Blues Jnr - dime the master or not?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by spenno, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,273
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    There are amps out there that have power options. You an run them at 50 watts or 25 watts. Or you can run them at 15, 5, and 1 watt, whatever. I gather that is to achieve tube distortion at lower volume levels. Some of the Musicman amps had that feature, but I think even at half wattage, most of them are so loud, you're not gonna notice the overdrive coming at a substantially lower volume.

    I think Musicman designed the half power design to give the player more leeway on the volume control, because most amps, even if you want to play completely clean, have a sweet spot on the volume knob, and if the amp is deafening at 1 or 2 on the Volume, it's hard to fine-tune.

    I always hear that the Master Volume is so you can turn the overall volume lower, and turn up the channel volume to get preamp tube distortion. That works as described, but I highly doubt that's what Leo had in mind ... in 1972 when the Master Volume came out on the Twin Reverb, Fender was building "Clean Machines" for Country pickers who wanted that twang. Sure, everybody was buying them, but Leo always worked toward less distortion and Max clean tones.

    My opinion is that Leo's aim was to achieve a lower base volume so there was some wiggle room on the Volume control at smaller venues or recording studios. And the traditional Fender Master Volume does just that. IMO, most of the bad press it gets reflect players who never actually used the Master Volume as intended.
     
  2. hotrodkid

    hotrodkid Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    967
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Location:
    South Florida

    Ok you're right, thanks. I was confused because it's non-adjustable.
     
    Wally likes this.
  3. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    11,772
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Location:
    Snellman MN
    Remember Leo sold Fender to CBS in 1965. The last Fender amps he had anything to do with were the original blackfaces. As I recall a few blackfaces came out after the early 65 sale. A look at schematic dates would show that.
    CBS really got into them about 1968 when they brought out the much-malingned fixed/cathode bias circuits.
    Leo was involved with Musicman to some extent in the 70s. How much I don't know, simply because I've never looked into it.

    Yeah the '70s Fender master volumes just weren't very good, if you go by popular opinion. And they weren't the only ones, the old Hiwatts had a master volume too that also wasn't that great. Both of them probably worked ok to drop a few decibels but not to get a large amp tamed down to low volumes with distortion. When I had an old Hiwatt it was like my Twin Reverbs with MV, I just left um on 10.
    Probably the first decent MV on a production amp was Randal Smith's Mesa amps. And when Marshall put MVs into production of course they did rather well also. Marshal never stopped making their non MV 1987 and 1959 amps but the sales were low. I've only seen a few of those from the JCM 800 series. (wish I would've grabbed them now)
    The half power switches are cool if one remembers they aren't half volume switches. Get into a Mesa Mark V and they go down to like 15 watts. Nice feature but you're essentially lugging around a Twin Reverb that puts out Princeton wattage. A point I like to make to my buddy with two Mark Vs when he's lugging one and I'm carrying a PR or 6v6 Ampeg Reverberocket. :)

    The other thing is when master volumes started to get popular in the 1970s they really didn't have to do what we're asking of them today. If you played a bar gig then as long as beer bottles didn't slid off the bar and the windows didn't shatter you were golden. Now we have guys that want 100 watt amps to play whilst the baby is sleeping and bars that want to hear drink orders during songs. We also have amps less than 20 watts with MVs and of course the attenuator market is growing.
    On just a volume scale one of my 6v6 Reverberockets at about 12 watts with an efficient speaker is all the volume I need, and then some. But there's a certain thump or something to the big iron I like that little ones just don't have.
     
  4. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,273
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    CBS took over Fender, but the engineers and designers were Leo's boys. Look at the Ultralinear amps, they followed the evolutionary progression of Leo's desire for clean power. Same with Musicman ... clean and loud. I don't intend to go by the kind of popular opinion to which you refer ... actually, I think you are referencing internet forum opinion. Master volume controls are still part of many amp designs, albeit probably for all the wrong reasons. I've never had a problem getting the sound I make a living with using Fender Master Volume controls when appropriate, so I don't buy into that agenda. Forum readers got so used to the local heroes dictating what is and isn't wisdom, many stopped questioning the alpha dogs and their decrees.
     
  5. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    11,772
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Location:
    Snellman MN
    Like I said at some earlier point in this discussion. I formed my opinion of master volumes long before I got the internet. If you like and use them that's OK by me.
    I don't get the hangup about forums at all, how can they sway people? Nobody agrees on anything and that's OK.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.