Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

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Pongo
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Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:59 pm

Picked up a 2x12" LSC combo the other day on a "At prices like this, I can't afford not to buy it!" deal. 4.5 years old with some minor cosmetic issues and a gremlin in the effects loop return jack (rattle, rattle, bzzt), but it's in good shape overall. I was planning on having a few months of fun with it, then selling at a small profit, but... but... after learning how to dial in a few tones, this amp is starting to sound so sweet, I may need to change my plans...

As a side effect, I've also become interested in the LSS.

I'd like to ask some general questions of people here who have experience with the LSC, especially if they also have experience with the LSS.
  • It seems like the LSC loses more of its personality at lower (non-pushed) volumes compared to many other modern tube amps. The TC-100 and Mark V come to mind: while neither are amazing at bedroom volumes, they still sound quite good... but I've kinda resigned myself to the fact that a "quite good" approximation of the LSC's tones at bedroom levels may not be possible here. Your experience?
  • The stock 2x12" speakers can go from "lush" to "mush" fairly quick; IMO, it actually sounds better through a single 1x12" (also open back, also Black Shadow). Just a touch more definition and bite, and still sounds big! If you had a 2x12" combo, did you feel it was "mushy" or convert to a 1x12" (or a 4x10/12")?
  • Did you hate the drive channel when you first got it? Do you still hate the drive channel? I thought it sounded like somebody'd put a chloroform-soaked rag over the front of the amp at first, but my thought was who cares, 'cause everybody just uses the clean channel all the time. Plus, I'm just gonna sell it in a few months, anyway, right? But there are so many videos of people playing unmodded LSCs (without a ton of pedals) on the drive channel and sounding GREAT, it started to bug me. Sooo... I'm still discovering it, but after a few days of experimenting (and actually reading the manual), the flub is gone and I kinda, well... I'm starting to really like it. It's like two parts Mark I with equal parts Fender and Marshall. Unexpected, to say the least. I don't like the Mark I sound at all, but it works here.
  • This amp has Strat fever (probably why the bass knob is so ridiculous?). Now, I don't mind how humbuckers and P-90s (especially neck P-90s) sound through this thing, and my Telecaster sounds good... but Strats. Wow. I was actually just whining in the Mark V forum about the bridge pickup on my Strat, but it sounds glorious here. No pedals, no nothin'. What's worked best with you through the LSC?
LSS ONLY:
I've never played a LSS in person, and can't even recall seeing one listed locally any time recently. But from videos I've seen, the main difference seems to be that they've got more chime, less punch, and a tighter low end. If you've played both, would you say the difference in sound is just that we're dealing with lower-watt/EL84/fewer option version of a larger amp (e.g. Mark V:25/35), or does the LSS have a personality all its own that you'd recommend/warn against? If headroom is no issue, which would you pick?

Thanks!

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by screamingdaisy » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:11 am

[*]It seems like the LSC loses more of its personality at lower (non-pushed) volumes compared to many other modern tube amps. The TC-100 and Mark V come to mind: while neither are amazing at bedroom volumes, they still sound quite good... but I've kinda resigned myself to the fact that a "quite good" approximation of the LSC's tones at bedroom levels may not be possible here. Your experience?[/b]

Like the LSC, the LSS sounds better turned up. That said, what I liked about the LSSS is that it gave up the goods a bit earlier than the LSC did.

[*]The stock 2x12" speakers can go from "lush" to "mush" fairly quick; IMO, it actually sounds better through a single 1x12" (also open back, also Black Shadow). Just a touch more definition and bite, and still sounds big! If you had a 2x12" combo, did you feel it was "mushy" or convert to a 1x12" (or a 4x10/12")?
[/b]

I felt the 1x12 combo sounded really boxy and generally preferred how it sounded through a closed back cab.

