Can The Silverline Series Sound Like Phil Collen?

Can the Silverline Series Sound Like Def Leppard’s Phil Collen?

Phil Collen is the guitar player for British rock mega-stars Def Leppard. Phil has been seen lately on Youtube proudly rocking with his Silverline amp by his side. He’s also a huge fan of the ID:TVP range and recently took these amps on tour with his other band Delta Deep.

We are going to look at how you can get some Phil Collen esque rock tones out of the Silverline Special using just the amplifier and it’s built in effects.

Phil’s tones with Def Leppard are massive. We’re talking about stadium filling rock tones. Can a single 10-inch driver rock as hard? You bet it can.

Let’s get our hairspray and tight jeans ready, we’re going back to 1987.

The Gear Used In This Video

In this video, I am using the following gear to emulate some of the classic sounds:

• Blackstar Silverline Special
• Washburn N2 Guitar

All the tones that you hear in the video are directly from the amp. All the overdrive, modulation and reverb are from the Blackstar Silverlines internal processors.

The amplifier is mic’d with an Aston Origin condenser microphone which his running straight into a DAW via a Focusrite preamp.

The Tones of Phil Collen

In the video you will learn about three main tones that Phil has used over his career. I will be talking about how I’ve set the Silverline for this.

In the video I speak about adjusting the Mid, Presence and Resonance, but you may notice in the screenshot that you cannot see these knobs. This is because these are accessible in the Silverline special by holding down the tap tempo button.

Holding the tap button unlocks some additional functionality of the Bass, Treble and ISF knobs. With the tap held down, the Bass knob becomes Resonance, the Treble becomes Presence and the ISF becomes Mid. You can also dig deeper into this with Blackstar’s Insider software.

Clean Tone
Phil Collen Clean Sound Panel

Over the career of Def Leppard, they have always embraced a great ballad. A great ballad needs a great clean tone.

This American voiced, heavily modulated clean tone will take you straight back to 1987.

Set the amp to the Clean Bright voice with the 6L6 response and shift the ISF all the way to the left to get the American voiced mid-range. This will get you straight in the ballpark of those classic American clean tones.

To sculpt this further set the Bass to 12 o’clock and the Treble to 2 o’clock. You have to deep dive here with the tap tempo switch because you are now going to set the Resonance to 11 o’clock, the Presence to 1 o’clock and the Mid to 1 o’clock.

I’ve selected the Plate Reverb setting for this (Option 4 on the Effects dial for Reverb) and set the level to about 10 o’clock. You can dial in as much reverb as you think you might want.

You also want this clean tone to be heavily modulated so press your Mod button and select the Chorus setting (Option 3) with the level to about halfway where you can hear the modulation quite clearly.

Hit the Delay button and select an Analogue delay (Option 2) and set this with the level so that you can only hear one quick repeat. This Slapback style delay will give you that big arena sound.

As heard on tracks like: Hysteria, Love Bites, Bringing on the Heartbreak.

Crunch Tone
Phil Collen Crunch Sound Panel

In the early 1980’s, Def Leppard were just starting to transition from a hard rock band to the stadium rock giants we know them as today. During this era, the guitar tone was very crunchy.

To dial this sort of tone in you can use the Super Crunch voice with the KT88 voice. This will capture that big, mid bumped British rock sound that we associate with the band.

This is a low gain tone so keep that gain under halfway, you do not want to over saturate the sound. A big part of the Def Leppard sound is the clarity of notes. You want to hear every note you play in a chord.

The Bass is set to 11 o’clock, the Treble to 2 o’clock and the ISF is all the way right to the British mid voice. The Resonance is set to 12 o’clock, the Presence to 3 o’clock and the Mid to 11 o’clock. You need to use the Tap tempo button to unlock these three settings or use the Insider software to get into some deep editing.

Keep all the Reverb and Delay settings the same. You want that big room sound with a little slapback. Phil’s tone was also slightly modulated so keep the Chorus engaged but just dial it back a little. You don’t want to hear any obvious chorusing, but you will notice the guitar will sound thicker and wider with it on.

As heard on tracks like: Photograph, Rock of Ages

Crunch Tone
Phil Collen Overdriven Rock Sound Panel

By the time 1987 rolled around the band released their biggest album Hysteria, the guitars were loud and rocking. They had cranked the drive a little and they had a huge, thick 80s tone.

Switch over to the OD1 voice to thicken those overdriven tones up but keep the gain under halfway. You want a fat sound, but you want to retain that clarity of the crunch tone.

The KT88 response is still in use here and all the other settings are the same. Keep all your EQ, ISF and effects controls as they are. If you are playing this at a loud volume, you may find it useful to drop the Resonance down a little because the amp being loud will push the lows more. If you are playing at bedroom volume, you may want to boost this up to give yourself that big amp sound at a low volume.

As heard on tracks like: Pour Some Sugar on Me, Gods of War

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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