David Grissom On Setting Up An Amp

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Too Many Notes
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I saw this back in 2020 when there was a virtual Experience. I stumbled on it again this evening and thought it was really worth watching.

I probably thought that because I've always had a similar way of thinking about amps, pedals, etc.

Here 'tis. Worth the watch.

 
He's pretty brilliant
True.

As a session ace and touring musician, he understands how to make music that has different colors, nuance and shading. He groks how to manipulate dynamics for maximum musicality, through picking dynamics, guitar and amp controls, and intention.

So he sets his guitars, amps and pedals up to best achieve those things.

What I love about the DG30 amp is that it's a fantastic amp without pedals, especially when set up what I'd call 'correctly' - it's not instantaneous gratification, you have to learn the amp, but that can be done quickly if you understand what his concept was in helping to create it.

It's also a great pedal platform when the pedals are used not just to reproduce the drive of a pedal, but to drive the amp's front end to change its tone color as well. That way you get a beautiful blend of push, from the pedal's dirt and the driven tubes, and everything melts together.

Everyone's got their own way of doing things, no doubt about that, and everyone's tastes are different. But for me, running a pedal into a clean amp and merely reproducing the sound of a pedal is a recipe for sterility and less-than-stellar tone.

Drive the front end of the amp a bit with the pedal, and you're in business in a completely different, and to my way of thinking, more musically useful way.

The DG30 makes maximal use of that philosophy, a big reason why I love it.

Grissom also leaves himself room with the guitar controls to manipulate dynamics and tone both up and down. Smart thinking. Smart player.

It's no wonder he's a famous player who's done a lot while most of us mostly sit around with our thumbs up our butts wishing we could do the really fun stuff! ;)
 
Amen , been a fan since the Joe Ely days. The DG30 is an amazing amp , and AGREED it is not really plug an play , you have to discover it's magic .I have to say it's the first amp I dimed the master and kept the pre amp low .. pr DG , it works well the other way too .. . I rarely use the boost mode .. it is a different animal..
 
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Amen , been a fan since the Joe Ely days. The DG30 is an amazing amp , and AGREED it is not really plug an play , you have to discover it's magic .
The thing lots of players don't realize about the DG30 when first trying it, is that it isn't your typical master volume amp that uses a post=phase inverter master volume, where you set the gain with the volume and then set the output level with the master, like most Mesas, etc.

The DG30 is a pre-phase inverter master volume amp. That means that the gain and master volume controls are interactive. Some of the early, most-loved Two-Rocks were designed this way as well.

You have to experiment with how the two controls interact to find your personal sweet spot.

The other thing is that the Boost mode transforms the amp into a different kinda thing. I like the amp set up both ways.

There's the top-cut control on the back panel. Using it takes a bit of experimentation as well. It has its most excellent uses, especially when setting up the amp in a bright sounding room. Finally the presence control is also in back. the presence and top-cut also affect the high end in slightly different ways, and that's another reason to fiddle about.

Once the amp is understood, however, I find it one of the best amps ever made. It certainly has worked for me since I bought it in 2014. But no amp pleases everyone.
 
Since I can't stop myself from blathering on and on about the DG30 amplifier...

I've always said that as much as I like my two Mesa amps - and I like them a lot - when I switch to the DG30 or the HXDA and hit a note or a chord, I can't help but think, "Thus saith the Mac Daddy."

They take me right to Bone Tone.

Who shall ascend the mountain of the Mac Daddy Amps, and who shall stand in their holy place? He that hath clean tones. and pure edge of breakup, who hath not played his soul's music in vain on deceitful modelers...

Oh, I know. I'm an insufferable tube amplifier purist, and that is so utterly annoying, isn't it?

"Go ahead on, Mr. Modeler...you can't sound like me..."
--
László Hendrix, 'If Nine Was Six'


;)
 
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I saw this when it was released. It was good to see it again. I have been telling my wife that for some reason my ear has really become much better with hearing details since not playing in a band. I have been reconnecting with guitars I have not played in a good while and have really been connecting with some different OD pedals. I am tweaking dials more on the guitar and pedals and have really been having fun with that. I think my tone has improved for it. I used to get compliments constantly on my tones in the bands I have been in. I let other guitar players come up and play my rig and they always tell me it sounds fantastic and is so touch sensitive that they love it and would love to get their rig to run like that. I feel like I have improved a few aspects of that this year. This video fit right in with the things I have been doing.

