Tip of the week (16) – Tone (part 3), Amps

July 23rd 2012 | Posted in Tip of the Week | 90 Comments

In this 4-part feature I’m going to look at the grandest and most difficult topic of them all – tone. Just what is tone? What is a good tone and how do you achieve it? I’m sure there are as many answers to this as there are guitarists. In this third part of the feature, we’ll look at amps. Which amps you should choose for your setup and how to get the tones you want.

In the previous parts, we’ve looked at how we perceive tone and that tone is a very subjective experience. We also looked at the importance of choosing the right guitar – not only for your technique and rig but also for inspiration to play and create music. Check out part 1 and part 2.

Amps
People tend to prioritize guitars and a bunch of pedals and forget the importance of a good sounding amp. An instrument amplifier isn’t just a box amplifying your playing. Choosing the right amp for your setup is crucial for getting the tones you want from your guitar and pedals. I strongly suggest that you buy a guitar and amp before you spend all your savings on pedals. This will ensure the best fundament for your tones and playing.

Let’s stick to tube amps. A tube amp consist of a pre-amp section that takes the small signal from your guitar and amplifies it enough to drive the power amp section. Most amps allow you to manipulate the pre-amp signal with a number of gain and EQ controls. The signal is then fed into the power amp, which gives the power to drive the speakers. The amp could either be a head with one or more speaker cabinets or a combo, with the amp section and speaker cab combined.

My best tip is that you spend some time checking out different models. Bring your guitar to your local guitar store, check out reviews and YouTube clips to get an idea on what’s available. How will you be using the amp? Are you mostly playing in your bedroom, a small studio, clubs or bigger venues? Do you use a lot of pedals or are you more of a plug-and-play kind of guy?

Although fairly consistent with Hiwatts in his live rig, like most guitarists, Gilmour has always experimented with his recoding setups. He’s using the Hiwatt and WEM setup too but in recent years especially, he’s often employed a wide range of smaller amps like the Hiwatt SA212, Fender Bassman, Twin and Princeton, Gallien/Krueger etc. All for getting the tones he needs for that particular song. Another great example is Brian May, who is well known for his wall of VOX amps on stage but many of his trademark solos were recorded with a small home made 10w solid state amp with a 10 inch speaker. Another tone freak, Billy Gibbons, swear by his Marshall JMP-1 rack units for recording.

Wattage and size
Wattage doesn’t necessarily say anything about how loud the amp is. The actual volume is a combination of many things, including the amp’s construction and design, the speakers and their output level, tubes and not least the frequency spectrum of the amp. We perceive sound differently and our ears will either enhance or compress certain frequencies and transients, making us believe a sound is either lower or higher than it really is. Also, a common misconception is that a 100w is twice as loud as a 50w. That may very well be, considering the points above, but technically, a 100w is twice as loud as a 10w.

Likewise, size doesn’t say much about how loud an amp is. A handbag-sized ZT Club would surely blast a Marshall MA50 stack to pieces. However, size and wattage do matter in terms of how the amp operates. In general I would say that for playing at home and studio recording, I’d go for a 5-30w combo. These are much easier to both tame and mic properly. A combo will also go nicely in smaller clubs but usually you’d want something bigger like a 50-100w 2-4×12 stack for 500 seats and above venues. This will allow you to get a more balanced monitoring (mixed with front stage monitors) and you’ll also be more able to incorporate the huge tone into your playing with feedback effects etc.

Speakers and cabinets
The speakers are perhaps the most important component in an amplifier. I’m sure many will disagree but it is crucial for your tone that the speaker is able to correctly translate the signal coming from your guitar, pedals and amp. Although all speakers have the same basic design principle they differ in what components that are used and how these are “tweaked” in order to get a specific tone.

Choosing speakers is a bit like buying a distortion pedal. Different models will have different impact on your tones. The rule of thumb is that low wattage speakers that approximately matches the amp’s wattage will distort earlier. This is common for a typical Marshall-ish setup where you need to crank the shit out of the tubes and speakers to get that creamy distortion. High wattage speakers that exceed the amp’s wattage like a typical Hiwatt and Fane combination will give you much more headroom and a later break up. My best tip is that you experiment with different speakers/cabinets and listen to how low VS high output speakers and speakers with different tonal character affect your overall tone. Personally, I prefer high wattage speakers with a distinct scooped mids tone. This allows me to have rich headroom and a transparent tone for my pedals.

ALWAYS make sure that the speaker cab is matching the impedance/ohm of your amp head!
ALWAYS make sure that the head is connected to a speaker cab!
Doing otherwise could seriously harm your amp!

Regardless of whether the amp is a combo or stack with a separate speaker cabinet – different shapes, sizes and construction of the cabinet will have a dramatic effect on your tone. A closed back cabinet will often sound tighter and more focused while an open back cabinet will sound slightly darker and not as punchy but slightly more transparent. Straight cabinets are more directional while cabinets with a slanted upper half tend to sound bigger but not as focused. As with a guitar, the wood used in a cab will have an impact on the details and frequencies in your tone. This is really a topic of its own, so do some research if you’re looking for a new amp or speaker cab.

Tubes
It’s not a question of if the tubes will need to be replaced but when. Some tubes will work for 10mins while others can live a life time – although rarely. Some tubes are defect from the manufacturer and could go any minute but it’s usually a combination of how hard you push the amp and how you treat it. Do also check the tubes in your new amp and consider replacing these if you want a slightly different tone. It may seem redundant but you do restring a new guitar with your preferred gauge and brand, don’t you?

Replacing a tube is an easy operation you should learn how to do. On most amps it’s as easy as changing a light bulb. A power tube that doesn’t work will usually blow the fuse. If this happen, I recommend that you replace both (50w) or all four (100w) at the same time in matching pairs. This to ensure correct bias and a balanced tone. A pre-amp tube that doesn’t work usually goes microphonic. This is recognized by a vague high pitched ringing from the amp, even if the guitar is unplugged. Tap gently on the tubes with a wooden stick to determine which tube you need to replace. Dying tubes can also be recognized by a blue glow, very bright yellow/red glow, white frosting inside the tube and a generally weaker tone with flat bass response and volume drop. Mind though, that this can also be signs of something far more severe.

There are very few tube manufacturers left. Most tubes are made in Russia, Eastern Europe and China and rebranded and sold by others with licence. Personally, I find JJ Electronics to be the best match for my setup. These have a bit more headroom and a warm, smooth compression. Others may find these a bit too mild and prefer Sovtek or Yugo, which will give you a slightly brighter tone and a bit more bite.

Bias
Bias is a topic in its own but in short – Underbiased (too little voltage) means that the tubes will overheat and the amp will get noisy and hard to control. Overbiased (too much voltage) can cause internal damage to the amp. There are different opinions on whether and how often you should check and adjust the bias. A good rule of thumb is to get it measured every time you replace a tube – at least the power tubes. If this is overlooked, you might end up with an amp that sounds like shit when you record and worst, it may damage the amp. Measuring and adjusting the bias require some instruments so you’re probably best off taking the amp to your local tech.

Setting up
All technical details aside, an amp can be manipulated to produce a variety of tones. While pedals are rather static in how they operate, an amp is very much about physics and how we perceive the signal coming from the amp. One often talks about a sweetspot, which is a reference to the perfect combination of the driven tubes and speakers and how these interact with your playing and the tone from your guitar and pedals. Obviously, a sweetspot is very subjective and it requires a great deal of getting to know how your equipment operates in different situations. As you will discover, the sweetspot is quite different when you’re on stage compared to when you’re recording.

Focus on getting the best possible tone from your amp, then set the pedals. This will ensure a minimum of noise and allow your pedals to sound their best.

I always start a rehearsal, gig or recording session by allowing the amp to heat up in bypass for 5-10 minutes. Then I roughly set the controls, plug the guitar straight into the amp and change between strumming and picking to hear how the amp responds. Most tube amps will have good days and bad days so getting to know today’s mood is a useful exercise. I wander around and listen to the amp from different angles. If something isn’t right I try to change the position of the amp. For a recording session, I usually end up placing it near a corner. This seems to help focus the tone. Do not place the amp near a window, as this will disturb the lower frequencies. Also, try to place the amp slightly above ground on a riser or flight case to allow the tone to breathe.

My sweetspot is when the amp is at the very edge of breaking up. I can add Tube Drivers, Big Muffs and fuzz pedals with a very mild gain setting and everything just explodes out of the amp. The tone is wild and shaking with feedback but still very easy to control. I love it when you sustain a note and you hear this sweet feedback comes creeping. The slightest move or change in positing can create a total mayhem or a tone that sounds incredibly dynamic and rich with harmonics.

Playing at home
There is a huge variety of low wattage and small sized tube and solid states on the market. I believe you’ll get the best tones, regardless musical preferences, with a tube amp. You should be able to find one that I’ll suit both your setup and a tight budget. See this Buyer’s Guide for recommended budget tube amps.

A home or bedroom setup require a different approach than when you’re playing with a band and/or on a stage. Trying to replicate David’s, or any other guitarist’s, huge stage setup with a Vox Cube or a Laney Cub, will probably drive you mad from having tried all sorts of settings and pedals that just won’t sound right. We’ll talk more about this in the next part of this feature but is essence you should try to keep it simple. It is much better to buy a 5w tube combo, cranking it and placing a delay in the effects loop rather than trying to force a whole pedal board into an amp that just can’t handle it. It’s not the pedals alone that create David’s unique tone. Without his hands, guitar and not least his amps, the pedals would be quite redundant.

Volume is always an issue when you’re playing at home. For some reasons, neighbors (and wives) doesn’t approve of loud guitars… A 50-100w tube amp is quite redundant because you won’t be able to get anywhere near heating the tubes for a mild compression or break up. You want a clean tone but tubes that aren’t responding sound flat and dull. A 15-20w has the headroom you need and you’ll be able to drive the tubes enough to get the right basis for your pedals – or full blown tube distortion.

Settings
Each amp and setup will require different settings of the EQ and volume controls. Trying to replicate settings you’ve seen on pictures or given by some self acclaimed guitar guru is pretty pointless. A Marshall JCM800 has a very different character compared to a Fender Twin. Likewise, differences in choice of speakers, tubes, individual tone differences between two seemingly identical amps, placement of the amp and speaker cabinet, cables, guitar and pickups, your playing and technique will all require different settings. But, I know you want it, so here are some settings!

David Gilmour Hiwatt Custom 100, 2006 stage setup 1

linked input (upper normal and lower bright, guitar into upper bright)
normal 2:00, brilliance 1:00, bass 11:00, treble 10:00, middle 1:30, presence 3:00, master 9:00

This seems to have been David’s main settings throughout the 2006 On an Island tour – most likely with small adjustments depending on the venue. The amps are set at the very edge of break up with the master lower than the pre-amp volume. This produces a powerful and fairly bright tone with natural compression and a mild mid boost.

David Gilmour Hiwatt Custom 100, 2006 stage setup 2

linked input (upper normal and lower bright, guitar into upper bright)
normal 2:00, brilliance 1:00, bass 11:30, treble 8:30, middle 12:30, presence 3:00, master 8:00

These settings seems to have been used for some of the low scale TV appearances during the US leg of the 2006 tour. Very similar to the main stage setup but slightly lower in volume and a tad darker with the treble rolled way down – possibly to compensate for some of the natural compression and mids boost caused by higher volume.

