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Thread: DGMDT 2-Channel Amp... Ultimate Club Gig Rig?

  1. #1
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    DGMDT 2-Channel Amp... Ultimate Club Gig Rig?

    The reality is that I could easily get by with a Deluxe Reverb and a dirt pedal or two and a $500 guitar. Might even end up sounding better because I'd have a limited number of things that I could screw up...not to mention the fact that I'd theoretically spend more time focusing on playing... or theoretically spending more time figuring out how to get a better mix for the small club gigs we do (theories aren't always right though...) But where is the fun in that?

    If you do mostly covers, and if you cover a range of material, a single channel amp is sort of tough if you really enjoy getting that dynamic tone that comes from a tube amp. There is just too much volume change using the guitar to clean things up if you want to get some really clean tones but also need some real dirt. I know it would help if we mic the amps and let a sound guy do his magic, but for the typical place that we play, it's not practical to keep the stage volume so low that this would work (to open up amps at all would make it so that the majority of the sound is coming from the amps unless we cranked up our overall FOH volume.)

    You could go with a multi-channel amp, but I haven't met one yet that makes me feel the way that my single channel amps do. There may be some psychology involved in that because objectively, it's hard to argue with the tone coming out of...say...a Mesa Lonestar or a Mesa Roadster (haven't tried the PRS 2-channel amps...) But they just don't "feel" the same.

    So, I end up setting up one of the great single channel amps out there (like my latest love, the DG30) setting it up to go from clean to crunch with guitar volume and using an distortion pedal for the rest. Nothing wrong with that, and for much of the material we do, I'm not using the dirt pedal anyway, so life is pretty good.

    The next step in the Elmer Fudd / Acme Pest Control process was to use a BadCat Unleash with it's two channels of programmable level attenuation set up so that when I really roll the guitar volume back to clean up an amp set for dirt, I kick in the Unleash channel that has less attenuation to get the right volume. Depending on the actual output volume, this works pretty well (and recently worked out perfect) but other times, the combination of attenuator and the tone change that comes from rolling back far on the guitar volume just doesn't work well. Not to mention the fact that if I get confused and roll the guitar up before kicking in the channel switch on the attenuator I've got some unhappy band-mates (who have a decent sense of humor when it comes to my futzing, but they have their limits...)

    So the culmination of all of this? I absolutely love the high gain tone coming out of the MDT, at pretty much any master volume setting that I'd use at club gigs. I absolutely love the DG30 for everything else. So, combine the two together into a "2-channel amp". I use a Radial head switcher that lets you dynamically switch between 2 heads into a single cabinet. It's got some fancy circuitry in it that takes the guitar input and routes it to the head in use, and loads the output of the head that isn't in use. Works like a champ. I've used this thing before, mainly to be able to dynamically A/B different heads I have. But using it live has been a real treat. Any cheap footswitch can be used to control the device, so my "dirt pedal" is the MDT.






  2. #2
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I love everything about the rig. Especially that stop tail DGT. Mercy that thing is sexy.
    Plank Owner

  3. #3
    Prince of Paisley iahawk36's Avatar
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    THAT is a killer setup, right there!!
    "He's kind of like a bear at a campsite...you think he's cute and kind of want to hug him, but in the end you know he's dangerous and is going to stomp on your tent and eat all your food..." - martysnarf

  4. #4
    That's a beautiful rig, and I gotta also say, one gorgeous guitar!

    When it comes to amps - like you, I prefer the single channel stuff - and have had several, including the PRS.

    Looking back, in two channel stuff, I got superb sound from my Two-Rocks, as well as the Mark V (edge to the TRs here for some tones, although the "money" tones were nicely covered by the Mesa as well), but there are always inherent compromises in two channel amps. With two separate amps, you find the clean side tones you want, and the dirty side tones you want, and that's that. No compromises necessary.

    Quite some time ago, I was faced with the conundrum of a relatively small recording booth and quite a few amps. But when all was said and done, I had two favorites, and figured I'd get a device like the switcher you now have to switch between heads and use a single cab, thereby saving room in the booth for a big mic boom for vocals and acoustic guitar even leaving the cab miked up. There was nothing on the market at the time.

