• How to get killer tones on your bedroom setup

    Tips on getting killer tones on your bedroom setup

    Most of us spend a great deal of time playing guitar in either a bedroom or a small home recording studio. Limited space, grumpy neighbours and a patient family makes it hard to really crank that amp. Still, we all want a big and fat tone that has all the qualities of playing on a loud stack. In this feature I’ll share some of my tricks for getting great tones at bedroom levels.

    My home recording studio is a typically bedroom-sized room equipped with a few low wattage amps. I have a couple of smaller tube amps that serve the purpose of both practice and recording (although most of my live guitars are recorded in our rehearsal studio). I’ve experimented a lot over the years and found ways to achieve a big tone on low wattage and volume.

    So what is a big tone? What do we want to achieve on a smaller amp? Well, personally I want the same full bodied character I get when I drive my Reeves Custom 50w really hard (see a detailed run-down of my rigs here). I want the sound of glowing hot tubes on the very edge of breakup and speakers pushing air. This makes my guitars and pedals sound fatter, warmer and more compressed but it also makes my ears adjust, trying to even out those transients and focusing on to the mids. This can’t be achieved on low volume alone so we need to compensate and simulate it.

    Get the right amp for the job

    I’m a believer in that you can get great tones from almost any type of equipment. Still, getting an amp that’s suited for a smaller room, will save you a lot of headache. Tube amps are usually easier to make sound good on lower volume (and manipulate to do so) compared to solid states, which have a more static character and can sound thin.

    A 50w or 100w tube amp is usually out of the question for bedroom players but a 15w or 30w is still a very loud amp and most of these needs a bit of volume to sound as intended (meaning: you need to crank them a bit for the tone really open up). Most bedrooms doesn’t need more than 5w or maybe 1w. Amps like the Laney Cub12, Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18 and Hiwatt’s Tube Series (among others) feature a built in power scaling that allows you to down-size the wattage to 5w or even 1w. This will allow you to set the amp at the edge of break up or full blown distortion without getting too loud – much like an attenuator but more effective.

    The amp should have a master volume control in addition to gain. If not you’re basically just raising the distortion level, which leaves you with less headroom and, on low levels, often a thin sound. Amps with a scooped mid range, like Fender (or similar), will often sound brighter and thinner on low volume. An amp with more mid range, like Hiwatt (or similar), will sound warmer and more balanced.

    Amp settings – don’t neglect the mid range!

    One of the biggest mistake many guitarists do – both on stage and smaller rooms – is to neglect the importance of mid range. When playing alone your guitar often sound best with a typically mids scooped tone. The lows and highs makes the tone really scream. Still, your ears are designed to pick up on the mids range, as that’s where the main register of the human voice lies and when you bring those fabulous mid scooped tones on stage, your guitar will drown completely behind the drums and keys. This applies to bedroom setups too. Crank that mid range and your guitar will sound warmer and fatter and you’ll have a much richer sustain.

    The lows can really mess up your guitar. Again, when playing alone you probably want to feel the lows but that’s where the drums and bass are and while you don’t have a full band in your bedroom too much low end will make your guitar sound muddy and flabby, rather than focused and tight. Lower the bass, crank the mids and keep the treble at a moderate level. The precise settings depends on your guitar, amp and taste.

    Some amps also feature a tone or presence control that, depending on the amp, boosts between 4-7kHz. Be careful with this one but try to find the right balance between it and the treble.

    Don’t be afraid to give the amp a bit of break up. You probably don’t want full overdrive but a super clean amp often sound thin. Raise the gain until you start to notice a breakup. If your amp has two channels, you might want to experiment with the gain channel and get it as clean as possible. In many cases this is a better basis for your pedals that a purely clean channel. What we want is to compensate for the effect we get from driving the tubes hard on a bigger amp.

    Power attenuator

    An attenuator, like the THD Hot Plate, is placed between the amp and speaker cab. This allows you to crank the living shit out of your amp, while keeping a neighbour friendly volume. These are best used when relying on your amp’s gain to create overdrive and distortion. In that case you want to place your modulations and delays in the amp’s effects loop. However, if you run your amp clean an attenuator will be a bit redundant as you can basically just lower the volume on the amp. Besides, why not just buy an amp with lower wattage?

    Volume pedal

    We often forget volume pedals in our bedroom setups but these are basically acting like an attenuator only placed at the end of your chain, which allows you to raise both the gain and master on your amp, as well as increasing the volume on your pedals to push the amp a bit and keep a low volume.

    Booster in the loop

    I’m not a big fan of the send/return effects loop on amps but a great tip is to place a transparent booster in the loop (if your amp has one). When you crank the gain on your amp, you’re boosting the pre-amp, which adds overdrive but it will also make your amp sound thinner. The fatness sits in the output stage but this can only be boosted by playing loud. However, placing a booster in the loop, will drive the output stage harder, without actually raising the volume.

    It needs to be a transparent, mids scooped booster like a Buffalo FX Powerbooster, TC Electronics Spark Booster or similar. Set the EQ on the pedal neutral, the volume slightly above unity and the gain as high as possible without the amp starting to break up.

    Some prefer an EQ for this application. This will give you the tools to both boost the volume and enhance certain frequencies like the mid range.

    Booster pedals

    A pickup booster is placed first in the pedal chain. It boosts the input signal from the guitar to the pedal board and is designed to respond to the character of your pickups and the dynamics of your playing. I’m featuring a Fire Bootle from Effectrode on my studio board. It’s got a tube, which makes the tone warmer and slightly fatter, but it’s also got a switch for rolling off those highs. In short, the pedal can make a thin sounding Strat or Tele sound like a Les Paul with P90s or humbuckers. An extremely versatile and handy tool.

    More conventional boosters, like the Buffalo FX Power Booster and TC Electronics Spark Booster, are placed after your high gain pedals. To simulate the effect of a cranked tube amp, set the volume slightly higher than unity and the gain just at the edge of breakup (you might want to lower the treble accordingly). This will both make your cleans sound warmer and, when combined with other overdrives and distortions, these will sound smoother and have more sustain.

    Crank your pedals

    Some gain pedals has a dynamic volume stage, meaning that lowering or increasing the volume will change the character of the pedal. Increasing the volume on your overdrive or distortion will also boost the amp, which again will make the pedal sound smoother and slightly more compressed. Experiment with this and find the right balance between boost and not altering the tone too much.

    Compressor

    A compressor might not be an obvious purchase. Especially for a tight budget. But again, we need to compensate for the lack of tube and speaker compression that makes the tone sound smoother and warmer. A compressor will balance your signal by tightening the lows and rounding off the high transients. Don’t be afraid to compress a bit more than what you’d normally would on a loud amp.

    Pedals with emphasis on the mid range

    Vintage style fuzz, Muffs and boosters has very little mid range and, as we talked about above, mid range is crucial for the guitar to be able to cut through that dense band mix. It’s also crucial for the pedals to sound fat and smooth and in case everything fails you might want to reconsider those pedals and get something with more mids.

    Overdrives like the TS9/OD808, OCD and Dover Drive (and similar) have a lot of mid range. Likewise, distortions like the RAT and Evolution (and similar) has more mids and compression and will, in many cases sound far better than a buzzy fuzz. There are some so-called stacked Big Muff clones available too, like the MojoHand Iron Bell and Skreddy P19, which although not straight up ram’s head clones, will in many cases sound better.

    Again, the lack of mid range and too much low end, will make your tone sound both thin and muddy so although you might find some of these mid range boosted pedals both boxy sounding and a bit thin in the lows, they will make your guitar sound warmer and stand out in a band mix.

    Hotter pickups

    Vintage style single coils has a low output and very little mids, which can sound rather thin on smaller amps and low volume. Try swapping your pickups for someone hotter, like Texas Specials or a full set of SSL5s. You can even go for P90s or mid 50s humbuckers. This will compensate for the warmth and natural compression you get from louder amps.

    Cables and strings

    Good cables and fresh strings are also easily overlooked but very important in getting the tones you want. Bad or low quality cables tend to both drain and colour your tone. Old strings sound dead and will not respond as well to your playing as new strings will. Don’t compromise cables and strings just because you’re playing at home. Tone lies in every part of your setup. Understandably, a tight budget might force you to focus on other parts of your rig but get the best cables that you can afford and restring as often as you can. It will make a big difference.

    I hope you got a few useful tips here. I think my philosophy and best tip is – never stop experimenting with your gear and get to know the potential of the gear you have. It doesn’t need to be expensive or high end stuff. Most of your tone lies in your mind, fingers and your ability to make the most of what you got.

