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Small amp big sound

Discussion in 'Recording' started by tundrkys, Feb 28, 2002.

  1. tundrkys

    tundrkys Guest

    I have heard again and again that you can get a big sound out of a small amp. I don't really understand how this is possible, and was wondering if someone could expain this phenomenon.
    I am after a Guns&Roses (Appetite for destruction) kind of sound. Or a Lynyrd Skynyrd (That Smell) sound. Can I get this with a fender champ or little danelectr?
  2. I hear the champ is great through another speaker cabinet.
    I love my li'l Gibson Goldtone, 6 or 15 watts switchable, Class A. Crank it up with a Les Paul and it sounds huge, but is only too loud, not way way too loud.
    I've made it sound like two or three of Jimi Hendrix's souped-up Marshall stacks, with an inspired player and a couple distance mics and a close mic in a live room with a high ceiling. Actually that last one required a preamp before the Goldtone to get the requisite gain from the Strat. Not necessary with the Les Paul.
    So yes it's possible, and a big room helps a lot to get a big sound, but not a requirement.
    If you want the sound of a close-backed cabinet like a Marshall, some proximity effect from a cardioid close mic can help, and of course closing the back of the cabinet works too.
  3. Oh, and a brief explanation of the phenomenon:
    Big amps cranked flat out get power amp distortion and often speaker distortion. A small amp cranked flat out also gets power amp distortion and if a suitably rated celestion is used, some speaker distortion too.
    A big amp won't get the power amp and speaker distortion unless it's cranked.
    So, at a bearable volume, a little amp can sound bigger than a big amp.
  4. tundrkys

    tundrkys Guest

    So you say a big room is helpful, but not neccessary, What about mics?
    Can I achieve that big sound with one sm57, or will I need to add another mic backed off somewhere. Would a third and fourth mike add to the big effect?
    On the champ, isn't that solid state? would I need to get a tube mic pre? Or would a nice plug in be appropriate?
  5. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    The '57 is okay. M-88 or MD-421 are better for this use if you have one. Small-room sounds are sometimes useful on guitars, like fuzzed out dream pop stuff, say, but you want the small amp to ring out as big as possible, so go with the small amp. I wouldn't mess with more than one extra mic unless I was in a mood to hunt down whatever combfiltering gremlins they introduce.

    When people talk about a Fender Champ, they mean the tube models with a single 6V6 output tube. The whole Layla album was nothing but Champ, so that should give you an idea that they don't suck. The stock 8" speaker would be the limiting factor for you. I find it's fine for getting a sound that cuts in a mix, but you would probably be better using it through a 412 cab. If you don't have a tube mic preamp, don't buy the cheap ones with one starved-plate tube which is only cosmetic because of some perceived failure in not having a tube preamp, since these things suck.

  6. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    I use a Marshall 4001, aka "Studio 15". It's a 18 watt 1x12 combo, 2 6V6's, (the only Marshall to ever use these tubes) built in attenuator, 12" Celestion Vintage 30 speaker, master volume...It's very cool!

    Here is some dudes Studio 15 page you can check out: http://cobalt.amlitho.com/marshall/

  7. bradz

    bradz Guest

    Check out Emery Sound amps. emerysound.com Totally hand built little beauties. Nothing but Volume and Tone knobs, and switchable tubes, a very minimalist approach.

    I just got my hands on a Superbaby which is 8 watts, switchable down to four, and has Preamp, Rectifier and Output tubes. There's even a kit full of various tubes to interchange for all three locations. The tone was very full, and the growl produced at higher volume settings was pretty badass. I've only been playing with it for a day or so, so I'm still in the honeymoon phase, but my guitar sounds definately improved instantly.
  8. droog

    droog Active Member

    i own a 50 yr old all-valve airline amp, that gives me the sweetest tone with my old maton electric (at a bearable volume)

    think of it that way, the microphone is right against the grill, as far as it's concerned the little amp is the size of a building
  9. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member

    Has anyone tried the Electar Tube 10? I've heard a few people speak well of it as a "cheap dirty amp".

    I have a mid '70s Champ. I'd rather have a VibraChamp but this is nice for clean sounds. Some Telecaster players have commented that its "^#$%ing bright" and I concur.

    The Pignose can make good dirty sounds. Its also small enough to swing from a rope for excellent "Doppler effects".

