Damon Wood

Lonestar Tone Clips

November 3rd, 2008

Ever since I picked up this Mesa/Boogie Lone Star of mine in Sept. ’07, I’ve surprised even myself with the level of geekery I indulge in over it.

It’s almost as fun to tweak and configure as it is to simply play with, and having spent some time chatting and learning about these amps at the Boogie Board and The Gear Page forums (I’m “djw”, by the way), I’ve developed an even keener interest in tone and tube amp character. Of course I figure I have the best of everything in this Mesa LSC of mine, and I’ve become a bit of evangelist for the thing. Do I think it’s the best amp ever? No, of course not. Does it do everything I want it to do? Pretty much; it’s a sophisticated and yet beautifully simple piece of gear, with tons of usable options and beautiful responsiveness. So it doesn’t do exactly what my Marshall does, but the same is true in reverse. So it’s all good.

A lot has been made over at the Boogie Board about a couple of DIY modifications that have really improved the amp’s performance, to my ears anyway. These are:

Both of those threads are lengthy, but the initial posts pretty much sum up the ideas behind each of them. In their distinct ways, they help to improve what many Lone Star users felt was a lack of definition in some aspects of the amp’s tone. The Reeder Mod in particular was a revelation to many of us who felt that the drive channel was a bit compromised, and sounded muddy by comparison to the sparkle of the clean channel.

Since making these changes to the amp, I have been sort of obsessed with trying to capture the amp’s new character — partly for the sake of proving that we tinkerers are not crazy, and also to give me an excuse to work on recording myself. So here’s a volley of media, the result of a single session with my camera and my Zoom H2. Two disclaimers:

1. I am not a recording engineer — I’ve got a day job, live in an apartment and only get to play by myself at a reasonably high volume occasionally. So please bear with my recordings. I’m working on it!

2. I fancy myself a decent guitarist, but I’m definitely not a shredder. I wish I was a lot better than I am, but I think I’m better than I seem to be able to capture on my own… that must mean something, but I don’t know what. Let’s just say that I’m pretty much always mortified at what I hear in these. Ok, enough.

Without further ado, here are the specs for this session:

  • Guitars: 2001 Les Paul Standard, 2007 American Deluxe Strat (both stock)
  • Effects: none (my usual setup is laid out here)
  • Amp: 2004 Lone Star Classic 1×12 Combo
  • Speaker: 12″ Weber Blue Dog Ceramic, 50w, no dope (still breaking in)
  • Tubes: Tung Sol 6L6GC
  • Basic amp settings: 50w both channels, full AC power, tube rectifier, loop engaged (Send level:1:30)
  • Drive channel settings, basically, l-r: D: 3:00 G: 12:00 T: 2:00 M: 10:00 B: 10:00 P: 12:00 M: 11:00 O: 9:30
    (The settings for each clip are in the details of each one on YouTube, if you click through… but basically that’s where I kept it)

These were recorded on Halloween night, 2008. I’ll also be putting up some additional MP3 samples soon.

Thanks to Charles Reeder for his innovative spirit.

Clips (from 10/31/08):

Les Paul, Higher Gain Rhythm:

Strat, Higher Gain Rhythm:

Les Paul, Ch2 – all OD controlled by Volume Control:

Les Paul, Hi Treble-based Gain Ch2:

Strat, Clean & Low Gain Rhythm:
(this audio is just the camera — the H2 recording clipped a bit on this one)

The following clips are from 11/10/08. All audio is just the camera now; I think the Zoom is not ideal for close-range miking, or I need to figure out better placement for it…

Les Paul, another Gainful sample — touch sensitivity and quiet performance highlighted:

Les Paul, sweet little jazzy bit of nonsense:

Strat, some drop-D dirty clean/clean dirty riffing:

Les Paul, with apologies to Keef and all Stones fans. Drive control is off here… nice gritty low-gain.

Les Paul, and now I really have to apologize AND fess up on firmly dating myself. Larry Carlton would never use this much gain, but Kid Charlemagne is trying to keep up with the times, being a modern dude. And I, er, coughed in the middle of it…

Les Paul, going for the boxy-Voxy sound.

…and, ok, fooling around now. Audio-only, Les Paul on Ch1; this is me struggling through Samba E Amor, by Bebel Gilberto:

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Strat, I’m pretty sure this is Ch2 on a low gain setting… but I forget. Random jangly strumming thing.

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Les Paul, switching between 3 tones: Ch1, Ch2 cloning Ch1 (no drive), and with the Drive engaged. A note about this: when I first did the Reeder Mod, I still had the stock Mesa tubes in the amp and the two channels were pretty much clones with the knobs in the same positions. Recently, I discovered that they aren’t like that, and it took me a minute to realize that this is probably because the preamp tubes are all upgraded, and all different. I have a Tung Sol in V1 and a Mullard reissue in V2. Anyway, I was able to clone the channels that night, but the settings are a little different (picture forthcoming). You can’t hear me saying anything in the track because the record level was too low, but I make 3 adjustments: switching from Ch1 to Ch2, clean; engaging the drive, normal voicing, Ch2; and switching to Thick voicing, Ch2.

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2 Comments Comments»

  1. Jay says

    Awesome! Thanks for the info. Im about to buy a LSC 2×12 and your site has been very informative. Great clips and you rock on the guitar!

    March 9th, 2009 | #

  2. Damon says

    Thank you Jay. You’re going to love the amp, it’s so versatile and sounds great in so many ways. The 2×12 will kick serious booty for ya. Good luck!

    March 9th, 2009 | #

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