#1
Hi guys,

I'm in a realllll dilemma. For months I've been struggling to get a nice warm tone for my hard rock and metal tones.

Gear i'm using:

  • Marshall DSL 15C
  • PRS S2 Custom 24.


Pedals - Alternating between:

  • Blackstar HT-Blackfire (only downside is that it's not a true bypass and the internal tube messes with the base tone of the amp)
  • Wampler Triple Wreck.


Now i love both pedals and have had significantly better tones than running through the amp's green and red channels. I've also seen many demos of the pedals running through other amps and they achieve the sounds i'm looking for which leads me to think that the DSL15c is just too darn bright/dirty

Things I like about the DSL15C
  • Its cleans are amazing
  • Its got amazing bite which i was hoping to work into a warmer tone through tweaking.



Things I hate
  • Thing sounds downright harsh with distortion
  • I get good chugs on my low E string but A string onwards the warmth and note definition runs. Its either a muddy mess or harsh mess.



Which has led me into deciding whether i should give the DSL15C up for a Blackstar Ht-5R. Its gotten rave reviews and its led me to think i'll be able to get

  • Warm rock tones
  • Less muddy and more note clarity and definition even with distortion on the higher gauge strings.
  • Some nice low end to achieve a nice chug while maintaining clarity.
  • So-so cleans with less personality compared to the Marshall.
  • Its a 5 watt amp so i dont need to blast it as much as i am with the DSL15c now (pretty important)
  • FX Loop
  • I can use headphones with it for 2am - 5am jams



For the record i'm not into nu metal and the super heavy distortion stuff - I'm more of an old school metal guy who loves Metallica (music up to MOP, but am quite liking their hardwired to self destruct tone), Megadeth, GnR, Van Halen, AC/DC..etc and also get into blues and jazz every now and then + some Neil Zaza stuff.


I'd like to get a second opinion from everyone, i know i'll be giving up versatility for something more specialised but at this point i'm desperate. The only other thing i'm considering doing is swapping out the default tubes in the dsl15c for tung sol 6v6gts as i've heard they give the pre amp more warmth and also probably tweak the bias. But in general what i'd really like to know is if i'll get what i'm looking for and not just more disappointment.

To note i do love the Marshall sound - but right now it seems like i can't get that bite with warmth and smoothness i'm hoping to achieve.

Please help
Last edited by jeevanaurol at Nov 18, 2016,
#4
This seems like a step backwards but if you don't like what you have

You can run the Marshall at 7.5W.

If you had a loop I'd say put an EQ pedal in it.

Have you run a tubescreamer up front to tighten it up?

I just reread this - are you using the Triple Wreck for the distortion tones?
Guitars:
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
#5
metalmingee
There is no fx loop unfortunately but I was thinking of getting a xotic ep Booster. Although at this point I'm not sure if it will make things worse.

I'm using the triple wreck to overdrive my leads.I find its got better tone and kick compared to the blackfire that I use for rhythm as its a warmer pedel.

I kinda know the ht-5r would be a step back - from a wattage perspective it works though as I need to crank the dsl15c up quite abit to get a better tone. And thats not always practical. Have tried running it at 7.5w but the difference is marginal and doesn't solve my issues with tone. If I could find a solution though that will give me a tight punchy warm tone for the dsl15c ill be more than happy.

And nope have not tried a tube screamer. The amps natural gain on the red channel sounds very screechy I don't even know if I should attempt that.
Last edited by jeevanaurol at Nov 18, 2016,
#6
Quote by jeevanaurol
metalmingee
There is no fx loop unfortunately but I was thinking of getting a xotic ep Booster. Although at this point I'm not sure if it will make things worse.

I'm using the triple wreck to overdrive my leads.I find its got better tone and kick compared to the blackfire that I use for rhythm as its a warmer pedel.

I kinda know the ht-5r would be a step back - from a wattage perspective it works though as I need to crank the dsl15c up quite abit to get a better tone. And thats not always practical. Have tried running it at 7.5w but the difference is marginal and doesn't solve my issues with tone. If I could find a solution though that will give me a tight punchy warm tone for the dsl15c ill be more than happy.

