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Attention all SRV Tone Experts!

Hi, let me first add a disclaimer, I am not a SRV tone expert.

I have a couple of questions about SRV's tone - closest to El Mocambo and focused on a Super Reverb:

1) My understanding is that much of his stellar break-up tone was achieved by pushing his fenders very hard and loud. My understanding is also that the break-up came from a complex mix of power amp and speaker break-up (a la unplugging two of the speakers in his Super Reverbs to push them harder).

Is there a sonic tonal characteristic that would help us distinguish between amp and speaker break-up? In other words, is tone eminating from amp break-up, different and readily identifiable compared to speaker break-up?

2) The Super Reverb model in the Axe FX II sounds superb to my ears, but am I missing something akin to speaker break-up, i.e. is there some tweaking I would need to do to the IR used in order to simulate the speaker being pushed hard to break-up state?

Shout out to the TGs and LVCs of the world...

Thanks in advance and all the best!

Jean.
 
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orpeus

Inspired
Is there a sonic tonal characteristic that would help us distinguish between amp and speaker break-up? In other words, is tone eminating from amp break-up, different and readily identifiable compared to speaker break-up?
I, also, would be interested in the answer to this question.
 

groovenut

Forum Addict
There used to be a parameter called motor drive in the IR block that would achieve this. I dont know if it's still there though. The other issue that I see that may actually be harder but not impossible to achieve is the impedance mismatched caused by unplugging 2 speakers from the Super. I would suggest looking in the speaker tab of the amp block for parameters that will get you a little closer here.
 
There used to be a parameter called motor drive in the IR block that would achieve this. I dont know if it's still there though. The other issue that I see that may actually be harder but not impossible to achieve is the impedance mismatched caused by unplugging 2 speakers from the Super. I would suggest looking in the speaker tab of the amp block for parameters that will get you a little closer here.
Thanks Lawrence. Do you hear a discernable sonic difference between the 2 types of break-up?
 

groovenut

Forum Addict
Thanks Lawrence. Do you hear a discernable sonic difference between the 2 types of break-up?
Yes but its hard to describe. Speaker breakup to me sounds more buzzy than power amp breakup. It seems to ride on top of the note a bit whereas power amp breakup seems to affect the whole sound. Again it's fairly hard to accurately describe. It's almost like a recording of an amp that was made in the same room as a drumkit with the snares left on sort of thing. I dont think Im going to get an accurate description across though.
 
Yes but its hard to describe. Speaker breakup to me sounds more buzzy than power amp breakup. It seems to ride on top of the note a bit whereas power amp breakup seems to affect the whole sound. Again it's fairly hard to accurately describe. It's almost like a recording of an amp that was made in the same room as a drumkit with the snares left on sort of thing. I dont think Im going to get an accurate description across though.
Thanks. Fair enough to attempt the description you just wrote. I will do more listening work on this and tweak the settings in the speaker tab and IR, without allowing amp break-up in the amp block.

Cliff, any insight into this, from a builder's and creator's perspective?
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
Is it the speaker itself causing the sound or is it the power amp creating the sound because of the speaker interaction with the amp? E.g. the amp reacts differently to more efficient speakers all else being equal.

I thought if the speaker is actually distorting independent of the audio, then it is either broken or about to break or overheat to the point of physical failure.
 

LVC

Fractal Fanatic
Hi, let me first add a disclaimer, I am not a SRV tone expert.

I have a couple of questions about SRV's tone - closest to El Mocambo and focused on a Super Reverb:

1) My understanding is that much of his stellar break-up tone was achieved by pushing his fenders very hard and loud. My understanding is also that the break-up came from a complex mix of power amp and speaker break-up (a la unplugging two of the sepakers in his Super Reverbs to push them harder).

Is there a sonic tonal characteristic that would help us distinguish between amp and speaker break-up? In other words, is tone eminating from amp break-up, different and readily identifiable compared to speaker break-up?

2) The Super Reverb model in the Axe FX II sounds superb to my ears, but am I missing something akin to speaker break-up, i.e. is there some tweaking I would need to do to the IR used in order to simulate the speaker being pushed hard to break-up state?

Shout out to the TGs and LVCs of the world...

Thanks in advance and all the best!

Jean.
Not an SRV expert but I do know that he used the vibroverbs for distortion.

