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percieved tone, and actual tone #1499166
08/10/05 08:59 PM
08/10/05 08:59 PM
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Gifthorse Offline OP
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I went over to this amp maker's house the other day named Bruce Egnator. He was a very nice guy and he had another partner named Frank that was also informative. Anyways, we were talking about a million different things and I brought up EVH tone on VH I.

I said I thought that alot of amp manufacturers like Mojave for instance are going after the VH 1 tone to market their amps, but that they really don't sound like EVH because they have way too much gain. He brought up and interesting point.

There is actual tone and percieved tone from amps. People percieve that Eddie has tons of gain when he plays because it sounds like he does. In actuality, I believe if alot of people played through the same rig he played through in 78', they would realize he doesn't have as much distortion as you would think, and I doubt his amp was 'easy' to play through (you know soupy and compressed, hides mistakes)

We recorded this song called 'Destination' on our myspace website. In the middle I originally recorded a cool lindsey buckinham type fingerstyle solo, but my singer said it sounded too bluegrassy so I layed down a distorted 'rocklord' type solo. Personally I don't care for the solo, but I wanted to add that the tone I was playing through wasn't that distorted. It is crazy actually, it sounds super distorted with alot of headroom but it actually was the class A clean side of a Mesa Boogie Duel Rec cranked to 10. I actually blew out a fuse and a power tube while I was recording. The tone percieved sounds easy to play through with tons of saturation, but the actual tone isn't like this. I think this phenomenon permeates rock music. I think there are alot of guitar tones out there that are percieved to have more distortion than they do.

Any comments on this crazy idea?
`

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Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499167
08/10/05 09:04 PM
08/10/05 09:04 PM
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Twangtown, USA
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I agree. Another case in point are Angus & Malcom with ACDC. Their guitars sound huge and, at least to my ears, I always "perceive" a bunch of distortion.

They are really not that distorted at all.


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Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499168
08/10/05 09:24 PM
08/10/05 09:24 PM
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Randy Rhoads was another guy who used less gain than everyone seems to think. Jimmy Page too - his sounds were actually kind of small and thin (he was making room for the drums) and every band I hear playing Zep tunes uses way more gain than he ever did.

The perceived amount of distortion/overdrive may be tied into how loud the guitar is in the mix. "Bigness" = an impression of high gain. The guitars on records by Van Halen, AC/DC, Sabbath, etc. are really loud (and were probably recorded at ear splitting levels). To get a similar effect at a lower volume, you need more gain.

Must have been neat meeting Egnater. Interestingly enough, he is responsible for some very high gain amplifiers.


"You never can vouch for your own consciousness." - Norman Mailer
Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499169
08/10/05 09:49 PM
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Yeah that is a good example, but they really don't sound too distorted to me, they just have a shitload of headroom.

When I listen to EVH live from liek 78' it doesn't sound like his amp is as distorted as you might think. It sounds like one of those tones where you have to be very accurate with everything you do. Thats why he sounds so great, cuz you can hear every little thing, there is no masking compressed distortion.

I think Steve Vai is like this too. On Passion and Warfare, and alot of Roth stuff, he really doesn't sound like he has that much distortion. He is a very accurate player and he really doesn't need much gain. I remember that song Yankee Rose. He sounds like this and then at the end of the song he comes in with alot of distortion and plays the closing licks, but for most of the stuff on that album he doesn't sound that distorted. When he uses alot it doesn't sound as Vai-ish.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499170
08/11/05 12:32 AM
08/11/05 12:32 AM
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i know what you guys mean. if some guitar player goes to play an acdc riff it is always distorted and doesn't sound right to me. part of thier tone is malcom pounding on a set of 12s with a wound third.
i suspect angus uses a much lighter set for those spanky tones but it is still a marshall with volume not distortion that gives them the tone.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499171
08/11/05 12:34 AM
08/11/05 12:34 AM
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3rd Rock from the Sun
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Zan,

That new avatar is almost scary!!!

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499172
08/11/05 01:16 AM
08/11/05 01:16 AM
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The Shield's Edge, Canada
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The original character of any tone is immediately impaired by the combination of any additional sound. Headroom's a perfect expression of what tends to be expanded ambient frequencies and at times a swelling or limitless sense of high end edge.

