#1
I was wondering what the minimum wattage on an amp head you need to get a big distorted guitar sound? I'm gonna put the head I buy probably through an Orange 2x12. Would 20 watts do it or am I looking at this the wrong way?
#4
Honestly I'd be more concerned about the speaker. A 2x12 is going to sound huge compared to a 1x8 or something.

The other day I played an 18 watt marshall and it had one of the biggest sounds I've ever heard at the low volume I was playing at. I'm sure the Orange will be great.
Originally posted by primusfan
When you crank up the gain to 10 and switch to the lead channel, it actually sounds like you are unjustifiably bombing an innocent foreign land.


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#5
Yea, you really need to specify WHICH scenario you are refering to that you want to have a big sound in. In my opinion, 20 watts its plenty, but the situation largely dictates how you get a big sound.

If youre recording, then you need layers of guitar panned across the stereo width, and you need to high pass and mix them in with the bass and drums all working together.
If youre practicing, then usually I get a bigger sound by using more gain than i usually would, less mids than normal, and some extra bass (odds are this tone wouldnt translate to live or studio though, but it is variable)
For live.. i dont have enough gigs and trial and error under my belt to be sure. But my guess is you would use a similar eq as to studio, and work with the bassist and drummer- it definitely helps if there are multiple guitarists. If not, maybe you would want to use multiple microphones on your amp in different positions on the speaker cone to get a few different sounds and send them all to the mixer. You definitely want to be going through a PA. Guitar disappears at the back of the room and all people hear is bass (in my experience)
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#6
In what scenario? Do you need cleans? How loud is the drummer? Your question is too vague.
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#7
Quote by ibanezguitars44
Honestly I'd be more concerned about the speaker. A 2x12 is going to sound huge compared to a 1x8 or something. .


It *really* depends on the 1x8. I'm using KRK Rokit 8's (powered monitors with an 8"woofer) and those things, in a small room, cover a lot of ground. If you really want to hear some knock-down huge sound out of an 8" speaker, find a Crazy 8 or a Crazy 88:

http://www.barryaudiodesign.com/crazy-8s.html
#8
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#9
Cheers for the replies - I should have given more info about my requirements. Essentially it's purely for recording, probably with an SM58 - styles of music Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, Limp Bizkit, QOTSA, Evanescence. Cleans are really important as well.

I was thinking it might be the speaker as I bought a Blackstar HT5 before and it sounded like s**t recorded, but Ola Englund stuck it through a Mesa 2x12 and it sounded awesome.

What would be the benefits of say a 20w head in comparison?
Last edited by Chargrill3d at Jan 8, 2015,
#10
Quote by Chargrill3d
Cheers for the replies - I should have given more info about my requirements. Essentially it's purely for recording, probably with an SM58 - styles of music Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, Limp Bizkit, QOTSA, Evanescence. Cleans are really important as well.

I was thinking it might be the speaker as I bought a Blackstar HT5 before and it sounded like s**t recorded, but Ola Englund stuck it through a Mesa 2x12 and it sounded awesome.

What would be the benefits of say a 20w head in comparison?


to be perfectly honest, if you are only getting the amp for recording, then i'd use software instead. it will be quite a bit cheaper, far more flexible (record anytime of day or night) and provides more tones.

i generally just plug my guitar into my channel strip and go right into the interface and most the time i use native Logic amp sims.

there are some positives and negatives, but if all i was doing was recording then i'd just not bother with an amp. though it is hard[/impossible?] to get a nice feedback sound using amp sims.
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#11
Amp sims don't really cut it from my experience - you can get decent sounds but not truly great which is what I'm aiming for.
#12
Quote by dspellman
It *really* depends on the 1x8. I'm using KRK Rokit 8's (powered monitors with an 8"woofer) and those things, in a small room, cover a lot of ground. If you really want to hear some knock-down huge sound out of an 8" speaker, find a Crazy 8 or a Crazy 88:

http://www.barryaudiodesign.com/crazy-8s.html


Why are you bringing up reference speakers when everyone is talking about guitar cabs? If you want to compare the two I'd say the difference between an 8" and a 12" guitar speaker are comparable to the difference between a 4" and an 8" FRFR.

Cheers for the replies - I should have given more info about my requirements. Essentially it's purely for recording, probably with an SM58 - styles of music Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, Limp Bizkit, QOTSA, Evanescence. Cleans are really important as well.

