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Fractal Audio AMP models: SOLO 100 (Soldano SLO-100)

yek

Moderator
Moderator
* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *



SOLO 100: based on Soldano SLO-100

Mike Soldano doesn’t lack self-confidence: “We make the best guitar amplifiers in the world.” He also believes that tube rectifiers are no good, and that Class A/B is the only way to design any amp.

Famous Soldano players include Eric Clapton, EVH, Steve Vai, Warren Hayes, Ian Thornley (Big Wreck), Prince, Steve Lukather, Gary Moore and Mark Knopfler.

The most famous Soldano amp is the SLO-100 head (Super Lead Overdrive). A SLO has a black metal grill at the front. It comes with 6L6 tubes, has a single input and is rated 100 watts.

Although often linked to hard rock and metal, it's also being used as a blues amp.

Soldano:
"The 100 Watt SUPER LEAD OVERDRIVE sets not only the standard, but the benchmark, for high-gain tube amp overdrive & distortion.​

While setting that standard (we’ve been told) we created a modern classic. Unchanged in over twenty years, the SLO’s remarkable sound, award-winning innovative design, and flawless construction make it simply the finest amplifier money can buy. And the SLO’s tone, construction, and reliability have made it the heart and soul of many of Rock, Metal, and Electric Blues’ most creative and celebrated players. It’s because of this that you’ve been hearing the SLO 100 on your favorite records since 1987. From Clapton to Van Halen, from Warren DeMartini to Lou Reed – and from you to Mike Soldano himself, the SLO is simply the player’s choice.​

The SLO-100 offers two channels, Normal and Overdrive, each with independent Preamp gain and Master Volume controls. A footswitch is also provided for effortless noise-free switching between the two channels. The Normal channel has a Bright switch and a Clean / Crunch gain selector switch. Standard features include a tube-buffered effects loop and a slave output. Bass, Middle, Treble, and Presence controls provide the tone shaping.”​

It’s a two-channel head: Normal and Overdrive. The Normal channel can be switched between Clean and Crunch.

Manual:
"The gain is cut, providing full, clean, undistorted warmth, which is incredibly responsive and alive. When switched to crunch, the Normal channel responds with higher gain and a tough, metal edged crunch."​

All three sounds have all been modeled. To be honest, I never bothered much with the models of the clean and crunch sounds.

The controls are: Preamp Normal and Preamp Overdrive (gain), Bass, Middle, Treble, Master Normal, Master Overdrive, Presence and a Bright switch on the Normal channel.

Personally I like to run the Master high (7) on the Lead model, keep Input Drive real low (2) and increase the mids. This results in a very meaty solid rock tone, that makes high push-ups really thick and cut through.​

There are some popular mods of the real amp. The "Depth" mod increases depth for low-tuned guitars. You can emulate this by increasing Depth in the model. The "Warren Hayes Mod" prevents the amp from getting too bright and harsh at low gain levels. You can emulate this by disabling the Bright switch in the model, but at high MV levels there's no need to do this.

Cliff:
"Many people find SLOs too bright. The "Warren Haynes" mod is a popular mod to reduce the brightness.”​

(talking about the Depth control): "Mine doesn't have the depth mod but I used the values from the schematic I have and I believe the schematic is correct."​

Carol-AnnAmps:
"The secret of the SLO is the arch enemy of most you guys, volume. It has to be run hard with less preamp gain. It transforms into a gorgeous amp like that. It was designed as a large stage/stadium amp. Cue Warren Haynes. Running one at your local pub is going to give results that are very thin and buzzy. I would imagine the best tones from the axe model will probably be achieved by increasing the master and backing off the preamp, just like the real deal."
Cliff: "Yup, this is why the MV defaults to a higher setting than other MV amps."​

Cliff:
"The SLO-100 is the loudest amp I've ever used. It feels like there's a small nuclear explosion going off inside when ever you hit a power chord. It's a wicked amp but not something I would recommend for anything but large gigs. If you like the SLO-100 model you might want to try the Recto models too. It's not widely known but the Rectifier preamp is a derivative of the SLO-100. Some minor changes but the basic topology is identical.”​

“I have a really good SLO-100. An original black faceplate version. Pristine condition. That amp was one of the primary amps used in the G2 modeling development. It was by studying that and a really nice JCM-800 that I finally figured out the secret to cathode follower."​

