." Incredibly touch responsive and can go from screaming lead to sparkly clean just by rolling off the volume knob. A bit warm and flubby for metal unboosted, but when boosted it tightens right up and serves up some great Marshally crunch. The clean channel is more "bold Marshall" than Fender, but if you crank it it will pull all kinds of classic rock tones. Sounds great at pretty much any volume too. This is one of my "desert island" pieces of gear.
    Too much focus leads to tunnel vision
    Too much faith leads to religion
    Too much knowledge leads to confusion
    Too many guitar lessons lead to jazz-fusion

  4. #11

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Somerville, Ma
    ME: Suhr Modern 7
    MA: Martin MC16-GTE
    MB: Squier 5 string P-bass
    Rig: Mark V

    iTrader: 5 (100%)

    Good idea, Leon.

    My rig history, at least from the point it got interesting:

    Fender Hot Rod Deluxe - Great amp, but absolutely not the right amp for anyone looking to play metal (though, it takes distortion pedals pretty well - the clean channel is very "deep" at sane volumes. Fairly bluesy, Everclear was about as heavy as I think it'd get. Traded it one week later for

    Marshall JTM-30 - Again, not really a metal amp. Great, glassy clean - sort of fizzy distortion channel, but one that filled out awesomely as you turned it up. This would kill for a heavy blues project, as it got pretty Jimi-esq with the poweramp set to full meltdown.

    Mesa Rocket-44 - the first amp I owned that was really voiced for metal. In a pinch, I'd categorize this as a dumbed-down Mark-IV. Two channels, clean and lead, with two footswitchable modes on the lead channel, normal and "contour," which was basically the Mark-IV "V-shaped" EQ. Not super flexible, the EQ knobs didn't really radically change the sound (again, much like a Mark-IV), but if you wanted either a Petrucci-like lead sound or a Lamb of God sort of rhythm, you could probably get it here, especially if you boosted it (which I never tried). Great lead sounds, if nothing else - this is the amp that kick started my long love affair with Mesa.

    Marshall TSL100. Sold the Rocket-44 after playing through a DSL401 at a gig and being surprised how well it cut through the mix, and wanting something with a bit more flexibility. Clean was... Well, it had an honest-to-god clean channel with a fair amount of headroom, a rarity at the time for Marshall. I missed the glassiness of my old JTM, personally, but this was a more traditional "good" clean. Crunch was a blast - not particularly high gain, but enough on tap to solo, especially with a boost. This channel probably would have worked for a warmer thrash sound with an OD out front. Lead was a little gainier and much darker - still not an ultra high gain amp by any means. This was actually a great channel for hard rock riffing, provided you didn't oversaturate it - a lot off attack and snap, but still a pretty dark, heavy sound. I'd take this for hard rock before I would metal, however.

    Mesa Nomad-45 - 2x12 combo. One of the most sorely underappreciated amps in Mesa's lineup, IMO, as it occupies a rare space, covering sounds from both the Mark line and the Recto line. Good but not great clean (it didn't seem to have much body to it), and I was never quite sure what to do with channel 2, but channel 3 owned. Vintage mode was very Mark-esq, smooth, dark, and liquid, and could have worked well for any sort of tone you'd normally associate with a Mark-IV. This was my main lead channel. Modern, meanwhile, was a slightly less dry take on a Rectifier - deep, crunchy, a ton of presence, but a more gradual gain taper. The range made it perfect for playing Dream Theater stuff, since they're really associated with the full range of Mesa tones. Footswitchable solo volume boost, too, which rules. Only downside? my favorite lead sound and my favorite rhythm sound were both on channel 3, so I had to pick one and stay there while playing live.

    Mesa Rectoverb 50 - this amp really needs to be LOUD to be fully appreciated, so a Hot Plate is strongly recommended. Great clean - lush, sparkly, full, and capable of being pushed into SRV territory if need be. The gain channel is a bit brighter than the rest of the Rectos I've played, strangely. It fills out when the master volume comes up, though, and is a pretty awesome lead voice when running hot. Because of that brightness, it's probably not quite as dark and bassy as one would assume a Recto to be, but then again that's not really a bad thing. Strangely, throwing EL34s in this amp completely changes the character of the distortion - it crunches up enough to rip your face off. It's a shockingly aggressive sound. For leads, I actually got the best results by running the treble and presence at 0 - it opens up the midrange, somehow, and gives a surprisingly balanced sound.

    Tech-21 Trademark 30 - Everyone should own one of these. If Marshalls actually sounded as good as "Brit" mode does on this, I'd still own one.

