#1
Hello all!

For the past several years I have owned and used a 2x12" combo Fender Pro185. It is a solid state amp with 2 channels. Now, it's good but definitely not that great for me. I find the sound to be quite dry and the built-in distortion is not compatible with my sound. I have tried a few distortion pedals over the years before settling on a used DOD Grunge pedal to get a distortion sound that I like.

Now that setup isn't all that great and I have been playing a lot more music lately, with upcoming gigs. I would like to upgrade my sound to something more Professional. I am thinking it would be nice to use tube distortion instead of a cheap pedal... We also have some mellow clean parts in our songs and would really like to have the warmth of tubes for a few parts once in a while.

Now, I play mostly punk, but the modern version of it. It is nothing like the Ramones or the Sex Pistols. I am talking about punk bands with lots of technical riffs influenced by metal. Similar bands would be old Thrice, A Wilhelm Scream, new Propagandhi, some AFI, Bad Religion, Belvedere, This Is A Standoff. Also, hardcore acts such as Comeback Kid and Verse. I also don't mind some Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater and Protest the Hero. But my main area is still punk.

Now it seems among those influences that Mesa Dual Rectifiers and Marshalls JCM are very popular. What would be more appropriate for me? Any other brands as well? Price is not really an issue at the moment. The three channels of the Dual Rectifier seem quite nice, giving the possibility to integrate less disto in some parts of the songs too. The Mesa Mark V seems like a powerhouse of versatility, maybe even too much for someone who pretty much sticks to the same sound most of the time.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks

Vince
#3
If you buy a Mesa, be prepared to spend quite some time fiddling w/ the buttons. Amazing versatility comes at a price. But what a sound...

If you want something straight up, go for a Marshall. Distortion is awesome, especially if you keep playing punk.
#4
+1

Mesa's an awesome amp hands down, but so's the Marshall.

You could go Dual Rectifier, JCM 900 (Gainier than the 800,) or a Stiletto if you want a mix of both.

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#5
Dual Recs and JCM900s seem to be the punk amps. I really like when a punk band uses AC30s though. Its a bit of a different flavor, and in my opinion a bit more refined. Brand New is a good example of this.
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Last edited by tubetime86 at May 9, 2011,
#6
Yeah, punk amp technology hasn't really advanced since 1978. Most of the big names are still using the same types of Marshalls that The Ramones and The Clash used. The big change has been the guitars--pickups keep getting hotter and hotter. There hasn't really been a big switch from "British" amps so pretty much anything with that voicing and a gain channel will work.

EDIT: If price isn't an issue, I'd start looking at boutique amps.
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Last edited by kangaxxter at May 9, 2011,
#7
Quote by tubetime86
Dual Recs and JCM900s seem to be the punk amps. I really like when a punk band uses AC30s though. Its a bit of a different flavor, and in my opinion a bit more refined. Brand New is a good example of this.

Pop punk like Brand New is very different from what the TS is talking about though.
#8
Quote by phoenix_crush
Pop punk like Brand New is very different from what the TS is talking about though.

Good point. Punk throws me off, sorry I should have youtubed a couple of those bands I guess.
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#9
Quote by kangaxxter
Yeah, punk amp technology hasn't really advanced since 1978. Most of the big names are still using the same types of Marshalls that The Ramones and The Clash used. The big change has been the guitars--pickups keep getting hotter and hotter. There hasn't really been a big switch from "British" amps so pretty much anything with that voicing and a gain channel will work.

EDIT: If price isn't an issue, I'd start looking at boutique amps.

The Clash used Fender and Musicman amps. The Ramones, well yes, that's Marshall JMP and JCM800. The Pistols were cranked Fender Twin. Punk is a tube amp cranked until your ears hurt, even a clean amp like a Twin. You can get away with a lot of different tube amps - as long as you turn them up to 10.
Cheapest way to get a decent sound is a JCM900. Punk is the only thing it does well but it does it very well. You'll get a decent sound without having the master volume on 10 too. If you have the money buy a Mesa.
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#10
It seems that the whole power tube overdrive would be too saturated for what he's talking about though, after some looking. The couple of those bands I've looked at come off as closer to prog metal than punk... And a cranked Twin isn't gonna be ideal for that. I think I'm out of my element here though.
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#11
That's why I said, "If you have the money buy a Mesa." A lot of newer stuff has definitely headed in that direction.
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#12
If money is not an object look into the Bogner Xtacy or the Uberschall, and don't forget about Soldano, the Avenger is a one chanel beast
#13
And if you like that marshall tone look at Splawn amps the Nitro or the Quick Rod would do you great
#14
Quote by Cathbard
The Clash used Fender and Musicman amps.