And nope have not tried a tube screamer. The amps natural gain on the red channel sounds very screechy I don't even know if I should attempt that.


The volume difference between 15 watts and 5 watts isnt as big as you think and you dont need to crank the DSL at all for it to sound good. You even dropped it down to 7.5 and found the difference slight so 5 watts isnt that far off 7.5.

The Blackstar isnt even in the same league. Its a 5 watt hybrid amp. The Marshall isnt. How are you setting the amp? Also for metal its morr than common to be using a TS or other OD in front of the amp to tighten things up etc...
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#7
I was not a big fan of the new DSL series. It was very lackluster and fizzy. That being said the Blackstar is a step back from that.
Like already stated, speaker upgrade, possibly tube upgrade, and even your settings. You might find that a different amp is what you really need.
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Marshall JCM 2000 DSL100, EVH 5153, Peavey Classic 30 2-2x12's
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#8
Quote by Grawgos
What speaker is in the DSL?


bingo. change the speaker first and then come back to us. maybe try a boss sd1 (or clone) or tubescreamer clone as a boost as well. if it's too screechy turn your gain down on the amp. also when using an od pedal as a boost for an overdrive channel, set its drive low and its level high.

fwiw i don't think i'd swap for a blackstar (it's hybrid, also 5 watts are still very loud) but that's just me.
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#9
Quote by Dave_Mc
bingo. change the speaker first and then come back to us. maybe try a boss sd1 (or clone) or tubescreamer clone as a boost as well. if it's too screechy turn your gain down on the amp. also when using an od pedal as a boost for an overdrive channel, set its drive low and its level high.

fwiw i don't think i'd swap for a blackstar (it's hybrid, also 5 watts are still very loud) but that's just me.


That was my first thought, stock speaker is crap. It's amazing what a speaker swap can do.
#10
agreed- especially (as you said) if the stock speaker is either crap or totally unsuitable for the tones you want.
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#11
neither of those pedals is an overdrive so if you are trying to use them that way then there's your problem. thru the clean channel they should work fine but for anything else no surprise you get a muddy mess. that amp should be able to get most of what you want by itself. tos an overdrive in front and you should be golden.
#12
Thanks for the advice guys. I think clearly i should not be thinking of a HT-5R as the solution.

Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
The volume difference between 15 watts and 5 watts isnt as big as you think and you dont need to crank the DSL at all for it to sound good. You even dropped it down to 7.5 and found the difference slight so 5 watts isnt that far off 7.5.

The Blackstar isnt even in the same league. Its a 5 watt hybrid amp. The Marshall isnt. How are you setting the amp? Also for metal its morr than common to be using a TS or other OD in front of the amp to tighten things up etc...


Maybe i should try a TS or OD out then. I do use the dsl primarily on the green channel now though for cleans which means i'll need to throw in the foot switch to switch to the red channel before i engage either the OD or TS.

Quote by bobafettacheese
I was not a big fan of the new DSL series. It was very lackluster and fizzy. That being said the Blackstar is a step back from that.
Like already stated, speaker upgrade, possibly tube upgrade, and even your settings. You might find that a different amp is what you really need.


Yeah - do you have any speaker recommendations? On the tube upgrade i'm pretty set on tung sol 6v6gts with a jj combination for the power amp. Settings wise to counter the harshness of the tone i've set my mids to 9, bass to 6 or 7 and treble to 11am (best settings i've discovered so far. When i throw my distortion pedals over that i just set treble on their eqs slightly higher than noon while leaving everything else neutral)

Quote by Dave_Mc
bingo. change the speaker first and then come back to us. maybe try a boss sd1 (or clone) or tubescreamer clone as a boost as well. if it's too screechy turn your gain down on the amp. also when using an od pedal as a boost for an overdrive channel, set its drive low and its level high.

fwiw i don't think i'd swap for a blackstar (it's hybrid, also 5 watts are still very loud) but that's just me.


Thanks for the tip got it. Does the same apply for a distortion pedal? drive low and level high on the OD channel?

