Best Sounding Rig In The History of YOUR World?

László

Too Many Notes
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
34,990
Location
Michigan
Some of us, no doubt, are rock stars with a lot of choice gear. Some of us, like Aristotle, are gods of gear who have Mount Olympus sized rigs.

But for most of us, a few amps, a pedalboard, and some guitars are all it's ever gonna be.

Some of us love our current rigs. Some are still looking for their ultimate setup.

I realized today that I have things pretty much covered. I'm in a good place, certainly my best amp/pedalboard/guitar rig ever. Yes, best in the history of MY world.

Sure, I might add something here or there, but it wouldn't be to upgrade anything; it'd be to make an addition just for the sake of adding to the joy that's already there.

Where do you fall? Are you walking into your studio or practice room and loving the stuff in there, or are you still on the Quest for the holy grail of tone?
 
I am pretty happy these days
There is still the old standby Boogie MK2 and my Tonal Insanity pedals with The Nova System for reverb and delay
and
Now the PRS H with a couple of my Tonal Insanity pedals and a Nova
and my ever expanding PRS collection
Like I said pretty happy :)
 
A couple of months ago I was squared away and totally satisfied with my sound. I had a '56 and '59 Les Paul RI I'd plug into a Dual Rectifier/Electra Dyne/Mark V and a few pedals I'd use for colour. I hadn't had GAS for a guitar or amp in years. I was at the point that I was selling off gear that I didn't want/need anymore.

With that money I decided to buy a Tele and a PRS. It was also out of curiosity rather than need. I intended on buying an SE or S2 Custom 24 but this McCarty kept calling to me so after multiple trips to the store I gave in and took it home. I expected a great guitar, but once I had it at home and heard it through my kit it far exceeded my expectations.

So now my rig is going through the biggest upheaval it's had in years. I've had a Les Paul as my #1 since 2003 and a McCarty has taken over the top spot. I've now sold 3 Gibson's and am probably going to put a 4th up shortly in order to fund a Custom 24 (the only Gibson I'll have left is the R9, which I'm keeping).

Since I sold my SG I picked up an SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow to use as a beater. I figured I was getting the PRS equivalent of an Epiphone but it turns out this SE is a killer guitar with a great sound.

For the first time in years I have a bad case of GAS again. Knowing that I can get the same basic guitar in a variety of configurations that'll each produce unique sounds is driving it. I now have a plan for two Cores to provide the foundation (McCarty & Custom 24), a couple cheaper PRS I can dedicate to alternate tunings, and a couple I can use for special purposes (semi-hollow, baritone, single coils, etc).

I guess you could say I'm a convert. :cool:
 
My IRW McCarty and the Mesa Mark V.

The Mark V is a culmination of years and years with several Marshalls (JMP-1, Jubilee, and JCM800s mostly), a coupla Carvins, then a TriAxis rack rig which got me close. The Mesa Mark V is absolutely the be all - end all for me. I recently took delivery of a Mark V:35, and it's really cool and very portable, but I doubt it'll ever unseat the big boy.

I'm convinced my McCarty is just 'one of those guitars'. It is pretty much stock, and sounds great through every amp rig it's ever been plugged into. I love and play all of my guitars, but this one is special.
 
I'm still learning guitars, so I'll probably be selling and buying guitars for a while.

I'm pretty happy with my amp situation, though. I've got a nice acoustic, a nice bass (though could be a tad better -- I have the Ampeg Micro-VR amp, probably want to upgrade that to a SVT7Pro or SVT4Pro in the distant future), I love my Riveras and PRSses -- between the four of them, I've got the classic electric guitar tones covered except for the Vox tone, so I've probably got a real Vox (AC15 OR AC30) or Vox clone (Dr. Z Stangray, etc.) in my future. And probably a nice jazz guitar amp, although the MDT is pretty sweet and is fine for that, so it may just be a matter of dialing it in, WRT the room position. And I still want an HXDA. And a steel guitar amp like a Quilter or something.

Okay, I may still be gearwho...uh...not sure what the nice word for that is.

I'm also pretty happy in the pedal department, although there's always the next one. I probably could sell a bunch of them and never miss 'em (because there's a lot of overlap), but I don't know which ones they are.

Best sounding rig is probably the Custom 24 30th anniversary -- or for a completely different tone, the Parker Fly Deluxe -- either one plugged straight into the MDT.
 
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Gosh guys, don't try a vintage style PRS amp, you'll be forever spoiled! ;)

Actually, since you're all Mesa fans, I'll have to mention that in addition to PRS amps, I've been a Mesa player since the early 90s, when they came out with the Tremoverb. At one point I had 4 or 5 Mesas on hand for guitar, plus a Bass 400+ all tube bass amp. I had a Mark V a couple of years back, and really dug it; currently, in addition to the HXDA and DG30 from PRS, my two main recording amps, I have a Lone Star 100.