I was thinking it might be the speaker as I bought a Blackstar HT5 before and it sounded like s**t recorded, but Ola Englund stuck it through a Mesa 2x12 and it sounded awesome.

What would be the benefits of say a 20w head in comparison?


There's no minimum wattage for big guitar sounds as there are numerous ways one can achieve a big sound and of course numerous ways to interpret what a "big sound" actually is. Higher wattage amps certainly can push a lot more bass than lower wattage amps and if you're just listening to a guitar on it's own then often a higher wattage amp will sound bigger. In a mix however the extra bass can cause issues and actually make it sound smaller or get lost.

Personally I'm not really a fan of 20 watt amps for in home recording. Most low wattage amps are designed with power tube saturation in mind. Which means they need to be cranked. Which means they're really ****ing loud. While many (not all) higher wattage amps are designed for preamp gain and need little to no power tube break up to sound good... Basically, they can operate at lower volumes and still produce fairly good tones. ******ed though it may sound, I play 100 watt amps at home and 20 watt amps with bands.

That said. For recording guitar sounds are often really thin. They're just double/triple tracked to sound thicker than they really are. Plus the bass will be making them sound even fatter.

If you're not concerned about volume, then any amp that you like the sound of will do as long as you're decent at mixing. If volume is an issue, you're way better off with a good modeler.
#13
Quote by Chargrill3d
Amp sims don't really cut it from my experience - you can get decent sounds but not truly great which is what I'm aiming for.


have to disagree. depends on the quality of the amp sim. i use a POD for recording and have gottensome excellent guitar tones. granted they may not be perfect but they have worked fine in getting a pro sounding recording.
#14
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#15
Quote by icronic
Higher wattage amps certainly can push a lot more bass than lower wattage amps

Nope, its the cab.

Quote by icronic
Most low wattage amps are designed with power tube saturation in mind. Which means they need to be cranked. Which means they're really ****ing loud. While many (not all) higher wattage amps are designed for preamp gain and need little to no power tube break up to sound good... Basically, they can operate at lower volumes and still produce fairly good tones. ******ed though it may sound, I play 100 watt amps at home and 20 watt amps with bands.

Total misinformation. All tube amps achieve power distortion, smaller amps achieve it at lower volumes.

That said. For recording guitar sounds are often really thin. They're just double/triple tracked to sound thicker than they really are. [\quote]

Not necessarily, look up a video on Wagener recording guitar and you'd see that he gets a huge sound on two guitars on a track, is how you mic.


If you want to get a truly good sound miking amp is the way to go still. You can think of using Sims and revamping if you will bother the folks at home. As a recording engineer I'd have to say that mic+tube amp is the best way to do it. You can fake it close with Sims but no cigar.
#16
Quote by diabolical
Nope, its the cab.


Umm....No. While a cab can enhance bass response (or detract from it) bass volume requires moving large quantities of air, which means significant speaker excursion, which means wattage.


Quote by diabolical
Total misinformation. All tube amps achieve power distortion, smaller amps achieve it at lower volumes..


Again no, only amps cranked beyond a certain threshold achieve Power end distortion, and in much of today's music that simply doesn't happen. More often than not the distortion is all from the pre's.


The rest I have no opinion on, as the arguments for and against sims will rage long after we are gone.
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#17
Quote by Arby911
Umm....No. While a cab can enhance bass response (or detract from it) bass volume requires moving large quantities of air, which means significant speaker excursion, which means wattage.

It's both. You can move a significant amount of air with a low-wattage amp. The difference between a low and high wattage amp is the the point where you're really working the speaker. You really don't need to push the power section of a 100W amp to get the speakers working hard to get a massive sound. But you'll be pushing the power section of 20W amp to work the speakers in a similar fashion. And pushing the power amp means there's less definition and the bass won't be as pronounced. So you do get better bass response with more powerful amps. Plus, the tubes you would find in a 100W amp (EL34s and 6L6s) have a fuller bass response than tubes you would find in 20W amps (EL84s and 6V6s).

