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 Post subject: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:01 am 
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Hey guys, I recently bought a Marshall JCM 800 2203 amp head (Don't have the cab yet, playing through a Peavey Windsor cab at the moment) and I was wondering how to get that heavy metal 80's tone out of it.

I've tried a variety of things to get it, putting my MXR Distortion + with full volume, and distortion set to 9 o'clock and have my MXR 10-band EQ after it (Tried before too) and I couldn't seem to get an overly heavy tone out of it.

Tried setting the preamp volume to 7 (Which, as I understand it, is the "go-to" setting for the most part) and pushing the master volume to 5-7 (I have a power attenuater to control volume) and I just can't seem to get anywhere near that great 80's tone that we all love.


I even went out yesterday and bought a BOSS SD-1 as I had read that that pedal was far more popular among 80's metal guitarists. While it helped a little (Set it to similar settings as the MXR D+, full volume, tone about 12-1 o'clock, distortion at 9 o'clock), it still never felt very heavy.


I just can't seem to get a decent heavy metal tone out of it. Zakk Wylde uses a JCM 800 (To my knowledge, his isn't modded to give more gain) and in his early years used a BOSS SD-1 pedal. So, what gives?


I know a lot of the tone comes from the fingers and all, but I should still be able to get into that realm of distortion with the same gear (Minus the cabs, of course).

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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Just a thought... What guitar are you using? Passive or active pickups?

Even Zakk used passive pickups in the '80's...

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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:54 pm 
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I've tried with my Agile LP 3000 (Les Paul knockoff), my "Chackson" Jackson Concorde, and my Schecter Hellraiser guitar. Only the Schecter has Active pickups (18 volt mod, if that means anything).


I have managed to get a heavier tone out of it, but it requires that I use my MXR Fullbore Metal pedal in the FX loop. (I guess I should have mentioned it's a 2002 reissue with the built in FX loop, which is what I preferred. Apparently the biggest difference between the original and reissue are that the reissue has more warmth, which I think I fixed with my 10-band EQ in the FX loop)

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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:36 am 
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Cryptic Night wrote:
I've tried a variety of things to get it, putting my MXR Distortion + with full volume, and distortion set to 9 o'clock and have my MXR 10-band EQ after it (Tried before too) and I couldn't seem to get an overly heavy tone out of it.

Tried setting the preamp volume to 7 (Which, as I understand it, is the "go-to" setting for the most part) and pushing the master volume to 5-7 (I have a power attenuater to control volume) and I just can't seem to get anywhere near that great 80's tone that we all love.


I even went out yesterday and bought a BOSS SD-1 as I had read that that pedal was far more popular among 80's metal guitarists. While it helped a little (Set it to similar settings as the MXR D+, full volume, tone about 12-1 o'clock, distortion at 9 o'clock), it still never felt very heavy.


I just can't seem to get a decent heavy metal tone out of it. Zakk Wylde uses a JCM 800 (To my knowledge, his isn't modded to give more gain) and in his early years used a BOSS SD-1 pedal. So, what gives?


I know a lot of the tone comes from the fingers and all, but I should still be able to get into that realm of distortion with the same gear (Minus the cabs, of course).

First, is your amp tuned right? (let it check by a good amp tech first) Tubes biased correctly etc? Tubes are new or already worn out...? Use the attenuator and put the master volume at 8. Don't use the MXR D+, it's horrible for clean boost, how Randy got a sound with that is still a mystery to me. Try the MXR Zakk Wylde overdrive, excellent pedal for clean boost! Place it up front, before the input. (don't use the FX loop) That in combination with turning the preamp volume up a bit will get you were you want. Don't use 6550 power tubes like Zakk does, they give lows but no nice eighties grind and compression, use EL34 tubes. Also better use passive pick-ups, they give you a less sterile sound. You will end up with a better sound than Zakk's current sound!

