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Eddie should've used a 50 watt amp instead ?
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  1. #1
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    Eddie should've used a 50 watt amp instead ?

    I was thinking the other day about the tone i loved about early Van Halen , mainly the guitar sounds . Over the years Eddie has gon on record saying things about his amps during the early years , and the 'tricks' he did while using them .

    He stated that he got kicked out of clubs for playing too loud . He's said that he would only use the bottom cabinet in a 4x12 double stack . He said he'd use heavier grill cloth and even cover the speakers with styrofoam to muffle the volume , etc.

    Would EVH been better off using a 50 watt head , instead of the 100 watter he's known for ?
    In another story , Yngwie stated that he stuck with 50 watt heads because they were more abundant back then , and that they broke up and saturated easier .

    This could've been a solution for Eddie as well and would've negated the need for the Variac , right ?
    Discuss ...
    "There's a little bit of Van Halen in everyone ..."
    "Who Dares , Wins ..."
    "Van Halen was never about the singer ..."

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by rawkinrobbievh1 View Post
    I was thinking the other day about the tone i loved about early Van Halen , mainly the guitar sounds . Over the years Eddie has gon on record saying things about his amps during the early years , and the 'tricks' he did while using them .

    He stated that he got kicked out of clubs for playing too loud . He's said that he would only use the bottom cabinet in a 4x12 double stack . He said he'd use heavier grill cloth and even cover the speakers with styrofoam to muffle the volume , etc.

    Would EVH been better off using a 50 watt head , instead of the 100 watter he's known for ?
    In another story , Yngwie stated that he stuck with 50 watt heads because they were more abundant back then , and that they broke up and saturated easier .

    This could've been a solution for Eddie as well and would've negated the need for the Variac , right ?
    Discuss ...
    I remember when i got my Laney head, back in the day, my guitar buddy insisted i go for the 50 watt.
    But i was thinking, "100 watt equals more, and it's gonna be meaner & louder!"
    But he said, "Dude, there's no way you are gonna come close to using all 100 watts, and your tone will be
    meatier & easier to shape, by using the 50 watt."
    The guy selling the amp agreed with him.

    100 watts take a lot of work to break up just the right away, without blasting the thing beyond comprehension.
    At least, back then.

  3. #3
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    It almost goes against rational thinking but due to physics , a 100 watt amp is NOT exactly twice as loud as a 50 .

    I know that Eddie's fabled Marshall head was accquired from a local club when he was a kid . It was the house amp at the time and i'm sure young Edward got a good deal on it . Had he been able to see into the future and realise that his amp would be a coveted piece of Rock history , there's no way he would have parted with it .

    Eddie has always been a tone chaser and innovator since his earliest days , so maybe he felt the amp was special ?
    I just think that some of the sound/volume problems he's spoken about could've been eased somewhat by a 50 watt model instead .

    I'm surprised a few more people haven't chimed in on this ?
    "There's a little bit of Van Halen in everyone ..."
    "Who Dares , Wins ..."
    "Van Halen was never about the singer ..."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rawkinrobbievh1 View Post
    It almost goes against rational thinking but due to physics , a 100 watt amp is NOT exactly twice as loud as a 50 .

    I know that Eddie's fabled Marshall head was accquired from a local club when he was a kid . It was the house amp at the time and i'm sure young Edward got a good deal on it . Had he been able to see into the future and realise that his amp would be a coveted piece of Rock history , there's no way he would have parted with it .

    Eddie has always been a tone chaser and innovator since his earliest days , so maybe he felt the amp was special ?
    I just think that some of the sound/volume problems he's spoken about could've been eased somewhat by a 50 watt model instead .

    I'm surprised a few more people haven't chimed in on this ?
    Me, too.

    I remember reading articles where Ed would complain, "I tried everything! I turned my amps against the wall, but
    the owner's still said i was too loud. But i had to be, to get my sound, and..."

    You'd think it would have occurred to him try a 50 watter, instead of an MSG filling 100 watt amp!
    Less wattage, you can crank it up & get that sound, as opposed to frying your eardrums with a 100 watt
    Marshall.

    And i did end up buying the 50 watt Laney tube head, which DID blow up, during band rehearsal.
    My God, it made the most God awful sound, when the tubes died.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, I have to wonder: if you use a lower-wattage amp to begin with, do you need a Variac?

    The distortion is from the tube being overdriven, so a 50 watt tube distorts before a 100 watt tube. My Music Man amps have a switch to be either 65 watts or 130 watts, and I can't really tell a difference either way, volume-wise, and barely tone-wise.

