Double Shot of Rock

June 13, 2008

Dear Dude,

I own a Krank Revolution and Marshall JCM 900 head. I would like too know how to run both heads through one cab. Is there any advantage in doing so? I love the tone of both heads and would love to create a single tone from both of them. I have a Mesa standard cab. I get confused with all the ohms and shit so I was wondering if you could help me out?!

Double Shot of Rock

Dear Double Shot of Rock,

Ow….you are so close my friend. So close to the true secret of LIVE rock toneage! Translation; mixing the sound of two or more heads is the real secret to nailing that sick guitar tone live. I have been running stereo guitar heads live for almost 12 years. I originally saw guitarist Ken Olden, of Damnation A.D., run two Marshall JCM 800 at the same time and I was sold. It sounded so full, so loud, so raw, and yet so under control that I had to try it. Once I did my young rock mind was blown. Here are the best ways I have found to run duel heads live:

First, you really shouldn’t try to run two high gain and high powered amps through one cab. I think it probably would be possible to run both through a guitar cab that could be set to stereo (in other words you would be using the two jacks on the back of standard Marshall Cabinet instead of just the 4 or 16 ohm side). But I have never really tried it, because, like I said, I think it’s a bad idea. If you want to blend the sound of the two heads, then you want the extra width of sound that is added when you use two cabinets. That’s how you get the sound of two half stacks at once. This allows you to run one on one side of the stage and another on the other side giving your audience your blended tone in true stereo. Trust me, just go out and buy another cab.

OK, so now you have two cabs and two heads. For me the classic set up was two JCM 800’s, then I changed to two Peavey 5150’s, and later found that I actually liked the sound of one 5150 and one JCM 800. Recently I switched to the Randall MTS heads. Since you can customize them a bit more, it allows me to use the same heads but different preamp modules. Now I can get that blended sound on 3 guitar channels and if I ever want to just have the same sound doubled I can do that too. But either way, my set up will work with whatever heads, or combination of combo amps and half stacks, I use.

I have three time tested ways of spitting signals. The first is simple; I use a Whirlwind A/B box. They are fucking amazing. You can use them to split a signal or combine a signal. They allow you to switch one off or toggle between each. It’s really cool if you’re running two heads and two cabinets at the same time on two different sides of the stage. You can really fake the sound of two guitars better this way (its not perfect but it’s pretty good). I used to use two different overdrives for my 800’s so I would go from my guitar > Boss Tuner > Whirlwind AB >> two tube screamers >> two Boss Noise Suppressors >> two amps.

Sometimes I use the stereo split of my Line 6 pedals (and this will work with most stereo splitting pedals). This does not give you the options that the A/B box does and I am convinced there is some tone lose this way, but I have done this overseas and on many tours when, well, everything else breaks. This is a good way if you need to do this on the fly.

The third way is now my current mode of split-a-tion, if you will. Right now I run through all my effects and then send them to my Decimator ProRack G Noise Suppressor. I use the stereo split on the noise gate to run to two Randall MTS heads. I am also running a Digitech GSP 1101 as my effects in the loop’s of the heads so that gives me the ability to make all my delays and effects true stereo (again if your running your cabs on two different sides of the stage you will now get that stereo sound of those effects live). This is my new way but I am not yet convinced it is better then the original Whirlwind A/B.

There ya go dude, my advice go buy another cab since you have Mesa check out a Marshall, Randall, Emperor, or an Orange cab to compliment that. Oh, and turn that shit up loud!

The Dude

*Read the Gear Guru's take on this letter here.