Guitar volume vs amp volume

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

  1. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    The hard part, especially if your band plays a wide variety of stuff, and ESPECIALLY!!! if you sing at all is, getting the quick/abrupt clean to crunch and back transitions done accurately via just the guitar volume knob. Its damn hard. And it's why I prefer pedals live. Between my amp a dual OD and a clean boost, I have 6 different tones/gain levels. And if you use any pedals at all(verb/trem/delay/ANYTHING) you may as well just embrace the fact that you're not plugging straight in.

    That said, i plug straight in WHENEVER I CAN. And i think it makes me a better player. Especially my picking hand. At a minimum, more in tune with my amp and guitar. Theres nothing to hide behind, or cover up your playing. Not sucking plugged straight in is harder than not sucking thru 6 pedals.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  2. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    Just so.
    Larry F likes this.
  3. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    It's actually very predictable if you 1) know your gear and 2) have multiple amps, using the lowest-output one that is appropriate for a specific venue.

    You don't blindly set it up. It's well-calculated based on room size/configuration, crowd size, band. style, "house" volume limitations etc. When I was still gigging (I had to stop due to physical problems) I'd take 2 or 3 amps with different output to every gig unless I knew a venue really well - then 1 primary and a backup (sometimes more depending on style and other reasons).

    But with only rare exceptions, at the same volume level (in SPL) the overall tone is far superior with the amp cranked to the top of headroom and the guitar rolled back vs the reverse.

    I read that long ago but had forgotten about it - thanks for the reminder post.

    I moved to that kind of control setup in 1972 after a lengthy discussion with Clarence White and followup with L.A. amp/pickup guru (and pedal steel genius) Red Rhodes and his "counter guy" - Jeff Baxter. All said the same thing would change my playing forever - and very honestly, they were spot on. I became more "groove"/"hook"/"tone" focused and less concerned with flash or fancy licks.

    It worked for me. Until I had to quit for physical reasons I had folks wanting me for paying live and studio gigs at least 3-5 times a week for about 40 years. And I STILL get calls.

    I don't post sound samples because there's not much - if anything - "gee whiz" - about what I play so I don't HAVE many clips. But I usually played 8 bars of tonally/dynamically rich material that fit the music instead of 8 bars of harsh-sounding "look at me"....stuff.

    What I do isn't all that impressive to the average guitar player. But it's not intended for them (you) - it's intended to work for producers - and audience members.
  4. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    Excellent explanation, thanks for posting it. I especially like your mention of “cranked to the top of headroom” where only more distortion and compression are gained by increasing the input volume. Complaints that one might accidentally “creep up” in volume are obviously unfounded if the amp’s headroom has already been exhausted.

    I’ve been doing that by using multiple amps, rolling back my guitar, and setting my amp on the edge of breakup, and mention it often but didn’t even think about the headroom issue when responding to the OP. It was bugging me that I was leaving something out and that was it, so thanks for mentioning it!
  5. asnarski

    asnarski TDPRI Member

    Feb 27, 2010
    grand rapids
    Great read. I haven’t played live in almost 10 yrs, but used my volume pedal modded with a stereo jack (only one cable) and ran it in my effects loop. No treble bleed needed as signal is preamp level.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    I love when I can work around that arrangement of guitar controlling the amp rather than pedals, but the problem I generally have with that is that it kinda requires mature players working in cooperation to control overall volume.
    I seldom find several players that mature!

    I do try to keep amps of numerous volume ranges to have the right size amp for the required volume range, but I'm just not gifted with a community of tight players.
    I seem to end up with crazies who get more excited and louder.
    Or maybe it's my being hard of hearing and unable to hear myself properly while moving around the amp. I generally need to put my smaller amps on a table or high enough to hear them without drowning out the other players, but it's my weakest area as a player.
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