Sig:X clean channel

I recorded a short clip of the Sig:X this week, and I’m finally getting around to editing it down and exporting the audio. I used my G&L ASAT into the clean channel with my Timeline in the FX loop (you can hear when I switch it on and off).

I am really happy with the clean channel. Really. It’s so much fun to play. You could easily pull off jazz, funk, reggae, whatever with this channel. It’s very tweakable, and I haven’t been able to get a bad sound out of it.

Side note – I had kinda forgotten how freaking cool the Timeline is. Since I started using a MIDI controller pedal to switch presets, I pretty much stopped experimenting with sounds. However, when I pulled it off the board and put it in the loop I started playing with different sounds. There are a ton of cool sounds in this weird-looking green box with the multicolored flashing vacuum tubes.

Anyway, here’s the clip.

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Initial Thoughts: Fryette Sig:X


Last night at 9:30 pm, FedEx knocked on the door with a new plaything: my Fryette/VHT Sig:X 100 watt 3-channel amp. I know that many of you are single-channel, low-watt amp devotees, so don’t write me off as a high-gain shredder wannabe just yet.

I was looking for an extremely versatile head that would enable me to get crystalline clean tones, medium gain rhythm tones, singing lead tones, and I also wanted to be able to get a great hard rock rhythm tone with tight bass for palm muted stuff. Oh, and I don’t want to have to use overdrive or distortion pedals. That’s not expecting too much from a single amp, is it?

Well, let me tell you that the Sig:X just might handle everything that I have just mentioned. It’s way too soon to tell, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. Many so-called “high gain” amps do one thing well, and that one thing is usually a scooped, swarm of bees-style of distortion. Forget the clean channel – that’s usually an afterthought at best. However, you can dial in a great clean tone on all three channels on the Sig:X. In fact, it would be really cool to dial in three distinct shades of clean, depending on what was happening in the set.

There are several switches and controls to shape the EQ on each channel, and it’s really pretty easy to shape the tone to match different guitars and pickup types. The rhythm and lead channels are designed to be extremely versatile, but they seem to want to be cranked up. Maybe that’s just me. This amp seems to have a pretty Marshally vibe to it, but it has it’s own distinct flavor to it.

VHT amps have a reputation for being very tight, almost stiff. That’s a good thing if you’re playing metal, but not so good for other styles of music. Steve Fryette decided to make this amp a little more tweakable by allowing you to switch between tube and solid state rectifiers. When you choose the 40W setting, the amp defaults to a tube rectifier, giving you a looser, saggier feel. The 100W setting chooses the solid state rectifier, which tightens the bass up significantly. It’s pretty unforgiving at the 100W setting. I should note that there isn’t a discernible volume difference between the two settings. Each channel has it’s own 40/100 switch, so you can pick a different setting for each channel. There are also a couple of controls shared by the rhythm and lead channels that allow you to specifically dial in how loose or tight the amp responds.

This will be my first amp with an effects loop. I’m looking forward to trying some things out, especially delay and EQ. Each channel has a footswitchable boost function, which is essentially an extra 12AX7 gain stage. Oh, and each channel has a more/less switch, which enables or disables a gain stage. IIRC, the clean channel has up to 3 gain stages, and the rhythm/lead channels have up to 4, depending on how you have the amp set up.

Anyway, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, and I’m still getting the hang of it. I haven’t really had much time with it, and I certainly haven’t been able to turn it up yet. I’m looking forward to the discovery process, and I’ll be sure to record some clips to prove the naysayers wrong. =)

well, that was quick

You know those new amps that I got a couple of weeks ago? Well, they’re gone. Yep, both of ‘em.

I sold the Black Pearl because it wasn’t really a fit for me. It was a really nice AC30-style amp, but that’s not what I want right now. I wasn’t too crazy about the overdrive, and I’m not crazy about getting all my distorted sounds from pedals.

