Need Brown Sound in a 2x12 + some versatility | Warehouse Guitar Speakers

Need Brown Sound in a 2x12 + some versatility

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02/08/2018 2:59am

Hey now.
Planning a custom 2061cx-type of diagonal 2x12 cabinet. I spend most of my fun time messing around with early Van Halen songs, and that tone is the only specific tone I need to nail. The rest of my time is with other 80s metal, and then Fender-ish and Vox-ish cleans, some mid-overdrive blues, etc. I also LOVE the sound of The Doug & Pat Show's 1964 Vox SRT with their vintage Les Pauls.

So, is there anything that would work for me without too much compromise?

I'm not gigging, and my usage will be LOW volumes in my apartment, at least for the next year or so. Not sure of the amp yet, but most likely either the new Marshall DSL20 or Origin 20 or Boss Katana heads.

Is there anything else you'd need to know? Guitars will be an HSS Strat with SD JB bridge and Custom Shop 68s, and a Les Paul with Classic 57s, followed by a Warmoth custom with an EVH Frankenstein at some point later this year.

I've read early EVH was recorded with two Greenbacks and two JBLs, but is it wise or effective to mix one of each speaker in a 2x12? Is it preferable to have lower watt-handling speakers since I'm not going to be playing loud, so they're pushed more?

Thanks in advance.....

02/09/2018 8:15pm

AFAIK, there is no problem mixing JBL's and any speaker in the same cab. JBL's don't have much cone or dust cap resonance to speak of, so there shouldn't be significant mutual cancellations either. The JBL D120 is a more efficient speaker than a GB. It will at least have more bass, but the upper-mid peaks of the GB might stick out a bit if placed on top, which is how I heard EVH had them. The smooth cone D120 range had a deep tight punch and broad bell-like upper-mid quality heard in many 70's rock recordings. Keep in mind that the sound you'll hear from the cab is not what we hear in early Van Halen recordings which have been post eq'd/processed. IMHO, the D120 mixes well with virtually any other 12" guitar speaker. I'd seek out K120 recones rather than D120. The very thin magnetic gap in the D120 sometimes caused the coil to short at high volumes. The K120 gap addressed that, and therefor had slightly less high end -- which is better for amp overdrive anyway. I think the paper cap G12S/C has a more woody than bell-like quality an Alum dust cap delivers. A Weber Neomag 12 might be worth a shot. They have an Alum or Paper cap option. How buzzy/fizzy it sounds with Alum will depend a lot on the power tubes and OT.

EVH used the Sylvania 6CA7 Beam power tubes in his late 60's plexi. They had a soft sparkle with less 3rd harmonics compared to a EL34 Pentode. Limiting the VAC supply with his Variac also caused more power sag to soften the attack. He also had the bias set very high for maximum even harmonic warmth. The current production EHx 6CA7 is supposed to have a "softer" sound than the JJ 6CA7, but it has a 425V G2(Grid/screen) limit compared to the 500V G2 limit of the JJ. The JJ may also take higher bias current b4 failure. ~85% max dissipation is apparently fine with only a ~20% shortened life. Svetlana or Mullard RI EL34's are relatively soft/silky/dull EL34's that might be good choices with a JBL speaker type. Some users also report that Classictone OT's havc a softer high end compared to Heyboer -- probably more like the better 60's Marshall OT's. The "long plate" Sovtek 12AX7LPS is supposed to have a soft high end in the PI slot, and is favored in Marshalls. The long plate JJ ECC803S is more punchy, but still sweet. Not sure about Shuguang. All those things might make for a tolerable amp overdrive sound through a JBL type. You really won't hear the high end anyway if it's on the bottom.

02/11/2018 12:33am

Holy damn. You are a virtual wiki unto yourself. That's far more tech than I expected. I'll try to work through it, but bottom line, which speakers would you put into a 2x12?

