simplifying (?)

Over the last few months, I have made some major changes to my guitar setup, and there are more changes coming. I think that it will be simpler to operate when I’m done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be simple to look at.

For one, I have gone through quite a few amps. I started out with a Stulce – a relatively simple ~8 watt tube amp. It was designed to get maximum tube saturation without getting unbearably loud. It was nice, but it didn’t have enough clean headroom. I traded that for a Genz-Benz Black Pearl, which is a 30 watt amp similar in nature to a VOX AC30. It was really jangly and chimey, and it got pretty rude when you cranked the gains, but it never really got seriously crunchy. I also acquired a 1970 Fender Bassman. It had great cleans and it was really loud, but it needed some work (new filter caps, pots, etc) and I didn’t really want to drop any more cash into it. I decided to sell both of them and buy a VHT Sig:X. The Sig:X is a monstrous 100 watt 3-channel amp that can do pretty much everything. I have talked about this amp ad nauseum here, so I won’t continue to do so.

My pedalboard used to be 36″ wide with a wah, a volume pedal, a bunch of analog overdrive/distortion/boost pedals, and a giant green delay pedal with a huge midi controller. It is now 24″ wide with one of these and two of these. I’m still figuring out some of the intricacies of the M13, but I’m really liking it so far.

The next change is going to be my speaker cabinet. I had an Avatar Vintage 2×12, but it was kinda cheaply made, and it didn’t have a very tight sound. I sold it, and I will soon be the proud owner of  a Fryette Deliverance 4×12 that will match my Sig:X. A 4×12 is a really big speaker cab, and it’s going to be awesome. I have never had a half stack before, but I have a feeling that it’s gonna be pretty rock and roll. I was initially planning to buy the 2×12 version, but I happened to find a really good deal on the bigger one. The used 4×12 ended up being significantly less expensive than a new 2×12 so I decided to go for it.

The other little gadget that I’m planning to add to my setup in the near future is the RJM Mini Amp Gizmo. This thing looks pretty awesome. It allows you to control a modern multi-channel amp (including models by VHT/Fryette, Mesa, Bogner, Egnater, etc) with a MIDI device like the Line 6 M13. Basically, I can run a MIDI cable from the M13 to the Amp Gizmo to my amp. The M13 will send information to the Amp Gizmo, allowing me to use the M13 as my amp’s footswitch. I can assign a different amp setting (channel/boost/effects loop) to each scene on the M13. Rather than using distortion patches on the M13, I can use the clean/rhythm/lead channels on the amp. Here’s a little video that demonstrates how it works.

It’s going to be kind of a pain to get it all set up, but it will be super easy to operate once it’s done. I really don’t want to have to stomp all the time – I would much rather just focus on playing.

10 thoughts on “simplifying (?)”

  1. “Pain to set up”… looks easy to me from the vid. (unless you mean setting it all up for every gig)
    Wow. Thats a killer setup. Thats beautiful. Can’t wait to see your next vid on it all.

  2. Oh yeah, the little amp gizmo thing will be embarrassingly easy to set up. I was mostly talking about the initial programming of the M13 to work with the amp. I don’t really enjoy doing all the tweaking. I actually prefer having real knobs that adjust physical potentiometers and stuff, but using the M13 in a live situation makes everything so simple that I can’t see going back to analog pedals in the near future.

    The other pain in the butt is due to the fact that I’m planning to run the M13 in the effects loop of my amp using the 4 cable method (4CM). Basically, I’ll plug my guitar into the M13, and the M13 effects loop will feed into the amp’s effects loop. The M13′s output will feed into the amp’s input. The benefits of this are that I can run comps, filters, and overdrives before the preamp, and I can run EQ, delay, and modulation after the preamp stage. The downside is that it requires 4 cables, which can get kind of expensive if you’re keeping the amp very far away.

    I’ll probably need 3 x 25′ instrument cables and 1 x 25′ MIDI cable. I’ll probably buy like 100′ of Canare GS-6 bulk cable and build my own cables to save a little money. I could probably do that for about $120. The MIDI cable will probably cost about $30 – I’m not going to try to build one of those.

    Yeah, the new setup is going to be pretty slick. I’m really excited to get it all in. My new pedalboard (a Pedaltrain PT-2) should be here on Thursday. It will fit my M13 and 2 FV-500H pedals absolutely perfectly. It won’t be all that attractive to a pedal geek, but it’ll be perfect for me. I’ll probably get the cab early next week, and I haven’t ordered the amp gizmo yet. I will definitely record a demo video once I get everything in.

  3. way cool! looks like a lot of pre-work but once done, you’ll be rocking in no time … that amp gizmo is a real good concept.

  4. What’s the different between this Gizmo thing and a Voodoo labs Ground Control?

    I’m looking at this ground control thing and it seems like a good way to run everything from it and POSSIBLY still use the 4 cable method with it. I would like to possibly go wireless and I’m wondering if using a midi controller type thing with a wireless box will allow me to use my amp but keep it in a separate room with no cables between myself and the room aside from possibly the midi one.


  5. I think that the Ground Control is just a fancy midi controller. It sends info to a midi device to trigger program changes and things like that. It doesn’t carry any type of audio signal. You would still need something like the amp gizmo to interface with the Ground Control.

    As far as adding wireless with the 4 cable method – I don’t think it would be simple. You would need 3 paths from the M13 to the amp, which would mean 3 wireless transmitters/receivers. It would be a major pain/expense. Remember, midi does not carry an audio signal.

  6. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

    But I wonder, if I could somehow control my pedals with a midi controller of some sort, could I possibly still run the 4 cable method leaving the pedal board with the amp, and changing effects with the controller, and also get a wireless signal by running the receiver into the input of my effects chain? That way, I would only need one wireless transmitter for the input and the effects are all controlled via midi.

    I’m not well versed with this midi stuff so if that’s a possibility that would be really neat. I might be able to use my amp again at church, and the wireless freedom would be REALLY nice. (I tend to move around a lot).

  7. That’s a good point. Now that I think about it, a lot of people are racking their M13s and controlling them remotely with some kind of MIDI interface.

    You should be able to go wireless from your guitar to the M13, then do the FX loop thing, and then M13 out to the amp input. Then you would only have to have a long midi cable to run from your controller to the M13. That should work really well, assuming you can get a good wireless signal. I have never messed with wireless, so I’m not sure what kind of problems you might run into.

  8. NICE… That’s what I was thinking. I would love to do that. I could maybe use my amp again. Of course, this is probably hundreds of dollars down the road, so I’ll probably have to wait a bit for this to happen. LOL.

    The wife wants a puppy and a house first.

  9. How exactly are you using the BOSS 500s? one for volume one for expression? I am looking into this type of setup for ease of use.


  10. Yep, one is a volume pedal and one is an expression pedal. I’m about to ditch the expression pedal and get a wah instead. I never really use the expression pedal.

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