Question on James Santiago's You Tube demos

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Question on James Santiago's You Tube demos

Post by WienerDog » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:17 am

James does some of the best sounding demos on You Tube. Before he demos the effects (e.g., Giggity, Sparkle Drive Mod, EJ Fuzz Face), he often plays just the amp itself. Many times that is a Marshall Plexi head. Does anyone know how he is able to make his Plexi sound so warm, even when going through the high treble channel? My plexi seems way brighter.

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Re: Question on James Santiago's You Tube demos

Post by JohnClark » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:39 pm

I asked James about this, here is what he says...

I’m constantly fighting the urge to use the hotter, darker (top right) bass inputs. But, sometimes it’s just too muddy, and as you've mentioned, the left side treble inputs can turn into the audio equivalent of shattered glass every time you hit a note.

You may know some of this, but I’ll go over it all so I don’t forget anything.

#1 - The hidden treble channel’s bright cap
That is usually the biggest issue. Just like a Fender amp’s bright switch, most old Marshall amps have this bright capacitor on the Volume control and you can’t turn it off. Usually, that means that anything on that knob from zero to about 11 O’ Clock is mostly painful. And of course the Marshall being so loud, it’s mostly a fail in many situations. My two main vintage Marshall heads are stock expect for one thing. On my 100-watt Super Tremolo, I snipped that cap out! That still gives me a bright sound from that channel’s overall voicing, but I don’t get shrill stuff when using dirt pedals. It’s literally just like turning off the bright switch on a Fender.

My 50-watt JTM50 has no changes. On that amp. I try and get the volume to around 2 or 3 O’ Clock. Technically, the bright cap will have less effect on your tone as the Volume control goes up. If you’re dimed on the amp, of course the bright cap does nothing. I try to be loud enough to get the frequencies I want from the amp’s tone stack, and the power tubes to actually do something.

#2 - Speaker choice and mics
I mostly use old, original 4x12 Marshall cabs with worn greenback 25-watt speakers. They are bright, but not harsh at all. That also helps smooth out the frequencies. If you’re going into newer, high-wattage speakers like 75-watt Creambacks or something, you’re going to have added treble there and may need to adjust your amp EQ (like taking out tons of Presence) to compensate. I also use vintage, US-made Shure SM-57s, and typically don’t get too close to the center of the speaker. Miking them around the edge of the dust cap at a small angle (sometimes called OFF AXIS) can also help smooth out harsh mic frequencies when recording.

#3 - Cable lengths
I usually like a little capacitance from the guitar cable if I’m going directly in with the amp on 10. With that much distortion, you actually need a little treble roll off in there. Usually with modern cables, 20 feet is a good place. Usually I end up 20' plus 10' since I’ll run a 10 foot to a pedal, then 20’ out to the amp. This is a minor tweaky thing so, you can probably just ignore it mostly. HA!

#4 These are just suggestions
This is only based on what’s worked for me. Maybe you’ll find a better way.

Good luck!

-James Santiago

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