#1
Ok, so I want to know more about building a rack amp. I play death, thrash, metalcore, hardcore, and sometimes hard rock too. I have the means to save money for this but i will certainly take time since I am about to pay off a pretty big debt ($600 US).

MY QUESTION(s) FOR THOSE THAT KNOW:

First, what makes up a rack amp (power amp, distortion, delay, all that...?)

Second, a little on how they work.

Third, how can I start to build myself a rack amp that I can use and practice/jam with?(in other words, what're the first things to buy?)


Thank you in advance for your help.
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#2
At the very least you'll need a power amp, pre-amp, power supply, footswitch and case....you'd be very lucky to put that together for under $1000...if you want a wireless system and a decent effects processor add another $500 or thereabouts. That's for an absolutely basic rack system.
Actually called Mark!

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#3
i had an all-tube rack system that i built for much cheaper than that. basically, i used a Peavey Rockmaster preamp into a Peavey Classic Series 60/60 Stereo Tube Power Amp with an Alesis Quadraverb for my (midi-changeable) effects. I just sold this entire unit awhile ago for $500 (a little less than what i paid for it). check all that out, and let me know if you have any questions about the rig itself.
#4
I guess I'm a little too high maintenance then
Actually called Mark!

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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


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#5
it's just a matter of knowing what one needs. all i really wanted was a 3 channel pre, a decent tube power amp, and a rack effects processor. i tried throwing other things in there (optical compressors, eqs, noise gates, etc), but never felt like i needed any of it. it just doesn't sound like this guy has a lot of money, so i just mentioned the cheapest, best sounding way i know of.
#6
I could see it being the kind of thing it's easy to get carried away with...you could end up with a rig worthy of NASA, but if the basics aren't right it'll sound like crap.

Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#7
Thanks for all that. Yeah, i'm in college and don't have more to put into building it than about 8 or 900, really. I'll check out the gear you told me to check out. I also was thinking of adding a BBE sonic maximizer at some point but thanks for alying th groundwork for it.


EDIT: Still, i haven't heard any suggestions that incorporate being great products for METAL. I just don't know if peavey classic is for me (?). correct me if i'm wrong tho.
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Last edited by Nor'Easterbass at Jan 24, 2007,
#8
Don't get the BBE, just a little tip.

The Rocktron Piranha is great for metal, Peavey Tube Fex, an ADA MP1 with 3TM (great for thrash, but may not be quite brutal enough for death metal), Mesa V-Twin rack preamp/pedal preamp, Digitech GSP-2101 (Artist or Limited Edition) (not very transparent but lots of tones), Rocktron Pro Gap, or maybe even the Peavey Rockmaster (may not be what you want though)

For poweramps I'd just look for whatever is cheap. The Peavey Classic poweramps should do well.

For effects units (a lot of the pres I named where all-in-ones), old Rocktron units are great (intellifex, replifex, intelliverb), Roland RSP550, Ensoniq DP/4, Alesis Quadraverb, etc.

You have a lot of cheap options
-Mike
#9
Thanks so much man. that really helps. Only question, what's wrong with the BBE sonic maximizer? I don't like their other products at all, but my guitarist uses one of them in his rack and his thing sounds ****in sweet. Idk tho, cuz his rack is worth 2500 or more, so maybe he just has a really nasty pre and effects. Thanks again, tho.
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


Quote by omegasus
RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
#10
Don't feel like edit'ing to add this next part. lol

OK, so what i'm getting is:
- Get a really nice Pre-amp
- a cheap power amp that's just good enough to do the job

Questions for you now:
- What about power supplies? how do those work and which are good for my situation?
- What's the deal with pedal preamps? Any good?
- What do i do about a case? (size, brand, does it matter?)

Thanks.
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


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RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
#11
LAST 2 things i'll add:

How good is the Gainiac 2 Pre?
and
How are Behringer pre's?
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


Quote by omegasus
RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
#12
the Rockmaster that i suggested is great for metal. it's basically a 5150+ in rack form, but it's got three channels. one is clean and has its own 4 band passive EQ. the other two are a crunch channel that'll get you from Plexi to JCM 800-900 sounds, and the Ultra channel is your high gain metal sound a la JCM 2000, older Boogies (though more of a tight, British sound than Mesa gets), and Engl. the two gain channels operate on the same 3 band active EQ with push-pull pots for extra gain (on the Ultra channel) and mid-boost. all that, and it's got 5 different effects loops (one for each channel, one for all channels, and one for the crunch/ultra channels). the classic 60/60 is just a clean, transparent tube power amp. tube power amps are always better because of the added warmth and lack of tonal coloration, and you can find a peavey classic series power amp for under $200 usually. all your gain comes from the preamp, though.