I was also a Two-Rock player for a long time, until I got into the PRS amps. I'm a real fan of the HXDA and DG30.

I appreciate low wattage amps, but especially with a Mesa, I like the headroom and power of the big iron.

Mesa fans take note:

One thing I added recently to the studio is something I was skeptical about - a Furman PF1800 PFR power conditioner. I finally got it because I simply needed to protect the amps just in case, because I moved them too far from my existing isolation transformer and power supply to be practical, but the draw for this thing is that in addition to the usual protection and filtering, it has a 45 Amp power reservoir. So I decided to try one out.

You'd think, well, no one really needs that and you'd never hear it. Wrong!

The amp it makes the biggest difference with? My 100 watt Lone Star. The PRS amps already sounded like what they are, hand wired boutique amps that have absurdly good tone. Though they, too, improved in headroom with this thing.

However, it took the Lone Star from what I thought was a 'very good-but-not-spectacular' amp (but one that had a lot of useful tones), to a great sounding amp that can compete with any of the hand wired boutique amps for a truly special sound. I think the amp was literally starved for power at the wall socket. This thing made a very audible difference. It was like taking a compressor off the amp.

Here's a shot of the rig as it stands today. The Furman unit is the black rackmount piece sitting on the desk in the background with the blue voltage light on (I have a rack for it, but I pulled a groin muscle moving the amps around the other day, and I am putting off racking it up until it heals). The way it's set up, I can switch between amps at my workstation area, with the cable snake going to the amps. Simple, easy, done!

 
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I'm all about the the guitars I have... My "rig" is however extremely compromised when it comes to tone, but I have other considerations to take into account.
 
I'd have to say I'm really happy with what I have at the moment. That said, I doubt the "quest" will really ever be over. Although, this is the first time in a decade that I can't see parting with anything that I have.
 
I'm pretty happy. I look at stuff, but there is very little I feel the need for.
Amps are Boogie Mark III, which sounds perfect in the music room. The Mark V is a bit friendlier to adjust. An MDT in the library and a Fishman SA220 for the acoustic.
A couple of pedals I rarely use.
And some really sweet guitars.
 
I have to say I am pretty content as well because I know I need an HXDA to complete my tone quest and that will hopefully happen later this year. The rest of my rigs consist of any of my PRS through my Mesa Boogie Kingsnake. To bad the Kingsnake was such a limited release, it is insanely good with creating the hallmark Mesa sound with no effort.

Acoustically, I am content, but slightly restless only because PRS is supposedly entering the acoustic market. That said, I play my Taylor's through my Bose LI S1 which is the bomb. If PRS'H gets the acoustic thing going like it is speculated to be, I can surely see the opportunity to expand my best sounding rig to ungodly like proportions. At least that is my lofty expectations for what PRS could bring to the acoustic market with a diverse Core line acoustic. Especially so if PRS's Doug Sewell comes out with an acoustic amp head (read PRS quality DI box or PA) whaaaaaat! I think he could turn that market upside down. All said, very content and waiting for PRS to rock the apple cart!
 
I have to say I am pretty content as well because I know I need an HXDA to complete my tone quest and that will hopefully happen later this year. The rest of my rigs consist of any of my PRS through my Mesa Boogie Kingsnake. To bad the Kingsnake was such a limited release, it is insanely good with creating the hallmark Mesa sound with no effort.

I liked what I heard of the Kingsnake demos that were floating around the web when it was released. Obviously, it's a killer amp.

I'd still be all-PRS but got the Lone Star to compliment my PRS amps, simply because I had a project coming in that I thought I'd need it for - and I decided if I was going to get one, to fancy it up with the trim options. Between the time I got the purchase order for the project (for a car company), and the time I received the amp, the project got cancelled. Kind of disappointing, but the amp will stay because it's a darn nice amp.

Turns out my son has been touring with one, as has his band mate, and there's a lot that can be done with it that's uniquely "Mesa." It also means that if he's here in town for a visit, he can cut tracks with it at my place.

When I had the Mark V I loved it, but didn't really use more than two channels, so I didn't need that third one. And to be honest, I was blown away by the PRS amps - vintage style single channel amps are more my style.

Still, there's a thing a Mesa does that's a very good thing, so it's nice having that option.
 
My Single Cut Ted SC-245 w/57/08's cabled direct into my 50 Watt HXDA w/2x12 Big Mouth Cabinet w/stock V30's cranked up really loud.
 