02/11/2018 2:38am

I really don't know what a JBL/GB combo will sound like. Much will depend on the amp and how it's tubed I do know that if you still find the Alum cap too fizzy after putting sweet sounding tubes in the amp of your choice, you can hang a towel over it to reduce the high end. A typical bath towel should roll off ~6kHz by about 6dB. I'd probably look for a used JBL K120. A WGS Blackhawk HP or WGS12L will punch like it, but doesn't have the same bell sound of the Alum cap. Not sure the WGS GB is like a real Celestion G12M Hertitage. Your call on that. I wouldn't drive the cab with more than ~50w just to be safe.

The Shuguang or Preferred Series 12AX7 are apparently very good medium plate gain stage tubes. I'd at least try a JJ ECC83MG to compare. They are vey well-reviewed. Try a good balanced long plate in the PI slot.

02/11/2018 4:29am

BTW, check out the new Blackstar Club 50 Mkll head. It should fit your needs, has a low power switch for bedroom level, and I think are a better quality amp than Marshall. Katana are very good, but still not that true tube response and resonance.

02/11/2018 10:57pm

I'm not attached at all to the idea of a combination of speakers (JBL+Celestion). And I probably should just take the safest route toward the destination. Would WGS Green Berets do the trick? Or do I have to spend a bit more for vintage 30s or just Greenbacks?

I have considered the Blackstar, but I keep dismissing them. Not for tonal reasons- I do think they sound good in demos. But i probably have a romantic notion of a Marshall in my head, and with this being the first real amp I'll have owned in forever, I might need to just exercise the marshall demons. Do you not like the way the new origin and DSL20 Heads sound?

02/11/2018 11:19pm

...also—that Blackstar is a bit out of my price range. I'm trying to keep my amp+2x12 cab under a grand. If i go beyond that, it raises an internal debate about whether i should move toward a Fractal AX8 and studio monitors....

02/12/2018 12:37am

I was thinking more along the lines of an EVH sound with the JBL's. The ~$300 2x12" Jet City closed-back '24SVE' cab is probably the best thing for the money, and a great design. You might like the stock EMI speakers just fine. Mike Soldano's said he prefers them to V30's. That would leave more money for an amp.

I have nothing against the sound of those Marshalls at all. The Plexi voiced Origin20H has 2 x EL34 at only 20w. Must be class A? That and the low power tube voltage modes should make it very good for an EVH sound. I imagine that's what it's aimed at. The old EVH sound is getting very popular. Looks like a good option if you don't need multiple channels, and you could try 6CA7 tubes if you want.

02/12/2018 1:56am

I'll take a look at/for the Jet City cab.
I know nothing about 'class A-ness!'
I heard the Origin at NAMM, but the guy demoing it said it doesn't really get gainy enough for 'metal.' With the DSL, I'd probably be set, but I expected to augment the Origin with a pedal for high gain: either a Friedman BE-OD or Dirty Shirley, or a Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe. And a pedal with an origin also sorta serves as a second channel.

Thanks for all your counsel.

02/12/2018 6:33am

My understanding is that class A operation essentially means the idle current is at full, but drops a bit as the power section is driven harder. There is no power supply "brown out". The plate voltage is lowered to keep the tubes from over-heating. It produces less output, but has more even harmonics and no crossover distortion notch. It's a sort of more pure sound in one way, I don't fully understand it, but I do know the Vox AC series amps are not fully class A.

20W is very low output for an amp with 2xEL34 in push/pull operation. It must be at least near class A, and fairly low plate voltage. 20W is about what EVH's 50W Plexi's put out with his ~90V Variac setting. It's essentially more crunchy and saggy, but I imagine these new Marshalls are specifically configured not to noticeably "brown out". Getting the sag to crunch level right is very good for sitting in a mix. They should feel a bit different than any other Marshalls b4 them -- like they sort of help you play them, if you follow what I mean. You might look into if they are Cathode or fixed biased. Cathode-biased (like the Vox AC series) have a cleaner/rounder/squishy attack sound you may or may not like. I think virtually all classic Marshalls are fixed-biased, but for the 60's era 18W models.

Both amps have a shared tone stack and two preamp voices. The short DSL20 video I listened to sounds nice. The lead sound is smooth high gain Metal-like, likely derived from the 2203 or 2204 circuit. The Origin20 is classic Plexi "nasty"-- less filtered/controlled. The amp section might be identical in each amp with only the preamp configuration producing differences. I'm sure you'll decide which you prefer as you consider it more.

