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#1 2012-11-20 07:27:50

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

So I'm pretty sure everyone is totally aware that these ampeg bastards are real damn heavy.

Mine is a V4 that used to be a VT-22. This basically means that at some point someone with a VT-22 had a spinal injury and thought, ďfuck this bullshitĒ. So the guts minus the speakers were transferred into a smaller, head-sized cabinet thanks to the nifty mounting brackets which are identical on both versions. And the bastard is still a fat bitch. Moving it hurts a lot.

So Iím wondering about touring with this thing. Iíve toured with a Marshall head before but that wasnít nearly the same kinda thing. If I couldnít be bothered bringing mine then I was happy enough borrowing someone elseís. Or I knew I could hire something that would be close enough.

This Ampeg is a pretty different deal though. I bought it about a year ago and at the time I had just quit a band and so I havenít had to worry about touring logistics until now. Itís pretty concerning for me considering that at the moment I need what this amp provides. By which I mean rich, clear clean tones with lots of headroom and a good tonal range, lots of thump and chime,  and the ability to take a whole bunch and garbled pedal-mangled signal without just collapsing into total saturation tube mush. And everyone here who owns one knows exactly what Iím talking about.

I have a mesa blue angel as well, and to be honest it sounds sweeter and warmer in a lot of ways but I canít rely on it to do what I need in all situations the way I can with the Ampeg. It just doesnít have the power and the tonal options to deal with certain fuzz boxes or band volume situations the way you want it to.

So I figure if I had my druthers Iíd only ever play live through a V4 or VT-22, so touring regionally or nationally is okay as long as there is a car or van or something. Thatís doable. But I live in Australia and basically every international destination involves a plane.

Now I guess there are many reasons why a V4 head and flying donít really seem like they go together. The main reasons I can think of are amp safety and how much you can trust baggage handlers and also just the cost, because one Ampeg V4 head equals a lot of excess checked baggage. Also the baggage handlers may sustain some kind of injury.

So then hiring, has anyone had any experience with music hire companies and specifically trying to hire V4 and/or VT-22 amps?
Any feedback from people whoíve had to deal with this kinda thing already would be real swell.

-    Johnny

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#2 2012-11-24 20:04:03

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

... Should I just hire a Fender Twin and hope it does the job?

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#3 2012-11-26 05:51:29

Liquids
Member
From: CT
Registered: 2010-08-01
Posts: 491

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

I don't think the Twin will do the job. 

One of the reasons the blue angel may sound sweeter are it' speakers.  You should have no issue dialing in bass and midrange with the V-series.

One other thing about the treble side of the Ampeg tone controls (baxandall) is that the treble pot affects a LOT of the high-midrange frequencies as much as the real 'sweet' spot for sparkle/high frequencies.  I change the values of the capacitors on the treble side of the tone stack.  These ampegs also use ceramic caps, which to some here is a critical problem and changing the capacitors in the tone stack to non-ceramic type, but maintaining their values as-is, and say even that is a notable improvement, smoother, etc.

Fenders and their offspring (mesa) who use the 'blackface fender' style and value of tone stack have a big wide scoop in the midrange that makes the treble pot control more 'sparkle' and less 'ice pick' when dialed in carefully - that isn't to say they can't ice pick, it's just that, IMO, the high mids are dipped enough that they end up sounding muddy or tinny (or sweeter and warmer, if you prefer) rather than intense like the ampeg's can.

It may be too late for finagling with the circuit...but speakers may be an option.  If you have a good way to try other speakers that can handle the ampeg and compare, you might get closer to what you want for now.  IF you're not afraid to buy speakers - I'm a big fan of the eminence speakers, and the 'swamp thang' speakers in particular probably have just the right amount of ability to be clear, but are on the darker end of the spectrum, efficient, high power handling and full-bottomed so as to do the ampeg justice.

If I were you and were going to rent an amp, I'd rent a second blue angel - you can run two, or have a spare since they're not known to be reliable; you also know you like it tonally.

Blue angel and ampeg V-series are totally different leagues of clean headroom, which makes this an interesting comparison  - a bit of and night & day comparison, if you will.

You might be one of the few who is satisfied by a fender twin, but most guys just aren't.  IF you do, crank that midrange pot.


Matthew

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#4 2012-11-26 07:28:39

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Yeah I agree with pretty much everything you said. What I was getting at is that even though other amps have their perks, they don't hold up as an all-round good for any occasion work-horse the way a V4 does.

