Fender amp users: Do you run the volume hot or the tone controls hot?

Jacob Van Noy

Member
Messages
657
I've used Fender based tube amps for around 15 years in live bands and studio work. I'm always looking to push my tone further and really create a sound that inspires me to perform my best. After playing my Allen Old Flame (Super Reverb ish with an 8 ohm JBL D130 run on the 4 ohm tap) at a variety of volumes and gigs it always comes down to about two different ways I will run it.

I should note that I use the @kimock method of dialing in the amp since I first read it online like 10 years ago and has proved very helpful.

I like to either run the input volume around 6 (we'll use the Fender numbered knobs here) which is really about the third time the pot opens up to a new gain range. The first being right where it wakes up at like 1.5, the second at around 3-4, and then that 6 range. After that it's just too much gain.

I've found with the volume at 5-6, I set the tone controls lower like 5-6, 6-8, 2 for TMB respectively. The middle pot really sounds best at about 8 (when it first opens up) on this circuit and if it becomes a little huffy with the volume high I can back it down a touch. The bass always stays low where it just opens up. Anyway, in this mode the amp is a little juicier and thick with a bit more compression and midrange going on.

Conversely, if I'm at a slightly lower volume situation or I want more articulation I will run the input volume very low at the first stage (1-1.5 ish) and hit the front end of the amp with a SD pickup booster. I will also crank up the tone controls a little more in this configuration. Treble up at 8-9, mids 8, bass maybe a touch higher but still low around 2-3. This sound can be very defined and sparkly and I also find that the treble control up high really gives a nice added gain/drive in the top end. This way is also a little stiffer and not as middy and rounded as the previous example.

The thing is, both options sound pretty damn good and I know there are no correct answers here but what is your experience with this? Which do you prefer and am I overlooking other valid ways to run the amp? Is there a happy middle ground?

I saw a post Kimock made about bleeding all that signal to ground on a little carbon trace when you have your input volume low and it makes sense to me that preserving more signal is a good thing especially considering that the majority of my playing is done with single coils and low output pickups.

Also, this is more about overall tone than solutions for different volume situations as I can get both configurations to be near the same volume (tone controls cranked add a lot of volume). I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Thanks!
 

neteraser

Member
Messages
1,993
Deluxe Reverb: volume on max (or just a hair less), EQ no matter. Can play heavy riffs like this and actually really enjoy it. But in an apartment it's troublesome.
Alternatively, add a tubescreamer for more obscene/punk coloration. I had some Russian boutique interpretation, been one of the first customers.
With volume, it was a little dull before a certain point. At 3 - much better, but you want a little louder. At 6 yes, that's quite cool, but still want a little louder. at 8 you can live with it, but still want to go just a little further to get a little bit more distortion. Then, you think you can compromise 0.2 from the maximum setting.
I've been playing it with an early 80s ESP 400 series Telecaster. And I was wearing vintage American Walker white shoes from 60s.
Where are my younger days?? MAN, I've been SO eccentric on the inside.
https://pp.vk.me/c907/u2347468/113169489/z_9f8d6682.jpg - it's me with that tele, 19yo if I recall
Then I lost myself and reformed / had to learn my lesson.
 

Brien

Senior Member
Messages
1,158
I start tone knobs at 5 and tweak from there. Each amp is different and guitars change the equation as well.
 

Boomstick

Member
Messages
313
'68 Super Reverb - volume ideally around 7-8 after which it kind of loses definition or as loud as my ears can take (which usually more like 3.5), then I put the bass around 2-4, the middle around 4 and the treble at 7 or 8 (little secret that I learned from Jimmy Herring is don't fear the treble on these old blackface amps).
 
Last edited:

logdrum

Member
Messages
2,129
Volume hot. To me, tone controls are not as dramatic on older Fenders. I have an SF Bandmaster and had a SF Super Reverb. It get's loud so use an attenuator
 

jnovac1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,338
I've used Fender based tube amps for around 15 years in live bands and studio work. I'm always looking to push my tone further and really create a sound that inspires me to perform my best. After playing my Allen Old Flame (Super Reverb ish with an 8 ohm JBL D130 run on the 4 ohm tap) at a variety of volumes and gigs it always comes down to about two different ways I will run it.

I should note that I use the @kimock method of dialing in the amp since I first read it online like 10 years ago and has proved very helpful.

I like to either run the input volume around 6 (we'll use the Fender numbered knobs here) which is really about the third time the pot opens up to a new gain range. The first being right where it wakes up at like 1.5, the second at around 3-4, and then that 6 range. After that it's just too much gain.

I've found with the volume at 5-6, I set the tone controls lower like 5-6, 6-8, 2 for TMB respectively. The middle pot really sounds best at about 8 (when it first opens up) on this circuit and if it becomes a little huffy with the volume high I can back it down a touch. The bass always stays low where it just opens up. Anyway, in this mode the amp is a little juicier and thick with a bit more compression and midrange going on.

