The ART SGX2000 Express
Articles In This Issue
Harmony Central Guitar Resources
Avatar Speaker Cabinets
Celestion Speaker Sound Comparisoms
Amplifier Sound Comparisoms
Andy Timmons - The Satch of Dallas, Texas
The ART homepage
Mesa Boogie Amplifiers
Peter Fiala's Homepage & ART patches
Many of you may already be aware that the ART SGX2000 Express processor was discontinued by ART for 1999. If you need an upgrade chip for your ART processor you had better get it quick. This page will remain for a short while to support the SGX2000 Express Processor. I am aware of no other page like this The ART SGX2000 Express guitar processor has a lot of possibilities. This processor was designed to be used direct to a mixing board and with headphones. When used with a PA or a guitar amp the quality of sound may vary with the rig. The problem with any guitar processor, whether it be a Rocktron, Roland, or an ART processor, is that it was researched and designed using a specific amplifier and speakers or headphones. Once the guitar processor gets in the hand of a user, we all ask why it doesn't sound as good as it did with our favorite artist on the record. There must be a thousand different amplifier and speaker combinations that we can come up with. The ART processor will not work well with all of them. This page was written to support SGX users who want to learn how to use their processor. This page details some of my experiences with the processor. Your comments are welcome. Read on!!!
My web friend Peter Fiala has developed patches for the SGX2000E. He and another musician wrote a software program to transfer patches from a PC to the SGX via midi. But, that program is not on this web page. Hypertext to Peter's website is listed above in the section called My Favorite Links. Peter is located in Austria. He is a consumate studio musician and works as a comptroller for a bank in Austria. Keep reading to find out more.
Several people have written inquiring about upgrading their processors. Like I said the ART SGX2000 Express has been discontinued. Better get your upgrade EPROM from ART quick, before ART no longer has them available. Ask for EPROM software version 1.05 or 1.10. That is the lastest software available.
Alternatives to the SGX2000 Express include the Rocktron Voodo Valve Online, the POD, the Boss GT-6, and other more expensive processors. None of these products are without some bad points. Keep reading on to find out more.
Are You Going My Way - Smoother distortion with some slap and verb, EQ'd a lot, to beef up the midrange and contour the distortion.
Halloween - This is an ART preset with very thick frying/crackling distortion for old Ozzy tunes and Judias Priest.
When Will It Rain? - Jackyl grinding and delayed.
JCM800/ZZ Top Rhythmeen sound - This is a large thick bass sound (aka, Expandora) that attempts to duplicate some of ZZ Top's sound off of their new Rhythmeen album.
SRV-I,SRV-II,SRV-III, House Rockin' & Overdrive 2 - Texas hero grind and twang.
Heavy Birthday - a flanged out monster for the Beatles Birthday Song
A Bad Way - Phased and Flanged Stone Temple Pilots harmonic sounds
Led Zep RocknRoll - Heavier distortion than Paige would use and echo
Lynch-I, Lynch-II, and Lynch-III - Wow..three levels of Dokken sounds that fills a room when used with the stereo outputs. What a growl. Great for Dokken's sound like In My Dreams
The Only One - Good smooth medium distorted rhythm with a little echo.
Fateswar - Great thick heavy sound, lots of low octave bass, with just a bit of solid state grunge.
Wasted Years - An echo distortion that makes Iron Maiden fans happy. Emphasizes pinch harmonics.
RocknRoll Fantacy - Bad Company styled chorus/flanging.
Eric Johnson Crunch - echo with rhythm and a violin type distortion
68 Plexi - This is a great straight ahead rock sound, good power rhythm
Main Crunch - Loud mids emphasized with good harmonics with delay. Good for rhythm.
Rock Rhythm I - Louder hollowed out rhythm with some slap and reverb.
The reason I am talking about all this is that I have seen too many posts where people complain that a given processor like the SGX or a Roland GP100 doesn't sound good through their amp or speaker set up. You must realize that not every speaker and power or guitar amp sounds good with a every processor. But, I bet Rocktron, ART, and Rolond would like you to believe you can just plug into their processor and play. Processors require serious tweaking with the guitar, speakers, and amp(s) that you plan to use with the processor.
Several people have also written and asked why the SGX squealed through their amp. After talking or emailing them, I found that they had turned the amp gain or distortion up on their amps. So, the distortion on top of distortion (distortion of the ARTSGX2000 Express on top of a Marshall hi gain amp) sounds like mud.
