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Thread: New HX/DA in the house

  1. #1
    Junior Member DM426's Avatar
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    New HX/DA in the house

    Haven't had an opportunity to explore this amp in great detail yet, but I do like what I have gotten out of it so far.

    I'll have some additional comments later.

  2. #2
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    Congrats! Can't wait for the tone report.

  3. #3
    Nice! Glad it seems to be off to a good start.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  4. #4
    Junior Member DM426's Avatar
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    Not sure of how much use my comments will be, but here they are.

    My main concern when I ordered this amp is that it would be "too vintage" and would lack the backbone necessary to play the kind of music I like. In the past I've used a Marshall, an Orange, and a Mesa Boogie, which are very different amps, but that's what I have for a frame of reference.

    First off, the amp is very easy to use. There is only one channel and a set of fairly straightforward tone and volume controls. There are three separate toggles to switch back and forth from "HX" to "DA" modes. Honestly, these don't make as much of a difference as I expected they would. There is a difference between them, especially when you go from all HX to all DA, but overall the effect is relatively subtle with the DA having a somewhat darker tone.

    If you want cleans, this amp will give you some very tasty clean tones. They're a little different than what you would get on, say, a Fender, but I personally found the cleans to be very good. The master volume also works well, which is a must with an amp of this design. I'm used to having at least two channels and having clean on one and dirty on the other, but that can be worked around with the HX/DA once you adjust to the idea that this amp was designed to use the volume control on the guitar to adjust things on the fly.

    Without any doubt, where this amp shines is the pair of gain controls. With these, it's really easy to dial in some nice crunch and move into classic rock territory without any difficulty at all. As I said earlier, I was worried this amp wouldn't be able to deliver that, but it only took me a couple of minutes to get something very close to AC/DC and this amp is great for dialing in a Billy F. Gibbons ZZ Top bluesy sound. The tones weren't muddy and all over the place like the Orange Rockaverb 50 I recently played through; they were tight and articulate. The amp actually has a lot of bite and will snarl and snap like a junkyard dog if that's your thing. I tried it with a PRS SC58 and the tones were excellent and easy to control.

    One thing to be aware of with this amp is the sensitivity of the gain controls. Just a tiny bit of the bass gain goes a long, long way and the amp just doesn't seem to do well when you turn it up past 9-ish. Much past that and things can start to get muddy and unfocused in a hurry. I put both gain knobs on 12 and the result was kind of a mess.

    Without a doubt, this amp is intended for "vintage" vibes, and it sounds very good with a Les Paul with underwound pickups and a moderate attack. However, when I paired it up with a USA-made Jackson Soloist with DiMarzio pickups, it didn't like that at all. Unlike the LP and SC58, which sounded pretty good at all settings with low-moderate gain, the Jackson just sounded buzzy and harsh everywhere. I was able to squeeze some metal-ish tones out of it with some effort, but the HX/DA certainly isn't a Triple Rectifier, nor is it trying to be. It seems to be sensitive to the type of pickup you're using. I think it's too early for me to say this amp is limited to vintage tones, but my early impression is that it leans that way.

    The lack of an effects loop or a reverb may or may not be an issue depending on what you're looking for. The amp has enough interesting resonance that I find I'm not missing that at the moment. I can say the amp sounds decent at very low levels thanks to the two gain dials. It does, however, sound even better when you open it up a bit.

    My initial thoughts on the HX/DA are a bit mixed. It seems to be very flexible and yet strangely limited, if that makes any sense. What it does, it does exceedingly well. But when pushed out of its comfort zone, I'm not so sure. I need to play with it some more.
    Last edited by DM426; 03-25-2013 at 07:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DM426 View Post
    There are three separate toggles to switch back and forth from "HX" to "DA" modes. Honestly, these don't make as much of a difference as I expected they would. There is a difference between them, especially when you go from all HX to all DA, but overall the effect is relatively subtle with the DA having a somewhat darker tone.
    Duane Allman played a Superbass head. The Hendrix model was a Superlead. What the switches do is take the amp from Superbass to Superlead, progressively, in stages.

    Yes, the differences can seem subtle at first, but after living with the amp for a while, you begin to understand where and how to use them. They interact with the gain controls, and I set the switches and knobs differently for different guitars.

    Remember also that Duane Allman goosed his Superbass with a Fuzzface for solos. And I wouldn't attempt metal on this amp without the appropriate pedals, but then if your thing is metal, as you note, you'd probably be interested in a different amp for that style of music.

    Actually, you can crank both gain knobs all the way, if that's your thing, but you also have to work with the tone knobs and switches. Everything's interactive.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  6. #6
    Rigid Member Sekunda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM426 View Post
    My initial thoughts on the HX/DA are a bit mixed. It seems to be very flexible and yet strangely limited, if that makes any sense. What it does, it does exceedingly well. But when pushed out of its comfort zone, I'm not so sure. I need to play with it some more.
    Yes sir... that is about what I said as well. I have had mine for about 5 months now and it just keeps sounding better. The little intricacies will start showing once you get used to the sound and dials... I went from a Mesa Roadster to the HX/DA so I know all about the "High Gain Jones" but it hasn't been a problem for me with the amazing tones that I can get WITHOUT all that high gain. We are playing lots of Allman Brothers and the other guys are really amazed at how well it makes those songs sound. The Santana stuff fits really well too...