    So I asked my studio tech if he could make something that would work without blowing up my amps. And he said, sure, he could make something that would work really well with the heads I had on hand and my favorite recording cab. Said it would take him a month or so, and cost around $2500.

    I was....um...uh....nooo, I guess I'll just switch everything manually, then...

    I would have been cool because I'd have been able to switch between several heads in the control room without having to get up, set up a head, etc., from my composing station when I was on a creative roll, but it was not to be. So I love the idea of the Radial box. Great concept, and super-nice execution.

    Finally, of course anyone can do the work with an inexpensive guitar and a halfway decent amp if that's what inspires them. But some people simply need more of whatever it is that gives them that lift, inspires that fun, and that creativity. For me, sound itself is wonderful stuff. I love playing with it and listening to it. So I find it hard to be heavily invested in music production with less than excellent gear. That's who I am, and it's obviously a common trait around here. But it's not unique. Symphony players also have the same issues. Everyone wants that last ounce of tone!
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-08-2013 at 05:05 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

  5. #5
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    That's awesome.

    I'd love to hear it!

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    Dislocated Boy Tosca's Avatar
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    I've actually been trying to decide between these two amps for my next purchase...thanks for placing this crazy idea into my head.
    Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.
    Jimi Hendrix

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Awesome amps.....glad you're having fun....because at the end of the day that's what it's about....having fun and making great music!
    -Bob

  8. #8
    I used to do something similar with my old Fender Twin, my '78 Marshall, and an A/B switch back when I was on bigger stages. How I miss those days...
    "You come around here with these... SOUL DESTROYERS... clad in some kinda paisley rittenou... I don't even know what rittenou means." -Greg Koch re: PRS amps

  9. #9
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    I hate anything that involves a lot of hauling, setting up, etc. Two amps would fit that category.

    You might think I'm trolling.

    But you would be wrong, because despite my whining, I would TOTALLY gig that rig!
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

    SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE 30 Head/Cab

  10. #10
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    Very cool. I've been looking at and wondering about those for a while now. Glad to hear they work as advertised.

    What are you doing with the Unleash (hint, hint)?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy474x View Post
    I hate anything that involves a lot of hauling, setting up, etc. Two amps would fit that category.

    You might think I'm trolling.

    But you would be wrong, because despite my whining, I would TOTALLY gig that rig!
    It's not so much the hauling that's an issue for me (I always take a backup head anyway) but the extra wiring takes a few minutes and it always seems that we're pressed for time setting up...

    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    Very cool. I've been looking at and wondering about those for a while now. Glad to hear they work as advertised.

    What are you doing with the Unleash (hint, hint)?
    Oh...I still use the Unleash. I particularly like it with some of the low power amps out there. It's a fantastic re-amper of one of the Marshall 1-watters for example. Take a JTM-1, set it at its sweet spot in terms of gain, run it through the Unleash with two separate volume set points and a delay through the Unleash loop and it's a surprisingly versatile combination. The unleash is pretty transparent at unity gain or higher. Even set at unity on something like the DG30, it's a great way to have an effects loop.

    Probably a topic for another thread, but I still don't get why the Unleash would be more transparent at unity gain or higher than it would be at lower settings. My understanding of how these work is that the signal is essentially attenuated by some fixed amount, and the only thing that the volume knob on the unleash is doing is to increase the amplification of that attenuated signal.

  12. #12
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    Wow I just checked out the specs on one of those Unleash's and they look like a really cool thing. I was in the market for an attenuator anyway but on of those things would be much more flexible.

    I got offered a gig recently and I wondered if instead of the usual fairly complicated (but less so now I made a custom snake loom) setup of the Mark V with G-System in 4CM also switching the Mark V via Mini Amp Gizmo, I could just use my guitar, a lead and the HXDA. Now I've seen this Unleash thing I'm wondering if I could use it to boost the clean tone (like you said above), but then I get an fx loop, so I might as well bring the G-System and...

