Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #117836  by liamwalsh
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:32 pm
Hey gearheads, I was wondering if any of you guys could help me out on achieving that nice jerry-tone. Basically I would like to know if there is anything I could add to my rig like a new amp, guitar, pedals and maybe even new pickups so I could get that Garcia sound.

Here's my rig so far: guitars- main guitar, fender strat ( no modifications to it, I mainly use the middle and bridge pickup). And an Epiphone les Paul (its kind of like my secondary guitar).

Amps- my main amp is a Roland jc 120 (treble 10, mid 5-6, bass 0, and reverb 5)- and for my practice amp is a line 6 ( not the best amp but that's why I use it as a practice)

Pedals- digitech rp 500 ( the only thing I use on there is the distortion, envelope and sometimes reverb.the envelope filter is ok but its just not Jerry, ya know? But still overall its a great Multi fx processor for the price).
so, anyways that's my rig and again if you guys can give me some tips and advice on how to get his sound that would be great. Thanks
 #117837  by mijknahs
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:06 pm
The simplest way to get some kind of "Jerry" tone no matter what kind of guitar you have is to get an older Fender tube amp with JBL speakers. You might have to "re-cap" the amp or get new tubes or whatever but that will put you in the ball park. Especially with the JBLs.
 #117838  by mgbills
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:07 pm
Welcome liamwalsh.

There is a wealth of information on this forum under the heading of "Jerry Tone." More than can be read in a week of settings. I used to own a JC120, which seemed to do a pretty fair clean tone. I sold it before I got deep into the Jerry Tone-Quest, but my recollection is that it could apply nicely.

The first step is a nice pair of JBL K120's. You'll need K's at least to keep up with the Roland amp. I think mine had speakers with aluminum dust caps, but I really don't recall if they were anywhere close to the JBL's.

From's all up to're time to pursue it...and your wallet.

 #117840  by cmc64
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:34 pm
I wholeheartedly echo mgbills post. Scour the forums - and the two links I will provide and you will find all the info that you need. Over the years Garcia used JBL D-120's, K-120's and E-120's. The choice of JBL speaker, along with your choice of pickups and guitar electronics, a combo amp, or pre-amp/power amp/speaker cab setup and an idea of what tonal "era' you are most closely trying to replicate will get you pretty close.

Effects pedals, whether J.G. used the models you are looking into or not, just add color to your tone - I advise that you nail down your clean tone and then determine which effects you want to add some color. Remember, great musicians can play through just about any combo of gear and you can tell who it is that is playing, The Melkweg shows on 10/15,16/1981 are a prime example of this. Having the correct gear is part of the equation. But your right and left hand technique are the #1 key. So practice, practice, practice.

Youtube is a great resource for sound samples of pedals, speakers, pickups - just about any gear you can think of. You can spend $1000's and build an exact clone, but you can do very well on a budget. Thee is a youtube video I will post link to (I believe it was posted by a member here) - he uses a Hughes and Kettner Blues Master pre-amp (out of production but they pop up every now and then on he used market for under $300 - he has it matched with an Alesis Nanoverb, a QSC GX3 power amp and a 1x12 JBL E-120 cab and his Garcia tone is fantastic.

Great (and required) info:

Youtube video: ...

Good luck, research, practice, research, practice - rinse and repeat.
 #117844  by liamwalsh
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:22 pm
Thanks for the info and links,cmc64. I think I know now how to get the jerry-tone. Ill try soon to get my hands on a couple of jbl's and maybe in the mean time some "colurful" sounding pedals. Thanks again.
 #117845  by tcsned
 Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:28 pm
Hey! Welcome to the forum! There's some really knowledgeable folks here.

Your JC might not be a bad amp to start with. What kind of speakers does it have? Some of those came with JBL E-120s I think, if so those speakers are fine. Even the amp is reasonable. If it does have JBLs and an effects loop then I would consider a preamp, our own Brad Sarno makes the perfect one IMHO.

