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Using volume knob on tele to clean up amp

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by 1955, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. 1955

    1955 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Simple question, but I don't know how to do this right. If you use the vol on the guitar to clean up or dirty up the amp, how do you do that without changing the overall volume? How do you set the amp? Dimed? I haven't learned to use the volume and I keep it wide open. Please explain the proper way to achieve this without changing the overall volume. Thanks!
     
  2. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's a combination of amp and guitar setting. You set the amp up so it is over-driven with the guitar on full volume, but the gain is set so that it goes clean as you roll the volume off.

    My method is to set the amp to maximum required clean volume with the guitar at half way i.e. 5 on a linear pot or ~8.5 on the stock log pot. The actual volume decrease is not great but the input signal voltage level is halved, so the voltage swing of the valve is halved and it does not clip. Yet when the input is raised, the voltage swing of the valve (V1 and subsequent stages) goes to beyond maximum and so clips.

    What is happening is that the maximum input signal is causing the valve to clip but the rolled-off signal lets the valve run clean. It's a gain thing. It works best with valves.

    Some solid-state amps will not do this at all, their gain window is too great, they will run clean, distortion has to be added by other means, they may sound over-driven whatever input level is given to them. A few solid-state amps do emulate a valve input stage.
     
  3. mr.danny

    mr.danny Former Member

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    This has never worked for me, as I can't be satisfied with the clean tone with the amp running hot and the guitar turned down. The best clean tone is produced, for me, with the opposite settings: guit full up, amp low.

    Same for the guys who say they do it all with pick attack - soft = clean, hard = dirty. I don't want to baby the guitar to play clean chords.
     
  4. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm in the same boat. I seem to lose too much of that 'sparkle' by turning my guitar volume down....somtp boxes it is for me (for better or worse)
     
  5. supersam

    supersam Tele-Meister

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    I use this method, but a little differently. I run a Princeton non verb, so I don't really get any natural overdrive. So I use a tube screamer with the gain rolled almost all the way off for a slight drive (more so a boost), but I roll off the guitar volume a bit to clean it up even more. I think the pedal pushes the amp into a little bit of natural overdrive, so rolling off the volume on the tele cleans it up a bit. Also, I feel like the sound is a bit harsh with the tele on full volume, even with the treble low on the amp, it seems a bit sharp, so rolling off the volume rounds out the sound considerably.
     
  6. flat twin

    flat twin TDPRI Member

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    Works for me when playing at stage volume. This method does not work at low volume. At low volume my pickups sound best wide open and do seem to lose a lot of clarity when rolled back, that's normal. For the guitar volume knob have that much impact on the sound the amp has to be turned up. This doesn't mean the amp has to be insanely loud either, just loud enough to where it's in the sweet zone and your lead tone is there when the guitar is on 10. (This is where lower wattage tube amps shine!)
    Backing the guitar volume off to 7.5 or anywhere in between gives me a great rhythm sound. Less bite, less treble, a bit less volume, less sensitivity to attack. Want a little more? Nudge it up a bit or just give it a bit more with the guitar tone knob. Using the guitar volume and the tone knob as tone/bite control is where the best tone colors come from IMHO, especially with single coils. For reference my latest tone getter is a SF Princeton reverb and a strat with Dimarzio Areas.
     
  7. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Even at full-ish volume I can't get it sound quite right for me. :(

    That said I USED to be able to....I still think the pots I put in aren't the best. Hopefully a replacement there will help.
     
  8. mr.danny

    mr.danny Former Member

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    Pickups put out a measly voltage to begin with, so the more you attenuate them the more whatever lies downstream needs to boost. For me it's not a loss in clarity so much as fullness.

    As an audio engineer, I tend to want ideal gain at each stage, particularly that first stage where it's such a paltry & fragile signal.

    It's the same with microphones. People spend thousands on preamplifiers for them because they are providing an exponential boost to puny mic signals to match line level.
    At that level of boost, you can bet the preamp circuit has a major effect on the tone of the mic. You don't want to attenuate a mic (unless it is overloading in front of a very loud source) and then make up the difference at the preamp, if you don't have to.

    It's worth being fussy about hitting the amp with the kind & quantity of signal it needs to see in order to produce your desired tone. I think nowadays a lot of people try to create the whole tone outside the amp, and then just sort of expect the amp to make it loud and to correct all the nastiness which stems from questionably set up pedal rigs with tweed magic.

    I don't mind what makes 'em happy, unless I'm recording 'em.
     
  9. Ronsonic

    Ronsonic Tele-Afflicted

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    You need to have the amp pretty well cranked. Not dimed out distortion, but somewhat overdriven. Don't expect squeeky cleans (ATMO, in a live situation squeeky perfect cleans suck, I want it warmed up a little) and don't expect total "brootalz" distortion (which also doesn't work in a live situation, it just turns to mud).