Conversely, if I'm at a slightly lower volume situation or I want more articulation I will run the input volume very low at the first stage (1-1.5 ish) and hit the front end of the amp with a SD pickup booster. I will also crank up the tone controls a little more in this configuration. Treble up at 8-9, mids 8, bass maybe a touch higher but still low around 2-3. This sound can be very defined and sparkly and I also find that the treble control up high really gives a nice added gain/drive in the top end. This way is also a little stiffer and not as middy and rounded as the previous example.

The thing is, both options sound pretty damn good and I know there are no correct answers here but what is your experience with this? Which do you prefer and am I overlooking other valid ways to run the amp? Is there a happy middle ground?

I saw a post Kimock made about bleeding all that signal to ground on a little carbon trace when you have your input volume low and it makes sense to me that preserving more signal is a good thing especially considering that the majority of my playing is done with single coils and low output pickups.

Also, this is more about overall tone than solutions for different volume situations as I can get both configurations to be near the same volume (tone controls cranked add a lot of volume). I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Thanks!
vol up, about 7, bass 3 ish, treb also about 7, adjust your touch and ride those guitar knobs!
 

Jacob Van Noy

Member
Messages
657
'68 Super Reverb - volume ideally around 7-8 after which it kind of loses definition or as loud as my ears can take (which usually more like 3.5), then I put the bass around 2-4, the middle around 4 and the treble at 7 or 8 (little secret that I learned from Jimmy Herring is don't fear the treble on these old blackface amps).

I agree about not fearing the treble on a blackface 6L6 amp. Overall, I feel that the volume hot and taming it with lower tone controls is the better method. With the tone controls hotter method my amp is maybe a little more articulate but just a little too spiky and unpleasant. Volume hotter is a touch more compressed but in a really nice midrange way and I also feel that cranking the treble isn't as aggressively bright when the volume is hotter, it almost acts as a top end gain in this confirguration.

Love to hear more thoughts....
 

Jacob Van Noy

Member
Messages
657
vol up, about 7, bass 3 ish, treb also about 7, adjust your touch and ride those guitar knobs!

Yes! I agree. I should have stated in the OP that my goal is to have the amp as reactive and dynamic with guitar knob manipulation and playing dynamics. I feel like volume and treble up around 6-7 is a good start.
 
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74 virbrolux reverb

volume 6
bass 10
treble 10

I play starts and teles an adjust with my volume and tone knobs on the guitar from there. with this particular set up I haven't found anything that work better. I get the most tonal range like this especially from my tele. as the amp warms up after a few hours I may have to back the volume down a hair. this is the tone of the heavens imo.
 

teleluvver

Member
Messages
1,645
I play a Tele, and have 2 old Fenders: a '65 Princeton non-reverb with original Oxford and a '55 Deluxe with original Jensen. I'll give my ideal settings of where I feel each amp shines, but may have to turn volume down depending on venue.
'65 Princeton - This amp is a clean machine, and, unlike the reverb version, will not break up all the way up the dial. Volume on 7-10, bass on 3, treble on 6.5.
'55 Deluxe - Plugged into instrument channel 1, instrument volume on 6-7, mic channel on 0, tone on 8.
 

Geetarpicker

Member
Messages
3,267
1964 Fender non-reverb Deluxe. These don't have quite as much gain as the reverb models. Volume 6, Bass and Treble 4. Vibrato channel if I need a little extra brightness (has bright cap) or the Normal channel if I don't (no bright cap). That is with pedals mainly relying on pedal overdrive.

In the studio if I want a lead tone simply cranked with no pedals, sometimes I'll go with Volume and treble 10, bass on 1-4, then mic it off axis if it's too bright. Pretty crunchy at that setting.
 

swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,483
Pretty much all my BF style, including the BFDR, I run the vol at 3-4. I cant deal with the huge rapid boost on the guitar vol if the amp is set too high.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Messages
19,089
Anson Funderburg has always had one of the best guitar/cord/amp tones I've heard in a live setting. I got to hang with him one day and he said he could get his tone from just about any pre-CBS Fender amp. The way he went about it was odd, but according to him it was based on the topology of Fender amp and guitar circuits and was meant to get the most out of them without compromising the signal.

Here's what he does:
- Plenty of volume
- Bass on 0
- Middle on max
- Treble on max
- Bright switch on
- Tone control on Strat rolled off quite a bit

This may sound extreme, but it is close to the way that a lot of guys dial in Marshall heads. I believe he said that the bass knob brings components into the signal path (ones that were basically bypassed with the knob on zero) while the treble and mids knobs take components out of the signal path as they're turned up (so they should be dimed to get these out of the path). He believes the guitar is the best place from which to control the volume and tone.

Is that anything like what Kimock recommends?
 

Bob T.

Member
Messages
3,168
Deluxe Reverb: volume on max (or just a hair less), ...

'68 Super Reverb - volume ideally around 7-8 after which it kind of loses definition or as loud as my ears can take (which usually more like 3.5)...

vol up, about 7, bass 3 ish, treb also about 7, adjust your touch and ride those guitar knobs!

74 virbrolux reverb

volume 6
bass 10
treble 10

...

