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#1
Thanks for taking a look.

I recently bought a new guitar and am disappointed with the tone. My setup is a Randall V2 head, Engl 4X12 Greenback cab, Ibanez Prestige RG1570, MT-2 Metal Zone, NS-2 Noise Suppressor.

I'm aware that the Vintage 7 and 8 stock pickups aren't very good and I'll get new ones installed soon. Having recently bought the guitar, this was always the plan. But I've heard this guitar sound noticeably better over youtube with the stock pickups. I know not everyone is a fan of the V2 head, but I've heard an Ibanez Prestige guitar played through this very amp when I bought it second hand and it absolutely sung. Although I never asked what pickups he had or what guitar in the series it was.

Whatever settings I use, the tone is tinny and undefined, and even with the metal pedal, the distortion is muddy and I can't get nearly enough of it...This setup should be best when playing heavy music?!!? and maddeningly, I don't even use the head and cab right now, instead I get a better tone running my metal pedal and noise suppressor through a Lexicon Omega interface with the studio quality Sennhaiser DT 880 headphones.

Anyway, I'm planning on getting the Dimarzio Tone Zone and Air Norton pickups. The same pickups used on the more expensive Ibanez Prestige guitars, although I didn't just choose them offhand, I did my research.

I am worried that after spending all this money my setup still won't sound much better. Can anyone that upgraded from Vintage 7s and 8s comment on the difference that new pickups made? I'm no expert on the tech side, is there anything I could try to alter this setup's settings?

Thanks then.
#2
In my opinion, distortion pedals give horrible tone. I would pretty much always go with the distortion from the amp. just mess around with the amp settings without the metal zone. once you get a decent tone dialed in, fine tune it. I would only get new pickups as a last resort
#3
You have a fine guitar and a fine amplifier/cabinet. You can get plenty of great tones out of it.

First, back off of the gain. Too much gain is going to make almost anything sound nasally. More low end in the EQ is in order. You might even want to try a 10-band graphic EQ pedal. A lot of people who play heavy stuff swear by them.

Your V2 will probably sound better when turned up. A lot of amps; particularly hybrid amps like the V2 and Marshall's Mode Four, don't sound as good at practice volumes. People will tell you that it doesn't make a difference, but I know from experience that it does.

Set your EQ flat and adjust the controls one at a time until you start hearing what you are looking for. Tweaking an amplifier can take some time, and once you get your settings for God's sake write them down!

New pickups might not make a huge difference, but the pickups that you mentioned are good ones.

Work with your rig. You'll find what you are looking for.
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#4
Thanks then. Actually, I've not yet really spent that much time tweaking the V2, as I also played my last guitar without it and through the headphones.

I had heard that it would sound better dialled up, then promptly forgot to try it out. It's irrelevant from the standpoint of practising because I don't want to drive my neighbours mad, but the thought that it could sound better live is promising.
#5
dont go through this whole process by yourself. The good thing about music is that there are plenty of people who are passionate about it, and willing to help you out. Get in touch with a music store nearby and see if they can offer any assistance.....you might be able to take your rig in and have them check it out. I think it would be a good idea to be active in your quest for tone....dont just read reviews and watch youtube videos. Talk to dealers and get their opinion. Test your gear out before you buy it, etc.
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#6
get rid of the metal zone. Seriously. The V2 has more than enough gain for what you're trying to do. Back off the mids to about half and boost your lows. a 10 band eq would probably help.

Greenbacks are, as far as I know, rather middy speakers. swapping for a couple of less middy speakers might help.
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You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#7
Ok, I'll keep all that in mind. I can get an improved sound with less gain, perhaps I should have mentioned this. I've spent quite a bit time adjusting the settings and I'll only ever put the gain to a maximum of about 2 o'clock. I think I need to do some more research about the pantheon reverb as that has more many, many different settings and what I use might be part of the problem.

Yeah, perhaps it'd be worth paying for an amp check up, I do get an extra sound from the clean channel sometimes which is a bit annoying.