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On to the pedalboard - this is probably the way it's going to stay for a while (I know, that may be only a few months, but whatever). The most important thing about this board, given the way I work, is that I can have all 3 amps hooked up to it and switch between them instantly. That matters more to me than the effects!

But the stuff on this board is also working extremely well. There's no hum, there are no buzzes, there is no switching noise, and these pedals sound great. I'll explain the setup --

The pedalboard is a suitcase style with a detachable top. Under the hinged panel where the pedals sit, there is also a velcro-material covered "floor" for the power supply, and anything else you want to put there. The "floor" keeps everything inside clean. I always hated lifting my pedalboard and finding all the cables covered with goo (or spider webs). There are four input/output jacks on the top panel of the board, and two switched power outlets underneath the surface of the board. Connecting the board is as simple as plugging in a power cable, and connecting the guitar and amps. No fussing around. Power is via a Voodoo Labs 4x4.

I use the first I/O jack as an input jack, located on the top panel of the board instead of plugging directly into a pedal. For me, this simply makes the setup a little faster and more compact, since I'm old - jacks that face upward to plug into mean not having to kneel down to find the hole on a pedal for the plug.

From the input jack, the signal hits the wah, which is true bypass. From there it goes to the Suhr buffer, the little black box next to the wah on the upper part of the board. This buffer is dead quiet, does not suck tone at ALL, and has a separate output for a tuner or another amp, or whatever you want to plug into it. The second output is electrically isolated, so there are no ground loops, and has a phase switch if you need one. It's tiny, too. If I need room on the pedalboard, it can go underneath the lid, but for now I like everything on the top panel of the board so I can get to the inputs and outputs easily. I use the second output for the TC tuner. I actually prefer my Peterson Strobe-o-stomp, but it's so big and heavy, I just didn't want to add its weight to the board. Maybe I'll change my mind...

From the buffer, the signal hits a Suhr Koko Boost, an incredible sounding pedal that gives you a very hi-fi guitar tone that can be boosted slightly or boosted a lot. Plus it can be electronically switched to a mid boost with an adjustable Q simply by holding the foot switch down a few seconds. The switching is absolutely silent on Suhr pedals, since it's done by relays. This is without a doubt the finest sounding pedal of any kind I've ever had.

From the boost, the signal goes to the Suhr Koji Compressor. I saw Pete Thorn demo this thing, and watched the demo several times because I liked what it did so much. It's always a little hard to even out the levels with a clean amp when recording, and this is about as transparent a compressor pedal as there is on the market. It's also got a nice little EQ switch that can brighten things up or tame them down a little bit. But I like it for more than a clean amp; it sounds great into an overdriven amp, too, when I want to boost the signal a little bit to fatten up the tone, but don't want the amp to go out of control. I use this thing a lot now.

The signal then hits a Suhr Jackrabbit tremolo. I like analog tremolos, and this one has tap tempo, and is very quiet compared to most. The sound quality is outstanding. I have a tremolo on the Eventide H9 as well, and there is really no comparison in thickness/chewiness.

The last effect on the pedalboard is the Eventide H9 Max. This pedal is (I think) the best sounding digital pedal I've heard so far. Its limitation is one effect at a time, but they're all very useful and good sounding. There are too many to list. Like most digital pedals, there's a little hiss with some algorithms, which drives me absolutely crazy, but it is what it is.

After the board, I have a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo, the best sounding delay in the history of my world, but obviously it's not on the pedalboard. I plug into it when I want that thing it does. The Mesa footswitch is for the Lone Star, it obviously isn't in the signal path.

Finally, the blue pedal with the 3 buttons is the Lehle 3at1 SGoS, a programmable switcher that lets me connect all three amps and switch between them with no noise, no switching noise, no tone suck, and no ground loops. It is just terrific.

All the cables are Van den Hul "The Bay C5" interconnects, made in Holland. These are ultra-low capacitance silver coated copper, with a carbon screen to eliminate noise, and indeed, this pedalboard is the least susceptible to outside noise and interference I've wired up. The cables are VERY stiff, and I had Lava terminate them with standard sized G&H plugs for durability, as I have a habit of changing and moving stuff around on pedalboards. I got tired of do-it-yourself plug failures appearing out of the blue. So the cables show, and they take up space. But...the sound's great and it's worth it. I use PRS/Van Damme cables to the amps, and from the guitar. I'd use PRS' pedal interconnects too, because I like the way they sound and how flexible they are, but they're only available in one length, so I went to the other brand for the custom work.

Here's the board:


Oh yeah...no dirt pedal! I get dirt from the amps.
 