My main Reeves Custom 50 stage setup

linked input (upper normal and lower bright, guitar into upper bright)
normal 2:00, brilliance 11:00, bass 11:30, treble 8:00, middle 12:30, presence 3:00, master 8:00

This is very similar to David’s 2006 stage setup 2. The combination of the Reeves and Weber Thames speakers that I use is very bright, so this rather dark setup adds a warm, mild mids boost to balance the signal. Rolling down the treble this much may seem strange but there are lots of high frequencies and attack left. Demanding effects like silicon fuzz and UniVibes also sounds a lot smoother. Depending on the placement of the amp, I will sometimes toll down the mids to about 11:00.

My main Laney CUB12 15w stack home setup

presence/tone 7.5, master volume 5, bass 4, middle 4, treble 2.5, gain/pre-volume 2

This is basically the same setup as my main Reeves stage setup and similar to David’s Hiwatt settings. The JJ Electronics tubes provides a bit more headroom, which allows me to increase the gain slightly without any breakup. The boosted tone/presence and lowered treble also adds a very mild compression and mids boost, even for the lowest volumes.

Laney CUB12 15w, suggested high gain setup

presence/tone 0, master volume 5, bass 10, middle 10, treble 2, gain/pre-volume 7-10

I’ve always loved Billy Gibbon’s crunchy humbucker tones. The dirt comes pouring out of his amps with so much saturation and dynamics that only he can produce. The principle is to roll back all the treble, which may seem crazy but by increasing the bass and mids, you get a super smooth tube break up. Increase the treble slightly if you think it’s way too dark but remember that the louder you play, the more transients will peak and make the sound brighter. Plug your fav Les Paul into your tube amp and listen for your self!

Peavey Classic 30 combo, suggested Gilmourish settings

Clean channel – normal volume 4.5, bass 9, middle 7.5, treble 4

The Peavey Classic 30 lack a couple of controls to give you the same options as a Hiwatt. Still, it is easy to dial in some really punchy clean tones in the normal channel mode. The amp has a distinct bright Fenderish tone that will require a fair amount of rolling down the treble and increasing the bass. The settings above is based on plugging a Strat into the Peavey and emulating David’s Hiwatt setup above.

Fender Super Twin, suggested Gilmourish settings

Normal channel – volume 7.5, treble 4.5, middle 5.5, bass 3.5, presence 7, master 4

The Fender Super Twin is hated by some and loved by others. The tone is somewhere between a Twin Reverb and the old Bassman heads – dark, creamy and insanely loud. The settings should apply for most Twin/Bassman models with some adjustments. This amp was used for most of my guitar parts on the first Airbag album, Identity. Including the solo on Sounds That I Hear. I think I used a Telecaster and a Boss BD2 for a mild crunch. An Shure SM57 was placed one or two inches off the grill but way off center, creating this very dark, muddy tone.

The settings above should apply to most amps, although you might need to tweak them some. The idea or principle is to get a clean tone with a mild bite and natural compression. Solid states and modelling amps will perhaps require a bit more fine tuning. Be careful with the typical bright transistor treble and either switch off any amp simulations or at least use one that is as transparent and clean as possible.

I’m sure that by now you are scratching your head and wonder why the hell this should be so complicated. Well, choosing which amp to buy isn’t any harder than deciding on a guitar but the more you are aware of how you’ll be using the amp and having some basic technical knowledge, will help you in getting the best amp for your setup and ultimately the tones you’re looking for.

In the next and final part of this feature we’ll tackle the myths and legends of the wonderful world of pedals. What’s the best way of arranging a pedal board? What’s boosting all about? Are there any pedals you should avoid? Please feel free to share your tone tips, settings and experiences in the comments field below!

90 comments so far

  1. Matthias says:

    Thanks for that Input, Bjorn !

    I’m wondering how low the treble is ?!

    Do you set the treble higher on the pedals ?

    [You need to set the treble to match your own setup. Mine is very bright so I've lowered the treble on both my amp and pedals. - Bjorn]

  2. Amin says:

    tnx bjorn… tnx a lot man… i had some amp issues and now i can fix them! tnx again man for sharing your knowledge…

    [Cheers, Amin! - Bjorn]

  3. Daniel says:

    Great feature!
    On your Laney, do you use the 15 W or the 1 W input for your youtube demos?
    Cheers

    [I mostly use the 1w. - Bjorn]

  4. Jay says:

    Do the pevey 30w settimgs go with the classic 50 as well? I have the 50 and was curious

    [I'd assume so but I've never tried it. - Bjorn]

  5. Scott says:

    Awesome article, thanks Bjørn! Do you still have all these amps? I’m currently using the Classic 30 just for home and it’s loud!! Can’t imagine playing it at 4.5 volume… Need to downgrade I think. Would love to try out a Cub 12 combo or head. Only running a Large Beaver and Carbon Copy delay at the moment. Should focus on swapping amps instead of looking for the newest pedal to add to the chain! haha

    [Yes I do :) The settings are based on a stage setup, which obviously would be way too loud at home. Keep the EQs as suggested and simply lower the volume. One way to go is to place a transparent booster (Boss BD2, ThroBak Overdrive Boost etc) in the chain for compensating for that mild breakup you get from playing loud. - Bjorn]

  6. Robert Farrer says:

    Iwonder if these settings are very similar to my vc-15 laney. I will need to try this when I get home. I have treble about 6 and it’s very bright.

    [I'm not familiar with the VC my self but try these settings and make the nessecary adjustments and hear how that sounds. - Bjorn]

  7. Robert Farrer says:

    Bjorn that sounds much better I could only get the guitar to about 5/6 on volume before the neighbours would get annoyed but it sounds much better. I was using the bass 5 mids 4 and treble 5 and it was very bright. Now I have a fuller darker tone that has everything working much nicer. I rolled off the tone control as I had it at 10 and that helped nicely.

    Do you use those settings at 1w ( i thought this would lower headroom ) and 15w ??? Good article again and a nice benefit seen. Time for a donation I would say :)

    [Glad to hear it worked out! I use more or less the same settings for both inputs. - Bjorn]

  8. Ricfloyd says:

    Hi Bjorn, you tried the Blackstar HT 20, you think an amp to practice at home and playing in a jam … To play at home has no power scale, you think which can be get a good sound at low volume?

    All good thinks.
    Richard

    [Compared to a Hiwatt or Laney, the Blackstars are a bit darker sounding. Perhaps best suited for rock and metal. That being said... You should be able to get some really nice tones with it even at lower volumes. It has quite a lot of headroom too. - Bjorn]

  9. Roberto says:

    Hi Bjorn, did you try the new line of Hiwatt T20 Head?
    Cheers

    [Yes. They're quite good. Nice clean tone and perfect for playing at home. - Bjorn]

  10. Boidek says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    Nice to see you have got some free time between all to update you site.
    Great writting!

    BTW, Do you remember how did you setup your old neglected SC50?

    [Hmmm... It had active EQs, which required a whole different setup. I think I kept the bass, middle and treble at about 40-50% and the master pretty much all the way up. Most people would set the EQs higher to get more volume but it made the amp way too aggressive for my taste. - Bjorn]

  11. Hp.White says:

    Hi Bjorn, what do you think of the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Series Amps tonewise, if you ever had the chance to try them out, compared to the Laney and the other Smaller Amps you wrote about here? Are they good for Gilmourish sounds?
    The features they have are nice, they have a built in Powescaling with different Wattage options and a DI out with the “Redbox Speakersimulation included, for recording late at night”.

    At the moment im still searching, experimenting and switching back and forth from my Laney cub 12r to my “Toomuchpowerforplayingathome Marshall” 30th Anniversary Head, which i have to run mostly into my selfbuilded Isocab, with different results, because the Sound of the Isocab tends to get a bit Boomy, so i experimented with the Marshalls Di out which also includes a speaker Simulation of a 4×12 Box, and the Tone with this is much more Linear and balanced and especially the Bass frequencies are much more focused and not boomy as with the Isocab, but the sound is a bit less organic than a real speaker………so always a s… compromise, unless you have a House for yourself and 200 Meters “securityzone” around it without Neighbours, because then i can play when i want and as loud as i like,…..anyway a bit offtopic, im sorry…..

    Maybe Isolation Cabinets are a topic for your site someday? just a suggestion.

    Its maybe a little bit offtopic, but i just ask it here: i own a Fender American Standard Strat from the Year 2009 with the stock pickups,which are only called American Standard Pickups. How do they compare to the Cs 69 or other Gilmourish Pickups? Is it a night and Day difference between them or are they very close tonewise, so that its not really needed to change them for Gilmourish things? I have the Official Fender tech Specs about them which tells:
    Alnico 5 Magnets
    Neck- 5.9 DC resistance
    Middle- 5.9 DC resistance
    Bridge- 7.3 DC resistance
    Did you ever had the chance to compare them?
    (The “new” Fender American Standard Strats come now stock with Fat 50′s Pickups, but mine still have the so called American Standard Pickups)

    Sorry for all the asking, Bjorn, but i want to thank you here for all the information you do with your site and help to keep up the Pink Floyd sound and spirit for us all !!!

    Wish you a nice time!
    Hp.

    [Very sorry for my late reply. I haven't tried the HK yet so I can't really tell. The reviews are promising though. In regards to the Fender Standard PUs. They do have a bit more output, warmer tone and mids than the 69s. A bit too overwound and middy for my taste but quite OK. - Bjorn]

  12. Richard Stone says:

    Thanks for another great and insightful article, Bjorn. A new amp is next on my list of things to buy.

    I liked the Back to the Future photo! That movie was the reason I started playing guitar when I was ten years old!

    Richard

    [Great movie, isn' it! - Bjorn]

  13. Christopher C. says:

    Hey, Bjorn,

    Awesome as always. It goes without saying that your work is much appreciated. A semi-related question – on the Reeves, when you are connecting the input channels with the jumper, what gauge wire are you using? It looks like a George L’s 2-inch patch maybe the .155 cable?

    Thanks, man. I am anxiously awaiting the next Airbag album! I’ve pretty much worn out the others ;)

    -Chris

    [It's the .155 standard patch. - Bjorn]

  14. Sascha says:

    Great article Bjorn, lots of good information there.

    For those on a budget or living a rented apartement, I would like to recommend the Hiwatt G50R – a solid state 50 watt combo with a 1×12″ speaker, 2 channels, reverb and all the jacks you need to get the job done in a practise/recording bedroom situation, yet powerful enough to use with a band and it also sounds great with most pedals.

    For a clip of that amp in action check out ‘sacomusic’ on YouTube or just use this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_bBF1dojk&feature=relmfu

    Keep in mind this G50R ain’t no “real” Hiwatt, has to do with the history of the company. However, it sure will get you much closer to some actual tone than any of those crappy Marshalls in that price range.

    [Thanks for the input! - Bjorn]

  15. Sergio Rodrigues says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    Do you record at that volume with your Laney (refering to the Laney CUB12 15w stack home setup, <1w input) or do you recomend pushing it up a little bit more?

    Cheers

    Sergio

    [Depends on what tones you're looking for. I usually use the Laney for demos and sometimes cleans when we record properly but for most of the stuff I either crank the Laney really hard or use bigger amps. You need to have a minimum of volume to smooth out some harsh overtones that you often get with gain pedals. You might be able to do that at home as well, depending on how sensitive your neighbours are. Try pushing the amp as much as you can and try different mic setups and listen. - Bjorn]

  16. Patrick says:

    For your Laney Cub which JJ 12×7 do you use? The ECC803-S or the ECC83-S? I have a Laney Cub Combo and on the tube store site they recommend the ECC83-S for combos. Wandering what’s your take on it? Thank You, very much!!!:)

    [The ECC83-S. - Bjorn]

  17. Mike says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    Thanks for this great article. I wanted to ask you for a speaker recommendation for my Laney Cub 12R combo. I remember reading somewhere that you use Weber Thames in your 2×12 cab for your Laney. Although, I’ve been reading that some speakers are only meant for 2×12 or 4×12 cabs/combos as in they will sound better. Where some speakers are not meant for being on their own. I have no idea if it’s true for the Weber Thames, but I do know that the Celestion V30 will sound not as good on it’s own.

