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View Full Version : Middle tone control - Necessary?


Aslan
12-26-2007, 08:19 AM
I've found that over the years I've gravatated to amps with a mid-range tone control (Orange, Fender Twin Reverb, Top Hat etc.) I really have come to the point where the middle control is the most important in my sound. Have any of you found that having control over the midrange is all that important? It seems to be most important when playing my Les Paul's and other guitars with humbuckers. I'd love to hear what you think!

scottlaned
12-26-2007, 09:05 AM
Absolutely imperative for me. I usually run my eq Treble Bass Mid around \ | / so juicing the mids just over 12 o'clock is important to me. Recently, however, on my Allen, the raw control is the mid control, and turning it up to 12 o'clock is like 2-3 o'clock on other amps. Word is that running my raw control on 8-9 o'clock is akin to the no mid setting on deluxe reverbs, which I absolutely could not handle.

Benlevy
12-26-2007, 03:12 PM
I used an amp briefly that had no mid control on one channel, and did on the other. I couldn't dial in the channel without it. Agree with you, must have the mid control...

theinteriorleag
12-26-2007, 03:37 PM
I'm with you...but I've gone further. I'm looking everywhere for graphic eq in an amp...three bands isn't enough anymore.

John Phillips
12-26-2007, 04:24 PM
There is no 'no mid' setting on a Deluxe Reverb.

The amp has no mid control, but it absolutely does have mid. The mid is in fact preset internally using a fixed resistor, and it's high - roughly at where 8 is on an amp with the mid pot.

All the AB763 amps are essentially the same circuit, and the fixed resistor on the 'no mid' amps is 6.8K ohms; on the amps with mid controls, the pot is 10K Log, which doesn't reach 6.8K even at "6.8", but actually somewhat higher.

The AB763 circuit has a deep mid cut, but not because any particular model has no mid knob. The ones with mid knobs are capable of far less mid in relation to their bass and treble. (FWIW, the big mid cut was probably voiced by Fender to try to give the most 'hi-fi' tone overall, since that was what was generally the goal with amps back then, and the speakers have an enormous mid peak with virtually no real bass or treble response, which needs to be compensated for.)


Yes, I much prefer having a mid control, especially on dirty sounds. If there isn't one it's just about possible to simulate it by turning the volume in the direction you want the mid to go and the bass and treble in the opposite direction, but not exactly.

Aslan
12-26-2007, 06:52 PM
Thanks John, I never knew that the Deluxe Reverb had a fixed mid-range setting. Has anyone every built a AB763 circuit board and experimented with different values on the tone controls to see what happens?

guitarman_nebr
12-26-2007, 06:57 PM
the Vox AC30 doesn't have a mid control either. thing is, the changes in tone are pretty wild by turning the bass and treble knobs.

the AC30 has a preset mid and it is prominent.

i really dig a mid control. i find it is the first knob i turn on every amp.

musicman1
12-26-2007, 07:41 PM
Its much more important for dirty tones than clean.

Unburst
12-26-2007, 08:08 PM
I've never missed it on the amps I had that didn't have one.

In fact, as a rule, the less eq the better.

John Phillips
12-27-2007, 05:43 AM
the Vox AC30 doesn't have a mid control either. thing is, the changes in tone are pretty wild by turning the bass and treble knobs.

the AC30 has a preset mid and it is prominent.
Actually that isn't true either! :) It's the other way round... but more complicated ;),

The AC30 does have a mid control - it's part of the bass control, and works backwards, so when you turn the bass up full it zeros the mids. It also has a limiting resistor to prevent the mid going too high when the bass is turned down. The range is not linear - the mid reaches full up fairly quickly as the bass comes down from full, because the fixed resistor is a much smaller value than the pot, so the control has a more complex travel than simply 'mid to bass'.

And like all conventional TMB tone stacks, the response of the treble control is affected by the bass setting too, since it changes the resistance between the treble pot and ground. That's why the AC30's controls appear so interactive - because electrically, they really are :).

