Listener fatigue or amp sounds too harsh??

billgwx

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Posts
362
Age
59
Location
Centereach NY
Been working on retooling my performance sounds using a Hughes & Kettner Grandmeister Deluxe 40 amp and its combo of clean, crunch, and lead channels (skipping its ultra channel which is way too metal haha) to get appropriate levels of overdrive/distortion for the songs we play: clean, clean with a touch of breakup, crunchy, & filthy. The amp has a master volume control, also separate volume & gain controls. It also has presence & resonance, which affect the high and low end respectively much more than its high, midrange, and bass controls, which are apparently more for fine-tuning, and a boost button. Am aiming for the fullest sound I can get without being harsh, ice-picky or muddy. Am starting off by going for as high a volume as I can for the level of gain I want, akin to what I would do with a Fender Blues Jr., and dialing back the resonance with the grittier sounds to avoid the mud. And yes I realize these are "bedroom" sounds and will need later adjustment in the full band mix.

Anyway, things sounded great when I initially dialed in what I wanted, then as I kept practicing as I did for the better part of the day yesterday, I couldn't stand to hear anything but the clean sound and had to stop. Did I just experience what's known as "listener fatigue," or am I realizing things were too harsh all along, and should dial back the gain more than I thought? Part of the trouble comes from attempting to simulate multi-tracked guitar parts that are mostly clean or slightly overdriven, that when brought together deliver that huge sound we all hear on records by bands such as Green Day to name the first that came to mind. Hard enough doing this with a brighter, thinner Tele compared to a Les Paul! The tone and pickup controls on the guitar are definitely my friends here. Advice welcome.
 

Jakedog

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2003
Posts
22,786
Location
The North Coast
I don’t have experience with that particular amp.

I do have experience trying to cop other people’s recorded tones, which is why I never do it. I just don’t. It always ends in disappointment and frustration. Especially that moment when you’re all “Yes! I’ve finally nailed this sound!”. Only to put the record on and find out your brain fooled you and you’re actually not even close. These days the only sounds I try to get are my sounds.

FWIW- generally speaking I much prefer pedals to amp dirt. There are very few dirt channels I can stand the sound of. They almost always seem harsh to me. I have much better luck with my board. Maybe try an OD and a Distortion? You can stack, and mix and match.

I run a low gain transparent OD, a TS808, a compressor, and a clean boost. I also have a boost on my two main amps. On my Boogie it’s the graphic EQ, which boosts, and adds some nifty tone shaping. So an EQ might be a good option as well.

I like being able to mix and match gain and volume levels to handle any situation, it’s very helpful when trying to cover a lot of ground.
 

jvin248

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 18, 2014
Posts
11,252
Location
Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
... I much prefer pedals to amp dirt. There are very few dirt channels I can stand the sound of. They almost always seem harsh to me. ... I like being able to mix and match gain and volume levels to handle any situation, it’s very helpful when trying to cover a lot of ground.

I came to that same conclusion. Amp dirt is like getting a hard-wired pedal that is too big to fit on the pedal board, and how many performers are putting a mic on their dirty amp that feeds the clean-solid-state-PA anyway? Much better to use pedals and rely on a clean amp that gets the loudness you need.... Like the famously abused yet keep playing Peavey Bandits.

.
 

JL_LI

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 20, 2017
Posts
8,845
Age
72
Location
Long Island, NY
It could be listener fatigue or it could be something you never listened for before. Maybe it’s not the amp. I’ve changed four of my five electrics over to EXL110W nickel wound strings and the change has gotten rid of all the harshness and given even single coils a little warmth without killing the twang. $5.95 is a pretty cheap solution to a problem.
 

SRHmusic

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Oct 19, 2020
Posts
1,712
Location
North Carolina, USA
Ear fatigue is real. Say, if you have a decent microphone you could record your sounds and experiments and play them back through the same system to compare. Might give you a different perspective.

Funny, I've come to prefer amps with really good inherent clean and gain sounds. For the past few years I've been gigging with a Blues Cube Artist, and taking advantage of three levels available with ch1 w/boost on for clean to mildly gritty rhythm, ch2 boost off for tight blues rock rhythm, and ch2 boost on for higher gain solos (think classic rock, not metal). I found pedals and clean amps more fiddly and never quite right. I guess there's always more than one way to do it, and that's good. :D

On big advantage of pedals is you might be able to get most of your sound on actange of different amps.
 

billgwx

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Posts
362
Age
59
Location
Centereach NY
Thanks everyone!! I used to run pedal-based overdrive/distortion into a Fender Supersonic amp and was never happy with the results. Even did that with a Marshall at a rehearsal last weekend, thinking it was going to save me setup time over bringing the HK amp, but instead I spent way too much time during trying to tame the massive low end of its clean channel!! Lesson relearned, go with what ya know. :D

Been much happier with the palette of sounds I can get out of the HK's clean, crunch, and lead channels, and don't mind its relatively bright sound as long as the bass guitar picks up all the slack there in performance, but it can get away from me at times with this perceived harshness. In the meantime I lowered the gain on everything a touch, we'll see how that goes next marathon practice session and rehearsal.