    Anyway, if you have any suggestions or think the Thames will do well in my combo please reply back.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    [I don't have that much experience with speakers. I don't think you can do anything wrong and although some speakers might sound better in pairs or quads, it's more about how they interact with amp - not that they'll sound like shit if they aren't paired. The Webers are very powerful so you'll have a hard time getting any gain from the amp, while V-30 will be easier to distort. Check out Eminence and Jenssen too. - BJorn]

  18. KEITH CLARKE says:

    Hello my Friend! I didn’t know where to post this, so I just started at the end of the recent posts. I know you used the DD-20 for awhile , and as everyone knows, Boss’s manuals arn’t the most informative, and the tranlationsgenerally awful, so I have some questions. I use my Carbon copy for warm analog delays, and I love the mild modulation, but for stuff like the little section of echoes where he does the 10 9po 12po open e triplet kind of thing, I know there has to be either more than one track, or two delays, at least on the Meddle version. I was wondering about the dual head tape function on the DD-20. Have you experimented with it? If you know anything about it, could you give me some settings to try? Any settings you could suggest for the unit would be greatly appreciated. I’ve only used the standard, and smooth modes, and honestly haven’t had time to use it enough to experiment yet. I hope you’ll take my advice, and try that TSA30, with JJ output tubes, and at least 2 12′s, I bet it goes to the top of your budget amp section! I paid $535.00 US, at Sam Ash, $599.00 Street normally, and Ash isn’t exactly known for their discount’s. It sounds fantastic right out of the box, and it would easily gig 500 seaters with just the stock speker, but the output tubes HAVE TO BE REPLACED!!!! with the JJ’s, the little bugger has UNLIMITED headroom, and I haven’t even gotten my Thames 80′s yet. When you finally get your hands on one, crank the amp to just about break up, and kick in the TS circuit with the OD all the way down, the tone at about 11:00, and gain slightly above unity, and you have a HiWatt, as far as my ears can tell, it’s as close as anything I’ve heard, and LOUD!!!
    Peace my friend with alot of headroom yourself,( I don’t know how 1 brain stores so much CORRECT information, you truly exemplify the word genius! Thank you, Keith

    [Ha ha! Thank you Keith! I'm sorry but I don't have the DD20 anymore and it's been too long since I've used one... I'm afraid I can't give you any settings. David did use the Binson between 1968-75 - mostly with a 300ms setting. It works nicely for the Echoes stuff too but he might have used a multiple head setup, I don't know. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  19. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    One thing that is talked about very little are guitar tone capacitors. Some
    Say they have little to no effect on the guitar’s tone. After extensive experimentation, I find them to have definite effect on not only tone, but feel, attack, etc. Do you happen to know what tone cap and value David uses in his black Strat? What about yourself?

    Thanks,
    Tony

    [Sorry for my late reply, Tony. Caps and pots have an effect on your tone. David's BS Strat feature a .05/ 50V "dime" cap. I'm really no expert on the subject but check out this informative feature from Premier Guitar. - Bjorn]

  20. KEITH CLARKE says:

    Hi again,my fine fingered friend! I have nearly completed the first part of my Gilmourish journey. I had to postpone my order with CJ for a couple of weeks, (My daughter’s car is a bit more important than a new set of Webers), but I will have them by the end of August! I am also saving for a colorsound Power boost, which will follow the Webers. So as it stands, my rig is as follows, and there is a question or 3 in here: Guitar>JH-F1 Fuzz Face,(is this BC -108 silicon model an acceptable FF, for early Gilmour era Floyd, i.e. Pompeii, Atom Heart-DSOTHM?)>RMCIII Wah,(set according to Geoffery Teese to “a time sweetened Thomas Organ era Vox)>’76 re-issue script Dynacomp>BOE Musket Fuzz,( would a V4 OCD be okay as a clean boost until I can afford the CSPB? Would I put it after the Musket?).’74 RI script Phase 90> Deluxe Electric Mistress>Vp Jr 25K>MXR Carbon Copy> DD-20, Right out > TSA30, w/at least 2 Thames 80′s, Left out> RT-20>TSA15H, w/ 1×12 cab loaded w/ Thames 80! Voila. I’m using my completly electrically modded Squire thinline tele,(All new NOS pots, caps, wire, jack, switch, and Fralin Vintage hots, Rosewood fretboard, w/fretwork done by Tom Rodriguez and soon ,(about 3 weeks,) My Rodriguez David Gilmour, Not Quite Black ’69 Strat! does this all sound like the right pedals for the period? do I have the chain right? I have been told by some to put the Dynacomp first, but I generally stick with what you tell me, unless it doesn’t sound right. I haven’t had it all together long enough to figure it all out, but so far, you’ve been right every time. I hope you get excited when you see my last email, about sending you a guitar to review,I will be paying frieght, and insurance, as part of my donation to the site! You have no idea how much you’ve done to get me back into the only thing I’ve ever truly loved doing. You have inspired me to play again, after hanging it up for over a decade, and I had sold a goldmine of vintage guitars, and amps, but with your help, I sincerely believe these cheap little Ibanez amps, combined with the suggested pedals, and the two fine guitars, that I have the best sound I’ve ever achieved. You are responsible for 90% of what I have achieved so far! Now, if you could just snap those magic fingers, and find me my Richard Wright, I’ll have a CD out by the first of the year. Sorry to go on, but I’m quite the excitible boy,(at 50!)
    Peace, Love, and all things Gilmourish, your friend, Keith

    [As awlays Keith, thanks for the kind words and the update :) - Bjorn]

  21. Mike says:

    Well, I’m looking for a speaker to get me strictly clean sounds and then using pedals to get distortion. I barley use the gain feature on my Cub, as I don’t think it’s all that great with single-coils (which is my preference). So will I be able to get the same BE Musket and Throbak sounds with the Thames? Or will it be too clean because of the high wattage? Your videos sound pretty great when you demo pedals with a Cub 12 head through 2 Weber Thames.

    I’m not try to copy you or anything, I just want to get the best speaker for that clean Gilmour sound, but still get the same distorted sound without it being clean…And yeah I really have absolutely no experience with speakers, I’m only changing because I hear the Celestion Rocket 50 in my combo isn’t that good and when people change it to something different it the amp becomes livelier.

    [The Webers are perhaps not the best choice if you want a versatile setup and be able to crank the amp. The V30s and G12H does a great job and should be more than enough for the CUB both in terms of headroom and gains. Again, I'm sure others can answer this better than me. - Bjorn]

  22. Ian Bray says:

    Hi Bjorn! Long time lurker both here and on your YT channel, I have learned oodles thanks to your efforts! I have just recently come home to playing guitar. I played in a punk band as a kid, worked in a small recording studio, been on the fringes of the music biz for nearly 20 years but as they say, “life got in the way”. Oh yeah, then I became a computer geek, I had Cubase v1 on Atari.

    I haven’t played for years really, then about 18 months ago I bought a cheap second hand Epiphone Les Paul copy, then I had the misfortune ;-) to see one or two of your vids (and Duey) on Youtube. I went looking for a POD the next day, limited funds. No Reeves head and a stack of pedals for me… speaking of which, I saw two Rats in “Ye Olde Geetar Shoppe” close to me recently.

    Anyhoo, Tone…I know it’s Recording Orientated but it applies to Live Sound also I would advise all good members here to have a butchers at this…which I consider the best Tutorial on the internets.

    Here is the URL to the original thread, [there is a PDF available]

    It’s on the REAPER Forum and It’s called ” Why Do your Recordings sound like Ass”?

    http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?s=c480605ddecbfcfaf04f258246439c29&t=29283

    Anyways happy guitar playing!

    [Thanks a lot for your kind words and for sharing the link! Great stuff! - Bjorn]

  23. KEITH CLARKE says:

    In my last post I mentioned, “My Richard Wright”. I was not aware of this site at the time of his death, some four years ago, and thus I’ve never made any comments about his death on GIlmourish.
    Dear Richard, I know that Heaven’s band welcomed you to “The Great Gig in the Sky” with open arms, of this I am sure, because regardless of your beliefs, only God could have given you such an amazing gift. You shined on Shine on, you echoed the beauty of the Earth in Echoes, and you taught me how to just Breathe! Thank you for your gift of musical perfection, I will always remember your Voice, so sweet, and so like Syd’s,so much so there were times I couldn’t tell if it were he, or you. Now, you and Syd are reunited, and all of Syd’s pain has been taken away, and I will always see you both as you were during the days of “The Tea Set”, playing Arnold Layne. While I have dedicated my musical goal to be the kind of player your mate David has been, I will always think of you as the very soul of Pink Floyd, and irreplacable. Without you, there will never be a Pink Floyd, just as there will never be another Rick Wright, only xerox like copies, who while talented, and committed, they will never come close to the crystaline clarity of the original.
    RIP Richard, you are missed so very much, Thank you for all you’ve done for me, and all music lovers, the world over. If there’s a rock ‘n’ roll Heaven, you knoe they got a hell of a band!
    I am searching for my copy now, and can omnly hope I can find someone who understands what Rick Wright REALLY did for Pink Floyd, and all of music.
    Sincerely, God bless all, Keith

  24. Christopher says:

    Hi Bjorn. Thanks for passing on so much of your learned wisdom is such well thought out articles. I have a question about the effects loop (I have a Laney Cub 12R 15w). What is your criteria for what does or doesn’t go into that loop and does the “standard” effects order still apply? Thanks again for all you do.

    [Thanks for your kind words, Christopher! I'm always setting the amps clean so I have all the pedals lined up into the front input. If you rely on gain from the amp, I'd place the modulations and delays in the loop and gains, wah wah etc in the front. - Bjorn]

  25. Uwe says:

    Hello M. Riis,

    I’d like to know if you planned to add reviews from the following heads in your “amps under 700 USD” section:

    – Egnater Tweeker 20 W or Rebel 20
    – laney Lionheart 20 W head
    – Ibanez TSA 15 W head
    – Carvin VT 16W Head

    All seem to be great sounding amps judging by reviews and youtube videos, but there’s one thing I’d like to be sure about: the ability to use Fuzz faces (Si or Ge), at low or moderate volume settings (in fact do they accept the most demanding fuzzes for breakfast like the Peavey Classic 30 does?)

    I just refer to your different explanations about Laney Cub head, saying that it wasn’t taking well fuzz faces (bleeding), unless if the amp was really “cranked” (that is Hendrix way but absolutely not the Gilmour way, agree?).