    Please feel free to use the comments field below and share your secret tone tips!

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121 Responsesso far.

  1. Craig Richards says:

    Further to my question re what amp might work best for my bedroom… the schecter strat has a humbucker, but I’m not sure what brand the pickups are – here is a pic: http://www.greywidget.co.uk/temp/schecter_strat.JPG

  2. Craig Richards says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    After about 20 years of only playing acoustic guitars, I stumbled on an old “Learn to play Pink Floyd” DVD which eventually lead me to finding your excellent site.
    For the moment I’m strictly in the “bedroom” category but I fear my amp is not appropriate.
    I have a fairly old USA schecter stratocaster which I guess was from the mid 90s era of schecter. Other than that I have an old Boss DD-3 and today a shiny new Vick Audio Tree of Life arrived in the post!
    But my amp ( bought at the same time as the guitar ) is a Fender Champion 110 which is 75 watts and as I want to play at low volume it just doesn’t seem to work so well.
    I’m currently trying to learn the Comfortably Numb solos but also really like a lot of the guitar on Animals. And WYWH…
    I would appreciate any gear suggestions you might have, but particularly amps for shy bedroom players…
    I guite like the look of the Lionheart L5 studio, is there any particular speaker you would recommend with that?
    Thanks again for providing us with this excellent knowledgebase and for some inspiring gear review videos.
    Best regards,
    Craig

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Craig! Sorry for my late reply. The Lionheart amps are great and I use a L20 myself. Couldn’t be happier :) I’m very fond of both the Celestion G12H and the V30. The G12H has a bit more sparkle, which I think goes nicely with the Lionhearts but both sounds great.

  3. Paul Duggan says:

    Hey Bjorn
    You’ve never mentioned them on this site (this seems like the right place to talk about them), but I just wanted to say thanks for the Amplitube presets you shared to the Preset Exchange. They’re excellent and much better than I’ve ever managed on my own. As much as I love coming here for the pedal porn an amp just isn’t practical for me and those presets have just about made my year.
    Quick Q about levels/calibration; I’m thinking that when I turn off the drive pedals and play at max intensity the amp module should be *just* breaking up. Would that be right?
    Cheers
    Paul

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Paul, I’m planning a feature on the AmpliTube… when I get the time :) How fast the amp breaks up depends on the amps headroom, settings and how hot the pickups on your guitar is. But yes, in general I woould say that you want to hear a very slight break up coming from the amp when you really dig into the strings.

  4. Nicolas says:

    Hi Bjorn, always a great site with so many informations!

    nowadays I’m designing a guitar, it is not a strat but somehting which is more close to the Travis Bean reissues (a lot of aluminium). In my research I came to the point I need humbucker sized PUs with chrome plated caps, this brought me to Lollar or TV jones (there are many other but with these two I have already a difficult choice). Which of them would you define more as “Gilmourish” tone? (I know its a difficult question since you first advice to equip guitars with single-coils or P90, but maybe you have an opinion about those humbuckers?). Thanks again, I’m very curious about what you think about.

    • Nicolas says:

      Edit: of course there are all typical gilmourish effects and amp (big muff/colorsound/HIWATT custom20 for the main tone)

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t have that much experience with either brands but I would go for humbuckersized P90s or something close to a PAF or mid 50s specs. Anything hotter will often make your typical Gilmour pedals sound too aggressive.

  5. corey buckley says:

    HELP NEEDED
    hey there my name is corey huge into wanting to find that tone but cant get it my self was big into the metal scene so thats all i really wanted to find at the time but now i just want a warm nice distorted tone like dave.
    i have a jackson soloist witch duncan designed pick ups
    metal muff
    seymour duncan 805
    low budget compression pedal
    micro fender eq
    and a mxr noise clamp
    with a marshall mgcfx102
    big help if you could you know how to sort this big mess i would like a real dark side of the moon tone or even a Pompeii tone something cool and funk but nice and warm hope to hear soon
    regards
    corey

  6. Ofir Carmi says:

    Bjorn, great article!!! Very useful tips. Hope you can help setting up my gear…
    I have the MXR M75. I use it with my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and my Strat American Standard 2014 (fat 50’s pickups). I aiming for that fat rich deep distortion of bands like Iron Maiden in their 80’s and Ritchie Blackmore in his late 70’s or Slash, and, well, it seems IMPOSSIBLE! It worth mentioning that using my Les Paul Traditional 2014 with the M75 brings me very close, the distortion is deep, full sounding, but when it comes to the Strat, the sound becomes thin, no matter what I dial in. I heard of the Fullbore Metal pedal but it seems pretty harsh for what I’m looking for. Maybe you can help me dial in the tone I want, how to set the amp, and the pedal.
    I also have the MXR GT-OD, should you find this informative.
    Looking forward to hearing from you, Ofir

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi there :) Based on the tones you describe, I think the main issue is your amp and the fact that your Strat has low output single coils. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with your setup but it might not be the best choice for the tones you want. Keep in mind the typical Fender tone, is fairly scooped with moderate compression. Maiden, Blackmore and Slash all use Marshall amps, which are quite the oposite of Fender, with lots of mid range and compression. Your pedals should be able to compensate to some extent but that huge fat tone your hear from those guys, are mainly the combination of Marshall and hot single coils or humbuckers. Check out this feature for some tips on choosing the right pedals for your amps.

  7. William scott helton says:

    Hey Scott here, thanks for tip on. VOlume have a marshall 40/20 watt amp for bedroom. Volume pedal may help my situation and I can crank it. Thanks again, 70s,80s rock. Scott

  8. Justin Case says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I’m curious what you think of Keeley’s new Dark Side pedal, with a bunch of effects combined into one. I suppose if you have all of the individual effects it’s redundant, but otherwise it seems like an interesting idea.

  9. Justin Case says:

    Thank you very much for your response Bjorn. It’s now on the way.

    As an aside, I read somewhere your site, regarding Shine On, a specific lick that you had traced back to BB King. FWIW, I find those kinds of things very interesting, and you could consider doing more of it — tracing Gilmour’s influences, because it’s very interesting to see where an artist comes from, and especially how Gilmour might have listened to BB King but then translated it into his own expression. I think that contributes to his tone as much as anything, especially the way the two of them share(d) an appreciation for playing the right note at the right time, and allowing each note to have its own life, rather than trying to be blazing fast.

    Of course, it might also be nice to have more than 24 hours in a day; I’m sure you are very busy, and your site is already a great example of someone being thoughtful and dedicated to something they feel passionate about.

  10. ratan says:

    Hi Bjorn, Thanks for the comment. I was looking about the pickups which will fit in humbuckers slots without any modification. Seymour Duncan Phat Cats sound good. I will check GFS Mean 90 too.

  11. ratan says:

    I have Washburn Nuno Bettencourt N1 guitar. it has washburn humbucker pickup. it has pull/pull volume switch to split the humbuckers to get single coil sound. Humbucker sound is good, but not much happy with single coild sound (after pulling the voulme know). I am looking for Gilmour sound.

    1. can the split pickup sound can be improved with putting 500K pot?
    2. would it be good idea to replace the humbucker with P90 kind of pickup which fits in humbucker slots?
    3. Was looking for GFS Mean 90 or GFS Dream 90 as budget pickup.
    4. would it be good to replace both humbuckers or only replace neck puckup with GFS mean/dream P90?
    5. Any budget P90 which fits in humbucker slot can you recommend?

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not an expert on the technical side of pickups and pots, so you should ask that on a more dedicated forum. As for the P90… Obviously, a P90 sounds different from a humbucker but you get a bit of both worlds and if you’re looking for something with less output and an more vintage flavour, then a P90 is worth checking out. I prefer them to humbuckers in most cases. I’m using Seymour Duncan Phat Cats for my humbucker sized guitars.

  12. Mark says:

    I just found this page and decided to try putting a TC Spark in the FX loop of my Ethos Clean amp sim pedal. Wow. It thickened the tone up nicely without adding an appreciable amount of dirt. Maybe I can come close with just the Ethos, but I was surprised at what a difference this made. Now I need to experiment with whether the EP Booster would be better. Benefit of the EP Booster is that it’s smaller. Downside is that it really wants 18 volts in order to shine and I’m finding an appeal in getting the 18v pedals off my board.

  13. Noel says:

    Excellent article, thank you much for doing it. Just out of curiosity, I can see that a good compressor (for example, I’ve just gotten an Xotic Effects SP ross-style, can also be used as a boost. Traditionally you’d compress before overdrives and dirt pedals. But is there a decent argument for using the comp after gain pedals in low volume setups. I’m experimenting myself of course, but wonder if you have any thoughts?

