PDA

View Full Version : Low mids vs High mids


CharlyG
07-09-2011, 07:45 PM
In snooping around amp and pedal threads, forums, and sites, it seems there are two major tone camps. Those of us that like a little low mid bump, and gravitate toward Bogner, Klon,etc. Then there is the camp that likes the higher mid bump, Marshall, Soldano, Kalamazoo(not sure) etc. I am too much of a noob to the intricacies of all this(learning fast tho).

Is there a flat mid camp in amps and pedals?

and I am still fine tuning my ear. There is also the camp that likes bloom (Carol Ann),which may be a separate topic....

Anyways, let's toss this around for a bit.........I have enough basic electronic knowledge, I am now just trying to focus it on audio circuitry.

shane88
07-10-2011, 03:21 AM
wow this is news to me and now i have something else to worry about in my endless tone quest :|

chervokas
07-10-2011, 06:42 AM
In snooping around amp and pedal threads, forums, and sites, it seems there are two major tone camps. Those of us that like a little low mid bump, and gravitate toward Bogner, Klon,etc. Then there is the camp that likes the higher mid bump, Marshall, Soldano, Kalamazoo(not sure) etc. I am too much of a noob to the intricacies of all this(learning fast tho).

Is there a flat mid camp in amps and pedals?

and I am still fine tuning my ear. There is also the camp that likes bloom (Carol Ann),which may be a separate topic....

Anyways, let's toss this around for a bit.........I have enough basic electronic knowledge, I am now just trying to focus it on audio circuitry.


I'm not quite sure what you're asking. But here are some things to keep in mind: Guitarists tend not to like or to want to use undistorted, flat frequency response, extend frequency response sound reproduction systems that one would use for a hifi application or even for, say, a keyboard amp rig. We're typically looking for a characteristic sound where some degree of distortion, even when we're playing "clean," is fundamental.

The electric guitar itself is a weirdly peaky instrument will only a moderate fundamental range of 3.5 octaves -- it's pretty much all midrange with fundamental frequencies from around 80 hz to around 1.75khz in standard tuning. While acoustically the instrument can produce high harmonics up to a fairly high frequency, the nature of the RLC circuit of the pickups/pots/cable means at the electrical output the high frequencies roll off steeply about 5 khz. So the guitar is not the kind of full range instrument that, say, a grand piano or organ is. The RLC circuit also produces a substantial peak in the 2-4khz range. If you flattened that out entirely the guitar would sound very warm -- maybe a sound a bit more like what jazz cats tend to look for. (FWIW, if you look at the frequency response plots of typical guitar speakers they are also peaky in the range of the guitar's high harmonics with a steep roll off above 5 khz.)

You also should know that the nature of that peak changes from system to system...if you're using higher or lower capacitance cable, you're tuning the resonant frequency lower or higher, changing tone. If you're using an amp with a 500K ohm input impedance the peak will be flatter vs. what it would be with a 1 M ohm input impedance.

With OD pedals and other devices designed to drive a guitar amp into distortion, goosing the guitar's midrange is often a way to force the amp and speaker(s) into distortion, which is why OD pedals tend to have a mid-hump. The problem with an OD pedal that just boosts across all frequencies is that a bass boost tends to over extend guitar speaker making more a flubby, swampy, farty sound, and clipping very quickly. Meanwhile the upper harmonics generated by clipping ODs can be really harsh. So most ODs you'll see have some degree of tone shaping circuitry that reduces bass at the OD's input -- before it's gain and clipping -- and reduces treble at the ODs output -- after it's gain and clipping.

Precisely what center frequencies one OD or another might use for that tone shaping is the major difference between one OD or another (that, and whether or not the OD has clipping diodes in the feedback loop of the gain providing op-amp or diodes after gain). And one guitarist might prefer one, another guitarist might prefer another based on their personal preferences and system matching. Someone playing single coils into a Fender BF amp --with its own tone shaping circuity of scooped mids in an effort to extend the amp's headroom and clarity -- might love an overdrive with an aggressive midboost centered aournd 600 or 700 hz or something even lower maybe. A guy playing overwound humbuckers into a Vox AC30 might hate that because his tone would turn to mud.

I think there's way more than two tone camps. Every guitarist had individual taste and every rig is different. That said there are many similarities between rigs too and we often tend to be chasing similar classic tones so there are similarities too.

wideawake
07-10-2011, 06:47 AM
the Barber LTD SR i believe is supposed to be flat in the mids. So it doesn't boost the mids like a tube screamer would. you would have to experiment with your amp to find which would work for what you want to do. of course there are countless other pedals to try as well. let the fun begin!

StompBoxBlues
07-10-2011, 06:56 AM
Personally, I think you can (and probably should) divide up that WIDE range of frequencies we all lump together as "mids" into many more categories.

There is a type of mids that are "boxy", sound like a megaphone (if set extreme) or telephone, and generally are not something I like.

There are MANY other "mids", and a pedal like the zendrive, at least how I used to use mine, gave a very nice mid that cut through the mix very nicely, politely, not overbearing. What strikes me about the zendrive are two things actually. First, that I can set up a similar pedal (even supposedly a clone) so it sounds the same to my ears, but the ZD still cuts better, which tells me that it might be a very narrow and subtle mid it is boosting, where I only hear the effect because of cut. And second, that it doesn't sound quite as good home alone, it can even sound a little harsh, but in a mix or even solo at a gig, or rehearsal, it seems to sound smoother.


