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Question about wattage/ohms/heads/cabs


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Hello again everyone. I recently decided to upgrade my amp. I currently have a Behringer GTX60 (60 watt) guitar amp that is about as loud as I need it to be (slightly louder wouldn't hurt), and although if I'm just playing some grunge/rock music it sounds mostly good enough, as soon as I switch to metal music it just gives me that wasps in a tin can sound and it kills any notion of playing metal songs in my band.

Now, I decided what I really want is to get something more suited for extreme metal (Dethklok, Dimmu Borgir, The Kovenant, etc.). However, I am on a semi-limited budget, so I don't know how close I'm really going to be able to emulate their sound.

I just bought a Marshall 250 watt cabinet and I'm looking for a head to go with it. My budget is preferably around $350-400. I would like to go with a tube amp if possible, but I realize that might be unreasonable. I've been to a few different local stores and haven't found anything above 15 watts in my price-range.

What would you guys recommend? I know wattage doesn't necessarily equal volume, but I need something that can at least keep up with my current amp and when I start seeing 15 watts being sold for $500, it leads me to believe that either I'm never going to be able to afford the distortion sound I'm looking for at a loud enough volume to match that cabinet, or I know nothing about cab/head wattage and maybe a 15 watt head is perfect for a 250 watt cab. I don't know.

So I'd like to know:
-What would be the best amp head around my price-range ($350-400)that would be able to duplicate some Dimmu Borgir/Dethklok style distortion (if any)?
-Should I stick with a Marshall head since I have a Marshall cabinet?
-If I have a 250 watt cab, what wattage head should I get?
-Should I just save up for longer and hold off for the time being, or is there a way to get what I'm looking for in my price range?

My band has some shows coming up in about 2 months, so if I could have something before then that'd be nice, but I do have grown up shit to pay for (y'know unimportant shit like car payments, student loans, rent, internet, food, etc.). So I gotta keep it within reason.

Any input is highly appreciated. Thank you.

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3 hours ago, stevil935 said:

-What would be the best amp head around my price-range ($350-400)that would be able to duplicate some Dimmu Borgir/Dethklok style distortion (if any)?

If a limited budget is something you have to work woth, what about checking out the second hand market? I'm not familiar with those bands, but perhaps a google search may reveal what gear they use, and then see if anything is being sold in your area that fits the bill?

How about a modelling amp? Or (heaven forbid) a laptop with a bunch of free software sims feeding a poweramp to drive the cab?

 

3 hours ago, stevil935 said:

-Should I stick with a Marshall head since I have a Marshall cabinet?

Not if you don't want to. There's nothing that says Marshall amps must be coupled with Marshall cabs. Mix and match to your hearts content.

 

3 hours ago, stevil935 said:

-If I have a 250 watt cab, what wattage head should I get?

100W upwards should be more than ample. There's actually a case for not going less than the rating of the cabinet if the amp you use has a solid state power section, due to the way the amp clips when overdriven.

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22 hours ago, curtisa said:

Hey thank you for the response!


If a limited budget is something you have to work woth, what about checking out the second hand market? I'm not familiar with those bands, but perhaps a google search may reveal what gear they use, and then see if anything is being sold in your area that fits the bill?

Yeah, I decided to go with a Marshall Valvestate VS100. I got it used on ebay for about $200 which I believe is a very good price for such an amp. I had checked out some local stores first but everything was way outside my budget or just not what I was looking for, and I didn't see anything listed on craigslist. However, after viewing some of the vids on ebay I believe this is the right choice for me. Has exactly the sound I'm looking for.

Not if you don't want to. There's nothing that says Marshall amps must be coupled with Marshall cabs. Mix and match to your hearts content.

This was tricky for me because on the one hand I really like Marshalls sound, but on the other hand I know there are some pretty amazing Peavey and Randall heads still within my price range (though to be fair they're double what I payed for the Marshall one). But yeah I wasn't sure if there was a reason to stick with same brand cabs/heads. Good to know though.

100W upwards should be more than ample. There's actually a case for not going less than the rating of the cabinet if the amp you use has a solid state power section, due to the way the amp clips when overdriven.