[*]Did you hate the drive channel when you first got it? Do you still hate the drive channel? I thought it sounded like somebody'd put a chloroform-soaked rag over the front of the amp at first, but my thought was who cares, 'cause everybody just uses the clean channel all the time. Plus, I'm just gonna sell it in a few months, anyway, right? But there are so many videos of people playing unmodded LSCs (without a ton of pedals) on the drive channel and sounding GREAT, it started to bug me. Sooo... I'm still discovering it, but after a few days of experimenting (and actually reading the manual), the flub is gone and I kinda, well... I'm starting to really like it. It's like two parts Mark I with equal parts Fender and Marshall. Unexpected, to say the least. I don't like the Mark I sound at all, but it works here.[/b]

IMO, the best lead tones are right on the verge of being too muddy, and the Lone Star embraces this concept.

With the lead channel, I felt it worked best when you used it for lead. It never performed well as a high gain rhythm channel... too inherently fat. The trade off is that when you actually played lead on it the notes sounded huge instead of thin.


[*]This amp has Strat fever (probably why the bass knob is so ridiculous?). Now, I don't mind how humbuckers and P-90s (especially neck P-90s) sound through this thing, and my Telecaster sounds good... but Strats. Wow. I was actually just whining in the Mark V forum about the bridge pickup on my Strat, but it sounds glorious here. No pedals, no nothin'. What's worked best with you through the LSC?[/list][/b]

My Mark III was the same way. From what I understand the pull shifts and pull deep were meant to fatten up single coils, and a Strat plugged into a Mark III was an absolutely smokin' tone.

LSS ONLY:
I've never played a LSS in person, and can't even recall seeing one listed locally any time recently. But from videos I've seen, the main difference seems to be that they've got more chime, less punch, and a tighter low end. If you've played both, would you say the difference in sound is just that we're dealing with lower-watt/EL84/fewer option version of a larger amp (e.g. Mark V:25/35), or does the LSS have a personality all its own that you'd recommend/warn against? If headroom is no issue, which would you pick?


They have a different vibe. A Deluxe vs a Twin is probably the easiest comparison.
Ignore the hype and trust your ears. Play more, buy less = better tone.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:16 pm

screamingdaisy wrote:Like the LSC, the LSS sounds better turned up. That said, what I liked about the LSSS is that it gave up the goods a bit earlier than the LSC did.
That's what I was hoping to hear!

Even a 5 watt amp can annoy your roommates if you have to really push it to get good tones. IMO, the difference in actual volume on the LSC once you get it to start "giving up the goods" in the 10 watt setting vs. 100 watt setting is negligible, 'cause you've got to push it harder in 10 watt mode (of course, if reducing the volume, period, is your end goal, the difference between 10w and 100w modes is not negligible).
I felt the 1x12 combo sounded really boxy and generally preferred how it sounded through a closed back cab.
Interesting. Was it a 1x12" as well?
IMO, the best lead tones are right on the verge of being too muddy, and the Lone Star embraces this concept.

With the lead channel, I felt it worked best when you used it for lead. It never performed well as a high gain rhythm channel... too inherently fat. The trade off is that when you actually played lead on it the notes sounded huge instead of thin.
Still figuring out Channel 2, but I tend to agree.

Leads are gorgeous. And as far as rhythm goes, if you want fat tones that are just on the edge of sloshing together, you can't beat 2. You can tighten it up a bit with a tube screamer, but you'll never djent with this thing out of the box. Of course, if that's your goal, why are you using a LSC?
They have a different vibe. A Deluxe vs a Twin is probably the easiest comparison.
ALSO what I wanted to hear haha...

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screamingdaisy
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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by screamingdaisy » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:05 pm

Pongo wrote: Even a 5 watt amp can annoy your roommates if you have to really push it to get good tones. IMO, the difference in actual volume on the LSC once you get it to start "giving up the goods" in the 10 watt setting vs. 100 watt setting is negligible, 'cause you've got to push it harder in 10 watt mode (of course, if reducing the volume, period, is your end goal, the difference between 10w and 100w modes is not negligible).
5w mode was cool, but I tended to run it on full power for the better bottom end. Just better suited my play style.

