The Relapse Chronicles, Chapter 2: Return of The Tube Amp

DrewJD82

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I’ve been wanting to pick up some kind of combo amp for a little while and was actually going to Scam Cash to check out a Bassbreaker 15 and while I really dug it, there’s no way that amp can hang with a drummer if I ever left the house with it. This Hot Rod Deluxe was sitting right next to it for $500, I plugged a Strat Deluxe into it and pretty much had a killer clean tone right away, did my impulse thinking and walked out with it after 3 minutes.

I’m not sure which iteration of the HRD it is, but like any HRD, it’s a great pedal platform which is my primary reason for having an amp separate of my Fractal rig. And speaking of the Fractal rig; my hot take after playing a Blues Jr, Bassbreaker, HRD, a 5150 Icon, a Deluxe Reverb and a Catalyst then my FM9 rig all within the same hour- Playing a modeler into actual cabs feels exactly the fucking same to me as playing into a tube amp. The only difference is that with a tube amp, you go from 0 - In Your Face immediately, there’s a much slower incline with the digital stuff.

I’m stuffing my face then checking this out in 4-cable method with the FM9.
 
Always wanted to try one of these. As ubiquitous as they were back in the day; I was busy buying different 5150s every other month o_O

I don’t think it’s offensive to the amp if someone said “It does the generic Fender combo thing really well”. I tend to think of it as a 5150 kind of deal; while there’s a footswitchable drive, it’s using the same EQ as the clean channel so it’s better to think of it as a single channel amp.

It’s a good place holder/something to have around for giving pedals a shot. It’s nice to keep the digital world in check by having the analog world on hand.
 
Indeed. You can have and dig the heck out of "both"

I’m considering returning the amp; while it definitely does the generic clean Fender thing, it might be a bit too generic and I’m having a hard time getting the base clean tone I’d like. Scam Cash has a 45-day return window, so I’ll give it another week.

One thing that really surprised me, not so much with the amp, but the Fuzz Face and Dover Drive really dig passive single coils a LOT more than the EMG SA’s. I picked up my PRS for the first time in months last night, I replaced the guts in it so when I split the coils, it switches to a 250K pot and holy shit did both those pedals open up using that guitar. I was on the fence with the Dover Drive at first but after hearing it with the PRS, I’m going to keep it.

Now I need another Strat with regular single coils. I was going to get a Tele first, buuuuuuuut an EJ-inspired Strat tickles my bits so much more. Need to wait until next month, I’ve burned quite a bit of coin on gear this month.
 
I’m considering returning the amp; while it definitely does the generic clean Fender thing, it might be a bit too generic and I’m having a hard time getting the base clean tone I’d like. Scam Cash has a 45-day return window, so I’ll give it another week.

One thing that really surprised me, not so much with the amp, but the Fuzz Face and Dover Drive really dig passive single coils a LOT more than the EMG SA’s. I picked up my PRS for the first time in months last night, I replaced the guts in it so when I split the coils, it switches to a 250K pot and holy s**t did both those pedals open up using that guitar. I was on the fence with the Dover Drive at first but after hearing it with the PRS, I’m going to keep it.

Now I need another Strat with regular single coils. I was going to get a Tele first, buuuuuuuut an EJ-inspired Strat tickles my bits so much more. Need to wait until next month, I’ve burned quite a bit of coin on gear this month.
yeah, I didn't get the fuzz face thing at all until I played a straight up traditional SSS strat into one. Such a guitar-dependent pedal. HRD also might not be the best platform for it, though probably better than a DRRI or PRRI.

At the end of the day, I still prefer modelers even for pedal platforming (with analog pedals) because I can dial the amp I want, to the place I want, for that particular pedal, at whatever volume is convenient.

Because as you said in the OP, modeler into power amp into cab...I can't tell a difference between it and tubes, personally, at the volumes at which I play.

What were your thoughts on the Catalyst? I spent a quick and semi-distracted five minutes with one and maybe I didn't get the control layout, but it just sounded like...a Roland JC with a dirt pedal in front, and switching models just changed the dirt pedal. Which surprised me since that's not what any Line6 modeling has ever sounded like to me, even going back to the OG days.
 
yeah, I didn't get the fuzz face thing at all until I played a straight up traditional SSS strat into one. Such a guitar-dependent pedal. HRD also might not be the best platform for it, though probably better than a DRRI or PRRI.

At the end of the day, I still prefer modelers even for pedal platforming (with analog pedals) because I can dial the amp I want, to the place I want, for that particular pedal, at whatever volume is convenient.

Because as you said in the OP, modeler into power amp into cab...I can't tell a difference between it and tubes, personally, at the volumes at which I play.

What were your thoughts on the Catalyst? I spent a quick and semi-distracted five minutes with one and maybe I didn't get the control layout, but it just sounded like...a Roland JC with a dirt pedal in front, and switching models just changed the dirt pedal. Which surprised me since that's not what any Line6 modeling has ever sounded like to me, even going back to the OG days.

