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Author Topic: HRM Bluesmaster setup advice  (Read 37755 times)
StratUltra
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« on: February 09, 2012, 05:55:29 PM »

Hi Guys,

First off, I hate to create another one of those "NEED HELP" type emails, but I've trolled through many of the threads on this forum but cant quite get the answer I need. I've noticed a lot of supporting members on this forum, and I can say that not all forums are the same.

I'm just about to place my order with Nik on a 50w Bluesmaster with LNFB mod, Tonestack bypass with a port for volume adjustment once bypassed, PAB volume adjustment, 3 way mid boost with a Clator. Along with it, I'll be getting a WGS ET-65 for a 1x12 cab as well. I must say, Nik's customer service is second to none, and is super responsive. He's been great to deal with throughout the ordeal, and would recommend anyone to making a purchase with Ceriatone.

The tone i'm looking for is specifically the John Mayer "Where is the light" concert cleans with the overdrive from the song Belief, which is a thick and fat sounding. I think th BM will get me the cleans that I need, although I'm hoping the mods, particularly with the Tonestack mod will get me that traditional OTS dumble OD. Have you guys have any thoughts if this will get me what I'm after? Its interesting, because JM gets most of his tone from his amps, so I'm thinking that I need to get my amp setup right.

My other question is, is the WGS ET-65 suitable for this? I know the BM is bass heavy, and I'm afraid that in combination with this speaker, the bass might be a little overwhelming. Also thinking of the possibilities of getting a EVM12L instead if this will help me achieve the tone I'm after.

Another question, in terms of tubes to use, will the JJ's that come with the amp be alright to use? From my previous experience with JJ's, they are a little dark, but though I might use them as a baseline to start with. Was thinking the JJ's would be fine in the power section, but I've read that the pre-amp on the HRM BM is very picky. Not sure how the JJ's will be with the OD.....

A few clips to as what tone i'm after

Belief... after the OD from this clip


Slow Dancing in a burning room ....After the cleans on this clip


Any feedback or advice would be appreciated!
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SoundPerf
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 08:06:35 PM »

First, let me say that those clips are perfect for conveying what you want. I'll try to answer some of your answers, but might not be able to get all of them. Also, this is coming from someone who owns a HRM 50, not Bluesmaster, but I don't really think in the grand scheme of things, it's a big difference.

The speaker issue. I have a 2X12 cab with a WGS ET-65 & Veteran 30. I chose that combo because I too was a little concerned about the ET-65 being too dark. While the two paired together is superb, I really don't think the ET-65 is too dark at all. It does have great bass response, but the top end is really nice. If I had to just use one of those speakers the ET-65 would be it. Now you bring up a EVM12L which is a sort of a whole new ball game. Up until recently, I have never played though one of these speakers, but got a chance the other day. While I still love the combo I have that speaker was really something to play. The efficency is really suited for a 1X12 setup and it has a clearness with just the right compression that really is suited for these amps. Your talking a different price range with the EV so that's something to consider.

As far as getting JM tone, I really think the amp your going for will get you what you're after. While I don't really ever try to sound like JM and don't listen to his music on a regular basis, everytime I hear clips like the ones above I hear my amp all over. In some ways, while Larry Carlton's tone can be considered classic D-style, JM's is classic D-style of a different sort. I think the HRM aspect is probably a part of it, along with the cleans being more blackface fender.

As far as tubes, if you know how to bias the amp I would get it with no tubes and choose something other than JJ's. But if you don't than letting Nik get it all setup with the tubes and then send it to you would probably be best.

I feel for your nervousness. It's about exactly a year ago I was going over and over which of Niks kits/amps to get. Don't sweat it too much it will be great.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 08:09:08 PM by SoundPerf » Logged

Chris

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StratUltra
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012, 09:58:52 PM »

Appreciate the feedback SoundPerf Smiley

It was one of your post and 212Mavrick(sp?) & plasticvonaband, that swayed me in getting the LNFB mod and Tonestack bypass for the OD. I Was thinking that should get me the overdrive in the "Belief" clip above with it? Hope I'm right about this one... 