First, what's your budget like? This can be an expensive journey. Second, how long have you been playing? I don't want to talk down to you if you're a seasoned vet but if your less experienced I think most of the folks here would agree that you can get 75% of the way there with your hands. I'd look through this forum for some playing technique stuff too. I'm decent but mijknahs has the sound and style down as well as anyone here, he won't lead you astray.
 #117854  by mrMix
 Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:21 am
Well worth putting a Buffer in your axe, getting the right type of pick and keep working on the chops...
 #117873  by barefootdave
 Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:25 pm
Take the back off that JC and see if you have JBLs in there!
 #117904  by JonnyBoy
 Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:35 am
The roland speakers have aluminum dust caps like the JBL's but they are not JBL's. I always get excited when I see roland amps in a shop with dustcaps on them, then go look inside to see a small square magnet with ROLAND written across the front of it. :-x

I believe they get a bright sound like the JBL's, but aren't as sensitive and break up a little sooner.
 #117933  by Tony6Strings
 Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:34 am
Couple things come to mind...

The Bugera V55 (and others in that series) is a great way to break into that Fender clean amp sound on a budget. It's voiced pretty much like a clean Fender amp, with a dirt channel. It'll set you back around three hundred. Also worth mention is the Peavey ValveKing. It's got a nice clean tone (a tiny bit darker than a Fender though), and some nice dirt on tap also. I can pull some LOM Boogie-esque sounds out of mine. Spend a little more, around five to seven-ish and you can get yourself a SF Twin, which is really what you want if you're serious about getting that Jerry (Fender) sound.

Regarding the Strat, check out DAllen pickups. He makes some of the best Strat pups ever. The set I've got is the 69 Voodoos, and they do a great Jerry gator type thing, as well as being just an all around awesome set of all purpose strat pickups. This is the set he recommends if you're going for the Alligator sound. Also, how's about, throw on a fresh set of strings about once a week. One of the cheapest, easiest and most effective mods you can do to improve your tone (strings are like three bucks online, buy a ten pack, buy a couple of them).

Get your clean tone dialed in with the amp and guitar. Crank that sucker up till it sings (the clean channel, if you get a multi channel amp).

Regarding effects... I would highly recommend the Fulltone OCD, for Jerry stuff or for anything really. It's just an all around great awesome effect. There's also the Dist+ / DS1 / various other drive pedals you could use. I've even gotten decent results with Tube Screamer type effects, with the treble up and the output high, kind of more of a clean boost but I do leave some dirt on the drive channel. There's a member on here who makes a dirt pedal called the Earth Drive, it has gotten rave reviews, I can't give it one cause lame-o that I am I haven't tried it cause I need yet another overdrive pedal like I need a hole in the head, etc etc, but it definitely seems like it's worth checking out if you're looking for something like that.

Oh yeah... And prolly the best mod for better tone, and it wont cost you anything... Practice, Practice, Practice!!!
 #117934  by tcsned
 Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:02 am
JonnyBoy wrote:The roland speakers have aluminum dust caps like the JBL's but they are not JBL's. I always get excited when I see roland amps in a shop with dustcaps on them, then go look inside to see a small square magnet with ROLAND written across the front of it. :-x

I believe they get a bright sound like the JBL's, but aren't as sensitive and break up a little sooner.
I thought I read somewhere that Roland used JBLs on the JC120 at some point. I could be wrong.
 #117957  by mgbills
 Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:16 pm
Man tcsned! That would be awesome to determine. I've seen about 5 of those in the last month. The one I had ...had the Roland speakers. I'll have to start checking. You can often pickup a JC120 for $300.
 #117964  by barefootdave
 Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:21 pm
That's why I posted to take the back off . Some JC120s have the JBL but you won't know until you get the (clothes) back off if it's the real deal... Kind of like a boob job, you don't know if you have the real deal until you look under the hood...
 #117970  by BJolley
 Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:39 pm
Another major bit of assistance in getting some clean Jerry tone from the rig is adding a split coil Dimarzio Super Distortion 2 in the middle position. Not sure how much modding you want to do to the Strat or LP but I routed a middle spot on Ibanez AR 300 and installed three of these with coil cuts via mini switches. This made a substantial improvement in getting that Jerry clarity and snap and took the guitar from "Nice but too thick and muddy" to favorite status. According to this site and others he used a Super 2 in single coil mode almost exclusively from ~1981 on. Prior to that he used Dimarzio Dual Sounds (essentially splitabled Super Distortions -- not quite as bright as the Super 2) starting in the late 1970's.

I also added a EXH Qtron Micro envelope filter into the mix a few months ago. It is inexpensive, compact, and highly tweak-able to get Jerry-like wah sounds for Estimated, Fire, etc. and designed as a poor man's alternative to the Mutron Jerry used. I typically play into a solid state Fender Frontman 15w practice amp or a Fender Twin Reissue 85w tube amp with stock speakers.