Quote by monwobobbo
neither of those pedals is an overdrive so if you are trying to use them that way then there's your problem. thru the clean channel they should work fine but for anything else no surprise you get a muddy mess. that amp should be able to get most of what you want by itself. tos an overdrive in front and you should be golden.


To clarify i'm running them through the clean channel. I usually get the clean sound i want before too much break up of the pre-amp then switch between that and the pedals.
#13
To add, what would be a good TS clone for heavy rock/metal with a true bypass that you guys recommend? So far the fulltone OCD and Drive 3 has caught my attention for versatility but i'm not sure if they are true bypass. Would just get an SD-1 if it was a true bypass...


I'm only 4 months into this guitar playing thing but the pedals are already piling up..lol
Last edited by jeevanaurol at Nov 18, 2016,
#14
At this point if you want to save some cash try the Joyo Vintage Overdrive - it's a Maxon OD-808 clone - $30 new. . . . I use one with my Mesa Roadster from time to time. For $30 (and frankly quite a bit more) it's great.

My favorite boost/tubescreamer is a Budda Zenman - it's a clean boost and two mode tubescreamer built into 1 chassis - $75-$100 used.
Guitars:
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
#15
Quote by jeevanaurol
To add, what would be a good TS clone for heavy rock/metal with a true bypass that you guys recommend? So far the fulltone OCD and Drive 3 has caught my attention for versatility but i'm not sure if they are true bypass. Would just get an SD-1 if it was a true bypass...


I'm only 4 months into this guitar playing thing but the pedals are already piling up..lol


ok that explains a bit. first off I'm gonna say that chances are you are using to much distortion (common rookie mistake we all made). this will result in muddy sound. have you only been playing guitar for 4 months or just electric? I ask because 4 months in most players are pretty sloppy playing wise which accounts for many issues often blamed on gear. also your tone setting on the pedals and amp can greatly effect the sound especially note clarity.

as for accumulating pedals well welcome to guitar
#17
Quote by monwobobbo
ok that explains a bit. first off I'm gonna say that chances are you are using to much distortion (common rookie mistake we all made). this will result in muddy sound. have you only been playing guitar for 4 months or just electric? I ask because 4 months in most players are pretty sloppy playing wise which accounts for many issues often blamed on gear. also your tone setting on the pedals and amp can greatly effect the sound especially note clarity.

as for accumulating pedals well welcome to guitar


Haha. I've been playing for 4 months period. That being said I am aware that sloppy playing can also lead to loss of tone (and i'm a huge hawk about that) so what i usually do when i test tone is play at my most comfortable speed, with proper muting pressure, pick attack and loose enough fretting fingers. Also when i test tone for muddiness i usually just hold down a barre chord and strum through all the strings and make sure i can hear every string ring out.

Also - i'm not much of a distortion hound so i usually play on clean with as little distortion as possible, i'm also very careful about layering on too many effects (hate that) which is why if i had to get an OD/TS pedal i would prefer a true bypass one. I like my tone tight and clear which is why i hate over saturation of distortion.

But that being said yes. I am aware my playing needs to mature a little before i stress too much about tone. Still. Its hard to practice when you dont hear every note hit that beautiful tone you like
Last edited by jeevanaurol at Nov 18, 2016,
#18
Grawgos What i'm thinking of doing now is actually saving money to spend on a tube + speaker upgrade. (Do you have a speaker recommendation?) Then from there look at what my best options are. Ultimately, the amp is like a car engine, no point throwing on nice tyres, a strut bar and fancy meters if its only got like 80 horses on it or something haha.

That being said. I am very disappointed that the DSL15c stock is the harsh mess of a thing. The only great tones i was ever able to get out of it without much effort are for clean and bluesy stuff. Basically stuff that doesn't require lots of gain.
Last edited by jeevanaurol at Nov 18, 2016,
#19
Quote by jeevanaurol
Haha. I've been playing for 4 months period. That being said I am aware that sloppy playing can also lead to loss of tone (and i'm a huge hawk about that) so what i usually do when i test tone is play at my most comfortable speed, with proper muting pressure, pick attack and loose enough fretting fingers. Also when i test tone for muddiness i usually just hold down a barre chord and strum through all the strings and make sure i can hear every string ring out.