It does help settle some of the nervousness I have. I'm certain that Nik's amps are going to be great, but it just makes it difficult to decide on which OTS/HRM is best suited for my sonic tastes. There isn't many clips on the Bluesmaster to listen to unfortunately. There was maybe 3 clips on youtube with the Bluesmaster OD being played, and they all sounded different. Again, it makes it hard to decide without being able to hear the amp and tweak it to taste, and decide if it is the right one.

I was thinking that With the ET-65, it might work fine with the Bluesmaster because of the brighter Fender Blackface cleans, but I do have the option of also getting a used EVM12L locally here in Australia for about $250AU. Would rather get the speaker choice right the first time rather than experimenting, and end up spending more money in the end.

In terms of the tubes, I dont know how to bias the tubes, but I can have this done by my amp tech. Tube selection is the more challenging part in trying to achieve the tones. Particularly since there are so many to choose from, with all their own characteristics.

I guess being located so far from Malaysia, I want to try get things done right the first time. Its tricky, because I know the BM has the right cleans for what I want, but I'm not entirely sure if the OD channel is the right one. To me, the purchase of a dumble clone is all about the dumble overdrive.....
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SoundPerf
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2012, 12:18:52 AM »

So with all the mods that Nik is going to do does he think the BM will get you what you want?

I guess to simplify my opinion I should just state why I went with the HRM50 and not a regular OTS or BM. The main reason is I wanted to get as much OD gain as possible without going overboard. The fact that the HRM had a tonestack for the OD vs. the OTS seemed like what I would need because much of my playing is with OD.(although since getting the amp, it has opened up a whole new spectrum of clean playing) At the time with what little there was about the BM I did keep reading people elluding to not being able to get exactly the best OD with them. That sort of scared me and I didn't want bad OD. But like I said I was going on a few opinions that could have been accurate or not. Since then things I have read makes me think my fear was mostly unfounded.

All this was predicated on the fact that I have an electronics background and built the amp and knew I could change anything I didn't like. So I figured starting with a HRM would be a right fit. I think with all the mods you should have a huge pallete to choose from. I guess the thing to find out is Niks opinion on how much different the OD is on the BM from the regular HRM. I understand wanting to get it right the first time.

Also, it took some time to draw all the tone out of the amp. When I first fired it up, it sounded good and I could tell I had something special, but it took a good month or two to really start to squeeze out all the juice. In fact I'm still getting new flavors. I had modded a crappy Ibanez TS7 to be more TS9 like and paired that with a Xotic BB Preamp both as more boosts than OD and cascaded them into the HRM and was getting some awesome tones. Both on the clean and OD channel. A lot of tweaking these amps is using the "less is more" principal. Over doing any of the controls can get you in less than stellar territory fast.

Back to the speaker, if you can get an real EVM12L it's probably a good place to start especially since you just want a 1X12. The WGS's are awesome speakers, just the ET-65 is a different beast.

I think the best power tubes are ones that will get the closest to a RCA black plate sound. I really think the TAD WGC STR's are great. I'm still using the ones I started with. When it's time to replace these tubes I will mostly likely get the same thing. Unless I happen upon some great NOS at a great price. I don't see that happening though. Preamp tubes are probably more tricky. Have you been to visit http://www.ampgarage.com yet. There's lots of info on tubes over there in the Dumble section. The one thing that got me some better tone than what I started out with was putting an RCA grey short plate in V1. This really was an eye opener about NOS. I'm still not someone who's going to go crazy with NOS tubes, especially since it seems like most the good supply have dried up unless you're willing to spend a truckload of money. I hope I can find a couple more NOS 12AX7's without emptying the bank account. It seems everytime someone has some at a good prices I just miss them and they are sold.  Sad