    There is a point in the amps gain structure where it is compressing and that's where you want it balanced. That's what levels the volume for you between having the guitar on ten or on six.
     
  10. mr.danny

    mr.danny Former Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I wish that worked for me, but as you say yourself, there are compromises at both ends of the gain scale.

    Here's a setup I want to try. Putting a quality volume pedal at the end of a signal chain right before the amp. You set the output level of the last device in the series to where it produces the maximum gain you want the amp to see - ie: driven however hard you like. Then, when you want clean tone, you just roll back the volume pedal, maintaining guitar tone and hitting the amp with the appropriate level.

    For me, I would go with compressor (or clean boost) > vol pedal > amp.

    I have a vol pedal, but it's a tone sucking Morley metal beast I need to get rid of in favor of something good. Ideas?
     
  11. jjmantele

    jjmantele Tele-Holic

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    You wat to also use a guitar where turning down the volume knob does not cause it's output to lose treble or bass. Either can happen depending upon the pickups, the volume pot's value and the bypass cap on it.
     
  12. Monster Mike Welch

    Monster Mike Welch Tele-Meister

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    My Tele seems to take really well to the tone knob, so when it's an issue, I've been rolling off the tone a little when the volume's full up, and bringing the tone knob back up when the volume's rolled off. That way, the cleaner sound has a little more presence, and the dirtier sound is a little fatter and less penetrating.

    Of course, "full up" for me isn't high gain. Cleanup at really high gain is hard to get, unless you're using a Fuzz Face.
     
  13. Dave Hopping

    Dave Hopping Friend of Leo's

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    I've been happy with Ernie Ball volume pedals for six-string and pedal steel.If you aren't using a separate patch for the pedal,then it should be the last thing in the chain before the amp.
     
  14. eugenedunn

    eugenedunn Friend of Leo's

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    My method has been working for me for a long time....and I am a clean freak when it comes to rhythm tone.

    Start with guitar volume about 1/4 to 1/3 down from MAX. Now EQ and set the volume of your amp so it is just clean and spanky....near the edge of when you start to get compressed sustain.

    If you have a master volume amp, I recommend that you crank master all the way maxed and use the preamp volume knob to adjust for overall volume to suit the venue.

    Once that is all set, you have a some great tones available with just a twist of your guitar volume knob. Your amp should be at a good gain level that can be pressed into sustained slight overdrive just by maxing out your guitar volume knob. If you want clean, then just dial back on your guitar.

    If you don't get enough gain when you crank your guitar volume knob, just start the whole process with your guitar volume knob maybe 1/2 way down....then set up your amp tone in the way I suggested. I find I can do a lot with just this setup. If I ever want super sustained Santana like creamy distortion, I kick on my Bixonic Expandora.
     
  15. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    It is a combination of amp and guitar setting, the guitar vol knob won't do it on its own.

    It's not a "clean" clean tone that does it but clean-on-the-verge-of-breaking-up. It's a rather special sound which can be got not only by the volume knob but also by pick attack.
    It's where the output voltage of the guitar is backed-off to almost but not quite starting to over-drive the amp. It's the starting to clip. or the clip a bit more stage, where the amp is cooking. Difficult to explain because some amps do it, some do it better, and some don't do it at all. It all depends how that V1A is biased and how sensitive it is.

    Incidently, the backing-off of the volume to "about " half voltage is in reality less than 2dB in volume, but its enough to go from grit to grind. There should be little loss of presence if the amp is set right, usually cranked up quite high.
     
  16. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    What if you've just got a volume knob?

    ;)
     
  17. 1955

    1955 Doctor of Teleocity

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    These suggestions were very helpful and very much appreciated! Thanks!
     
  18. mr.danny

    mr.danny Former Member

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    I'll buy you a pick :eek:
     
  19. Marshall Thinline

    Marshall Thinline Tele-Holic

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    It takes a combo of the correct amp and guitar to work well. The '57 Fender Deluxe and a Tele are a great combo. The volume will not be much different because distortion is a clipping of the signal. The guitar signal has surpassed the max level and has turned into distortion and and a compressed signal. A clean sound has not hit that point and will be less compressed sounding.

    When watching and listening to this example, notice that the cleans don't sound dark or compressed, but when the guitar volume is turned up and the player hits the strings hard, the amp distorts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GuSu5LBgag

    YouTube - Fender® Frontline Live from Winter NAMM 2007:Shane Nicholas1
     
  20. Marshall Thinline

    Marshall Thinline Tele-Holic

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    what's up with the youtube feature?

     
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