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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Clean, by definition

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by ebb soul, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Everyone here seems to talk about clean amps. In my come uppance, I always thought of Fender on the first channel with vol never close to master, or a non master vol amp.
    Other threads have got me thinking what the definition of clean really is. Of course, it should seem obvious. I find many amps have a very ' sterile' clean channel, no character at all. Perhaps this is tru clean? The one you preffer?
    I dunno, clean is always the 'fender sound' to me, as it seems somehow instantly recognizable. My favorite, anyhoo.
    Do the best clean amps colour your sound, at all?
    How do TDPRI really define what they want, here?
    Ira7 likes this.
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    My definition of clean is “undistorted”.
    To me, tube amp “clean” is warmer, more organic sounding.
    A prime example would be a BF Deluxe Reverb, or at stage volume, BF Super Reverb.
    Solid state clean is more “high fidelity” and perhaps “sterile “.
    An example would be a Roland JC 120.
    I realize these terms are entirely subjective, and really mean nothing to anyone, but myself.
    I love, and prefer a clean, undistorted electric guitar tone for most of my playing.
    I want to perceive that I am hearing the sound of the (electric) instrument, not so much the amp.
    I’m obviously an older player, and though I played rock/organically distorted music in my youth, I rarely do now.
    Anyways, I currently use a Roland Cube 80XL, mostly on the JC Clean setting, EQ-ed mostly “flat” with a little verb, slap delay, and occasionally, tremelo.
    It’s simple and works for me and the folks I play to/with.
  3. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    I always apreciate your input , Bill.
    Seems to me a solid state amp, like the roland jazz choruses many of my peirs use, is a good example.
    BorderRadio and brookdalebill like this.
  4. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    I think prolly when I'm in the store and say "I didn't like the cleans" I am not using the right criteria.
    I actually WANT that amp sound to add to the guitar. Just not, errr...brown...or to warm...
    Ergo 'Fender clean' or Vox jangle, but without 'edge'.
  5. mitchfit

    mitchfit Tele-Holic

    Aug 14, 2011
    north east texas
    short answer--- plug your guit into a SS stereo amp with the volume set low enough you don't reduce your speakers to particulte matter.. that's very close to actually undistorted.

    when fender "cleans" are set in the sweet spot, there will be "swirling" element easily heard in the decaying notes of a chord played. this is distortion, and also ear candy.

    when the amp puts out a fuzz pedalish or overdriven sound, it is the top of the wave being flattened out, or clipping.

    LiteAsh likes this.
  6. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    I chased a clean/distorted amp for a long time and then just the heck of it I plugged my guitar in a simple two transistor bass-treble preamp going into an old car stereo booster into a PA 8". It sounded wonderful. Why? It is suppose to be all wrong, no warmth (according to SS lore) but there it was. The amp wasn't overloading, it could put out a good 15W, more than the speaker could handle. But maybe that was it. The amp stayed clean and gave the body of the sound that sounded full. But the pick attack must have been rounded off by the speaker. I'll leave it at that.
  7. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    I am , in fact disliking amps that are in fact great at cleans, appearantly
    Blackstar, orange...
  8. Clarkj734

    Clarkj734 Tele-Meister

    Nov 24, 2015
    Bloomfield Hills, MI
    I've always felt that there are several "flavors" of clean.

    Yes, fender is the benchmark for a lot of people, and a favorite of mine as well.

    That said, early Marshalls also have some of the best cleans that I've ever played / heard, and they are definitely a different "flavor" than the blackface fender clean.

    The OP mentioned Orange... And the Rockerverb also has some fantastic cleans. More mid-heavy and warm as opposed to "glassy" or "sparkly". Again, definitely a different flavor, but beautiful.
  9. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2015
    Not noticeably distorted, yet nicely EQ'd and with some pleasant coloration.

    Both the large tweed amp sound (HP Twin and Bassman) at lower volumes, and the BF clean sound (Super Reverb at around 5) get me there. Enough top end rolled off to eliminate harshness but still keep clarity, and that swirl/warmth mentioned earlier are key parts. There's a little more harmonic distortion in the tube signal path than the ear perceives that there is, and that makes a pleasing listening experience.
  10. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    Clean to me is when the notes in a chord sound piano-like and clearly distinguished.
  11. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Clean is an acoustic straight, no mike.
    Jakedog likes this.
  12. theripper

    theripper TDPRI Member

    Nov 11, 2017
    Hauntingmidsville, Illinois
    I prefer to clean up on my volume knob so a little grit is left.
    brookdalebill likes this.
  13. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    tube amps always distort signal, that's why they sound like they sound. That's not a bad thing. IMO, "Clean" sound is not lack of distortion, but rather the lack of (any) perceivable grit/dirt/distortion to the listener. It sounds 'clean' to our ears but there will be measurable distortion, as there always is, in a decent sounding guitar amp. The trick is what harmonics are being generated when that distortion occurs. Typically more 3rd and 5th order dominance creates a more 'distorted' sound, as we know guitar 'distortion'

    To me, if an amp displays any sort of audible 'grit' it's not 'clean' it's beginning to 'break up' or clip the signal more heavily.
    ebb soul likes this.
  14. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    I'm not a fan of clean guitar sounds, but one day I plugged my strat into a digital reverb pedal and straight into the P.A. Holy carp.... it was a thing of beauty.
    nojazzhere likes this.
  15. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Friend of Leo's

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    My first recording studio experience was in 1970. We were doing a demo tape with one take on all instruments playing together, and a second take (overdub) of vocals and I did one "second" guitar on one song. We were playing at a moderate "performance" volume level. After we did a few trial run-throughs, the engineer asked me if I wanted that much distortion on my guitar. I was using my BF SuperReverb, guitar straight in, no effects. It sounded fine to me, so I said it was OK. After I heard the final playback, I couldn't believe how buzzy and distorted it sounded. That's when I learned that "close-mic-ing" was not like what you hear from 8-12 feet away. I would not be happy with that un-clean sound I usually use one or two Pathfinder 15Rs, and roll back my guitar's volume.
    Jakedog and ebb soul like this.
  16. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    You just know clean when you hear it.

    I think that’s about as complicated an explanation as necessary.
  17. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    I don't think so. I also think it is not so much the harmonic content that tube amps add which is the desirable trait (although it doesn't hurt). I think it is the partial compression that we like. The Lab L5 series amp is one of the few SS amps that people consider tube like. Maybe the compressor in it had something to do with it?
    bgavin335 and JustABluesGuy like this.
  18. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL

    You're getting complicated.
    Jakedog likes this.
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    BF Fender cleans are AFAIK less "natural" than Hiwatt or Marshall cleans, due to a somewhat artificial reduction of the midrange.
    With the right speakers I can enjoy a good BF/SF Fender clean sound, but I'll take Hiwatt cleans first, vintage non master Marshall cleans second, tied with bigger later Tweed cleans.
    Any of these amps still need the right speakers for ideal clean sounds IME.

    The best clean that is truly clean, as in a low E like a grand piano with no grit or flub, only happen at a fairly low volume setting on a given amp.
    A Hiwatt can go pretty loud and stay that clean, but a vol setting around 2 is often all I can get before a tube amp loses the low end clarity.
    Course, a four input Marshall on 2 is probably getting close to rated output.

    The "sweet spot" that many of us love is not what I would call clean, but it may be the cleanest sound some players use.
    Many amps stay clean in the high end when they have become distorted in the low frequencies.
    Again, some players make great use of this.
    Not my cup o tea.
    Jakedog likes this.
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