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VT30 and Satchurator together - Fab or Yuk?...read on...

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VT30 and Satchurator together - Fab or Yuk?...read on...

Postby Voxman » 29 Dec 2008, 19:49

An interesting question that's come up here and on other forums is: -

"Will the Vox Satchurator work well with the new VT range?" As I currently have both on loan to play with for a while, I thought it made good sense for both of these puppies to say 'howdy' to each other and see how they got along! :lol:

So let me first put you out of your misery....they work VERY nicely together! In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised that they did so which is down to 2 important factors: -

1. The quality of the VT30 modeling and tonal clarity/punch/response - I'd like to hear the 2x12" 100VT to really hear properly just how good the new modeling is but making allowances for the single 1x10" speaker, I think this is probably the best quality modeling yet brought out in a Valvetronix amp. Combined with the much improved punchier response, feel and enhanced EQ balance, the VT’s seem to take pedals much better than previous Valvetronix models. And I don't think you'll need a separate EQ with the VT's based on the tones I'm getting from the VT30 - the onboard EQ is soo much better than in previous Valvetronix.

2. The build quality of the Satchurator - it's remarkably quiet for a high-gain pedal with smooth, silent pedal switching that is effortless and requires only a light touch. The tonal range is hugely sensitive.

With the Satchuraor ‘engaged’ there are some remarkable differences in the characteristics of tone, distortion, and general feel depending on the amp model you select. Using the Boutique Clean, the Satchurator sounded good and pretty similar as through the 'uncranked' clean channel of my Laney VC30. But putting it through the Modded Clean, (which has some grit in it), to my ears worked even better than the Boutique Clean giving a bigger, thicker, more 'grown-up' tone and feel.

I then started experimenting with the Satchurator through each amp model. Now, as any experienced player knows, if you over-do distortions you're going to get a mushier tone particularly where you layer one distortion on another. In addition you'll get more unwanted noise and feedback particularly in a bedroom environment. Having said all of that, I was greatly and very pleasantly surprised at just how well the VT30 and Satchurator worked together on every amp model - yes, even the high gain models!! - provided that these are set at a SENSIBLE gain level to give some underlying distortion sufficient to add the amp models tonal characteristics to the Satchurator tone, without overdoing things and getting ‘mush’ and ‘noise’.

Where the Satchurator excels is it's ability to work with the guitar's volume - (I'll write more on this another time). If you want this control and you're using it with the Valvetronix, it's no surprise that for the best flexibility and response you need to use lower gain amp models to capture those nuances.

But perhaps the next question folk should be asking is: -

"Do I really need a Satchurator with my VT amp?"

The first thing I'd like to say here is that the VT30 modeling really is very good indeed, including some new high gain models that can kick out a LOT of distortion on their own. :shock: So much so, that it does beg the question as to whether you actually need a Satchurator to get good high gain tones.

Not easy with such a subjective topic, but let me try and give some helpful parameters.

The quality and type of distortion is always going to be very subjective because everyone likes different things. The terminology we use to try and describe distortion can be imprecise to say the least. It's a difficult one to call as to where the lines are drawn between: -

[*]break-up and crunch,
[*]crunch and distortion,
[*]distortion and high gain
[*]where this crosses the line into what some call 'metal distortion' where it's not just the tone but the whole 'bottom-end' thump and feel.
[*]And the terms ‘rich’, ‘warmth’ and ‘harmonic overtones’ can be equally vague!

Everyone has different expectations, definitions, ears, guitars, pick-ups etc. Which is why you can read all the articles and opinions you want – but you MUST hear and play gear yourself to know what’s right for you.

OK, reality-check time.

It's VITAL to appreciate that the 2x12" 100VT amp is going to sound very different with tons more bottom end than you'll get from the 1x8" and 1x10" speakers in the VT15/30 - and a thumping bottom end is a big theme with many Metal players, as I said. What may not sound Hi-gain 'Metal' and perhaps might even be a little 'tinny' with the VT15 might blow your head off with the VT100! So it's important to put these factors into perspective when considering tone - especially high-gain distortions - because it's not just the modeling - the physical size of your cabinet and speakers used are crucial factors.

I realise I'm saying the blatantly obvious, but you'd be amazed at how may times I've read younger players in particular being surprised and complaining about the modeling because their 1x8" amp doesn't have enough bottom end or sound like their friends Marshall through a 4x12" cab loaded with V30's! Similarly, a Satchurator will sound very different harnessed with a VT100 as compared to a VT15.

If you like the ability to kick in a 'global' high-gain distortion to different patches you're using, and/or like me you're 'old school' and use guitar volume roll-off a lot, then the Satchurator could be an excellent addition to your tonal armory. It has tons of hi-gain distortion - but that's quite different to the type of distortion you get from say a Boss Metal Zone - the Satchurator is a high-gain distortion pedal which is very sensitive to guitar volume roll-off - it isn't nor was it ever intended to be an out and out Metal pedal.

The higher-gain distortions from amp models such as the UK 25th, US 90's, Boutique Metal etc are very good indeed and will likely more than meet the distortion needs of most players. I certainly wouldn’t need anything more personally. But for those of you that want a bit more from your VT amps, the Satchurator is definitely worth having a listen to.

I will try & prepare some you-tube clips to demonstrate the VT30 and Satchurator separately & together, but I'm not a recording expert and my equipment & skills here are quite limited :( - however I'll see what I can do in the near future.

Rich :wink:
"I started out with nothing ...and I've still got most of it left!" (Seasick Steve)
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