The invention of super-high-gain - why did it take this long?

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by turbo, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. turbo

    turbo New Member

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    I wonder why it took so long for amps to get to the high gain territory. So very guitar amps were designed for clean sounds, then people discovered that they distort when at max volume - power amp distortion. What happened next? When was pre-amp distortion invented? From what I understand, it's the pre-amp distortion that allows all this JVM-level high gain. JCM800 was pre-amp distortion for the most part, wasn't? Players were always shooting for more and more gain, and they used stuff like Tubescreamer to push their JCM to get more gain. So why did it take so long for Marshall and other amp makers to get get to DSL/JVM levels of gain?
    I just wonder why they didn't make a truly high-gain amp in the mid-eighties?
    Is it because of technological limitations at the time, or is it that they simply didn't see the point in super-high-gain?
     
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  2. Frodebro

    Frodebro Well-Known Member

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    Mesa has been doing it for fifty years. My guess with Marshall is that they stuck with what was working until it wasn't anymore, then adapted to the new trends.
     
  3. Jethro Rocker

    Jethro Rocker Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Not sure why Marshall didn't. Slow on the draw because they count on all the old guys that like the classic Marshall sounds. Not sure. The 2205 was apgainier, the 900 more still then the DSL TSL etc.
    I didn't type fast enough, Mesa certainly had higher gain at that poimt. Sometimes Marshall seems more reactionary to me.
    EDIT - the 1987 Jubilee while not DSL or JVM OD2 levels of gain, is a quite gainy amp for the late 80s, certainly a more useful gain than the extreme gain machines. No one can use a DSL on OD2 with gain pinned.
     
  4. Frodebro

    Frodebro Well-Known Member

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    They cornered the market on mini refrigerators, though. :agreed:
     
  5. ibmorjamn

    ibmorjamn Well-Known Member

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    Different strokes ! High gain was a evolution from the high power stadium amps , non master volume on 5 will hurt you indoors. Along came the modern metal players and or thrash (Metallica) and once mesa and peavey added extra gain stages the race was on to the metal monster Diesel , Engl and the hordes of amps dedicated to splitting atoms . LOl
     
  6. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    lack of vision of a number of manufactures, but there are so many other that did that... I think it was some sort of corporate blindness from marshall.

    Mesa, Engl, Soldano, Peavey and many other did it a long... long... loooooooong time ago.
     
  7. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

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    Mesa's Mark 1 was the first tube amp of any notoriety to achieve truly high gain. That was the early 70s. It just took every other significant manufacturer a decade to start to catch up.
     
  8. Trapland

    Trapland Running Into Walls Silver Supporting Member

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    If you consider guitar in its current state I think you’ll find high gain players want more gain while everyone else is moving back towards cleaner tones. It’s a good thing technology lets every have whatever they like.
     
  9. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Umm don't overlook the 6100 especially channel 3, that was ultra high gain for 92. It's not so much the gain it's the voicing of the circuits. Marshall made huge efforts to try to stick with a sound that was heavy, crunchy, kept up with the flow but still sounded good. There are other makers who may have higher gain models but do they really sound that good? After a certain point it a mason jar full o' bees.
     
  10. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    The emphasis on creating gain and distortion in the preamp came as a result of the need to get such at more reasonable volume levels. If you look at the waveform of a cranked plexi it is pretty squashed. The gain as well as the distortion was there, because these amps don't sound plinky. As Anitoli alluded to, it was a superior tone. The sound of rock. Stick a boost in front and it is high gain. The volume is really high though.

    The JMP and JCM800 master volume amps got real close to the same tone quality but it could be had at a lesser volume level. It was a mixture of preamp and power amp distortion and gain.

    Then came the modded Marshalls craze, primarily in California, which gave much more gain and distortion; such as a totally cranked and boosted amp gets but at whatever band volume you needed. Make no mistake, the late model 2210, the Jubilee, and the Mk3/SLX 900s were heavily influenced by the modded Marshalls.

    In my opinion, the landmark amp for high gain was the Soldano Super Lead Overdrive. The Rectifiers and many others were based on the SLO, if not straight copies.
     
  11. tallcoolone

    tallcoolone Well-Known Member

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    I started to play in the mid 80s—back then the high gain guys were all using rack preamps. The first ‘high gain’ Marshall that was marketed that way was the SLX IIRC.
     
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  12. marshallmellowed

    marshallmellowed Well-Known Member

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    More gain doesn't necessarily translate to a better guitar sound. Too much gain can squash the signal, and result in a loss of dynamics and definition. A square wave, which is what a heavily over driven signal approaches, is not very musical. The key (IMO) is finding that balance, where you maintain that musicality, while obtaining a level of sustain needed. I much prefer the tone of early Judas Priest, which used much less gain, than later Judas Priest. Just my thoughts, I know there are tons of ganiac's out there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  13. El Gringo

    El Gringo Well-Known Member

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    So the DSL & the JVM OD2 have more gain than the 2555X ?
     
  14. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes, that's why they don't sound as good.........................( running for cover).......................
     
  15. El Gringo

    El Gringo Well-Known Member

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    Your good in my house as i am a 2555X fan .:headbanger:
     
  16. trax1139

    trax1139 Well-Known Member

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    Because, unless you’re doing F..ck everybody and everything Grim Reaper Metal, it’s mostly not needed. On anything else, in a real world band context, it sounds like ass. It’s offensive to the ears and is perceived as too loud. It’s OK for the .0005 watt bedroom volume gigs playing alone, so you can get some semblance of a Rock God concert hall sound. Oh, I almost forgot...master volumes ruin everything, IMO
     
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  17. Gaz Baker

    Gaz Baker Well-Known Member

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    And yet now, with all the gain in the world built in to some amps, most high gain players/bands prefer to still use an OD of some sort to achieve their sound.
    Admittedly, clean boosting more often than not.
     
  18. JP2036

    JP2036 Active Member

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    100 years isn't that long.
     
  19. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member

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    Don't blink.
    It goes faster than you think.
     
  20. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member

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    High level distortion (called high gain) has been around since the dawn of sound processing.

    The use of it has become more abundant and incorporated into some musical amplifiers as things evolved.
     

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