The angel sounds killer but compared to the ampeg it is a one trick pony; which is the main thrust of what I was getting at. And the sweetness I referred to is more in relation to the low volume power tube break-up rather than the tone circuit. At the point of break-up it becomes very "singy", a lot of extra sustain and harmonic overtones and honestly it sounds a lot more "Voxy" than "Fenderish".  ... but yeah, basically great for recording and pretty useless live.
UNLESS: its being run as a second amp in a stereo rig.

And yeah you're absolutely correct about the blue angel having very limited headroom. But I think I kinda covered that ground in my initial post anyway, to quote myself speaking about the blue angel, "It just doesnít have the power and the tonal options to deal with certain fuzz boxes or band volume situations the way you want it to."

So... the question I really need answered is; What does a touring musician hire to play through when they usually rely on a V4 but cannot find anywhere to hire one?

There must be an amp somewhere that comes close to approximating the clarity, punch, headroom, power and warmth of a V4... even just something that ticks most of the boxes would be fine as long as it means having an okay stage sound. Something that can handle running distortion boxes with volumes set above unity and actually give you a volume increase rather than just increased compression. Dig?

Ideally I'd always run through a V4 but dig it, I just cant always do that. So I'd like to know from fans of the V4 what they think would be the best compromise in their minds if they had to settle for something close.

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#5 2012-11-26 07:47:15

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Oh yeah, and regarding what you were saying about speakers Liquids. I run the ampeg and the blue angel through the same cab. Neither of them are combo amps, both heads.

And trust me I know how to dial in what I need from my gear. I agree with the comment about the treble pot on the V4. In fact I think it has such a strong effect on the overall tone that it can get slightly finicky lookin for the sweet spot. Usually find when I switch guitars that first two things I do is hit the booster if the guitar has weaker pickups and dial in the treble pot to wherever suits the guitar I'm using.

So yeah, I appreciate you takin the time to respond but really I just need advice on whatever people think they'd rely on live if all the V4s got abducted by aliens one day.

As for HOW to use the gear, pretty much got that side of things covered.

If you can think of anything that gives the V4 a run for its money please let me know... I may need to hire one someday.

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#6 2012-11-26 15:23:30

Dan56
Member
From: RI
Registered: 2012-09-02
Posts: 37

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Some may find this blasphemous but a Peavey Ultra 60 or if you need the power 120.  I just missed out on a 60.  The other amp I use and have used for years is Peavey Mark III Musician from 1974 (bought it new then).  Yeah, it's transistors, but it warms up like a tube amp.  It has plenty of power and can be clean as you need as long as your speakers have the capacity.  However, it does handle the pedals differently.  The pedals through the Ampeg are clearer.

The Musician circuits are set up so that one channel if more Fender bright with the other more mid Marshall.  Then you can run them both together. 

I find myself as you using the volume sensitivity switch when I go between guitars do to pickup sensitivity differences.   I kind of like it actually.  Makes for a simple volume change allowing me to keep my volume pedal action within the same relative range.

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#7 2012-11-26 18:39:56

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Thanks Dan.

I'm usually opposed to tranny amps, but obviously some of them have their perks. I used to use a Sunn beta lead every now and then when I was in a doom band (until I blew it up).

I'll try to keep an ear out for the peaveys you mentioned. Blasphemy and all.

Its funny that you mention transistor amps because I was actually thinking that maybe I should look into Sunn heads as possible alternatives to the V4. That said Sunn heads and Peavey tranny heads might be just as difficult to source from hire companies as a V4 anyway.

But I like the suggestions, keep em coming.

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#8 2012-11-26 21:18:58

Dan56
Member
From: RI
Registered: 2012-09-02
Posts: 37

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Well Johnny,

You could certainly transport a tranny head for less than a V4.  My Peavey is certainly lighter, though still about as heavy as a 69 bassman head (the other guitar in the band). smile

Just to be clear, the Peavey Ultra's are all tube and amps from the 90's. 

I remember the Sunns.

I recently attended a wedding with a live band (very good by the way classic rock and a medley of polka).  The wedding was the right group of partiers and the band got loud,horns and all.  Interesting enough the bass could be felt. The amp was a combo with one 12" speaker sitting on the window sill!  The guitar amp was a modern Fender Princeton and a minimum of pedals (I still have my 69 non reverb).  Sounded amazing.  They got their sound with these small amps and used the PA to get the volume and pressure.  Their system was the EV system with the subs.  Comparable to my band's QSC K12 and subs. 

It really might be the way to go for traveling as you require.  I've even considered it simply because the places we're playing really do not let me stretch the V4 or the Peavey at 260 watts considering everything is mic'd through the PA.  It is a struggle to have the amp at a level of power to get the depth of sound but leave room for the sound system to make the adjustments.  Of course, if our drummer did not want to mic his drums...

