Higher gain vs. boosted input levels - same results?

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DarthWombat
Bottle Rocket
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Location: Australia

Higher gain vs. boosted input levels - same results?

Post by DarthWombat » Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:07 am

G'day all...

After a couple of weeks, I am loving the whole Transatlantic experience. My TA-30 is the best bit of kit I've picked up in a long time, and I think we are bonding well.

Having spent the last decade with digital modelling, I love the variety of awesome real-valve tones I can wring out of the Transatlantic. About the only thing I miss is the convenience of switching instantly between radically different setups. Being a techie kinda guy, I've set my mind to having my cake and eating it too.

I was talking to my local authorised Mesa tech last week, and one of the things we discussed was the possibility of using my multi-effect unit in a four-wire setup with my TA-30 to set up patches with different input levels to achieve different levels of drive, with the higher preamp output level compensated in the effect loop. I figured I could do that to get some distinctly different tones out of the same channel with the convenience of a simple patch selection. I'm already using my GT-8 to channel switch the TA-30.

John, the Mesa tech, said that the higher input levels are pretty much equivalent to elevated gain levels in terms of how the preamp is overdriven. My early experiments with a Tube Screamer or clean booster in front of the amp would appear to bear this out. John also said that the tone controls are before the preamp, so I might be able to do some tone shaping using the in-effect EQ before the amp instead of twiddling the tone knobs. I see many happy hours of experimentation ahead.

For example, The Voxy side of the amp does lovely bright clean tones, but I also love the sizzle I get when I overdrive the top-boosted sound. Similarly, the Tweed cleans are lovely and warm at lower gain, but it delivers a nice snarl when pushed. I guess I just want it all.

Has anybody else experimented with this kind of setup with external level & tone mods? Am I onto something or am I wasting my time? Is this heresy?

Now, if I could only work out how to foot-switch between Tweed, H1 & H2...

Thanks in anticipation,

Alex.

gag halfrunt
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Re: Higher gain vs. boosted input levels - same results?

Post by gag halfrunt » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:07 am

Hi Alex,

I am about to do the same thing you are. I have a POD HD500X that I am going to use in 4 cable method with my Mark V combo. I will run other dirt pedals (like the OCD) in the FX loop of the POD in order to goose the front end of the Mark V. I'll probably do that this weekend with several dirt pedals.
Mark V combo, Mark V:25 Head
PRS Singlecuts and McRosies


Partial list of former amps: Bogner Shiva 20th, Diezel Herbert, Diezel Hagen, EVH 5153, Engl Powerball II, Randall Diavlo, Friedman JMP, Voodoo JVM, Fortin JCM800, ElectraDyne.

DarthWombat
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Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:50 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Higher gain vs. boosted input levels - same results?

Post by DarthWombat » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:10 pm

gag halfrunt wrote:Hi Alex,

I am about to do the same thing you are. I have a POD HD500X that I am going to use in 4 cable method with my Mark V combo. I will run other dirt pedals (like the OCD) in the FX loop of the POD in order to goose the front end of the Mark V. I'll probably do that this weekend with several dirt pedals.
Cool - let me know how you get on. The tricky bit was getting the levels right and effectively using both the effects unit and the amp each in two halves: i.e. the amp as separate preamp and power stages, and the effect box with before-preamp (e.g. overdrive) and after-preamp (e.g. delay) effect groups.

The way I did it was to get the amp set up clean but on the verge of breakup (i.e. no compression) in both channels with just the guitar. Then I set up the "front" section of the effects box (with no effects inline) so that the effect box loop send connected to the amp front input was at the same level as the guitar on its own, and also so that the final effect box output (without the loop) was the same. After that, I connected the amp loop send to the effect box loop return, and the effect box out out to the amp loop return, making sure the levels didn't change. Stop me if I'm teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs, but I had to work it out on my own. :)

My local Mesa tech said I did things right. Once you've got the signal levels so that you can bypass the amp loop in each channel, or bypass the effect box loop, and not change the final output level, you can then start playing with boosting the effect box send level to overdrive the preamp. I have found some choice tones so far - I particularly like my Strat neck pickup into the a tube screamer overdriving the top boosted Vox side. The TA-30 reverb sounds great, but I get more control by using the digital effect. The valve power stage rounds out the sound nicely, and I'm perfectly happy without any power-stage clip.

My Pod HD-500 (no X) didn't have an amp control switch for channel selection like my ancient Boss GT-8 did, but I think it had everything else. I think I totally freaked my guitar teacher out with the complexity of my four-wire hybrid digital setup - she's a straight-up guitar-into-pedal-into-amp kinda gal. Like I said, I'm loving the results so far, though - my TA-30 just sings!

I hope all this helps, anyway.

Cheers,

Alex.

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