Clean-to-dirty challenge ... rolling that guitar volume knob

GenoVox

Gold Supporting Member
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5,357
I don't think it's possible to have loud pristine cleans and dirt just by riding the guitar volume.
You’re right… it’s not

CleanER, yes - but as you say, its more in a Blues & Classic Rock kinda way.

And the overall volume is always a compromise too, obviously
 

michael.e

Member
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20,699
I love me some TW clones. Mark Kane sticks especially deep as there was this one Liverpool that I had bought and sold twice. That said, any rig I have had, I can achieve the touch sensitive roll of my guitar volume. Good electronics, attentive touch and proper gain staging to the amp are crucial.
 

Geetarpicker

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3,170
When I started playing in the 70s, distortion boxes were marginal at best so I played cranked amps on 10 without pedals and worked the knobs for clean to dirty like many did at the time. I went though many NMV Marshalls and few tweed, Brown, and BF Fenders in search of the ones that cleaned up the best settling mainly on a ‘68 plexi Superlead 100, though I had a couple early 70s JMP 50s which were pretty decent as well. Then when Boogies first got popular I played one side by side with one of my JMP 50s and was completely unimpressed as the Boogie simply didn’t clean up well at all. Yep it distorted at any volume level, but simply didn’t clean up well. Then another decade passed before I played a Ken Fischer built Trainwreck Express amp and it cleaned up better than any other amp I had ever played period, including my NMV Marshalls even when set for more gain than any NMV Marshall was capable of. To this day I haven’t played an amp that responds as well and cleans up as well from the guitar knobs as a Trainwreck Express does. Though many amps clean up to some degree from the guitar, when you spend quite a bit of time gigging and recording said amps and comparing them side by side you really notice the difference. I’m the guy that posted my old video of my ‘59 LP and Trainwreck Express in this thread a while back. GK
 
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Roe

Member
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8,544
Just installed a pacific output transformer in my old express build. Sounds excellent, with great dynamics and cleanup
 
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JimRad

Member
Messages
395
I do this a lot with my SL drive 'Marshall style' pedal, it cleans up remarkably well.

This video is with full volume and only picking strength, if rolling down the volume it can go almost fully clean - really useful when playing Jesus just left Chicago :cool:



/Jim
 

GenoVox

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,357
Then when Boogies first got popular I played one side by side with one of my JMP 50s and was completely unimpressed as the Boogie simply didn’t clean up well at all. Yep it distorted at any volume level, but simply didn’t clean up well.
Yep… as a general rule, preamp gain will never clean up as well as power amp gain… nor will it be as dynamic

Though I will say, my old JCM800 did pretty well in this department - granted, my “clean” at the time was still pretty crunchy, and my “scream” was just medium gain at best
 
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MajorLedhead

Silver Supporting Member
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2,982
I’ve had a Carr Mercury V for 3 months and have yet to plug the pedalboard into it. It’s been all guitar volume knob and the various boost settings at full power to get everything from clean to mean.
The Lollar equipped single coil guitars really shine in this setup.
 
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385
I first got into the volume knob cleanup thing when I got my JCM800... (almost 30 years ago now). It was a real revelation.

When I later switched over to clean amps and pedals for dirt, the great search was on for an overdrive or distortion that reacted the same way - not an easy task, especially before it became “a thing” for pedal designers to strive towards

Once I got my SV20, it was a whole ‘nother level... the dynamics and cleanup are just off the charts with that Plexi circuit
I'm almost in this boat too. Started with clean amp+pedals then (now) mini JCM800 as I wanted a single channel, simple amp. It doesn't get *totally* clean but close enough. I actually feel like it's made me a better player, with better right hand technique and learning how to "play the amp" rather than twist knobs. It was an eye opener.

And now I find myself looking at the mini Plexi (I passed on one at GC used for $999 a few months ago, regretted it, then stumbled on a used SC20H also at GC for a hair more, and didn't hesitate that time).
 

Geetarpicker

Member
Messages
3,170
I’ve had a Carr Mercury V for 3 months and have yet to plug the pedalboard into it. It’s been all guitar volume knob and the various boost settings at full power to get everything from clean to mean.
The Lollar equipped single coil guitars really shine in this setup.
I have a Mercury V as well. It’s worth noting the V has a built in power attenuator (not a master volume) which allows one to tap into output stage distortion. The added compression of pushing an entire amp, vs just the preamp makes for a more touch sensitive amp. Typically when the entire amp is pushed their is more natural compression going on, but the compression eases up when the guitar volume and/or player attack is reduced. This adds to a more even net volume of the clean to mean range, which to me is great to have if the amp is capable.
 

HeavyCream

Silver Supporting Member
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5,988
Yep… as a general rule, preamp gain will never clean up as well as power amp gain… nor will it be as dynamic

Though I will say, my old JCM800 did pretty well in this department - granted, my “clean” at the time was still pretty crunchy, and my “scream” was just medium gain at best

It’s not alway necessarily a preamp vs power amp thing. Dynamic range is heavily impacted by gain staging. The number of stages and how each stage is implemented is important. All tubes breakup based on signal strength. That threshold varies based on tube type but also how the circuit around the tube is designed.

Amps with many stages up front can yield easy access to singing sustain and compression at the expense of dynamic range. Amps with less gain stages typically offer more touch sensitivity. I don’t disagree that amp’s that get distortion from the power section are often more touch sensitive, but they also typically have fewer gain stages than amps designed to get all their distortion from the preamp.

Some of the Dumble amps that are supposedly some of the most responsive, touch sensitive, dynamic amps ever made (can’t say I’ve played one) get all their distortion from the preamp.
 
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skhan007

Silver Supporting Member
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10,454
I’m kind of new to the style of amps that do the clean thing with the guitar’s volume knob. I thought I had that thing going well with the Marshall amps I’ve owned over the years. Then last week, I got my first Komet amp; the K60 model. Holy crap, now I get it! This amp does the clean to mean like nothing I’ve ever played.
 

gulliver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,500
Sort of, but a big volume knob swing for me, the way my stuff is set up, the net effect is, "sort of clean" to pretty crunchy, or sparkly clean to more full clean. If I brush the strings ever so lightly, yep, pretty clean, in my dirtier channel, but that isn't how I play.

If I try to go from what I consider an actual clean sound, funk clean, R&B clean that you can play percussively, without any hair, to a lead sound, the volume difference is going to be tough to accept in a group setting. Folks ducking etc.

This I why I've gravitated to 100 watt heads, (genuine clean headroom), with dual channels and dual masters, and I use overdrives and boosts and compressor into both channels. All my time based horse shite is in the loop.

My current amps are: Friedman modded Marshall Superlead, with full clean and loop, Guytron GT-100, 3rd Power KS, and an AC-30.

I find this to be true as well, the volume change can be quite overwhelming. Lately, I've been using more dirt for the cleans and less dirt for the leads, to try to balance things better within a tighter volume change.
 




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