#1
Hi all. I've been a lurker for a while so I know people hate these threads but I'd just like some input on helping me find myself an amp or pedal!

I currently play through a vox AC15. I really love it for cleans I get and it matches the tone I love for almost any style of cleaner music I like, gets that bluesy overdrive at decent bedroom levels but I find I can't really dial in a heavier sound to it. The bass is a little muddy, just not what I'm looking for. It does the job well enough for my liking for anything up to "hard rock", like Zep, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Stones, AC/DC, stuff like the late 60's - early to mid 70's era of music as well as some modern bands like the Darkness or similar hard rock.

Bands I would like to get a sound similar- GNR, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, getting up to a gain level for bands like early Dio, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, mid 90's Metallica, other simillar bands. Just a little more drive than I can currently get but nothing heavier than that. Mid 70's - early 80's where the hard rock started to morph into more  "traditional heavy metal" is kind of the sweet spot I'm looking for. 

I play exclusively at bedroom levels. I wouldn't call myself a tone snob, but I've played long enough to know the difference between good and bad tone. I have up to about $800 or so I'd be willing to spend. I play a Telecaster and a PRS with humbuckers.  I realize many of the bands I listed play Les Pauls which may be something I should consider.

Any amp recommendations someone can give me? Or on the other hand, is there a pedal I can add to my setup that would get my amp closer to where I like?
#2
Marshall DSL 40c would be an obvious first stepping stone.
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#3
welcome on board!
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#4
depends on your budget. the DSL40c is a good option. on a little cheaper level a Peavey Valveking will get you there along with an overdrive (i'd use one with the Marshall as well). i tend to play right in the same spot you described and the VK does a good job (my mai amp is a Peavey Ultra which does that and more modern high gain tones as well). 
#5
Another DSL40 vote here. Get the DSL40CST from Sweetwater.
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#6
The DSL40 is cool.

Pedal wise... The MXR Super BadAss Distortion gets my vote. 
#7
Quote by trashedlostfdup
Marshall DSL 40c would be an obvious first stepping stone.

Also, an ABY switcher, because then you've got the AC15 for the cleans, and the DSL for dirt...
#8
Yep, I love VOX for anything before hard rock levels of gain. After that, you get into Marshall or Orange territory. VOX can do high-gain but you would be better equipped with a different amp. As others have said, DSL40c. Also the MKI Peavey ValveKing can be a cheaper option. Get a Vintage 30 for it.

If you wanted to go the pedal route, I would suggest to get one that has a rep for sounding good through "any" amp. So the first ones that come to mind are the units from Amptweaker and the Shur Riot.
#9
Thanks for quick responses everyone.

Absolutely noob question here - is the DSL40 going to be too loud? Is 5 or 15 combo better for bedroom playing? I understand that the speaker plays a large role in the sound, not just the head, and I believe the 5 has a smaller speaker though the 15 is a 1x12. I'm not overly concerned about clean headroom - my AC15 is going to win that one all day.

I really like the look of the DSL line otherwise. The foot switch looks like a nice add on option. Seems like a ton of the bands I like play through Marshalls.
#11
Quote by hardrockheaven
Thanks for quick responses everyone.

Absolutely noob question here - is the DSL40 going to be too loud? Is 5 or 15 combo better for bedroom playing? I understand that the speaker plays a large role in the sound, not just the head, and I believe the 5 has a smaller speaker though the 15 is a 1x12. I'm not overly concerned about clean headroom - my AC15 is going to win that one all day.

I really like the look of the DSL line otherwise. The foot switch looks like a nice add on option. Seems like a ton of the bands I like play through Marshalls.


The DSL40 can run at either 20 or 40 watts with the DSL15 going 7.5 or 15 watts. I had the 15H and ran it through a couple of dif' cabs. It was a cool amp for garage jams with drums (though a tad under powered) . I found the Ultra channel overly hissy for general house playing. The Classic gain channel was nice around the house when boosted.