You're thinking of Joe Strummer, I'm talking about Mick Jones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mick_Jones_%28The_Clash%29#Musical_equipment
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#15
Ah yes, you're quite right. Point being though, old school punk can be played on just about any valve amp as long as it's cranked to destruction. Modern punk is definitely heading towards Mesas though. Bad Religion certainly sound like Mesas and I think NOFX are using them too.
So I stand by my recommendation - if you can afford it get a Mesa Dual Rec, if you need something cheaper get a JCM900.
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#16
There's been quite a few bands picking up Custom Audio stuff recently - although a quick search and I can't find anyone near me that stocks them....

The Mesa RoadKing II would be pretty versatile, run as hot as you need it, and (having spoken with a friend who techs some of the larger venues round these parts) won't go down unless it's run over by a tank or thrown from the 32nd floor of the nearest skyscraper.
It's an opinion. It's subjective. And I'm right, anyway.
#17
THE modern punk amps imo are still the VHT's (now called Fryette).
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Last edited by LP_CL at May 10, 2011,
#18
Ah, I love A Wilhelm Scream.

OT: Probably a JCM900, I know it's been said already, but that was my immediate thought upon reading the OP.
#19
For the bands you listed a 2 channel Dual Recto is your best bet. The majority of them use Mesas. NOFX used to use Mark III's afaik but now use Roadsters. Might be biased because I just bought one, but I reckon the Peavey XXX would do tech punk well. Belvedere, A Wilhelm Scream, Thrice etc all cry Dual Recto though
#20
Wow, what an amazing support! Thanks guys!

I should have said "Tech punk" because it is sometimes what it's called although there are musical genres which I am sure are way more technical....Just to make the point clear, I am not after the old school sound at all, that's why I said modern punk. But I think most replies hit the target

Tubetime86 is right, those Tech punk bands I listed tend to have a prog/metal sound.

Most of you suggested Mesa or JCM, but I also appreciated that other people mentionned different brands too, maybe less appreciated in the modern punk scene. Fryette, I had never even heard of.*Splawn either.

Now it seems to me that the JCM800/900 have been around for a long time. I am surprised they are still so popular even for modern punk. It is as if nothing had really surpassed those legenderay amps. I heard a few comments from purists who say that the distortion stage on the 800/900 is less good because part of the distortion is made through diode clipping instead of tubes.

Between Marshall and Mesa, I am leaning more towards Mesa which seems to have been the staple in the 2nd and 3rd punk wave in the 90s and 00s. The more I look into it though, the more it seems as if the Dual Rectifier is being surpassed by new options, such as Splawn, which seem to tear.

I am going to the stores this weekend to try a few. I am thinking it will be difficult to compare them with having them side by side, it's all so subjective.

Isn't Bogner targeted way more for pure metal? I have listened to a few clips and I have really liked the distortion, it was aggressive and tight.

My rhythm guitar player also brought up the idea that Brit. amps have a different sound than American amps and that it may also help me to determine which sound I prefer. I had never really thought of it that way. True? What is so different?

Thanks again to all for your support!!
#22
The good JCM800's (2203/2204) don't have diode clipping. They introduced that on the much maligned 2205/2210. The JCM900 4100/4105 went even further, much to the disgust of all the Marshall heads, by introducing 15 op-amps and 9 clipping diodes. For everything but punk the 2203 slays a 4100 and dances on it's grave. The harshness created by all those op-amps and diodes in the 900 does make it work very well for old punk and will even hold its own for lots of modern punk. For the sort of punk you are talking about (which is hardly punk - technical punk is a contradiction in terms ), the amp you seek is a Mesa of some type, prefferably a Dual Rec
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#23
Quote by guitarpatrick66
You guys may all think im absolutly nuts but I like the Soldano SLO for punk.

