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arcy
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xx Soldano Decatone Questions
« Thread started on: Mar 22nd, 2004, 6:32pm »

Hello, I'm thinking of buying a Decatone real soon and had some questions.

As far as the tone goes, how about the lead channel? I know it's not going to be 100% SLO, as the HR's and everything else aren't quite either... but is it close? Does it still do the sustaining into harmonic feedback, crazy big solo sound thing?

How about the crunch channel? Is it the hot-rodded JCM800 sort of sound, or something else?

In general would you guys say the Soldano voicing is more Marshall or Mesa like? More british mids or american mids? or Both? I'm a long time Marshall player and so I'm a bit weary of other stuff... I love the tight, fine grain Marshall distortion for rhythm sounds, but on modellers at least, the SLO sound is always such a great lead sound. But I do need both and don't want two amps. So can the crunch channel get that big meaty Marshall chunky rhythm sound?

(sort of off topic but, anyone tried EL34's in a Soldano? Does it change the voicing much, or only the breakup at high master volumes? Why does Soldano use 6L6's anyway, it seems like EL34's are the best tubes for rock music or am I wrong??)

With regard to the FX loop, how does it sound? Anyone set it to series and run it through a rack fx processor (like a G-major, etc)? I'm considering doing this... how would the delays sound on the OD channels, clear enough? How about the levels coming out of the loop? Some of the HC reviews said it was tough to match the levels and that they varied too much... what's the deal, can i use a processor with all three channels while channel switching? Are the levels matched closely enough that delays and time based effects will carry over smoothly?

One last thing. I've found a used Decatone about 6 hours from where I live. I might buy it... The guy says its in great condition, and sent me photos and it looks mint. He does say though that he's not the original owner. If I go to inspect it, should I assume that mint cosmetic condition means the inside is probably okay too... Or is there anything specifically that I can look for to make sure nobody tampered with it or otherwise damaged the amp internally? I've heard that the Decatone is more prone to break than the other Soldanos. In general, is it a good idea to buy an amp like this used? I'm mainly considering it because he's asking about half of the street price.

Thanks so much for ANY responses to any of these questions. I appreciate it.
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xx Re: Soldano Decatone Questions
« Reply #1 on: Mar 25th, 2004, 8:53pm »

While I don't have much experience with the Decatone other than playing one for about 15 minutes...I do own an SLO and I was liking the Decatone quite a bit! As far as what may have been done to the amp...check the power tubes to see if they are different than the stock Sovtecs and if they are you need to wonder if they had it rebiased or not - you could also look at the four screws holding the chassis in the head shell at the bottom of the head and look for wear or signs of use on the screw heads, that may tell you if someone has been in it. But basically if it plays and sounds fine it probably is. grin
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xx Re: Soldano Decatone Questions
« Reply #2 on: Mar 28th, 2004, 12:42am »

i've played the decatone a lot and like it very much. in fact the main reason i chose a SLO instead was the lifetime warrantee and just a little more detail in the tone (plus i got a good price smiley ).

some folks hear a world of difference between the two and others don't. you'll have to compare for yourself, but personally i hear only slight differences in detail which may or may not mean much to you. the SLO just seems a little clearer to me even under heavy saturation and just more *something*. again i wouldn't say it's huge (to me) but there is a difference, say 85% of the SLO sound. i don't remember much of the crunch channel (i mainly use the clean and lead and back off the guitar volume for shades in-between) but i remember liking it. the crunch on my SLO is in JCM territory with the gain and volume turned up (but again i don't use it often). from what i've been told the FX loop is easier to work with on the decatone because it operates at series and parallel and you can use pro/rack stuff and stomp boxes. i'd describe the overall sound of the SLO (and most soldano amps except the lucky 13) as being very marshall like (lots of midrange but to me it doesn't get as much "honk" in the upper mids). as if you took a great old one and modded it for extremely saturated gain. the only thing i would say it has in common with mesa is that it can get some intense overdrive (apparently mesa copied the SLO cascading gain circuit).

one of the guys that hangs out here uses el-34s in his SLO and says he likes it a lot. i would think the sound would be cool, a little more midrange (though soldanos tend to have PLENTY on tap anyway) and all. i think they use 5881/6l6 stock because it lets more preamp tone through and helps keep the clean channel cleaner.

like the other dude said, just take a good look at it and see if it looks like anything has been messed with. also feel free to email or call soldano they're pretty cool to talk to and everything. i contacted them a *lot* before and after i got my amp and they were always helpful.
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