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Les, I am blown away by your setup every time you post about it. I'm looking at the furman power reservoir now based on your experience with it.
 
Ill tell ya what, Im pretty dang happy with what Ive got right now. Sure Ill improve on it as time goes on, but when it comes to amps and guitars, Im happy with what I have right now.
Well, maybe Ill change some pups, and pick up a few pedals, but Im going to concentrate on improving my playing now.
 
Les, I am blown away by your setup every time you post about it. I'm looking at the furman power reservoir now based on your experience with it.

Depending on the amp, I think it makes a difference. This is especially the case with high power amps, like the 100 Watt Lone Star. The difference is less noticeable with the PRS amps, though it's there, it's subtle. Whether this is because the PRS amps sounded better than the Mesa in the first place, or because of their lower power needs, I can't say. YMMV.

So my advice would be to try one before you buy, or buy with the understanding that you can return it if it doesn't make much of a difference with your setup.

NOTE - I changed the initial photo in the thread to show more of the rig.
 
I will so +1 the Koko Boost. It is one OUTSTANDING pedal! Guitar, cable, Koko, cable, HXDA.....nothing else needed.
 
I liked what I heard of the Kingsnake demos that were floating around the web when it was released. Obviously, it's a killer amp.

I'd still be all-PRS but got the Lone Star to compliment my PRS amps, simply because I had a project coming in that I thought I'd need it for - and I decided if I was going to get one, to fancy it up with the trim options. Between the time I got the purchase order for the project (for a car company), and the time I received the amp, the project got cancelled. Kind of disappointing, but the amp will stay because it's a darn nice amp.

Turns out my son has been touring with one, as has his band mate, and there's a lot that can be done with it that's uniquely "Mesa." It also means that if he's here in town for a visit, he can cut tracks with it at my place.

When I had the Mark V I loved it, but didn't really use more than two channels, so I didn't need that third one. And to be honest, I was blown away by the PRS amps - vintage style single channel amps are more my style.

Still, there's a thing a Mesa does that's a very good thing, so it's nice having that option.

At this point I've been playing Dual Rectifiers since 2003. I've tried branching out at various points and while those other amps have sounded great I just can't get them to do the things a Recto does they way the Recto does it. My preferred style is a mix of 70s rock/metal, 90s grunge and 00s stoner rock/sludge metal. Around 2010 I switched to a Roadster and the amp just sort of fits what I do perfectly, and it has enough versatility that I can cover other styles as required. I actually do a lot of low-ish gain stuff with it and prefer it's clean/tweed modes to the Mark V.

The Mark V I had since they came out (used to use a Mark III). It was a great amp, but I felt it forced me to adapt my playing to it rather than it adapting to my playing. I recently sold it as part of this current gear purge. I was hesitant to sell it but now that it's gone I don't really miss it. Now I have GAS for the JP-2C, which I think would be a better fit for my taste.

To me, the Electra Dyne serves as sort of a low gain Rectifier. There's something comfortable in the feel and sound of the amp, but it doesn't have the chainsaw buzz of a Recto and has a more natural compression when the gain is turned up.

IMG_5319.jpg
 
I am somewhat discontent with my rig right now, but it's really because I am waiting for some pieces. Also I do discover things about my rig that I like, which ironically is the reason for the discontentment!

I'm playing my Custom 24, along with a 72 Tele Deluxe, and a '62 reissue strat. My pedalboard in its new form is a Budda Wah --> Fulltone Plimsoul --> MXR Super Comp --> ARC Klone --> Line 6 M13 --> MXR ABC. From there my signal goes into a Tone King Comet 40b, and a Tone King Royalist. The Comet is going through a THD Hotplate, and the Royalist is going through the new Tone King Ironman II Mini.

I am experiencing buzz in my setup, which is the biggest issue. Les has me pointed in what I believe is the right direction in that regard, I'm just waiting for the Fulltone switcher to show up! The next thing I'm waiting on is a Crook T-Style to replace the Tele Deluxe in the rotation.

Recently I've discovered how great my Strat sounds through the Royalist when it is set to sound clean. I was talking to Mark about it, and he told about the updates to the Royalist for 2016 that they just released at Namm. Now I think I would love to get one of the new Royalists for cleans, and pair it with the one I currently have for dirt. The other thing that is weighing on me is that the Ironman II Mini sounds SO MUCH BETTER than the Hotplate, and it also has a footswitchable solo boost! Which has me thinking about picking up a Sky King to replace the Comet.

I could potentially wind up with 3 amps and 3 guitars at every show. I'm going to need a hand truck.

Honestly I could go play an entire show with just my Custom 24 and my Comet.
 
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