Anyone else finding themselves using less gain?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by TimH, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. TimH

    TimH Member

    Messages:
    4,878
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    I've been struck in the past month or two at how little gain I find myself using. I've played many amps and many pedals, mostly mid-high gain sounds. Even when I've played fender amps in the past I've used a FDII with max gain and compression.

    Well now I find myself just playing with the slightest amount of gain...setting my Eternity for as low a gain structure as possible is a bizzar practice for me but I find myself doing it. I just don't feel like I need it. Do you all think this is a function of using a smaller amp or am I getting more mature or do you think it's a phase? Anyone else find themselves looking for the best feeling pedals at really low gain levels?
     
  2. Brewmaster

    Brewmaster Member

    Messages:
    189
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Some might say you are maturing musically others would say you are just getting old. :)

    This is common with folks as they grow musically, they experiment with different tonalities. I was never part of the gain = tone club but always felt that gain was part of the tone recipe. Feel is what it's all about.
     
  3. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,423
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ghent, NY
    I run my amps pretty clean - volume at 10 gain at 5, or 6. I like clean headroom since my amps are single end and don't have a dirty channel per se. Pedal board takes care of that when I need it.
     
  4. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Senior Member

    Messages:
    947
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia, USA.
    Agree with Brewmaster. I play everything from squeek clean George Benson to fuzzed-out mania and everything in between. Isn't the guitar a wonderful instrument! Almost limitless what one can conjour. I enjoy slight breakup on the Gibson ES335. Very cool sound.
     
  5. onemind

    onemind Member

    Messages:
    3,588
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Location:
    Oceanside, NY
    I find that the sweet spot for me (just for general noodling, not looking for any particular tone) is no longer guitar volume dimed, I find I enjoy the much more transparent sound with the guitar's volume backed off a bit. So yeah, playing with less gain, largely a function of age in my case!
     
  6. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,166
    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Northern MD
    Less is more IMO...unless you're playing certain extreme forms of metal or prog.

    Part of my gripe with current "modern rock" is that the guitars are so distorted that everyone's guitar sounds the same. there's only so much gain you can put down before a guitar sounds like white noise...at least to me.

    I have a theory though...white noise soothes tinitus...so maybe cats that play with ridiculous amounts of gain are doing so for a reason. :)
     
  7. mavrick10_2000

    mavrick10_2000 Member

    Messages:
    757
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I hear you Tim. I have several dirt boxes but I haven't really been using them more than a test here and there for almost the last year, actually the only pedal I've been using recently is a MXR 10Band EQ and my Strobostomp. I've just been enjoying the cleaner sound.
     
  8. TimH

    TimH Member

    Messages:
    4,878
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    I hope at 26 it doesn't mean I'm getting "old". I like the musically mature thing though!

    And you're right...it is all about feel. Playing a cleaner amp just feels better to me...like my notes are doing what they should and all that. It's a beautiful thing!
     
  9. BillyK

    BillyK Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,583
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    Location:
    MD
    Hey Tim,
    Interestingly, I think that a believable low gain tone from a pedal is a tall freak'in order - I think it can be harder to achieve than a great high-gain tone. I've owned many of the most-sought after pedals that are discussed here at TGP, and I find the Eternity to be the hands-down best low-gain pedal. I also love it's higher-gain properties. Maybe I need two!!!

    I had a LovePedal Balance that had the same low-gain characteristics of the E.
     
  10. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,120
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Standard Time
    For me, usually MORE GAIN=LESS DYNAMIC RANGE
    The more I improve as a player, the more I need dynamics!
    I have actually been getting into setting my gain (amp or pedal) higher and starting with my guitar volume on half. Set master up to taste, now I have more control with the knobs and fingers.
     
  11. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,234
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    No, not really. I keep thinking I like lower gain but realize I play heavier music.

    It's not about the gain, it's the equalization.
     
