How would you Describe American Vs British Medium Gain Tones


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Thinking largely Fender and Marshall here to keep it less complicated, but all opinions welcome.

When I think British medium gain I think SG into a JTM or Orange, resulting in a darker midrange bark.

When I think ‘merican medium gain, I think Tele/strat into a cranked pro or super reverb, with a brighter more immediate attack emphasizing bass and high end.

These seem like the most contrasting setups but what about when you change some variables to pull the sound more to center? Does there come a point when there is an almost negligible difference?

Frusciante playing strat into a cleanish Marshall sounds kind of Fendery, no?

All this to say, I’m trying to figure out this medium gain thing.


I plug a clone JTM45 (KT66) into a 4x10” with American style speakers. It definitely sounds American-ish.

have fun!


Seems to me that the most iconic medium gain American tones are Fender tweeds. Champs, 5E3, Bassman... Which are ironically the most similar to those British medium gain tones, other than VOX and Hiwatt.

My favorite Fender tones use Celestions. The G10s-50 speakers in my Bassman Ten compliment the inherent mid scoop and bright nature of the preamp. The speakers add mids and tame the highs a touch.


When I think of medium gain American vs British I think of Fender tweed vs Vox AC rather than Blackface vs Superlead. To me the tweed has a more wooly low end and different midrange while the Vox AC type sound has more snap and bite to it.

IMO the American vs British distinctions are pretty terrible because the speakers used will have a big effect. I ran my Vox-meets-Matchless Victory VC35 into an "American" Eminence Maverick speaker and whatever that was, it sounded absolutely glorious.

Buck Woodson

When I think American medium gain Creedence comes to mind. That had to be Fender. British is either Vox, JTM, or The Who. The Aclam Windmiller pedal captures some obscure old missing ingredient of Pete Townshend and his HiWatts.


I love BF scoop for cleans ! :love:
I hate BF scoop for crunch ! :barf

A Plexi, Hiwatt or Vox will give me both with great tone & feel, even controlable from the guitar (if you have the power tubes cooking), or re-amped in the studio. :cool:

Boogie & Dumble basically kept what was so good about Fender, subtly added a few more mids and their own, desirable crunch voicings. Depending on style, a serious alternative to the Brits, and the Fenders, too. :aok

countless smaller boutique builders came up with their unique sweet spots inbetween the major camps, here the country of origin is pretty much irrelevant in my book. :dunno

at least that's my view of things, ymmv.

all the above is meant using the tubes and speakers these amps were originally designed around, not the modern wannabe substitutes !


I'm not sure I would classify any gtr-cord-amp BF/SF amp rig as 'medium gain'. Pretty clean cowboy amps designed for clean/bright and they don't distort very nicely IMHO. With pedals in front, it's a different critter. Tweeds are a different story altogether. And there are other American flavors; Ampeg, Traynor, Sunn, etc.

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