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Christopher Lees

Need Advice on Gigging Amps

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I've joined a Zeppelin cover band and never played out before (just once and it was with this band) and I need some advice on which amps to use and any other general advice from you more experienced gigging Zeppelin guitar players.

All my life I played tube amps and one thing I like about them is that if you set it to a certain volume, but turn your guitar down or play really quietly, you get a clean/pretty clean sound, but then if you change your pick attack or turn up the volume, you get the necessary distortion. Digital effects processors always struggled with this. When using them, if you were on an overdrive setting but turned your guitar down, instead of getting a clean sound you got  a sort of fizzy sound. I have to admit, from the experimentation I've done lately, the digital processors have come a long way and I'm actually able to sound like I'm playing on a tube amp, getting clean tones with light pick attack/low volume and breakup without the fizz with aggressive pick attack/higher volume.  I'm bringing this up to see if you guys recommend using an Ax Fx pedal in combination with  4x12 cabinet or something.

Or, should I just pick up a Marshall head and a 4x12 cabinet?

Here's the thing about Marshalls that I want some advice on. In my experience, when I've played Marshalls in the past, they really only sounded good cranked up. Jimmy got a lot of his tones with the suckers cranked. My problem is that if I get a 100 watt head and a 4x12 cab, I won't be able to crank it in a pub. It will be way too loud.

One more thing: What I'm trying to do, mostly (with a few exceptions) is to replicate as closely as possible the guitar tones as recorded on the albums, rather than Jimmy's live tone. This is why I'm thinking about getting the Ax Fx. A few years ago I read that one of the guitarists for Get the Led Out uses the Ax Fx and to my ears, they sounded right on.

Recommendations?

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Hey ! 

Im a working musician, and I of course play Zep tunes! And I have an outside the box suggestion.

you don’t need a Marshall stack, at all.  Or any stack for that matter.  

I use a little amp called a Quilter Aviator.  These Quilter amps are SICK.  They are small, lightweight, compact, but pack an absolute monstrous punch.  Check out their line of amps, you could score a sweet combo amp that I guarantee will kick their ass.  Here is little video of my band playing large outdoor amphitheater.  Youll hear Kashmir in there.  This is coming from an 8” speaker on a 20w amp, running a direct line into house PA. 

Quilter.  

 

 

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http://www.rockittretro.com

 

image.png.4a60503e62dc263bc987c344e64e0eef.png

Hand wired, half the price of a Marshall Plexi. Master volume, add $100.

Tell him not to put the name plate on it & buy a Marshall logo from Ebay for $10. LOL

 

It'll take a couple months, it's a one dude operation. Actually, the whole thing is hand built.

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Guys, thank you so much for your recommendations! I really appreciate them. Such interesting suggestions too!

12 hours ago, Stryder1978 said:

Have you tried a 50 watt Marshall head?  I've found it's perfect for clubs.

Which one are you using exactly? Are you able to crank it? What kind of cab? Is this all you're playing through, or do you run it to the PA too? Sorry for so many rapid fire questions, but I've got to get my shit together! lol

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I have a 50 watt 1976 Marshall MK2 Master Model.  At the beginning of a gig, I had the volume at about 6, by the end it was cranked to 8.  Combined with a Boss over drive pedal and run through the PA, I was very happy with the tone.  Also, it's played through a 4x12 Marshall slant cabinet.  Only changed the tubes twice since I got it back in 1982.

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11 hours ago, Stryder1978 said:

Combined with a Boss over drive pedal and run through the PA, I was very happy with the tone.

If you don't run it through the PA as well, it's still plenty loud enough for a pub? I'm thinking of picking up a 50 watt head anyways and your comment is sort of validating this for me. I was wondering why you use the overdrive pedal when you could just turn up the gain on the head. Any insight you can share on that?

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13 hours ago, Christopher Lees said:

If you don't run it through the PA as well, it's still plenty loud enough for a pub? I'm thinking of picking up a 50 watt head anyways and your comment is sort of validating this for me. I was wondering why you use the overdrive pedal when you could just turn up the gain on the head. Any insight you can share on that?

The OD pedal just acts like a boost, sometimes you want that “extra push over the cliff” as it were 

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I'm never comfortable putting the "pedal to the metal" on anything I own whether it be my car or my Marshall.  bluecongo is correct....rather than pushing the amp to "10" and risk blowing it with no back-up amp (other than my Fender Princeton Reverb which is NOT loud enough), use the overdrive pedal to push it to "11" when needed.

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Obviously $$$$ makes some decisions for you. Must say those QUilters are damn good and pretty versatile, and the much

lower weight than 80% of all tube amps stops that dreaded journey from the car to the inside of the venue knowing that you're  maybe counting how many gigs before the amp is "distressed". On the bulky but not too costly side is  the Blackstar

40-50 watt combos, very versatile. Look, gear is important, but I've seen Strat Players rock Zep, and unprepared Les Paul

Players with Marshall Stacks not sound anything like Page. This my be redundant, but find 10 Zep studio songs without

very difficult solos( Living Loving Maid, Tangerine,,Celebration Day,, D'yer Ma'ker) not fast, no crazy bending. As mentioned

earlier, do not get overly obsessive about  Marshall's. Also, don't be fooled by the Supro reissues, they tend to be one trick

pony's  with a  pretty limited sonic palette  They can sort of do Zep l and Zep ll. Learn 10 of Jimmy's studio solo's first, Then

worry about fine tuning of amp tone. If you listen closely, Jimmy is fond of emphasizing the upper mids

in many solos. Partially meaning parts of his solos could be knocked out on a $80 solid state amp with a 8" speaker. But that's the solo's, other sections of a song, Page uses all sorts of sounds from A to Z. One more tip; Never buy a tube amp

online, end of story, unless you're a certified "amp tech" or you learned how to read basic and advanced electronic schematics by age 6.