    • Bjorn says:

      Placing the compressor after the gains will create more headroom from the amp, as you’ll be compressing the signal into the amp. Try it and hear how it makes a difference.

  14. Dan says:

    took your advice on pumping the mids while lowering the bass and using a moderate treble. By using attenuating my volume pedal and cranking my guitar volume I have a nice dirty sound that i hadn’t been able to achieve at low volumes. Really appreciate the help.

  15. Dude says:

    The part about scooping the mids is 100% correct. I played a Marshall JCM 900 in a band with a second guitarist who played a Crate half-stack with the mids scooped out. We’d jam at his apartment, just the two of us, and he absolutely HATED my tone. “So much mids…. get rid of that!” “Oh, those mids!”, etc. I explained what would happen once we had a drummer and a bass player, but he didn’t believe me…. until we had an actual band. I noticed (as did he apparently) that you couldn’t even hear his amp. He kept turning it louder and louder, and all that did was make it sound thinner. By the end of a couple of weeks, he had that thing EQ’d pretty much like my Marshall sounded. He never said anything, but he knew. And you could finally hear him.

    Also, someone above mentioned the Vox AC4. I have an AC4TV and it sounds lousy at low volume – flat and ugly – but about halfway up on the 4W setting it’s screaming with a tone that, being familiar with loud Marshalls, I can positively identify as power tube saturation. But if you go louder than halfway on the volume, things get mushy and not really usable in my opinion. Halfway up with an overdrive pedal (set to a very low gain – just acting as a boost – I use a cheap Joyo Ultimate Drive pedal) is the ticket to getting those AC4TVs to scream like there’s no tomorrow. It really is an awesome tone that cuts like a hot knife through butter.

  16. Andrew says:

    Hey, Bjorn !

    What about EQ pedals? Can you recommend or not recommend them? My Fender combo(super champ) lacks mid control, only bass and treble. I feel like I miss smth.

    • Bjorn says:

      They can be helpful in beefing up a thin tone, adding some mids and tightening the lows but you may also want to look into boosters, overdrives and distortions with more emphasis on the mid range, which can be even more effective.

      • Andrew says:

        I’ve got another question concerning pickups. I’ve got custom shop Fat 50`s on my american strat. They are (very) good on clean. But the sound seems to kinda fall apart with overdrive. The more treble the more the sound falls apart, fizzes, fuzzes. It’s not fluid-like as with my gibson.
        Is it the pickups?

        • Bjorn says:

          Could be but is that the neck or bridge you’re referring to? I’d pay more attention to the amp, its setting and what pedals you use. The Fat 50s are very versatile but no pickup will sound great if your amp doesn’t match it, or if you haven’t adjusted your amp and pedal settings to its tone.

          • Andrew says:

            It’s tube Fender SuperChamp x2 on clean channel. My main overdrive is Maxon OD808 (kinda classic), may be used with/wo Mad Professor Red Ruby Booster. I have also got an eq pedal but it seems a little excessive since maxon boosts mids quite a lot. A have another overdrive pedal, JHS Moonshine, even more gainy and grainy but it has the same bias in sound.

            • Bjorn says:

              I don’t really think its the pickups but rather the combination of the amp and pedals. The Champ has a classic Fender tone and shouldn’t be confused for a Hiwatt or Marshall, which both has a very different tone. Its a Fender and you need to use settings and pedals that goes with the amp. The pickups should go nicely with is so start by plugging the guitar straight into the amp and tweak the settings until you get the tone you want. THEN add the pedals and set them up to match the amp. Any excessive gain or boosted frequencies will make the tone sound muddy and thin. For more tone tips, read the amp and pedalboard tutorials.

          • Andrew says:

            Oh, it’s all three pickups I have issue with, but mostly with the neck.

  17. Paul Van Heuklom says:

    This is probably a dumb question. You talk of placing a booster in the send/return loop of amp and also placing one after the muff. Are you recommending two boosters, or is the booster in the loop unnecessary? This is a bedroom setup.

    Still waiting for a couple of pedals in the mail but planning to run Fender Strat > Pure Tone Dual Booster > Vick 73 Ram’s Head > Buffalo Power Booster > Jam Pedals Fuzz Phrase > Buffalo Evolution > Xotic SL Drive > CostaLab ChorusLab > 80s Deluxe Electric Mistress > MXR 1974 CS script reissue Phase 90 > Pure Tone Dual Booster > Laney Lionheart 5w amp.

    Any suggestions about the order–or anything else that might be missing or overkill?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Paul! There are no dumb questions :) The booster in the loop trick is really for beefing up the output section of your tube amp and to compensate for the power, compression and saturation you get when playing loud. You can combine this with a booster after the Muff, as you would then drive the front end of the amp. HOWEVER, you should note that you’re getting a lot of gain and boost so even if the boosters are set clean you’re driving the amp hard so adjust the setting to match between all three pedals and the amp. You don’t want to boost or saturate too much or you’ll get noise, feedback and just a dark, overly compressed tone.

  18. Matt says:

    Need one dirt pedal to complete my tone. Needs to be under $150 used. I had the Buffalo Fx Evolution (loved it) and had to sell it b/c I needed $$$. I have $150 left over from that sale….

    My chain goes custom Jazzmaster w Lollars into a T1M modded VP JR (with buffer mod) > Mooer Yellow Comp > ***PEDAL NEEDED*** > Mooer Blues > Dr. S BitQuest > CB Echorec > DD-7 w T1M TT > Mesa 5×25 plus.

    Thanks again, as always Bjorn. RAWK ON

  19. rsallsopp says:

    Thank you! I have yet to read through the entire article, but it’s taken just two paragraphs (bass, mid, and treble steps/use the gain channel for clean) to make my amp sound so, so much nicer. It’s a bedroom setup with the amp usually on 1, or less and sounding thin and wimpy. It doesn’t sound amazing now, but it does, as I said, sound so, so much nicer.

  20. andy gale says:

    Hi Bjorn, love your info and website. Thanks heaps from New Zealand.

    I have the following effects so far in this order – Guitar (90’s US Tele/Peavey Predator AX/Squier Strat), Boss TU-3, Boss CS-3, Vox V847 Wah with DC and true bypass mods, Big Muff Pi (US re-issue), Amp, Boss GT-3 unit (which I simply just use for delay or chorus) and a Korg Toneworks G4 speaker simulator.

    At the moment I am trying the GT-3 and the Korg in the Amp’s effects loop. They run via a twin true bypass switch.
    Amp is a 1990’s Fender Super 60 with foot switchable overdrive channel.

    That works quite nicely giving me some nice sounds using the Fender’s over drive channel with the Korg, and with the clean channel for that matter. Where things get a little unstuck is when I bring the Big Muff in on the clean channel and then add the Korg. The Korg has some sort of gate on it which seems to kill the Muff a bit whereas it doesn’t do the same when using the Fender’s overdrive channel. Also just interested in your overall thoughts re using the amp’s effects loop in this way and the placement of the CS-3 in the chain. And the overall order of everything really! It’s bedroom level at the moment! Cheers, Andy

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Andy! It’s always hard to answer these type of questions because ultimately, the tone you’re looking for depends on a lot of things.
      Try this chain: guitar > TU3 > wah > CS3 > Muff > amp : loop > GT3 > Korg > amp.
      Muffs tend to sound bright and even harsh on Fender amps. The current US Muff is also quite different sounding to the ones David used in the 70s. You might want to look into a clone at some point. Hard to tell why you’re Muff chokes up but I would imagine it’s a combination of it not working that well on your amp, the fact that it has very little mid range and that the buffers in your Boss pedals and the Korg might affect it. Hope this helps.

  21. Will says:

    Would a Vick Audio Overdriver, or similar pedal, sound good through a blackface deluxe? I’m worried that there wouldn’t be enough mids to sound good. Would pairing it up with a compressor or a more middy overdrive help solve that problem? Could I use it with a germainium fuzz to get smooother, less fuzzy tones?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hm… you might find it just a bit too bright and fizzy. I haven’t experimented that much with Powerboosters and Fender amps but you might be better off with a pedal that has a bit more mids, especially you want to replicate David’s tones. Check out the Wampler Plexi Drive or the Keeley Boss BD2 for similar tones.