    Mesa Roadster - For me, this is the current be-all, end-all. It fixes everything I didn't like about the Nomad and the Rectoverb - darker and WAY less volume sensitive than the later, a much better clean than the former and my favorite lead and rhythm sounds are no longer on the same channel. It's also staggeringly flexible - I'd hate to say it's good for such-and-such a sound, because I haven't yet run into anything it CAN'T do, from Jimi clean to Recto crunch to the smooth Andy Timmons sort of Mesa saturation to Mark-IV sort of rhythm tones to bluesy lightly overdriven Gilmour stuff to 80s thrash to... Hell, it'd probably even do djent if I wanted it to.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

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  6. #12

    Join Date: Aug 2010
    Location: Cyprus
    ME: LTD EX360/SchecterC7
    MA: Ovation 1778TX
    Rig: Axe FX II / Fratomic

    iTrader: 0

    Great idea and great thread guys! It's a fun read and very informative for a new member like me. Keep it up

  7. #13

    Join Date: Sep 2010
    Location: Bristol UK
    ME: ESP LTD Axxion
    Rig: Marshall DSL 100

    iTrader: 0

    My Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100 ( it`s better for Metal than a TSL model ) through a Marshall 1960A Lead cab sounds pretty cool. Use the high gain controls and set to about 7 or 8 and then set the output control to 3 for recording purposes, don`t use the sub bass button, use the mid scoop button & crank up the presence & EQs to about 9 O`clock ( more like 6 or 7 for the bass ). A lot of the time I use an Ibanez tube screamer pedal as a pre amp too for that extra clunky sound like Exodus etc ( make sure to only use a small amount of distortion gain on it ).

    cost ? - AMP head about £800, cab about £450 and the 1980`s tube screamer about £40 from ebay ( or about £180 for an original 1970`s model )

    And it`s important to have at least 1 pro high gain pickup fitted at the bridge position of your guitar, none of this stock pickup nonsense, e.g EMG 81, Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB, SH-5, SH- 8 Invader, SH-6 etc etc.

    Mic up a speaker in the cab with a Shure sm57 mic about 1 or 2 inches from near the centre of the cone and also use another 57 or 58 mic about 8 inches away at the edge of the cone and at a 45 degree angle ( blend that one in during mixing at a much lower volume than the other mic ) a trick that I picked up from Andy Sneap.

    Well that setup is working for me these days now that it`s time for me to get back to making professional records again.

    I`ve heard good things about Blackstar gear as well but have not tried any myself.

    Horns Up, Stay Dark, Paint it Black !
    Last edited by Mr Gobz; 09-20-2010 at 04:14 AM.

  8. #14

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Malden, MA
    ME: HevAri Dragonrider 7
    MB: Squier Affinity Jazz V
    Rig: Fryette Sig:X/VHT D60

    iTrader: 0

    Crate G10-XL: My first amp. Huge piece of shit that only worked right about half the time. Traded it along with a couple cheap guitars for my B.C. Rich USA Gunslinger.

    Marshall MG50RCD: A bit underrated, actually. The old MG-RCD line didn't sound too bad for metal, although it took me a while to get used to the sound...especially coming from a DOD Death Metal distortion pedal! The clean channel had a "gain" knob, rather than a volume knob, intended to make it act like a non-master-volume amp. This meant that any distortion pedal run through the clean channel sounded absolutely awful when the amp was turned up. I also ran a Johnson J-Station through the FX return for a while, which sounded ok, but I always had trouble cutting through the mix with that rig in a band context, and I got a lot of feedback.
    MG50RCD clip: - the guitar gear mp3 database

    Peavey Transtube Bandit 112 (black/silver '90s): I traded one of my old high school bandmates the Marshall for this. It actually sounds pretty good for metal (I still have it), and for a short time, I was using it as a head through a Genz-Benz G-Flex 2x12. Decent clarity, but relatively boring sound that makes most guitars sound similar, but takes to a clean boost pretty well. Currently used as my at-home practice amp.

    Red Bear MK120 / Genz-Benz G-Flex 2x12: My first tube amp. Basically a 120W, 6L6-powered JCM800 clone built in Russia and sold by Gibson in the US. More low-end than anyone could/should ever need (especially combined with that cab). Needed to be LOUD to do metal effectively, but I found myself needing to use settings that sounded a bit harsh in order to have an aggressive enough sound for me. As I recall, this meant the mids and highs were turned up a good bit, with the gain and volume around 7 (). It LOVED bright guitars, too, and I found that anything on the darker side wasn't very pleasing to my ears. I ended up having it modified for more gain, along with less extreme highs and lows, and to take 12AX7s (the stock preamps tubes were some oddball Russian ones). It sounded much better to me that way, and I used it for about a year, before selling it for something else. Capable of Slayer/early Metallica and other '80s thrash type sounds, but nothing really modern.

    Peavey Rock Master / Mesa/Boogie 20/20 / Genz-Benz G-Flex 2x12: Cool little rack rig that sounded awesome at lower volumes, but the EL84 breakup from the poweramp wasn't really to my taste. I did a short tour with this rig, though, and it worked out pretty well. The Rock Master preamp is basically a Peavey Ultra series amp in preamp form, with three channels, FX loops for each channel, and a master FX loop for the whole thing. Capable of most types of metal tones, with an active EQ on the Ultra channel. It has push/pull gain knobs that give some extra compression and balls, somewhat along the lines of a clean boost in front.
    Rock Master clip: - the guitar gear mp3 database