The V2 does already have a 6-band graphic EQ so that should be enough.
Last edited by Dancan at May 31, 2010,
#8
ditch the metal zone
play with less gain. most people dont need that much gain. i'm disccovering that the less gain i use the better. i sound so much tighter, as long as i havent been hiding behind excess fiss to hide shitty playing. get woodsheddin' and back off the gain
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#9
im going to suggest stripping your rig down to the absolute basics to start with. that means guitar, head and cab. i suspect the pedals are playing a role in your funky tone.

once you have brought your rig back to basics, level off all your controls on your amp; that means all your treble, mids, bass presence and density controls along with your graphic eq to their midpoints. from here, you can set the master where you think it really ought to be to get the volume you want, but i would suggest setting it on the high side of things and using the individual level controls to set volume.

at this point, you should be able to use your eq (rotary, not graphic) to get your sound closer to what you want. you ought to be able to get a great tone out of this rig. i would suggest adding bass and treble and cutting mids, but thats really up to you. the graphic eq, unlike the rotary knobs which are for general tonal adjustments, is for the augmentation or elimination of specific frequencies; meaning, if you have a particular frequency you want cut because it resonates too much or you want to boost a specific frequency, you use the graphic eq. DO NOT USE GRAPHIC EQ's BEFORE YOU'VE SET YOUR ROTARY EQ!!!!!

from there, you can set your gain levels and whatnot. the presence control is also a good one to use as it changes the innitial attack of the notes.

i know this all sounds obvious, but it really helps to break things down to absolute basics. the amp is good, the cab is good and the guitar is much better than you're giving it credit for being. going back to basics lets these elements work with the least possible resistance; we are cutting potential sources of tonal drag rather than trying to add tonal horsepower.

also, chuck the metal zone. you have a very good amp from a company who specializes in making heavily distorted, metal friendly amps. there simply is no reason to place a relatively poor "metal" pedal infront of a fire-breathing monster of an amp. furthermore, check the settings on your noise suppressor: those buggers sound downright weird if they're turned up too high. try dialing it in just enough to suppress the noise (read: suppress, not eliminate, there will always be some noise) and no more and i suspect you'll improve the dynamics of your tone

as for pickups, they will help the guitar for sure. but before you go spending more money, try using what you have to its greatest potential (there's certainly a hell of a lot of potential in your amp). and, as mentioned above, your amp will sound better as you turn it up
#10
Quote by oneblackened
get rid of the metal zone. Seriously. The V2 has more than enough gain for what you're trying to do. Back off the mids to about half and boost your lows. a 10 band eq would probably help.

Greenbacks are, as far as I know, rather middy speakers. swapping for a couple of less middy speakers might help.


i agree with greenbacks probably not being the best speakers for your setup. i would consider going with two vintage 30's and two g12t75's (relatively common setup) or your could go with all four of either. i tend to like the V30's better though.
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#11
OK, I really appreciate all the feedback, I don't know another forum where you get this much interest.

Can I just confirm, as far as optimising volume for the best tone, is the master volume always the most important to keep as high as possible? By setting the volume on my Lexicon interface down low, I'm able to leave the master volume on the head up to full, and the sound is definitely better now.

Beyond that, there are a lot of options when you include the tone control and 5-way pickup selector on the guitar, I'll keep working at it, without the pedal.
#12
Listen to everyone on the metal zone advice. Drop it, and burn it. As for your amp....it's good, but if you tweak away and still aren't happy with the tone, then start to look elsewhere. Take it from someone who has been searching for an amp that satisfies across the board for over two years. I've went from Marshall JCM to Valveking to 6505+ to amp simulators until I bit the bullet and bought a Mark V. Now I am slapping myself at what I've been missing. There really is an amp out there for everyone's needs, and when you hear it you know it. Also, not sure how good of a player you are, but definitely check your playing as well. A little bit of pain shot through my body when I heard some bad@ss guy playing through my JCM as I got ready to sell it to him. I realized that my playing was part of why I didnt like the amp. In the end it still wasnt right for me though.
#13
Lose the Ibanez. They are bad news bears for good tone. Try a Schecter. They have some affordable guitars and they have much nicer tone. Also try getting new cables. Most people overlook this, but bad cables really kill good tone. Lose the Distortion pedal, too. Mess with the tone and volume knobs on your guitar. The pickups might need raising or lowering, and if you mess with the height a bit, you might find a "sweet spot" where everything sounds more lively.
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#14
Quote by bebe17
Lose the Ibanez. They are bad news bears for good tone. Try a Schecter.


In your opinion, personally I love the tone of all my Ibanezs.