"Those amps are all designed to get their character from power amp distortion. If you don't push the power amp all you are hearing is the preamp which is voiced to be trebly. The power amp then compresses the highs and the sound gets fatter."​

"SLOs are brittle at low volumes. When you crank them up it smooths out. The problems is at cranked volumes they can kill small animals."​

"The key to an SLO100 is to run the MV high so that the mids thicken up. Otherwise it's a shrill mess. In certain contexts with the right IR it can be a cool sound."​

"Note that the knobs on '5' on the Axe-Fx correspond to '6' on an SLO because they go to 11. 'Noon' on an SLO isn't actually the knobs at half-way. The range of the knobs is like 8:00 to 6:00 as opposed to 7:00 to 5:00. They're biased clockwise."​

"Another caveat when comparing amps: many times the knobs aren't "centered". IOW if you put the Treble knob at noon it isn't actually at 50%. You can see this by turning the knob all the way down and all the way up. It may not be symmetrical. This happens when the pots don't have a flat spot and/or the pot is rotated within the mounting hole. Or in the case of an SLO100 it is intentional. On an SLO100 all the way down is around 8:00 and all the way up is 6:00 so 50% is around 1:00 not noon."​

Soldano uses 12" Eminence V12 speakers in its cabinets. We’ve got those as stock cabs: 4x12 Solo V12 (RW).





 
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Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
I noticed that you did not mention Gary Moore, but then I saw him in the video collection. He has the tone, I think of, when I think Soldano.

I need to experiment with these models
 

HarrySound

Experienced
I'm only interested In this amp because Knopfler seems to use this a lot live and it's the last thing I would have thought he'd use.
Buckethead has used one a fair bit in the past too.
 

stm113

Experienced
I love combining the Soldano Clean channel with a Parallel Dumble clean channel. It's one of the prettiest cleans I have ever heard when used together, it just really sings.

Fiscally not practical in the real world is such a setup, but that is why the FAS box is magic.
Do you have a preset to share for that? I'm looking for some new clean tones for a project, would like something with some good texture to it, when u blend amps I am never really happy with the results I get.
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Do you have a preset to share for that? I'm looking for some new clean tones for a project, would like something with some good texture to it, when u blend amps I am never really happy with the results I get.
Mine use some custom ir mixes that I bought. Let me re-engineer a bit the preset using stock cabs.
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
The clean tones attainable on all of these (specially the 100) are awesome.
The model must be better than the original. :)

Because, when writing this write-up, I came across a lot of negative comments on the clean channel of the X88R and X99. People generally preferr(ed) the CAA 3+'s clean.
 

simviz

Member
I'm only interested In this amp because Knopfler seems to use this a lot live and it's the last thing I would have thought he'd use.
Buckethead has used one a fair bit in the past too.
Whenever I think of Knopfler I also tend to think of a nice Fender amp (the Vibrolux) or a maybe a Music Man, but the reality is he started using Mesa Boogies in the early 80's and Soldano's from the late 80's onwards both live and in the studio. Maybe he has recorded more with the Soldano than any other amp?? There is a nice write up of his SLO-100 settings from the On Every Street Tour on Ingo Raven's site.

Also, Knopfler turned Eric Clapton on to Soldano amps. I couldn't find the original article, but there is reference to it on the Bonham's auction site (some nice pictures here of Clapton's Soldano amps too):

The California custom amp builder Michael Soldano was commissioned to build two of his SLO-100 amplifiers for Clapton in 1988. When interviewed in November 1988 for the Japanese Young Guitar magazine while on tour in Japan, Eric Clapton spoke about his newly acquired Soldano amps. Clapton commented that he had been using Fender Dual Showman amps when he heard Mark Knopfler at rehearsals and was impressed by his sound. He realised it was Knopfler's amp rather than the guitar that was responsible for the sound character. Clapton tried Knopfler's amp and liking its sound which he described as 'warm' and 'round', immediately placed an order with Michael Soldano. Clapton went on to explain that although he was allowed to go on top of the waiting list, he waited two months before he received his amps because they were all handmade and not mass-produced. Clapton went on to say that Soldano was the best amp for him and thought it would be a classic. He added that he would be recording the next album with Soldano amps.