The Bassman was a little different. I was kinda torn about it. On one hand, it had a really sweet clean tone. The overdrive was nice too, but you really have to get pretty loud before it starts to break up. On the down side, it had a bunch of scratchy pots and a couple of noisy switches. It also needed new filter caps and tubes. It probably would have ended up costing me at least $300 to have the work done. I decided that it wasn’t worth it to me, so I sold it.

Right now, I don’t have an amp in my house. Fortunately, that will be remedied tomorrow. I found a ridiculous price on a used Fryette (formerly VHT) Sig:X. The Sig:X is a 100 watt, 3-channel, dual KT88 monster. KT88 tubes are kinda like really big EL34s. They are somewhat similar in character to 6L6 tubes, but they have much greater headroom and provide a much smoother overdrive sound with clearer bass response.

The Sig:X is kind of an intimidating-looking amplifier. It’s covered with knobs and switches that allow you to really tailor your sound. There are three channels (Clean/Rhythm/Lead) but you are supposed to be able to dial in fantastic clean tones from all three channels. This amp is said to be extremely versatile, with the ability to cover a broad palette of tones, which should work really well in the band that I’m in. We’re looking at a fairly eclectic setlist (from folk to Stone Temple Pilots to Primus) and I need an amp that can cover a lot of bases. I shouldn’t need any dirt pedals with this amp, but I will probably invest in an MXR 10-band EQ pedal to put in the FX loop.

I have admired VHT amps for a long time, and I’m pretty excited about getting one. Unfortunately, my speaker cab is currently empty, which is just embarrassing. I think I have decided on a pair of Eminence Wizards (kind of a cross between a Greenback and a V30). The Wizard is efficient, clean, and it will handle the power that the Sig:X puts out. I guess I can just look at the amp until I get some speakers. Let’s see, what can I sell now…

Bassman demo

Here’s a quick demo, just to whet your appetites. This amp needs some TLC (scratchy pots, noisy switches, old filter caps), but it still sounds pretty great. The first half of the track is on the normal channel. At around the 1:24 mark I jumper in the bass channel to add some low and mid-bass frequencies. I haven’t been able to get the volume past 3 yet – it has the capacity to get really, really loud.

Once again, I’m using my G&L ASAT Bluesboy w/Lollars, both pickups engaged (until the very end, where I switch to the neck pickup for the jazzy stuff). Guitar – cord – amp. No effects.

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Black Pearl initial review, “voicing” demo

I got the new amp (Genz-Benz Black Pearl) in on Wednesday. This is probably the fastest deal that I’ve ever done. We agreed to the trade on Sunday evening, and both amps were delivered on Wednesday. On the flipside, I’m still waiting for the Bassman. It won’t get here until Thursday.

Anyway, the Black Pearl is pretty cool. It’s very versatile, and you can get a lot of sounds out of it. I used it at church today and it sounded pretty good. I kinda dialed in a mostly clean (with just a bit of hair) scooped-mids tone. I was trying to get a Fendery twang out of it, and it almost pulled it off. It sounded really nice, and I only stepped on my overdrive once or twice.

I don’t have time to do a detailed demo, but I wanted to do something quick to give you all a general idea of what it sounds like. I have the EQ controls straight up, gain is at 9:00 and the master is set at 11:00. I have the output stage set to the 2 tube (15 watt) setting so that it wouldn’t be too loud. I’m using my G&L ASAT Bluesboy loaded with Lollar pickups. I really love this guitar.

This clip highlights the voicing control, which is a 5-way switch with the following settings: Deep, Bright, Natural, Dark, and Thick. I do some basic chording on each of the settings – listen to how the tone completely changes. I haven’t really gone in-depth with this feature, but I’m sure that some of these settings are really geared to be used with overdriven tones. Speaking of which, this amp has a really sweet natural distortion, especially with the boost kicked in. It gets pretty crunchy when it’s maxed out.

Anyway, here’s the clip. [After I finish with the Thick setting, I go back to the Natural setting and noodle a little bit.]

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