I believe the one I got was a solid state amp with a tube preamp. At 100W I'm thinking it should definitely be loud enough. I'm not sure what you mean by this second part though. Are you saying I should aim for the same wattage head/cab? Or are you saying I should get less wattage for the heads? I suppose it's a bit late now lol, but it would still be good to know for future reference.

Another question too if it's cool. Is it a bad idea to plug the head into a Boss RC-300 Loop Station and then plug that into the Cab? I ask because I'd like to loop a track with distortion already in it rather than feeding the loop station into a distorted amp (this way the drums and such don't get distortion on them). I'm pretty sure there's a way to separate different tracks to different outputs on it, but I haven't figured it out yet. Putting the head into the loop station into the cab would be easiest, but I don't want to risk harming any of my gear.

And thank you for the tips! You guys have been super helpful on this forum so far, and I definitely appreciate it.

 

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56 minutes ago, stevil935 said:

I'm not sure what you mean by this second part though. Are you saying I should aim for the same wattage head/cab?

Yes, or at least don't crank the master volume so much that you end up overdriving the output section for long periods of time. A solid state output section when run into clipping turns your lovely guitar signal into massive square waves, which just heats up the speaker voice coils and runs the risk of burning them out. The soft clipping behaviour of a tube power section doesn't exhibit this tendency, and as a consequence it's quite safe to run a 15W tube amp full tilt into a 250W cab.

Bottom line - don't go silly with your master volume and you'll be fine. If you need more oomph, mike your amp up through the PA.

 

1 hour ago, stevil935 said:

Another question too if it's cool. Is it a bad idea to plug the head into a Boss RC-300 Loop Station and then plug that into the Cab?

The Loop Station needs to be in the effects loop of the amp, not between the amp and speakers. Putting the RC-300 on the amp's output will result in much smoke and the opportunity to buy yourself a new Loop Station.

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4 hours ago, curtisa said:

Yes, or at least don't crank the master volume so much that you end up overdriving the output section for long periods of time. A solid state output section when run into clipping turns your lovely guitar signal into massive square waves, which just heats up the speaker voice coils and runs the risk of burning them out. The soft clipping behaviour of a tube power section doesn't exhibit this tendency, and as a consequence it's quite safe to run a 15W tube amp full tilt into a 250W cab.

Bottom line - don't go silly with your master volume and you'll be fine. If you need more oomph, mike your amp up through the PA.

 

It should probably be mentioned that tube amps and solid state are polar opposites when it comes to abuse. Without protection circuitry (internal or otherwise), solid state can't survive being short-circuited or driving loads with lower impedances than they are rated for. Almost the opposite is true of valve in that they don't survive open circuits for long (without damage at the least) or "running with the cab unplugged".

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Apologies for the delay but I wanted to say thank you again for all the helpful tips. You guys have been extremely helpful!

In regards to the power issues, would either a power conditioner or surge protector help with that? Are these clipping noises pretty obvious? And would about 80% volume be okay or would you go lower?

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A few things to chew on here 

It takes approximately 10x wattage to double the volume from a given driver.  Currently your running 60w into a single 12 you would need to 600w to double your volume or 6w to half it.

There are different classes of amps you will see class a, b, ab, d ect. This describes the basic circuitry in the amp and how it delivers power it's also why amps with the same wattage rating have different volume levels usually solid state amps arnt as loud as a tube amp.

More speakers more volume.  The easiest way to increase volume is add speakers.  The average guitar speaker needs about 2 watts for it to start coloring the sound (usually a bad thing but for guitar speakers it's good).  So 4x12 cab needs about 8 watts to start to sound good 

 

What I'm getting at is a 15 watt amp into your (I'm assuming) 4*12 should be plenty loud.

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42 minutes ago, Tim37 said:

A few things to chew on here 

It takes approximately 10x wattage to double the volume from a given driver.  Currently your running 60w into a single 12 you would need to 600w to double your volume or 6w to half it.

There are different classes of amps you will see class a, b, ab, d ect. This describes the basic circuitry in the amp and how it delivers power it's also why amps with the same wattage rating have different volume levels usually solid state amps arnt as loud as a tube amp.

