Guitar volume vs amp volume

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by jonyorker, May 3, 2019.

  1. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    just got done with 45 min with Nighthawk on jtm50..every genre possible ..not 1 pedal..just riding vol & tone knobs & oh yes it was glorious, I couldn't imagine trying to build my tone without the characteristic of the amp being the main feature & then shape from there..i think learning non master volume amps teaches using guitar as a weapon maximus
     
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  2. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm another guy for amp up, guitar down. its just better tone. I don't always dime the amp though. a big room with a lot of ambient noise... yes, but not necessarily in a more intimate situation
     
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  3. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I have to admit to having a knee-jerk approach to old-school concepts of gain structure in recording. If my guitar volume is low, then the amp is amplifying noise along with the guitar tone. This is antithetical to the guitar volume discussion.
     
  4. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    Personally, I like the fact that my tone changes when I back off the volume knob (the classic tone pot install, with no treble bleed). It seems to give me a wider variety of tonal options.

    I've tried both, but another reason I like to control the volume and tone from the guitar is that it keeps you facing the audience and your bandmates instead of having to turn around and constantly fiddle with the amp controls.

    If you haven't tried riding your volume and tone controls, or you don't like the way it sounds, first check to make sure you have the right kind of pots for your guitar:

    For Fender Teles and Strats: 250K
    For Gibsons, Epiphones, or guitars with humbuckers: 500K
    For Fender Jazzmasters: 1MG

    CTS pots seem pretty standard for players who do this and need quality pots instead of the cheapo hardware that comes with some guitars.
     
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  5. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have master volume amp . So I generally have amp volume up high and control with the master volume and guitar volume
     
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  6. SwampTwang

    SwampTwang TDPRI Member

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    In my earlier years I ran my guitar's volume and tone knobs wide open then adjusted the amp's controls to get the tone I wanted, and I used pedals to get more crunch. Back then I only owned small (5-30 watt) tube combos.

    After I took a chance on buying bigger (45-100 watt) tube heads and a 4x12 cabinet I eventually took a different approach. This also came along with learning that I prefer vintage output pickups for their clarity, liveliness, and ability to really sculpt my sound by using the guitar's volume and tone pots. Now I frequently run my amp volumes moderate-to-high but keep my guitar volume low. I find the clean sounds to be superior to guitar volume high and amp volume low. And despite all the pedals I have accumulated over the years, I rarely plug into anything except a tuner.
     
  7. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    If your amp is properly maintained and you have the right speaker(s) your tone will generally be better with the amp cranked as close to the limit of its headroom as possible, even with the guitar controls cranked back. This is how most regularly gigging players I know operate and how I did until I had to quit after 50 years due to physical problems.

    The idea is to use the lowest output amp you can for each specific venue; crank the amp near the top of clean with guitar controls dialed back 20% or so. This leaves you a little control (both volume and tone) nudge for solos, with a further movement sliding you smoothly into output stage saturation.

    Each level is far superior sounding when compared to an amp run at low settings and the guitar controls cranked, no matter WHYAT pedals you try to use to compensate.
     
  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Guitar as the pedals


    .
     
  9. jsnwhite619

    jsnwhite619 Friend of Leo's

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    I like working the volume on the guitar. I have mine setup with 50's style wiring and doesn't get too muddy when I turn down. But, I can still hear a difference between a loud amp and low guitar vs the other way around. If I'm playing a lead run, I want my guitar on 10. Never played one yet that sounded the "same" turned down as it did wide open, regardless of amp setting.
     
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  10. Obelisk

    Obelisk Tele-Afflicted

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    Depending on the amp, I usually the volume control of a tube amp up to 6-8 with guitar volume pot wide open to figure out the point of total breakup. If I want to clean up my sound, then I simply back down the volume pot. I have the volume pots on all of my guitars wired with treble bleed cap/resistor arrangement. I also use pedal compression, fuzz and boost pedals to play with my sound. Some of my best clean tones come from using a Roger Mayer Axis or Fuzz Face through a wide open tube amp with my guitar volume pot barely on.
     
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  11. jwp2

    jwp2 Tele-Holic

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    Just within the last couple of years I started turning my ampnup and riding the volume on the guitar. It has made a difference in my tone, dynamics, the whole ball of wax!
     
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  12. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Afflicted

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    Cool discussion.