    See you,

    Uwe ,
    Germany

    [Hi Uwe. I've tested all but the Carvin. They will be featured in an update of the BBG Amps $700. In general I'd say that fuzz pedals do need a minimum of volume to really open up. Low bedroom levels doesn't really do these pedals justice... that is, if you want David's smooth tones on a clean setup. They work better if you crank the amp for a typical Hendrix tone. Not as big though but they work better. - Bjorn]

  26. Brett says:

    Hey, thanks for the Laney CUB12 15w, suggested high gain setup settings! Sounds great with a strat w/single coils and some delay + univibe. If you’re able, cranking the gain to 10 is even beastier.
    Cheers

    [It does! I'm usually using a booster with this setup for those classic Gibbons tones :) - Bjorn]

  27. Nihar says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    What do you think of the Jet City JCA20H head and its matching JCA24S 140 watt cabinet? I plan on using it as a mild overdrive head (set to probably a Time-esque or Learning to Fly style sound). Lead sounds will come from my Danelectro Daddy-O (Marshall Guvn’r clone) that can pull off a convincing Muff tone. The amp doesn’t really sound clean ever and it doesn’t have an effects loop, so I am a bit worried about running my vibe and rotary speaker emulator into the front end of the amp. Will they sound bad or is this amp good for my needs?
    Thanks,
    Nihar

    [You should be able to get a nice clean tone from the amp. Just lower the pre-amp gain to 1 or 2 and increase the volume. You might have a hard time getting enough headroom and volume if you intend to use the amp in a band situation but at home it should be more than enough. There's nothing wrong with running modulations in front of a cranked amp - Hendrix did - but it will sound different than running a clean amp. Try different setups and settings and listen for your self. - Bjorn]

  28. Ian Bray says:

    Taking my own advice, I revisited that thread and some further reading.

    James Jamerson bass-player extraordinaire played on nearly every hit record that came out of Motown, in fact, had more number one hit’s than the Beatles, The Stones, Elvis combined. Jamerson played on the Temptations, Four-Tops, Jacksons, Marvin Gave, etc, etc, etc’s records.

    Jamerson used a borrowed P bass [his own had been stolen or pawned for drink money ]. It had a warped neck, one set of flat wound strings which he never changed in his entire career. He used an early Ampeg amp, and he had the peculiar stlye of playing with one finger…which was nicknamed “The Hook”. On at least one of the hits, he recorded laying flat on his back on the floor in Berry Gordy’s Motown Studio.

    Point being, you can spend tens of thousands of Euros/Pounds/Dollars/Yen buying all the equipment in the world searching for that elusive tone and still not sound good as a Band, or on Record. Why?

    A “hit-player”, and that’s what these guys are called, with a $5 guitar from Oxfam will blow us all away everytime. Not so much virtousity, but touch, technique, note-length and most importantly “Feel” or “Soul”. They are as much vital for that elusive “Sound” as gold wired Strats or mil-spec amps.

    No offence to all you gear junkies out there! Remember, it’s not the getting there, it’s the journey that’s important!

    [Good point but I pretty sure Jamerson was comfortable with the gear he played on. He didn't just pick up a piece of plank and was satisfied with that. Also, my point with this article is exactly what I understand you're saying... Don't overdo the gear stuff but find a guitar and amp you're comfortable with and develop your own style and technique. - Bjorn]

  29. Nihar says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    I have a follow-up to my old Jet City comment. After some youtubing, I found this amazing video: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b-xqg87Cowk All I can say is WOW! That Bugera completely beats the Jet City for clean sounds!! While the Jet City gains are better, I use my Danelectro Daddy-O for all the gain I need. I think I’m getting the Bugera. Funny, I thought after my Bugera V5 I would buy a “good” brand but now I know that Bugera itself is an awesome brand.
    (I don’t know how to end comments,)
    Nihar

    [The Bugera is a fine amp indeed. I've only tried it briefly but enough to appreciate the clean tone especially. A good choice for an affordable price. - Bjorn]

  30. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m not familiar with the Super Twin, but it has my interest. I’m looking for the perfect amp that can pull off both Gilmour & Hendrix (if that’s even possible) and have been considering a Twin Reverb, Super Reverb and Pro Reverb. What were the pros/cons of the Super Twin for you and how would you clare it totally to a Hiwatt?

    Your advice is sincerely appreciated,
    Tony

    [Between the Fenders that you mention I prefer the Super Twin. It's loud and considerably warmer than the Twin and Pro. Compared to a Hiwatt... I don't know. It's darker with fatter lower end... perhaps closer to the old Bassman heads. - Bjorn]

  31. Ernest says:

    I am interesting in buying a Laney Cub 12. Because my Fender combo is being repaired right now, I want to use the way it is (would consider a speaker and tube upgrade later). How does the Laney sound with original speaker and tubes? How does it sound using a Muff or Tube Driver (noth harsh)?

    [There's no continuety on the tubes so you really need to check out the amp you're considering. I've seen them with TADs, Sovtek and JJs. Personally I think the amp sounds best with JJs. The stock speakers are quite OK. The Cub handles the TD and most Muffs well but as you know, these pedals also need some volume to open up, so if you can't play that loud, you might want to consider other pedals... goes for any amp, really. - Bjorn]

  32. Scott says:

    Bjorn, Just wondering what sort of settings you’d would use on a BD-2 following a large beaver, into a classic 30.

    Thanks

    [I'd set it fairly clean with teh volume slightly above unity, tone 9-10:00 and gain 8-9:00. - Bjorn]

  33. Uwe says:

    Hello M. Riis,

    A few days ago I asked you if you had tried those heads;

    – Egnater Tweeker 20 W or Rebel 20
    – laney Lionheart 20 W head
    – Ibanez TSA 15 W head
    – Carvin VT 16W Head
    - Laney Lionheart 20 Head

    But I didn’t make myself clear.

    In your amp below 700 USD review, you’ve written that Fender Blues Junior or Peavy Classic 30 , were accepting fuzz faces very well, but not the Laney Cub Head…

    What I want out of a Silicon Fuzz Face is David’s smooth tones on a clean setup. Only that.
    What do you think about those 5 Heads that I’ve mentioned above regarding my needs?

    Knowing that…. I’m the owner of a 2X 12″ Cab and I’ m actually looking for a new head for home practice (Among the five mentioned above, what would be the right choice ?)

    Thanks for helping!
    Uwe ,
    Germany

    [Well, it's basically what I said in the last reply. You can pretty much get David's smooth fuzz tones on any amp as long as you're able to crank it really hard. Fuzz pedals needs some volume to open up. At a bedroom level you'll most likely end up with a rather harsh tone or at least not as smooth as the ones you hear on Pompeii, Dark Side etc. I haven't been able to test fuzz pedals on all the amps above but both the Classic 30, Laney CUB and Lionheart handles the tones very well once you push the amps beyond accepted neighbour volume. The Blues Jr sounded great with Muffs so I would assume it works well with fuzz as well. - Bjorn]

  34. Martin says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’d like to share a slightly different experience concerning tubes. After trying some tube amps (most of them only in stores, I admit), I found that they never seemed to sound quite right below a certain volume level (as you say). The amp that sounded as fat and warm as I wanted my tone to be, was the Roland Cube 80X with its clean channel. I would never have expected that, but that was my experience. The original JC-120 is too noisy for me, although tonewise, it’s a little bit better than the almost noiseless Cube. My main guitar is a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin, and I play my own stuff that combines swing music with a playing technique that is very similar to B.B. King’s and David’s. It’s not really loud. I play clean most of the time, and my amp works well with my Rodenberg overdrive pedal with a mild setting. I’m not the only one using transistor amps: One of my favorite players alongside with David is Herb Ellis who played Polytone transistor amps in his later years. B.B. King has been using a transistor amp for more than thirty years even for his overdrive sounds. My setup doesn’t work with pedals like the Rat. That sounds just harsh and thin to my ears, but Muff and fuzz sounds wouldn’t fit into my stuff anyway. For the cleans and mild overdrives in my music, the Cube is great.

    Cheers
    Martin

    [Thanks for your input, Martin! There are no rules when it comes to amps or guitars. Whatever works for you will always be the best option. There are many great sounding transistor amps on the market and as you point out, many of the biggest guitarists has employed transistors throughout their career. It's a bit like choosing between Pepesi and Coke I guess :) - Bjorn]

  35. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, a question about your statement on setting the master volume at 1/3 the gain volume. Obviously when I play through the TSA15H, I don’t have that option, and have clean, and very focused tone to almost full volume. However, when I try to set the gain the way you suggest on the 30, I lose clean rather quickly, but if I set it like your main setting on the cub, with the gain around 3, I can get a warm clean tone to almost ear splitting volume. So, is this just the way this particular class A amp works best, and therefore not a deficiency that I can’t overcome? My ears tell me that the tubes are plenty hot, as even a mild boost gives me a great tube distortion sound, but trying to set the gain high, and master low makes the amp sound thin, and it doesn’t have anywhere close to the volume, or headroom, because it starts breaking up before you can get ratio you suggest at even practice volume. Could part of this be the cheapo preamp tubes, because if they suck as bad as the output tubes did, it would make a huge difference. Lastly, should I stick with all 3 preamp tubes being 12ax7′s, or the ecc alternative, or go with 2 ax’s, and 1 at or au?
    Thank you for more than I can ever express, or repay, Your faithful padawan, Uncle Ebb

    [I don't think you should do anything different. Set the amp they way it sounds best to you and stick to that. Keep in mind that the setup with the high preamp volume and the lower master is based on David's Hiwatts, which are quite different than your TSA30 and most other lower wattage practice amps. The Hiwatt, and my Reeves, has tons of headroom and with high wattage speakers you can pretty much turn the preamp all the way up without the amp distorting. This is really the essence of David's tones too because he is really pushing the preamp but relies on clean tones, which is a bit of a contradiction. His combination of the pre-amp at breaking point and the high presence for more attack is what produce the rich sustain. So, by setting the master higher on lower wattage amps you should get the oposite. A thin, dull clean tone. However, if you set it high enough you'll start to push the output tubes and the relatively low wattage speakers are reaching their peak, which if pushed harder, would create a clipping similar to what the tubes would create. This means, that the settings you should use must be matched to the amp and the speakers. I'm sure there are better ways of explaining this but there you have it :) - Bjorn]

  36. Keith says:

    I figured it out not long after I posted, I thought that I had a problem, because I thought the amp had plenty of headroom when I first bought it, and I am using 2 80 watt speakers, so it’s not speaker breakup. It is those damn Chinese tubes again!. I noticed a microphonic ring after I posted, and started swapping out preamp tubes, and was able to get my bottom back, and a much more focused clean at a higher volume. Hiowever, I don’t think of the 30 as a purely practice amp, as I was too loud at the last jam, and I only had the master at about 2 1/2 -3, and I think utilizing the 30, the 15, and 4 80 watt webers would easily do 500 seat clubs. However, I will find a early 70′s Hi-watt, Sound City, or Reeves once I start gigging again. I’ve always played high wattage amps, but after seeing a big name Rock band with a wall of marshalls, at a twenty thousand seat venue, and when I was hanging with my roadie buddies from the union, I found the Marshalls weren’t hooked up, and there was a 50 watt Boogie, with one twelve, mic’d behind the stacks! So, I feel that my little 30, alongside the 15 will be fine for now, but do understand the principles of David’s volume, but I’m always mic’d, and if you can hear it through the monitors, a mere five watts cranked to maximum clean in the preamp stage, and a good soundman can do wonders. Of course I’ve never attempted to play any gig with less than 100watts, but did keep my Marshall JCM Slash on the 50 watt setting at most indoor gigs under 500 seats! Just sayin’ I don’t think of the 30 as purely a practice amp, and many pros play 40 watt Fenders live. But not knowing your review of the TSA30, I will say to anyone who is thinking about buying one, They are great sounding, and versatile amps, that at price point cannot be bested in my opinion, but change ALL the tubes, THEY SUCK! They literally Suck the tone out of an otherwise great sounding amp!
    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish!!! Uncle Ebb