  12. zoooombiex

    zoooombiex Member

    Messages:
    2,548
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    i've gradually shifted this way as well. not that i was ever into super-heavy stuff, but even on my normal ovedrives i find myself turning down the gain more and more over time
     
  13. sstweed

    sstweed Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,680
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    I have actually gone through both stages from both directions. I guess I am REALLY old. I am playing with more gain than ever right now (though still not heavy or modern rock). But I am using more fuzz, not overdrive. IMO, heavy distortion just doesn't sound good from a pedal. At best a low medium gain is the best a pedal can give and be convincing. And even that pales in comparison to a great tube amp. I still use pedals as a compromise. But I have just learned to take advantage of the dynamics in a fuzz face to minimize the compromise, and get some pretty cool tones that, for me anyway, are more expressive than just generic OD tones.
     
  14. iggs

    iggs Member

    Messages:
    2,506
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto
    Never really was a fan of super saturated high-gain sounds to begin with ... even in my hardcore/metal days I liked my VHT 50CL way more then any Recto which is what all the cool kids were using. These days I tend to turn down the gain more then turn it up ... everything just ends up sounding "bigger" and more open then when you krank the gain ... it cuts better as well, due to less compression.
     
  15. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,551
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Montclair, NJ
    As a listener, I like higher gain sounds much. As a player, have never gone that way. I think Lolaviolas comment on gain and dynamic range has some truth to it. I play with a guy who uses the gainier amp channels, and throws multiple boost, dirt effects in front as well. Most often, I'm hearing a flat wall of sound from him. It's so much easier to vary tone when you start with a more clean than not base. (Though I hear some talented players who manage dynamics quite nicely with more gain...)
     
  16. gitpicker

    gitpicker Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,466
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I too have gone cleaner and cleaner as I grow older. For me, I believe it is a function of improvement in my playing. My chording has definitely become more complex, and lower gain tones allow those cool harmonics and tones to shine through. I still enjoy higher gain tones, but use them much more on leads than I do on rhythms. I use a Lovepedal FAB 50 for the majority of my rhythm work, which adds just a little gain, but a whole lot of mojo.

    IMO high gain tones are fun to jam around with at home, but tend to get buried on a live stage - low gain tones cut right through the mix! :dude
     
  17. bluesmain

    bluesmain Member

    Messages:
    5,168
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Location:
    Brandon, MS
    I guess for me gain is a enhancement of dynamics..warm, sweet & spongy tube amp type (sag) is my favorite.I simply don't play as loud as I have in the past.I do enjoy a good clean boost to kick it up for cutting thru the mix.
     
  18. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,234
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Actually I should clear that up.

    When I was younger, I used to use really distorted pedals...Metal Zones, DS-1's, Ibanez Thrashmetals (haha). Then I went with modeling amps for a long time, Digitech RP series, POD xt, etc.

    My progression went from solid state to modelling to tubes. I actually am going for heavier tones than when I first started playing because of the genre of music I listen to. From grunge to punk to emo to modern rock and now metalcore.

    But like I said earlier, it's not the gain, it's the EQ. Metal tones come from cutting high end, huge low end thump without mud, and either no mids if you like Pantera or lots of mids for a more modern metal sound. I'd say my OCD gets heavy when it has a cutting high end and the bass on the amp is up.

    A lot of people like to "push the tubes" but I actually prefer preamp distortion for the kind of music I play. Nothing worse than mushy power tube compression and lots of sag when you're trying to play a tight rhythm. The right tools for the job.

    But I suppose if I played blues or classic rock like you guys, I'd probably want low gain stuff with power tube compression. One of the sweetest amps I ever played for that genre was a little 5 watt Gibson with just volume knob...crank it up and wail :dude
     
  19. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

    Messages:
    3,985
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Too much gain is kind of silly for most of my playing. It makes blues sound overdid and I like it when it cleans up with dynamics. I have been getting more and more into the fuzz from my KR Doubler and TF Hucklberry, though...
     
  20. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Messages:
    16,945
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I think alot less gain is used in metal/heavy rock stuff than people realize. I discovered this thru recording experience. I'd set my amps up to where I thought the gains and EQ's were proper but as soon as the mic was on it I quickly found there was way too much gain. Alot of whats percieved as thick saturated gain is a result of double and multiple tracking.
    But as for using less gain in general, sure. I found it makes me a more acurate player. But then it's always fun to run my ADA MP-1 with my marshalls and rip away! :dude
     

Share This Page