Aslan
12-27-2007, 05:56 AM
John,
On my Gibson GA-15RV it has a single tone control but the manual states that is a "double pot" and also controls mid-range? How is this possible? I love the amp and it is capable of getting a lot of different tones with just a volume, tone, & reverb knob.

StompBoxBlues
12-27-2007, 06:04 AM
Unless I am totally wrong here, I always have with amps, pedals, etc. assumed that even if only treble and bass controls were present, one can turn them down and relative the mids, be boosting the mids, effectively.

I mean, if bass and treble are both set at noon, bringing them both back to 10:00 and adjusting overall volume, would be somewhat the same as if you had a mid and moved it up to 2:00?

jimijazz
12-27-2007, 06:11 AM
On my Hayseed 15, the normal channel has no eq (unless you count the cut knob) and I love it. If I need a bit more sparkle I switch to the bridge pickup, if I need more bass I go to the neck pickup.

teleamp
12-27-2007, 06:16 AM
I've never missed it on the amps I had that didn't have one.

In fact, as a rule, the less eq the better.


My thoughts too.

MikeY

John Phillips
12-27-2007, 06:23 AM
John,
On my Gibson GA-15RV it has a single tone control but the manual states that is a "double pot" and also controls mid-range? How is this possible? I love the amp and it is capable of getting a lot of different tones with just a volume, tone, & reverb knob.By having a dual pot (literally two pots mounted on the same shaft) it's possible to adjust two separate things at the same time. The GA15 actually has a conventional TMB tone stack with a fixed bass value, and the two halves of the pot are simply used as treble and mid controls, working in opposite directions. Not as clever as the AC30's single pot, but less interactive and touchy too.

LaXu
12-27-2007, 06:46 AM
I'd like to see more complex mid controls on amps. I've seen a few with separate controls for low and high mids but it would be cool to have parametric mid controls like many bass amps have. Alas, few manufacturers are this forward thinking which is really no surprise considering how conservative guitarists generally are when it comes to gear.

SgtThump
12-27-2007, 06:48 AM
Depends on the voicing of the amp.

Guinness Lad
12-27-2007, 09:01 AM
I think the midrange control has the most potential to drastically alter the sonic eq of the amp. Without a midrange control it can be tough to really dial in tones when switching from drastically different guitars.

malabarmusic
12-27-2007, 09:08 AM
Vintage Orange amps don't use the "FMV" tone stack. While there's no mid control, the Baxandall circuit actually provides tremendous flexibility. For the tech-minded, here's an interesting link:

http://www.geocities.com/diytech_ct/orangetonestack.html

IMO the Orange amps that incorporate a mid control are worse off for it.

The THD Flexi is another amp with a non-standard tone stack arrangement.

In general, if the amp uses an FMV stack then I'd rather have a mid control than not.

- DB

KBN
12-27-2007, 09:14 AM
I like having the mid control. It helps me sound consistent in different rooms.

MaxBoogie
12-27-2007, 09:16 AM
I recently had Ben Fargen modify my old Vibrolux reverb amp and one of the things he did was to put a Mid control in the Normal circuit. No holes were drilled... instead I sacrificed input #2. It's definitely a very cool and worthwhile addition to the amp. Of couse that's not the ONLY thing he did for me ;) and the amp is sounding just KILLER now!

Definitely kudos to Ben for a job well done at an extremely reasonable price too! :AOK

bosstone
12-27-2007, 09:22 AM
Amps with a Baxandall type of circuit, like Ampegs from the 60s, do not have a lot of control of the mids by blending the bass and treble.

cameron
12-27-2007, 09:44 AM
The AC30 does have a mid control - it's part of the bass control, and works backwards, so when you turn the bass up full it zeros the mids. It also has a limiting resistor to prevent the mid going too high when the bass is turned down. The range is not linear - the mid reaches full up fairly quickly as the bass comes down from full, because the fixed resistor is a much smaller value than the pot, so the control has a more complex travel than simply 'mid to bass'.

And like all conventional TMB tone stacks, the response of the treble control is affected by the bass setting too, since it changes the resistance between the treble pot and ground. That's why the AC30's controls appear so interactive - because electrically, they really are :).