    I think I'll just see how workable the HXDA is with the volume knob only, and go from there...

  13. #13
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I feel extremely dirty not owning a PRS amp. I want some! These two look amazing and I am sure they sound huge.
    Plank Owner

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by justmund View Post
    I think I'll just see how workable the HXDA is with the volume knob only, and go from there...
    This is just my opinion, but I believe that the HXDA's master volume is more effective, and sounds better, than any attenuator I've ever used.

    I don't like the sound of attenuators, basically. They restrict dynamics in what I feel is a horribly unnatural and unmusical way, and the weird thing is that of course part of a cranked amp's tone comes from an overdriven speaker anyway, and you don't get that with an attenuator.

    I'll tell you what sounds awfully good at very low volumes with the HXDA -- the Fulltone Plimsoul.

    At a very low gain setting on the pedal, it gives you just a little more of what's good about the HXDA when you absolutely, positively, need to record something and can't even turn the master up past two.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-09-2013 at 11:06 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

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    This is just my opinion, but I believe that the HXDA's master volume is more effective, and sounds better, than any attenuator I've ever used.

    I don't like the sound of attenuators, basically. They restrict dynamics in what I feel is a horribly unnatural and unmusical way, and the weird thing is that of course part of a cranked amp's tone comes from an overdriven speaker anyway, and you don't get that with an attenuator.

    I'll tell you what sounds awfully good at very low volumes with the HXDA -- the Fulltone Plimsoul.

    At a very low gain setting on the pedal, it gives you just a little more of what's good about the HXDA when you absolutely, positively, need to record something and can't even turn the master up past two.
    Hi Les,

    I definitely agree that the HX/DA (and particularly the MDT) have great master volume implementations. So does the DGT for that matter, but in that case, there is just something really special about the growl from the power section with the master above 6 that you just don't get below it... In any case, I find that it's a rather complicated trade space. On the DG30, the HX/DA or the MDT, there is a range (to me anyway) of the higher gain tone settings where it does sound better to keep the master up and knock a bit off of the output volume using a good attenuator. The benefit of maintaining the character of the power section outweighs the loss of "tone" from the attenuator. If I didn't have to worry about fitting in to the mix of a live band, I wouldn't bother, but that few dB of attenuation can be a big deal gigging a small club. Go too far though, and the loss from the attenuator outweighs the benefit of the cranking up the power section.

    I still don't quite understand why something like the unleash becomes more transparent as you crank the output volume. Yeah, I know that speakers and the human ear are involved, but as I understand it, the actual attenuation happens before the re-amper and is independent of the volume control on the thing. All I can say is if I'm adding volume with the Unleash instead of taking it away, there is absolutely no loss of tone that I can detect. I probably am just misinformed on how the attenuator is actually architected. One note though....you can't hook the unleash up to anything but a real speaker. So, I couldn't use it for example on one of the two amp heads before the amp switcher (don't ask how I found that out....)

    I think that there was a bunch of confusion when the Unleash first came out, and I don't think that Bad Cat did themselves any favors with how the talked about the thing. They made it sound like they invented some new form of attenuation that was somehow better than anything else out there. In fact, it's as good as any attenuator that uses a reactive load (to my ears), but no better. What it does have though is a two channel gain stage to amplify low-wattage amplifiers, with each level independently settable under footswitch control, and an effects loop. All in all, a great set of features in my mind....

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by aristotle View Post
    The benefit of maintaining the character of the power section outweighs the loss of "tone" from the attenuator.
    As with all things guitar, it's all a matter of personal preference, what tradeoffs you can live with, etc.

    The amp sounds best with the master up. And it also sounds best when that happens without attenuation. On this I'm sure we agree.

    So the question becomes, which is doing the worse thing to the signal, the master volume or the attenuator? Remember, when I'm recording, I'm doing the same thing you're doing live -- that is, fitting a guitar into the mix. I'm simply doing it one instrument at a time. My choice isn't based on "tone." It's something else entirely, and that is the absolutely squashed dynamics that come out of a guitar amp whose output is sent to one of these things before hitting the speaker.