My house amp is a little 4watt Vox AC4C1-BL. I run it with the stock 1x10 or a couple of other cabs... including a 4x12 for fun.  The VOX with the Badass and a stock 13' Gibson Firebird puts me in the "Sabbath vibe" zone all day. 
#14
Tony Done yes, the DSL is the type of amp that mostly relies on preamp distortion, so it sounds good with the gain up and the master volume low.
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#16
Just figure $800 for the amp. $1000 or so for pedals and you'll be set for a while.
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Last edited by scott58 at Jul 22, 2017,
#17
Tony Done channel switching amps usually rely more on preamp distortion since it's hard to have a shared power amp section that distorts for the dirty channel but not the clean channel, if they are both at the same volume level.
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#18
Quote by Guitaraxe
The DSL40 can run at either 20 or 40 watts with the DSL15 going 7.5 or 15 watts. I had the 15H and ran it through a couple of dif' cabs. It was a cool amp for garage jams with drums (though a tad under powered) . I found the Ultra channel overly hissy for general house playing. The Classic gain channel was nice around the house when boosted.

My house amp is a little 4watt Vox AC4C1-BL. I run it with the stock 1x10 or a couple of other cabs... including a 4x12 for fun.  The VOX with the Badass and a stock 13' Gibson Firebird puts me in the "Sabbath vibe" zone all day. 


I had no idea you could change the wattage of the DSL amps, but that seems pretty ideal for my situation where I want the breakup without getting to volumes unbearable for my family.

Next question - pre amp vs power amp distortion. What would be the major difference in sound, if there is one?

Further question - is a 4x12 cab inherently "better" for sound than 2x12, and so on and so forth for 1x12 or down to a 10 inch speaker?
#19
Quote by hardrockheaven
I had no idea you could change the wattage of the DSL amps, but that seems pretty ideal for my situation where I want the breakup without getting to volumes unbearable for my family.

Next question - pre amp vs power amp distortion. What would be the major difference in sound, if there is one?

Further question - is a 4x12 cab inherently "better" for sound than 2x12, and so on and so forth for 1x12 or down to a 10 inch speaker?

My take on it... two cents.... Power amp distortion is where many of those killer Classic Rock tones live ...especially the "in concert" type .... way back when people were blasting non-master volume amps and what not into both power and pre-amp saturation/distortion. You can crank a small amp  for similar / variation of the theme...but these days it's all about pre-amp distortion for the most part which is (imo) the "modern" sound for lack of a better term.... but even a small amp cranked to get there will be loud (imo) for an average room.... unless it's like a 1 watter or something.... 


Cabs... (imo) it's not better or worse but different.. different tonal ranges , focus, etc and what you might need depending on amp type , room size, volume requirements,  etc or just for fun / cool factor.... for example...in the house... hooking up my little VOX AC4 to the 4x12 and playing Zep's "The Rain Song" sounds big, clear , open , sweet and really fills the air.....compared to say doing the same with just the combo's stock 1x10.......but..... the 1x10 with an OD pedal boost and a Trem' pedal sounds way better for old school Bluesy stuff... the old small amp on a wooden chair technique so to speak...

Of course this is just my rambling take on it.....
Last edited by Guitaraxe at Jul 23, 2017,
#20
Quote by hardrockheaven
I had no idea you could change the wattage of the DSL amps, but that seems pretty ideal for my situation where I want the breakup without getting to volumes unbearable for my family.

Wattage and maximum volume don't have the impact on one another that you think they have.

Please read this article.

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_guide_to/killing_the_myths_of_low_volume_amp_performance.html

Even a 1 watt amplifier is capable of producing 100 decibels of volume with a speaker like a Celestion Vintage 30. 100 decibels is way, way louder than anyone would be comfortable playing at in a bedroom. So even at 1 watt, getting power tube breakup requires attaining painfully high volumes. So it stands to reason that these power attenuation features commonly found on more modern amps is largely a marketing scam used to delude people who haven't grasped an understanding of how amplifiers actually work.