  22. David Bagdon says:

    I have a hand made valve jr.No printed circuit boards, every componet going where it needs to go.The way amps were built in the 1960’S and before.To get a great low volume tone I use an O.C.D.pedal crank up the gain about 50 percent and use the volume on the O.C.D. pedal.Great over drive at very low volumes.
    Dave

  23. clay Jenkins says:

    Great article as always. Would a wampler plexi drive work as a booster in the fx loop or for boosting a big muff?

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t think it works that well as a booster. A bit too much mids and compression, which will colour your and and/or Big Muff.

  24. Paul rivans says:

    Hi bjorn
    Your article is very good and I’m impressed with your knowledge. I’ve recently bought a tubemeister GM36, having got frustrated with the marshall jvm410c.
    My les Paul sounds great on some of the preset sounds as they are dialled in with the comments you had made I.e. High mids etc. however I’m having a struggle getting a good sound on my strat. There is a dimazio single coil humbucker at the bridge and the other two are dimazio singles coils blue velvets. I’m trying to get a buddy guy type sound and taking the range to a Ritchie Blackmore do you have any dial up setting suggestions? The only pedals I use are a crybaby, ocd and a boss DS1x all go in the front end and use very sparingly, the boss pedal is a bit of a monster.
    Keep up the good work!
    Paul

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not familiar with the blue velvets but both Buddy Guy and (early Purple) Blackmore use low output single coils, which is very much a part of their classic Strat tone. The Tubemeister is also a very modern sounding amp so it perhaps not the best choice for the tones you’re looking for. Still, you should be able to get close. I’m using the gain channel so try that, keep it as clean as possible and try to back down both the treble and mids to below 50% and see how that work. You can also roll down the guitar volume control a hair or two, to get a more mellow tone.

  25. hamad says:

    Great details but wished you explained further the prons and cons of playing on small 15 ot 30 watt amp

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends entirely on the amp. A 15w, or even a 5w, can be much louder than a 30w. In general, I would say that low wattage amps, from 1-15w is better suited for bedrooms, practice and recording. You can keep the volume at a reasonable level and still be able to dial in some very dynamic tones. An amp’s sweetspot is usually around breakup, so a lower wattage amp, played in a small room, will allow you to just slightly crank that clean tone. Or, if you want distortion, allow you to crank it all the way, without breaking any windows. A 30-100w amp is usually too loud for a bedroom but even if you turn the volume all the way down, what you get is a flat and much less dynamic tone because you’re not driving the tubes and speakers. I would say that 20-50w amps are suitable for rehearsal, recording and smaller clubs. 100w amps are for lager venues and halls.

  26. Aidan Avery says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    First of all, I just found this site and wow… what a gem you have created here. I love it and I suspect I will spend many future hours on it.

    This article is awesome for a entry-level player like myself who has access to a small home studio.
    Here’s my question: I just began assembling my first full set up. After trying out some guitars and checking out the different sounds, I went with a used Fender Strat. My amp purchase was more “guesswork,” since I wasn’t able to test out any of the amps I was looking at (nowhere to do so around me). I went with the Fender Champion 40W. It is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The reviews and demo videos were very convincing, but I’m wondering if I will regret not getting a tube amp. Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with the Fender Champion series? Can I still get the big tones and lovely sound with this?

    I have a somewhat unrelated follow up question. Is an Ibanez TS9 a good choice for a first pedal, or will it feel lackluster without anything else to combo it with?

    Thanks so much!

    Cheers,
    Aidan

    • Aidan Avery says:

      In regards to that second question. The Vick Audio Tree of Life is also an option, though that is nearing the top of my price range as far as buying a first pedal.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried the Champion 40 myself but based on what I’ve heard and the reviews I’ve seen you should be able to get some really nice Fender tones with it. Whether or not you should get a solid state or tube amp is more down to taste. Tube amps may have a bit more character and the gain is often more natural sounding. Still, solid state amps sound great too and if you mostly intend to use a clean tone, then the difference isn’t that big. Keep in mind that Fender amps often have a scooped tone, meaning that you may want to use pedals that has an emphasis on the mid range, like the TS9 or similar.

  27. Joel says:

    I want an amp for home use. What would you pick between a Blues Jr. and a Tubemeister? What speaker/s would you recommend for the tubemeister? I have a Gib LP classic and would like to have a strat and a tele in the future. Thanks.

    • Bjorn says:

      The Tubemeister. The Fender is great but very loud for a bedroom and neighbours. The TM is incredibly versatile and you can scale the 20w down to 5 and 1. The clean channel works really well alone but not with pedals. The dirt channel has plenty of headroom and goes very well with all kinds of pedals. I’m using Celestion V30s and are very happy with that combo.

  28. Eric says:

    Im also using a G & L Legacy with the standard CLF Alnico single Coil p/ups.

  29. Eric says:

    Hello Bjorn,
    Can you give me some recommendations for settings on the Laney Lionheart LT5. I also have the Wampler Plexi Deluxe and the Vick Audio Rams head. for delay I have the Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail. Having trouble dialing in the right Tone. so if you could give me a lil insight. Looking for that Comfortably Numb and Time Tones. But my ears are a deceiving me a lil bit.
    Thanks again for your web sight. I’m always checking it out!
    Eric

    • Bjorn says:

      I often use the gain channel on mine. It has a slightly different character than the clean. More mids and an overall warmer tone I think. Try this for starters: gain channel, hi input, bright on, bass 11:00, mids 1:00, treble 10:00, tone off, gain 8:00, volume as desired. The settings also applies to the clean channel.

  30. Richard McEntee says:

    Hi Bjorn, thought this the best place to post this question.

    Firstly, loved your video re super modulated tone!

    Regarding your base tone, would you say this was represented by your Laney Cub12r video posted some time ago (the one starting with Coming Back to Life, followed by Shine opening), basically clean with compressor and delay ?

    I am trying to build up from basics one element at a time and am confused as to when (usually) too much treble creeps in and when to hold it back.

    I play bedroom levels with a Laney L5t, maple neck strat with alnico iii high E B G, alni V low D A E, for neck/ middle, and have now assembled a cs3, mxr univibe, phase 90, musketr clone, Plexi Tone, bd2, Moore eleclady, joyo dseed (digi and ana delay) and an rt_20.

    (Still to find a fuzz that works!)

    I am pretty close to most tones wywh onwards, even dsotm with the muskett but am always looking to tweak. What i have found is that given the above “tools” I find it easier to learn what my fingers can do re touch and feel :)

    Any tips on base tone would gratefully received.

    • Bjorn says:

      Treble is always hard because we tend to set it high to compensate for issues like pedals that roll off the treble, bad cables, our hearing, our position to the amp etc… How to actually set the EQ of the amp depends on taste and what tones you want. How to get there, depends on the voicing of the amp and its speakers, the guitar and pickups you’re using and of course the pedals. I change my amp settings all the time based on what tones I need. Of course, during a show I tend to use one setup but for recording or rehearsals, I often tweak things. What you perceive as spiky treble can also be high mids, which would be the tone or presence control and even bass. Too much bass often results in a dark and boomy tone but it will also interact with the overall tone of the amp, making is sound harder and more spiky. See this feature for more tips on setting up your amp.

  31. Steve says:

    Hi Bjorn

    Firstly let me say what a great site this is. As a long time Gilmour fan this has got to be the best site just for amazing information on David and his work over the years.

    So onto my question. I have pretty much been using a solid state Line 6 Amp for a few years now mainly because when it comes to all this techie stuff I am a bit of a useless player. But even to my untutored ear the Amp sounds dull and lifeless and no matter how I try I just cant seem to get the David tone that I am looking for. I’ve come into some money recently and based on extensive reading of your site am looking to purchase this kind of bedroom setup:
    Laney Cub 12r (like the 1W feature!)
    Buffalo FX Patriot
    Buffalo FX Power booster
    TC Flashback

    Looking to get those Pulse/Gdansk tones. Is there anything else that you think that I need that would help and would you be able to guide a complete noob and give me some idea of some amp and pedal settings for a good Comfortably Numb sound to start with and then fiddle around from there.

    Thanks you for helping if you can and look forward to hearing from you :)

    [Hi Steve! Your wish-list looks to be spot on. Depends on what guitar you have but you should be able to dial in some classic Gilmour tones with that setup. You might also want to look into a more modern overdrive for those Tube Driver tones. The Wampler PlexiDrive is probably as close as it gets, without getting the TD. – Bjorn]

    • Steve says:

      Hi Bjorn – Well I bit the bullet and am now the proud owner so far of the Cub and a TC Flashback. Got to say the sound even pretty clean with the delay is about 10 light years from what I had. feels like I just pulled my head out a puddle of mud!! :)

      I have the Patriot and Booster on order from Buffalo and they should be with me in the next couple of weeks and I cant wait to give them a try out and report back here!