    I'm running a Stealth 2x12 cab, Stripped 58 and some awesome sounding Strymon pedals... and a Keeley modded TS-9, thats it. I have about all I can handle with that, just back the guitar volume off or bump it up to change styles.
    ~ Matt

    PRS HX/DA | 2x12 Stealth Cab | 2011 Stripped 58 - Angry Larry | 2000 Custom 22 - Dark Cherry Burst
    1985 Takamine GX-100 | 1993 Jackson Soloist XL Pro |Martin Acoustic | Ibanez Acoustic

  7. #7
    I get the occasional project that demands very high gain. I have had great luck using either a Fulltone '69 Germanium fuzz or a Fulltone Plimsoul to goose the amp. However, I'm sure any similar high quality pedals would do just fine.

    It's very rare that I want to use pedals to add gain - but I did on the Ford F-150 ad campaign spots, for example.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  8. #8
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sekunda View Post
    Yes sir... that is about what I said as well. I have had mine for about 5 months now and it just keeps sounding better. The little intricacies will start showing once you get used to the sound and dials... I went from a Mesa Roadster to the HX/DA so I know all about the "High Gain Jones" but it hasn't been a problem for me with the amazing tones that I can get WITHOUT all that high gain. We are playing lots of Allman Brothers and the other guys are really amazed at how well it makes those songs sound. The Santana stuff fits really well too...

    I'm running a Stealth 2x12 cab, Stripped 58 and some awesome sounding Strymon pedals... and a Keeley modded TS-9, thats it. I have about all I can handle with that, just back the guitar volume off or bump it up to change styles.
    So when can I come over?
    Plank Owner

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sekunda View Post
    Yes sir... that is about what I said as well. I have had mine for about 5 months now and it just keeps sounding better. The little intricacies will start showing once you get used to the sound and dials... I went from a Mesa Roadster to the HX/DA so I know all about the "High Gain Jones" but it hasn't been a problem for me with the amazing tones that I can get WITHOUT all that high gain. We are playing lots of Allman Brothers and the other guys are really amazed at how well it makes those songs sound. The Santana stuff fits really well too...

    I'm running a Stealth 2x12 cab, Stripped 58 and some awesome sounding Strymon pedals... and a Keeley modded TS-9, thats it. I have about all I can handle with that, just back the guitar volume off or bump it up to change styles.
    How are you setting yours up for the Allman Brothers tones as far as the gain and EQ knobs?

  10. #10
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    I can set the gain controls on mine to the extent that you can tap the fretboard to get the notes you're looking for.....more than enough "metal" for most tunes of that genre.

    With the gain controls set low, you can get a decent clean tone as well. Of all my PRS amps (MDT combo, Dallas combo, Sweet 16+ Combo and "H" Combo) this is my best amp. It's a head, and I play it though two 2X12 PRS cabinets. The one amp that will be my keeper after I sell off the rest of the collection at some point.

  11. #11
    Speaking of Tones...Tonez...Toanz...

    One of my favorite records from my youth was Jeff Beck's "Truth" album. And because I happen to have a Fulltone Plimsoul on hand, I wondered if I could get the classic "Rock My Plimsoul" sound with the pedal and the HXDA. Understand, I have no idea what Beck used for this recording, but I have to tell you, I absolutely got that tone with these settings -- note that the guitar output level is also part of the deal:

    Plimsoul Pedal Settings:

    Level: 9 0'clock (unity gain)
    Sustain: 10 o'clock
    Stage II: about 9 o'clock
    High Cut: about 1:30 o'clock

    HX/DA Amplifier Settings:

    HX Gain: One o'clock-ish
    DA Gain: 7 o'clock
    Treble: 11 o'clock
    Mids: One o'clock
    Bass: 12:30 o'clock
    Presence: 11 o'clock
    Volume: To taste
    Switches (left to right): DA, DA, HX

    Guitar: Artist V, Settings

    Bridge pickup, Volume = 6-7, Tone = 7-8

    If you set the guitar volume too high, it pushes the pedal into a tone that's too "modern" for the 1968 Beck setting, that was very buttery sounding on the recording.

    But if you do it right (season to taste with your own gear of course) you can nail that tone.

    If I could also nail the playing, all would be right with the world, but I'll take what I can get!!

    Other notes and observations:

    1. I'm betting that any good Tube Screamer type pedal can do this, you don't need to go get a Pliimsoul. Just remember to use a low-ish gain setting, and back off the treble to get a smooth sound, and use just enough pedal output volume to merge with the natural sound of the amp. In other words, the pedal almost becomes something of a tone control in addition to those on the amp. The natural mid and low mid boost of these types of pedals makes the solo pop a little, and that's what you want to achieve this tone.

    2. If it's not already obvious, these are humbucker tones. So...you know, don't use a Strat for this one.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 04-18-2013 at 07:16 PM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Speaking of Tones...Tonez...Toanz...