I'm not sure the Klon is in a different (and opposite) camp as a Soldano, but that may be the case, I'm just not sure. I know they play very well together, which would lead me to believe they aren't opposite (or they would fight each other) but together boost a new set of mids that I find very nice.

CharlyG
07-10-2011, 08:43 AM
Good stuff guys! I lumped em all together until I heard the Klon, and noticed it emphasized a lower freq than the famous Marshall mids. And then there is the OD-820 which doesn't seem to bump mids on its clean boost.

I am finding that in tube amps, it is WAY more about the tone stack and gain than what the tube type is. Very subtle differences on the amps that contain more than one output type.

Oh, and I found the Klon to be subtle(in a good way) but having no bad tones,I'm guessing some folks want more range. Personally, I think it REALLY comes thru as an on all the time clean boost for recording.

evets618
07-10-2011, 11:56 AM
"... So most ODs you'll see have some degree of tone shaping circuitry that reduces bass at the OD's input -- before it's gain and clipping -- and reduces treble at the ODs output -- after it's gain and clipping... "

An important distinction. To a great extent, OD pedals and amp tone stacks don't "boost", they "cut". Takes much less energy.
What makes Fender amps sound different from Marshall amps is their mid-range "notch". Those frequencies are missing, not amplified.
Cutting bass and treble is, to the ear, exactly the same as "boosting" the mids.
It's not a mid-hump. It's a high-and-low-cut.
Stuck wah? That's a mid-hump.

chervokas
07-10-2011, 12:23 PM
"... So most ODs you'll see have some degree of tone shaping circuitry that reduces bass at the OD's input -- before it's gain and clipping -- and reduces treble at the ODs output -- after it's gain and clipping... "

An important distinction. To a great extent, OD pedals and amp tone stacks don't "boost", they "cut". Takes much less energy.
What makes Fender amps sound different from Marshall amps is their mid-range "notch". Those frequencies are missing, not amplified.
Cutting bass and treble is, to the ear, exactly the same as "boosting" the mids.
It's not a mid-hump. It's a high-and-low-cut.
Stuck wah? That's a mid-hump.

Well, but say in a Tube Screamer, the tone shaping circuitry in the op-amp/clipping gain loop means that that as you crank the gain you're cranking those frequencies, so there's a degree of active boost of the mids going on, plus the cap at the input that's passively limiting bass going in and often in a lot of ODs some kind of circuit before the ouput to shave off some of the HF energy. So all three things are going on.

epluribus
07-10-2011, 01:16 PM
For a cool little visual analysis of mids, grab a free download of Duncan Amps' classic Tone Stack Calculator (http://www.duncanamps.com/tsc/). It draws little pictures of the freq response curve, such that you can stick each trace to the graph in different colors and compare Marshall mids to Fender mids, f'rinstance. A pic is worth a zillion words sometimes...besides, it's fun to play with it. :)

--Ray

CharlyG
07-10-2011, 01:43 PM
This is great stuff guys! I really appreciate it!

Cuthbert
07-10-2011, 02:07 PM
Good thread CharlyG,a bit over my head but I appreciate all the experts explaining this stuff.

sabby
07-10-2011, 03:45 PM
Yeah, I've been thinking about this for a while. Here's how it makes sense to me.

I hear Marshall and Voxy chime as lower mid than Fender chime, which is high enough for many to call it "ice pick." Their frequency range is not as broad, hence more mid heavy. Fuzz Faces work great with them because they scoop some mids and give glassiness to their cleans. In Fenders, Fuzz Faces can accentuate the breadth of the highs and lows in a Fender circuit. When Fender guys add mids (TS, Klon, etc.) it generally is a lower mid, often at the expense the broad Fender frequency range. Rangemasters -- at least at the standard boost frequency -- emphasize a higher mid-point and excite the Marshall and Vox EQ just about perfectly. They can be downright piercing against the Fender EQ.

All that said, I like a Fuzz Face + variable-frequency Rangemaster into Fenders, using an EQ pedal to restore (maybe slightly bump) the mids thinned out by the always-on Fuzz Face. I love the Fender clean sound but like the boosts and fuzzes generally preferred with British amps. This is how I got them to work together. To my ears, the end result is just about perfect.

Lucidology
07-10-2011, 03:55 PM
Good subject Charly ... thanks ...!!

Cream
07-10-2011, 04:19 PM
For a cool little visual analysis of mids, grab a free download of Duncan Amps' classic Tone Stack Calculator (http://www.duncanamps.com/tsc/)."Windows 95/98/NT" :eeks

epluribus
07-10-2011, 05:03 PM
What does that mean? Was that the ones with Pong? :)




Works fine in XP anyway, no emulator needed. Pretty slim executable, basically.

mockoman
07-10-2011, 08:23 PM
Remember the Lab amps from the 1970's?

They had a great,2 knob parametric eq for the mids-1 knob chose the freq,and the other knob chose how much boost or cut.

You could really sculpt the tone.

I wish there was a tube amp with that...and an OD pedal too.