I have been playing with two of my amps that are very different and am getting tones from both of them that I have really been enjoying. The tones are definitely different from one amp to the next but I now feel I have an amp choice depending on the music I am playing that sets me up for tones that will fit well. I am doing all of this with the same pedals. I use far fewer of the pedals with one amp and more with the other but they are working for both very well. I have even been using new cables and not using my wireless and I would say that for the first time in my playing I can hear the difference between the cable and wireless and I only buy good wireless units. I can adjust to the wireless and still get the tones I have been getting but it is a strong possibility that I will try both approaches live at some point and could possibly go back to running a cable. I put a tuner pedal on the board so if I want to not use the wireless I pull one power cable and one 1/4" and move them to the tuner and plug my cable into that and I am up and running. It is super easy to switch back and forth. I can do it in about a minute.
 
I saw this when it was released. It was good to see it again. I have been telling my wife that for some reason my ear has really become much better with hearing details since not playing in a band. I have been reconnecting with guitars I have not played in a good while and have really been connecting with some different OD pedals. I am tweaking dials more on the guitar and pedals and have really been having fun with that. I think my tone has improved for it. I used to get compliments constantly on my tones in the bands I have been in. I let other guitar players come up and play my rig and they always tell me it sounds fantastic and is so touch sensitive that they love it and would love to get their rig to run like that. I feel like I have improved a few aspects of that this year. This video fit right in with the things I have been doing.

I have been playing with two of my amps that are very different and am getting tones from both of them that I have really been enjoying. The tones are definitely different from one amp to the next but I now feel I have an amp choice depending on the music I am playing that sets me up for tones that will fit well. I am doing all of this with the same pedals. I use far fewer of the pedals with one amp and more with the other but they are working for both very well. I have even been using new cables and not using my wireless and I would say that for the first time in my playing I can hear the difference between the cable and wireless and I only buy good wireless units. I can adjust to the wireless and still get the tones I have been getting but it is a strong possibility that I will try both approaches live at some point and could possibly go back to running a cable. I put a tuner pedal on the board so if I want to not use the wireless I pull one power cable and one 1/4" and move them to the tuner and plug my cable into that and I am up and running. It is super easy to switch back and forth. I can do it in about a minute.
Sounds like what you've been doing is paying dividends. That's great!
 
True.

As a session ace and touring musician, he understands how to make music that has different colors, nuance and shading. He groks how to manipulate dynamics for maximum musicality, through picking dynamics, guitar and amp controls, and intention.

So he sets his guitars, amps and pedals up to best achieve those things.

What I love about the DG30 amp is that it's a fantastic amp without pedals, especially when set up what I'd call 'correctly' - it's not instantaneous gratification, you have to learn the amp, but that can be done quickly if you understand what his concept was in helping to create it.

It's also a great pedal platform when the pedals are used not just to reproduce the drive of a pedal, but to drive the amp's front end to change its tone color as well. That way you get a beautiful blend of push, from the pedal's dirt and the driven tubes, and everything melts together.

Everyone's got their own way of doing things, no doubt about that, and everyone's tastes are different. But for me, running a pedal into a clean amp and merely reproducing the sound of a pedal is a recipe for sterility and less-than-stellar tone.

Drive the front end of the amp a bit with the pedal, and you're in business in a completely different, and to my way of thinking, more musically useful way.

The DG30 makes maximal use of that philosophy, a big reason why I love it.

Grissom also leaves himself room with the guitar controls to manipulate dynamics and tone both up and down. Smart thinking. Smart player.

It's no wonder he's a famous player who's done a lot while most of us mostly sit around with our thumbs up our butts wishing we could do the really fun stuff! ;)
I can understand completely what message you're trying to convey here.

The last 5 years or so has me in an amp funk. I've had several amps come and go and it has me so frustrated.

I love the tones DG gets out of his amp and want that so badly but sometimes I think my brain just works against me more than it helps me.

I'd love to actually play through a DG 30 head to see if I can make it work but in my area it is nearly impossible to get my hands on one.

If I could just get a tone that sweeps me off my feet I could enjoy some piece of mind and settle in for some creative recordings.

I've gotten so frustrated that I actually have considered selling everything and calling it a day.
 
Sounds like what you've been doing is paying dividends. That's great!
And after seeing the edition of That Pedal Show where they tamed a Fender Hotrod Deluxe, I will be pulling that amp out of the "going to sell" stack and doing some testing with it. I have the exact compressor now that they put in the loop and I have a couple of EQ pedals I can use if I feel the need. I really want to try what they did. I think that may make that amp deliver a couple of different tones and a feel that I hadn't got out of it previously. I have a volume box that I had tried in it but I didn't like the result at that time. It gave me a great tone but it was too compressed. I couldn't get the touch sensitivity from it that I wanted. The thing they did with the compressor impressed both of them and they commented on how it really made it feel good. I have to try that now that I have the same equipment they used. That could make that amp stay here.
 
