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The Peavey 6505+.  How I get my tone...

"Hi Rob, I have a 6505+ and a Mesa 4x12 cabinet.
I wanted to know if you use the rhythm channel or
the lead channel for your main tone? I love the sound
of your riffs, but I just can't seem to dial it in right."

I get a lot of questions about the Peavey 6505 amps… Which channels and settings I use, and really about how I get my tone. People are often wondering whether they should be using the rhythm or the lead channel for their heavy riffing… and I have to say that I totally understand the confusion! Here's one way to look at it… Let's say a band has two guitar players and one is the "rhythm" player, and the other is the "lead" player. It isn't crazy to assume that one might unknowingly look at these channels and think to assign them to their respective roles… This guy is the rhythm player and he only plays rhythm type stuff so he should play on the rhythm channel. And this guy plays solos and lead type stuff, so he should rip on the lead channel. There's nothing wrong with that way of thinking, but if you're primarily playing heavy music, the heaviest stuff comes from the lead channel.

I use the lead channel for all of my heavy riffing, soloing, melodies, wah stuff, etc. I use the rhythm channel for any clean or crunch type tones. I think of the rhythm channel as my "clean" channel. And when I need something in between, I'll apply the crunch. So here's how I set it up...

LEAD section:
PRE-     8
LOW-    6
MID-      8
HIGH-    7
POST-    2.5

LEAD PRESENCE-      8    

The PRE, controls the amount of distortion for this channel, and is set relatively high. The LOW is set around 6, and adds a nice amount of bass for the Mesa 4x12's I use. You may need more or less bass depending on what type of cabinet you're using, but I caution using too much bass. Let the bass player do his job in the low end department, and let the guitars cut and scream in the mid range. Works for Slayer! That being said we've got a nice boost in the MID's with them around 8, and the HIGH's are up there too around 7. The high's bring clarity and presence to the tone, and help it cut through the mix. But too many high's tend to show off the imperfections in your playing, and definitely increase your chances for unwanted feedback. So adjust them with care. And finally the POST, which you can think of as that channels volume control, works best around 2.5 for me. That's kind of the sweet spot I've found that works well both on stage and in the rehearsal space, as well as in the studio. I think of the RESONANCE as a subtle depth or fullness that you can add to your tone, and I like the way it sounds up around 8. The same goes for the PRESENCE… I like to be present, so I keep it around 8 as well.

Here's an example of the tone in action… Nice and tight, ferocious and present.
Chimaira's "Save Ourselves"

Now these settings are going to be HOT! The 6505 is a ripping amp… super loud and super powerful. And even with the POST (volume) at only 2.5 out of a possible 10, the amp is still frickin' loud! Pair that with a high output pickup like an EMG 81 and you're going to be feeding back like crazy. You have to get rid of the noise, and the best way I know to do it is with the ISP Decimator.

It's worth it, you need it, get it. No matter what your amp of choice is, every guitar player playing heavy music needs some type of noise reduction in their rig. Its worth the one hundred and fifty bucks to eliminate feedback from your life. I keep my ISP at about 11 o'clock, and keep it back at my rig. I set it and forget it. It's always last in my line before the amp. (tuner is always first)
Now onto the rhythm channel, which like I said is my "clean" channel…

RHYTHM section:
PRE-        7
CRUNCH-  out
LOW-     8
MID-      4
HIGH-    6
POST-    3


Having the PRE up around 7 gives the clean tone some warmth and grit. BRIGHT does exactly what it says, and having it engaged brightens things up a bit. We'll leave CRUNCH out until we need it later. On this channel again, boosting the LOW's up towards 8 works well with my cabinet… it may be too much for others. I don't do too much with the MID's here, because 4 is all I needed. This is an easy one to play around with to find what you like, because changes are obvious. My HIGH's sound good around 6, and again my POST (volume), works well against my lead channel around 3. Finding a good balance between the two channels is essential. You wouldn't want to be jamming hard on your heavy distortion channel, and then switch to a mellow clean part and have it pop out way louder right? So take the time and even things out. Play with a drummer and/or bass player and ask them to tell you if your switching seems balanced.

Here's an example of my clean tone in action, and a
balanced switch from clean to distorted…

Chimaira's "Everything You Love"

And finally, the CRUNCH feature. Push this in, or step on the switch, and you get a slightly distorted/crunchy/dirty sound. Use the crunch tone to start a song, or for a little guitar break after the first chorus leading into the second verse. Then when the next part hits, switch to your heavy sound for an awesome impact! Here are a couple examples of what it sounds like in Chimaira's "Pleasure In Pain", and "No Reason To Live"...

Happy Riffing!