You don't need a big amp to sound big. You can record something that's good enough on a lower wattage amp. But most people would go for a bigger amp to for high-gain recording if size, space, and money weren't an issue. And through reamping, I'm sure you could compensate for the downsides of recording a less powerful amp.
Last edited by JELIFISH19 at Jan 8, 2015,
#18
i would say in most cases, amps like a uberscahall, deziel amps etc sound teh way to tehy do from thier design, and part of that eqaution is the wattage. those amps just wont sound the same at low wattage. try and take a baron snott watt, at 9 or less watts and then compare it to their 100 watt models. it wont sound the same. the monstrous headroom and output power do affect that. i mean...why are bass amps so high wattage? case and point right there.

but for most uses cases and scenarios, any amp of normal wattage can sound how you want it to depending on the cab and live sound setup. i think with the right rig almost anybody could get by on 10-20 watts or 50-100 watts just the same. its about picking teh right tool for you. each to his own.

but to end...i havent come across any low wattage amp that sounds like an uberschall or a deizel herbert. yall go try to find one and get back at me. ill wait.....not.
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#19
Saying that the small wattage amps are designed in order to distort the power section is ridiculous. They are in many cases (Mesa Mini vs regular Rectifier) are a cheaper version of the big thing for people that need to record in situations where volume is an issue.

Power section distortion might or might not be desirable, depending on what TS is after. I, for the most part, find that it helps in most instances where I need hard rock and metal sounds, actually some of the big rigs achieve their sweet spots when pushed quite hard, I have to dial in my JCM900 master volume on 7 (window rattling volume) to get its optimal distortion sound. I've shown in to a few audio engineering colleagues and they agree with me.

At the same time I can get great clean sounds on a Marshall Class5 at quite decent volumes where noone complains in the house, and no - there is no power amp distortion.

Quote by ikey_


but to end...i havent come across any low wattage amp that sounds like an uberschall or a deizel herbert. yall go try to find one and get back at me. ill wait.....not.




Those are quite expensive boutique amps, that'd be like me saying that I can't find an amp that sounds like the Matchless Chieftain in big wattage configuration (Chieftain is 40 watt).


There are quite a few good low to mid wattage options that are perfect for bedroom recording, I don't think I need to go into more detail here unless ts NEEDS A LIST.
Last edited by diabolical at Jan 9, 2015,
#20
Quote by diabolical
Nope, its the cab.


While I agree that the cab plays a huge roll in bass response if you were to take any amp that comes in multiple wattages (AC15/30, Rockerverb 50/100, Plexi 50/100 etc..) any amp with a half power switch or any amp with switchable wattage (Pretty much any Mesa) and play them all through the same cab at the same volume you'd notice that without exception the higher wattage amps will have more bass.


Total misinformation. All tube amps achieve power distortion, smaller amps achieve it at lower volumes.


To be more specific. All amps achieve power amp distortion when turned up loud enough, and yes lower wattage achieve it at a lower volume. While there are *absolutely* exceptions, it's extremely logical to say that amps with more wattage are usually designed to have more headroom at higher volume where as amps with lower wattage are usually designed to break up at lower volumes. Mind you when I say lower volume it's still loud enough to be heard two blocks away.

Not necessarily, look up a video on Wagener recording guitar and you'd see that he gets a huge sound on two guitars on a track, is how you mic.


Maybe I'm thinking of a different video, but the reason those guitars sound huge is because of the way they're mixed. If you were to isolate a single guitar track and listen to it outside of the mix then it would sound thin and harsh. I'm not suggesting micing isn't important, because well... it is...

[quote[If you want to get a truly good sound miking amp is the way to go still. You can think of using Sims and revamping if you will bother the folks at home. As a recording engineer I'd have to say that mic+tube amp is the best way to do it. You can fake it close with Sims but no cigar.

In the studio? Absolutely. At home it's a toss up. With a modeler you don't have to worry about volume, proper mic placement or room treatment. Plus if you've got something decent like the 11R, POD HD, Kempler or AxeFX then there's a good chance of getting a great sound with less effort.

Saying that the small wattage amps are designed in order to distort the power section is ridiculous. They are in many cases (Mesa Mini vs regular Rectifier) are a cheaper version of the big thing for people that need to record in situations where volume is an issue.


There are always exceptions. But have you actually played the Mini Rectifier? Or the Mark V 25? I have. They neither sound nor record like their big brothers. Sure, they're in the ball park, but they've got their own thing going on. It's also worth mentioning that Mesa themselves NEVER once say that either amp was designed for recording at lower volumes because... They aren't.

Also, the vast majority of Tweed Fenders between 5-40 watts, The AC4/15/30, every 18watt Marshalll Clone I've ever played, pretty much all of Dr Zs lineup, The Peavey Classic 30, Hughes and Kettner Statesman, Tiny Terror... the magic on ALL of these amps is after you get them to a volume in which the power tubes are breaking up to some extent. To be honest I think most of them sound like garbage until you get them at a volume that'd most likely make the neighbors a little unhappy.

