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Metal tone and Metallica's gear

>What amps, cabs, mics, etc did they use for the recording on the Black album?

>Go pick up a copy of "A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica" Volume 1 and check out as much as you can in the background. I know that around that period of time, James was using a Mesa/Boogie Mark 2c+ head into Marshall 4x12s for that main rythm sound, and Kirk had a rack which consisted of an ADA MP-1 and a CAE preamp, which he used in combination with an old Marshall plexi head for much of his soloing. Knowing Bob Rock, there were probably lots of 57s up close and 67s about a foot off the speaker.

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Guitar Player Oct 1992, The Distortion Issue. I have this. Page 46:

Metallica's James Hetfield: "Distortion always starts with the amp. Pedals just site on top of the sound. They don't feel like a full part of it, just some fuzz on top. You can fiddle with parametric EQs and all that shit for days, but it still won't have the smooth distortion of an amp. The last time I used a distortion [overdrive] pedal was on Ride the Lightning, and it was hell. It was an Ibanez Tube Screamer like Kirk uses. It really helps his solos cut through, but it puts a shitty coating on smooth rhythm tones, and it was hard to make it not sound like a pedal. You can recognize Marshall distortion in an instant; that's why I shied away from that and went with MESA/Boogies. I basically use the Boogie's distortion with a non-programmable studio-quality Aphex parametric EQ to fine-tune certain frequencies, dipping out some of the midrange. All my speakers are Celestion Vintage 30s."

Metallica's Kirk Hammett: "My philosophy has always been a clean amp with a stomp box. I hate the sound of piling distortion on top of distortion. [It sounds like he's criticizing using a mix of preamp and power amp distortion.] I was using a MESA/Boogie preamp, but I've gone back to the ADA MP-1 [the first preamp to combine MIDI and a preamp vacuum tube] with an ADA programmable EQ through a MESA/Boogie Strategy 400 power amp. For leads, I use a low gain setting on the ADA MP-1, but switch on an Ibanez Tube Screamer. Using the Tube Screamer in conjunction with a tube amp really brings out the tube qualities of the amp. And there's just something about that simple, raw, gritty fuzz box sound. One of the best lead sounds I ever got was when I played an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff through a Montgomery Ward amp with 3" speaker, for a Jeff Beck tone."

Also, Metallica is the cover story for Guitar Player Sep 1991, which I have. James: "I use a lot of mics... up to 8. I use them to phase-cancel each other, to control the sound like with an EQ but instead of an EQ. ... for the 1991 album, I'm using MESA/Boogie amps, with ADA MP-1 preamp, but Boogie Simul-class II is the main part of the sound. Cabs: Boogie for clean, cutting stuff, Marshalls with 30 watt Celestion Vintage 30s for warmth." Kirk: "VHT power amp with Bradshaw preamp through Marshall cab for lows. Straight Marshall for highs. I didn't use the Boogie gear I used on Master of Puppets and Justice for All. I also stopped using the ADA preamp. The Bradshaw is my favorite preamp. I use the Bradshaw Patchmate, which lets you switch amps through MIDI. No TS-9 this time. I used an old VOX wah, warmer than Cry Baby [this is one more time: the Cry Baby is the *worst* wah pedal, unanimously, except for the Morley. - Michael] The VOX is mouthier; it talks."

Godflesh: Justin Broadrick - uses Boss Heavy Metal pedal religiously (1992), with a clean tone from the amp, to get the pedal's "fizzy" [his word] sound. HM's tone settings: low boost, high cut [that would make a crusty, not liquidy, sound]. He likes the tone of Obituary and Entombed. [from Guitar Player Oct 1992, The Distortion Issue. I have this.]

Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal: "Jerry Garcia used one and if you crank the high "Color Mix" knob you can get a pretty good Jerry fuzztone" -- Rex Jackson

>Someone told me a Hafler/Bogner Triple Giant preamp was the best preamp for metal.

I don't know about this particular piece of equipment.

>What has proven itself to be the best heavy metal preamp? I'm looking and looking and looking. I've gone through a Peavy Rockmaster, Roland GP-100, and Rocktron Chameleon, in that order, over the past 7 years. I'm using a Carvin Tube-100 Power amp and 4x12 and 2x12 Marshall speaker cabs.

>I like the sounds of the GP-100, but it's a bit too digital. I like the "tubiness" of the Chameleon, but it's not as sharp-edged.

Have you tried the Boss Metal Zone distortion pedal? It's an important point of reference, at least. I own one, and it's the most metallish preamp-distortion pedal I've heard. I bought it as per a comparative Guitar Player review of the best distortion boxes; the article was divided into types of distortion boxes, and this one won in the 'metal' category.

>I've heard that the Mesa-Boogie Tri-Axis was good, but even James Hetfield of Metallica has to hot-rod it to get it to sound the way he wants. I actually heard the Tri-Axis once, but I'll have to give it another listen--it looks to be difficult to dial in your setup.

>Here is the sound I'm going for: Bass turned up to the half-way mark (not as important to my sound). Tight, compressed, punchy, power sound that almost sounds like you've got a wah sitting on the 1/4 or half-way mark, high trebles, low presence. And I'm looking for a tube-sound that sounds kind of like the dynamics of dropping a crowbar on the floor at the end of each note -- it kind of sounds like glass to me, if you can make any kind of sense out of that description. :)

>Which power amp should I steer toward, or is it less significant (I think I've got a pretty good one, based on all that I've heard so far.)

The main factor of tone in tube power amps (ignoring the preamp) is what type of power tubes you are using: hard, for a brick-wall effect (6550 as in 1980's Marshalls, used by Metallica), or soft, for a squashy tone (EL34, as in 1960s-1970s Marshalls, used by Hendrix and Vaughn. Some amps, such as some Mesa-Boogie amps, enable you to instantly switch between power tube types, such as by using a footswitch.

>I'd have to say the BOSS MT2 is the heaviest distortion known to man and
>many have agreed (check out the "effects database" in Harmony Central).
>I'm told they have been discontinued but might be able to buy one
>second-hand or you can find it in the BOSS ME 8 multiple effects processor.

I agree. I bought one. I have a lot of experience with distortion pedals, and this one is definitive. The post-distortion eq section is especially outstanding: bass, treble, mid, and mid center-frequency controls.

It's important to understand that overdrive pedals are used to drive a tube amp's input stage into distortion. Distortion pedals generate distortion themselves. Fuzz boxes boost the bass before distortion, for a rough, bass-dominant breakup.

It's important to have a middle-of-the-road, general-purpose distortion pedal, which I treat as a different classification.

Types of Preamp Distortion

Newsgroup Queries

DejaNews thread: "METALLICA SOUND.. How to get it ??" -- he asks my question exactly. If you turn up the bass on the amp, that's before the power tube distortion (if such is used), and so is likely to generate *mud* rather than percussive, heavy, clear sound.

DejaNews query: alt.guitar.amps, "metallica"

Equipment used by George Lynch of Dokken

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