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Well, seeing how you're taking about Marshall half stacks, & AxeFX systems it sounds like you've got plenty of cash to throw at this?

That being said, I'll suggest another approach. Get yourself a Fender Super Reverb (or any good tube amp with a really great clean to slightly crunchy tone) and a bunch of top quality analogue overdrive pedals. That would be my preferred method if I was aiming at all the studio tones, as you say you are.

For the pedals I personally use a couple of Pete Cornish drives, a SS3 and a G2, for lighter & heavier situations respectively. They're expensive, but totally worth it (I haven't changed my rig for nearly 15 years using these). Alternatively the other guitarist in my band uses a Carl Martin Plexitone (the big 3 button one) through a Marshall JTM45. That's also a great setup - you can't really tell where the amp ends & the pedal begins.

Finally, for a tribute band, you need one of these for the LZII tones : https://drrobertpedal.com/

Hope that gives you a couple of ideas?

 

:)

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I want to thank everyone for their valuable input. I've always played through combo amps and I know how to work them pretty good to get the sound I want, but playing gigs is a new thing for me and I've never worked with a head and cab before, and I've never used pedals because my combos have all the digital effects already (except back in 1989, I picked up the Digitech GSP 5 multi-effects digital processor.)

Guys, I picked up a 1977 50 watt Marshall MK2 and a B52 4x12 cab. I wanted a Marshall cab but my next gig is coming right up and I needed something fast. The amp sounds okay, but it's very clean. I cranked the pre amp to 10 and put the volume at about 3. It was pretty clean indeed. I cranked the volume up to 7 or 8 and it got a bit dirtier, which was nice, but much cleaner than I expected. It's got no reverb. Just high, med, low, pre amp, master volume and presence, but the presence hardly does anything. I don't know if it really works or not.

I came to realize I'm going to need some pedals, so I picked up a Twin Bender from Ramble Fx (a Tone Bender copy) for my fuzz. I tried it through my little Fender Blues Jr. tonight and it was kinda cool, but I couldn't really nail the Communication Breakdown tone, but then again I was using my Les Paul. Still, I could hear the classic fuzz tone almost doing its thing when I played the Dazed riff and The Girl I love. I used it for about 2 hours, playing with the attack level, the selector for "fat", "stock" and "mids", the bias and my amp's eq. I almost got WLL but not quite. Not good enough.
 

On 4/30/2019 at 10:48 AM, huw said:

Finally, for a tribute band, you need one of these for the LZII tones : https://drrobertpedal.com/

Thanks for the great tip!

I wonder if you guys have any input about the following pedals, which I selected based on a bunch of research.

Tone Bender Fuzz
Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret
JHS-Crayon
Xotic SL Drive 
Boss RV-3 Reverb
Catalinbread EchoRec Echo
Fulltone OCD Drive
Boss CE-2 Chorus

You can find these recommended at https://reverb.com/news/nailing-it-achieving-the-tones-of-jimmy-page

 

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On 4/29/2019 at 6:20 PM, Mithril46 said:

Look, gear is important, but I've seen Strat Players rock Zep, and unprepared Les Paul

Players with Marshall Stacks not sound anything like Page.

I can attest to this myself. I played a rehearsal with my Strat when my LP was in the shop. The Strat performed wonderfully as far as tone goes. I listened to the recordings (we record rehearsals) in my car afterward and I couldn't tell it was my Strat! I was using it through a little Fender GDec 30 watt amp and placed the recording mic just right, getting a monster tone on record. I get a monster tone from that little Gdec when I run it through the PA, but it's time for me to step it up a notch and get a real rig together.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/29/2019 at 1:21 PM, Stryder1978 said:

I'm never comfortable putting the "pedal to the metal" on anything I own whether it be my car or my Marshall.  bluecongo is correct....rather than pushing the amp to "10" and risk blowing it with no back-up amp (other than my Fender Princeton Reverb which is NOT loud enough), use the overdrive pedal to push it to "11" when needed.

I thought Jimmy cranked it to 10. The only reason I didn't was because it was almost too loud already in the rehearsal space. Glad you mentioned this. I put my pre amp to 10. Where do you put the Master? And where are you and the others setting your lows, mids and highs for songs like, say, The Ocean, WLL, CB, Dazed and so forth?

EDIT: I see that in your earlier comment you said you start with the Master at about 6 and then it goes up to about 8 near the later part of the show. We have almost the same amp except mine's a 77.
 

Edited by Christopher Lees

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Boy, trying to get someone else's guitar-amp setup to approximate Page's sound and tone, whew !?!? I guess something

could be arranged with a cellphone/webcam, etc. But what Blue Congo suggested is a well-known and not troublesome

way to get louder or get more gain(distortion) without losing your basic rhythm or riff sound. Hence master volume

stays the same. One thing I must mention, live , Jimmy tended to adjust his tone and volume knobs for dramatic effect,

not so much for subtle shadings. Like in "Sick Again", The E-G-A riff before the guitar solo sounds like it could well be the bridge pickup with tone-6-9 and volume the same, but then for the solo the neck pu tone 2-4 volume 6-9. I don't want to make things too complicated, but if you watch Santana play, he is literally adjusting the tone+ volume 24/7, and you can only hear the mildest change in sound. One more thing; some players almost never change pickups, but instead do a lot of

muting and picking almost anywhere to get the desired mellowness or sharpness Hope I didn't confuse you.

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You think Page's tone is tough...try duplicating Blackmore's live tone from 1974!

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