Clapton's guitar technician stated in an interview in 1994 Guitar Techniques magazine:
"The Soldanos are the original amps that Mike Soldano built for us in a hurry. Of course we bought them, but because Mike dropped everything else he was doing, Eric gave him a signed Clapton Strat, which we thought was a fair deal. Eric said, "In return, why don't you sign my amps?" so that's what he did. We have two, one as a spare, but I like to alternate them so that valves are properly burnt in on both."
 

grandinq

Experienced
Hadn't really played with this one, as I've been busy with the Plexi 1970, Brit 800, and Recto Red. So I decided to fire up a backing track jam and let it rip. Such a sweet and thick lead tone! Rich harmonics. This will be one of my go to leads. Thanks for the write up.
 

H3O2

Experienced
Got it working for me. Used the Master setting suggestions and believe it or not, a 410 SuperVerb cab. Inspired some new ideas. I like it alot.
 

StickMan

Experienced
To me, this thread really shows just how valuable this whole series by Yek has been. I've messed with this model a little in the past, but not been able to bond with it. So I tried it again last night, and I followed the recommendations in the OP: MV set to ear bleed levels (on the real thing, at least), the input gain way, way down and I turned off the bright switch. Wow! gorgeous, rich tone and it instantly sound like Warren or Gary.

And it seems to me that almost every thread in this series has some cool hints. For instance, I never would have bothered much with the Bogner Ecstasy, thinking it was really just a high gain, metal amp, but the thread about it mentioned that it did a good medium gain blues/rock sound. So I tried it, and I like it a lot.

So, thanks Yek!
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
That would be awesome of you, sorry for causing some extra work though.

What IR packs do you buy out of curiosity?
Here is my preset using stock cabs.

Some notes on this:
  • I use guitars with humbuckers, if you notice my signature, so if you have single coils, you will probably need to touch the mids in the EQ if it's a little ice picky on your guitar.
  • I am a light but dynamic picker. If the Y status amps are blazing distortion for you, please back off your guitar volume until it's edge of breakup with your hardest picking.
I usually use a custom mix of the WEM Starfinder cab ir's in The Amp Factory Legends back and the Ownhammer Lynchbacks loaded in a Marshall Cab both combined with the Santiago IR of the Echoplex preamp. Super groovy stuff.

But the stock cabs I found that I pointed to in this preset are really nice too.
 

Attachments

ApolloCVermouth

New Member
Fantastic write-ups, Yek! Really appreciate you putting in all the time and effort to do this. I've just started using my AxeII in a live setting again after several years and this series of posts has been just the thing to reacquaint myself with all these gorgeous models.

I probably haven't used the SOLO100 much since my Ultra days, but I've been having a ball dialing in live tones with this model post-Q3... as I chase that late-80s/early-90s E.C. lead tone I've had in my head since I was a teenager.

All the best,
ACV
 
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Big Joe Daddy

Experienced
Prior to reading this thread, I never really got on with the Soldano. Interestingly, after trying some of the settings others had success with, I was still well off the mark. But then I switched cabs to the F103: 4x12 Basketweave TV Mix and things started to come alive. Transformer match at .785, cut switch engaged, pushed the mids, drive way down and MV way up. The drive and MV was the secret recipe. Cranked it up and man this thing roars. So good. My 'favorites' list just keeps getting longer. Sooner or later I've got to get my act together, pick a handful of 'keepers', and load them up in some sensible order to go live next week. In the meantime, I keep running down the rabbit hole, unwrapping one great tone after another. Getting very little done but enjoying the ride. Maybe it's the Kool-Aid, but this AX8 just does the trick for me. My AXE II just isn't getting the attention it's used to. The AX8 just has such a slick work flow and everything that comes out of it sounds stellar. I'm probably sounding like I've had too much Kool-Aid at this point. Sue me. I diggin' it. No GAS here. ;-)
 

2112

Fractal Fanatic
Yek, you're a prince among men.

I've got a Soldano Hot Rod 50+ (not quite an SLO, I know) where you really have to crank the bass knob (around 8/9) to get the most out of it, so I definitely understand what you're saying about the knob settings.

Dialling in the SLO model with gain low and MV high is killer; something my HR50+ really doesn't do.

Thanks again for the tips!
 
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