      I have one final question if you have time to answer it – you recommended the plexi drive in the last post. Could this be covered by the Buffalo Evolution? or do they do separate jobs? Would the evolution just be an overkill addition to a board with the patriot and power booster and the plexi already on it? Your thoughts as always would be really helpful. Or would an evolution, patriot and booster pretty much nail it?

      I cannot tell you how helpful your site has been to me. I didn’t have a clue where to start with getting these things set up and your in depth articles are a godsend to luddites like me. Thank you so much for all your efforts – I will show my appreciation in the right way ;)

      • Bjorn says:

        Hi Steve! Happy to help! The Evolution will cover the Plexi to some extent. It doesn’t have the headroom of the Plexi but you have the Powerbooster for that. I think the Evolution would be the most versatile pedal for you and your setup. With it, you can cover the Tube Driver overdrive sounds and heavier distortion.

        • Steve says:

          Hi Bjorn

          Thought I would give you a quick update – Sitting on my board now is a keeley compressor, evolution, patriot, plexidrive, TC Flashback and a plexidrive and the Buffalo PB. Have spent a LOT of time playing with them in a bedroom type set up. Got to say that the combination of the Evolution and the PB with a custom Flashback Tone I dialled in from my PC is just unbelievable. The sheer versatility of the Evolution is quite staggering. and the the PB is just, well… always on :)

          Even my wife who is my worst critic said that my CN the other night was ‘pretty good’

          Thank you so much for all your advice and help – its been quite a journey and without the guidance of this site I would still be in the dark!! Got any other ideas for a man who still hasn’t quite satisfied his GAS syndrome!!!??

          Thank you again from a very happy camper!

          • Steve says:

            Forgot to add that I have had far less luck with the Patriot – sounds really muddy and muffled almost even with the PB. is it because it needs to be played very loud to get the best out of it?

            • Bjorn says:

              It’s a dark pedal, with lots of gain and mids. That’s kind of the nature of it. It needs a bit of volume and a brighter sounding amp.

          • Bjorn says:

            Thanks for sharing, Steve! Sounds like an awesome board! I’m afraid you’ll never rid of the GAS :) More review to come :)

            • Justin Case says:

              Hi Bjorn,
              I’m mostly interested in getting the tones from DSotM, WYWH, Animals, and the Wall. I have a Lionheart L5, and an Evolution on the way. How necessary would you say a power booster is, assuming some moderate degree of GAS? And, if you could, would you recommend the Buffalo or the Top Tone Shine Boost, or something else? I’m somewhat of a newbie,but I enjoy reading your site very much. It’s very well thought-out.

              • Bjorn says:

                Hi Justin! Thanks for your kind words! The Powerbooster goes very well with the Laney and it is what David used for rhythms and overdrive sounds on WYWH and Animals in particular. The Evolution is a high gain overdrive and distortion, so it’s not that suited for crunchy tones and clean boost. You can get very similar tones by driving the gain channel on your Laney but I’m assuming that you want to run that clean and have all your effects into the front stage so yes, a Powerbooster is something you probably want to look into at some point :)

  32. Walt says:

    Hi Bjorn, I was looking around for information, and happen to stumble on your site here. I was wondering if you’ve gotten a chance to check out the Mojo Studio One. I’ve heard the demo,and I’m thinking of purchasing. I have a Mesa Roadster, “way to much power” for low level. I also have a Axe-Fxll. The Axe-Fx does a wounderful job, a lot of tools. I was just wanting something with tubes thats not over powering. My main guitar is a JS1000. Thank you again.

    [It’s based on the JCM800, which would go nicely with your JS1000, I think. Perhaps not the most Gilmourish combo but you should be able to get some classic tones with it and some pedals :) – Bjorn]

  33. joao bicudo says:

    Sorry i sended unfinish message.

    So i will wait for the strat and then i will have a go on that and i will let you know.

    Best regards
    Joao bicudo

  34. joao bicudo says:

    Hello bjorn, no problem with your delayed reply.

    I just get lucky and sold my ibanez js 1200 easy! I think one of my handicap was that i dont have a single coil guitar like a strat, so i will by a strat. As i listed before i have 3 muff’s, so i’ve tried last wednesday just with the bass big muff with my js1000 and i was very close of what i was looking for. With the strat it will be even better, i hope :).

    Do you think my signal chain (i’ve listed before) is the best position for that pedals?

    About the amp, i posted in jvm forum my concerns aborto the headroom of jvm205h and i was told that in some way this amp can deliver an acceptable clean channel with a reasonably headroom

    [The signal chain looks OK although I’d place the wah first but I guess it’s a matter of taste :) – Bjorn]

  35. Robert Nelson says:

    I’m chasing the Gilmour tone but not using a tube amp. I have a Blackstar ID60TVP-H 60W head running into a Blackstar 212 cab. The head has 6 voice channels and 6 valve responses (EL84, 6V6, EL34, KT66, 6L6, KT88). Do you think the Big Muff clones would still work with this?

    Thanks!

    [I’ve never tried that specific model but the HT and Series One amps works nicely with Muffs. – Bjorn]

  36. joao says:

    hello and happy new year 2015!

    Thank’s for the magnific work and patience to put your “wisdoom” at every fans of DG sound.

    I’ve read a lot about having DG tone in bedroom levels, but i still have some questions about my gear and how can i have the “tone” that i search.

    I have a Marshall JVM 205H (50watts tube amp) with 2×12 Marshall 1936 Vintage Cab with 2×25 Watts greenbacks that i swap from the original 2×12 V30 70watts and 2 Ibanez JS1000 and JS1200 guitars.
    I know for the best results i should have Fenders or Hiwatt amps and Fender guitars,but i don’t.

    My Signal chain is:
    guitar » compressor/sustain CS-3 » EHX big muff tone wicker » EHX bass big muff » vox satchurator » BD-2 » crybaby whawha/ volume pedal » EHX stereo electric mistress » CH-1 » DD-3 » vox Time machine » front amp.

    I’m not happy with the sound of my big muff’s, I dont heard the same “tone” of DG. I know that’s dificult to tame big muffs.

    My question is, do you think i have the best pedals chain order and what do you recomend for the amp in terms of EQ.

    Best regards,

    João Bicudo

    [Very sorry for my late reply, João. The JVM is not your typical Gilmour amp and I think your “problem” is that Muffs tend to sound very aggressive and boomy on Marshalls. Especially the modern ones. Based on your setup I’d go for a more versatile distortion as it will be hard to get the right sounds from a Muff or fuzz. My best tip is the Buffalo FX Evolution. It’s based on the Cornish G2, which has been David’s main distortion for the last decade. It can easily cover the Muff tones and pairs very well with most amps. It’s also great for Satriani tones :) – Bjorn]

  37. christophe says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear: I was just asking if there was some pedal that could do the SS-2 tones, among my collection of overdrive pedals:

    EHX East River Drive (TS9 clone) / BYOC Distortion + clone / Boss ds-1 / Boss sd-1 / Wampler Plexidrive / BOSS BD-2 from keeley / EHX Soul Food / Xotic BB ….

    Regards,
    Christophe

    [The East River and PlexiDrive would cover much of the same ground. You can also tweak the SD-1 for similar tones. – Bjorn]

  38. christophe says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Please can you tell me what would be the right replacement for SS-2 among my those pedals from my collection, please:
    EHX East River Drive (TS9 clone) / BYOC Distortion + clone / Boss ds-1 / Boss sd-1 / Wampler Plexidrive / BOSS BD-2 from keeley / EHS Soul Food / Xotic BB ….

    Regards,
    Christophe

    [Doesn’t really matter where you place it if you don’t intend to combine it with other pedals. If you do, I’d place it after the high gains but experiment with the setup and hear how it sounds before and after the pedal you want to combine it with. – Bjorn]

  39. Matt says:

    Hi Bjørn! Will my peavey classic 30 handle a fuzz or a big muff? Or should I just get a ocd/rat type?
    Volume is not an issue. I can play as loud as I want. Although I don’t like playing too loud because it’s bad for your ears.
    Thank you,
    Matt

    [I have no prob with either on my Classic 30 :) – Bjorn]

  40. christophe says:

    Thank you for your precious Help!!!

    To anwser your question, I have a laney Cub for those tones.
    I use a Rams’ head clone from Ronsound with the Keeley Boss bd-2 (replacing the TD 1 set for vol. boost), and a Wampler Plexidrive to simulate the TD 2 set fro overdrive.