Thats not nuts at all Soldanos are amazing amps for alot of styles, just a bit on the $$$$ side of amps! Bogners are amazing but again your looking at $2300 used for an Uberschall! Most Punk bands can't afford a mesa rig $$$ ether
#24
I'm in a similar band, little more poppy but I like high distortion power chords and pretty little clean parts, think kinda blink-182ish. I'm looking into a Vox though, my friend who's a huge metal buff has a triple rectifier. That's a bit much for me but that may be his Kerry King signatures with EMG's lol
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#25
Try a vox ac30. The band "The Refused" use them. If not, the jcm 800/900 would be fine. I'm probably gonna get flamed like shit for saying this but bugera make a mean jcm 900 clone, the 1990.
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#26
So I did three different stores yesterday and watched again countless clips of amps. Keep in mind I am far from a sound engineer and I have trouble putting into words the sounds I like, I also have trouble comparing the amps, I go mostly by feeling.

First I ran into a used JCM900 4100. I absolutely loved the rich clean but found the distortion to be lacking somewhat limited. It's kinda like it or not. You can't really customize it, the amp is very straightforward.

So I then tried a Peavey 6505. I preferred Marshall's clean by far. The distortion was quite customizable though, which was better than Marshall on that account. But the distortion seemed to be lacking in richness and brilliance. Maybe a good amp for metal.

Then tried a Randall Rt503, somewhat entry level 50 watt tube amp. The clean was superb and the distortion was interesting. But there is not presence nor resonance knob on the OD channels, so I couldn't really fine tune the distortion as I would have liked.

The tried a Randall RM100KH, Kirk Hamlett signature. That amp was very interesting. Clean was excellent. Distortion was definitely metal, without being too heavy. The exchangeable preamp system seemed to be quite an added value to that amp, although I doubt somebody like me would really benefit from it. That head was quite expansive. I am reconsidering my previous statement where I said price was not a problem. I don't want to go above 2000$ for the head.

Then, with much anticipation, tried the Mesa Dual Rectifier. I don't know if it's just me but I really couldn't find a distortion that I loved. It seemed really hard to reach a satisfying sound. Actually, I could not really see the classic sound that we seem to hear so often in tech punk. Quite frankly, I am not sure how those bands do it with this amp. I found the sound to be quite dark, very low end and somewhat cold. Please tell me I didn't set this amp properly!! Also, no reverb on that amp, that was a disappointment.

Then tried the Mesa Mark V. I was eager to hear it, knowing AWS uses it. I found that amp to be way more versatile than the DR. I was able to get very interesting distortion on the Mark IV and Extreme modes. That amp was very difficult to fine tune, there are hundreds of different sound possible... I watched a whole series last night of clips showing the different modes of that amp and I was blown away. You really have to know what you are doing with that am. I therefore think this amp is not for me, especially at 2400 $.

And finally, tried a Marshall JVM 410H... After just a few seconds, I was very pleased with the sound. It seemed way more natural an appropriate to me. I was frightened by the 4 channels and 3 different gain modes for each channel, it seems too much. Have you seen the number of knobs on that beast?? I am also questionning the quality Vs. a Mesa. But the sound was so creamy, rich and full. It could do the low end thing too, but I guess that's not what I am after, afterall...

So if I could sum it up, I would say the other amps sounded way darker, colder and more low end. The Marshall had more brilliance and a very interesting tone. I am thinking the Marshall JVM210H (two channels only) may be more appropriate for a simple guy like me.

So what do you think?
Thanks!
#27
Sorry if I flooded you with my previous post

I have done a second round of shopping and now my decision has to be made between these two used heads:

-Mesa Dual Rectifier Roadster
-ENGL Powerball I

They sound so different, I may even have to buy boths and try them out for a while and resell the one I won't like as much.

The Mesa cleans are decent and the built in reverb is very useful for me.
The distortion is heavy, brutal. But it is hard to fine tune. And it stills sounds a bit "boomy" to me. I like the adhesive aspect of the disto though. A lot of people say that head is not that tight, but can be if adjusted correctly. Is that head a lot different sounding that the "standard" Dual Rectifier? I doubt it, but it does seems more versatile. What would you say about it?

The Powerball is the model 1, which apparently had problems cutting through. This was discussed at length here. The problem could be addressed using an EQ pedal.
I really liked the sharp distortion of the PB, more razor sounding, somewhat compressed. I guess I liked that sound because it reminded me of what I am used to, from using a diode based distrotion pedal. Some say the PB sounds a bit digital. On the positive side, the delivery is also more accurate than Mesa, but I don't play that fast either. It was easy to find a good sound with that head, compared to a DR.

