Amps & Tone

Amps & Tone

Postby Joe » Tue May 13, 2008 11:56 pm

Here's a pretty recent review of the Garnet Herzog (which Randy helped to make famous in American Woman etc).

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Posted by Scott at 9:12 pm | Guitar Tone, Recording & Producing | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 4, 2007
Testing the Garnet Herzog guitar preamp

Happy 4th of July! Last night I had the pleasure of getting together with my guitar buddy Scott McCraw at my studio to try out his new Garnet Herzog preamp. Designed by Gar Gillies, the Herzog came to fame in the mid-60s when Randy Bachman (The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive) discovered a new tone recipe. Randy would plug the output of a small amp into the front end of a larger amp. This produced a fantastic tone, but the output of the smaller amp would obviously blow the larger one.

Gar would repair Randy’s amps and finally asked why he kept blowing them up. He offered to build Randy a unit that would do the same thing in a safer way. The Herzog was born. Most recently, it has been used by Gordie Johnson of Grady and Big Sugar fame.


We tested the Garnet Herzog using Scott’s Strat (2 humbuckers), my strat (single coils) and an ‘88 PRS through a Marshall 1987x 50 watt, a THD Bi-Valve and a Bogner Ecstacy 101B on a ‘68 Marshall 4×12 (with celestion 85 watters) and a Bogner 4×12 with Celestion 25 watt green backs (yes, the Bogner logo has been modified slightly).

Man, this thing smokes. Scott & I played ungodly loud! This thing smacks the front of the amp hard. In my experience, that’s one of the secrets to good tone… especially with a non-master volume Marshall. The 87x is a ’80s attempt to recreate the Mashall Plexi. Great amp with that Marshall punch, but you’ve to smack the front end to really make it growl. The Garnet does this better than anything else I’ve heard. I used to use a Real Tube or a Carl Martin Hot Drive ‘n boost. Both sound great on the front of the Marshall. But the Garnet completely takes the prize.

My buddy’s Bi-Valve is a stunning amp. It’s on of the most unique tones I’ve ever heard. With the Herzog in front of it, it turns into a fire-breathing dragon.

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Next up, the Bogner. And this is where my mind was blown. On the other amps, we ran them hot, loud and distorted. On the Bogner, we tried the Herzog on the clean channel first. It sounds incredible. Fat and rich. And it reacts like a tube amp driven hard into distortion. It is a tube preamp, but I’ve never found ANY preamp that you could put in-line with an amp that reacted right. Distortions or preamps in line always seem to limit the dynamics of the amp (like putting a compressor in the chain). The amp response curve changes drastically or goes away completely. Not with the Herzog. Turn it down… play softer… it just feels right.

The Herzog is a holy grail of tone. I could see it being used to smack any good amp to get more out of it or use it with an optional footswitch on a clean amp. For recording, I can’t wait to try thing thing on a voice or drums. Wow. I have to have one.
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Buy a Garnet re-issue Herzog

Postby Joe » Mon Jun 23, 2008 1:35 am

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Re: Amps & Tone

Postby Joe » Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:50 pm

Remember 'Orange' amps?

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