Cleans up well: is it the amp or the guitar?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by bluessyndicate, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    If we are getting all techie, the active pups are controlled, signal-wise, via a passive attenuator/pot.
    There is no alteration of the gain, which is set by circuit design, to operate in the clean range.
    Guitars do not clean up.
    Some will clean up an amp better than others.
    And if you want an amp that runs from clean to heavily overdriven, quickly, you will give up overhead and light breakup to get that. Loss of dynamic range is the tradeoff. No free lunch.
    You might be happy with it, but somebody else will not. Yep, YMMV, as usual.
     
  2. Buck Woodson

    Buck Woodson Supporting Member

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    If it's the amp, which part of the amp? Power tubes?

    If you turn the question around, the amp is what "dirties up". Of course some amps only dirty up to 1.3 and others dirty up to 100.
     
  3. rstites

    rstites Member

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    I was thinking more about the fact that active pickups have a built-in preamp. They're very much akin to having an onboard preamp on a guitar. It's an active boost, so while those are generally clean, they are designed to punch the front end of the amplifier in some manner. The settings (and design) of the amplifier will determine whether you bet volume or a change in distortion from that.

    Pretty much all volume controls are simply passive voltage dividers when you get down to it. We pretty much always boost things up to maximum volume and then just attenuate whatever we don't want with a passive little potentiometer. I guess there are some places where you can drop that control in a negative feedback loop and thus control the actual gain of the stage, but it doesn't really seem to come up that often when I stop to think about it. (Usually, that has the side affect of changing the frequency response is probably the primary reason.) Sorry, semi-random stream-of-consciousness thought here! :)
     
  4. Geetarpicker

    Geetarpicker Member

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    In my experience most any amp cranked into distortion will clean up from the guitar. The guitar pots though can make or break how easy it is to really do consistently. Still, even set with the SAME gain levels how “well” various amp do so can vary considerably in my experience.

    Some loose too much volume (biggest problem IMHO)
    Some get too muddy
    Some get too thin
    Some seem to never really get clean
     
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  5. aldridt11

    aldridt11 Member

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    its the guitar. Its the only thing in the equation that is changing. And it makes 100 percent complete sense. You are lowering the signal level before it gets to the distortion, thus you are lowering the resulting level of distortion relative to the volume being wide open. And you are doing this on the guitar, while changing nothing on the amp.

    If it gets muddy and unusable when you roll down the volume, its your wiring in your guitar, not the amp. If your guitar is wired up for it, your volume control works as a gain control for most of the sweep.

    Anyway, your amp isn't cleaning up...you're not touching or changing anything on your amp......its your guitar that is cleaning it all up.

    Its just like using an EQ pedal before the amp on a single channel amp and using the EQ to create a clean channel. You use the EQ to cut the level of the signal going to the dirty amp, and it cleans up relative to how much you cut.

    Its not the amp that is changing. Its the signal into the amp that is changing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  6. Geetarpicker

    Geetarpicker Member

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    Not exactly.

    Some amps have quit a bit more natural compression than others, which helps reduce the dirty net volume, and raise the clean net volume. Sure the guitar is the controller, but how the amp responds to the guitar is inherent in the amp design. For example if I plug my ‘59 Les Paul into my tiny Roland Microcube I can dial in a Marshallish gainy tone in the ballpark of my Trainwreck Express, on a small scale obviously. But if I then turn the guitar down it goes to c#$&, and by the time the sound is clean the net volume is almost gone. Same exact guitar into my Trainwreck Express has a range from clean to dirty that rivals a channel switcher, with way more even volume levels between the dirty and clean sounds.

    I guess for me the make or break of this all is the amp cannot have too much volume loss when you roll back for cleans, because it just won’t work well in a band situation. Also, this IS the part of the equation which is mainly up to the amp. On the other hand having the guitar get too muddy when backed down for cleans can be tweaked by treble bleeds in the guitar obviously.