Here's a classic article on the evolution of the Vox tone stack: http://www.geocities.com/vintage325/topboost.html . The quirky design is the result of Dick Denney copying the circuit from the published schematic for the Gibson GA-70 and GA-77 amps. He obviously copied the schematic rather than the actual amps, because there was an error on the schematic which you wouldn't have found on an actual amp (unless some tech had "corrected" it based on the schematic).

The whole thing is a classic drama of how one man's bug is another man's feature.

I for one, generally like the Vox sound, but hate the Vox tone stack. But people who have been using those amps for years know where the sweet spots that they like are, and have basically learned to live with the weird interactivity of the controls. Since I've never played day in and day out with a Vox, I find the controls very frustrating.

z3
12-27-2007, 10:14 AM
i have amps w/ no tone controls whatsoever and they are great amps.
is a mid 'tone' control necessary. probably not. if an amp has one, i'll use it. if it doesn't, i don't worry about it.

Fifthstone
12-27-2007, 10:39 AM
Most of my amps have mid control and some have presence as well. I would think a good overdrive pedal with EQ and prominent mid's like a Fulltone Fulldrive would compensate.

topbrent
12-27-2007, 02:15 PM
Necessity of mid pot.... depends on the amp.

I find that most folks instantly go for the scooped sound when they are trying an amp out. Before the tubes are warm the mid pot is first dialed to 0-3, treble and bass are dialed to 8-10. Uggghhhh.....

It saddens me, and makes me realize that so many people have no idea what a good amp sounds like, or can potentially sound like...because they demand scooped mids. Having that mid-range pot is akin to a warm wooby blanket for a toddler. It sure isn't a deal breaker for me.

I will contend that most people don't actually use their midrange pot, because it is usually turned down to 0-3 and cannot help tone in any possible way.

The greatest thing about non-mid control fender type amps is that players can't further scoop an already scooped amp.:BOUNCE Way to go, Leo!

SnidelyWhiplash
12-27-2007, 02:38 PM
My thoughts too.

MikeY

Amen! The problem with modern amps is that they have too many
damn knobs!

John Phillips
12-27-2007, 02:59 PM
I find that most folks instantly go for the scooped sound when they are trying an amp out. Before the tubes are warm the mid pot is first dialed to 0-3, treble and bass are dialed to 8-10. Uggghhhh.....

It saddens me, and makes me realize that so many people have no idea what a good amp sounds like, or can potentially sound like...because they demand scooped mids.

I will contend that most people don't actually use their midrange pot, because it is usually turned down to 0-3 and cannot help tone in any possible way.I completely disagree, and I am one of those people you're complaining about. (Actually, usually the first thing I do is dime the bass rather than scoop the mid, but usually the mid gets set below halfway too. And definitely don't turn the treble right up.)

I don't set it like that out of ignorance, or because I 'demand scooped mids', I do it because that's what gives the best sound, with most amps.

Not all, and I certainly don't set it in a way that looks good and sounds bad - if it doesn't sound right like that I'll of course adjust it, and often end up with the mids above halfway too.

But this idea that 'the guitar is a midrange instrument and so you should turn your mids up for the best tone' is totally backwards. A guitar amp is an extremely midrangy system already, usually - because the speakers are. If you want to give it a fuller, deeper and clearer tone you do usually need to take some mids out. That is exactly why Fender designed their amps with such a big mid scoop. (FWIW, I usually set the ones with mid controls with it at least at 5, or higher.)

I can usually get decent tones out of most amps, even quite small crappy ones, provided they can be deepened a bit by boosting bass and cutting mid, which is impossible with a single-tone-knob amp, and difficult to get quite right even with treble and bass, often.

You absolutely do not need to turn the mids up to 'cut through' a mix either - if cutting through, rather than fitting into, the mix is what you need to do to be heard, your amp is probably underpowered. With a good even tone and enough power to deliver it, you can be heard properly at any volume.