I hope my long and rambling post is coherent enough to help.  Smiley



« Last Edit: February 10, 2012, 12:24:32 AM by SoundPerf » Logged

Chris

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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2012, 07:32:43 PM »

Well, I can tell you that the BM clean sound is a Blackfaceish clean, but not like what we are all used to. It is so much more alive and has a bigger soundstage than any Blackface i have ever played through. To me it is a healthy mix of Blackface and Tweed on the cleans. It really has alot of low end to it, and that makes it sound alot fuller than the standard Blackface. Some folks have gone so far as to change the slope resistor and bass pot value to lower the overall bass content, i just tend to keep the bass turned down lower.

I have mine driving two Weber 1265 Alnicos (Alnico magnet version of the G1265) and it sounds great to me. I had a pair of what were essentially well aged Eminence Delta 12As (lighter version of the 12A Pro which is Eminence's take on the EV12) for a while in there and sound really nice as well, very tight on the Bass and you could really turn the Bass control up and take advantage of it. so sweet.

As far as output tubes, i agree with Chris. I really dig the TAD WGCSTR shorties.They sound outstanding biased at the OTS's specified range, and stay pretty clean most of the way up, but give up the goods nicely when pushed hard via the clean channel and a lil clean boost or PAB (or both).

FOr preamp tubes, i have found that i like the ribbed Telefunkens so far the best, but they are pricey. For warmer sounds i like long plate GEs from the late 50's early 50's, but they are becoming extinct and pricey as well. thetubestore.com has their own "preferred series" of 7025s which i really like in V1 as well. I'm not sure who makes em, but they aren't sovteks, i'm thinkin there select chinese tubes like the TADs. The stock JJ does a nice job in V2 as well, actually. In V3 I like a nice strong well balanced russian tube, and i also adjusted the voltage swing between V3a and V3b to my liking. It was dead on the factory setting, but i found mine sings better at about 8 volts swing as opposed to 6 volts.

As far as the OD sound, i have found that there is such a wide range of tones available, that it is no surprise that no two clips sound alike. It isn't quite as compressed as the standard OTS or even the HRM which makes it sound (to my ears) a little more dynamic and doesn't sound like all the D-Style amps out there. It really has its own voice, and most importantly, you will probably find your voice, but it may take alot of twiddling to get it, but once you do, it's a beautiful thing. I will tell you that boosted cleans pushing everything to overdrive sound amazing on the BM, puncy and full, not compressed, it just sings. it's very addictive, when you finally get the amp and get it broken in, you will see what i mean,

Hope this helps!

Gregg
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StratUltra
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 06:14:34 AM »

Thanks for spending the time to reply guys. It really has given me more of any idea what to expect. To explain tone over the Internet is certainly not easy, especially it being so subjective.

With the bluesmaster, I've heard that the cleans are definitely fender inspired, while the overdrive section is more marshall. After reading that description, I though "hang on, I want a dumble OD not Marshall!"

From the sounds of it, the bluesmaster will have plenty of tweak-ability on tone (with the mods included) which should be able to give me a wide sonic specturm in tone and hopefully get "that tone" I'm after. Although if I'm honest, I am after that thick & blooming typical dumble sounding overdrive... I was thinking if I needed more gain, I can always use my Zendrive, OCD or MI Audio Tubezone.

I've sent Nik another email to confirm a few things as suggested by soundperf above. I guess at this stage it's just a toss up between the hrm and hrm bluesmaster. I feel guilty bugging Nik all the time!

Out of curiosity Greg, why did you change your choicemin speakers?