:eek: And you all still have hearing left? :eek:
 
Messages
1,686
Anson Funderburg has always had one of the best guitar/cord/amp tones I've heard in a live setting. I got to hang with him one day and he said he could get his tone from just about any pre-CBS Fender amp. The way he went about it was odd, but according to him it was based on the topology of Fender amp and guitar circuits and was meant to get the most out of them without compromising the signal.

Here's what he does:
- Plenty of volume
- Bass on 0
- Middle on max
- Treble on max
- Bright switch on
- Tone control on Strat rolled off quite a bit

This may sound extreme, but it is close to the way that a lot of guys dial in Marshall heads. I believe he said that the bass knob brings components into the signal path (ones that were basically bypassed with the knob on zero) while the treble and mids knobs take components out of the signal path as they're turned up (so they should be dimed to get these out of the path). He believes the guitar is the best place from which to control the volume and tone.

Is that anything like what Kimock recommends?

interesting. I'm going to try this out when I get home
 

handtrix

Member
Messages
2,394
OP
Fender amp users: Do you run the volume hot or the tone controls hot?

I've used Fender based tube amps for around 15 years in live bands and studio work. I'm always looking to push my tone further and really create a sound that inspires me to perform my best. After playing my Allen Old Flame (Super Reverb ish with an 8 ohm JBL D130 run on the 4 ohm tap) at a variety of volumes and gigs it always comes down to about two different ways I will run it.

I should note that I use the @kimock method of dialing in the amp since I first read it online like 10 years ago and has proved very helpful.

I like to either run the input volume around 6 (we'll use the Fender numbered knobs here) which is really about the third time the pot opens up to a new gain range. The first being right where it wakes up at like 1.5, the second at around 3-4, and then that 6 range. After that it's just too much gain.

I've found with the volume at 5-6, I set the tone controls lower like 5-6, 6-8, 2 for TMB respectively. The middle pot really sounds best at about 8 (when it first opens up) on this circuit and if it becomes a little huffy with the volume high I can back it down a touch. The bass always stays low where it just opens up. Anyway, in this mode the amp is a little juicier and thick with a bit more compression and midrange going on.

Conversely, if I'm at a slightly lower volume situation or I want more articulation I will run the input volume very low at the first stage (1-1.5 ish) and hit the front end of the amp with a SD pickup booster. I will also crank up the tone controls a little more in this configuration. Treble up at 8-9, mids 8, bass maybe a touch higher but still low around 2-3. This sound can be very defined and sparkly and I also find that the treble control up high really gives a nice added gain/drive in the top end. This way is also a little stiffer and not as middy and rounded as the previous example.

The thing is, both options sound pretty damn good and I know there are no correct answers here but what is your experience with this? Which do you prefer and am I overlooking other valid ways to run the amp? Is there a happy middle ground?

I saw a post Kimock made about bleeding all that signal to ground on a little carbon trace when you have your input volume low and it makes sense to me that preserving more signal is a good thing especially considering that the majority of my playing is done with single coils and low output pickups.

Also, this is more about overall tone than solutions for different volume situations as I can get both configurations to be near the same volume (tone controls cranked add a lot of volume). I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Thanks!

They way that I dial in BF's & SF's in how you described, would be to set tone control levels to zero with the Volume set on 10.
Turning up the B/M/T in the mix will add the frequency and volume in unison. You can start with any knob.
The overall tone setting can be had at various loudness levels, but dialing it in, in this way, you will find a sweet-spot that the amp (and guitar) likes to be in. That would be a MAX level to get a best tone. Although, the volume is maxed that does not mean loudness levels are at 10! More saturation letting the amp do the work.
Different models, with different circuits and different speakers end up with different sweet-spots. Tweak the knobs until it sounds right to "you".
This does not "fit" every environment. Just like Ch.1 jumped to Ch.2 doesn't work in some peoples applications.
For me, this works in several conditions that have no loudness restrictions. e.g. (similar to you) Playing out Live and wanting to cut through in the mix. Perhaps, to even sound different in the mix when there's another guitar player, less the freq cancellation issues...
 

Jacob Van Noy

Member
Messages
657
OP
Fender amp users: Do you run the volume hot or the tone controls hot?



They way that I dial in BF's & SF's in how you described, would be to set tone control levels to zero with the Volume set on 10.
Turning up the B/M/T in the mix will add the frequency and volume in unison. You can start with any knob.
The overall tone setting can be had at various loudness levels, but dialing it in, in this way, you will find a sweet-spot that the amp (and guitar) likes to be in. That would be a MAX level to get a best tone. Although, the volume is maxed that does not mean loudness levels are at 10! More saturation letting the amp do the work.
Different models, with different circuits and different speakers end up with different sweet-spots. Tweak the knobs until it sounds right to "you".
This does not "fit" every environment. Just like Ch.1 jumped to Ch.2 doesn't work in some peoples applications.
For me, this works in several conditions that have no loudness restrictions. e.g. (similar to you) Playing out Live and wanting to cut through in the mix. Perhaps, to even sound different in the mix when there's another guitar player, less the freq cancellation issues...

Good insight, thanks! I agree with a lot of this. The volume way up thing may sound funny (or ridiculous) on paper for someone who hasn't played Fender amps much but it's truly not that loud if one uses the tone controls judiciously.
 




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