And yes, I really do turn the bass up full and run the mids at about 9 o'clock on my Mesas, too ;). They just sound best like that... and work perfectly in a mix without needing to be too loud.

topbrent
12-27-2007, 06:41 PM
Mesa specs a 25k pot for the mids on the blue angel, and I suspect as much on most of their other models. When you run your mids on 3 with the 25k pot, you are in practice, running your mids close to the stock 6.8/10k fixed resistor spec of a typical blackface amp. For years, the common mod(known as the Nashville mod) to deluxe reverb amps and vibrolux's was to either add a mid pot, or install a larger resistor(often a 25k).

I am not trying to be argumentative, but perhaps mesa and other designers have used larger mid pot levels to fool users who tend to compulsively set the controls to the scoop. This lets lets users scoop away, but with a larger value mid pot(25-50k,) the floor is higher at the same setting.

This is what the Allen raw knob does. He specs a 250k pot there, so the action is very dramatic.

Think of every bass player you have ever hated in your band. The Flea addict, the slapper when no slap is necessary.... Usually their rigs are huge, and there is absolutely NO mids dialed in on the 10 band eq. They are loud as hell, but there is no substance to the sound. Same goes for the chug guitar crowd. 2 4x12 cabs and no real sound. It got lost somewhere in the mid knob.

I like having a mid knob, don't get me wrong. Most people just fail to use it properly.
I completely disagree, and I am one of those people you're complaining about. (Actually, usually the first thing I do is dime the bass rather than scoop the mid, but usually the mid gets set below halfway too. And definitely don't turn the treble right up.)

I don't set it like that out of ignorance, or because I 'demand scooped mids', I do it because that's what gives the best sound, with most amps.

Not all, and I certainly don't set it in a way that looks good and sounds bad - if it doesn't sound right like that I'll of course adjust it, and often end up with the mids above halfway too.

But this idea that 'the guitar is a midrange instrument and so you should turn your mids up for the best tone' is totally backwards. A guitar amp is an extremely midrangy system already, usually - because the speakers are. If you want to give it a fuller, deeper and clearer tone you do usually need to take some mids out. That is exactly why Fender designed their amps with such a big mid scoop. (FWIW, I usually set the ones with mid controls with it at least at 5, or higher.)

I can usually get decent tones out of most amps, even quite small crappy ones, provided they can be deepened a bit by boosting bass and cutting mid, which is impossible with a single-tone-knob amp, and difficult to get quite right even with treble and bass, often.

You absolutely do not need to turn the mids up to 'cut through' a mix either - if cutting through, rather than fitting into, the mix is what you need to do to be heard, your amp is probably underpowered. With a good even tone and enough power to deliver it, you can be heard properly at any volume.

And yes, I really do turn the bass up full and run the mids at about 9 o'clock on my Mesas, too ;). They just sound best like that... and work perfectly in a mix without needing to be too loud.

tele_jas
12-27-2007, 07:53 PM
A what control?

http://img264.imageshack.us/img264/5001/tonecontrolsuk5.jpg

theinteriorleag
12-27-2007, 08:11 PM
That Maz is probably great...if it gives up what you need. I'd love that simple of a setup, but the tone I'm after has only come with a lot of eq control.

tele_jas
12-27-2007, 10:44 PM
Awe, I was just giving you some grief..... I can't believe I ended up with an amp that has only 2 knobs (my other amp has a cut control too to make 3 knobs).

I have nothing against other amps, I came from a Mesa Boogie Road King II...... So I basically went to 50+ knobs and switches to this set up, and it's the tone I've been looking for - for almost 15 years now. That single tone control is more responsive than most other amps I've ever had put together.

Juat wanted to add some humor to the thread;)

z3
12-28-2007, 12:51 AM
You're a member of TGP, which means you worry about it, trust me on this.

:rotflmao

StompBoxBlues
12-28-2007, 03:01 AM
Isn't it true that on the most common three knob tone stacks, the bass usually is the deciding setting for how much the mid and treble will affect the signal? It seems to me this was how that type tone stack worked, that the bass gets the whole signal to work with, the treble I think next, and then mid? SO if bass is cranked, you get more bass but more signal through the others as well?