I also tended to run channel 1 with the gain low for "clean", and channel 2 on clean mode with the gain full up for "dirty".
Was it a 1x12" as well?
Yes. 23" compact cab. A lot of Mesa's combos can get a bit boxy in the midrange when you start pushing them. The boxiness is great if you're after a more old school, open back sort of sound, but closed back offers more punch and a better low end response. The 1x12 cabs tend to cut off the low end, and what low end is there isn't as tight as a closed back cabs.

Looking back, I think half the problem people had with the LSS was that they were buying the 23" 1x12 combo version, then fighting the natural response of the cab. If you read old threads a lot of people fought with the boxiness/bass response and tried modifying the amp and/or swapping speakers to try to fix it. I feel that had some of those people experimented a bit more with cab choice they probably would've had better results. Myself, if I were to buy another LSS I'd get the head version so that I had more cab selection to choose from.

Mesa's 27" cabs are a little different. The 27" 1x12s gained a great reputation for sounding big for a 1x12. The 27" 2x12 I've never tried, but I remember people saying the 1x12 sounded better and some seemed to feel the cab was too small for two speakers. Unfortunately, Mesa doesn't make the 27" 1x12s anymore, so if you want one you'll need to find a used Electra Dyne cab. Alternatively, try phoning Mesa and see if you can talk them into making you one (such as a 2x12 LoneStar with a 1x12 baffle in it).
Ignore the hype and trust your ears. Play more, buy less = better tone.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Perry » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:22 pm

I totally agree about only using Ch2 for lead. I get tremendous crunch/OD rhythm sounds using an OCD in Ch1, then for lead/soloing change to Ch2 and a treble boost (in my case a Phil Hilborne Fat TB). The TB doesn’t try to colour the sound like an OD pedal and, for my tastes, nails the tone in my head. :mrgreen:
Lonestar Classic, circa May 2004
(Medium head converted from ‘Blue Pig’ 2x12 combo)

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:05 am

screamingdaisy wrote:Looking back, I think half the problem people had with the LSS was that they were buying the 23" 1x12 combo version, then fighting the natural response of the cab. If you read old threads a lot of people fought with the boxiness/bass response and tried modifying the amp and/or swapping speakers to try to fix it. I feel that had some of those people experimented a bit more with cab choice they probably would've had better results. Myself, if I were to buy another LSS I'd get the head version so that I had more cab selection to choose from.
That makes a lot of sense. I've experimented with several different configurations of cabinets now; to my ears, Mesa's open-backed 1x12" WideBody Compact (is that like "Jumbo Shrimp?") sounds worlds better than anything else.

That being said, I am not a huge fan of Mesa combo amps, so the disappointment and "Eureka!" moment after plugging into a new cab/speaker isn't entirely unexpected.

It also seems like people are going into this expecting/wanting a specific sound on Ch 2, and are frustrated when they can't get it. Well, the amp is advertised as being thick and cruddy, and it delivers as promised. It took a day or two for me to accept that it is what it is and start working with the sludge, rather than against it, and that approach has opened up a world of cool new sounds. I'm just gonna come out and admit I'm starting to love the much-maligned dirt channel, but with an important caveat: if I didn't own pedals to put on Ch 1, or other amps that could deliver a really crisp high-gain attack when I need it, Ch 2 would probably annoy me, too.
Perry wrote:I totally agree about only using Ch2 for lead. I get tremendous crunch/OD rhythm sounds using an OCD in Ch1, then for lead/soloing change to Ch2 and a treble boost (in my case a Phil Hilborne Fat TB). The TB doesn’t try to colour the sound like an OD pedal and, for my tastes, nails the tone in my head. :mrgreen:
That's cheating!

OK, no, that actually sounds like a good call, and I wish I'd thought to try it myself. A cranked LSC on Ch 2 must team up great with a TB.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by screamingdaisy » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:01 am

Pongo wrote:That makes a lot of sense. I've experimented with several different configurations of cabinets now; to my ears, Mesa's open-backed 1x12" WideBody Compact (is that like "Jumbo Shrimp?") sounds worlds better than anything else.
To date, I've liked two Mesa combos... the 1x12 Electra Dyne and the Rectoverb:25.

