First things first, I have no affiliation or ulterior motives to promote Bogner and this amp. Now, I've been chasing tone for many years, and with the fortune of living in the LA area, I've been able to try out a lot of amazing gear between the boutique shops and NAMM shows. After owning the Bogner Helios 100 for about a year and a half, I can confidently say that it's the best amp I've ever played both live and in the studio.
It all started by trying out a killer Marshall JMP that blew my mind. This got me intrigued by vintage Marshalls, but between the random mods, tonal inconsistencies, and lack of modern features, it was difficult to feel confident about buying one. I then looked into all of the modern JMP-style amps and discovered the Helios, especially thanks to the awesome YouTube demos created by Bogner. I got the opportunity to A/B the Bogner with my trusty Orange Rockerverb fitted with KT88s, and the gain sounds blew the Orange out of the water. I knew I needed this amp.
I used to have 4 very different amps that I loved (for years in some cases): the Orange Rockerverb 50 Mk II with KT88s, Peavey 5150 II, Marshall JTM-1, and an Orange Tiny Terror. These amps had widely different designs, power outputs, and possible tones. After careful recording comparisons, the Bogner was able to achieve all the tones I liked from those amps and way more. Full disclosure: the only 5150 tone that the Bogner couldn't do was a scooped pop punk sound, but since I personally would never use that sound, I had no remorse letting it go. Even though the Bogner wasn't cheap, in the end it was more cost effective and practical than owning all of those amps, and most importantly, it sounded BETTER!
This video is a tribute to some of the best tones I've gotten out of this thing, and I'm sure there are way more to enjoy. Truth be told, I only wish that these sounds were easily footswitchable for live purposes. I believe a new version of the Helios, the Black Sun, will be revealed at NAMM later this month, and I can't wait to see what they've done with this already incredible amplifier.
I wanted to make a video to help all my buddies with G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) and to give me a reminder of steps I can take to relieve some of my gear obsessions. I go into detail about each step in the video, and the full transcript is in the description of the YouTube video. Here are the basic steps I came up with:
The first section is about Treating G.A.S. This is gear you are obsessing about right now.
2. Talk to a non-gearhead about it
3. Consider usefulness of new item
4. Try it out
5. Don’t “need” it (just want it)
6. Revitalize your gear
This next section is about preventing G.A.S., so you don’t get it so much in the future
7. Stop window-shopping
9.Maintain your gear
10.Go for your own sound
11.Write notes to yourself
12.Set realistic goals
I hope this helps some viewers. This video is about treating GAS not curing it, so don’t worry if you still get it. I know I do all the time. That chase for gear and tone will probably never end, but just enjoy it and keep it in check. ROCK ON \m/
My good friend was having difficulty keeping his Les Paul in tune, so I thought I'd share these tips that really helped me with my Heritage H-150 (Les Paul style guitar). Most of these tips would work with other types of guitars. On the other hand, it wouldn't make sense to do Steps 1 or 2 for a guitar with a Floyd Rose style bridge.
I'll just add some more details and reasoning about each of the 3 steps.
Step 1: Lubricate the nut and saddles.
When you bend strings, the strings slightly slide back and forth on the nut and the saddles. If these areas aren't lubricated, then the string will get snagged and your string will get stuck out of tune instead of slipping back to it's original spot. Between the dry lubricant (like pencil graphite) or Vaseline-style options (like the Lubrikit used in the video), I don't know of any specific advantages. My guitar tech guru will attest to this.
**Tip: If you hear a plinking sound when tuning your guitar, that's the sound of your string getting snagged. Lubricate the nut and saddles!
Step 2: Tighten the tuners.
This may make the biggest difference. If the tuners are too loose, then they can easily be twisted out of tune when you're doing big bends. Be careful about overtightening and also stripping the small screws.
Step 3: Stretch your new strings.
New strings need to get set at the tuners and the bridge. To speed up this process, follow the stretching technique that I demonstrated in the video. These are the exact steps: tune your guitar, stretch the strings, and repeat until the guitar stays in tune after the stretching.
I hope this helps you enjoy your Les Paul a little more!
Watch the Video
I was excited to make this first Quick & Dirty Tone video. I recorded this particular comparison because I wanted to help a band-mate in his decision to choose a bad ass overdrive for his metal rig.
First off, here's the recording chain:
Bernie Rico Jr. Jekyll 7 String - Maxon OD808 or OD808X - Orange Rockerverb 50 MkII w/KT88s - Two Notes Torpedo Live (Ownhammer Bogner 4x12 Vintage 30) - Apogee Duet
Just to clarify, the first repetition of the riffs in this video were recorded without either of the overdrive pedals.
My overdrive tale starts with my first tube head, the Marshall JCM2000 DSL 100. Like most young metal guitarists, I wanted more gain. I went to Sam Ash and George Lynch's old guitar tech gave me a secret. We plugged into a DSL 100 on the distortion channel. He set up a Boss Super Overdrive with the gain turned down and the level cranked. This is still the way many pro metal players use overdrives (e.g. Periphery, Killswitch Engage, Keith Merrow, Ola Englund, As I Lay Dying, and others), so that's why I set it that way in the video. The Marshall plus Super Overdrive sounded better, and I used it for a while, but it still wasn't totally ideal. I loved the sound of pure tube distortion (and still do). I saw overdrives as a way to get more gain, but once I got into more high-gain tube heads, I didn't see the use. I didn't like how they cut bass and added a buzzy sound on the high end.
This was all before I really fell in love with pushing mids on my amp and eventually tried the Maxon OD808. This pedal is the original tube screamer circuit, and it has a super musical way of cutting the bass, boosting some high mids, and increasing gain. This effect did wonders for my ability to cut through in live and recording situations for metal - where everything is loud and huge-sounding. When they released the OD808X, I had to try it out and see if that great pedal could possibly sound better.
My Final Verdict: Both of the Maxon OD808 and OD808X are awesome. You can't really go wrong with either. For metal/hard rock, I prefer the OD808X. It has more of everything on tap compared to the regular OD808, and it ends up sounding slightly clearer and more punchy to me. I actually prefer the original OD808 for more bluesy/vintage rock, so I typically use it with my Tiny Terror and other low-gain amps. The original OD808 has some vintage mojo that the OD808X doesn't have. I may do a shootout with one of those amps later on to demonstrate that difference.
Watch the Video
I'm a total guitar nerd. I find myself watching gear demo videos all the time, and about 4 years ago, I posted a couple videos that have been useful to some other guitar geeks. Since then, I've been building my "guitarsenal" and recording rig while wondering in the back of my head: what could I add that would be useful and unique to the guitar gear demo world?
I finally came up with the concept for the "Quick and Dirty Tone" series by identifying a few problems I have with some gear videos:
- A lot of gear videos are really long (some get up to 20-30 min), and I often find myself skipping through just to quickly see how it sounds.
- I don't always want to hear the reviewer talk about the gear.
- Sometimes the guitar track has been mixed and mastered with other instruments, and it can be distracting when I want to just focus on the guitar tone itself.
I'm aiming to address these issues by following some simple rules for the "Quick and Dirty Tone" YouTube series: 2 minutes or less and no talking, mixing, or mastering. If anyone is interested in more details and my opinions, each video will have an accompanying blog post here. I'm also going to limit the posts to 500 words max - I don't want to waste anyone's time here.
Feel free to reach out on YouTube, Facebook, comment on the blog posts, or contact me through this website.
Enjoy, and guitar on \m/
Dr. Danny Mann
This blog keeps it short. All posts are 500 words max. We know it's easy to get carried away talking about gear...