More speakers more volume.  The easiest way to increase volume is add speakers.  The average guitar speaker needs about 2 watts for it to start coloring the sound (usually a bad thing but for guitar speakers it's good).  So 4x12 cab needs about 8 watts to start to sound good 

 

What I'm getting at is a 15 watt amp into your (I'm assuming) 4*12 should be plenty loud.

Alright, so 100w is probably overkill then. I've been trying to look up the impedance levels for the both of these. Looks like it's about 4 ohms for the head then.:

Quote
For connection to external loudspeakers. The
minimum operating impedance for the VS100R, VS100H
& VS102R is 4 Ohms. The internal speaker on the
VS100R/VS102R is rated at 8 Ohms, therefore if using an
external speaker in conjunction with the internal speaker,
the external speaker should be rated at 8 Ohms

Not sure what it is for the cab though. I'll have to ask when I go to pick it up tomorrow.

 

Manual for the head:
http://medias.audiofanzine.com/files/vs100r-vs102r-vs100rh-manual-479345.pdf

Edited by stevil935
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7 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Power conditioners and surge protectors are not the same. Generally a PC provides cleaner, less noisy or more consistent AC supply. A surge protector prevents spikes or overvoltage conditions from damaging equipment.

Cool. I'm familiar with surge protectors but not power conditioners. But you don't think either would help the issues listed above?

I've also read that a 16ohms cab can be rewired in parallel to become a 4ohms cab. This is something I may consider doing (assuming I have a 16ohms cab. Which I'll find out in a few hours)

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Sorry if I skim read a little. I'm not sure what problem we're trying to solve here? A power conditioner rejects noise, and usually takes the form of a power distribution unit. They can be overwhelmingly-simple or complex and expensive. For example, the Samson Powerbrite PB10 that sat in my rack for a decade:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/samson_powerbrite_pb10_pro.htm

"3-Point protection: surge protection, peak voltage spike clamping and RFI/ EMI filter"

It just makes sure that any dirt or noise in your power supply doesn't cause your equipment to do weird things, induce noises into the audio, cause reboots of digital gear, etc.

Depends on what you mean by "16 Ohm cab". A cab with 1x 16 Ohm speaker qualifies as that, as does a cab with 4x 4 Ohm speakers in series, or 4x 64 Ohm speakers in parallel. If you're familiar with how to calculate series/parallel resistors, it's more or less the same thing (other than phase) on a very basic level. Take 2x 16 Ohm speakers and put them in parallel and you divide the apparent load by two to 8 Ohms. Put them in series and you double it to 32 Ohms.

It might be possible, however whether its recommended is something different entirely. Never really messed with rewiring cabs myself, however the principle is simple.

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All good man. I probably asked about 20 different questions so that's my bad.

But actually I think that about answers everything. I have the new cab. It's a marshall mx412a 4x12 16ohm (in total,so I think 4 4ohm speakers) 240w cab. Absolutely beautiful. And the head (marshall valvestate vs100 @ 4ohms/100w) is on it's way. Should have that in a couple of days. Thanks to you guys I know more about amps and speakers than ever before lol. So thank you guys!

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I wouldn't say a 100 watt amp is over kill by any means, it's just not what people think it is.  Most people think (and it's easy to understand why) that double the wattage double the volume and thats not how it works.   You shouldn't have any volume problems with the new rig. 

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2 hours ago, Tim37 said:

I wouldn't say a 100 watt amp is over kill by any means, it's just not what people think it is.  Most people think (and it's easy to understand why) that double the wattage double the volume and thats not how it works.   You shouldn't have any volume problems with the new rig. 