So, my point is that you have to spend a lot of your valuable time tweaking a processor. But that tweaking may pay off in spades. Just something to think about though...If you tweak the amp at home in your bedroom, when you go to play out with our buddies or practice in the practice hall, you will find that you have to retweak the ART for live versus quiet (or a studio) setting.
Yes, again the older software versions sound like they were made for headphone use. The newer versions sound better when played loud either through an amp or pair of amps for stereo (best choice) or through a stereo power amp (preferred overall...definitely Mesa 50/50 or 20/20 country).
Go to the ART webpage, as listed in my hypertext links above (My Favorite Links), contact a customer service rep, and ask to order an upgrade. More than likely you will get the ROM Chip for software versions 1.05 or 1.10.
Like a good tube amp the SGX sounds best at concert/stage level loud rock volumes. For me this is loud. You can turn it down a bit if you are using the SGX through two amps or a stereo amp and two sets of speakers. The sound field is wider and thicker. Don't be mislead though. You are not getting a true stereo sound, just some delayed sound waves. Your guitar is a mono source, so unless you have your guitar wired in stereo, you are not going to get a stereo sound. Maybe some back and forth panning.
The SGX works well as a hard rock machine. It has a definite strong treble vibe taylored for hard rock. It has good compression and keeps your guitar sound thick and upfront (good presence) even if you are switching between rhythm and lead. On some amps (the Marshall 100 Valvestate series is a good example) you have great chunky rhythm chords, but when you switch to the leads your volume level and attack die out. That does not happen with a processed sound. However, if you take a good screaming amp like a JCM800 50watt, with a Fulldrive II or TS-9 already slamming the preamp, your sound does not fade out when switching between rhythm and leads either.
The SGX is okay direct to board. I think the POD and the DG1000 have better clean sounds and better overdriven sounds. But the balls to the walls distortion sound of the SGX2000 is still transistory sounding (screechy) and won't ever replace the distortion you get from a good tube amp. The ART does offer more options than the POD, Yamaha, or Boss processors as far as midi and patchbay ins/outs are concerned. However, other processors have more simulated stereo sounds (like chorus, flange, phasing, etc). I think the ART is a tougher and more durably built processor as compaired with the Roland and Rocktron rackmount processors. Join the GP100 newsgroup for a while and watch all of the complaints about bugs, mechanical, design flaws, or how easily the Roland breaks or arrives broken. As far as customer service, Roland and ART seem about even to me. It is hard to get hold of either customer service departments, but when you do, both ART and Roland respond and folllow through. I don't know about the reliability of the POD or the Yamaha processor. I don't like the Digitech stuff. The Digitech equipment sounds too highly processed and does not let the sound of the guitar come through. That is, generally everything sounds the same through the Digitech stuff.
Depends on what you want the processor for. If you are going to use the processor as your main rig, I'd say lay out the bucks and get real amp, because a processor doesn't come close to the sound of a good amp. If you just want a processor to record with or for that odd occasion when you are going direct to a mixer at a gig (very unusual though it happened to me), or you just want a backup in case your amp fails, the ART will work in a pinch. I use my processor to record with and very rarely for a gig. The SGX is much less hassle to record with than going through the trials and errors of miking an amp just right. But the POD sounds better direct to board than the ART does. I don't go to studios that have million dollar equipment. I visit the low budget ones to get demos made.
1. The X-15 readout display does not show the name of the patch that you have selected, but then again neither do any of the other midi pedals. When I edit a patch, I usually address them to numeric locations on the SGX that are currently empty. I place all of the patches I edit close to each other. So for example, the 5150 preset was in Bank A, Patch #20. I modified the patch and moved it to an empty location at #160. Rather than a manufactuer preset, the SGX now identifies this patch as a "User Patch". User patches cut across all four BANKS on the SGX2000E. They are readily accessed by the X-15 pedal. But, the midi number on the X-15 and on the SGX2000E don't have to match. Caught that curve ball yet? It is really not that complicated. The X-15 has 128 midi patch locations/numbers available on it. So, even though you have 455 preset locations on the SGX, you just tell the X-15 to go to only the patches that you intend to use regularly. on the X-15 then, USER patch 01 could connect you to USER patch 160 (the 5150 patch) on the SGX. The X-15 does not access all 475 presets on the SGX2000E. The X-15 makes audible clicks on your amp when you switch between patches. I wrote ART to see if there was a way to eliminate the clicks, and the following is how they responded via email to me.