I really only got the same amount of time and didn’t even look at the panel much, I think I put it on Boutique or the setting after, noodled on a couple guitars and bailed. I get the idea there’s some good stuff in there but I’d need more time with it to really flesh it out. I can definitely see the JC120 comparison and while it’s silly to have a gripe with something I only spent 5 minutes with, I definitely got the impression that it didn’t have much depth/balls to it. Hard to tell in GC, though. I always feel like a dick if I turn it up past phone-volume level.
 
I really only got the same amount of time and didn’t even look at the panel much, I think I put it on Boutique or the setting after, noodled on a couple guitars and bailed. I get the idea there’s some good stuff in there but I’d need more time with it to really flesh it out. I can definitely see the JC120 comparison and while it’s silly to have a gripe with something I only spent 5 minutes with, I definitely got the impression that it didn’t have much depth/balls to it. Hard to tell in GC, though. I always feel like a dick if I turn it up past phone-volume level.

You're a "Mod?" OMG! This place is f'ed!!! ;)
 
While I'm 96.3% on the III at home, I'd grab a tube amp and a handful of pedals for a gig . I do have to try the Axe into the VHT poweramp and cabs though! :giggle:
 
While I'm 96.3% on the III at home, I'd grab a tube amp and a handful of pedals for a gig . I do have to try the Axe into the VHT poweramp and cabs though! :giggle:

Oh yeah, this stuff into actual cabs is the perfect marriage for me. I’d LOVE to hear it with a VHT powering some cabs!
 
I guess if you’re bringing crappy amplification, it could be lighter. :D

I think that’s why I’m thinking of returning the HRD; if I’m going to have a tube amp I might as well have something a little less ‘generic Fender combo’. I’m on the fence, sometimes I’m playing through it and I really dig it, but there’s like one tone that I dig with it and that’s it. And that one sound doesn’t work with the pedals I’ve got so far……hahaha this is why I got into modeling.
 
I think that’s why I’m thinking of returning the HRD; if I’m going to have a tube amp I might as well have something a little less ‘generic Fender combo’. I’m on the fence, sometimes I’m playing through it and I really dig it, but there’s like one tone that I dig with it and that’s it. And that one sound doesn’t work with the pedals I’ve got so far……hahaha this is why I got into modeling.
The HRD is fine, just nothing special. If you like that sort of thing, find a used Mesa Fillmore 50. It’s a Fender that’s more than Fender than Fender, and is also more reliable. And the gain tones are far better.
 
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I’ve been wanting to pick up some kind of combo amp for a little while and was actually going to Scam Cash to check out a Bassbreaker 15 and while I really dug it, there’s no way that amp can hang with a drummer if I ever left the house with it. This Hot Rod Deluxe was sitting right next to it for $500, I plugged a Strat Deluxe into it and pretty much had a killer clean tone right away, did my impulse thinking and walked out with it after 3 minutes.

I’m not sure which iteration of the HRD it is, but like any HRD, it’s a great pedal platform which is my primary reason for having an amp separate of my Fractal rig. And speaking of the Fractal rig; my hot take after playing a Blues Jr, Bassbreaker, HRD, a 5150 Icon, a Deluxe Reverb and a Catalyst then my FM9 rig all within the same hour- Playing a modeler into actual cabs feels exactly the f*****g same to me as playing into a tube amp. The only difference is that with a tube amp, you go from 0 - In Your Face immediately, there’s a much slower incline with the digital stuff.

I’m stuffing my face then checking this out in 4-cable method with the FM9.
Tell me about it! I relapsed from an FM3 to a Suhr Bella NR a few weeks ago... FFS.

I'm really enjoying the FM3 though. And the Bella. Can't decide. I mean _obviously_ the Bella is the most realistic toob amp, but it's stupid big and heavy and everything else about the FM3 is conveniant AF.

The Bella _does_ have a really excellent volume taper though, and the cleans are just so thicc.

I'm also playing the FM3 into real cabs and yes, I agree:

Once you get signal chain levels optimised, the amp block headroom set correctly, and the speaker impedance curves set right in the Fractal; it's really not much different to playing a tube amp.
 
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I’m considering returning the amp; while it definitely does the generic clean Fender thing, it might be a bit too generic and I’m having a hard time getting the base clean tone I’d like. Scam Cash has a 45-day return window, so I’ll give it another week.

One thing that really surprised me, not so much with the amp, but the Fuzz Face and Dover Drive really dig passive single coils a LOT more than the EMG SA’s. I picked up my PRS for the first time in months last night, I replaced the guts in it so when I split the coils, it switches to a 250K pot and holy s**t did both those pedals open up using that guitar. I was on the fence with the Dover Drive at first but after hearing it with the PRS, I’m going to keep it.

Now I need another Strat with regular single coils. I was going to get a Tele first, buuuuuuuut an EJ-inspired Strat tickles my bits so much more. Need to wait until next month, I’ve burned quite a bit of coin on gear this month.

Fuzz Faces are really picky about pickups. A lot of fuzz, especially germanium fuzz, doesn’t play well with active pickups.


How does the FM9 sound in the “power amp in” on the HRDLX?
 
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