Everything krehzeekid says is damned good advice, strip it back to basics, tweak as much as you can to get as good as you can with just that and then if it doesn't do what you want add more stuff.
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#15
Boss MT-2 is the worst distortion pedal known to man. Ditch it for sure. I literally use mine as a doorstop.
#16
Quote by bebe17
Lose the Ibanez. They are bad news bears for good tone.

I don't think you're giving Ibanez as good of a chance as it deserves. I used to HATE their guitars, but once I realized that I was just basing this off of what I heard from a friend whose opinions I idolized, I tried out some of their stuff. Some of their guitars I hated, others I loved. I'm not saying that this is what you're doing, but I'm just saying that if you are doing this, don't.
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#17
Quote by bebe17
Lose the Ibanez.

Do Vai, Gilbert, and Petrucci have bad tones? They play guitars that are identical to RGs except for necks, pickups and finishes.
#18
Well I hear the evolution pickups are ideal for their type of sounds, tighter ones that show up all your mistakes clearly, but this of course helps improvement. I've chosen the Tone Zone/Air Norton ones now anyway, I've heard a lot of good things about them.

I've taken onboard what you're all saying about the pedal, and aside from getting a better tone, I guess it's also about having a clearer tone, so you can note your mistakes and improve quicker.
#19
I haven't read all the replies but have you adjusted the pickup heights at all? Try that.
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#20
I would first recommend a tube swap before you drop cash on new pickups. Usually stock tubes are shoddy at best, without actually knowing the amp the I can't give any recommendations but you can search around online for descriptions and otheres with your amp.

Next thing I would do is load the cab with different speakers if you're playing metal. I would recommend 2 Texas Heats with either 2 Rajun' Cajuns or 2 Swamp Thangs. I'm not huge on Ibanez by far but those pickups should be alright and give acceptable tone. Hell, they came in a prestiege... Ibanez's top shelf models


EDIT: If you keep having problems, I would se about selling your amp and getting an Engl Fireball. They're a no frills, straight wiring, hell-rasing metal machine. They've got great cleans that don't distort very much at high volume and one loud-ass 50W single channel of death and despair... perfect for balls-ripping metal. It's like you tamed a majestically singing herd of unicorns, then slaughtered them with an sledge made from midget skulls
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Last edited by Flux'D at Jun 2, 2010,
#21
ditch the boss pedals
personally i would say change the amp but if you said you heard good tones out of it then you need to keep trying
the pickups won't make THAT much difference unless the pickups in your guitar are awful
#22
Operator error.
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#23
Some nice advice here. Another related question that's been bugging me for a while:

Guitar volume or Master volume, which first? Do you guys always play with guitar volume at max?
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#24
Quote by Azunaii
Some nice advice here. Another related question that's been bugging me for a while:

Guitar volume or Master volume, which first? Do you guys always play with guitar volume at max?


Volume on the amp is for controlling volume, volume on the guitar is mainly another tone-shaping tool. Unless you're on a clean sound, then guitar volume does actually lower overall volume significantly.
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#25
Lol @ your description of the Fireball sound. I've not looked into the pickup height issue yet, no, I'll make a note of it. I'll keep those other ideas in mind, thanks.
Last edited by Dancan at Jun 2, 2010,
#26
Lose the Metal Zone. Don't worry about your pickups that much.

What are your current EQ settings on your amp? (AND WHY HAS NOBODY ASKED THIS YET?)
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#27
EQ was discussed earlier on. Perhaps I'm just being picky about it, but I will use bridge pickups and a more bassy EQ, or I'll try neck pickups and more trebly EQ, but nothing sounds good enough. I am changing the pickups out, as any improvement at all will be welcome.

A large proportion of the RG 1570 reviews on this site mention changing the pickups, and the next level up in the series has better ones, the ones I'm buying, in fact, as do all the other models higher up in the series. I would've bought one of them to begin with, or maybe another brand of guitar, but I'm left handed, the choices are limited.
#28
replacing the pickups on the rg1570 works very very well.


taking away the metal zone works super super well

rolling back on gain, and sometimes using a overdrive such as atube screamer to tighten up the sound works great as well
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#29
Quote by Dancan
EQ was discussed earlier on. Perhaps I'm just being picky about it, but I will use bridge pickups and a more bassy EQ, or I'll try neck pickups and more trebly EQ, but nothing sounds good enough. I am changing the pickups out, as any improvement at all will be welcome.