Date: 03 Apr 97 09:45:57 EST
From: A R T 76702.3700@CompuServe.COM
To: Vic Dyer firstname.lastname@example.org
1. New X-15 software will not eliminate those clicking and delay problems. For the clicking, try adjusting the MIDI message delay time submode 5 parameter 6. If its set to 2, try 0 and vice versa. One of those should help. There will always be a delay between patches with the SGX2000E. Just try to set up your patches so you only need to switch individual effects on and off, not complete patch changes. This will free you up to switch patches between songs when you have time. I've augmented my SGX Nightbass SE with our Effects Network, and I've never had to switch patches during a song. This situation is perfect.
2. It sounds like you're only using 1 MIDI cable between the 2 units. With 2 MIDI cables (using both MIDI In and MIDI Out), complete status of effects should be indicated on the X-15 LED array.
3. The X-15 will not switch between the four different banks. Simply copy all the patches you want to use into the user bank ("U"), and the X-15 will access them perfectly after you set up your preset mapping table (an extremely simple process).
The retail price for the X-15 upgrade is $29.95. Please contact Ben Miller (CS rep) at 716-436-2720 for complete installation details. Normally, manual supplements do accompany all upgrades.
Mike Nelson @ A R T
Get an X-15. It has all the bells and whistles you will ever need. It is very solidly built and will take a lot of punishmnet. The X-15 will allow you to add or remove effects in a patch while you play, or you can push the mode switch and use the pedals to switch between patches. With the two foot pedals you can decide to control volume, delay time, compression, or whatever you assign the pedal to. The X-15 will allow you to use a wide range of AC adaptors. So replacement adaptors, if you need one, can be immediately had a Radio Shack. The X-15 only allows you to see a numerical or a number readout. So you can see the name of the patch on the pedal. That's a minus for this pedal. If you need to see the name of the patch, get the Ground Control midi pedal instead.
You can't use the Digitech because it has a power/hot lead incorporated within the midi cable to power the pedal itself. So Digitech is not an option. The Ground Control Pedal is very good. But, the ART pedals are set up to immediately plug and play with the ART equipement. Use that KISS idea (keep it simple stupid). The ART pedals are well built and can be had cheaply used.
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
You have essentially discovered what I have been doing for years with multiple amps. Typically I run at least two in parallel fed by a processor's output. The real trick is to not try and force a stereo signal, but rather as you have discovered a wider sound that encompasses both density and headroom if applied correctly. The last piece of info I can offer is to reduce the affected signal from your processor to in essence act more as a ambience generator as opposed to an effects processor. Often I resort to analog pedals for dramatic effects, and relay on the rackmount piece to supply the atmosphere to embelish any sound I have built earlier in the signal chain. You are on the right track. My personal taste has led me to essentially use tandems of Fender amps like Super Reverbs for example to facilitate sounds associated with that amp's strength. I generally will then blend in additional amps to provide specific enhancement so often I will have three to four amps running concurrently. They all tend to be lower wattage amps, so the overall affect on volume is not overwhelming.
Michael Shields - ' 54 Strat & ' 52 Tele
A R T is in the process of setting up user patches on our web site. In the meantime we would like to link to your SGX 2000 Express Patch site from our corporate site. Please let us know if this is desirable, and we'll create the link immediately. Thank you sincerely for your support of A R T products, we're proud to have customers like you so willing to "wave the flag" for A R T.
A R T
The processor gives you a good compressed rhythm and lead sound. It won't squash out on you, that is, when you switch back and forth between leads and rhythms. This processor will never replace a good tube amp though. If I put my Fulldrive II, Fulltone Clyde, a Fulltone Univibe, all followed by an MXR Micro Amp (Satch knows best) through a Marshall JCM800 half stack, I can get organic nirvanna. It just feels good as the commercial goes. You will never get that sound with this processor, or any other processor for that matter. Instead, you will get usuable, industrial grade sounds.
So far, more than one person has written asking why the SGX2000 Express doesn't sound good through their amp. Describing the sound as mushy and squealing. Please remember that if you use the SGX2000E through your amp, you must set the tone controls flat, turn the gain off, and set your amp up with very clean output. The SGX2000E will generate all of your distortion and effects. Hence, again the difference between a good tube amp and solid state preamp distortion. I definitely prefer distortion obtained through overdriven power tubes, most of the time, and then to kick the amp with a good distortion box (but a distortion box is preamp distortion). The combination of power tube distortion and a good stomp pedal like the Fulldrive II, really sings for me. Good luck on finding your Grail sound.