SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Kaifusha » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:00 pm

So with the generous donations of expertise on this forum, for which I'll be forever grateful :hail: , I converted my second Strat into a Jerrycaster (Super Distortion, Super 2, SDS-1 with Waldo's TPC-1 with OBEL) and picked up a K120. Based on the reviews here, it seems like either one of these amplification options would be a good choice for a less weighty Jerry-tone rig - my back not being what it was, and it wasn't much to begin with. Are there any advantages/disadvantages of one over the other, beyond the maybe greater versatility of the Quilter? Anyone have both? I'm just about ready to pull the trigger, and Carvin is having a 20% off sale now, so the GAS is getting pretty intense . . . Thanks for any and all thoughts, and again a bajillion thanks for the wonderful tech help you all have amassed here.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:44 pm

The #1 absolutely critical thing to consider with any power amp is:

How does it sound when you overdrive and clip it a little? How loud is it when its maximum power ceiling is reached?


We must use our power amps in a way that makes them behave like a guitar amp. That means we turn it all the way up until it maxes out and begins to distort a little bit. We also need this to happen at an enjoyable loudness level. This clipping/distortion is precisely where the harsh, spikey, and very loud pick attack transients get tamed, smoothed, musically distorted a little. This is the key. If we use a totally clean amp with too much power and headroom, then we're playing dead clean with brutally nasty transient spikes, a lack of "feel", and a terribly sterile and lifeless response. Playing thru a too-loud, too-clean amp can sound ok for a minute as it reveals the guitar tone and sounds pretty "Jerry", but on stage when the music is rocking, that kind of linear, clean, sterile tone will fall flat and be purely UN-enjoyable.

(this section edited after learning more (and very encouraging) info about the Quilter designs. See my post on page 3)

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Last edited by SarnoMusicSolutions on Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby tdcrjeff » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:50 pm

SarnoMusicSolutions wrote: I'm not sure which Carvin you're referring to, but I DO recommend their all-tube TS-100 power amp.

Presumably the DCM200L that gets mentioned a lot around here.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Kaifusha » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:55 pm

Thanks Brad. I guess my concern with both these options is volume control. With the size of the places we play now, I haven't been able to push the 22W tube amp I have now. I was referring to the DCM-200L, which seems to be highly thought of here when paired with your pre. Not being a purist yet, I'd be happy with an approximation of Jerry tone, or my own version of it, but would like to get roughly the same sound at small to medium bar/club size places. This is what led me to think a solid state power amp was a better option, but let me know if my thinking on this is off-base. Thanks for the thoughts!
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Searing75 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:49 pm

I can't speak for the Quilter, but the Carvin is incredible! I am extremely OCD when it comes to my tone, and I love my McIntosh MC50, but the Carvin weighs 4 pounds, and I really can't tell much of a difference between the two tone wise. In fact, I have found my playing more inspired as of late after switching back to my Carvin. SMS-Carvin DCM200L-JBL K120= great tone, and no back pain! I had back surgery back in 2011.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Kaifusha » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:47 pm

Searing75 wrote:great tone, and no back pain


Yep - that's what I'm looking for. Trying to avoid the whole surgery thing, and your's seems to be the combo most praised in these parts for the left side of your equation.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby milobender » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:56 pm

I like the Quilter a lot. It really depends on what you want to do... If you want to go strictly Jerry, the Quilter may not be for you, but if you play a variety of styles and tones, I'd definitely go with the Quilter. It's less than 7 pounds, 200 watts are there for playing in loud venues, and it sounds great at living room levels. I've got mine through 2x12 D120s and it's great.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Brandon Bowlds » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:51 pm

I own a modded Twin that I run into a Quilter Tone Block 201. It is a power amp that you can dial in overdrive with. It works great in the Jerry rig application. Lots of power but will clip musically.


I also have a Micropro Mach II. It is a dedicated guitar amp, not a power amp. I do like it and use it for a lot of shows. with a K120 it gets pretty good Jerry tones and for a grab and go amp, it rules. That said, the Twin>Tone Block absolutely crushes and nails a great Jerry tone for me. so it just depends on the gig and if I am willing to compromise a bit.

I also play in a rootsy rock band and I use the Micropro with Les Pauls and PRSs and it loves them. A very versatile amp with great tone.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Kaifusha » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:07 pm

Thanks for the input. So it sounds like the SMS pre into a Tone Block might be a good combination too. Hmm. If I can get something like what Brad is talking about with that combination, that might be the ticket. Anyone tried this combination?
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Brandon Bowlds » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:50 pm

Kaifusha wrote:Thanks for the input. So it sounds like the SMS pre into a Tone Block might be a good combination too. Hmm. If I can get something like what Brad is talking about with that combination, that might be the ticket. Anyone tried this combination?