Also - i'm not much of a distortion hound so i usually play on clean with as little distortion as possible, i'm also very careful about layering on too many effects (hate that) which is why if i had to get an OD/TS pedal i would prefer a true bypass one. I like my tone tight and clear which is why i hate over saturation of distortion.

But that being said yes. I am aware my playing needs to mature a little before i stress too much about tone. Still. Its hard to practice when you dont hear every note hit that beautiful tone you like


LOL well your choice of distorton pedals kinda goes against what you are saying. I mean a good djent tone does require distortion. don't lose your mind about the true bypass thing. as long as the pedal has a decent buffer you're good. if you stack up a bunch of buffered pedals then there is potential for issues but that isn't for sure. a couple 3 pedals (unless they really suck) isn't likely to cause you issues. I'd work more on tone settings as when I've played through the recent DSL series amps i haven't really notice them to be all that harsh. they aren't the best amps but you should get a decent high gain tone.
#20
Drop a V30 into it and some JJ preamp tubes
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#22
Quote by monwobobbo
LOL well your choice of distorton pedals kinda goes against what you are saying. I mean a good djent tone does require distortion. don't lose your mind about the true bypass thing. as long as the pedal has a decent buffer you're good. if you stack up a bunch of buffered pedals then there is potential for issues but that isn't for sure. a couple 3 pedals (unless they really suck) isn't likely to cause you issues. I'd work more on tone settings as when I've played through the recent DSL series amps i haven't really notice them to be all that harsh. they aren't the best amps but you should get a decent high gain tone.


Hahaha. Yeah tell me about it. I kinda inherited the ht blackfire and the wampler was just so flexible and sounded so good I couldn't pass it up.

I think I found a sweet spot for the dsl15 yesterday though. I basically went max on the mids, almost 2/3 on bass and 11 o clock on treble and it sounds so much better. Also put the gain up high enough to stay clean but activate the pre amp and let the power amp drive the rest. Still looking for that magical solution to tighten up the tone and add punch though.
#23
Quote by Cathbard
Drop a V30 into it and some JJ preamp tubes


Thanks for the suggestion lemme check out local pricing.

On tubes I have a jj, tung sol combination in mind, but will need to do more research on that of course.
#24
Quote by jeevanaurol
Hahaha. Yeah tell me about it. I kinda inherited the ht blackfire and the wampler was just so flexible and sounded so good I couldn't pass it up.

I think I found a sweet spot for the dsl15 yesterday though. I basically went max on the mids, almost 2/3 on bass and 11 o clock on treble and it sounds so much better. Also put the gain up high enough to stay clean but activate the pre amp and let the power amp drive the rest. Still looking for that magical solution to tighten up the tone and add punch though.


overdrive is that magic solution. not so sure on the mids at 10 though. personally I'd never run them that high or the bass for that matter. I'm a bit confused as to twat you are going for exactly. do you have an open back or closed back on that amp? closed has a better bass response. also what tuning are you using for your guitar and what bands are you trying to copy?
#25
Quote by monwobobbo
overdrive is that magic solution. not so sure on the mids at 10 though. personally I'd never run them that high or the bass for that matter. I'm a bit confused as to twat you are going for exactly. do you have an open back or closed back on that amp? closed has a better bass response. also what tuning are you using for your guitar and what bands are you trying to copy?


It's an open back. And I'm using standard tuning. I find with the mids maxed out and the bass at that level I get more clarity and warmth when I kick in distortion. I tried more sane settings and got bad results. Now I get clarity and warmth when playing clean and more warmth and clarity when playing with distortion. I forgot to mention the amp has a presence setting which I think helps lots with the clarity, although I have to balance the treble and presence carefully to avoid a sharp tone.

This is a guilty pleasure but I really like Metallicas sound on their new album.(basically like their songs up to MOP but love their tone from reload onwards) It's got a smooth heavy rock chug with abit of bite and also tight and punchy with every string sounding thick and full. Now I'm under no illusions that my gear can reach that level of quality especially since hetfield uses multiple guitars/amps to get that, but that is my dream tone because I realise that it sounds good for anything rock up to metal (not counting the heavily saturated new metal bands that's I'm not a fan off)

I got the Marshall because I like the grit and was hoping to be able to tame it some warm tight punchiness.

