Other Amps

What is English voicing in descriptive terms?

1

I once told a Cuban friend of mine that I was in Tampa and had a "Cuban Sandwich". She laughed and asked what that was. I described it and she looked at me puzzled and said: "a Cuban Sandwich is any sandwich a Cuban person make for you". I fear this is the same as the term English voicing in amplifiers.

As guitarists, we are all familiar with the famous English benchmark amps in music history like Vox, Marshall, Orange, Hi Watt, etc. However, many of these have absolutely nothing tonally in common. It seems other than the national origin of their creators, a Vox and an Orange or Marshall have nothing in common.
I might consider a Vox interchangeable with an early 60s Fender, but never a Marshall. So, when swapping speakers or choosing amps, what Does the industry term "English voicing" mean? The Shadows? The Beatles? Black Sabbath?
I'm also curious if any English players out there would also laugh at this term as did my Cuban friend at the sandwich.......

2

Interesting question... and just because it's Friday night, the wine is done and I'm not yet in bed yet, here's something else to complicate matters a little. I've wondered on and off about whether the line voltage difference between Britain and North America can actually alter the sound of an amp built to the same specs.

In other words, does stepping the input down from 220V/50Hz have some tangible effect on the components which follow in the chain when compared to the same amp configured for North American 120V/60Hz power?

I don't know the answer, but if so, then that tiny, almost intangible result might be part of this so-called "English Voicing".

Amp builders hereabouts, who know far more than I about such things, might be able to rectify this. My basic electrical knowledge tells me that Watts = Volts X Amps , and that sticking your sister's bobby pin into a wall socket is not the best idea you can have at age 5. Also, testing a dryer plug with an improperly insulated pair of side-cutters can cause one to be flung across the kitchen.

Beyond that, I try to rely on experts.

3

Being from the UK, which I guess is English, however lot of people speak English"" could be like Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, over the top cockney"" .Ive just ordered a Celestion A Type speaker for my Fender 65 Re issue DR and they describe it as American sounding.I have a couple of Session amps made in the UK from the 70s and late 80s , they have classic Celestion speakers and are not that clean sounding and muffled bite" .

4

Basically the heart of it would be the Vox tone stack values combined with EL84 power tubes biased very hot into class A territory. To my ear it sounds very Beatles-like. Wirey and electronic sounding. Guitars like "Taxman" and "Ticket to Ride" that kind of sound.

As for a "Cuban Sandwich" It's basically a recipe that may or may not have much to do with Cuba (just like many of the dishes in Chinese restaurants have nothing to do with true Chinese culture) Basically a ham and cheese sandwich with pickles pressed and grilled. You don't have to be Cuban to make one any more than you have to be French to make French fries.

5

I think most amp simulators correlate English voicing with Vox. English high gain would be Marshall, American is usually Fender and American high gain is like Mesa Boogie. I have an old Line 6 POD and I'm pretty sure these were close to the descriptions they used.

6

A Cuban Lunch was a chocolate square. It had edges like a Peanut Butter cup, was chocolate and peanuts, I recall.

Maybe a Cuban sandwich has to do with Mark Cuban?

I thought English voiced meant sounds like a Celestion or a Marshall.

7

What kills me is if an amp -- any amp - these days has 6BQ5s or 6CA7s, they call them El-84 or EL-34 then all of sudden the amp has a 'British sound'. Just marketing hogwash, really.

8

More balls, less bite!

9

None of the current terminology really means anything. It's either salesman hype or internet speak.

10

TBH if it means anything at all, I think it has more to do with the speakers than the valves or circuit design.

It's common knowledge that the original Marshalls were essentially tweed Bassmans made with valves and transformers that were more commonly available in Britain at the time. Teamed up with Celestion alnico or later ceramic Greenback Celestions, you have the formula for classic Marshall tone.

Which is of course quite different from classic Vox tone, which to my ears has a lot in common with certain vintage Gibson amps. Again, paired up with Celestion speakers - alnico Blues in this case - the result is very distinctive.

In the high gain world, about which I know and care very little, I would imagine 'English voicing' is used to differentiate a JCM800 type tone from a Soldano or Mesa tone. It would probably refer to the centre frequency of the tonestack's inherent mid scoop, but that's just my guess.

Billy probably has it about right. For practical purposes it's any preset on your modelling gear that isn't designed to emulate a tweed, blackface or silver face Fender or a catch all term used by tired guitar journalists when they are trying to hit a word count but haven't actually got much to say.

11

Traditionally, British amps had all of the bottom end surgically removed, and that was combined with Pulp-Cone speakers.

12

Basically the heart of it would be the Vox tone stack values combined with EL84 power tubes biased very hot into class A territory. To my ear it sounds very Beatles-like. Wirey and electronic sounding. Guitars like "Taxman" and "Ticket to Ride" that kind of sound.

As for a "Cuban Sandwich" It's basically a recipe that may or may not have much to do with Cuba (just like many of the dishes in Chinese restaurants have nothing to do with true Chinese culture) Basically a ham and cheese sandwich with pickles pressed and grilled. You don't have to be Cuban to make one any more than you have to be French to make French fries.

– guitarcapo

Hey that reminds me. Why are they called rangoons in the midwest and wontons on the west coast?

13

None of the current terminology really means anything. It's either salesman hype or internet speak.

– Billy Zoom

Finally! Humourously I've tried to say this sort of thing on amp forums, even mildly, and it usually ends up in a massive witchunt / dogpile! Hilarious! Bravo!


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