  37. Keith says:

    Dear Bjorn, and all in the Gilmourish community. I found this site 7 months ago, and have read it every day since. I’ve even gotten to the point where the first thing I do upon waking at 4-4:30 am each day, is to read this site. I always check posts first, unless there is a new review, or tutorial, and then start reading achived articles and posts to catch up on all the things I missed before finding Gilmourish.com. I have bought every pedal I own based on suggestions from Bjorn, and have basically followed his advice in almost every way. However, I just couldn’t seem to get used to setting my amp the way he suggested having always been a Marshall stack guy, where you turn the baas to 9, the treble to 6, and the mids to 4. I couldn’t bring myself to keep the bass as low as he suggested, the mids as high, and especially the treble that low. Well, I realized today that had I actually paid close attention to this very important detail, I could have saved myself, and Bjorn alot of trouble. It’s one thing to read the articles, but if you don’t try to use them as a starting off point, why read them in the first place. This man has been doing the Gilmour thing for a long time, and he knows Jack Shit personally! Bjorn, I followed the details of your main Reeves settings today, adjusted slightly to taste, adjusted my pickups a bit lower because the Fralins haven’t gone in the Tele yet, and the Duncans are just too hot, and with my little TSA30, 2 12″ speakers, with just a Musket, TC spark, and a carbon copy, I was getting almost every sound I have been longing for. I cranked the gain to about 2:30-3:00, bass about 10:00, Mids at about 1:00, and the total shocker, the treble at about8-8:30! with a fat boost, I was getting great Townsend sounds, clean boost, and a slight roll back on the volume, and a little delay, I was nailing Gilmour better than ever, and utilizing a minor adjustment or two from your Musket settings I was getting great Fuzz tones from mild, to screaming, and when I finally get with CJ and get my Webers, and replace the preamp tubes in both amps, I don’t think there will be any sound I can’t reproduce! I want to thank you for the knowledge you’ve given me, and I finally got through my rather hard head,(old habits are hard to break.), and let you know that by utilizing your basic settings, that little 30 watt amp was shaking windows two blocks away! I know, because I got the cops knocking on my door right before I sat down to write this. I’m sorry to have disturbed my neighbors, but it was kind of a good feeling after that not happening for many, many years!
    I just Can’t thank you enough, and now I’m gonna start adding my pedals one at a time, keep it as simple as possible, and know that I am capable of creating some awesome sounds.
    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish, Uncle Ebb

    [Thanks a lot Keith! I'm just happy to help and enjoy doing this site every day :) - Bjorn]

  38. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, looks like the amp is going in vacation to New Jersey to fix the hiss that has started in my 30. I bought 3 new JJ 12AX7XXX, which say ecc83 s on the box, and I assume these are the preamp tubes you suggested. It didn’t help, so I switch the ouptput tubes back to the original tubes, to check, because they were never used. I changed the ones in the 30 before I plugged it in, but the hiss/buzz is still there the minute the master volume gets turned on. Very disappointing since the amp only has maybe 20 hours on it. I guess that’s what warranties are fir. I hope it’s simple, but I bet it wont be quick!
    Anyway, if I’m lucky, my amp will come home about the time my Strat’s ready.
    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish, KC

    [Could be a number of things I guess and I'm sure you've eliminated all sorts of ground and hum issues from the rest of the rig... Good luck and keep me posted :) - Bjorn]

  39. Keith says:

    Wow, Wow, WOW! I went to Sam Ash, and said I didn’t want the amp repaired, I wanted my money back, or a store credit. To my surprise, They said okay, go pick out an amp. I played every amp in the huge store over a 3 hr. period, and frankly, I couldn’t find anything that sounded as good as that little TSA30. I tried a Bugera/Line 6 212 thing that listed for $1500.00, and was being blown out for $850.00, HATED IT! I played old Marshalls, new Marshalls, and every Fender, Boogie, and Blackstar in the store, and not one amp sounded as good as that little TSA30, so I asked the manager Sara, in a nice sweet manner, “Sara, can I have a new one?” I didn’t want it in the shop for 6 weeks, where they would fix the hum, but not the reason it broke in the first place, and six months from now, I’d have a blown output transformer! She checked, and they have 2 in NYC, still in the box, unopened, and after owning the amp for 6 months, I am getting a brand new one next week! They even took all of my new JJs out, boxed them up, and gave them back to me! I will never complain about the service from Ash again, that was the way every business should treat their customers, and they will reap benefits from being so flexible, as they have a customer who will never go to another big box store for anything musical after such a great experience.

    [That's the way to treat your customer! Glad it worked out for you and good luck with the new amp :) - Bjorn]

  40. Stephen Ford says:

    @ Keith,
    Sorry to hear about the tragic amp mishap Keith. Glad that it is under warranty still, hopefully it is fully covered. Amp repair runs high quickly especially with these PCB built amps with everything directly hardwired to them. Nothing like the beauty of a hand wired eyelet board amp bbut that comes with a hand written bill with more zero’s after it.

    I had written an earlier response that must have gotten lost in cyber space. The last reply had no great insight either, since giving amp diagnostics over the internet is like a doctor giving a diagnosis without seeing the patient.

    Let us know how it turns out.

    Cheers

  41. Keith says:

    @Stephen, thank you for your continued support! As you see from my latest post it worked out well as far as I’m concerned. You mentioned how beautilful it is to see a handwired amp, and the funny, and great thing about the TSA15H is that when you look through the top vent, you see a heavy duty tube socket with individual wires going to each pin hole on each socket. But on the 30, unfortunately you see the miniscule tabs coming through the PCB and folded over, then soldered. However, in my 3 hour long disappointing amp seach, I noticed that even many of the high priced “boutique” amps are using this method too. I am going to get with my dad,( a retrofit genius!), and try to figure out a method to better stabilize the sockets, without covering the tubes in a fashion that would cause them to over heat. Also, it may be wishful thinking, but in mass production, the first run usually isn’t quite as well made as subsequent runs, due to the new lprocess not being in the muscle memory of the workers on the line. My original 30 was definitely one of the first made, and now that they’ve been out for 7 months, I’ll probably get a second run model. I plan on getting a Reeves, or HiWatt eventually, but for now, I can’t find an amp, new, or used, at any price that sounds as good as that pretty little White Combo, and I now have a new 5 year warranty with my new TSA! Sorry to take up so much post space with this issue Bjorn, but anyone who has ever heard that specific honk the amp, and my Laney made, knows it’s a death knell, and I would never trust just fixing the issue, because while they fix the hum, they wouldn’t fix the damage that the hum caused,or was caused by.

    [No worries Keith :) - Bjorn]

  42. Tony Bouxa says:

    Bjorn, I was wondering whether the same settings would apply with an old Peavey Mace, I just picked one up last week and am trying to find that sweet spot.

    -Tony

    [I don't know. I haven't played those for years so I can't really tell. I think the overall concept is to keep the treble low and try to get the clean as warm and punchy as possible. Depending on how you'll be using the amp you might want to increase the mids a bit for bedroom setups to compensate for some of that speaker clipping you get on high volume levels. - Bjorn]

  43. Thomas says:

    Hi, Bjoern,

    once again a lot of great recommendations – thank you very much!

    Looking on the pictures with the Reeves amp, I can see that you plug in your cable to the upper brilliant input. As I assume that Reeves amps are more or less exact copies of the old Hiwatts, I think that the upper inputs are the low level inputs – which means that you would get more volume from your amp by using the lower inputs.
    I own three vintage Hiwatt SA 212 from the seventies and was never totally happy with the sound. I used always the high level brilliant input and connected a cable from the low brilliant input to the high level normal input: the sound was always too dark. Then I changed the configuration and the treble response was much better. What is your experience in that regard?

    Beyond I have made the experience that the importance of using Hiwatt amps is a little bit overrated for some of Gilmours tones. All the great live sounds from Pulse and DSOT are made with a Fender-style-preamp(Alembic) and just Hiwatt power amps (disconnected preamp section). Beside my old Hiwatt combos I use an old Fender Dual showman head where I disconnected the power amp section; from there I go to all the nice effects (mistress, CE-2 etc.and then into a VHT power amp: The sound is amazing!

    I really believe that most of Gilmours sounds are at least a mixture of Hiwatt and Fender amps: the output section of his Cornish-board allows him to use four amps simultaneously which is often a mixture of Fender Bassmans and Hiwatt SA212.

    Cheers
    Thomas

    [Hi! To my ears at least, using the upper bright for the guitar seems to produce the best tone. I don't have any problems with it being neither too dark nor too bright. Just combining the channels add the extra presence and clarity I need.
    Of course you can use a wide range of amps for David's tones. He's been using Hiwatts since the late 60s and at a time when no one used stage monitors, you had to have these loud amp stacks to be able to hear anything on stage. On the albums he's always used a lot of Fenders etc. What you need is an amp that has a transparent tone without too much mid range and preferably tubes. A lot of amps can deliver that. - Bjorn]

  44. Thomas says:

    Hi, Bjoeren,

    thanks for your reply!

    Just one aditional question: as I don’t know the Reeves amps in detail, I woul like to know whether the upper bright input on the Reeves amps is the louder one of the both brilliant inputs. There is a huge difference in sound:: using the upper bright input and then connecting the lower bright with the upper normal sounds different from using the lower brilliabnt input for the guitar and connecting the upper bright to the lower normal input…:-))

    Best regards

    Thomas

    [Hmmm... I don't have the amp set up at the moment so I can't really comment on that. I honestly don't remember if there's a noticeable difference. If you're very keen on knowing it now I'd send Reeves an email and ask. - Bjorn]

  45. Garry says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m new to the site – which I’ve found really interesting – thanks for all the advice you’ve put in to it.

    I’m the proud owner of a Laney Cub12R, a lovely little amp, and while I’ve been playing many years, it’s my first tube amp. I wish to invest in a distortion/fuzz pedal to obtain some of the tones you’ve been talking about on this forum (Gilmour, Gibbons, etc). My guitars are a PRS and a Strat.

    It’s a bit impractical to take my amp into a store to try out pedals – so I’d really appreciate some advice on which pedals would be compatible with the Laney, that wouldn’t clash with or undermine the tone I’m now starting to get.

    Combination of home playing (i saw the caveats about needing to drive the pedals a bit to achieve a good tone) and small venue gigs. My budget is up to £150 ($200). Much appreciated, and thanks again.

    kind regards,
    Garry

    [Thanks for your kind words Garry! I think I'd go for something versatile, especially since you want to cover several genres and styles. The Laney works nicely with most pedals, even Big Muffs and vintage style fuzz but I your case I think I'd go for a Fulltone OCD, TC Electronics Dark Matter, ProCo Rat (check out the much better clones Jam Pedals Rattler and Retro Sonic Distortion) or the Wampler Plexi Drive. All of these goes well with teh Cub and will deliver the tones you're seeking. Check out some YouTube clips and reviews. Hope this helped. - Bjorn]

  46. Garry says:

    Thank, Bjorn!

  47. Scott says:

    Hey Bjorn, just wondering if you have a preferred muff to go with your classic 30? I’m using the large beaver and was thinking about buying a new one to try out. Mind you I’m playing at bedroom levels (amp usually around 2, little more if I have the house to myself ) Oh, and do you have any preferred tubes you like to go with? I have no idea what preamp tubes are in mine, but the el84′s are sovteks. Think its time to get a new set of those as well.