I also got the Prs S2 because while it isn't as warm as a Gibson it's a sort of Gibson/fender hybrid.

As you can see..maybe naive choices.
#26
Quote by jeevanaurol

Thanks for the tip got it. Does the same apply for a distortion pedal? drive low and level high on the OD channel?


Yep pretty much, though it does depend on how you want to use it. You can use some pedal distortion alongside some overdrive channel distortion too if you wish as long as you don't set either too high.

Quote by Grawgos
I still think the speaker is your biggest problem and throwing pedals at it won't fix it.


agreed, though at the same time ideally i'd really want both the speaker upgrade and an od to use as a boost.
Quote by jeevanaurol
Haha. I've been playing for 4 months period. That being said I am aware that sloppy playing can also lead to loss of tone (and i'm a huge hawk about that) so what i usually do when i test tone is play at my most comfortable speed, with proper muting pressure, pick attack and loose enough fretting fingers. Also when i test tone for muddiness i usually just hold down a barre chord and strum through all the strings and make sure i can hear every string ring out.

Also - i'm not much of a distortion hound so i usually play on clean with as little distortion as possible, i'm also very careful about layering on too many effects (hate that) which is why if i had to get an OD/TS pedal i would prefer a true bypass one. I like my tone tight and clear which is why i hate over saturation of distortion.

But that being said yes. I am aware my playing needs to mature a little before i stress too much about tone. Still. Its hard to practice when you dont hear every note hit that beautiful tone you like


I wouldn't worry too much about the true bypass thing. in fact, if you don't have at least one buffer in your chain, you're likely losing top-end through your cables which probably won't be helping your tone (or the tightness). As long as you get a pedal with a good buffer, you should be good.
Quote by jeevanaurol
Grawgos What i'm thinking of doing now is actually saving money to spend on a tube + speaker upgrade. (Do you have a speaker recommendation?) Then from there look at what my best options are. Ultimately, the amp is like a car engine, no point throwing on nice tyres, a strut bar and fancy meters if its only got like 80 horses on it or something haha.

That being said. I am very disappointed that the DSL15c stock is the harsh mess of a thing. The only great tones i was ever able to get out of it without much effort are for clean and bluesy stuff. Basically stuff that doesn't require lots of gain.


honestly i'd skip the tube upgrade and get a better speaker and a not-too-dear overdrive pedal.

i haven't tried your amp so it's kind of hard to suggest speakers, but as very rough general advice on speakers:

if you want tightness a celestion vintage 30 is a good idea. however, it's quite modern-sounding, very middy (which can be too much with an already middy amp) and until it's broken-in it can sound quite harsh. other manufacturers make their own versions of it (though they likely don't sound 100% the same). WGS does a couple of V30-alikes (I haven't tried them), Tayden does too (again, haven't tried it), Eminence does a couple (I haven't tried the Governor but the V12 Legend sort of sounds like a mellower V30), etc. etc.

Or if you don't like too high gain stuff a more vintage-sounding speaker along the lines of a greenback or G12h30 (again, those other manufacturers will also do their own versions) would be worth a try, but they likely won't be as tight in the bass.
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#27
I have a DSL15c and the gain channel is horrible no matter what mods you do to it. Speaker swap will not tame it. The cleans are ok and usable. If you are looking for / stuggling to get warm classic distortion out alll i can say is, forgetta bout it!
#28
considering i haven't actually tried the amp it may well be worth listening to an owner^
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#29
Dave_Mc Thanks for the tips. Would probably need to do more research on v30 sounds though. Seems like a toss up. I would ultimately like a speaker that would let me pump up treble and presence more than i'm doing now without worrying about fizzy harshness.

6BQ5 aghh thats depressing. I'm guessing you are referring to the amps OD/Distortion. Pedal driven distortion is different though right? Mods could help with this yes?
#30
^ yeah. a v30 should do that, at least once it's broken-in. it's a bit like a tubescreamer in speaker form, lol, it cuts your bass, boosts your mids, and rolls off the highs.
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?