I am thinking the Mesa will be more versatile than Powerball... and can still be somewhat tamed not to sound too boomy and make it sharper.

Also, the Mesa can take either 6L6 or EL34. That sounds like an advantage to me. I liked heads with EL34 in them (like the Stiletto - but that head lacked some frequency width to me)

Any final opinions?

About cabs... What cab should i go for/ avoid for both heads if I aim to have a bright sound, not too boomy ?

Thanks a lot guys
#29
Hey,

Saw Bad Religion last year and Greg Hetson was using a Dual Rectifier into a marshall cab (99% about the cab) and Brian Baker was using a Marshall head. Incidently I also saw Pennywise and Fletcher was defiently using the Dual Recififer with the metal face, and a messa cab.

I have been looking for a good modern punk tone for ages, much like what you are describing, Bad Religion being my favourite band and what not, and everyone was quick to pipe up just put a tube screamer infront of your gain channel and it'l sound ace. But it just sounds too fizzy for that kind of distortion. I had much more luck pumping a EHX metal Muff into the clean channel, scooping some of the mids, but not all, and throttling back the gain. It is a metal sounding distortion, but a lot of newer punk bands are playing with metalish tones!
#30
I can't believe no one has suggested an Orange! A Rockerverb 50/100 is a great punk amp, it can get a lot heavier, and it has nice cleans.
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#31
Quote by ragingben

I have been looking for a good modern punk tone for ages, much like what you are describing, Bad Religion being my favourite band and what not, and everyone was quick to pipe up just put a tube screamer infront of your gain channel and it'l sound ace. But it just sounds too fizzy for that kind of distortion. I had much more luck pumping a EHX metal Muff into the clean channel, scooping some of the mids, but not all, and throttling back the gain. It is a metal sounding distortion, but a lot of newer punk bands are playing with metalish tones!


Correct, most newer punk bands have metalish tones! So what kind of amp do you have to achieve your modern punk tone?

I have finally closed the deal on a Mesa Roadster! I might reconsider the PB II at a later time, but I had too many doubts about the PBI to proceed with it. Plus, the guy sold it before I could test it out. I know I will have to familiarise myself with the amp for a while before finding my own voice, because that amp is really versatile.

Now, I am looking for a good cab to go with it. I know nothing about cab except that some of the popular speakers are V30's and GT-75's. What would be more suited to the Mesa? Any brands? What speakers? I want a sharp sound without too much bass... Some guy told me to avoid Marshall cabinets, don't really know why.

You may even redirect me to some interesting articles about cabinets


Thanks!
#32
Quote by thrice23
Correct, most newer punk bands have metalish tones! So what kind of amp do you have to achieve your modern punk tone?
Thanks!

I use a Traynor YCV50 (the blue older one) and while I like it I'm not sure it would have been my 100% first choice if I had more money. It just has a nice overal darkish tone to it.

No idea with cabs though sorry, they aren't something I have ever dabbled in (although I'd love a good half stack)
#33
Quote by ragingben
I use a Traynor YCV50 (the blue older one) and while I like it I'm not sure it would have been my 100% first choice if I had more money. It just has a nice overal darkish tone to it.


Looks good, no idea how it sounds though. My rythm guitar player has a YCS100H. I played with it for about an hour and I wasn't floored. They are cheap and decent though. Some seller told me I didn't need to spend big money on huge brands like Mesa, that a Traynor would do it easily. I still have doubts....
#34
Hey guys,

This thread is old but thought I would write back to report about my purchase.
I found a used but as new Mesa Roadster and also got my hands on a mesa 4x12" cab. I am VERY satisfied, but I did have to play a lot with the amp settings. There are so many knobs on that beast, that you could do pretty much everything. It's just too much!

The amp has a dark sound, great if you like that! My main disto is on channel 3, not even on modern, but on vintage mode. It's plenty distortion for me!!! Obviously, modern metal would probably opt for channel 4 and modern mode, but that's really not necessary for me.

The cleans are not that outstanding though, the major problem I find is that they lack sustain. With reverb, it helps. But I only play short clean parts, so no big deal.

take care
vince
#35
Good choice. It's nice to hear back about what you went for and if you were satisfied with it. We normally never find out what happened.



Btw. Last time I saw NoFX they were using rectos too.
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