    As I’m a bit obsessed with the Division Bell Tone (not Pulse, but DB studio tone), I’d like to know:
    – Is the Boss cs-2 always on?
    – When David uses the RAT instead of Big Muff, does he also use it with the Tube Driver 1 (vol.boost)?
    – When you say that the SS-2 was combined with the Tube Driver2 set for overdrive (wampler plexidrive for me), does it mean that the SS-2 was set gently (like a vol. booster? )? I tought David was using the SS-2 in olny 2 songs in division bell: pedal alone in Poles apart / & pedal with tube driver 1 (vol boost in a great day for freedom)
    -What would be the right replacement for SS-2 among my collection, please:
    Ehx East River Drive (TS9 clone) / BYOC Distortion + clone / Boss ds-1 / Boss sd-1 ….

    Again, does that effects chain look good to you, particularly the Gain stage:

    Guitar / Wah wah / dedicated Buffer / Tuner / Boss CS-2 / Ronsound Rams Head Big Muff (or RAT)/ Boss BD-2 (set for vol boost) / Wampler Plexidrive (set for overdrive) / SS-2 replacement / boss ce-2 / TC flashback….

    Best regards and THANK YOU,
    Christophe

    [Please see my earlier reply. Let me know if I missed something… – Bjorn]

  41. Christophe says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Actually I’m trying to build a correct “Division Bell pedalboard” with my gear…
    Could you just tell me if the effects’ order seems right to you:

    Guitar / Wah wah / dedicated Buffer / Tuner / Boss CS-2 / Ronsound Rams Head Big Muff / Boss BD-2 (set for vol boost) / Wampler Plexidrive (set for overdrive) / EHX Soul Food / boss ce-2 / mjm 60’s vibe / TC flashback….

    In the Division bell section, it seems not clear to me How David combines Big Muff (or RAT) with the tube drivers or the Soft Sustain….

    How does it work? Is it always the combo “Big Muff (or RAT) + Tube driver 1 set for vol. boost”,
    or the “Tube driver 2 set for overdrive” alone? or that same TD 2 (overdrive) in combo with soft sustain?

    By the way can you easily replace the Soft sustain with a EHX Soul Food?

    I also own a Mooer Pitch Box that I’d like to use to replace the digitech whammy…
    Where would you put it in the effects chain?

    I have a problem with the distortion / od / boster section in the effects chain…Do I have to put the effects from “the more gain to the less gain” , like ” Big Muff, then Xotic Sl drive , then Wampler tube driver (set for OD) , then boss Bd-2 (set for vol boost)”…. Is this the traditional way of doing it?

    Thank you for your precious help.

    Christophe

    [Gain effects should be arranged by gain if you combine them. The first pedal will dominate the tone, so for Muffs tones, place the Muff first then the booster, which will act more like an EQ. David mostly used the Muff with the clean booster, while the SS2 were combined with the overdrive Tube Driver. You need to match this with your amp anyway, so my best tip is to try not to get too focused on what he was doing. Use his setup as a guide and if needed, use different settings and pedal combinations to get the tones you want and that’s better suited for your rig and playing environment. The Soft Sustain is closer to a PlexiDrive or TS9 than the Should Food. – Bjorn]

  42. Steve says:

    Not to change the subject but I loved the picture of Syd that started this article.
    When is Fender going to get off of their duff and make a Custom Shop model. I would love to see if any members made a Syd Tele themselves. But I totally understand about keeping the noise down. I have a Custom 2×12 HIWATT and I live in a condo. It has gotten to the point now when my next door neighbor comes and goes and try and play while he is gone. But I am in the process of building a studio so I do not have to worry about noise. What a project!! Thanks a million Bjorn for everything!

    [Cheers, Steve! – Bjorn]

  43. Jonathan Thomas says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks for another great article. And for answering my question over on the Soothsayer review, my Soothsayer is in the post! :-)

    I know you’ve recently played about with a Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister, I’m considering one as its a bit more versatile than my Lionheart. What are your thoughts on the amp, can you post a review and how much does it suit yGilmourish tones? As good as the Lionheart does?

    Also, anxiously awaiting the tone guide for The Greatest Show on Earth over on your website, can’t wait!

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

    PS. What are your thoughts on Neunaber, Earthquakes Dev and Mr. Black pedals? Check them out!

    [It’s two very different amps. The H&K is very pristine and modern sounding. The clean channel is very nice but it doesn’t handle pedals very well so I use the gain channel. It has lots of headroom so it’s no problem really. I like the tone and it’s a nice basis for all kinds of pedals. The Lionheart has a more vintage character, with a bit more mojo I guess. My perception of it is that it sounds like a mix between a Vox AC30 and an early JTM Marshall. It’s warm and fairly dark. I like both but cover different ground.
    The Airbag album guides will be up sometime after my new album is out :) – Bjorn]

  44. Debargho says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    It seems that the Laney Cub12R combo (or stack) name keeps popping up the most in this forum, when referencing amps. Like most, I too, own the combo version. Could you possibly consider doing a dedicated review of the cub 12R as I notice you repeatedly answering questions about the Cub12R? It may just save you some time. It sure would be nice to have an in-depth reference point detailing tone settings, pitfalls, possible upgrade options like driver and tube upgrade and any other interesting tidbit you think may help some of us, end users? I understand that you have many things on the burner (like the most eagerly awaited ‘Big Muff tone tutorial’), but an article on the Cub12R may really save you some quality time :)

    [I’ll see what I can do but it won’t be the first thing I do. There’s a new Floyd album on the way too, which needs some attention :) Please see the amp set up tutorial for settings etc. – Bjorn]

  45. Will says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I have a few small amps and a strat. I am thinking about buying a Vox Ac4 and was wondering if it would do a resonable job at covering Gilmour’s tones, particularly on Wish You Were Here. Would one of my other amps, a transition era Champ, an Ampeg j12, and a blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb, be a better option? I can’t play very loud because of the neighbors, so it is hard to get the Deluxe to really open up.

    I am also purchasing a few pedals, a Dynacomp, a Tc Electronics Spark boost, and some big muff clone, although I may not end up getting the boost, unless it will be hard to get Gilmour’s tones without it.

    Also, great work on the new album, I really like what I’ve heard so far. I can’t wait to pick it up!

    Thanks,
    Will

    [Hi Will! I haven’t tried the AC4 so I can’t really tell. You should be able to get some very nice tones with all of these amps but it also depends on the pickups and pedals you use with them too. You might also want to look into the Laney Cub series. The Spark Booster is an all clean booster so it won’t do much for your overdrive tones. It’s a great tool for adding a bit more bite to your tones and for opening up the amp a bit but if you want to nail those WYWH overdrive tones, you might want to check out a Boss BD2, Fulltone OCD or Buffalo FX Powerbooster. – Bjorn]

  46. T.Quay Williams says:

    Hello All,

    I have a Laney Cub 12r and put high gain JJ tubes in it for some Led Zeppelin, etc. and it overheated and melted the board. Maybe it wasn’t the high gain tube’s fault but it was a meltdown either way. It’s been fixed but there are problems like Juan above experienced too just to warn others being a Chinese make (hence the price).

    On a good note I replaced the 2 x 12″ Laney cabinet speakers with Reeves Vintage Purples (which to warn you don’t really fit and I had to screw them in a little off center) and now it is a NOS amp (new old stock) with incredible tone. I had a Reeves Custom 50 before that sounded like a million bucks but was too loud to have in the house, as is the subject of this thread. So my point is I would highly recommend getting a Laney Cub 12r head for bedroom use but buy a loaded cabinet from Reeves or use Bjorn’s favorite Weber Thames, which also must be great, and eventually get a Reeves 50w head for big time use. The speaker upgrade makes more difference than I ever would have thought.
    Happy playing.

    • the seeker says:

      My Laney Cub 12 also ran really hot, so I cool the rear with a small fan and it runs pretty cool now, hoping it lasts awhile. I envy your Reeves Custom 50, I can’t imagine how loud that or any big hiwatt must be.

      • King Arne The Great says:

        Did you change the power amp tubes by yourself? The power amp tubes on the CUB12 are NOT self biasing, so if you are not sure what you are doing – see an amp tech if you want to replace those tubes. It’s not supposed to get scorching hot or melting anything inside.

  47. Huy Tran says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    The cub no longer satisfy me. I know you said tubes can be moody but for some reason my Cub has serious mood swings.

    I was thinking of getting a Laney Lionheart, never really liked Fender amps, but HK 18 has always interested me. Looks pretty to boot. What are your thoughts on them?

