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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:48 pm 
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Kramer Maniac
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Location: Augusta, ga
Couldn't build a rack because I wouldn't know where to start or what to buy so let's get to it!
Or should I just get another amp and cabinet. Currently I have a Vox amp.

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1986 Focus 1000 "Spidey"
1984 Pacer Special Custom Paint (Won on the Kramer Forum)
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1985 Baretta
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:33 am 
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Kramer Kingpin
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That depends on your intention, Craig. Both have their respective advantages and disadvantages. With both you can start with a basic frame set and build from there until you have the desired solution. You can also transfer your pedal "board" into a rack and go from there to a sophisticated switching system to avoid tap-dancing on your board.

But a rack will not necessarily give you more or better tonal options by itself. In both the components have to have to work well with each other and need the same amount of balancing out and dialing in. Then there´s the point of preferences: Some people wouldn´t settle for the rack-version of their beloved pedal and vice versa. But, as a matter of fact, with all the smart technical switching solutions nowadays you don´t need Bob Bradshaw anymore to solve your issues.

And you can get in serious trouble with the "balance" of your signal chain either way - while adding or deleting a "unit" from the pedal-board as well as in or out of the rack and the switching mimic.

And that´s only for starters shrug .

Best would be to start a wish-list for the project and go on from there.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:34 am 
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Kramer Maniac

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As inspiration, I'll take the liberty of outlining the rack I am building at the moment. It isn't a terribly large one, but it should be respectable enough, and I dare say it is a convenient solution when the goal is to have a convenient stereo rig with all the normal effects in it.

There are a couple of reasons why I chose to go for a rack set-up. First of all, I find that there is something strange about people keeping very expensive pedal boards at the very front of the stage, where they are subject to all sorts of hazards. Secondly, I am very fond of the idea of a wet/dry, or even better, wet/dry/wet, rig, and to set this up with a more conventional rig is not only far more complicated, but more things can go wrong. Racks allow for shorter cable runs, with cables being put permanently in place, and this (contrary to received wisdom!) results in fewer things to go wrong and easier troubleshooting: for instance, you might need 10 stomp boxes to replace a high-end multi-fx unit, and those are (in a best-case scenario!) going to be carried in and out of a board where all the cables are likely to be subject to considerable friction from transportation and, indeed, being stomped on.

I am currently working on putting together the following rig:

Preamp: ADA MP-1. This is arguably the most famous rack pre-amp for guitar of all time, and should need no introduction. I still don't think anything else quite gets that sound.

Effects processor: TC Electronic G-System. This was, for a number of years, the flagship system from TC, which promised to cater to all effects needs both in a rack and a pedalboard format. I ended up going with it for the simple reason that I liked the idea of a dedicated midi controller that was included in the price of the unit. This unit basically contains every needed effect, put them before or after the preamp in the most conventional set-up (but see comment below). There are some caveats to this unit: it is known to be somewhat mischievous, and demands serious attention when setting up. Something like the Line 6 Helix could probably do the job as well today, but it is 3U large and in an entirely different price range.

Pedals: The G-System does not have any gain stages, but includes four bypassable loops for pedals. These are convenient for different reasons. The G-System has one section that goes before the preamp, and one that goes in the FX loop or between the preamp and power amp. The only problem is that one cannot really change where different effects go: you are stuck with the phaser in the loop, for instance, which is no use when you want that crummy EVH phaser sound. I will be using the following pedals:

Boss OD-1: Still my favourite boost
Boss DC-2: There is nothing quite like this. I love how the effect really shines through clean, and recedes into the background when distorted. I will not be able to use it to its full potential: this should have been in the loop, and split the signal wet/dry, but there is just no way that is going to happen, since the pedal has so little headroom.
MXR Phase 90: Because we all love a LO-FI phaser every now and then.

Wireless: I have a 10 y/o Shure half-rack system that I was planning to use as the basic system. If this doesn't work, I will look into some of the higher-end Line 6 systems, I think, as they are readily available locally.

Shelving: I will need a 2U shelf to keep the pedals on. If possible, I will also put the wireless system here.

Noise gate: There is no way around it: the ADA is a noisy beast! I will try to live without it, or use the TC gate, but many people seem to prefer to use the ISP Decimator.

Power amp: For now, I will use an old Marshall 9040 power amp. This is a solid state 2x200 watt amp, that seems to work passably well. I have a Marshall 9100 power amp with EL34 valves as well, but to me, the added weight and frailty of that unit does not justify the added weight and costs (I would have to get a sturdier rack for it). Some of the "cut" added by tubes can be emulated using a BBE Sonic Maximizer (as did Vito Bratta back in the day).

Speakers: 2 2x12s with Celestion Greenbacks in them. These might be put in the same 4x12, with the majority of the stereo effect eventually being created by the sound guy.

I plan to put this into a 12U rack, organized like this:

2U: Shelves, including wireless
1U: G-System
1U: ADA MP-1
1U: Decimator (if applicable)
1U: Sonic Maximizer
2U: Marshall 9100

That leaves us with 8U used. It is beneficial with a little extra space both for the purposes of extension and heat dissipation. The lack of a tube power amp means that I can get away with not using a shock relieved rack, which should lighten the whole rig significantly.