Again, thanks guys... Any further feedback or advice would be appreciated!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2012, 06:22:19 AM by StratUltra » Logged
SoundPerf
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 11:55:51 AM »

I hope you're not thinking that just because the term "more Marshall like" is used that it is not going to sound like a Dumble. My HRM is much more able to get a Dumble sound than Marshall. It's just that it is able to be pushed into that Marshall territory. I guess what I'm wondering is if you're suggesting that you are going to go with a straight OTS instead. Because IMO, if you're after that straight up Carlton/modern jazz tone an OTS is what you probably want to stick with, but for a bluesy JM type tone then a HRM type circuit is more like it. To me it would be more about a choice between an HRM or BM HRM. And more so about will a BM get a more "exact" OD tone than a HRM. Keeping in mind that based upon all the mods you're getting you going to have a heck of a versatile amp.

I hope this isn't serving to confuse you more. It probably would me... Undecided  Mainly, if versatillity is anywhere on your radar in an amp choice, then a HRM type I would say is a must. Also, when I say versatillity, it doesn't mean that the amp lacks unique character.
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Chris

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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 07:44:58 PM »

I hope you're not thinking that just because the term "more Marshall like" is used that it is not going to sound like a Dumble. My HRM is much more able to get a Dumble sound than Marshall. It's just that it is able to be pushed into that Marshall territory. I guess what I'm wondering is if you're suggesting that you are going to go with a straight OTS instead. Because IMO, if you're after that straight up Carlton/modern jazz tone an OTS is what you probably want to stick with, but for a bluesy JM type tone then a HRM type circuit is more like it. To me it would be more about a choice between an HRM or BM HRM. And more so about will a BM get a more "exact" OD tone than a HRM. Keeping in mind that based upon all the mods you're getting you going to have a heck of a versatile amp.

I hope this isn't serving to confuse you more. It probably would me... Undecided  Mainly, if versatillity is anywhere on your radar in an amp choice, then a HRM type I would say is a must. Also, when I say versatillity, it doesn't mean that the amp lacks unique character.

Agreed. As Chris said. With the BM the more Marshall like tones can be there, but, really it's not like a plexi or JCM800 sound, at least to my ears. It's more of an early Marshall sound, or Tweed Bassman sound. It all depends on how you set your EQ, and what speakers you use, though.

That being said, if you turn the OD trim up and drive the amp hard, you can get more modern marshall sounds, hell even some early mesa sounds if you want, but it's not what the amp is best at.

To answer you question about my speaker changes; when i originally got the amp i had it hooked up to my 20 year old 4X12 with the 20 year old eminence Delta 12a's in it. It sounded ok, but i had originally planned to used the 1265 alnicos anyway, so when i got the combo cab and put em they sounded pretty good, but had a lil more bass than i was expecting and wasn't as tight as i liked, so i put the old Deltas in and was happy with the punchy bass. i actually considered selling the webers, but something told me to keep em. I hooked my mp3 player up to the amp and let it burn in while i was home and while i was sleeping to help loosen it up. The deltas sounded pretty good, but kinda sterile. I'm not sure if it was age or just the curve of the speaker.

Meanwhile, i had the webers in another combo, hooked up to a hifi playing music thru it about 8 hours a day for 3 days, then i put the webers back in the amp, and it was magic. They weren't flubby and they had nice smooth highs and mids. I like em for my sound, but that's not to say everyone will. A little bit of experimentation goes along way Smiley

Gregg
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2012, 08:39:32 PM »

Great thread and great posts here!   The only thing I would add is not to get too terribly OCD-ish about nailing those tones your are seeking right away...get 100 hours on the amp first to break it in.  Not only do things like caps break in and form, as do new speakers and tubes, but the output transformer needs to season some as well.   So the tones will drift for a while until things settle in.

In 12 inch, some of my fave speakers are no longer made.  They are JBL G125A-8 and JBL MI-12.  G125 has 3" VC, rated 200w rms, heavy, MI-12 has 2"VC, rated for 150 watts and they don't weigh all that much either.    You can look them up in JBL's "obsolete" speaker brochures online.  They are wonderful for the tones you want.   Might be tough to find.  There is a custom speaker builder on ebay that does up some really nice hemp cone 12's too, and they are affordable.  Hemp speakers do that smooth OD and can do it at slightly higher gain settings than traditional speaker cone materials.  Harmonics ooze out nicely.  You might need to use increased treble/presence settings with hemp.  I also have a thang for using 15's...have some faves there, but not going to muddy up the water any more right now.