    My favourite tone is probably something like the Gdanks muff tones. Like Time. I also use a super crunch box for really saturated overdriven tones with smooooth mids.

    I’ll be trying out the tubemeister 18 soon as I have already tried and love the Lionheart but it is always a pleasure to hear your thoughts.

    Regards,

    Huy Tran

    [Just got a Tubemeister 18 my self and I really like it. It sounds warm, nicely balanced and very tight. Goes well with all kinds of pedals too. The Lionheart is a very different sounding amp. More vintage sounding I guess but they both nail most of David’s tones. Hard to choose but personally I prefer the Lionheart. – Bjorn]

  48. Juan says:

    Bjorn, first I want to say thanks for keeping such an informative website running. I’ve learned so much thanks to your work.

    I also wanted to talk a little about that Laney Cub 12r, as there’s no separate review/page devoted to it. I bought one new, to have something different than a Blues Jr., which here in the States seems to be most peoples’ go-to 15w tube amp. The Cubby is a different flavor, for sure, and I loved gigging with it until it blew up on me. I had the same power issue and indicator lamp problem many who’ve posted on the the few forums devoted to the amp did, as well as the apparently recurring problem with the circuit board that is hard to work on. Finally, at a gig, the amp gave out completely and I was lucky my keyboard player was playing thru a Bassman 70, and could let me use it while he went direct.

    Long story short, my tech finally told me there’s not much worth doing to save/fix it, and I’m best selling it for parts if I can. It’s too bad, but there are serious design flaws with the amp that I hope Laney will address. They were onto something good and they blew it with shoddy Chinese workmanship.

    The Cubby and Blues Jr. both have serious gain on tap. I liked the Cubby because it could do a lot of things well, and was lightweight for lugging to rehearsals and smaller gigs. Mic’d up or thru an extension cab (a great feature), it roared, but cleaned up well, too. It was definitely more versatile than the Fender, but in the end, those Fenders are way more reliable. And we like reliable gear, don’t we?

    Currently, I have both a ’64 Gibson Falcon & a ’66 Ampeg Rocket. Both under 20 watts and way cleaner than the BJ & Cub. I like both a great deal, and they are quite different. Not exactly Gilmourish, but still super cool amps with lots of classic vibe.

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    ::J

    [Sorry to hear about your incident. Hope the gig went well :) The Cub is a nice little amp and it has some of that Hiwatt flavour, with a nice mid range and warmth. It’s a shame that they’ve compromised on the quality though and although I find it to be a nice addition in the studio I’d never gig or travel with it. It’s just too fragile and unreliable. Fender is a better choice but they also sound different. I recently bought a Hughes&Kettner Tubemeister 18 and couldn’t really be happier. Awesome tone and I’d no problem using it live. Cheers! – Bjorn]

    • the seeker says:

      I found the Laney Cub 12 combo needs to be cooled with a small fan. I imagine the heat from the power transformer and tubes cooks the internal components. First time I used mine it sounded great but became very hot. So I attached a small computer fan near the power transformer and it runs cool now. Without it I’m sure the amp would not last and the same flaw may exist in the head version. Anyway, I love the hiwatt sound in particular Pete Townshend’s live tone. Do you have any suggestions about setting the Laney Cub 12 for those tones? Great website and I appreciate all the info found here.

  49. Gatmanu says:

    We all have the same problem : how to play and record in your flats with many neighbors ?

    I had a 20W Vox amp but couldn’t get over 3 or 4…So I sold it and bought the best solution for me :

    the torpedo cab by two notes.
    http://www.two-notes.com/en/hardware/torpedo-cab/
    It’a skeaker (including Hiwatt) and power amp simulator in a box. So you need preamp pedals before. that’s the trick : you need good pedals to make it shine
    But boy ! Now what i play and what I record is the exact same thing.

    you can find many videos that show what you can with

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qU1v2WI41Q

    And yes it’s French ;-)))

    [Thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  50. Dean Hailstone says:

    I need my tubes, but an amp is still too loud for my bedroom setup. Amp modulation works very well for me! I can’t tell a difference between my real amp and the modulation.

  51. howard says:

    hi bjorn,
    my vox ac15hw as only got bass and treble controls, but no mids control, you talk about dailing in more mids, what would you do in my case ???????

    all the best, howard

    [Get an EQ, like the Boss GE7, and raise the 1.6k band. – Bjorn]

  52. Andrew says:

    messa express 5:25 plus has 25,5,1watt power scaling, it has built in messas EQ, two Chanel and 12″ speaker. SO with this features it’s probably one of the best combo for home recordings Gilmour (and not only) tones in market today ? What you think Bjorn about this ? Thx :)
    Never stop Gilmourizing!

    [I haven’t tried it but it seems to be a good choice :) – Bjorn]

  53. Lindsay says:

    Hi Bjorn. What is the image you used as the illustration for this post?

    [It’s a picture of Syd from the Madcap days. I think it’s from the flat he used to live in. – Bjorn]

  54. clark says:

    Hey Bjorn, havent posted in awhile, hope you have been well. I would like to say that I feel you are wrong about the sound of Hiwatts and Fenders. I own a Hiwatt, Fender and Zinky (hotrodded fender deluxe reverb), and I have to say the amp that sounds more well balanced and like it does cranked is the Zinky. The Hiwatt is very thin and trebley and harsh at bedroom volumes. The Hiwatt doesnt work well with muffs on bedroom volume like the Zinky does. Though I will say my fender twin is worse then both no matter how loud I crank it or dont crank it. Just wanted to add my two cents from experience.

    [Well, tone depends on a great many things, including amp settings, speakers, pickups and what pedals you use. My experience seems to be a bit different than yours but in any case I wouldn’t recommend using a big Hiwatt at home. Fender amps can indeed deliver some really nice tones at low volume but again, it depends on how you set the amp and what gear you use with it. Not least, what tones you want :) – Bjorn]

    • JR says:

      Agree, it’s all to do w amp & its settings. I’ve a Orange TT & @ 7 w it can blow out the windows. My practice studio is 16 X 25′ w 12′ ceiling, 2- SSL-1 & SSL-5, Weber MiniMass, PC-2A, Butler Tube Screamer, GE-7, Echosex 2, Boss CE-5 & DD-6 & I’m pulling my hair out trying to get an acceptable tone from this setup or other setups w other pedals but this one has been best but still thin & scratchy not warm & smooth. Thru headphones it sounds wonderful. I think I’ve tried most pedal arraignments but any suggestions would be fantastic. Thanks JR.

  55. Huy Tran says:

    Hi Bjorn and fellow Gilmourishners,

    I have a quick question in regards to boosting muffs. I have three pedals that I can use to boost muffs. A Mooer keeley bd2 clone with fat switch, Buffalo PB and TD with bias knob. The TD…forget about it. Just won’t work on my small cub12r amp. I love the sound of both the bd2 clone and Buffalo PB.

    It’s just that when I boost my muffs the difference is very minor. I can certainly tell the difference, even if it is minor, but I really doubt non guitarists can. So I was just wondering if there is supposed to be a pretty sizeable difference? For me it makes the muff smoother, the attack sharper (more trebly) and just gives it a bit more sustain and oomph. All of these differences are slight and I am just wondering if I am doing it wrong in terms of Gilmours’s tones. I would like to hear everyone’s opinion on this.

    Thank you as always.

    [You’ve pretty much nailed it :) The way David does it is basically to just add more character to the Muff. The booster isn’t boosting neither volume nor gain that much. A Muff has a very mids scooped tone, which often drown in a band mix. By adding a bit of boost, you’re adding more mids and enhancing the attack, which makes the Muff stand out more. – Bjorn]

  56. KEITH says:

    I’m only posting this because I’ve seen two posts about using attenuators the past week or so. I just want to let those unfamiliar with the boxes that go between your head, and cabinet, shorten the life of output tubes, and have been attributed to many burnt out transformers. IMHO, use of such an attenuator on a rare old tube amp is cgancing great heartache, and expense.

    Peace, Keith

  57. Jack says:

    Very helpful information. Just purchased a Line6 HD500X and was a bit overwhelmed with all that is offered. Your info helped to find better tones via the digital settings. Thanks very much.

    [Glad to help :) – Bjorn]

  58. Luiz Ernesto says:

    Great article my friend. It’s my pleasure !

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  59. Huy Tran says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I am very happy with my setup and I’ll be even happier once the Evolution gets here but I am still chasing the CN studio tone. It doesn’t need to be exact but I just love that huge edgy sound that is irresistibly smooth.