Yeah, I'm old school.  The PA should be for the vocals only unless you're in a stadium smile

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#9 2012-11-27 05:28:20

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Oh yeah I think I remember something about the Peavey Ultras... they look kinda ugly right? Mostly black with grey writing and knobs and like some blue writing or something on the control plate? Kinda similar looking to those "Trans-Tube" amps they came out with in the 90s?

I don't know why I'm asking when i could use google image search and bypass the human interaction side of the discussion.

Anyway, if its the one I'm thinking of it kinda visually reminds me of an updated looking Peavey Roadmaster. Which reminds me I'd love to try out a Roadmaster. Ever since seeing Sonic Youth live I've wanted to. It took a lot to adjust myself to the fact that such awesome tone was coming out of a Peavey. Maybe Thurston has had his amp tech make improvements here or there. Maybe they just sound great.

Yeah, lighter heads is worth thinking about for travel. Might be worth thinking of having a tube Peavey head as a back up and to take a bullet for my Ampeg when I don't want to put it through the abuses of touring.

As for stage volume. We all have different experiences with gigging. I usually play shows with weird bands and crazy sound guys who ask me to turn my amp up until they hear the sound start to get warmer and compressed from pushing the power tubes (usually somewhere between one and three o'clock), cause those deaf assholes and their asscracks think that's what sounds good. But I usually just end up laughing at them (to their faces) and turning back down to around 11 or 12 so I have a bit more clean headroom. And I usually still thump as hard if not harder than the floor tom.

Generally speaking I agree with you about PAs, I don't believe in micing up anything except voices, horns and tambourines. Sometimes drums. And if you're playing an arena (and hopefully I never make music so generic and horrible that its popular enough to be played at an arena) obviously you gotta run everything through PA. That said all those extra microphones is just more nonsense to trip over and kick and accidentally break in those moments when your band temporarily forgets that it's not the MC5 and that the revolution never happened.

I actually think the biggest key factor is the drummer. If you play with hard hitters or drummers who like to fill in a lot of space with relentless fills or rock drummers who prefer their cymbals and tonal drums over their kick and snare then you need a powerful amp. I need power even in rehearsal sessions just because our drummer explodes sometimes and we all need to be able to explode with her.

If you play soft lounge with an anaemic latin-jazz drummer then maybe you can cruise by on a 30watt amp no problem.

Maybe I should just take an anemic latin-jazz drummer with me on tour rather than Erin and the V4. That could solve my problems.

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#10 2012-11-27 15:06:50

Dan56
Member
From: RI
Registered: 2012-09-02
Posts: 37

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Yes, the Ultra's are as you describe.

I'm envious, you get to crank to noon on the V4?  I'm playing between 9 and 10 o'clock and then only flat out on the volume pedal with some leads.  Which too often suddenly the band decides to play softer and I feel like I'm left out hanging.  Maddening.  Then they get so loud they complain they could not hear me.  I just can't find the happy medium sometimes.  Oh well.

Our next job in 2 weeks and we have already been told that the limit is 100 decibles and the sound man has no fear of touching one's amp.  We're generally a loud classic rock/blues band so this is going to be very interesting. 

From what I've read those Roadmasters are a brut of an amp.  Hard to find too.

Sounds to me you would not be happy with a latin drummer. smile

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#11 2012-11-27 16:52:15

Johnny Atomic
Member
Registered: 2012-11-20
Posts: 13

Re: Touring with a V4/VT-22... any advice?

Ha, yeah you're right. Not unless it was John Densmore from The Doors. I actually think he's pretty underrated.

Sounds to me like you need to start playing gnarlier shows so you dont keep getting stuck with conservative sound engineers.

Derelict mental asylums are a pretty good place to put on a no rules gig, and an appropriate hang out for musicians in general.

I do highly recommend organising your own shows in unusual settings. Partly to mix it up and partly just to bypass whatever rules, agendas or hangups various other promoters or venues might have. Let's you present the music the way you want it presented. Also if you can get the word out the audience seems to really appreciate being taken out of the predictable bar with sticky carpet scenario. That said its hard to pull something like that off unless the whole band or someone in the band is really tapped in to the "shallow hipster youth culture" subscene of your town or local area.

You can't exactly expect Joe Average and his wife Plain Jane to just stroll in off the streets into some weird impromptu setting just cause they wanted to see where that facemelting velvet underground style freakout was coming from. It needs to be planned meticulously, urban guerrilla style... Like in 'The Warriors', "spread the word"

You could just do what we do... be really picky about which venues you play.

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