The best part is not in attaining JM's tones, IMHO, no, not at all...best is to get that personal "StratUltra" tone palette.  You certainly have a lot to play with!  Do some mad science experiments on your own, better than to just take everyone's word.  The results will satisfy your curiosity and you will know more! 
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plasticvonaband
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2012, 11:00:13 PM »


The best part is not in attaining JM's tones, IMHO, no, not at all...best is to get that personal "StratUltra" tone palette.  You certainly have a lot to play with!  Do some mad science experiments on your own, better than to just take everyone's word.  The results will satisfy your curiosity and you will know more! 

I agree 100% with this
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Overdrive is like peanut butter. Some like it crunchy, some like it creamy.
Bluesmaster 50 2x12 combo and some guitars.
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2012, 03:37:25 AM »

Again, thank you all for the time taken to reply.

Completely agree with finding a tone of my own, it's just I'd like to start with a good tone as a foundation.

After much thought, I'll go with a BM and I initially thought. Granted, with the mods, I should have plenty of tweaking time to find what sounds best.

I can say, this amp has been the most difficult to decide on....that's only because Nik makes such an awesome d-clone range to select, with all the differing opinions on tubes & speakers etc.

Pulling some final finances together and I'll be making a purchase real soon.

Stay tuned guy, I'll keep you all posted with my thoughts on the amp.

Will surely be returning to the forum, because everyone's been so helpful!
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SoundPerf
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2012, 04:09:25 PM »

You're going to love it.

Of all the music equipment I have purchased through the years there's been just a few that were something special. They are a few guitars and my Ceriatone HRM 50.
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Chris

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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2012, 04:27:44 PM »

You're going to love it.

Of all the music equipment I have purchased through the years there's been just a few that were something special. They are a few guitars and my Ceriatone HRM 50.

I agree.  You are gonna love it.

I also agree with Chris. My BM is probably the best tube amp i have owned. Even better than my old Blackface Princeton, and my Sovtek when it was new and functioning properly. In a way it is a combination of both of those amps, with built in fabulous OD to boot.

Today the FedEx guy brought me the Roland Jazz Chorus 90 i got off of Ebay. I'm sure it will be awesome. Now i will have the best tube amp i have ever owned and the solid state amp i have ever owned. what else could one ask for?

Gregg
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Overdrive is like peanut butter. Some like it crunchy, some like it creamy.
Bluesmaster 50 2x12 combo and some guitars.
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2012, 04:49:10 PM »

Today the FedEx guy brought me the Roland Jazz Chorus 90 i got off of Ebay. I'm sure it will be awesome. Now i will have the best tube amp i have ever owned and the solid state amp i have ever owned. what else could one ask for?

Yup!! If there's one solid state amp to have, this is it.(and the JC120) That's really cool you got one. It will be a cool thing to play with. Have fun!! Cool
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 04:51:45 PM by SoundPerf » Logged

Chris

Ceriatone HRM 50
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2012, 05:08:01 PM »

Today the FedEx guy brought me the Roland Jazz Chorus 90 i got off of Ebay. I'm sure it will be awesome. Now i will have the best tube amp i have ever owned and the solid state amp i have ever owned. what else could one ask for?

Yup!! If there's one solid state amp to have, this is it.(and the JC120) That's really cool you got one. It will be a cool thing to play with. Have fun!! Cool

Yeah i'm lookin forward to it! After years od playing through JC-120s and JC-90s i picked the JC-90. I like the 2x10 config better, it's warmer and smoother than the 2x12 aluminium dome speakers; and it's a hell of alot more portable!

Gregg
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Overdrive is like peanut butter. Some like it crunchy, some like it creamy.
Bluesmaster 50 2x12 combo and some guitars.
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