Also he had both the Vibroverbs and super reverbs modified to handle the size and weight of the EVM speakers he used.

Add to that mix the Dumble Steel String Singers (which are virtually impossible to breakup) and you have a guy that played clean and loud for the most part.

He also used a tube screamer with a clean chip for boost (to drive the amps front end).

SRV invented the "11" setting on amps -- LOL
 
You've got it all wrong. He used 200 watt speakers to get zero speaker distortion.
It would appear so. Maybe what I read about was people trying to achieve his tone at lower volume, hence disconnecting 2 of the 4 speakers to push them harder at low volume. Thanks for correcting me.
 
Not an SRV expert but I do know that he used the vibroverbs for distortion.

Also he had both the Vibroverbs and super reverbs modified to handle the size and weight of the EVM speakers he used.

Add to that mix the Dumble Steel String Singers (which are virtually impossible to breakup) and you have a guy that played clean and loud for the most part.

He also used a tube screamer with a clean chip for boost (to drive the amps front end).

SRV invented the "11" setting on amps -- LOL
Thanks. As per Luke, it seems speaker break-up was not part of the equation...
 

LVC

Fractal Fanatic
I, also, would be interested in the answer to this question.
I believe speaker break-up is nothing more than a measurement on how efficient a speaker is (less efficient - earlier breakup). SRV used extremely efficient speakers. In effect he was going for maximum headroom for the particular amp he was playing through.

The other thing you have to watch out for (some folks confuse this as speaker break-up) is cone cry.

Cone cry is not speaker break-up. This happens when the edges of the speaker are too stiff or soft (for your playing style) and you get nasty overtones.

Some players because of the way they play the guitar for whatever reason seem to make speakers cry more than others. those folks usually migrate to speakers (in the old days) to EVMs -- today you have other options (like Tone-Tubby etc) that are either designed specifically to minimize cone-cry.

Adding "dope" to the speakers sometimes clears up cone cry but you could loose some of your highs.
 
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Robboman

Fractal Fanatic
One of the most critical factors to SRVs overall tone was that he used VERY heavy gauge strings (13s) AND very high action so he could dig in and pick harder. Most guys simply cannot play a Strat set up like his. There are comments on the web from guys who had once picked up his guitar and tried. Players have always obsessed over his rigs trying to nail his tone.. amps, pickups, speakers, pedals, signal chain. But if you're playing a typical low-action Strat with 9s or 10s, it cannot be done IMO.

I know you were asking specifically about speaker breakup stuff, so I'm sorry for the diversion... and if you probably already know this, but for the benefit of others I wanted to mention. I don't think any discussion about SRV tone is complete without mentioning this!
 
One of the most critical factors to SRVs overall tone was that he used VERY heavy gauge strings (13s) AND very high action so he could dig in and pick harder. Most guys simply cannot play a Strat set up like his. There are comments on the web from guys who had once picked up his guitar and tried. Players have always obsessed over his rigs trying to nail his tone.. amps, pickups, speakers, pedals, signal chain. But if you're playing a typical low-action Strat with 9s or 10s, it cannot be done IMO.

I know you were asking specifically about speaker breakup stuff, so I'm sorry for the diversion... and if you probably already know this, but for the benefit of others I wanted to mention. I don't think any discussion about SRV tone is complete without mentioning this!
Agreed, and I have already tried 11s and find those hard to play, I can only imagine 13s. But, yes, as you say, very difficult to talk about his tone, without adding the fact that his monster hands/fingers were able to deal with 13s...
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
The El-Mocambo era/show the OP is referring to- 2 supers and 2 vibroverbs. Which in my opinion was the best tone he ever had. It was raw, snarly and dirty. Yet clear as a bell at the same time.
Start with a clean Fender model.

Lower the power tube bias to increase crossover distortion (to taste).

Drive it with the TS mod drive with drive low and gain high.
 

Johnnyh64

Veteran
Speaker distortion sounds 'farty' and overblown, much like the Hendrix did during the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock. It's an overblown out of control Marshall with near blown speakers. I think Stevie Ray had a clean EV setup and drove the amp more. I also don't believe the gauge of strings are as important as everyone thinks. The higher action would definitely help make a cleaner tone though.
 
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