    I am using a Caprid rams head and buff PB. I think I am missing a rotary sim. I believe that is where a lot of the smoothness comes from. They are just so pricey though. I can get one comfortably in a years time (just bought a Japanese black strat and pickguard from stratcat.biz to build my very first black strat. The Japanese strat has a 57 tinted c shape maple neck. I love the neck on that thing) but like any other guitarist I am gassing for one now.

    Would you say the RT20 be my best option? That thing looks like heaps of fun. I am looking for a rotary sim that sounds good even in mono. Don’t really have the inclination to have a stereo setup at the moment.

    Thanks again Bjorn.

    [David’s rotary speakers has always been a huge part of his tone. Both live and in the studio. They add an extra dimension and smoothness. The RT20 sounds perhaps more like a very deep chorus but it’s great for replicating David’s rotary tones. Get the Lex if you want a real Leslie simulator and the RT20 for David’s tones :) – Bjorn]

  60. Markus says:

    Great tips! Just a little question about booster in the fx loop. I have a dr z maz 18 and it has tons of headroom and I get it to break up at all in my apartment. How would you suggest i set up the volume, master volume and lets say a bk butler tube driver in the fx loop?

    [That depends very much on how you set the amp, what pickup you have and what pedals you use. Keep in mind that you want to boost the output stage and not use the pedal for overdrive or as a booster for your Muff or whatever. Personally I think a Tube Driver in the loop would be a bit overkill. Use it as a dedicated overdrive and place a Boss BD2 or TC Spark Booster in the loop :) – Bjorn]

  61. Andy McKay says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Some very good points there, I was having problems getting a Big Muff sounding sweet a while ago, until I cranked it, it’s counter intuative but it works and it’s still bedroom friendly (for daytime use!).
    Great picture of Syd, looks like it’s from his ‘Madcap’ days, the room looks similar to the album cover, love that double bound Tele!

    Best wishes as always mate :@)

    Andy.

    [Cheers, Andy! Yep, that’s an outtake from the Madcap photo session I think. – Bjorn]

  62. federico says:

    Excellent! I’ve got a laney cub 12 with the master volume at 10 and gain at 4, using the 15W input. This is the warmer tone i could get from it, using a Vox Tonelab Ex as EQ and booster. Thanks!

  63. Jean-François says:

    It was my main problem some years ago : trying to get a proper tone without disturbing the neighbours and, more important…the family ;)
    impossible with my solidstate Peavey amp. I tried the volume pedal into the effect loop. I could crank the gain and keep a lower volume, but it sounded…..strange

    I found a solution which suits me (and my family too) : effect/amps emulating.
    I choosed the Vox tonelab ST, mainly because of my budget.

    I know that I don’t play in the same league as you all with your tube amps and vintage pedals, but I am very glad with it.

    I can have a tone with lot of sustain, saturation, harmonics, even “larsen” feeling, but only by using headphones :)
    My family and neighbours are happy, and I am too :)
    and I can even recording, with a simple USB cable. No need mics, soundboard, etc…

    Of course, I am aware that it never will be like the “real” deal, but when I listen to my recordings, I do not feel ashamed :

    jams with hendrix-style tones (50W plexi, wah, univibe, fuzzface) : http://soundcloud.com/jfstrat/sets/jams

    self compositions with different tones (effects : comp, phaser, flanger,chorus, TS9, vox wah, delay, tremolo, orange disto, fuzz…. amps : vox AC15, JTM45, dumble overdrive, roland Jazz Chorus, matchless, fender blackface…. ): http://soundcloud.com/jfstrat/sets/tranches-musicales

    nevertheless, your articles are always very helpful Bjorn, and I hope someday to be able to play on a real amp again :)

    [Thanks for sharing! Amp simulations have come a long way and you can get some really nice tones with them. A nice alternative if you just can’t play through amps :) – Bjorn]

  64. Lone Deranger says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have an old (very old) Marshall PA20. Its a lovely amp (if a tad noisy). It has no fx loop or master gain but I do have an attenuator.

    Should I set this to be on the edge of breakup and use the attenuator, leaving the board as is ?

    (board is wah->comp->boss boost->boss dist->tc dark matter-> muff->eh mistress->phase90->boss chorus->boss echo->ibanez echo->eh cathedral)

    Cheers

    LoneDeranger

    [Try it. I often find that attenuators are redundant unless you drive the amp really hard. You might want to just leave the attenuator, set the amp as you required and use a volume pedal at the end of your pedal chain to adjust the volume. – Bjorn]

  65. joby hook says:

    Great advice as always ,thankyou again Bjorn.Cant wait for the Album.

    [Thanks! – Bjorn]

  66. Diego says:

    Great article Bjorn! You should select a few pedals that can be very versatile and useful for bedroom practice. I know you already wrote a million times about different pedals, but set the “ultimate bedroom pedalboard setup” would help a lot.

    Congrats on the new solo album, the first single it’s a killer!

    [Thanks for your kind words, Diego! I plan on doing more of these bedroom features… :) – Bjorn]

  67. Rafael Vantolra says:

    Great article!!!!!!!!!!
    I have my basement for my self. I have a fender De ville
    my master volume was at number 2, so I set it up to the settings that you recommend in the article and I have better sound!!
    Thank you so much!!!!

    [Glad to help! – Bjorn]

  68. Gabriele says:

    Hey Bjorn, nice tips!
    But what for poor students who can afford nothing more than a 15w solid state Peavey and a Korg multieffect pedalboard? :D

    [Some of the tips should apply anyway. Adjust the settings on your amp and add as much mid range to the amp and pedals as possible. Be careful with the treble. – Bjorn]

  69. Debargho says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    Very refreshing and informative article. Thanks.
    Still waiting for the Deluxe Big Muff review, though :)

    [Thanks! Send me one and I’ll do a review :) – Bjorn]

  70. Denis says:

    Hi Bjorn, great article! In the past 3 months I have reconstructed my rig for getting the best tone possible. I am a bedroom player myself like most of us. I changed my speakers to webers Thames, placed buffers from this1smyne in front and in back of my pedalboard, and I built a closed back cab similar dimensions to the Wem 4×12. These changes made a total difference in my tone. The buffers from this1smyne are tiny but work excellent. I highly recommend them. Thanks to you and the everyone on this site I have a setup that I am happy with. Your site has an abundance of info for guitarist. Thanks again. Denis from Miami,Fl.

    [Thanks for sharing, Denis :) – Bjorn]

  71. KEITH says:

    Bjorn, My plan is to use the Ibanez TS15 head on it’s 5w setting to record. Here’s the rub. It only has volume, bass, and treble, but it is a bit middy to begin with, and it doesn’t really have a effects loop, it has the TS9 built it, and the so called loop, is just like using a tube screamer, and plugging into the output of the TS, then into the actual input of the amp, so I just plug into the”Return”, which is the actual input of the amp. Okay, now that you have an idea of the set up, the main issue. Since changing to the JJs, the amp on 15, or 5 watts is aalmost impossible to distort. It has so much headroom, that you have to turn the volume to max to get any break up, and even at 5w, it’s a loud little beast by the time it starts to have any break up. The tubes are glowing beautifully, and the amp sounds great, but my opinion is that it was made to be clean unless you kick in the TS circuit. It has a Seventy 80,( the worst speaker celestion makes IMO. Do you think I’d be better off installating a Greenback, or Vintage 30? At 5, or even 15 watts, I think an 80 watt speaker is just too much. Playing, I can get almost the same tones I get from my Reeves, but recording is going to be a different story I think. I was considering another Avatar Vintage 212G ( Bluesbreaker style cab), with 2 Greenbacks. What say you on all of the above.

    Thanks yet again my fine fingered friend, Keith

    [Hi Keith! You don’t really want the amp to distort. At least not when using gain pedals anyway. Even with the JJs you should be able to dial in a “hot” tone and add pedals on top of that. I think Celestion V30s would do the job nicely. They’re very nice balanced, with a smooth mid range and less low end compared to many of the other Celestions. In regards to recording – mid range is a good thing and I think you’ll find that your recordings will sound warmer and more balanced if you allow a bit more mids than what you feel is natural. – Bjorn]

    • Tony says:

      You plug your guitar into the return? Well no wonder it won’t distort – by plugging into the return you are actually BYPASSING the entire preamp of the amplifier! The preamp is where all the tonality of the amplifier actually happens… including the TS808 circuit which is the main selling point of the amp. The poweramp section, where your guitar signal is going in, according to your post, is simply there to make things LOUD and adds almost no tonal character until VERY loud sound levels, as it seems you found out.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?