the ADA is nice (though usually more expensive that the Rockmaster and with fewer tubes), the Rocktron Gainiac I sucks, the II is supposed to be OK. Engl apparently makes some good ones, but they're a little confusing and hard to find. Mesa's also supposed to make pretty good rack gear, though that's probably way out of your price-range. the Peavey's probably your best bet. look at the reviews on harmony-central. they rave about them if you still aren't convinced.

in answer to your other questions, you can power it all by hooking the plugs of your gear to a single power conditioner. Furman makes good ones with rack lights so you can see everything really well, but i just used a Chauvel PC-90. it had 8 outlets--each with its own switch, and all i had to do was plug the Chauvel into the wall and everything was powered. pedal pre's can be good, but you'd end up paying about the same for a good one as you would for a standard, rack mounted one. and, as for cases, size depends on how much gear you're going to put into it. always go with a few spaces more that you need. that way, you'll have room for expansion later, and it'll let your tube rack gear breathe a little better. always plan an extra half-space above your tube preamp to ventilate the 12ax7's in it. you'll get more life out of them that way. the brand of case doesn't really matter. just make sure that it's got handles (if it's going to be 6 spaces or more) and that it's hard plastic and not a soft case. i used an SKB 12 space case with 8 spaces going vertically and another 4 on a pull-out drawer. i got it for $100 including shipping.

finally, i've had good luck with BBEs, so definitely try one (maybe even their sonic stomp pedal through the effects loop) before you write it off. at one point, i had a sonic maximizer and their aural exciter and it sounded great. let me know if you have any other questions!
#13
^^^^Tube power amps color tone lots, SS poweramps are a million times more transparent - tube poweramps are designed to complete your tone, which is why it does matter - the Peavey poweramp is okay, great for the money, but if you have a much higher budget, you may want something better (like a VHT poweramp) - Engl makes some good what, preamps? Yes the e570 is a very nice preamp, it's also way too much money (the e580 as well) - and I wouldn't suggest the e530 - I think there is a big saturation problem with them and they are NOT ideal for metal IMO (and no none of them are hard to find)

The mesa Quad preamp and Studio and Recto Recording Pre are all fine pieces of equipment - you may be able to find a Quad or a Studio for a pretty good price, IMO the Triaxis doesn't sound very good, but the midi is very nice (and there are some nice tones in there it's not all bad)

The Peavey may NOT be your best bet you have a lot of options (see my last post) - they all have their differences. And for the record the Rockmaster really doesn't sound so much like the 5150.

With power conditioners any Furman is really fine, if you can find a used one in good function that's great, for new the carvin one is really nice.

For rack cases, if you can find something for a nice price on the bay or in a local shop that's all great as well - if you want to buy new the Carvin ones come at a pretty good price.

The Behringer rack stuff won't come close to the tones of the preamps I suggested, and the Gainiacs are just POS. In essence, Rocktron was ruined by GHS. I don't like any of their new products really.
-Mike
#14
Quote by HopePoisoned
The Rocktron Piranha is great for metal, Peavey Tube Fex, an ADA MP1 with 3TM (great for thrash, but may not be quite brutal enough for death metal), Mesa V-Twin rack preamp/pedal preamp


Even better than the Piranha is the Prophesy and Prophesy II (even though I don't really like the sounds you get from them, too harsh for me). I use a Mod4 MkII ADA MP1, which is their 'Marshall Mod'. I can easily dial in a Mesa-like sound. I've even recorded a few clips with it and had 3 or 4 people think I was using a Dual Recto. The 3TM not being "brutal enough for death metal?" You'd be very surprised.

You can find a stock MP1 anywhere from $50-$120; the modded MP1's can run you anywhere from $120-$380. Fairly cheap preamp, but much better than most that's out there. The Mesa V-Twin would not be what he's looking for. A common misconception about the V-Twin, just because people see Mesa/Boogie they automatically think - Recto. The V-Twin isn't voiced liked a Recto. I've heard great things about the Digitech GSP and Peavey Rockmaster, but haven't tried either.

The Rocktron Gainiac 1 & 2 suck, you can do much better.