The signal chain would be as follows:

Wireless
G-System part 1
Pedal loops
ADA MP-1
G-System part 2 (split into stereo)
Decimator
Sonic Maximizer
Marshall 9040

The MIDI set-up should be easy, since the ADA is the only MIDI-driven unit apart from the G-System, and I only need to use a few patches on it.

Future changes or extensions:

I have a Boss SY-300 that would have been very fun to include in the rig. This would demand a separate power amp, a a separate speaker, and probably a new 2U shelf.

I might ditch the 9040 eventually. One possibility would be one of the newer Matrix power amps. These are supposed to be optimized for emulating tube-like tones. Whether the hype is to be believed or not, their 1500 watt power amp (500 watts * 3 channels) is only 1U, far lighter than my present power amp, and would allow for easy integration of the SY-300.

If I win the lottery I might try to get a Soldano HR 25, run this straight into the cabinet and run the rack as the effected sides in a wet/dry/wet rig. Oh, one can but dream.

So that's it. It is actually a deceivingly simple rig once looked at closely, but it supplies all my needs in a more convenient manner than a typical pedalboard-and-amp rig, where I would have needed two heads and a number of long pedal runs to and from the amps.

Final note: if you are genuinely interested in rack rigs, you could do worse than invest in the book Modern Guitar Rigs by Scott Kahn. The book is not perfect (it is getting old, and at times reads a bit too much like an advert), but will give you a decent overview of the types of rack units available out there today, and what you can expect them to do. Warning: going back to a conventional guitar rig afterwards might be difficult!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:11 am 
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Kramer Kommander
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A good power conditioner.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:31 am 
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Kramer Maniac
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Location: Augusta, ga
Ok. Now I'm more confused than ever. Lol
I'll buy the book.

What's the $ for your rack setup?

My vox is ok but it's not great.
I had to sell my Marshall half stack and since then I've been trying to get my live tone back. I hear all these great tones and I know they're using a rack. Plus I'm wanting to get in a band again. (Bucket list thing)

_________________
1986 Focus 1000 "Spidey"
1984 Pacer Special Custom Paint (Won on the Kramer Forum)
1999 Baretta (Holoflash)
1985 Baretta
1990 Baretta 1 Klein Naked lady reverse bound headstock
Stagemaster Deluxe "Guido"


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:06 pm 
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Kramer Maniac

Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 204
sixstring wrote:
A good power conditioner.


Hah, I knew I was forgetting something, and there it was!

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No longer looking for a late-era Baretta I body (with double scooped lower horn).

Great trades with: bacon


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:10 pm 
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Kramer Maniac

Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:54 am
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Craig Johnson wrote:
Ok. Now I'm more confused than ever. Lol
I'll buy the book.

What's the $ for your rack setup?


I'm not sure what I've paid for my rig. Half of it I acquired almost a decade ago, before growing tired of the guitar and putting it aside for years. I can say that it isn't necessarily a cheap solution. Remember that you for many units essentially will be buying the same thing twice, since power amps and many effects are made for stereo use.

Another thing you could do is to look at the rack rigs of professionals. I like this overview of John Petrucci's scaled-down rack rig. This certainly wouldn't be cheap to build, but it is relatively simple, so that one can follow along without falling off.


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No longer looking for a late-era Baretta I body (with double scooped lower horn).

Great trades with: bacon


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 am 
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Kramer Kommander
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Posts: 1698
Location: Germany
Do you really need a rack? If you miss your Marshall, I'd say get another Marshall and a good multi-FX and you're done. Much cheaper and much less tinkering to get there.

I guess you don't use gazillion of tones in different pre/post/loop configs, thus a rack is way over the top for the purpose. A nice amp and say a Boss GT100 will give you most of that already and can also be used with a 4-cable method for pre/post preamp routing.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:03 am 
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Kramer Maniac

Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 204
_xxx_ is right. Racks are not for everybody; they are highly specialised rigs for special purposes. A lot has changed since the late 80s-early 90s, when rack rigs were the norm, since the technology is a lot smaller and more powerful. Your first question should be what you want it to do. In my case, the decision fell through a combination of (1) wanting a practical stereo rig, (2) not wanting to expose an expensive board of pedals to the beer-slinging gits I might get to play for, and (3) that I really like the sound of the ADA MP-1.

Is there anything in particular you are planning to achieve where a normal "pedalboard and half stack" rig would not be convenient?

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No longer looking for a late-era Baretta I body (with double scooped lower horn).

Great trades with: bacon


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:39 pm 
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Kramer Maniac
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Location: Central FLA Chapter
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Keeping it simple and cheap...5 space rack, 50w stereo Rocktron amp, BBE Sonic Maximizer(must have), 15 band stereo eq of your choice, guitar processor of your choice...the one I use has more tweaks/options than I care to deal with, 1/4" patch cables and a midi foot controller to select your presets. All components available on the cheap if you shop locally on CL. Add a couple 4x12s or whatever speaker cabs you want. Racks are only as difficult and confusing as you make them.

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