At the same time I can get great clean sounds on a Marshall Class5 at quite decent volumes where noone complains in the house, and no - there is no power amp distortion.


Yep so can I. But have you watched any of Marshall's demos of the amp? You know how they demo the cleans? They crank the amp and roll back the guitars volume. They also spend most of their time showing you how great the crunch sound is. Which is bloody loud... because you guessed it... The amp was designed with power tube saturation in mind.
#21
Quote by icronic
While I agree that the cab plays a huge roll in bass response if you were to take any amp that comes in multiple wattages (AC15/30, Rockerverb 50/100, Plexi 50/100 etc..) any amp with a half power switch or any amp with switchable wattage (Pretty much any Mesa) and play them all through the same cab at the same volume you'd notice that without exception the higher wattage amps will have more bass.


Maybe so, but you can also manipulate that with different cabs, open back, ported cab design, different speakers. It is over-generalization, which is not always true. Also it is questionable how much bass you really want. As a rule in most full band scenarios you roll off bass on the guitar at about 100hz so there is room for bass and kick drum in the mix.


Quote by icronic

To be more specific. All amps achieve power amp distortion when turned up loud enough, and yes lower wattage achieve it at a lower volume. While there are *absolutely* exceptions, it's extremely logical to say that amps with more wattage are usually designed to have more headroom at higher volume where as amps with lower wattage are usually designed to break up at lower volumes. Mind you when I say lower volume it's still loud enough to be heard two blocks away.

Yes, but you're suggesting higher wattage amps to record at lower volumes, while at further lower volumes you can record lower wattage amps before they achieve power saturation. I understand that you most likely would want that power saturation and in many cases I do as well, but it is not a prerequisite to get a good sound at lower volumes with something like say Orange Tiny Terror. I can get great sounds at the 7 watt setting without power tube distortion at very passable sound levels that can't be heard two rooms away.


Quote by icronic


In the studio? Absolutely. At home it's a toss up. With a modeler you don't have to worry about volume, proper mic placement or room treatment. Plus if you've got something decent like the 11R, POD HD, Kempler or AxeFX then there's a good chance of getting a great sound with less effort.


Here I have to ask at what price though? Boque $$$ for a modeler and a $500 for decent home size studio amp and a $100 mic like sm57, very little trial and error. Come on, you gotta point it at the speaker/s and swing it a little left/right and it is pretty much done!


Quote by icronic

There are always exceptions. But have you actually played the Mini Rectifier? Or the Mark V 25? I have. They neither sound nor record like their big brothers. Sure, they're in the ball park, but they've got their own thing going on. It's also worth mentioning that Mesa themselves NEVER once say that either amp was designed for recording at lower volumes because... They aren't.


I have played the smaller wattage Mesa amps, the Express line and the Mini Rectifier and they sound great. The case of the Recto maybe a bit different than the big brother but I doubt that it is so different that you can't achieve similar results on tape.

Quote by icronic

Also, the vast majority of Tweed Fenders between 5-40 watts, The AC4/15/30, every 18watt Marshalll Clone I've ever played, pretty much all of Dr Zs lineup, The Peavey Classic 30, Hughes and Kettner Statesman, Tiny Terror... the magic on ALL of these amps is after you get them to a volume in which the power tubes are breaking up to some extent. To be honest I think most of them sound like garbage until you get them at a volume that'd most likely make the neighbors a little unhappy.


None of these sound like garbage at lower volumes. I do like them cranked as well, don't get me wrong but that is also a matter of the way the amp responds to your playing, with feedback, etc. They can sound very good at much lower volumes as well.

Quote by icronic

Yep so can I. But have you watched any of Marshall's demos of the amp? You know how they demo the cleans? They crank the amp and roll back the guitars volume. They also spend most of their time showing you how great the crunch sound is. Which is bloody loud... because you guessed it... The amp was designed with power tube saturation in mind.


I agree on that, the reason is that there really isn't that good of a clean channel, but it is a problem that Marshall has on most of their amps. Well, the Plexi and Bluesbreaker line is the exception but the rest usually clean should be referred as crunch. I am noticing the professional reviewers for the most part are of an older mentality, as to where one has to use the volume and tone controls on the guitar for more control, akin to what someone like Jeff Beck does. Most of the newer players don't have to move these controls due to the nature of their music (220 bpm blistering 16 and 32 notes don't give you much time to switch).