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  #1  
Old 04-20-2013, 05:46 AM
Tonesmiths Tonesmiths is offline
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How to Quickly Dial In a Tube Amplifier

This may be old hat to some of you pros. But, in my many years of working with and demoing amplifiers I picked up a trick on how to adjust the gain and equalizer structure on a tube amplifier in a way that optimizes touch sensitivity and increases note bloom. I've shared this with so many guys verbally I figured it was time to put it in writing.

So here’s what I do:

1. Turn the amp on with nothing plugged into the input

2. Turn the master volume (if applicable) and input gain all the way up so you can hear the idle noise floor of the amplifier

3. Turn the bass, middle, treble, and cut/presence, reverb (if applicable) knobs all the way down

4. Starting with the bass, slowly turn it up until you hear it ‘kick in’. You will hear a noticeable jump in frequency where you’ll notice an audible fullness. Be careful to place the potentiometer right on that point.

5. Do the same thing with the middle, treble, and cut/presence knobs (in that order).

6. Turn down the input gain and then slowly bring it up until you hear it ‘kick in’ (there will generally be two places on the dial where a drastic increase is heard. Select the first one for edge of break up and the second one for higher gain).

7. Do the same thing with the master volume. I recommend running the master wide open, but that’s not always feasible in a live scenario.

7. Plug in your guitar, strum a chord softly, then hit it hard.

You are going to notice a couple of things that occur by setting every knob on your amplifier right on their threshold. Firstly, the dynamic response will become much more touch sensitive as softer attack stays below the increased gain threshold and more aggressive playing pushes through and beyond it. Then you will notice that single notes tend to bloom more easily and big chords respond with a k-r-r-r ang! Again, this has to do with that threshold response. When the note or chord is first struck the amp compresses, releases the sound above the threshold, and then slowly becomes clearer as it naturally fades out.
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Last edited by Tonesmiths; 04-21-2013 at 01:00 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-20-2013, 06:25 AM
morglan morglan is offline
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Does this work for all tube amps? (Im only asking because I know that the tone stacks and how they are controlled are different between the big makers Fender/Marshall/Vox.)
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:27 AM
Paleolith54 Paleolith54 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonesmiths View Post
This may be old hat to some of you pros. But, in my many years of working with and demoing amplifiers I picked up a trick on how to adjust the gain and equalizer structure on a tube amplifier in a way that optimizes touch sensitivity and increases note bloom. I've shared this with so many guys verbally I figured it was time to put it in writing.

Here's the link for those interested:
http://tonesmiths.wordpress.com/2013...ube-amplifier/

This is only one approach. Please be gracious in your response.
Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:27 AM
Sirloin Sirloin is offline
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:31 AM
phishintrip007 phishintrip007 is offline
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I'm gonna try this and see what happens. Of course, I don't have a master volume, middle, presence, or input gain knobs. I just have volume, treble, and bass. But it will be interesting to see if I can hear when each of these "kick in". And then, I think it's easy enough to tell where it's on the edge of breakup.
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:33 AM
kidmo kidmo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirloin View Post

LOL best response ever in a post!
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:42 AM
Peeb Peeb is offline
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Going to try this!
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  #8  
Old 04-20-2013, 06:43 AM
Average Joe Average Joe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirloin View Post

That works too.

I've read that piece in the op before but never tried it. I'll have to remember to do so cause it sounds interesting. So far my approach have been to turn all tone controls to five and adjust from there
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:46 AM
kimock kimock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morglan View Post
Does this work for all tube amps? (Im only asking because I know that the tone stacks and how they are controlled are different between the big makers Fender/Marshall/Vox.)
Those specific directions wouldn't work with a typical Dumble ODS type thing, mid's gotta be up before the bass control does anything.
Treble first, etc.
Also, as regards the D-type thing, not entirely applicable on the later Two Rock stuff since Bill figured out how to lose the noise.
There's no blow to hear. .

Anyway, the point is you don't have to play through an unfamiliar amp to dial it in. You can just listen to the pot taper and set everything in it's sweet spot first, then trim what you will.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:17 AM
ToneKing ToneKing is offline
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Donny, at first I thought here we go again. But I tried it with my Working Dog and it sounds pretty good. It's early morning with people still sleeping so I couldn't put a lot of volume to it, but I liked what I heard. The tone stack didn't end up even close to where I had it. ptL
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:31 AM
vbf vbf is offline
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Thank you for sharing this, I will give it a try. And I hope responses will be positive as sometimes no good deed goes unpunished around these here parts.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:45 AM
TheoDog TheoDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidmo View Post
LOL best response ever in a post!
I am a fan of this, too. I love the print below the fuse. "1 amp"
But I am a little confuse... 2 instruments??????
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  #13  
Old 04-20-2013, 07:56 AM
alainguitars alainguitars is offline
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Tried it with my vintage vibrolux, no bass kick in?
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:58 AM
GrungeMan GrungeMan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirloin View Post

Hmmm, doesn't seem to work with a 5E3 either!

Grungy
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:11 AM
ToneKing ToneKing is offline
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Although it seems to work somewhat with my amp, I can see where it wouldn't with others. Since different amps have different topologies. I'm thinking like a Z rt66 where the bass and treble controls also add gain to the overall character of the amp.

I have a video clip of Larry Carlton discussing how he sets his amps up in a similar manner. Edge of breakup that is.
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