On my Prosonic and a few others I think, the tone controls all CCW gives no signal. They are really active in their control, but the lions share I have have stacks..

After 35+ years, I'm still learning to dial in amps. I have done similar to what John mentions, but leaning towards the wimpy....I don't dime the bass (on my HR DeVille...that would be...nasty) but I have been working it up there the last few years.

In fact, I often start extreme and work my way back on amps I haven't played for a while or new. (what I do is of no consequence as I don't think I am that good at it, just mentioning for getting tips or response as to how I better could do it) using one or the other method;

1) sometimes I turn all the knobs CCW, then start plinging on the open E, and raise the bass til it sounds...right. Actually til it starts to flab out or get to non-musical then back it up a little. Then take treble and do the same, then finally mid. OR

2) DIME everything, start working backwards, usually mid first, then treble then bass.

3) of course...this is now my least favorite (because it tends to always get me in the same sonic spot, not necessarily the best) everything at 12 o'clock, try to listen and guess which way to go with everything.

Was thinking, given a target "sound in my head" (or trying to match a recorded guitar say...) I ought to try all three ways and record where the knobs end up...see if there is a trend using one or the other.

I know on the most common tone stacks, the bass setting affects how much affect the mid and treble will have, what they have to work with. Higher the bass setting, the more the other two will affect sound?

Also, some amps need weird start settings even. I read a SLO owner mentioning the bass has to be around 2 on them, when cranked I think, etc. Also Fender Hot Rod amps...to me always sound like the bass needs to have "< 0" settings...

John Phillips
12-28-2007, 03:59 AM
Mesa specs a 25k pot for the mids on the blue angel, and I suspect as much on most of their other models. When you run your mids on 3 with the 25k pot, you are in practice, running your mids close to the stock 6.8/10k fixed resistor spec of a typical blackface amp. For years, the common mod(known as the Nashville mod) to deluxe reverb amps and vibrolux's was to either add a mid pot, or install a larger resistor(often a 25k).

I am not trying to be argumentative, but perhaps mesa and other designers have used larger mid pot levels to fool users who tend to compulsively set the controls to the scoop. This lets lets users scoop away, but with a larger value mid pot(25-50k,) the floor is higher at the same setting.

This is what the Allen raw knob does. He specs a 250k pot there, so the action is very dramatic.

Think of every bass player you have ever hated in your band. The Flea addict, the slapper when no slap is necessary.... Usually their rigs are huge, and there is absolutely NO mids dialed in on the 10 band eq. They are loud as hell, but there is no substance to the sound. Same goes for the chug guitar crowd. 2 4x12 cabs and no real sound. It got lost somewhere in the mid knob.

I like having a mid knob, don't get me wrong. Most people just fail to use it properly.I completely agree... :)

Because they set it with their eyes, not their ears. That applies just as much to the 'turn up the mids' crowd as it does to the scoopers.

I actually like that massive, resonant 'chug' rhythm tone. It's fantastic for adding power without dominating the vocals or raising the overall volume too high, and then you can have your super-scooped thunderous bass tone under it as well (I'll give you one guess how I set my bass EQ when I'm playing bass :p - although I don't take the mids out completely, and I almost never slap).

But to be fair, I tend to pick gear which has a natural thickness in the mids, so you're right, turning it down is less 'scooped' than it is on gear that starts out thinner or flatter - it's actually a myth that the Mesa Dual Rectifier is scooped - it isn't, at all... it's extremely dark and chunky, which is why you have to set them 10/0/10 to get that typical 'Recto' sound.

I also know about the Mesa mid pots being much larger values than normal, but in fact I quite often run them at zero as well ;).

What I really hate is the sound of a BF/SF Fender with the mids cut (and the bass down too) - the so-called 'magic six' setting :rolleyes: - horrible, thin and harsh. And I'm not keen on the 'all mids' tone either - typically a small amp turned up full, which seems so beloved of many people round here. To me it sounds boxy and mushy.