    [I use JJ Electronics in all my amps. Very clean and warm sounding. Sovtek, TAD etc are brighter and perhaps more suited for heavier rock. I think most of the Muffs I've listed as bedroom Muffs should work nicely with the Classic 30. Depending on what tones you want I'd go for either the Musket, Colossus or Pig Hoof. - Bjorn]

  48. Matt says:

    Hi there

    great info on the laney cub 12r……just recently purchased one……still in 2 minds whether to return it and get the laney vc15 though

    Question is; Is it worth upgrading the pickups on the guitar (epiphone sg400) or upgrade the cub itself or upgrade to the vc15 (which dont know much about) looking for a better lead sound to learn solos
    many thanx

    [Depends on what tones you want. The Cub should be able to deliver some really warm, crunchy tube distortion and even better if you use pedals to boost the tone. A pickup upgrade often does wonders so you should really look into that. Personally I prefer the vintage sounding PAFs and late 50s buckers but there are lots of different models to choose from really. - Bjorn]

  49. Martin says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’d like to share a new experience about amps. As I wrote in another comment, I always liked the clean channel of the Cube 80X, but now, I found something I like even more: PCL Vintage Amp. That’s a German boutique company, and they make analog transistor amps that are even appreciated by many tube fans. My trouble with Roland is that the JC-120 sounds smoother than the Cube, but it’s a very noisy beast. PCL Vintage Amp manages to give you smooth tones from quiet circuits. Although they obviously work with fine components, their combos and stacks are not really expensive. As I play mostly clean and sometimes with mild overdrive, I don’t know how well these amps work with a fuzz or a Muff, but that might be worth checking out. Here’s a nice video that I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqt0VjHRWNU

    Cheers
    Martin

    [Thanks for the tip, Martin! - Bjorn]

  50. Jon Anders Bæverfjord says:

    Great feature indeed. Do you have a setup recommandation for the Hiwatt T20 head in a home setup? Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Jon Anders

    [Try one of the suggested settings listed in this feature and tweak your way around that. - Bjorn]

  51. Sam Yahia says:

    Hello Bjorn,
    Have to say I enjoyed the article very much indeed, thank you very much.
    I play guitar for quite some time and enjoy experimenting with amps for sound, basically Marshall tube ones, to get the sweet spot. I came to a point where I can find what I want in an amp and I own now an AVT20,DSL401 and a JMP 2959 (a rare 100 watt Plexi Head).
    I have a gig coming in a small club so normally I would use the DSL combo at most, but I’m forced to use the 100 watt head and was faced with the problem of getting the sweet spot without cranking the amp like I usually do for known reasons. Unfortunately I have no volume attenuator and can’t possibly buy one in time for the gig. The highest I can get on the volume for the gig is on 2 which understandably is very low to get you there.I’m using a Fender Plus Deluxe and a Gibson Standard 2008 for this particular gig.I tried everything in the book but nothing seemed to help to get the right feeling I’m used to,no satisfaction if you know what i mean, well until last night when I thought I would put 2 boosters in a chain (Boss FB-2 full volume on clean and TS on full volume and gain at zero) and surprisingly today when i tried it I got the exact effect of the fully cranked up amp, I love the feel, the sound and the idea but the problem is I don’t understand if this is the real thing because I never read somebody used this before. What do you think Bjorn?
    Thanks a lot in advance!

    [Tone is, as I've tried to describe in these features, a subjective and ongoing process of experimentation. There's no right or wrong way as long as you get the tones you want. Using boosters is an old trick for getting more out of your tube amp. Back in the late 60s, guitarists would use boosters to get more gain from dark sounding amps but you can also use them to get more character and punch on lower volume. Basically to get the tubes working on lower gain settings. Depending on what pedals you mainly use, I'd be a bit careful with using the TS as a booster, since its boosted mid range will colour your tone and it might make your other gain pedals sound muddy. Still though, try to tweak your way around it and hear what you can come up with. Good luck! - Bjorn]

  52. Sam Yahia says:

    Thank you Bjorn.It’s true,i shall try today to move TS to the end of the chain to be boosted instead of using the TS as a booster maybe it will help.My main booster is a clean booster called FB2 by Boss but in some cases I use an OS2 for distortion.
    Hope this will remove the Tone colouring?
    I’ll let you know if you don’t mind
    Sam

    [Try and hear how that works :) - Bjorn]

  53. Clark says:

    Could you add a gilmour setting for a twin reverb please? thanks, your the shit.

    [I'll try. I don't own one myself but next time I come by one... - Bjorn]

  54. Michael says:

    I would like to start out and say your site is fantastic. I have learned so much. I am in the US and it is hard to locate a Hiwatt amp. I can find Laney amps here without issue. How do they compare to the Hiwatt? It seems like they are pretty close. I play at home, but I have forgiving neighbors. I was looking at the Laney L5T-112 or the L20T-112. Do you have any recommendations as to which would be better for home? I have a Big Muff Rams head clone Fuzz Face clone and a Colorsound Power Boost clone that I have built. In reading your article I understand you have to crack the amp to get a smooth tone from the Muff or Fuzz Face, If I get the 5 watt version will I still have enough clean headroom? Any help or suggestions would be great.

    Thanks, Mike

    [The Lionhearts are great amps. Not quite Hiwatt but more a mix of the Vox AC30 and Fender Bassman. I'm using a L20H and cab myself and it sounds incredible. The L5T doesn't have all that headroom but in a bedroom setup you should be fine. - Bjorn]

  55. Keith says:

    Bjorn, I’m a tad concerned. If I set my Reeves to the exact settings you list above as your stage volume, I’m not anywhere near what I consider a low atage volume. With the channels bridged, and the gains, eq, and presence set to your photo, I don’t start getting close to what I’d cosider stage volume until I hit about 9:00 on the master. I’m wondering if the PS causes one to turn the master higher, or if there nay be something wrong. I have had a slight, and occasional crackling noise that I thought I’d cured by making sure all the tubes were well seated, but I noticed it again today. I’d hate to have to ship this beast back, but if you’re getting feedback at the pictured settings, unless 4 x12 makes that much difference as opposed to 2 of the same speakers, I think there may be a problem. Any thoughts? Could it be the dead room, and two less speakers causing the volume issue? This is scaring me, and making me wish I hadn’t gotten the PS, since I see little practicle use for it. I’m seriously considering seeing if Bill will take it out! If anyone else on site have a Custom 50 PS, and 2 x12, do you find you need to turn the Drive,(Master), higher than the settings shown above?
    Thanks in advance,Keith

    [What would you consider a stage volume? Loud enough to blow your head off? I play loud but I also want to be able to control the sound. Also, I'm always using a booster, either for cleans or with gains and this adds a lot of volume. Probably equivalent to setting the master at 10 o'clock. Anyway, the acoustics in your room can fool you so you can't really know until you've tested the setup on a stage. If there's anything wrong, then I can't comment on that without having tried the amp my self. - Bjorn]

  56. Keith says:

    After several emails from Bill, who was very attentive to my concerns, the difference is likely the 4×12 vs 2×12, a difference in what I perceive as stage volume, the fact that I was playing withoit the added gain of any pedals, and every amp isn’t going to sound the same at the exact same settings. The issue with the PS, is that with the channels linked it just doesn’t seem to work. I plugged into the normal channel, and it ztarted to have the desired effect. The crackling noise is still an issue, but he thinks taking the tubes out, and reseating them may cure it. So, while I was freaking out yesterday, I am a little less concerned. I doubt I will ever use the PS much, but the fact it didn’t seem to be working was what got me so concerned. Other than the slight, and occasional crackling,( almost like a bad cord, but I’ve checked them all), the amp sounds great, I was just thrown by you saying you play loud, and at 8:00 on the Master, I’m at bedroom level. No worries, I’ll figure the crackling out.
    Keith

  57. Glenn says:

    @Keith
    Hi Keith – I can’t speak for any exact experience with the Custom 50, but I have a Custom 50 “Jimmy” with Power Scaling and they are quite similar. If I understand your question correctly, the settings (Normal, Bright, Tones, Master etc.) should remain relatively consistent to what Bjorn has posted, but the Power Scaling then effectively becomes your (ultimate) Master Volume. With the PS “acting” as the virtual master, your power amp volume (Master) then functions almost like secondary preamp section, if you will. That’s not an accurate analogy, but it is one way to think about it. If you have the settings as posted above, but volume is still low for what you are considering stage volume, it could be just that you are attenuating more power than you want to with the PS (among all the other reasons Bjorn has noted). My experience is that the relationship between the Master Volume and Power Scaling requires a bit of experimentation to get what seems to be the same power-tube compression/breakup at lower volumes so try playing with those a bit more before you commit to sending it back for a check-up. I hope this helps.
    Best,
    Glenn

  58. Keith says:

    Thanks Glenn, but I really don’t use the PS at all, but from the way Bill explains it, when the PS is fully Clockwise, the other controls should act exactly like the non PS, my problem was even with the PS all the way up, I don’t get close to what I consider stage volume with the master ar 8:00. The issue with the PS, was it didn’t seem to be working at all, and that made ne think it was causing the volume issue. But, after I took the jumper off, and plugged into the normal input, the PS did what I expected. Now that I know the PS works, I can go back to not using it, at least for what I’m playing now. If I start playing sone old Who, I’m sure I’ll find a use for it!
    Thanks alot, Keith

  59. Marcin says:

    Hello, Bjorn, what a great website!
    My question is what kind of amp do you recommend to amplify my acoustic guitar? How do you do that? And how David does? I did not find anything about it here, however I have read your “Live in Concert” analysis and there are some informations about Fender tweeds combos and AER amp as stage monitor. Is it like I would plug my el-acoustic guitar to eg. Fender Blues Junior? Why just not to use dedicated acoustic amp?
    Cheers, Marcin K.

    [I don't have that much experience with acoustic amps so I'd contact the local guitar store for some help and tips. David DI's the acoustics using dedicated preamps. The AERs he used on the acoustic shows were just monitors. He's also using a combo of piezo and acoustic pickups to get a more natural sound. Plugging the guitar into a regular amp doesn't sound any good. - Bjorn]

  60. Marcin says:

    Thank you very much, Bjorn, now it’s clear to me.
    But I would really like to read a dedicated article about David’s acoustic guitars and equipment from you. Also it would be nice to expand “Buyer’s Gear Guide” with acoustic guitars and amps. I know it would require some great effort, but I think we all know you are the man, and I would like to read your another analysis.
    Anyway thank you very much for your work on this site and all the information you provide.
    Shine on!

    PS Just for the record (and good start :)) David uses Avalon U5 Mono Instrument & DI Preamplifier for his acoustic guitars.

    [An acoustics feature in on the list... Check out the 2006 On an Island tour gear guide for info on David's current acoustic, pre-amps and pickups. - Bjorn]

  61. Carlos Mink says:

    As a “beginner” (despite buying a lot of gadgets), I’ve bought a cheap Fender Mustang III “combo” amp. I’m still learning “how to play guitar” (!!!) but quickly I’ve discovered that this specific amp (a 100watts one) is very poor and its “presets” (with “simulated amps and effects”) are awful. Turning everything off (using only the rear send-return entries) all that remais is the volume control operating and a very very poor sounding… I confess, as I live in Brazil, I’m afraid to buy tube amps (because of spare parts and technical assistance), but I’m open to suggestions that match my acquisitions (the craziest was the “David Gilmour Signature Fender Stratocaster NOS” for those who are still starting to learn to play … for now I’m behind a “booster” to give a hand to the few pedals that I purchased (one BigMuff Pi with tone wicker, one Deluxe Mistress a Boss DD-20:01 Digitech Whammy DT.) Any suggestion will be very welcome! Thanks for your attention! Best Regards from Brazil :-)

    [Sorry for my late reply, Carlos. Please see the Buyer's Gear Guide Amps for recommendations and tips. - Bjorn]

  62. Billy says:

    Hi,
    I bought the laney IRT studio hi-gain amp (my first tube amp). Im kinda trying to get a good gilmouresque tone out of it. Any kinda setting that could get me somewhere nearer to it?? Guess it houses the same specs as Cub 12 R.