It is interesting in that this isn't what's immediately emanating from the guitar's cabinets.

I'm just guessing (never having established this effect to any discernible degree) having a huge PA with waves of sound swirling about a bunch of mic'd amps helps influence this.


I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.
Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499173
08/11/05 01:58 AM
08/11/05 01:58 AM
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Royal Oak
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Quote:
The perceived amount of distortion/overdrive may be tied into how loud the guitar is in the mix. "Bigness" = an impression of high gain. The guitars on records by Van Halen, AC/DC, Sabbath, etc. are really loud (and were probably recorded at ear splitting levels). To get a similar effect at a lower volume, you need more gain.
I think with VH the drums are just as present. Alex is as big or bigger than Eddie, with the old stuff. You know, those guys are recording in the best studios with the best engineers and producers. That is huge too. I think distortion compresses you thats why Alex sounds huge now and Eddie sounds like a mosquito in a shoebox. I don't really know about tone too much tho. I don't think you can unless you play and record with a bunch of stuff. I haven't tried too many amps out.

I have learned but I am no expert.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499174
08/11/05 01:59 AM
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Sorry, ACDC too, they are using the best engineers etc. I know they don't use much gain. That is cool. I like the old stuff better than the newer stuff. Angus is a badass.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499175
08/11/05 11:20 AM
08/11/05 11:20 AM
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St. Louis MO
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If I may butt in...

How would you describe the tone Dave Gilmour used on Young Lust.


When i get big i'm gonn'a get an electric guitar...
When i get real big...
Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499176
08/11/05 08:22 PM
08/11/05 08:22 PM
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Die Land Of Cheese Und Bier
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Great thread...

I've been pondering this a lot lately. PPL mention AC/DC and Sabbath. Listen carefully to the solos in Back In Black- the guitar is almost completely clean! I've always dug Iommi's "crusty" guitar sound, but Geezer would often distort his bass too, and the two together would kind of meld together and sound like a swamp log fitted with mohair.

Something i've noted, is that a lot of times a recording of a guitar turns out sounding more distorted than what it actually is. I'm sure there's some serious mojo on why it turns out that way, and i bet Phil O'Keefe could explain it till the cows learn to drive.
Maybe all the kids 'perceive' this 'elevated' level of distortion and they're tuning their amps to match whats coming out of the speakers of their cheap ass stereos, or headphones (which distort even more) and in the process a lot of the real body and 'girth' of the sound gets affected. In a negative way.

Another thing to consider (when referring to recorded works) is that guitar parts are often doubled, harmonized, panned and poisoned with a shit-ton of effects. Even just pure guitar (clean, no distortion) laid on top of pure guitar (clean, no distortion) can turn out an infinite number of ways, depending on if they're eq'd the same, differently, how far apart they're panned, how close they are in level, etc. Adding distortion(s) adds possibilities exponentially.

In my amateurish toying with a 4-track at home, the general rule i find is that 2 guitars with low amounts of distortion played on top of each other sound bigger, fatter, clearer and cleaner than singly. 2 guitars with higher amounts of distortion sound thinner with single-note stuff and chords sound more wispy and hissy (read: more distorted) and less clear. Of course there's a million variables and eq'ing and panning changes everything. (I've often spent a rainy afternoon just recording stuff so i can play with the mix).

Distortion is a really fascinating thing- all the many types and ways to do it, and its effects on instruments and voices and things. I'll probably contemplate it till the end of my days \:D


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Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499177
08/11/05 08:25 PM
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Oh, and i forgot to add... Solid State amps require more distortion to sound 'good' than Tube amps, as a general rule, IMHO....

The main thing is that hard, spiked edge on the beginning of the notes right when it's first picked. Usually i have 'enough' distortion when that goes away, but with some amps or guitars or setups that has taken a LOT of gain to do.


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Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499178
08/12/05 05:54 PM
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I always thought that when an amp is really cranked up, the result is SUSTAIN and that amps with mulitple gain stages are trying to reproduce that effect at lower volumes.