The ED is a 27" wide 1x12, rear ported cab. It doesn't have the issues with being boxy or having the choked off bottom end that the smaller cabs have. It's issue is more the reverse, lots of low end and that low end is a bit loose because it's not closed back. Still, I like it a lot.

The Rectoverb:25 I dig specifically because it sounds like a small, boxy combo. The way I use it is kind of like a crazy high gain Deluxe Reverb. The clean channel is run well into overdrive and the dirty channel is pretty much just for lead. Either way, not the way most people would use a Recto, but it works for me.

I think the RV:25 is helped by Mesa choosing a lighter/thinner wood for the combo. It's not as stiff as their more traditional combos, and I believe the flex in the cab helps with the overall sound.
It also seems like people are going into this expecting/wanting a specific sound on Ch 2, and are frustrated when they can't get it. Well, the amp is advertised as being thick and cruddy, and it delivers as promised. It took a day or two for me to accept that it is what it is and start working with the sludge, rather than against it, and that approach has opened up a world of cool new sounds. I'm just gonna come out and admit I'm starting to love the much-maligned dirt channel, but with an important caveat: if I didn't own pedals to put on Ch 1, or other amps that could deliver a really crisp high-gain attack when I need it, Ch 2 would probably annoy me, too.
At the time I owned it I more into high gain rhythm stuff and didn't really need a fat lead tone. Didn't stop me from appreciating it, just that I had no practical application for it at the time.

Now that I'm playing lead in a classic rock band I could probably make a lot of use of an LSS. Crank up the clean channel so that it overdrives, then use the lead for pure lead. I'm currently using a TC-50 for the job because it gets into Marshall territory, but who knows... maybe someday. 8)
Ignore the hype and trust your ears. Play more, buy less = better tone.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:08 pm

screamingdaisy wrote:To date, I've liked two Mesa combos... the 1x12 Electra Dyne and the Rectoverb:25.

[...]

The Rectoverb:25 I dig specifically because it sounds like a small, boxy combo. The way I use it is kind of like a crazy high gain Deluxe Reverb. The clean channel is run well into overdrive and the dirty channel is pretty much just for lead. Either way, not the way most people would use a Recto, but it works for me.

I think the RV:25 is helped by Mesa choosing a lighter/thinner wood for the combo. It's not as stiff as their more traditional combos, and I believe the flex in the cab helps with the overall sound.
It's definitely an intriguing amp.

I associate any amp with the words "Mesa" and "Rectifier" in its name with scooped, growling modern hard rock or metal -- sounds I don't particularly love. But the clean/surf/vintage gain I've heard on the Rectoverb demo videos sounded sweet!
At the time I owned it I more into high gain rhythm stuff and didn't really need a fat lead tone. Didn't stop me from appreciating it, just that I had no practical application for it at the time.

Now that I'm playing lead in a classic rock band I could probably make a lot of use of an LSS. Crank up the clean channel so that it overdrives, then use the lead for pure lead. I'm currently using a TC-50 for the job because it gets into Marshall territory, but who knows... maybe someday. 8)
Oh yeah, definitely. Can imagine it being ideal for your situation. I mean, if little things like money, loading/carrying, space, etc... weren't an issue of course.

///

I gotta say, we're only two rehearsals in with the LSC, but I'm starting to absolutely love the LSC's high gain rhythm sound (no pedals, not plugged into extension cab, nothin'). Only problem is... you gotta play fricken' loud to get this puppy to really open up, but when it does: wow.