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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:35 pm 
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I have not played through a reissue. I have heard from a few people that they are not as good as the vintage ones. I owned a JCM800 for a long while. IT was a 50 w. I used a super overdrive in front. That is still my go to overdrive pedal. Try these settings.
gain at 1 o'clock, tone at 2 o'clock, and volume at 11 o'clock. AS for settings on the amp, it really boils down to what sounds good to you. I like a lot of mids, so my setting would look something like: gain at 9, presence at 5 but could be as high as 9, bass at 8, mids at 9, treble at 5. If I were going for the Metallica sound, I would dime that gain, the bass, the treble, and the presence and but the mids on 0. I tend to like that thick mid rangy heavy tone.

I have found that I don't always like tone's of those that I think have great tone, when I try to play it.

For instance I really like that brown sound, but it just does not fit my style.

Also you might try a vintage one so you can really see if there is a difference. Good luck.


BTW the cab or specifically the speakers in the cab make a huge difference. You need to have at least celestions and should have v30's or the gt75's (Marshall A or B cab).


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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:16 pm 
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Paul Wolfe wrote:
Just a thought... What guitar are you using? Passive or active pickups?

Even Zakk used passive pickups in the '80's...

Attachment:
Zakk.jpg


yup, for that shoot, he did ;)
anything music was all EMG :) unless you count Zyris :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:48 am 
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I usually play my 78 JMP 2204 with thr preamp around 1pm and the master at about 9pm. I also had an fx loop and extra gain stage added. In the loop I use a 12AU7 which is a much cleaner/lower gain tune than the 12ax7's. It also lowers the amp volume a bit at the same time allowing you to crank it more. For example I could turn to master up to noon with a 12AU7 and it would be just as loud as if I out in a 12AX7 and turned it up to 9pm

I can pretty much nail Randy's tone with either the high or low input. Lately though I have been using the low input with the MXR script logo reissue since it has a lot more punch than the high input. I dime the mxr knobs both at 10, this way with the guitar volume at 10 you get exactly that opening guitar riff sound in crazy train. When you back off the guitar volume to about 5-8 you get Randy's live tone.

Check your tubes as said already and make sure there good. I always stick with with 60's and 70's NOS tubes and it makes a world of difference IMO, expensive though. I think I spent around $500 for only 3 of my 5 pre-amp tubes last year.

Your JCM800 should scream and can do any style of music well, that's why it's considered one of the best amps ever, especially when boosted. Maybe someone modded it before you and messed it up though?


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 Post subject: Re: Marshall JCM 800 sound
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:27 pm 
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I don't know. It looks stock to me, and I haven't had a chance to really check the tubes. Don't even have the equipment/knowledge to do that.

I'll see if I can post up some tracks or something of how it sounds. Maybe I just expect it to have more distortion than it has? All I know is that even on the high input, with the gain maxed and the master volume at 1 o'clock (Using an attenuator for volume) plus using either my MXR Distortion + (The script reissue pedal) with the MXR 10 Band EQ, or using the BOSS SD-1 with my MXR 10 Band EQ, it just doesn't feel very heavy at all to me. I listen to like Zakk Wylde, and while I'm not a fan of his super scooped mid tone, his late 80's tone was pretty decent. I can't understand why I can't get close to that with my current setup.


Heaviest tone that doesn't feel over compressed that I have been able to get out of it is when I plug into my BOSS SD-1 with the gain maxed and the volume VERY low (Like, 8 or 9 o'clock-ish) with tone around 1 o'clock, MXR 10 Band with the mids and highs boosted (It's a modern one with the volume/gain sliders, but I leave those at +/- 0) into a noise gate into the amp with presence at 4, bass at 2, mid at 5, treble at 8, volume at 6 (Attenuated down to bedroom levels), and gain at 10 with the high input. Then it goes into my MXR Fullbore Distortion Pedal with the volume maxed out and distortion at the bare minimum, EQ is set with low bass, and high treble.

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