Cool deal. And yeah, I would have probably assumed the same thing. I like doing my research before getting new gear though. Definitely nice to have a forum like this for such occasions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For your budget, if you have not purchased anything yet, Ampeg VH140C, Marshall 3210, Randall RH200 will all do exactly what you are looking for and unfortunately are all solid state.  That is not in any way a bad thing.  Listen to Dying Fetus up to the Reign Supreme album, as well as all old Suffocation (I am speaking first two albums specifically here) that is your Ampeg VH140C. For the Marshall 3210 check out Necrovore's first demo  Guitar coming out of the speakers on your left hand side as you face the speakers is all 3210 stock.  I know this because it was my personal amp(not me playing on that recording, I joined that band later).  When I used it I used an MXR 6 band graphic in the effects loop to take the amp over the top.  I have also owned the Randall I mentioned above.  It will get to the Ampeg levels of crunch, but the tone stack is more Marshall-like, less Randall/Pantera.  I originally bought it for a light-weight amplifier to keep in my vehicle when playing live in case my Mesa broke down (bad idea because that 200 watt amp weighed the same as the mesa).  I used it when I was sessioning for a local black metal band as I wanted a different tonal sound than my usual tone.  I mentioned these three amps because they will not get lost in a band mix or rehearsal.

One more suggestion is a Digitech 2101 Artist through a poweramp.  This is what Ron Jarzombek uses if you are familiar with his playing.

Reality on the wattage myth.  In this modern era of multi thousand watt public address systems that mandate a minimum of 16+ channels, a guitarist can easily get by with a 5-25 watt amp and the audience wouldnt know the difference.  Stage volume would be a different matter unless you had decent monitoring on stage, which is barely ever in a metal setting.  You would be fighting to hear each instrument over the drums.  The large 100 watt amps were needed back in the late 1960's into the mnid 1970's as Pa systems were usually used to amplify the singer, bass, keys, and occasionally drums.  Most large concerts held in arenas and larger would necessitate the guitarists to turn up to be heard.  Tradition carried forward until civic noise laws and lazy-assed FOH "sound engineers" started miking all instruments to create an overall band mix so the venue wouldn't get in trouble with the municipal blue gang shaking down the venue for additional revenue for the city coffers for noise violations.  Ever play a show where the soundman keeps asking you to turn down because the guitar is too loud at the same time you are looking at his stack of 10 Crown 1000 watt two channel amps sitting in a rack behind the PA columns, to the point where you cant even hear your cabinet?  Then gives you some great guitar in the monitor thats EQ'ed like high pass that starts at 200Hz, -6db@400-750Hz, and caps it off with a +20Db@2KHz and comes down and cranks the poweramp feeding that one monitor in front of you so you get the full 1000 watts off that pa amp right in your face?  Sorry I rambled a bit.... Too many way way way too many times.   Your 50-100 watt tube amps are good for one thing on a normal stage.  Air movement of your sound.  Learn to feel yourself playing by how the air is shaking the back of your pants when Stasi minded soundmen decide to be micro tyrants.   Or call them out on it.  Ask them if there is any reason why they cant just turn the guitars down at the board so you can keep your sound that makes you play well.  My personal level is just loud enough to hear myself, 2nd guitarist across the stage, and bassist over the drums.  When the idiot behind the piecr of gear that has all those knobs to turn forces his will, just turn down enough where you can feel your amp moving air.

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Slant cabs. That is all. Unless you hate your feet.

Buying my wife a Marshall DSL5C and replacing the stock speaker with a 12" greenback. She'll love it. Funny thing is, 5W is still enough to get a 4x12 moving. Never mind 100W. Crank the amp and work the volume and tone on your guitar. :thumb:

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These are some nice recommendations. I did already buy an amp, but I may keep some of these in mind if I ever need one in the future. That Randall one you mentioned in specific looks pretty dope. I like the way Randall heads sound.

I ended up going with a Marshall vs100 valvestate head with a 4x12 cab and it's beastly. The thing pushes out enough distortion to melt ones face off. Particularly with the addition of a vintage tube overdrive, an eq pedal with the mids boosted, and a jackson guitar with emg pickups. I've always been more of a industrial musician, but having the ability to get some really nice metal tones is very nice. I've always wanted to casually do the occasional black metal song (who doesn't like casual black metal?) and it's very nice to have that option.

Valvestate is also nice because I can get very nice distortion at lower levels while still getting some tube warmth when cranking it.

I'll have to check out that Digitech 2101 too. I have a few Digitech pedals already, but I've never really gotten too far into the rack mounts. I've heard they can be pretty sick though if you know what you're doing.

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