In the last few months, I've run through the 90 watt Mark V and a TC-100... as with any tube amp, they sound much better when pushed, but you can still get a really nice tone out of both of them at very low volumes, even in full wattage modes. They're really remarkable for that, IMO. The LSC is a different beast in that regard. I mean, it doesn't sound terrible in 10-watt mode with the master/global volumes down, but it i doesn't sound great, either, and it's noticeably muffled and lacking in sparkle/personality.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by screamingdaisy » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:22 am

Pongo wrote:I gotta say, we're only two rehearsals in with the LSC, but I'm starting to absolutely love the LSC's high gain rhythm sound (no pedals, not plugged into extension cab, nothin'). Only problem is... you gotta play fricken' loud to get this puppy to really open up, but when it does: wow.
My Electra Dyne is like that. Kind of dark/murky at very low volumes, but opens up as the volume increases. Fortunately for me "gig volume" is typically around 9:00 on the master, which is high enough that it's opened up. I prefer running the ED in 45w mode because it cuts some low end and brings out the mids a bit more. Not sure how a LSC reacts to half power mode.
In the last few months, I've run through the 90 watt Mark V and a TC-100... as with any tube amp, they sound much better when pushed, but you can still get a really nice tone out of both of them at very low volumes, even in full wattage modes. They're really remarkable for that, IMO. The LSC is a different beast in that regard. I mean, it doesn't sound terrible in 10-watt mode with the master/global volumes down, but it i doesn't sound great, either, and it's noticeably muffled and lacking in sparkle/personality.
I think Mesa has figured out some sort of trick to get those lower volume tones to work better. Everything pre-2010 seems to be setup to function ideally when used at stage volumes. Their newer stuff seems to tolerate being turned down a lot better.
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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:07 pm

screamingdaisy wrote:Not sure how a LSC reacts to half power mode.
It loses a little thump, a little bass, a little auth-or-i-tah, and is perhaps a smidge tighter, but not a huge difference overall.

On a "normal" amp, and in rehearsal/performance settings, I'd probably use the 50 watt mode on the dirt channel and 100 on the clean for balance/headroom/ease of use reasons, but the LSC's clean channel doesn't need any sort of boost, so I've tended to just go 100/100 with full band (it. sounds. huge.), 10/10 when practicing.

To be honest, given how you have to open it up to get a great sound, it's still a bit much for a practice amp, even at 10 watts.

Speaking of... last night, I tried it with EL34s (meh) and 6V6s (epic)... you're only supposed to do 100 watts/Tweed with 6V6s (which works out to slightly less than 50 watts?), but you can get a better tone at a much lower volume this way. I really love this sound and response in an "equal but different" way compared to 6L6; have been told this makes it sound more like a LSS? Maybe this means I "need" one of each!
I think Mesa has figured out some sort of trick to get those lower volume tones to work better. Everything pre-2010 seems to be setup to function ideally when used at stage volumes. Their newer stuff seems to tolerate being turned down a lot better.
Yeah, definitely a big (and much appreciated) difference on the newer amps.

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Re: Questions for People with Both LSC and LSS Experience

Post by Pongo » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:42 pm

Well, I couldn't help myself and traded for a LSS head last week. Because why not?

Gotta say, it's one lovely amp. And like pretty much every Mesa amp I've ever played, it's one you fall in love with over a period of time, with a lot of exploration and attention to nuance.

One of the guys watching me try it out gave a seriously incredulous "what kind of idiot are you?" look over the "extreme" way I was setting the tone knobs, then proceeded to effusively compliment the tone I was getting. In my head, all I could think was "The reason this never sounded good to you before today was probably because you've been setting the tone knobs with your eyes all this time..."

Anyhow, it's definitely got its own thing going on sound-wise vs. the LSC. I've heard the LSC described as "Fender Blackface on Steroids" and the LSS as "Vox on Steroids" and that seems reasonable.

Like the the LSC, the bass can feel flubby until you start pushing it; unlike the LSC you push a lot earlier, which is definitely helpful where eardrums, roommates, etc. are involved. This is probably the main reason it usually sounds tighter in home-recorded demos.

Used it at a 4-musician rehearsal on Thursday; was more than enough @ 30 watts, despite the drummer being in an unusually rowdy mood. I'd wouldn't want to rely on it by itself outside of small groups and venues, however.

Looks like I ended up answering my own question ;-)

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