John Norum's effect rig

I'm sure many people have seen this already, but I thought I'd share it for those who haven't:

http://www.johnnorum.se/gear/effects/

This is a really cool read! I've been wanting to build a w/d/w rig recently, and this shows how this can be done in practice with relative simplicity. I really enjoyed seeing how this is done by a more conventional dino guitarist, as opposed to progsters like Lifeson and Petrucci, who tend to end up with some rather intimidating looking refrigerators. This is only a mini fridge, and one that actually is rather simple. From what I can tell there are three key boxes. The first key box is the Suhr ISO Line Out Box that is found behind the amp heads. I only heard about this recently, but it is really a great box: It allows you to tap a line level signal between the power amp and the cabinet, meaning that you don't have to fool with the effects loop to get a w/d/w rig up and running. This also means that the head that drives the entire system can be changing around a lot of cables, and that using a head without an effects loop won't be a problem.

One cannot see the whole effects chain from these photos, but it seems like both wet sides feature the same effects, as they are gathered with the RJM Mini Line Mixer before (if one is to believe the text) they are sent directly to the power amp. I wonder if there could be more to it. The Mixer seemed to be placed relatively high up in the rig (above the two drawers of pedals), and one would assume that the signal more or less would work its way downwards. There might be slightly more to it than it is possible to see from the photos.

Interestingly Norum uses a solid state amp here. I guess this is done both for reliability and output level. Besides, it might be that some of the tube sound is being retained, since the input signal has already gone through a power amp?

I've really been wanting to build something like this for myself recently. Norum's rig is somewhat advanced, but if one scaled it down to a smaller power amp and a single effects processor one could theoretically more than get by with a 2U rack. I'm surprised that not more amateur players do something like that.

Comments

  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 15,627
    Sirion said:
    Interestingly Norum uses a solid state amp here. I guess this is done both for reliability and output level. Besides, it might be that some of the tube sound is being retained, since the input signal has already gone through a power amp?
    Um. I see the back of a Marshall head 5th picture down.
    The only guy in Boston who knows what that thing sticking out of the left side of the steering column is for. 
  • SirionSirion Posts: 2,741
    edited March 3
    Ahh, yes, that would be the top head in these photos: http://www.johnnorum.se/gear/amps

    That head is running the dry channel. He apparently has a Matrix power amp driving the wet channels.

    Post edited by Sirion on
  • eduardoritoseduardoritos Posts: 2,624
    edited March 3
    Larry Carlton do the same thing (Mono Dry-Stereo Wet), but in other way (around min 25):


    Post edited by eduardoritos on
  • SanchoSancho Posts: 17,922
    Sirion said:
    That head is running the dry channel. He apparently has a Matrix power amp driving the wet channels.

    If I felt like running a w/d/w rig, I'd power the wet sides with something cheap and cheerful like a Rocktron Velocity.
    If nothing else, it would make lugging it all around slightly less disagreeable.
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,379
    Interesting, je has one of Schenker old 5210 50W head...This amp features built-in clipping made with 4 diodes (Jose Mod style).
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 762
    yngwie666 said:
    Interesting, je has one of Schenker old 5210 50W head...This amp features built-in clipping made with 4 diodes (Jose Mod style).
    It sounds like absolute shit. There's a good reason Schenker got rid of it.
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,379
    He was still playing this model  (Marshall 2205 JCM800 Lead serie with 11 pots) when I saw him in 2015. But he didn't sound like shit at all...
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 762
    Ok - he manages to make it sound like ass in his studio. The clips I've seen of him jamming with it sound awful. He definitely won the prize for "worst tone on the Axemen of Sweden documentary". And that's some accolade, as Matthias Eklund was on it... I've seen a few people the web talking about how bad his ex-Schenker amp sounds - that was the first I'd heard of it. 
  • MelodicGritMelodicGrit Posts: 294
    Interesting discussion.  FWIW, I'd read somewhere that Schenker tried to get him to sell that amp back, and Norum wouldn't sell it back.  No idea if it's true or not.  I'm also not sure if it was a 2205 head or something earlier.  I've got one from '88 and it sounds great for 80s stuff.  I hate that it's in storage and out of reach.  Schenker himself told me in 2010 he'd been using 2205's since the 90s and still does now.  I think his tone is outstanding.  When I asked him about whether he used the earlier versions (bleed over in channels) or the later ones with the gain/clipping diode, he didn't know what I was talking about.  According to him, if one failed he'd have the tech go scrounge for another one.  He'd plug in and either like it or not.   He said that the 2205s had a certain sound to the midrange that he liked and thought Marshall may have based the design off of one of his older Marshall heads...he said maybe they were getting harder to find because people found out he was using them...lol  Maybe Norum got a raw deal with that amp or maybe it's just that he's not Schenker....or he's just not a good match for that one amp?   The Europe vids from a few years back had him playing with great tone and I think 2205s were used.  I wonder what happened?  I saw Schenker play one show several years back with one of those low-end Dean black/white acoustics into.....you guessed it....a 2205.  I was flummoxed. It still sounded great.  C'mon John, get the tone issue sorted and put out another ripping solo album.
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 762
    I think in some of the Europe vids from recent years, John is playing 2205s with KT88 valves in them. I don't know if he did that with the Schenker amp. He seems to have several amps in his setup, so who knows which one is being used at a given time. And then there's the sound engineer to consider. I don't know who was engineering in Norum's personal studio, but the clips I've heard of him playing his 2205 there are been bloody awful. Maybe it was poor mic'ing or eq'ing rather than the amp, but somebody gave it the green light to release that stuff to the public.

    I wonder about Schenker's studio tones at times - he always seems to have the same setup (officially), and on his older stuff, it certainly sounds right... but on more recent albums, he has way more gain, reverb and compression. It could be the producer/engineer's call, but his tone on UFO's Walk on Water is massively compressed, drenched in reverb  and has way more gain than the classic MSG stuff. I read somewhere that he'd used an overdrive pedal, but it's not a typical part of his rig. Standard seems to be 2205, chorus, two delays, crybaby and a tuner.
  • MelodicGritMelodicGrit Posts: 294
    Andy, you're right on the live setup.  The tech also verified the use of EL34s and Greenbacks in the cabs.  I had a pic where he used a TS10 but it didn't last long.  I believe Ron Nevison's production on Walk on Water and Written in the Sand is responsible for the bigger sounds and reverbed guitars.  All that was gone once Varney started producing.  IMO, if you compare t-top pickups through a Marshall 1987 top to Duncan sh-1/sh-5s through a Marshall 2205, you'd get a noticeable difference in gain.  Add compression and reverb and you're there.
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