    The Smokey can be fun too. Same pendulum qualities as the Pignose plus, you can use it as a kind of "Rube Goldberg Talkbox". Always worth trying through a cabinet.
  10. Champs + external speakers and ribbon mics = pretty large sound!!! :tu:
  11. Gee, that Emery thing sounds cool. 8 watts! Yes! But after 6 watts it might be a little much! :p
    The shortcoming of the Goldtone is that the spring reverb is driven by solid state circuitry, so it doesn't get the "classic" reverb tone. It's more lush and less twangy. I have a nice biggish live room, so mixed with the room reverb it sounds good. I always give the amp some room to breathe.
    Does that Emery have a reverb? What's it like?
    I like that the Goldtone is capable (with a Les Paul) of a huge amount of gain, which sounds hendrixier and hendrixier rather than ever really saturating into something blander.
    I gotta get an old Champ while they're still affordable. Groovy how one tube does it all, rather than the push pull thing (which is, however, how all the big amps do it).
  12. faganking

    faganking Member

    I have prefered using a 'Danelectro Nifty Fifty' over larger/loud amps for the past two years. With a Royer ribbon mic up against the grill you can achieve a very large, in your face sound. If you want the 80's, so to speak, sound with more room...this is what we always did (Steve Lukather, for example). Assuming the little amp is on a chair: place a large diaphragm condenser mic about four or five feet in front of the cabinet, waist high, in OMNI. Have the Royer or 57 shoved into the grill cloth. Now, bring up the omni mic ONLY. Let yourself acclimate to the sound for a moment. Then bring up the close mic to taste. Badda-bing.
  13. crazy_guitar

    crazy_guitar Member

    Well the other day I was experimenting, and I decided to close mic a little mini-twin (2watt?) amp (the ones that look like a toy, solid state). I put a condensor right in front of the little speaker, and to my surprise, it sounded huge and fuzzy. It's one of the most interesting sounds I've ever gotten. But it only works if you are going for a classic tube breaking sound. It's funny to see peoples reactions when I tell them how I got that sound.
    happy miking
  14. bradz

    bradz Guest

    The Emery Amp, known as the "Superbaby" has no reverb. All it's got for controls is Volume and a roll off dila for either bass or treble rolloff, and that dial is switchable, so as to be removed from the signal path. So far, I haven't felt the need for any more tonal sculpting than the rolloff provides, as it seems to just "get it right".

    The meat of the tone comes from the three tubes. I haven't swapped any of mine around yet, as I'm still diggin the one that came with it.

    It's definately a minimalist approach, but I have never heard any of my guitars sound so solid and full.

    I bet that Demeter spring verb tank used on a Superbaby track would be superbad. Anyone heard that thing?
  15. spratz

    spratz Guest

    Did a tracking session last weekend and we got a great 70's tone off a small amp. It was a fender (american) strat into a fender Blues Jr. He also had a boss overdrive pedal for some extra edge when needed. We put an M-88 on it turned it up and let it go. The room was a large (old chapel) practice space for the Music Department. A great live room overall. We tracked drums, bass, and two guitars at the same time. I think that the bleed and the room helped with the overall sound. He had great tone on a couple different tracks!
  16. "The Emery Amp, known as the "Superbaby" has no reverb. All it's got for controls is Volume and a roll off dila for either bass or treble rolloff, and that dial is switchable, so as to be removed from the signal path."

    How totally cool! I've long thought of putting a bypass switch on the tone control of the Goldtone. I got what I need on the guitar itself.
  17. tundrkys

    tundrkys Guest

    Just thought I would bump this. I am liking the discussion, keep it up.
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The first Led Zeppelin record was cut using a small Fender amp, a champ or a Deluxe.. I can't remember which. I have a theory that a small speaker works better for a distortion type sound due to the ratio of size between the speaker and the mic element.. just a crazy idea that popped up in my addled brain .... Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Small IS Large....around here, we use a couple of different things and always get the large guitar sound without deafening either us or the neighbors....oh yeah...no neighbors..but still, big sounds reside in each little amp...i personally have recorded a LOT of tracks with a 50watt plexi on 11 and other such stuff...yes very big sound...yes very loud in the room...yes very necessary to find really good isolation headphones just to hear myself...now, i use a fender blues jr..15 watts...a pair of el84's for power and the standard fender tube front end...sounds kinda like a cross between a top-boost ac-15 and an old vibro-verb...theres a master and a channel volume so it'll break up to taste...if you want darker tone you back it up to a gobo and angle your mike a bit...great little amp and seriously LOUD for 15 watts...the other is a modified 1970 princeton reverb...the toob doctor (my bassist) has added a mid-range to it...its now a blackface deluxe with only 12 wattsinstead of 20..and he made it so it can be removed and put back stock without defacing the collectability of the amp...then theres the rex...gold anodized chassis(think marshall) volume,tone,on/off,8" speaker,no transformer, the output is the power toob...4 watts, sounds like a marshall if you close your eyes and listen on the big speakers....made in 1950....very portable...sometimes i'll put one of the little amps in a gobo'd 'box'...close it in with a mike inside nd turn it up to 11...that makes a big sound and different shapes of the box give different response curves....enough....peace :w:
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    oh yeah....P.S. most of billy gibbons' "brown sound" is an old tweed champ...it helps to have 'pearly gates' too.........

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