    [Please try the settings listed in this feature :) - Bjorn]

  63. Patrick says:

    I was wondering if anybody has installed a Weber Thames in a Laney cub12r Combo. I’ve already taken measurements I think it will fit, but I’m still unsure. Any info would be great?

  64. Oliver says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I have a Thames in my cub 12r combo. It fits 100% without changing any screws…

    Cheers

    Oliver

  65. Patrick says:

    @Oliver Thank You! Mines being currently built! :)

  66. Dlopes14 says:

    Hello Bjorn :)
    Great article as usual! I was wondering how should I set my amplifier to get a good clean tone as a starting point for my PULSE tones? And also is it possible to use a equalizer (Boss GE-7 first in chain) to emulate the EMGs (SPC) tone?

    [You can add a bit of a boost around 400Hz and use some mild compression for a similar result but it's not quite the same. The EMGs are a combination of the SA pickups and the active tone boosters. Try using one of the recommended amp settings in the feature and tweak your way around that. - Bjorn]

  67. JohnR says:

    My home rehearsal amp is a B-52 AT-100 with a 4×12 cab. I can actually dial in pretty good home rehearsal tones at wife/neighbor friendly volumes. I’ve been blowing the fuses lately and think its time for a new set of power tubes. I don’t attempt to copy David’s tones exactly but have a similar playing style. The original music my Christian band plays ranges in style from rock/blues to folk/country so I’m looking for something with a bit of versatility. I play all effects pre-amp including: Compression, RAT, Mad Professor Golden Cello (you should review one Bjorn), Flanger, and Delay. My number one is a homemade USA Black Strat copy with CS/Seymour Duncan PU’s. I don’t need to keep a basement budget but don’t need premium prices either. Any and all recommendations on power tubes are welcome. Thanks and keep up the great site Bjorn!

    [Sorry for my late reply. There aren't many tube manufacturers left so you basically have only 2-3 brands to choose from and tons of licences. Of course, bad tubes needs to be replaced but choosing the right tubes for your amp can do wonders for your tone. That being said, we're talking nuances, so don't expect any huge changes that will alter your sound in a different direction. I'm using JJ Electronics and are very happy with those. Consistent and good quality production and they fit nicely with most pedals. - Bjorn]

  68. Huy says:

    I’ve only been playing for about 7 months and I have a Les Paul with 57 Gibson pups and a Blackstar HT-5r combo which I got because it was easy to get a really nice tone out of it. But now that I am addicted to Gilmour’s tone, specifically that scooped sound he has especially on the wound strings. Is it possible to get anywhere near his tone with my setup?

    I also only have 3 pedals. A Ibanez DD-7, MIAudio Super Crunch box and the boss GE-7.

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    [Hi Huy! Sorry for my late reply. Humbuckers might not be the best choice for David's tones and not when you want a scooped or twangy tone. However, with some tweaking and the right pedals, you should be able to get very close. The essence of your tone should be your guitar and amp alone. Try the suggestions in this feature and tweak your way around them to get the tone you want. Check out the pedals tone feature as well for some tips. Let me know if you need more help after that. - Bjorn]

  69. uwe says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I had the chance to plug my stratocaster inot a laney Lionheart l20- Head last week end, and was blown away! overall impression is a More open amp than Laney Cub, no more boxy sounding … I’ve mostly played through the clean channel, just with a hint a delay, and oh my god, i did love it, although it sounds darker than the Cub . The owner had just replaced the valves with Jj electronics.

    Could you please give me your gilmourish settings for that amp, like you’ve done for so many amps on that page…
    Do you use the drive channel for gilmourish tones?

    And as you say it is a mix between a Bassman and a Vox, what would be your setting on the drive channel, to give the amp a VOX flavour. Some even say that the drive channel is very marshall JTM styled… What do you think (and again, cool if you have recommended settings.

    Have a Nice day, M. Bjorn, master of Ceremony!

    [Hi Uwe! Yes, the Lionheart is a great sounding amp! Very versatile. I don't really use the drive channel that much. I base all my tones on the cleans. I mostly set it up for something like this: hi input, bright off, bass 4, middle 6.5, treble 5, tone 3. Tweak your way around that to match your guitar and pedals. - Bjorn]

  70. Dlopes14 says:

    Hello Bjorn :)
    Have you got any idea about how can I achieve David’s tone on Island Jam?

    [How about a Gibson Goldtop with P90s, Fender Twin, Tube Driver and delay? I think that should get you pretty close :) - Bjorn]

  71. Dlopes14 says:

    Good idea Bjorn can you give me some basic settings as a starting point ? And also can I use a Fender ’65 twin reissue to get that tone?

    Cheers ;)

    [Yep. I don't have any specific settings but as you can hear from the clip, David doesn't use that much gain. - Bjorn]

  72. Brian says:

    Hey Bjorn

    New Electric Mistress – hit or miss?

    [I think the current Deluxe is too dark and middy. It sounds quite OK and nails all the classic tones but it doesn't sound as open and doesn't blend as well with gains as the early reissues from the late 90s and early 2000s. I also recommend the Mooer ElecLady. It sounds a bit like a mix between the the old 9V and Deluxe. Quite nice and a lot cheaper than the current Deluxe. - Bjorn]

  73. Brian says:

    Thanks Bjorn, sorry I posted in the wrong place too, didn’t notice until I hit ‘send’.
    I will probably go for a new Mistress for now. BTW picking up the H&H on Tuesday. Which reminds me, I noticed the IC100 head, on the Live in Brighton 1972 film, I’m not sure who was using it though, it’s to Roger’s left and in front of Rick with a Binson on top.

    [Roger used a few of those in 1971-72. His rig was always next to Rochard's keys at that time. Great sounding amps and he did use the tremolo feature for One of These Days. - Bjorn]

  74. Mike Smith says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    this is a great article, can’t believe I’ve only just seen it! A little while ago, thanks to you, I bought a Laney Cub 12, which I love. I’m finding it a bit of a stretch at gigs however – I would like a tiny bit more. Do you think an extension cabinet would provide that? maybe the Cub cab?

    thanks so much in advance!

    Mike

    [Hi Mike! The Cub12 is only 15w so it may not be enough on gigs. It's not a very loud amp either. Mic'ing it and using a front stage monitor will solve the problem but if you want to use the amp as a monitor then you might want to consider something bigger. An extension cab won't make it much louder. For clubs and smaller venues I'm using a Laney Lionheart L20 myself. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  75. Dustin says:

    Hi Bjorn, amazing wealth of knowledge on your site…thank you.

    My query is that I am finding my Marshall 62 Bluesbreaker tube amp to sound really thin and lacking depth sometimes. Sometimes it will sound great but at times it doesnt have that nice full sound of say a fender amp. I am debating on switching my Marshall for a Fender Twin reverb but I am worried that the Twin wont be able to get a good all around sound (and crunch) for playing stuff like Zeppelin, Sabbath etc as well as Floyd. My pedal lineup is Wah, DynaComp, OcD, jam pedal Rattler, chorus, DD-3, dejavibe,Tc Nova delay Mainly im playing a strat. Is a fender twin my best bet?

    Any advice would be awesome.
    Cheers,
    Dustin

    [The Bluesbreaker sounds best when cranked to its limits. Tube amps tend to be moody and they will sound different from day to day but the most important thing with amps is that they fit the application. People often forget that they're an essential part of the tone and not just for amplifying. Anyway, a Twin could be the solution but it depends on your guitar, the pedals and in what environment you'll be using the amp. In some cases a Bassman would be better... or a Deluxe... or something completely different like a Mesa, Vox... The Twin is a bright amp and you might have a hard time dialing in your fuzz and Muff tones. However, it's an incredibly versatile amp that'll fit almost any musical style and genre. I'm just trying to paint the whole picture here and it's always a good idea to try a bunch of amps and decided based on what fits your guitar and ear the most :) - Bjorn]

  76. Dave Peavy says:

    Man what a site! I appreciate your passion for David’s prolific playing & exploring where no one had ever been. I’m surprised people are aware of his solo work, the first of which is KILLER David at his absolute best~!

    [Thanks for your kind words, Dave! - Bjorn]

  77. Gabor ILLY says:

    Dear Bjorn,
    Would you share with us your LANEY Lionheart settings too?
    A test would be highly appreciated!
    Kind regards from Budapest, Hungary!
    God save ‘Gilmourish’
    Gabor

    [I have planned a review for some time now but until I do get to do one, have a listen to the new Airbag album... it's all there :) My settings... I have different settings for whenever I'm on stage, rehearsals or recording. Usually it's something like this: Hi input, bright off, bass 4, middle 6, treble 5, reverb off, tone 3. When I'm recording I often turn the tone all the way down/off and I use the low input for more headroom. - Bjorn]

  78. G.Illy says:

    Dear Bjorn,
    I have a Bananboost Overdrive of Cz Electronic Orange,as
    your Pighoofs:-)
    Could you recommend some setting for clean boost or overdrive?
    I have a BK Tube Driver too, which is better for the clean boost role on my board?
    I really appreciate your kind comment!
    Yours friendly:Gabor

    [Hi! The settings depends on your amp and pickups. The pedal responds to how "hot" these are. I usually use the Banana for clean boost and the Tube Driver for overdrive. My settings are fairly mild and the idea is to add more life and bite to the amp and Muff and not so much overdrive or boost. Try setting the gain at noon, bass noon, treble 11:00 and the volume at 1:00. Tweak your way around that :) - Bjorn]

  79. Adrian Doyle says:

    Hey Bjorn, thanks for another extremely helpful article.

    I got a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III amp on your suggestion a few months ago, and it sounds beautiful. Really pristine cleans. I got the “Chocolate Tweed” model, rather than the standard one, so it has an 80W Jensen speaker instead of a Celestion. This seems to give it more low end, and smooth out the harsher tones I noticed when I tried a standard model.

    I use it on the Drive channel because the (Bass, Treble and Middle pots have no effect on the clean channel) with the Drive and Volume dials both set around 4, which I find gives a clean sound, close to breaking up. If I push the drive much further than 4 or 5 with the volume set at 4 it will start to distort, especially if I pick hard. I usually plug into input 1, with the bright switch engaged.

    While I love the cleans at those settings, when I kick in a Muff (Skreddy P19 or Rams Head style BYOC large beaver) or Fuzz (Skreddy Lunar Module) pedal, though, I notice that the tone becomes a bit dull, and lacks a lot of the bite you’d expect from a Gilmour solo. I tried placing a Boss Blues Driver after them in my pedal as a boost, and it kind of worked. It certainly increased the brightness of the tone, but it lost a lot of that “vintage” sound once engaged.

    Can you suggest a better boost pedal for the job, or maybe some settings for the amp? Am I not driving the amp, itself, hard enough? Or, should I increase the volume to get a better response? I’d love to get your opinion on this. I’m beginning to think it’s just not possible to get really great cleans AND really great drive tones from this amp without running back to it and changing the settings every time I kick in a muff or fuzz pedal. That’d be a pain in gig situations. Haha.