    Mostly I play a Vox AC4HW and a Tele with 60s type pickups & I tend to plug into the high input and set up with the vol knob high and the gain knob quite low, and with guitar vol & tone around 7 (I guess), looking for a nice cleanish just edge of breakup goodness sound. That means it’s responsive to pick attack and I can use the guitar’s controls to go more goodness or cleaner goodness. Then I can throw pedals into the stew to get different tones / sounds. Doesn’t mean I’m abandoning my basic core tone, just that I’m adding choices. That’s my basic & typical approach. My playing may be rubbish, but at least the actual sounds are pretty good :)

    But in relation the the original question, not only does this sound different than the ‘guitar cranked and subsequently set amp’ approach, I think it also sounds better.

    At the risk of sounding like a fawning fanboy for often posting their vids, the latest That Pedal Show episode is interesting and touches, in part, upon this thread.



    Pax/
    Dean
     
  13. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Depends on a lot of variables.

    The response varies widely by preamp gain and structure and how the signal compresses.

    Perfection in this happens for me with my old Marshall JMP 50w

    My JMP can be ran at a fairly high gain on the high gain channel and with quite a bit of master volume and I can go from crystalline clean to a medium crunch with the volume control alone. An OD or boost (currently a two stage Fulldrive 3) for leads. All with a fair balance of overvall volume because of The tube compression. But... it is a very bright circuit naturally and my guitars have treble bleeds.

    My Mesa responds differently. Much muddier and pronounced mids if I wind down the guitar volume.

    You have to know your rig but when it all works it is a joy. My JMP had pretty much taken over from my much heavier Mesa rig for gigging but now I’ve gone for a DSL channel switcher now to get more variety without dirt pedals and to quickly get to the same tones while the controls are dimed. I do still ride the volume control to clean up the crunch channel a lot though and can live on that channel for a gig if I had to to. It also has an FX loop and has the great Marshall brightness to respond well to guitar controls.
     
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  14. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a really loud Fender Twin for gigging for several years and had it up loud but used the volume and tone control on my then Stratocaster several times during any song.
     
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  15. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    I used to control amp overdrive with the guitar volume (overdriven on 10 and cleaner rolled back). Now I play mostly clean and just control my volume in the mix (turn up for solos, turn down for comping). Rolling back the volume also takes the spikes from the tone, so I am rarely on "10".
    It became second nature long time ago, so I really don't think about it anymore.
     
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  16. Mase

    Mase Tele-Meister

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    Admittedly I haven't played a gig for 10 years, but are you guys that good that you can dime the volume on your guitar for a solo in the middle of a song,then turn it down to exactly the right volume each time for the other parts of the song ?
    I'm impressed !
     
  17. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    Amp volume, OD volume and guitar volume all work together. Twiddle in different combinations until you get the sound and volume you want.

    With a tube amp, you can control default break up as well as volume. OD takes you over that, guitar volume under.

    Turn down your guitar to make your pickups drive the amp more like a lower resistance pickup would. With the caveat of some treble roll off unless you have a treble bleed resistor.

    Your OD lets you dial in a couple of tones you can toggle.

    A volume and master volume on a tube amp gives you the option to drive an amp harder at fewer output decibels... Some people use OD pedals to approximate volume/master on a single volume amp. But with a tube amp you are driving both preamp and power tubes... And low volume gets less out of your power tubes. A low guitar volume and a high amp volume might be desirable.

    Because of the power tubes adding an extra depth, that’s why people add attenuators. A fourth/fifth volume!

    Yeah... It’s complex, no hard and fast rules and have I mastered it? Not in the slightest! :D
     
  18. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    That may not work as intended, because the tone will change with the guitar volume change. We want volume knobs to be linear and scalable, but they aren't, on guitars or amplifiers. Its a function of the circuits, and their response to different loads. Learning how to manage that for the intended outcome is one of the trade secrets of successful amplification. - shh - don't tell just anybody.
     
  19. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    The guitar volume interacts/effects the entire gain structure of your pedal board and amp. It's not as simple as "turn up the amp" and "turn down the guitar"... it's one giant moving puzzle that is exaggerated more and more with every effect placed on your pedal board. Not only are the tonal options exponential, the noise is as well.

    I see it all the time in threads.... "my overdrive doesn't sound like it did in the video" or "why is there so much noise". Later we find the user plays in their bedroom, runs their amp loud, has two overdrives and a compressor, and the guitar on 2 to keep the volume down. That's a problem when you don't understand how it all works.

    Myself... I setup my volume and tones with my guitar full... then during shows I will back off the guitar to get a variety of tones/volume palettes. This provides a certain level of predictability that suits me best ;)
     
  20. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    Exactly. You can bring up the guitar's level to play softly and still be heard or back it off a bit to hit the guitar hard. If you're playing a dirty amp or using an OD, you can add controlling the gain to the list of positives. I joke around about setting my stuff "loud, dirty, and bright" but it's not far from the truth.
     
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