Amplification and Effects

I joined the amplification and effects sections simply because i don't have a separate effects processor. In fact i use a Digitech 2112 which incorporates a tube preamp and a digital processor. The foot controller is a Digitech Control One. The power amplifier is a Carvin Tube 100 which can supply 100 Watts in mono and 50+50 Watts in stereo. I use this last configuration to drive the two 12" celestion speakers of a Marshall 1922 cabinet in stereo.

I'm really satisfied with this set-up. I bought all this stuff in 1996 and never felt the need for something different. Well ... maybe a few 100 Watts Marshall heads driving a dozen 4x12" Marshall cabinets would sound a bit better but i don't think my neighbours would be that happy!

Now let's go to the details...

  • Digitech 2112. I used to play through combo amplifiers for so many years. The first amp was a solid state Peavey Bandit (1984), then a 50 watt tube Marshall combo with a celestion 12" speaker but the sound was very weak, and some days it sounded better than other days. Then came an excellent used Fender The Twin: it was one of those models made in the '80s with the red knobs, that are considered to be the best Twins ever (excluding the original vintage models, of course). The clean channel was excellent, reminding a lot of old vintage Twins, and the distorted channel sound really scraped the speakers! The only thing i couldn't get from it were modern distorted sounds (don't let me say "metal", please!). But overall i really, really regret i sold it, expecially if i consider the ridiculous 500 euros i got from it.
    I haven't used effects at all, except for a Cry-Baby wha-wha, because the sound was loosing dinamics and impact if i inserted any effect, was it a stomp box or a 3rd century digital multieffects unit. I had a solid state Digitech RP-1 preamp/multieffects (a floor unit, not rack) who gave excellent sounds on the headphone but buzzy sound on the Marshall combo. Perfect for practicing without disturbing the neighbours but not good for gigs. So i didn't want to abandon the combo amp philosophy for a rack/multieffect system because i was afraid that the price to pay to have plenty of sophisticated effects (compressor, perametric eq, flanger, chorus, delay, reverb, pitch transposer, harmonizer and whatever) was to loose the "tone", the "impact" and the "bottom" that only a guitar-cable-amp setup could give. Then in 1996 came the 2112! When i heard the gutsy soulful sound of the 2112 preset patch called "SRV lives on" i said: this is the one for me! And the possibilities this unit offers are endless, programming wise. I know that i'm talking about a 6 years old unit, and the digital effects market is changing rapidly (5 years before if you wanted to buy a 2 seconds delay rack unit from Korg you would pay the same price i payed for the 2112!). I believe this unit is unsorpassed. After it there was only the 2120, based on the same technology, same tubes, same processors, only offering longer delay times, more effects-path configurations and patches designed by famous guitarist (i tried them and i must say that i was disappointed!). I've noticed that Digitech has discontinued all rack tube preamps and launched several floor models based on the "amp modelling" philosophy. I confess i never tested any of these new GNX or Genesis units, i would be curious to try them.
    I won't spend time to give you the tech specifications of the 2112. Unfortunately the Digitech site doesn't provide information about this model anymore, but you can download the manual of the 2120 (veeery similar to the 2112!).
    Well, now, how do i use the 2112? Right after buying it i tested all factory patches and realized that none of them was the way i wanted, as it always happens with these digital multieffects. So i spent a few hours to make my own patches (10-12 patches), most of the times starting from a factory patch and modifying it. Then for the following 6 years i've always used the same 5-6 patches all the time! If any of you owners of a multieffects unit uses regularly more than 10 different patches please raise your hand!
    About the tones you get, they are very good. The 2112 has 2 different tubes and each gives a different sound, one with less distortion but more scratchy, perfect for vintage rock and blues (the "SRV lives on" patch uses it!), the other provides a huge amount of saturation and is more suitable for modern rock, not only heavy rock but also fusion. It's really like having 2 amplifiers! The equalization (both graphic and parametric) is extremely versatile and allows you to taylor your sound as you like. This required most part of the time when i was preparing my patches. Then we go to the "digital part" and here you can really get lost! So many effects, all of them with the best unsurpassed Digitech quality: chorus, flanger, phaser, harmonizer, pitch transposer, delay, modulation delay, reverb. I was able to make a patch for Steve Vai's "Ballerina" with a 300 ms delay a fifth above on the left channel and a 600 ms delay a third above on the right channel. With other multieffects units this is not so easy, if not impossible.
    If i'll have the time i'll put my best patches on this page so that 2112 users can try them, and maybe also some audio samples.
  • Digitech Control One. The perfect companion of the 2112 is the Control One foot controller, which is extremely useful. Apart from allowing you to choose the patch, you can switch single effects on/off, you can activate the tuner (and you can check the pitch directly on the single-line display of the controller itself), and more than all you have an extremely useful continuous controller pedal that you can use for any functionality you like: wha-wha, volume, transition from one sound to another in patches using the "morph" functionality, but you can assign it to control ANY possible parameter, the limit is only in your fantasy.
  • Carvin Tube 100. This stereo tube power amplifier is quite expensive but worth the money, it's top Carvin quality. It has the maximum versatility a power amp can provide. You can use it as a 100W mono or 50+50W stereo amplifier, with separate volume knobs for each channel. Once a friend came with its guitar and multieffect and plugged on a channel of the Carvin while i plugged the output of my 2112 to the other and we played nicely just like we had 2 separate amplifiers.
    In the rear panel you have a useful "presence" setting. The sound is clear, warm, beautiful.
  • Marshall 1922. Not too much to say. Two 12" well known Celestion speakers delivering the well known brown Marshall sound. I drive it in stereo but of course the stereo effect is poor because the speakers are too close. I should get another 1922...