I find that you can make an amp sound a lot bigger than it really is by deliberately turning the bass right up (which I also notice that very few people here do) - it makes the sound seem looser and less damped, which helps to give the impression of more headroom... until the amp actually runs out of it, anyway :). So I tend to do this first, then cut the mids, usually to somewhere under half, then the treble control around halfway - just from experience with how most amps are voiced. But I always do it by listening from then on, and I certainly don't always use the same settings... it just depends on what I want it to sound like.

Here's a good one for the Blue Angel - volume, treble and mid full up, bass and reverb off, EL84s :D.

StompBoxBlues
12-28-2007, 04:18 AM
I completely agree... :)

Because they set it with their eyes, not their ears.

This is possibly the biggest point right here. Eyes and expectations deceive you. Closing the eyes and listening is "what is".

I know this, but every now and then get it hammered home to me. Last night was working with a bandmate on some tracks we recorded, and more than once I noticed him and me, making a small tweak, adjusting tone on a track...and hearing it change, only to discover it was the WRONG track :o. I would have sworn it made the difference. He had adjusted EQ also while looking at the pretty EQ curve...when we started dragging the EQ point around while closing eyes or looking down, a DEFINITE place where is just suddenly clicks in and sounds fantastic.

I have done this with amps too...adjust the lead channel while on the clean, and "hear" it change.

Some days I can't dial anything in it feels like, other days I can't get a bad sound on the same amp. Lot has to do with how you are that day too.

Squigglefunk
12-28-2007, 05:42 AM
mid nob not nec

doveman
12-28-2007, 06:05 AM
John ... this is very interesting. Some amps that you see have volume and tone ... two knobs ... some really nice ones. Are they just TMB tweaked out with resistors and interraltionships to the tone knob?

The reason I ask. I have a Boogie Mk1 that I literally don't touch the tone knobs ... maybe the presence (between 2-4). Other than that ... just volume tweaks on the 1/2 click adjustments on preamp V1/V2 and master volume for the room. Thinking about it ... if someone was building this amp and knew the values ... it could have no tone knobs. Is this what some of those designs are ... just preset in a good place?

Improviser
12-29-2007, 02:26 AM
For years, the common mod(known as the Nashville mod) to deluxe reverb amps and vibrolux's was to either add a mid pot, or install a larger resistor(often a 25k).



I've added a mid-range pot in the extra speaker jack (totally reversible) in both '65 Princeton Reverb and '65 Vibrolux Reverb amps...makes them so much more versatile in different sonic environments for dialling in the necessary tones.

John Phillips
12-29-2007, 03:08 AM
John ... this is very interesting. Some amps that you see have volume and tone ... two knobs ... some really nice ones. Are they just TMB tweaked out with resistors and interraltionships to the tone knob?No, usually not. Normally they are much simpler circuits with a tone control that goes from a singe-capacitor treble roll-off (exactly like a guitar tone control) at the 'bass' end, to a bright cap across the volume control at the 'treble' end. This works well and gives a very wide range of voicings (especially if the volume control isn't full up), but the one main thing it can't do is take mids out.

The reason I ask. I have a Boogie Mk1 that I literally don't touch the tone knobs ... maybe the presence (between 2-4). Other than that ... just volume tweaks on the 1/2 click adjustments on preamp V1/V2 and master volume for the room. Thinking about it ... if someone was building this amp and knew the values ... it could have no tone knobs. Is this what some of those designs are ... just preset in a good place?Some amps do this as well, yes.

The Mesa Dual Caliber series has exactly that on the dirty channel - two complete three-band tone stacks, one before the tubes that distort, and one afterwards. The one before is done with fixed resistors inside and isn't accessible, and the one afterwards is the tone knobs. Your MkI has the tone stack in the before position as well, so it wouldn't surprise me if Mesa did exactly the same thinking as you when they designed the DC... :)

StompBoxBlues
12-29-2007, 05:28 AM
I've added a mid-range pot in the extra speaker jack (totally reversible) in both '65 Princeton Reverb and '65 Vibrolux Reverb amps...makes them so much more versatile in different sonic environments for dialling in the necessary tones.

Could you go into detail on this? Do you mean a midrange pot on the output to speaker, or just that you are using the external speaker hole to mount a midrange knob?