Bias Amp: Is anyone tweaking anything really different?

  • In all the amps I've tried seem to be tweaked to sound and behave as best they can. Which makes sense, as the originals were done so, right? Every time I go tweaking the preamp section, or the transformer, or whatever and it gets overly thick and tubby, or scratchier. Of course, this is more so with multiple gain stage amps. Clean amps don't seem to get much different (like with moving the mic around in the cab section - the sound doesn't change a whole lot - whereas small movements dramatically alter a distorted amp's tone and response). And small changes I can't see having a novel effect. In other words, I don't get it.

  • From my experience it is often better to take things away than adding something.
    Idiotic example: if something is boomy you would not want to add treble or presence to fight boominess.

    Maybe something to consider?

  • I find that with real amps, guitar choice makes a big difference as well. I may tweak something to sound muddy with my EMGs, but if I switch out to my single-coils it sounds tight and clean.

  • Take a look at the Steve Senes 80s Amp Demo:

    I think this example does a pretty good job of showing how someone might customize an amp to match the tone they are shooting for...

  • Dang I wish my tone sounded this good. I am using a Focusrite Scarelett 2i4 into a Windows 10PC. No latency issues just think it could sound better. Would different gear such as Apogee make a difference?

  • A2

    @dc42 highly, highly doubtful. Go ahead and run a loopback test thru that Focusrite. Despite all the religious blather by the church of audiophillia, I think you'll be wonderfully surprised by the results

  • A2

    It would be awesome to actually get his DI recording and the preset for some real apples to apples

  • Steve has several really good Bias demos/tutorials (IMHO). I would definitely recommend checking out his YouTube channel. Guy is a great player which is always going to help your tone.

  • Probably the greatest factor for me is I'm not seeking anything I've heard - though even fairly replicating Senes' video might reveal some insights. In particular the VH4 has this plate-y sound, almost like a single coil pickup, which is controllable with compression and drive pedals, but I'd like to remove it from the base tone. As well, the VH4 has a bogginess that drive pushes through, which I'd like to rectify, as I think it would make the drive much nicer. It might even reduce the drive necessary.

    Incidentally, I didn't care for the end-result in the video. Sounded blanketed, though the post effects helped that along. I've always disliked that cluttered hall ambience of some early 80s recordings. The 70s had some great and powerful productions - neither huge hall, nor in-the-room-with-you. Tough sounding drums, and great guitar. What happened?

    @elric : a great tone should be obvious from any casual strumming/picking. How the timbre varies from playing is a phenomenon in any instrument, but guitarists mistake articulation for tone, especially distortion instances due to the lack of dynamics via compression.

  • A2

    It sounds to me like that video was a mic capturing the guitar sound, and a mic none too close to the cab. It would be really hard to match that exact recording, as there are so many variables. I don't think you should be struggling to get a sound like that, nor desire to, in the grand scheme of things, the tone could be cool, but what we are hearing is to me too muddy from the actual recording setup.

    I guran-damn-tee you your focusrite will get a cleaner, harder sound out of bias than that particular recording

  • It boggles me that anyone would mic a full-range speaker for a recording. More poignantly - a non-direct recording would be fraudulent.

  • A2

    I would err on the side that the direct is going to sound better. I know that's blasphemy, but its what I experience

  • Talking with a work mate who states that tone is all in his hands. I get it but thinking just hit an open A chord. Hard narly crunch or weak kind of thin sound. Don't want to give up on virtualization but could be heading near that border. Easier to plug into my amp and press a pedal. Happy with my traditional "rig".

  • @dc42 : tell him it's the same with his wang. He'll probably go white.

  • @tannhauser

    Haha yeah man. Chasing tone is an endless journey (it seems). Like to spend my time playing not spinning knobs. See what today brings.

  • @dc42 : re-chasing tone: indeed. I have had multiple instances of FX on a channel - one for main tone, and two for pre and post Bias Amp, A./B-ing between the two - and accidentally been on one of the Bias-related ones, and thought I heard change when tweaking. Imagination - despite such incident, better to have than have not I think.....

    Fortunately my music style allows me to tweak and play, tweak and play.....though I keep coming back to my original tone.

    On that note, just loading up the amp and setting like Senes did, I did not remotely have the same amount of gain let alone tone. I didn't have that bright crinkly tone of a stock Marshall. I would think my Lace Alumitone hot enough... Recall I have my input gain at 5, yet turning it up did not make it better, just gainier and noisier. Too bad Senes occluded the bottom of the pane when taking his screen shot.

  • @tannhauser Thanks for the replies! Something to think about for sure. Going to fiddle today!

  • @dc42 : what did you find/create?

  • @tannhauser Well...state of the virtual amp software union. This past year I decided to get into virtualization. Figured it was a cool, perhaps low noise (small room playing through headphones), way to jam with some expensive - vintage amps. Was not interested in recording just want to see what is up in the virtual world. The videos as always sucked me and it was on.

    Bought some software, settled on some monitors and h-phones, and tried to get into it. I have never really been satisfied with the tone. As mentioned fizzy and thin at times. Been using all the software in stand alone mode. Recently installed Reaper giving it a try thinking some basic items like EQ, compression, etc. could help. It sounds ok but I keep going back to my in room rig as my go to.

    One thing the virtualization did is give me some ideas for my hardware rig and I feel it has improved over the last few months with some extra tinkering and pedal additions.

    I would love to play through some other peoples software rigs and see how it sound. I don't know man....not feeling so good about the software world of late.

    To the point of additional tinkering pretty much been just firing up the software bouncing around between amps - pedals jamming for a bit. That may be the problem. I do not have much knowledge regarding software like Reaper or Pro Tools. Might be just newbie city causing all the issue. Apologies for all the whining.

    Have some nice guitars. Focal monitors, AKG phones (at the moment), Focusrite 2i4 box, and a Windows 10 workhorse of a PC. So weak gear is not the issue. Again problem is probably in the chair here in the studio.


  • Up way too late here....put the vid back on and mimicked the settings. Using more vintage style humbuckers but none the less. Yes I hear the distortion but that vid sounds a 100x better. My tone was not totally mushy but it was not like wow that is awesome. Sounded like a cheap software imitation of a cranked Marshall.

    Levels are good. Sample rate 44100 HZ, 16 Sample rate. No latency or weird clipping. Don't mean to be negative just looking to cut that 100x down.

    This was from Steve at the Youtube vid. Some tell me the interface does not matter but...

    " The sound you hear in this video is not manipulated in any way - the signal was running from my iPad into my Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface and into Logic Pro, which is just a DAW for recording the signal.

    I do believe the interface you use to get the guitar in makes a huge difference. For this video I used an Apogee Jam (1st Generation). I tested a couple other devices and the difference is pretty noticeable even to my old ears.

    I now use an Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt interface to my computer and using amp modeling software inside my Mac there is a pretty big difference between this and the Scarlett I used to use. The Jam interface is pretty inexpensive, around $100 so I'd say give that a go... "

    Going to test some audio ideas over the next few days. More to come.