    Duane Allman and Dickey Betts both used 50 watt Plexis.

    Jimmy Page had his Plexis modified to be 200 watts (or was it 250?) around 1973, and many theorize that's why his tone on The Song Remains the Same and beyond is thin and twangy. Maybe Page thought it would make the guitar sound even bigger and meaner, but also, maybe he thought if they were going to play places like Madison Square Garden he'd need more watts to hear himself across the stage.

    These days when I go to guitar forums, guys are using these Orange "Tiny Terror" amps, I think they're called, that are 30 watts, or Soldano has their Jet Blue amps or whatever they call them that are only 20 or 30 watts, but pretty damn loud. I don't think too many people use 100 watt amps anymore.

  6. #6
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    Well, Ed did use the prototype of the 50w 5150 III on the new album. So you could say he finally "learned his lesson"

    As far as in the old days, there is speculation he might've used a 50w, but that's just all it is.
    As mentioned before he did get his main Marshall from a club, so he couldve gotten a good deal on it and thought "hmmm 100w Marshall for the same price as a 50w, ill take the 100 watter!"
    He, like many probably thought a 100 watter would be twice as loud than a 50w and, remember he used to play a regular 3 single coil strat before Franky because he liked the trem bar, but even with a 100w Marshall everyone in the band thought the sound was thin, so that might've shied him away from 50 watters even further "if i cant get my tone on a 100 watter..." the whole twice is better mentality, but this is just me speculating.

    In the end though, thanks to his need to "tone chase" he gave us all these whacky ideas on how to get your tone.
    Last edited by ErickC; November 26th, 2012 at 11:47 PM.

  7. #7
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    I understand your basic point, that this probably could have been done in order to achieve essentially his sound at lower volume however my guess is that the reason this didn't happen relates to two things:

    1) This was the age of 100 watt amplifier heads and 4x12 cabs and stacks.

    This doesn't deny or contradict any of your points, but I mean, essentially just about any rock guitar player who played heavier music used primarily 100 watt amp heads during this time, and so in this way Ed was no different.

    But more importantly I think the answer lies in:

    2) Ed like the tone that came from HIS PARTICULAR 100 watt plexi which was originally the house amp at that place in Pasadena. Ed could have used pretty much any amp he could have found, particularly after 1978, yet he recorded with this amp through the 80's. Obviously he did so because he found the tone to that particular amp to be uniquely better than any other plexis he'd played through. And of course we all know, famously, that Ed insists the only way to achieve his tone was to run all the knobs maxed out.

    I've read before about Ed sending his roadie's out all over the place to accumulate old Marshall heads particularly over the first two tours to use as backups because of reliability issue with his main head. I've also read that Ed regularly used a 50 watt Marshall as a back up during the club days.

    So again, it's my guess that Ed didn't employ this strategy, not because he wasn't aware of the benefits of it, but because he specifically wanted to not only use a 100 watt Marshall head, but that, especially pre-international touring band days, he wanted to use THAT specific particular head to get his sound live and he didn't feel the 50 watts (or ANY OTHER 100 watt head for that matter) could provide him the same tone as his (now famous) plexi did.

    Anyway, those are just my speculations
    "we sound like a goddamn rock band!"

    --David Lee Roth, Stockholm, Sweden, 1984

  8. #8
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    I'd love to know what amps he used on the FW tour, because his live sound was God-like.
    I heard they were either Laneys or Sound city amps, or something besides Marshalls.
    I have no idea, but his '81 tone crushed the thinner "Hide your sheep" era tone.

  9. #9
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    Another reason to use 100 watt amps is that you know if you have a half stack and some other guitarist comes up and asks you if your Marshall is 100 watts, and you say, "No, it's a 50," they're going to frown and go, "Oh...," and you'll suddenly feel small and puny, even with a Marshall. If you're dumping over $1,000 for an amp, you just can't have that happening. So pay the extra dollars for that other 50 watts, because you don't want to be $1,000 in the hole and still unimpressive.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ice Cream Man View Post
    Another reason to use 100 watt amps is that you know if you have a half stack and some other guitarist comes up and asks you if your Marshall is 100 watts, and you say, "No, it's a 50," they're going to frown and go, "Oh...," and you'll suddenly feel small and puny, even with a Marshall. If you're dumping over $1,000 for an amp, you just can't have that happening. So pay the extra dollars for that other 50 watts, because you don't want to be $1,000 in the hole and still unimpressive.
    Don't forget that you need to play the crappiest guitar made of ash with parts thrown in together.


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