    For me, it's like listening to the Compressor From Hell. It's a sound I hate on guitar, drums, and bass. It's why I can't stand using an 1176 on vocals. And an 1176 is a hell of a lot better sounding compressor than any attenuator. What I'm talking about is a fast ramp-up to a grabby brick wall sound. It makes me seasick even thinking about it. Anyway, it isn't tone, it's dynamics. We all have our tastes.

    Say what you want about the master volume, but it doesn't affect the amp's dynamics like that. Yes, you miss out a little on the power tube crunch. Of course, something like the Plimsoul set very carefully and low can add that vibe back in, and that's why I use it in low-volume situations.

    YMMV.

    When compromise is necessary, one chooses what one can live with, right?
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-10-2013 at 10:47 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

  17. #17
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    I hear 'ya Les. My guess is that your ears are more finely tuned than mine, and even with me, it's a narrow range that works out well. And I put "tone" in quotes because I agree that it isn't so much about eq tone, but other stuff...for me I notice it in the way that distortion dies out on the tail end. I enjoy playing around with this stuff in any case!

  18. #18
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aristotle View Post
    ...I still use the Unleash. I particularly like it with some of the low power amps out there. It's a fantastic re-amper of one of the Marshall 1-watters for example. Take a JTM-1, set it at its sweet spot in terms of gain, run it through the Unleash with two separate volume set points and a delay through the Unleash loop and it's a surprisingly versatile combination. The unleash is pretty transparent at unity gain or higher. Even set at unity on something like the DG30, it's a great way to have an effects loop.

    Probably a topic for another thread, but I still don't get why the Unleash would be more transparent at unity gain or higher than it would be at lower settings. My understanding of how these work is that the signal is essentially attenuated by some fixed amount, and the only thing that the volume knob on the unleash is doing is to increase the amplification of that attenuated signal.
    I've recently become infatuated with the Unleash concept. It's good to hear a real world point of view.

    I just read an article on a couple effects and board/switching system builders and they made an interesting comment. They said they cater to pros and home players, and that the home players tended to be way more sensitive to the sound quality compared to the gigging musician (don't worry, Les, they didn't reference studio use). Part if the reasoning was that a gigging musician knows he's competing with the other instruments, the room day maniacs, and the crowd. In those cases, the sound has to be good, but dependability and roadworthy was were equally important. The home musician is sitting there, in a room they know, very critically listening to their sound, sometimes with and sometime without competing instrumentation. This tended to make them more discerning/demanding.

    My point: I for in both categories (as a lot of us do). When I'm at home, I fuss over every piece of gear and nuance. When I'm gigging, I'm more concerned with good sound, ease of use, and dependability. I tend to use multichannel amps live, because I want the ease of channel changing and adding an easy boost. If pedals crap out, I can just go straight to the amp and have a few sounds at consistent levels. The tone may not be my favorite, but it's still good, and I can concentrate on the songs (and striking my best disco/rock poses).

    The thought of carrying a 25-30 lbs 5 watt combo (with upgraded speaker) and an Unleash with two volume levels AND getting the unmic'd level up in the 30-45 watt range sounds great.

    As to your question about transparency, I didn't know the concept was "always on" attenuation, then boost. I thought it's affect was neutral at unity, then attenuation or amplification depending on the roll if the knob. Interesting.

  19. #19
    Egads, as a recording-only guy, I probably belong in the same "into ear candy" category as the guys who call themselves home players, since I'm all about recording a great sounding signal.

    Live, you are right, it's not as critical, although there are pro players who are very picky about their live sound, especially on major tours where they have a good FOH mixer, etc.

    But no doubt about it, I'm less into what happens with live sound for the very reasons you state. You make very good points.
    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

  20. #20
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I feel extremely dirty not owning a PRS amp. I want some! These two look amazing and I am sure they sound huge.
    ? but your sig says "Amps - PRS..."

    As for the other posts, this is a great thread! Reading with much interest. So can't wait to get the HXDA and turn that sucker up (and down!)

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