The Blackstar Clubman has six total preamp voices with 2x the wattage, but probably not amp section crunchy/saggy in the same way. Blackstar may have another way of sagging the amp section without lowering the plate voltage. There are ways to alter a SS rectifier for more sag. It does mention altering the amp section damping with the preamp voicings. That's probably the negative feedback, but it does affect the feel. It's really not necessary to run an amp near class A to eliminate crossover distortion. You can always bias it higher for more distortion and even harmonics depending on what the tubes will take.

02/12/2018 8:49am

Correction: the Clubman MkII has 4 preamp voices, and the series apparently has a SS phase inverter rather than front end. I think they are biased very cold stock. I'd raise it to at least ~65% with some robust tubes. They may still ship with Svetlana EL34, which are rather silky sounding like the RI Mullard -- very possibly the same exact tube.

02/12/2018 2:20pm

Yowza. Do you build amps? Such a wealth of information.
Thank you, ever so much.

02/12/2018 4:14pm

I have just been researching them over the last few years.

02/14/2018 1:54pm

What kinds of gear do You play? What type/s of music?

02/15/2018 1:29am

I've actually been out of the game for decades. I'm in my 50's and semi-retired. I played in a pop/rock cover band and an original alt/progressive band in the late 80's and in some other projects in the 90's. I just use S-Gear software now, but I appreciate the analog thing. The late 60's Hendrix, 70's Trower, and Terry Kath sound is where it was at for me. I really liked the Allan Holdsworth sound as well, and the early EVH sound was pretty special. Studio players also formed my idea of a good guitar sound. Carlos Santana, Frank Zappa, John MacLaughlin, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Denny Diaz, Pat Methany, Mike Stern, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson all played a part.

From all the clips I've heard, I like the laid-back midrange of the Reaper HP for Marshall style blues/rock and the softened ET65 presence for fusion style sounds. I've never really been into the V30 sound, but it has a place for sure. The G12M sound also has a solid place in rock, but not my thing it general.

02/15/2018 1:36am

Just as a heads up:

Quilter makes superb US made high-internal-voltage, auto-power-adapting, solid state micro amps with multiple tube amp response/tone emulations, innovative/useful/simple preamp and amp section filtering, variable power-scaling, FX loop, etc. Vaughn had one at one point. He might have some insight on them.

FI, you could get two '101 Mini Head' units for the cost of one of the Marshalls you want. You could mount them on a pedal board or in a rack case at your side as the amps in an A/B pedal system you build up over time. Two amps into different speakers is very flexible as you can configure them for a different response/tone into a British and an American speaker type. Even just one of those amps offers much more amp sound options than the Marshalls, and will likely never have reliability or sound consistency issues. Probably worth trying one considering the guarantee and support they provide. You might be surprised just how good this new SS tech sounds and feels.

As far as the tech goes, there are various ways of simulating tube and transformer response with SS components. Not that Quilter uses this method, but a DSP circuit could be used to control the voltage response of the SS parts for dynamic gain, filtering and amplitude S-curves of the various amp emulations. The DSP would not actually be in the signal path, so digital artifacts would not be an issue. The digitally controlled analog response would be entirely digital-step free. There's no reason the sound couldn't be precisely like tube or transformer hardware in the ways that matter, but probably without the resonances of tube microphonics that may or may not be desirable, and are mostly masked by speaker cab and room resonances anyway.

02/21/2018 3:46pm

Sorry to chime in late ... been down with the flu... anywhoo...

As I read through this, one thing hit me that we never discussed when there was a similar topic on the board like 7-yrs or so back ... and it might be good to ensure this data is out there: All those vintage JBL's (D120, D130, etc) were phase-reversed from almost every speaker that's ever been made ... so remember, when mixing a vintage JBL with most any other speaker: The positive terminal should actually be NEGATIVE (& vice-versa).

And on a side-bar: A few years back I decided to try a Quilter MP MKII ... and it's been my main gigging amp ever since ... so I'll second that notion that the Quilter stuff is really THAT good. (and oh-so-lightweight :-)