Not only that, but when you do actually attain power tube distortion with these tiny 1 watt amps, the low end in the guitar's tone totally disappears. There's not enough power in the power section to reproduce bass at those kinds of volumes, and the resulting tone sound extremely thin, raspy and harsh. It just doesn't sound good, trust me. And if the amp has enough power that the low end doesn't totally disappear, when the power section does begin to clip, the low end exhibits a lot of compression and sag, which may or may not sound good depending on what you're aiming for tonally. It certainly isn't the magical holy grail of tone that people tend to think it is.

 Preamp distortion generally just sounds a lot better and tighter and it can be attained at any volume.
Further question - is a 4x12 cab inherently "better" for sound than 2x12, and so on and so forth for 1x12 or down to a 10 inch speaker?

Different, but not better. It depends on what you're trying to achieve and how.

The reason that 4x12 cabinets exist in the first place was because the speakers that Marshall were using for their cabinets didn't have sufficient power to drive their new 100w plexi amplifiers without multiple speakers. Each speaker was only 25w each. So all Jim Marshall did was basically design a generic box for 4 speakers to go into, with no regard for how the dimensions and shape of the cabinet would affect how the cabinet sounds (it does) and more for the purpose of just making the amp look good. That was it. There's no scientific basis for why typical speaker cabinets for guitars are designed the way they are, other than it looking cool. Then everybody else proceeded to copy Marshall's example.

That isn't to say that 4x12's cannot sound good, or that it makes no difference what cabinet size you have. Because it does. But it illustrates the point that there's no objective measurement for what sounds the best for a particular amplifier or a particular style of music. If it sounds good to you, then that's pretty much the only measurement you should care about.

4x12's are not the be-all-end-all they seem to be. With bigger cabinets, you very generally tend to get more bass. But having access to more low end isn't always appropriate for what you're doing. And getting more access to low end with 4x12's isn't always true. The most common designs of 4x12's have the top 2 speakers angled towards the player's face, causing the top 2 speakers to beam treble right into your earholes, which can sound really unpleasant and harsh. You can get way more low end in your guitar tone just by how you position yourself in the room, such as placing yourself more off-axis of the speaker, out of the line of the treble beam that guitar speakers nearly always exhibit. You can get way more low end out of a 2x12 cabinet than a 4x12 by simply adjusting how you position yourself relative to the cabinet. And this barely scratches the surface of all the different variables that affect how a cabinet actually sounds in the room.

Suffice to say that the topic of the 'best' cabinet is nowhere near as simple or as objective as people make it out to be. Mostly because guitarists simply don't have enough of an understanding of how the system actually works.
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#21
Power amp distortion is part of classic rock sound but has never been practical at low volumes. Preamp distortion works fine and you can get close enough to those late 60s - early 70s sounds with it. I play a lot of stuff using those tones. I also do it with a 50 watt amp for practice. Neighbors and Mrs haven't killed me yet.
#22
Ok this is awesome, I'm learning quite a bit. I read the article linked and it does make some sense to me why the wattage should not be the deciding factor.

I suppose with all this new info, I'm looking for an amp that uses pre amp distortion to get sounds similar to what I posted before. I likely won't ever get to a point I can truly use power amp clipping. I am not in a cover and and don't play shows, and the 1-2x a month I play with a couple friends is all I strive to do, so just getting close to the sound is more than practical for me.

As it turns out, I seem to be seeing that the DSL is good for pre amp distortion. I'll have to check this one out as soon as I can
#23
hardrockheaven

Even if you were in a band playing clubs most don't allow the volume needed to get power amp distortion. Most modern amps allow you to get a decent amount of distortion. Slap an overdrive in front and you are good to go.
#24
If you do decide to keep the amp, ProCo Rat's pair very well with Vox amps. It'll definitely give you that classic crunch tone. I have an AC30 and use the Rat (I have the 85 reissue version) for my crunch distortion tone and Timmy for a lighter OD (and sometimes I push the Rat harder with the Timmy for more crunch).