Ampeg VH140c combo and Roland Cube 20XL review
Well what's up guys it's been a long time since I posted. Sucks about what happened to the site. I have been busy with other life stuff, got sidetracked from my chops for a while. Recently got into playing guitar again, and have got a VH140c combo with casters and footswitch in excellent condition that I'd like to review.
First I want to mention the Roland Cube 20XL. I got one to replace an old practice amp that is way past its expiration date.
On a Roland Cube 20XL, the Extreme setting is very good for guess what - extreme metal, as the name should warrant at.
Check this out: mids at 5 o'clock or near max, Bass @ 11 o'clock, highs at 9 o'clock with gain at 2 o'clock. Suit to taste. A very grindy gritty and pissed off tone.
Volume is really loud on a Cube 20XL after 11 o'clock without power squeezer on. This Roland amp is very easy to EQ, and contains some cool pro-effects like chorus and delay, though not widely adjustable. (Always use "power squeezer" to get the optimized amount of gain for best tone.) It's a good surprise, a decent sounding amp, much better than the DOD Grind IT I had when I was starting out. You kids are lucky nowadays, to get a 20 watt amp you can play Suffocation on, when you bring your axe to school. And with delays digital and spring reverbs, chorus, flanger, solo mode for extra boost, you should prepare to beat the haters away with a stick (or your pointy headstock.) It also has a direct out which is nice for making quick demos of your riffs and parts.
Now for the Ampeg VH140c - a combo this time around, because I didn't need all the power of a head.
For our purposes of grinding brutal metal and thrashing madness, I like the VH140c combo at the following settings: Distortion Channel Gain @ 5, Low at just below 5. Ultra Mid @ 3, Highs at 7. That ultra mid is really great. I have it sometimes up at 6, sounds more traditional, which is as far as I like for the "dark sound" I want. Mean, biting, grinding with enough dash of mid to fill it out nice in the guitar's range.
It is a 2-channel amp so clean has its own settings, plus 2 line/preamp outs, nice for use with effect or rack processor. Also a direct out for recording. I'll bet it sounds nice through a tube in direct box for DI recording.
The VH140c's Clean channel sounds GREAT on a wide variety of settings. It gets nice and crunchy on high gain, enough to play anything from Rush's first three albums, Steve Howe/Yes or ACDC. I like it with the bright switch off, and rely on the amp EQ for the overall sound, the bright switch makes it louder (overloads the signal going into my G-Major.) The gain knob on the Clean Channel is like a separate volume channel. All the way up gives you classic hard rock gritty distortion sound, real nice for blues soloing. It has two effects loops, one in the front and on the back we have preamp outs/ins. Onboard reverb is there, the onboard 'verb and chorus is also separated per channel. Custom voiced Ampeg speakers 140 watts rms.
The chorus, dare I say, sounds better than the head? This is probably the most gorgeous chorus I heard close to a Retro Sonic Chorus Ensemble for nailing those chorus tones of 70s all kinds of rock, you can nail Rush on lower gain settings. 80s cleans are here and 80s trippy leads, progressive death metal leads. Rate up high gives the raygun Korn sound. With more gain from the VH140c, gothic/doom metal or progressive death metal lead tones with chorus can be obtained to taste with the ultra mid. Add some pitch shift and/or delay and you got Cynic or Death solos. The one drawback I can hear, is that turning on the chorus reduces your volume slightly. Try these chorus settings, everything at 6, and Depth A at 7, with distortion channel and high gain settings (sounds like Type O Negative.) As for the clean channel, with heavy compression raise the gain to get a raw hot steamy blues tone for your bluesy Hendrix/Pink Floyd inspired moments.
Even with these stock Ampeg speakers, when you palm mute or chug, play fast and shred on a VH140c I feel that every note is tight, articulate, clear, defined, precise. I like to hook a BBE Sonic Stomp in the front effects loop and it sounds like you are playing through a live mastered recording if you don't set the knobs too high. Both of my knobs are set to four. Like cooking a good meal you gotta suit to your taste. The BBE I feel, makes the VH140c's well known bottom end even nicer and tames the highs though I wonder what the difference would be running raw [with higher mids] vs. BBE during a gig.
I had to get a VH140c again because I was outright tired of buying amps...
Crate GX130c, no way! I do not feel it comes even close to the VH140c. The GX130c combo I had for a short time sounded like a polite version of this amp - nowhere near as good. There are demos of the head on YouTube that sound great though (one comparing it to an ART preamp where both sound particularly good.) Maybe the GX-130c I got needed some TLC :confused:
When I was playing full time in a band, I played a Crate GLX212 Combo Amp in Guitar Center when it was 2004 and I liked the distortion ALOT! Good amount of gain. (That Crate combo was a blast, it was a crazy random encounter with an amp. Had to be told to turn the volume down at the store.) I can see the argument where that amp shares the VH140c DNA, but the GX130c was a letdown for me. Your mileage may vary.
Randall T2 combo is nice but I should have gotten the G2/G3 or RG or a solid-state Marshall instead (DSL, Valvestate, MG maybe.) T2 is a NICE amp but it was not my thing. Too much midrange always, and not enough biting-grinding-chomping-tearing enough. I will say this, the T2 is great for getting that huge broad smooth solo sound Eric Rutan used on old Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel "Gateways" songs. It really pops out in a mix.
On a guitar with EMG active pickups the Ampeg is even more overdriven and sounds wonderful for any extreme metal style... you may have to turn down the gain on more powerful pickups so it is not muddy. Sepultura used BC Rich and Jackson guitars with EMGs on their classic 89 - 91 albums and I love their cutting razor sharp edgy thrashing guitar sound. You can sound like this, and beyond that into grindcore, with the VH140c's distortion channel gain alone. Not enough gain is never an issue unless your Ampeg is broken.
If you still can't get a good picture of the amp's gain structue by now here's about pickups and the VH140c. There's an Ibanez RG1570 Prestige I am planning on putting a Tone Zone for the bridge and Air Norton for neck in. I feel the Ampeg VH140c is going to provide plenty gain for these pickups for shredding and death metal. It's because on gain of 5 I can go back and forth from heavy riffing to fast soloing no problem with my stock BC Rich ASM1 pickups, this is a cool low-end BC Rich guitar I use for Eb tuning.
Ampeg VH140c is the only amp I went out of my way to buy twice, I drove 150 miles round trip to get this combo and I am glad to have this amp again. The VH140c combo is VERY LOUD. The louder you turn it up, the better it sounds. :) Just don't scoop the mids too much. I feel that below 2 might be pushing it. The more mids you cut out the less of the guitars character comes through, or so I've read. Anyway let your ears decide, because this combo has enough gain to tackle any metal tone you may want and more. When I powered it through a Furman Merit M8SP that powers the rest of the setup, it sounded much better and less noisy, not that it was bad before. But on a guitar with factory passives there is noise at high gain, unlike an active or aftermarket pickup. I use the G-Major's flexible in and out gain level parameters to be able to turn up the VH's master volumes to 6 (!) and have maximum tone at bedroom level volumes. If I didn't do this then the Ampeg's volume at 6 would get my entire street's attention.
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