On another forum a poster had suggested that the amp tubes and speaker could be behaving differently once warmed up/broken in, which outside of ear fatigue could be enough to produce harshness. In that case, turning the amp off in between sets could be better than going to standby, as could setting up my preferred sounds when things are hot rather than cold. All good stuff to consider...I'll nail this down.
 

HaWE

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Posts
179
Location
Germany, somewhere from the countryside
Maybe indeed ear fatigue is the problem.I made the same experience some weeks ago.I tried to get a certain sound out of my Hotrod Deluxe for days.After trying out different settings,different pedals, different guitars over and over again it started to become a kind of (ear-) pain.
 

Les H

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 2, 2018
Posts
868
Location
Kansas
Ear fatigue usually happens to me when trying to dial in Fender blackface amps. Sometimes it takes an hour or more before I finally get a sound I like. I'll use that sound for the rest of the day but the next day after my ears recover I'll go in and turn on my amp and it sounds like murder, usually in the high end and the process starts all over again.
 

HaWE

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Posts
179
Location
Germany, somewhere from the countryside
Ear fatigue usually happens to me when trying to dial in Fender blackface amps. Sometimes it takes an hour or more before I finally get a sound I like. I'll use that sound for the rest of the day but the next day after my ears recover I'll go in and turn on my amp and it sounds like murder, usually in the high end and the process starts all over again.
Hi, same with my amps - one day I seem to have found the right sound and the other day everything sounds not right to my ears.Then sometimes the best solution for me is to leave all the music,amps and guitars alone and do something complete different.What always works best for me is to go outside into the garden and into nature ...
 

Fiesta Red

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 15, 2010
Posts
8,868
Location
Texas
I don’t have experience with that particular amp.

I do have experience trying to cop other people’s recorded tones, which is why I never do it. I just don’t. It always ends in disappointment and frustration. Especially that moment when you’re all “Yes! I’ve finally nailed this sound!”. Only to put the record on and find out your brain fooled you and you’re actually not even close. These days the only sounds I try to get are my sounds.

FWIW- generally speaking I much prefer pedals to amp dirt. There are very few dirt channels I can stand the sound of. They almost always seem harsh to me. I have much better luck with my board. Maybe try an OD and a Distortion? You can stack, and mix and match.

I run a low gain transparent OD, a TS808, a compressor, and a clean boost. I also have a boost on my two main amps. On my Boogie it’s the graphic EQ, which boosts, and adds some nifty tone shaping. So an EQ might be a good option as well.

I like being able to mix and match gain and volume levels to handle any situation, it’s very helpful when trying to cover a lot of ground.
👆 what he said.

Also, listener fatigue happens quicker with a high-gain amp. Low(er) gain distortion/overdrive sounds more organic and less strident (to my ear).
 

gwjensen

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Apr 26, 2011
Posts
3,632
Location
District of Chicanery
Last night I loved the tones I was getting from amp A. Tonight, who knows... I might switch over to an amp B that I haven't played for awhile and fall back in love with it, but then it'll start to suck after awhile, so I'll go back to amp A, which of course will sound great all over again...
 

telemnemonics

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2010
Posts
33,460
Age
62
Location
Maine
I find it helpful to record and listen to playback for a closer examination of what i dialed in when playing.
For certain i usually find less gain helps.
Alone i may add gain to keep the wall of sound filling in the space that other parts are supposed to occupy.
That alone is an easily identified easily fixed problem and one that leads to ear fatigue.
 
Last edited:

Wally

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
41,748
Location
Lubbock, TX
I used to let my Marshall warm up for 30 minutes before I'd play it. When was the last time you changed tubes?

What a waste when 30 seconds is enough. Tubes don’t get to an ‘ideal heat’. They’re either warm, or they aren’t.

pin a fixed biased output, the tubes when at idle draw less current than when they are processing signal. Therefore, an idling fixed biased amp will not gain heat in the power tubes. However, when processing signal, the power tubes will draw more current and therefore have more heat to dissipate….they will get hotter. How much hotter? I have never done the experiment. If one had a heat sensors, it would be of interest perhaps to measure at idle at say 1 minute after bringing it on line, 5 minutes..thirty minutes. Then play for maybe 5 or 10 minutes and shoot another measurement.
A cathode biased amp is more current at idle than when processing signal...as I understand it. All of the preamp and phase inverter stages in our amps are cathode biased….except for those amps with grid leak biased tubes which is rare in a modern amp.
Then there is the accumulation of heat in the chassis and components over time. I have not doubt that heat has an effect on the sonics. How to break it down tomspecifics is beyond me. I turn them on and play.
 

printer2

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 24, 2010
Posts
8,418
Location
Canada
Ear Fatigue - The older you get, the worse it gets.
YEP!!!
Damn kids and their racket!


Not really a player, just play with amps. But I find I like cleaner sounding guitar now (but I think there are lot of places for distortion). That has me thinking of a compressor. The real offending part of the guitar is the attack, once that is brought down a little the sound sounds fuller. Also can run a little more distortion without getting fatigued. At least that is the theory until I get a compressor built.
 

11 Gauge

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 21, 2003
Posts
12,703
Location
Near BWI Int'l
It might be a bit of a reach in this particular situation, but I've experienced ear fatigue more with some specific speakers and cabs.

I see the amp being used in this instance is a head. What speakers/cabs are being used?
 




Top