Quote by HopePoisoned
The mesa Quad preamp and Studio and Recto Recording Pre are all fine pieces of equipment - you may be able to find a Quad or a Studio for a pretty good price, IMO the Triaxis doesn't sound very good, but the midi is very nice (and there are some nice tones in there it's not all bad)


The Quad is very nice, if I stick with a rack setup I'll have one down the road. Great cleans and the rhythm and leads are voiced along the lines of the Mesa MkIIC+ and the MkIV. I haven't tried the Recto. Recording preamp, so can't comment. The Mesa Formula Pre can also get pretty brutal.

You don't like the TriAxis? Very curious to hear why. I think it's one of the best preamps to date. Very crisp rhythm tones, focused lead tones, and decent cleans. I think, the 1.0's red channel was voiced to sound similar to the Recto. I think it was the 1.0, I don't remember the 2.0 really going into Recto. territory. There's the TriAxis 3.0 also, there isn't much information on it, but it's there. One of the channels (either the red or yellow channel) has been changed and supposedly is voiced to sound like the LoneStar. Like I said, there isn't much info on the 3.0. There are a few out there, I don't know if Mesa has continued production on it.
#15
I thought it sounded very digital, and yes you can dial in some nice tones, but I thought all in all it didn't level out to be a great sounding preamp (for the money that you're paying).

If you're comparing a 3TM to something really brutal, it may not seem huge and chunky enough. It has metal gain, but not the brutalist and I myself and others I have heard of have not been able to get it powerful and massive enough to play something really aggressive (I was trying to dial in a good Decapitated Nihility tone).
-Mike
#16
Over on the ADA forum, one guy recently posted a few videos of the band he just joined. He was using the 3TM and had a pretty brutal sound. I guess I see what your saying, it doesn't have as much chunk as something like a Recto., but it's definitely more of a focused sound. Plus, if you plug into an ADA rig, you're not going to get the exact same results you'd get if you plugged into Recto., where it will always have the same sort of sound no matter what guitar you use.
#17
Thanks so much for the tips, i'll be sure to read a ton of user reviews on harmony-central and compare an all that. BTW, hopepoisoned, your sig rocks dude. drop-dead666 got toally owned lmao.


EDIT: bands whose guitar sound i would want to imitate:

All Shall Perish
Black Dahlia Murder
Unearth (from the Oncoming Storm)

Would the 3tm be able to handle that shit? i'm not playing absolutely murderlizing scandinavian death here. lol.
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


Quote by omegasus
RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
Last edited by Nor'Easterbass at Jan 25, 2007,
#19
*Bump*

Anyone have any other advice here? Still got questions unanswered. Ne1 up for them?
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


Quote by omegasus
RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
#20
I suppose the 3TM could do that stuff...

just keep in mind stuff like the Rocktron Piranha or a Pro Gap, or a Peavey Tube Fex or Rockmaster - they're very good units as well
-Mike
#21
ADA clips

stock: http://www.adadepot.com/adagear/detailled/ADA-MP-1/soundclips/mp1clips.htm

various mods: http://www.adadepot.com/adagear/detailled/ADA-MP-1/mods.htm

I have these cuz I'm looking to buy one.....

I'll try to dig up some clips on the others....


this is one of the best ways to figure out what sound they'll get or not. If you like what you hear, then it'll fit...tone is all in the ear of the player. That's why I though you may find this helpful....
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EXACTLY.

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Last edited by Rock Savior at Jan 27, 2007,
#22
I sent him one or two pages loaded with various MP1 clips (modded and unmodded.) I forgot to send him the page with all the info on the mods though, good call.
#23
anyone know where i can get clips of any of the other amps? that'd be great so i could compare. thanks.
Quote by Briyan_15
I think this man has a reputation to defend and "poop head" is not in that reputation.


Quote by omegasus
RUSSELL! WHAT THE ****!!!!
#24
My 3TM has loads of gain. My heaviest setting is only 3/4 of whats available but as someone mentioned it seems more focused and not really like a recto death tone. Even with high gain you can here the notes that are played. A eq pedal can make it sound much more "brutal" if thats what you want.
Hamer USA Chapparal Custom, scalloped fretboard & Sustainiac
Hamer USA Chapparal Elite, Dragon Snakeskin finish
BC Rich USA Gunslinger
BC Rich USA Warlock
Boss GX700
3TM ADA MP1
Rocktron XPression
Mesa 50/50 Stereo Power Amp
Laney 4x12 Cab