To me, the ultimate tone has gobs of controllable sustain where the notes sing and soar above any perceived distortion.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499179
08/12/05 10:31 PM
08/12/05 10:31 PM
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Royal Oak
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Quote:
I always thought that when an amp is really cranked up, the result is SUSTAIN and that amps with mulitple gain stages are trying to reproduce that effect at lower volumes.

To me, the ultimate tone has gobs of controllable sustain where the notes sing and soar above any perceived distortion.
I agree 100%

Thats why I want to pick up a Peavey VTM 60 and retube it. That amp was really cool and versatile. You could get alot of great tones from it from clean, to blues to heavy. I remember I ran a power brake on a Marshall 100 watt plexi reissue and I swear it sounded JUST like a VTM. Quite an unforgiving tone. If you screw up EVERYONE hears it. Difficult to play through, makes you work for your tone. It also, for the amount of gain it has, was extremely quiet. You could turn both gain stages off and just crank the thing up and it got that sustain you were talking about without gain. Almost like a Marshall.

EVH used it as a building block for the 5150. The VTM was supposed to represent his plexi tone and then he wanted to mix that with a Soldano (god those sound way too compressed for me)---5150 born.

VTM is one of those amps you either love or hate. The first time I played through it I hated it. Then my buddy who has incredible hands for tone plugged in and it sounded incredible. Another example of percieved tone vs real tone. It is really a 'real tone' but when you hear someone playing through it who has natural tone the percieved tone is very thunky and thick with tons of headroom. When you play through it, if you don't have really good technique and accurate playing it will feel unforgiving and buzzy.

I know I am going crazy about this amp but it is one of the coolest amps I have ever owned. I never even retubed it. It makes me wonder what one would sound like with JJ tubes in it!! wow.

It is a potentially a very high gain amp, but the gain sounds very good micd if you set it up right. It cuts through and sounds bigger in a mix than a 5150 or a XXX from what I have heard. But it isn't candy coated so most players would be turned off by it.

I think today's guitar players tend to me more spoiled. They have to do less and less work with more and more soupy gain..

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499180
08/13/05 02:29 PM
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i think i would like it. i apreciate a clear tone taht isn't over gained.

Re: percieved tone, and actual tone #1499181
08/14/05 12:32 AM
08/14/05 12:32 AM
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Well the nature of the VTM isn't defined because it has the 'response modifications'.

Those are the little switches in the middle of it. You can get a shit load of distortion and compression, or you can clean it up so it is more clipping. It has a strange feel and tone but it has tons of balls and headroom. Takes some getting used to because most high gain amps now are so easy to play through. This one has more low end sizzle. It is really neutral sounding, meaning you can control it with your playing more than alot of amps. I still think it is weird how quiet it is. The low end sounds a bit buzzy, but if you turn the gain down low when you record it translates as having balls. It is a very interesting different amp that represents well recorded if you do it right.

It can make a bad impression quickly tho. I mean someone who is used to playing through a 5150 or a XXX, duel rec, would plug into this and think it was muddy and shitty. I can't describe it because it is one of the weirdest tones I have played through. It has total ground connection with the right cabinet. I want to use it for leads, and some rythmn. For leads it has a similar headroom to a Marshall, providing you don't use the compression or both gain stages (both of them together sound horrible). Personally I don't use any gain stages, but if I were after a heavy sound I would turn on the second one. I could sell it to you I think. I mean if I demoed it for you, it totally can sound like old VH without that annoying compressed tone the 5150 has, but it makes you realize that he was WORKING for his tone, or PLAYING GUITAR, not on a water slide like most of the high gain amps now, it isn't easy.

After reading about the new Peavey Penta, I am thinking it is kind of like a modern VTM. Who knows if it is good, nobody sells Peavey here with GC. If GC did sell Peavey, it would screw over a bunch of other companies cuz Peavey makes some good stuff and it is usually a bit cheaper than the competition.

The precursor to the VTM was the Peavey Butcher. I thought this was Peavey's first 'real' amp. It came out in 85' I believe. It was trying to be like a cheaper Marshall jcm 800. It has a very natural rock tone to it but I haven't heard one in years. No effex loop.


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