A large proportion of the RG 1570 reviews on this site mention changing the pickups, and the next level up in the series has better ones, the ones I'm buying, in fact, as do all the other models higher up in the series. I would've bought one of them to begin with, or maybe another brand of guitar, but I'm left handed, the choices are limited.


swapping out the pickups will help the guitar, though i think you may be throwing money at a problem (look at the bush administration to see how well that works...). im still a little unsure about what tone you are trying to get, but i suspect you bridge pickup is going to be your best friend. play with the eq on a SIMPLIFIED rig (like i mentioned earlier, cut drag rather than adding horsepower!) and see what you come up with. i've goofed around with similar rigs amp/guitar wise, and ive managed some really good tones, so im somewhat at a loss as to what is the matter.

in regards to the vintage 30 comment (about them being too mid heavy), they have a relitively flat frequency response from about 100Hz to 20,000Hz with several small spikes between 10,000Hz and 15,000Hz, so they definately have somewhat of a high mid bias, but its only a few dB. couple that with the fact that a good number of metal players (Adam Dutkiewicz, Doug Scarratt, Gary Holt, Glen Tipton, Jason Hook, John 5, Kerry King, Michael Amott and Scott Ian), many of whom are randall devotees, and you start to see the picture; vintage 30's are just fine for metal. in fact, many players (myself included), prefer vintage 30's for metal because they sound a little warmer and the mids can help them cut through an unfriendly mix. therefore, i doubt your speakers are an issue whatsoever.
#30
Quote by krehzeekid
im still a little unsure about what tone you are trying to get
yeah, me too. this hasn't been much discussed and could be useful to TS.

Insanely huge and technical advice.


really good advice you gave up there krehzeekid. basics can be pretty much what you need, when you can play with it.
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#31
I think the best advice here has been to simply the rig and re-do all your amp settings from a mid point intially. One thing to keep in mind is the tone controls' effects increase with volume so at low volumes you usualy need "more" of Bass, Mids or Treble but at higher volumes the same settings become too pronounced and you need to back off a bit.

Strings affect your tone as well and I didn't see any info on what maker & gauge you use, and what your tuning to.
Moving on.....
#32
Yeah, I'll get to experimenting with the amp properly when the new pickups are fitted on Saturday. Ill be sure to start with the settings at 12 o'clock .

I use 9 gauge and standard tuning. As I should have mentioned to begin with, the V2 head was second hand, and I have no idea how long ago the previous owner changed the tubes, so this is certainly going to be my next step. I would've had this done before the pickups but the local gear tech is away. I'll be very interested to see what makes the most difference, tubes or pickups.
Last edited by Dancan at Jun 3, 2010,
#33
There's nothing wrong with 9's but you can get a little more body out of 10's. That may increase your tone satisfaction too.
Moving on.....
#34
I know this is beating a dead horse but...

Get rid of the MT-2. Get the new pickups. Those are the best things you can do for your tone. Also, I'd disregard anyone who says "get a new guitar" cause yours is an Ibanez. I'm gonna bet your RG1570 is great.

EDIT: Definitely try the 10 gauge strings. I just switched from 9's to 10's and I loooove them.
Last edited by Saminator at Jun 3, 2010,
#35
Quote by Dancan
I'll be very interested to see what makes the most difference, tubes or pickups.



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#36
The new Dimzarzio pickups have been installed and they're definitely worth the money. They sound perhaps 40-50% better than the previous vintage 7 and 8 ones.

I just don't know how much the tubes need changing because I don't know when the previous owner of this amp changed them, so the next step is change out both the pre and power ones.

I definitely prefer the Air Norton to the Tone Zone, it can sound so pure, and ramping up the gain while leaving the presence at 12 o'clock on this neck pickup creates my favorite tone so far. But this setup is still not capable of producing really heavy music, and I think the amp tubes might be why.
#37
The same tube from different companies sound completely different. A 12AX7 made by Ruby sounds different than a 12AX7 from EHX. Look around at reviews on different brands and see what will fit your needs the best
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#38
there's alot of walls of text in this thread so sorry if this has already been said. But maybe part of the problem is your playing, alot of the tone comes from your fingers.
#39
Also if your guitar sounds too mellow or too bright try some different strings. Not of a different gauge but of a different make like pure nickels or pure steels, something like that.
Always tin your strings.

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#40
As someone said before, definetely check your pickup height. My tone was absolute crap, really muddy and unbearable to listen to until I lowered my bridge pickup. Could work for you.
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