I've not played an SMS but I've heard a lot of them and of course they sound great. Brad's stuff all looks to be top notch, I can say that my Earth Drive is one of my favorite pedals ever so there's that....
I bet the SMS would rule going into the TB. The Quilter amps sound really good and are so light it is kind of a mind fuck. I played my Twin into one of those Micro 45 amps which are the size of a stompbox and it sounded awesome. Loud enough for 80% of the gigs I do....but alas I went with the TB201
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:51 pm

The only way I've found to get a decent Jerry tone at volume levels less than full power clipping of a power amp is to emulate amp clipping with a pedal like Mattson sometimes does with his monster Jerry rig.

I can't stress enough this clipping thing. When we have more power than we can use, we naturally find ourselves playing purely clean. When purely clean, our pick attack transients are brutal, and it's hard to get that guitar amp "feel". Sure it works for some clean type players, jazz players, whatever, but Jerry was a lot more clipped and dirty than many realize. That outrageously clear and trebly tone into a JBL does sound VERY clean, but smoothing the attack transients via clipping/distortion are critical when really rockin with a band at higher intensity levels. Sure we could get away with a gentle and clean Black Muddy River type solo or some clean finger-style stuff, but that super sweet, magical clean-ish lead tone Jerry got does depend on quite a bit of clipping. And if we can't clip our power amp, we need to clip somewhere in the signal path to get that powerfully clear and smooth result.

(Quilter comments edited, see follow up on page 3 of this thread)


For those that do like this Carvin DCM-200L, are you pushing it all the way to the distortion/clipping point? If so, do you hear a protection limiter kicking in or do you hear a little bit of clipping dirt? I'm curious. To me, that threshold where an amplifier hits the power limit and begins to distort is where the magic lies. Jerry mastered working at and around this threshold. Too quiet/clean is too sterile. To loud is too dirty. There's a sweet spot.

I've just seen way too many people get the rig all going, the right pick, pickups, buffer, pedals, preamp, strings, speakers, etc., and then get a WAY TOO LOUD power amplifier that is too loud to max out and clip. In that setting it's pretty cool to hear the truly clean side of the Jerry-tone, but when really laying into the guitar for a solo (no dirt pedals on), or for a punchy Scarlet rhythm intro, this can be a terribly harsh ice-pick in the ear, and just not harmonically rich and sweet enough on those special notes that are intended to sing sweetly. Jerry used amp and speaker distortion to get that magic sound, and unfortunately for us we need to find this action at a MUCH quieter power/loudness level. I've unquestionably had my best luck at this with a Mac Mc250 or Mc50. But I trust there are modern power amps that clip nicely at a reasonable volume.


B
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby Searing75 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:26 pm

With the Carvin DCM200L, I put the SMS Earth Drive right before my SMS pre, and use that for a nice clipping effect. It's on all the time. I have also used a Klon Centaur clone from General Guitar Gadgets in this spot with great results. I do not clip the Carvin. The Carvin is 100watts and very loud. The Earth Drive, or the Klon Centaur clone, gives me that nice clipping effect we need for Jerry stuff.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby kurt eye » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:05 pm

I have a Carvin DCM200L and Mac MC250. Having used them both recently, my observation is that the Carvin has a more articulate sound on the low end, but gets more brittle in the mids and highs compared to the Mac.
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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:51 pm

Searing75 wrote:With the Carvin DCM200L, I put the SMS Earth Drive right before my SMS pre, and use that for a nice clipping effect. It's on all the time. ...



Mattson often does exactly this too. That's exactly what I think is the only practical solution at the moment with these loud, clean amps that don't clip musically or at a reasonable volume. Could be another pedal too, but the E.D. is particularly good at this because of its neutral and uncolored EQ/voicing, fairly transparent. This scenario opens us up to all kinds of power amp options. It really does work. But, there's nothing like the sound of a Mac transistor pushed a tiny bit past the brink into clipping. Most transistor amps won't clip so sweetly or warmly. I think this is why I generally recommend tube power amps for those not wanting to use a solid state Mcintosh.

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Re: SMS preamp/Carvin or Quilter Micropro Mach II?

Postby chipperj » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:05 pm

SarnoMusicSolutions wrote:
Searing75 wrote:With the Carvin DCM200L, I put the SMS Earth Drive right before my SMS pre, and use that for a nice clipping effect. It's on all the time. ...



+1 for this. With my rig, the Earth Drive is on all the time.
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