Another Van Halen I Tone Chasing Rabbit Hole

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Another Van Halen I Tone Chasing Rabbit Hole

Postby IAmTheWalrus » Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:09 pm

So, there was yet another VH1 tone thread going on over at TGP a few weeks ago, and I was up in there having fun..

Throwing out all the old VH conspiracy theories on amp mods and signal chain hacks, and somehow the bit about Ed's '63 Fender Bandmaster came up.

I dug up a couple of articles where Ed said that he figured out that if he plugged the speaker into the "ext. speaker" jack rather than the "speaker" jack, he could turn the amp all the way up and get the tone of the amp cranked but at low volume.

He went on to say that he wrote all the guitar parts for the first few VH records while running the Bandmaster this way.

Ed also described how he composed the tapped harmonics intro to "Women In Love" thru this signal chain... Now, anyone who has played this piece knows you need a lot of gain to make those harmonics ring out.

So I'm thinking about this, and I go back and listen to all the isolated guitar tracks from the first 4 records, including the two RWTD tracks Dave Friedman posted to MetroAmp many years ago and it hits me.. that is how Ed got all that gain(not distortion) on the early records. :shock:

He plugged the ext speaker jack of his '63 bandmaster into his Marshall's input jack. Now, this is insane and dangerous - but no more than hooking up the amp to a dimmer switch, or the "Cerrem" mod, or any other insane signal chain hacks Ed is supposed to have done over the years.

There is actually a thread on MetroAmp of user RGalpin doing this very thing with a Fender Bassman into his 2203 Metro clone. The links to the clips are now broken (like everything else there), but I remember reading and listening to them back in the day.

The playing was sub-par, and the recording method was questionable - but there was a tone there that made you wonder.

I took my 50W Music Man and loaded it with a resistive load, then tapped a line-out signal into my 2203 clone and there it was. :idea:

So now I'm building this :

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