    Clean up control comes from the guitar, but the amp response is amp dependent.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
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  7. biter

    biter Member

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  8. ahab

    ahab Member

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  9. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    that about sums it up. :agree
    regardless of wording, the player experiences the teamwork of all these phenomena.
    power tubes have the nicest, most gradual clean up.
    plus there is an inherent compression in power amp drive that minimizes loss of perceived volume while cleaning up, like @Geetarpicker pointed out.
    this is the all important X-factor regarding usefulness of the cleanup.
    you want your guitar to become cleaner, but not necessarily too much quieter in the mix.
    ymmv,
    Rhino

    I should add that running your power tubes driven, you will get a new perspective about the differences between various types - something that doesn't matter much with conventional (whatever-) drive into clean power amp setups, like basically all high gain rigs and rack systems
     
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  10. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Also just to reinforce the point that power tube OD only happens with volume i.e. your rig will be at its max loudness, like it or not.
     
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  11. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    perfectly true.
    let's settle for "the upper 25% of the volume scale" or so, depending on amp - you don't need to dime everything (which typically wouldn't sound all that great, contrary to Spinal Tap lore).

    not really a problem anymore these days, a good reactive load / attenuator / re-amper should be part of everybody's arsenal, not counting the die-hard clean- or high gain players, who usually never come near power amp drive.
    ymmv,
    Rhino
     
  12. Qwertisthethird

    Qwertisthethird Supporting Member

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    hey blues, do you still have that old aiken with MV and attenuator? tried to PM you but your inbox is full
     
  13. GenoVox

    GenoVox Member

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    Until I got back into NMV amps.... I had forgotten just how dynamically responsive an amp can be

    Nowadays, there are plenty of pedals that “clean up” really well too - but it’s never quite the same

    And the guitar is absolutely a factor too... to my ears, its gotta have quality audio taper pots and preferably 50s wiring or a subtle treble bleed
     
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  14. Jim234

    Jim234 Member

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    Its a marketing ploy... just about every demo you see on the net you always get the 'cleans up well' selling point.

    In actual fact how many guitarist live on stage work the volume and tone so you go from dirt to clean. I mean, yeah I dial back the volume but pristine clean it is not, well not a level that could actually be heard anyway.

    :hide
     
  15. GenoVox

    GenoVox Member

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    Totally depends on the type of music, the player, and just how “clean” you need to get

    Obviously, if you’re doing stuff where you need to jump from “pristine” cleans to fully distorted... then the volume knob cleanup approach probably ain’t for you - and channel switching (or pedals) obviously would be
     
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  16. classicplayer

    classicplayer Member

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    I think that the fact that many, many players resort to an OD/Distortion, or more than one of those on their pedal boards. Those types of devices are being improved drastically. It does enable users to change tone characteristics on an amp that may not be the best choice for those that refrain from external devices to go from higher gain down to crunch, and then try and get fairly clean.


    classicplayer
     
  17. Jim234

    Jim234 Member

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    Totally with. Spent years chasing pristine cleans until I woke an realised that for what I do edge of breakup is what I build everything around. Yeah if I want pristine cleans channel switching or clean pedal platform is my thing.
     
  18. GenoVox

    GenoVox Member

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    Absolutely... even in the past, when I played in a 50s band or did Top 40 stuff, I preferred having a little edge when I dug in
     
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  19. eigentone

    eigentone Silver Supporting Member

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    More than anything, it is the amp IMO. Specifically, it's the transition from clean/clean-ish to driven that makes or breaks it. The guitar's wiring and control tapers are also pretty important. The controls need to offer a good variety of tones and highs need to be retained when rolling back. 50s wiring works for me but others prefer treble bleeds.

    IME higher gain amps tend not to clean up as well. They are often always a bit too crunchy/clipped/filtered when rolled back for my tastes. Sure, that sound works great in some contexts. I much prefer going from dynamic cleans to crunchy with something like an AC30/AC15 or a Tweed based amp. If a singing lead is needed, then step on a boost/dirtbox or switch amps/channels.
     
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  20. GaryMcT

    GaryMcT Gold Supporting Member

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    Mostly the amp in my experience. None of my guitars have treble bleed caps on them and they all clean up very well to varying degrees with Lead/Super Lead/2204 circuits for me.
     

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