I've gotten so frustrated that I actually have considered selling everything and calling it a day.

I have the perfect solution to your gear problem - I call it the Five Step Amplifiers Anonymous Appreciation Program.

I've done it, and it works!

1. Start writing and recording orchestral music. Do not play any guitar for a few months. Eventually this activity will cause you to want to bash your forehead against the nearest brick wall.

2. Don't do it. Instead of bashing your forehead against said wall, walk over to your rig, and without thinking, let the music flow and just play. Don't think about tone for one second, think about music.

3. Experience the immediate wave of relief and joy. Hosanna!

4. Then thou shouldst say, "Thank goodness for thee, O my rig of Joy! Thou hast freed me from the fetters and damnation of eternal orchestral composing!"

5. Take down your Reverb ad.

;)

Alternative Solution: Drop some high quality NOS tubes from the '60s, chosen for low microphonics and noise (some vendors will test each tube for that) into the amp that comes closest to acceptability in your room.

The difference will be subtle, But I find doing that small, subtle thing always makes me want to live with an amp a lot longer. Last time I sold an amp was in 2014. All four of mine are loaded with NOS glass.

I've never gone that long without selling amps off. Never!
 
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Ask not what your rig can do for you. Ask what you can do for your rig.
-- Laszlo F. Karynthi, 1960

"What did you do for your rig today, Laz?"

"Went to my Personal Gear Altar and worshiped it."

"Did it respond to your prayers?"

"Yes. It said to stop playing through it and to bring in a real guitar player."

"You've heard that before, right?"

"Yes, but mainly from my wife."
 
The DG30 is a pre-phase inverter master volume amp. That means that the gain and master volume controls are interactive. Some of the early, most-loved Two-Rocks were designed this way as well.

Nothing special about that, most amps seem to have the PRE-PI MV... and it's "performance" is why the POST-PI MV was developed, along with other MV circuits. Actually I'm surprised Grissom turns the MV all the way up: this does NOT defeat the MV in a pre-PI MV circuit; and every amp I have owned over 35 years, if you cranked a pre-PI MV all you got was a blizzard of nails. I wonder if they did something different, like put a low pass filter on the MV pot or something...

My Bad Cat has the best MV I've ever encountered, and I'm not sure how it works, but it's not a pre- or post- PI thing. It's not power scaling either. But it's badass.
 
Nothing special about that, most amps seem to have the PRE-PI MV...
I think the important thing isn't which is more unusual or special, it's how each circuit differs. The player armed with the information as to what does what on a given amp is able to set the amp up more easily. because he or she understands the controls and how they interact.

A post-PI MV allows the phase inverter to clip, thereby increasing the distortion as the preamp gain is turned up, and it also allows the preamp gain to be more independent of the setting on the MV. Lots of players are more comfortable with two independent controls, and lots want the increased distortion of a gained-up PI tube.

You find that on most Mesas.

A pre-PI MV won't do that, and I'm told that lots of players prefer the pre-PI MV for that reason. On the other hand, lots of players prefer post-PI for its advantages and ease of setup.

There are players who feel that post-PI amps are more buzzy unless the master is turned up more. I've heard complaints about Mesa MVs being that way (btw, I've always liked Mesas and have a couple here). I was told that post-PI MVs are more popular, but that isn't important.

The MV on my Hot Cat 30 was fairly useless, the amp had to be "hear it a block away" loud to sound its best (and I ran mine that way), but I understand that was an earlier design that has since been changed. Fantastic sounding amp, though. It's one I wish I hadn't let go, but I was a Two-Rock player at the time. The T-Rs I had were post-PI. I think my HXDA may be post-PI as well.
 
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The MV on my Hot Cat 30 was fairly useless, the amp had to be "hear it a block away" loud to sound its best (and I ran mine that way), but I understand that was an earlier design that has since been changed. Fantastic sounding amp, though. It's one I wish I hadn't let go, but I was a Two-Rock player at the time. The T-Rs I had were post-PI. I think my HXDA may be post-PI as well.

Yes, the new ones have something they call the "K-Master", and it works incredibly well. I've never owned a power-scaling amp (I remember when Suhr's Badger was the first to employ this), but the K-Master is the best I've ever heard.
 
Yes, the new ones have something they call the "K-Master", and it works incredibly well. I've never owned a power-scaling amp (I remember when Suhr's Badger was the first to employ this), but the K-Master is the best I've ever heard.
Yup. I was referring to that. I've heard great things about it!

Suhr has updated their Badger model as well, BTW. It has a few new features in addition to the power scaling. I liked the previous model, but haven't heard the new one in person.
 
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