    Peavey Ultra+ / Genz-Benz G-Flex 2x12: Pretty much the same sound as the Rock Master rack rig, but louder and with more balls due to 120W of 6L6 power. It's the predecessor to the Triple XXX, and came out around the same time as the 5150. Usually found for $400 or less used, and arguably sounds better than later amps from the Ultra Series lineage (Triple XXX, JSX, 3120). I had some issues with this amp and a 7-string, but I think that was due to the particular guitar, and nothing to do with the amp. Definitely a solid lower-budget metal amp, and I wouldn't mind giving it another shot at some point, since it's been a few years since I've played one of these.
    Ultra+ clips: - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database

    Ampeg VH-150 / Genz-Benz G-Flex 2x12: The perhaps slightly-less-known brother to the VH-140C, with a single 150W power amp, and no chorus. Solid state brutality, capable of metal tones with the gain knob at 3, and voiced perfectly for death metal. I also used it for a while as my primary amp in a power metal band, which it also did well with. Good clean channel, but nothing really amazing...pretty much a one-trick pony, definitely known for being one of the best solid state metal amps available.
    VH-150 clips: - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database

    Engl Savage 120 / Ampeg V-412TL with CL80s & V30s: This is what I sold my Ultra+ to get. After having the opportunity to borrow one of these heads and a cab loaded with the aforementioned speakers for a show where I was unable to use my own amp, I decided I needed one. Absolutely badass high-gain sound on channel 4, with a nice midrange emphasis, neither too dry or saturated, and very tight and punchy due to the 6550/KT88 power section. A bit like a more refined-sounding 5150II. MIDI switchable, 2 FX loops, lots of features, and actually capable of being used as a preamp while in standby mode (meaning that you can run a line-out into another amp's power amp, or record directly from the XLR or 1/4" line-out without needing a speaker attached). Listen to Darkane and Nocturnal Rites for an idea of what channel 4 can do. Channel 3 is tighter, lower gain, and also very cool, but artificial harmonics have a somewhat unusual sound to them, that I'm a little iffy on. Listen to Angel Dust's album "Bleed" for an example of what I'm talking about.
    Savage 120 clips: - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database

    VHT/Fryette Deilverance 60 / P50E-loaded 4x12: No doubt about it, these tend to be love-or-hate amps. One channel (with a switchable 4th gain stage), nothing footswitchable, no FX loop, and the ability to go from clean to metal with your guitar's volume knob. Typical VHT/Fryette stiffness and clarity (another 6550/KT88 power section), and extremely sensitive to small details in your playing and the rest of your rig. This amp has forced me to become a better player, and learning how it responds to dynamics has affected the way I play other amps as well. It responds extremely well to a clean boost for some extra saturation, but is capable of metal on its own...from early stuff like Maiden and Priest, all the way up to modern stuff. Great for low tunings and extended-range instruments.
    Deliverance clips: - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database - the guitar gear mp3 database

    I'm pretty sure that covers everything I've owned (that's worth speaking of, at least).

  9. #15

    Join Date: Sep 2010
    Location: Wales, UK

    iTrader: 0

    nice (apologies for the uselass gaba)

    My favourites (from what i have properly played)

    Peavey XXX
    Great live amp, cosistent and powers through any sound wall

    Peavey 5150
    Great recording amp, not agreed by everyone as a live amp but for its genre certainly stands out on record.

    Mesa Triple Rectifier/mark IV
    Great amps, only had a fiddle about with them when i was recording a band whos guitarists had this combination, but real easy to work with and wouldnt mind one myself :-).

    Yeah im no expert, and these are your average metal joe's go-to amps i suppose.

    Great post guys
    Last edited by craig9045; 09-24-2010 at 07:42 PM. Reason: advice

  10. #16

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Wellington, New Zealand
    ME: J.Craft RG2820
    Rig: RM100 > K412T

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    Line 6 Spider II 1x12 (G12T 75 watts): I've always spoken highly of these amps, because they're the ideal practise/at home amps. You can get virtually any tone You want and it will sound better than most solid state amplifiers. When You switch to Valve amps You begin to appreciate how You didn't have to re-tube Your old Spider II

    Line 6 Spider II 150 watt head + Crate GT300(0?) 4x12 (not sure what speakers were in those): Again, brilliant amp and I still miss it's easy to tame tone and effect accessability. I'll definitely be buying the 15 watt combo equivalent for christmas.

    NOTE: Almost with all SS amps, they dont clean up when You roll down Your guitar's volume when You are on the higher gain channels.

    Randall RM100 All-tube 100 watt head + Rivera Knucklehead cabinet (V30 60 watt speakers): I'll be completely honest, I haven't played all the popular amps people like around here, I don't enjoy the people who work at most of the music stores in my area. I love those amp and I'm looking forward to being able to afford the pedals I want for it (Boss SD-1 or Ibanez TS-9, some kind of reverb and a delay). Without a doubt, it will sound brilliant. The two downsides to this amp are: The lack of a built in delay, like the one You would see on a Marshall JCM900 and the fact that, unless You have 3200 NZD, You have to save up for the modules after You've bought the amp. With that being said, it is obviously a rediculously versatile amp.

    Crate GT300 + Rivera Knucklehead cabinet (V30 60 watt speakers) [I used this Crate while my RM100 was being re-tubed
    : LOL. That is all.

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