    One of my favorite records from my youth was Jeff Beck's "Truth" album. And because I happen to have a Fulltone Plimsoul on hand, I wondered if I could get the classic "Rock My Plimsoul" sound with the pedal and the HXDA. Understand, I have no idea what Beck used for this recording, but I have to tell you, I absolutely got that tone with these settings -- note that the guitar output level is also part of the deal:

    Plimsoul Pedal Settings:

    Level: 9 0'clock (unity gain)
    Sustain: 10 o'clock
    Stage II: about 9 o'clock
    High Cut: about 1:30 o'clock

    HX/DA Amplifier Settings:

    HX Gain: One o'clock-ish
    DA Gain: 7 o'clock
    Treble: 11 o'clock
    Mids: One o'clock
    Bass: 12:30 o'clock
    Presence: 11 o'clock
    Volume: To taste
    Switches (left to right): DA, DA, HX

    Guitar: Artist V, Settings

    Bridge pickup, Volume = 6-7, Tone = 7-8

    If you set the guitar volume too high, it pushes the pedal into a tone that's too "modern" for the 1968 Beck setting, that was very buttery sounding on the recording.

    But if you do it right (season to taste with your own gear of course) you can nail that tone.

    If I could also nail the playing, all would be right with the world, but I'll take what I can get!!

    Other notes and observations:

    1. I'm betting that any good Tube Screamer type pedal can do this, you don't need to go get a Pliimsoul. Just remember to use a low-ish gain setting, and back off the treble to get a smooth sound, and use just enough pedal output volume to merge with the natural sound of the amp. In other words, the pedal almost becomes something of a tone control in addition to those on the amp. The natural mid and low mid boost of these types of pedals makes the solo pop a little, and that's what you want to achieve this tone.

    2. If it's not already obvious, these are humbucker tones. So...you know, don't use a Strat for this one.
    It don't mean a thing....if you don't video that swing!

    Let's see a video of you playing it Les...we've all exposed ourselves....let's see yours!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    It don't mean a thing....if you don't video that swing!

    Let's see a video of you playing it Les...we've all exposed ourselves....let's see yours!
    Sorry, I don't have a video camera. You'll just have to pull out your HXDA and try it for yourself.

    Or maybe I'll record an audio track at some point. But that means bass, drums, keys...because I'm that guy who has to sweat over it like it's a record.

    At this point in my life, I basically only hit "record" if someone has a purchase order from an ad agency. LOL
    Last edited by LSchefman; 04-19-2013 at 10:32 AM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  14. #14
    Rigid Member Sekunda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarman23 View Post
    How are you setting yours up for the Allman Brothers tones as far as the gain and EQ knobs?
    Pretty much near the settings in the demo video Paul did. Here are my updated settings:

    HX/DA gain - 1 o'clock
    Bass gain - 9 o'clock
    Treble - 10 o'clock
    Mids 2 o'clock
    Bass 2 o'clock
    Presence 9 o'clock
    Volume 2 o'clock

    1 - DA
    2 - HX
    3 - HX

    I'm using a Stripped 58 and playing a lot on the middle position with both volumes backed off a fuzz... if I need more treble I switch to bridge pup. I use a Keeley Modded TS-9 for solos with a little bit of gain and a lot of volume, tone at 0.
    Last edited by Sekunda; 04-29-2013 at 12:51 PM. Reason: *updated settings
    ~ Matt

    PRS HX/DA | 2x12 Stealth Cab | 2011 Stripped 58 - Angry Larry | 2000 Custom 22 - Dark Cherry Burst
    1985 Takamine GX-100 | 1993 Jackson Soloist XL Pro |Martin Acoustic | Ibanez Acoustic

  15. #15
    For Allmans tones there are a few things to consider:

    First, Duane opened the backs of his 4x12 Marshall cabs and also used Electro-Voice EVM 12" speakers that really sound quite a bit different from the V-30s that come in PRS cabs.

    Second, he primarily used a Fuzz Face (probably germanium transistors) to boost his solos. And in that era, Fuzz Faces were often very different sounding, one to another.

    So there's a substantial set of differences between his rig and those that many of us who aren't trying to truly replicate his tone use.

    In any event, when I want to come as close as I can to that tone, I switch the HX/DA switches all to DA, and initially set the HX and bass gains very low. Then I set the treble to around 11:00, Mids 2:00, Bass noon. With those settings, I use the master volume the old fashioned way, and only bring up the HX and Bass gain knobs after I've got a good master volume setting so I can hear the power tubes cooking. It can get loud!

    I don't know Duane's settings, of course. The standard for that day was to pretty much dime everything and let it rip, but I tend to value my hearing...

    One thing to remember is that in those days, pretty much only the vocals ran through the PA, the amps were un-miked in most venues.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  16. #16
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    I'm toying w the idea of getting a Bad Cat Unleash so that I can open the HXDA up all of the way like they do in the demos and like Grissom. Thanks for the setting ideas guys. I used it in a gig last week w a Barber Gain Changer and Walrus Voyager. It sounded pretty damn good but I'd really like to use higher volumes to get the output tubes cooking.

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