    [Hi Adrian! Sorry for my late reply. I haven't tried running Muffs on the drive channel but in general, Fenders tend to lack some of the mid range, which can make a Muff sound a bit dull and even choked at times. You want a bright tone but not too much treble. Rather high mids, than treble. You could try to increase the mids a bit and maybe even roll down the bass a bit to open up the tone. Try lowering the treble too but not too much. I've had some success with using an OCD for boosting Muffs on Fenders. It provide a bit of mid range, but not as much as a Tube Screamer, which can be bit of an overkill. The Soul Food from EXH should also work, I think. - Bjorn]

  80. Cem says:

    Hi Bjorn
    I’ve recently bought a Laney Lionheart 20w combo, and I already had a Little Big Muff. I was really excited to try them together, because the muff sounds quite bad and choked on the Roland solid sate amp I had before. Anyway, when I tried them together with these amp settings: Bass-6 Middle-5 Treble-6 and Tone-5, the Muff sounded too bassy, and when I increased the treble a little it started to sound harsh. I know the Little muff hasn’ got THE tone, but I’d expect it sound better. What kind of changes should I make on the settings?
    Thansks!

    [What pickups do you use? - Bjorn]

  81. Cem says:

    I use an american standard strat with the stock pickups

    [OK. The stock pickups has a fairly high output, which means more mid range and an overall darker tone, compared to the 50s and 60s era. This can make a Muff sound a tad too dark and boomy. Setting the bass too high on your amp often makes pedals sound too boomy and it also makes the tone less dynamic. Try to lower it down to 3 or 4. It may sound thin but you 'll have much more definition in your tone. Be careful with the treble too. Try setting it at 3 or 4, increase the mids to around 7 and set the tone around 7 too. Use the bright input and switch over to bright channel. If this gets too bright, then try lowering the tone a bit. Keep in mind too that an amp will always sound like an ice pick if you stand right in front of it, so position your self slightly above or to one of the sides for a more natural tone. Big Muffs needs a fairly bright tone and lots of mid range to really open up and get that smooth tone. Hope this helped :) - Bjorn]

  82. Roger Sartori says:

    Hi, Bjorn.
    After a large period of indecision, I finally got the ZT LUNCHBOX. I was afraid of how this amp will behave with muffs and now I can say: I’m really surprised with this little and powerfull thing! It sounds very nice to me. I have a few of Big Muff clones, including toptone DG-1, DG-2 and W&C Box of War. Just leave the amp gain control at minimum and volume at high. But I use a GE-7 to get some tones this amp doesn’t offer, as it has only one tone control. With a Brazilian branded DMT Ram’s Head clone, which has a MID control, it’s amazing! I’m satisfeid! Cheers.

    [Thanks for sharing! - Bjorn]

  83. Cem says:

    It helped a lot thank you very much Bjorn :)

    [Cheers! - Bjorn]

  84. KuroNeko says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Nice and inspiring review. You may remember I was looking for some Hiwatt head and specially the Little Rigs : couldn’t find a dealer really having them, so I decided to follow your advice and got the Laney Cub head : affordable and available, I had it at home 3 days after buying it at a nice price on the web.
    Once again, I have to thank you for letting me know about this amp, it’s truly a nice little one. Unfortunately, mine hab a problem with the reverb and I had to send it back to the store… and waited 4 more weeks to get it again. It is ideal to play at home at the volume that neibourhood can accept and with the tone you want. I sold easily my Blackstar HT-5 and got almost completly refunded so everything was well.
    Then, I wasn’t absolutely satisfied and that’s where we get to my point : what about a new speaker ? I still had my Blackstar Cab… unadapted (I was guessing at that time). Previous head sold, 3 weeks to wait… I had enough money to get a Celestion Greenback. And this new speaker brought a huge improvement to the average tone of the amp : better cleans, smoother high gain, wonderful bass, singing effects… everything sounds more accurate, it’s almost like playing a new guitar :-) I also bought some grillcloth to match the head and the cab, opened the front of the head so I can see the tubes through the cloth… ears and eyes are now equally satisfied !

    Finally, It’s something to consider : that’s one of the less expensive, most simple and effective change you can do to your set up.

    Cheers from Paris,
    Hervé

    P.S. : For people who always forget how the get 2 or 4 speakers work together with a head, the Jensen website as an nice interactive webpage to find out ;-)

    [Thanks for sharing, Hervé! - Bjorn]

  85. Nahuel says:

    Hello, what setting you recommend in a Marshall 2061x? Because the amp doesn’t have Treble, Low and High. It’s something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ASBYEzHvbQ
    Thanks a lot!

    [I don't have any experience with the amp. It depends on your guitar and what pedals you use with it. - Bjorn]

  86. Elliot Glos says:

    I have a couple of questions that have been in my mind for awhile, so here they go

    What does linking inputs like you have on the Reeves Hiwatt do?

    Is there a reason that Gilmour uses the WEM’s, they have a proud history with Pink Floyd, all the way back to the ummagumma, but there an some what obscure brand, that I have not found much on. Is there anything special with the cabinets that make David want to use them, or is it simply just that they have gained a special place in his rig for all the years of use (I think theres a word that could have made that shorter)

    Similear to the last question, why the contiuned use of the Bison Echoric. Even though its not an every day thing to see him use these days, it is still used. It seems like hell on earth to upkeep one of the devils, tubes, magnetic tapes, rubber bands that dry out and break (not literarly, but you know what I mean), all this seems so tiresome. does it have a unique tone, like no other, or can it be replicated. I looked at your feature on the Bison, and you used a Ibanez DE-7, would this be the go to. I think I asked a long time ago about a good mix for an early gilmour sound (1970-3ish) with the filmour west concert as sort of a basis for the tone. Would the Ibanez work well for this.

    Last question, (sorry if this is alot) Is the meesa boogie lonestar anygood for a gilmour tone. I have a local band that Im big into that has sworn an oath to boogies, but its for a completly differnt tone. They seem pretty versitile from my practice with them at the local store, but I have not gotten a chance to give it a go with pedals, since I dont currently have any. I want to get a nice tube amp, it will be my second, I currrently have a project amp, but its tone range is very small. Pedals will come after the amp, so I just want to be sure about what I get into, suggestions?

    [Hiwatts, Marshalls and other typically vintage style tube amps has four inputs. Usually normal and bright and selections for hi and low empedance based on what pickups you use. By combining the two channels you get a bit more presence and a clearer attack in your tone. This was common for many guitarists back in the late 60s and 70s and not only Gilmour.
    WEM, or Watkins Electric Music, had their heydays in the 60s and 70s producing amps, PA systems, echo machine and accordions... among other things. Bands like Who and Floyd were used by WEM to showcase and promote their PA system and speaker cabinets. The Starfinder cabinets David used and are still using, were loaded with Fane speakers, which was the same speakers used by Sound City and Hiwatts. They've been a huge part of David's tones together with his Hiwatts.
    David used the Binson exclusively between 1968-77. Recent studio pictures shows that he has dug out the old machine and started to use it again... although to which extent I'm not sure. It's a unique tone that no other machine nor pedal has managed to copy. The DE7 is an old unit and I think there are far better Binson-ish pedals out there today. Check out the Buyer's Gear Guide Delay for some tips.
    I've never tried the Lonestar so I can't comment on that. See the Buyer's Gear Guide Amps for tips :) - Bjorn]

  87. ricardo says:

    Hello Bjorn Riis,

    I find that article very useful.
    But, there’s one amp missing in the settings examples: the Laney Lionheart (20W head)
    Here’s what I’d like to know: without considering the price gap between the laney Cub Head and the laney Lionheart 20W head , and knowing that I can play at any volume I want at home, what would be your choice knowing that I’ll use the amp for Gilmour tones settings of course ( clean channel), and that I have a bunch of Marshall and Vox style pedals (Xotic Sl drive, wampler plexidrive, plextortion, pinnacle, carl martin plexitone, actone, wampler ace 30 etc etc…) that I use to plug in front of the clean channel of an amp.

    So with the Laney Lionheart what would be your clean Gilmourish settings (ready to get the gilmour classic pedals), and also your settings in order to use my Marshall type pedals ?
    What would you use in each situation? Low or High input? Bright toggle /drive toggle up or down? all knobs settings etc…..

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    have a Nice day!

    Ricardo

    [The Lionheart is superior to the Cub in any way and it handles all pedals very well. I'm usually on the clean with the high input and bright engaged but for recording (and at home I suppose) I use the low and the normal mode. The settings: bass 1, mids 1, treble 9, tone 3 (all o'clock). - Bjorn]

  88. Ricardo says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Thank you fo the settings of the Lionheart L20 head..
    But I guess those are the settings for your Gilmour, Airbag, or solo Tones, am I right? If I understand the knobs drive, drive vol. and reverb, are always on ZERO?

    If you don’t mind, I would have some more questions because I’m about to consider the Lionheart head over the Laney Cub head:

    - For Gimour Tones Would you recommend the Lionheart over the Reeves? I mean are you playing trough the Lionheart as often as the Reeves for your Gilmour tones? used as a Hiwatt styled amp?

    - Is the Lionheart head great plugged into your 4 X 12 ” Weber tames” cab? Or better with the stock laney Lionheart Cab wich has Celestions?

    - Did you change the tubes for JJ electronics (if yes please which models have you chosen at JJ?).

    - Last question (SORRY!!!): What would be your advice of settings for the Lionheart head with my “Marshall in a Box ” pedals (Xotic Sl drive, Catalinbread Dls III, wampler plexidrive and Carl martin plexitone, etc…). Is the Laney Lionheart a great head for taking that kind of Pedals and sound more Marshall this way ? For example using the carl martin Plexitone and giving a plexi color to the Lionheart?

    Thank you, thank you , thank you again!!!

    Ricardo

    [Yes. I'm not using the drive channel nor reverb.
    - Actually, I very rarely play any Gilmour these days. It's mostly when I'm recording for reviews or sitting at home just strumming randomly… :) The Reeves is definitely a more accurate Gilmour amp being a clone of the early 70s Hiwatts. The Lionheart is perhaps closer to what he would use in a studio, with the Fender Bassmans etc but it's really hard to pin down just one tone. The Lionheart is just as much a Vox or JTM45 I think.
    - All my amps feature JJ tubes.
    - The Lionheart can handle all kinds of pedals. I'd use the same settings and tweak around that.
    Cheers! - Bjorn]

  89. uwe says:

    Hello Bjorn Riis,

    As an expert could you tell me if there is a difference between all the Vintage and newer Fane type of speakers (very few info on the web):

    - Vintage Purple back speakers
    - Frame Grey ealy stamped frame (were fitting the early Laney supergoup cabs)
    - the new purple made by reeves
    - Weber thames?

    Differences in tone?
    In Power?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    Have a good night.
    Uwe

    [I'm sorry but I don't have that much info on this. My experience with the Weber Thames is nothing but the best. I replaced my old Fane Crescendos from the early 70 with these and the tone is VERY similar. The Webers are a bit more defined and has a hint more mids. The Reeves speakers are, from what I understand, cloned off the old Fanes Hiwatt used. Again, very similar sounding. - Bjorn]

  90. Rabelais says:

    I just tried your suggested settings on my Laney Cub 12R, with my SG, and with some reverb added on the clean setting. Wow!. They really sound nice. I was especially pleased with the high gain settings, since I’ve amost lost all hope of getting a smooth and warm distortion from my amp. I haven’t played my guitar yet with the amp’s volumen knob at 5, but I already got some harmonic feedback at 3. Many thanks for sharing these settings with us. Regards.

    [Cheers! - Bjorn]

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