How do you set Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence?

IceTre

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
873
I have no problem on amps with a single tone control. Turn it up for more treble, down for less treble. Even I can figure that out.

Then there's my amps with Bass and Treble controls. Now I'm confused. If I want more treble, do I turn down the bass, or turn up the treble? Or both? I'm always fiddling with them trying to dial in what I want.

And then there's my amps with Bass, Mid and Treble. And Presence. Fuhgetaboutit. Now I'm totally confused. Too many knobs.

OK I'm exxagerating a little for comedic effect. But seriously... what's your method for dialing in amps with 2 or 3 or 4 tone controls? Set 'em all at 12:00 and dial each one up or down? Dime 'em all and then adjust? Something else?
 

guitarman3001

Member
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11,157
It really depends on the amps. Different amps have different tone stacks and the frequencies for each knob are tuned around a different frequency and the controls interact with each other differently.

For example, on my Marshall DSL40C I have the treble at about 9:00, the mids at about 3:00, and the bass around 10:00.

On my Mesa Rectoverb 25 I set the treble between 11:00 and 1:00, the mids between 10:00 and 2:00, and the bass around 12:00. The different treble and mid settings depend on the venue and also the volume I'm playing. The louder the amp gets, the more I need to turn the mids up and the treble down.


Those two amps have completely different tone stacks and the controls work differently.

I have a bunch of other amps and I set them all differently too.

Your best bet is to set them by ear, not by sight. Never mind what the knobs are set at, ignore them and set everything by ear.
 

bgh

Silver Supporting Member
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6,981
When I was learning to use my Mesas, I really leaned on the manuals for input. The sample settings were good for showing some decent and known starting points. From there, I would play with the EQ just to see what impact it had.

On some amps, the controls are interactive. For example, on my Nomad, if I were to crank the treble all the way clockwise, the bass and mid controls do not do much at all. You have to factor that in to how you use them.

On the other hand, my Peavey is much more straight-forward. But, even so, I have found that there is no hard and fast rule. On some amps, you can do what you suggested - start the controls at noon and go from there. On others, that may not work.

Some may disagree, but my advice is to start with the manufacturer's suggested settings. That should get you in the vicinity of what you want. Then, have fun tweaking it to suit your needs.
 

8len8

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
14,127
Start all (except presence) at about noon. Then I tend to set things like this on my DSL40:
- Mids at 1 o'clock (for more punch)
- Leave bass at noon
- Treble at 11 o'clock (for less harshness)
- Presence maybe at 9 o'clock

It REALLY depends on the amp, the volume you set it at, and the room you are playing in. Also, the type of tone stack (active vs passive) has a big impact.
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I agree with the person above who said it really depends on the circuit and use your ear.

Some circuits, like most Fenders, have several sweet spots on each knob. If you unplug the guitar and start turning the knobs, you hear the noise-floor (amount of white noise) jump at certain points on each knob. Those are points where the amp kinda comes alive and becomes more touch sensitive and usually sounds better. Setting the knobs lower than that first point where you hear the noise floor jump up usually kinda kills the tone and feel. To me, setting the bass is easiest because there will be one point where the amp goes from anemic to full, and then goes from full to muddy. That is usually where the noise-floor jumps up. Setting the bass higher might sound good at home, but will be a mess in a band usually.

After the bass is set, its usually much easier to set the other knobs.

If you just have a treble knob, its pretty easy to hear how much you need to balance out the bass that you just dialed in. If you're sounding too dark with the band, add some more.

If there is also a mid knob, I usually dial in as much as I can before the amp sounds too boxy or nasally. A little bit of boxiness or nasally mids at home usually sits really nicely in a band mix.

If the amp has a presence knob, I find its easy to overdo it for a lot of people. More presence usually sounds great at first, but it can fatigue your ears and get harsh with overdrive. Plus, a lot of presence circuits add a lot of noise and can even decrease headroom. I usually just keep enough in the mix for my guitar to sound lively, have some air and 'presence' in the mix.

Mesa's work well starting at noon, but the presence usually needs to be far lower (around 9 o'clock at most on my Mark III).
 

beeflin

Member
Messages
187
If I feel that the sound is lacking in something I turn it up, if it has too much I turn it down. My ear isn't good at telling the difference between treble and presence, so if high frequencies are the issue I might have to fiddle with both.
 

JB6464

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,168
One important factor to know is if your amp has active or passive controls .
On active amps like Mesa's , i usually start at the 12:00 position then boost or cut what i need.
On passive amps like Marshall's you are just cutting the frequencies from full clockwise , that's why many players dime the controls then cut back what they don't want in the old school ways.,
 

IceTre

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
873
Thanks for the tips, guys. Now let me ask the question in a different way:

I hand you a guitar you've never played before, plugged into an amp you've never played before. I've got all the knobs turned all the way down. (You don't know anything about this amp, and no access to the manual). What do you do to find the best tone for that guitar and amp? What's your procedure?
 

Kelsey

Member
Messages
2,257
I adjust the bass until I can just hear it kick in, then adjust the rest from there for whatever the guitar/amp/room sounds like it needs.
 

BADHAK

Member
Messages
9,268
Whats worked for me is BMP at 12 oclock then treble to taste. Usually 8-9 am for singles and 9-12 for HBs. Sometimes I swap the pres, treble settings but I find the pres up, treble down to work well on jcm 800 type amps.
 

bigtone23

Member
Messages
6,583
It so depends on the amp, I set by my ears. On Marshall style tone stacks the bass is up pretty high since I play single coils, mids are mid and treble and presence lower.
Fender/Mesa MK tone stacks are some variation of bass around 3, mids around 5 and treble around 6. Presence lower. If I'm not pushing a Fender hard, I tend to max the bass and virtually turn off the treble.
 

Classic09

Member
Messages
2,486
I find setting the controls to be amp dependent however the approach is much the same:
An amp with just bass an treble will be a compromise to reach a satisfactory mid setting.

An amp with BMT, I set the bass and treble then bring up the mids. Depending where the mid EQ is set I then adjust the treble or bass to adjust the overall tone. Then there's the presence which usually alters the overall brightness of the amp and is usually set last.
 

CharlieNC

Member
Messages
651
i start at noon then tweak them to the room. presence i typically don't mess with. just set it at halfway and leave it alone.
 

zenas

Member
Messages
8,866
I spend very little time turning knobs. I guess I start with them about half way up and tweek from there. But I couldn't say what any of my amps are set on without lioking.
 

huw

Member
Messages
1,318
I agree with everything said about it depends on the amp, and tweaking & listening etc, but if I was presented by an amp I've never played my starting point is usually bass=3, mid=5, treble=7.

There's also a bit of folk-lore that may, or may not, help you, which is that for any Fender amp, set everything to 6 and you're done.

:)
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,362
On my Carr Rambler I generally have the Treble and Mid controls set at noon and have the bass backed off some if I'm in my practice room. If I'm in a bigger space the bass comes back to noon on the dial. Truth be told, the amp sounds great wherever it's set.
 






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