• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

I think I am sinking into complete tonal madness...

Mtnbkr123

Member
Messages
515
One day, my new amp sounds great. Incredible actually. A snarling, vicious beast. Then the next day, I fire it up and it sounds like a thin, raspy can of bees, to the point that I wonder if something is seriously wrong with it. Then the next day after that, after some tweaking the day before in an attempt to rid it of its hornet's nest and to add some much needed bottom end, I think "wow, there is no gain, mids or highs at all going on here", and I gravitate back to the buzz-ridden settings of 2 days ago. I keep trying to tweak it but it seems as though my perception of what sounds good is a constantly moving target.

Anybody else ever experience this? Is this some kind of sonic insanity? Is there a cure, short of filling whatever space I have in my place with continual new amp purchases?
 

Brion

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,165
Sounds like my experience with several Mark series Boogie amps. When they were on they were great, when they weren't I was like WTF?
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,165
Not uncommon. All of us probably go through that to varying degrees. I do.

The biggest cure for me was to have something like my Fender Pro Jr, which has only a volume and tone control, or better yet, my Champion 600, which has volume only.

Plug the guitar straight in and turn it to a comfortable volume and play.

It also helps if you don't try to get a sound out of the amp. Let the amp do what it does, and you play with what the amp gives you.

I think all these people here are always trying to force X to sound like Y and that's why they're doing all these mods and whatnot.

But you know, I look at it like this - the Pro Jr is what it is. Rather than try to make it sound different, I accept it, and then take what it gives me.

OK, so I'm not going to get soaring lead tones.

So I don't play soaring leads.

Obviously if you want or need to play soaring leads, you need something that gives that to you.

But my point is, while it may in fact sound objectively different because of humidity and temperature, it can also sound subjectively different based on your mood, your perception, your wants...

You can't really control the physical nature stuff too much, but you can change your attitude - how you "accept" what it is you're getting out of the amp that day.

And I think working through it - learning to deal with it - is an important skill and ultimately you'll be less hung up on "it's not doing what I want it to" and more like "sounds funky today, so I'll play funky riffs".
 
Messages
177
Tube amps sound a tiny bit different every time you turn them on, thats just the nature of tube amps.

Also where you are sitting or standing in relation to the speaker also changes your perception of your tone quite a bit.

I had a few days not long ago where I just couldn't be happy with what I was getting tone wise. Then I realized that I had moved my cab to adjust some crap behind it and never moved it back. The cabinet was on axis with my ears and was causing me to hate my normal settings. After I realized this and inched it ever so much off axis with my head everything was 100X better.

I used to think my drummer buddies were crazy for being so particular with the way their kits were positioned...
 

mixsit

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,202
temperature
humidity
your mood

all have an affect
Number them in order of priority -put 'you' at the top. :) That could be 'mood, 'chemistry'- (time of day, fatigue ..some others likely missing there), And don't forget our 'ear's perception shifts.. What can seem 'shrill at first, or even loud, we accommodate to after a time.
Like in mixing, why it's helpful after using exaggerated eq to dial in', dropping the eq out for a time 'resets your ear back to 'neutral before the 'final eq' decision.

... Also where you are sitting or standing in relation to the speaker also changes your perception of your tone quite a bit. ..
'Quite a bit'? It's huge! :>)
 

Mejis

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
871
I get this sometimes for sure! But the worst culprit is my pedal board; I can spend hours playing with OD pedals and delays only to find it sounds awful to me the next day. Also eat fatigue plays a role... if my ears are worn out from volume the amp just won't sound great no matter how much I mess with it. I find the best cure is honestly to take a break from playing for a day or two, or play unplugged.
 

BlueRiff

Member
Messages
6,820
Another factor is concrete basement floor vs an upstairs room where the wood floor is resonating a bit adding some bass/warmth. This is really apparent at higher volumes.
 

kwicked

Senior Member
Messages
3,669
Also where you are sitting or standing in relation to the speaker also changes your perception of your tone quite a bit.

I had a few days not long ago where I just couldn't be happy with what I was getting tone wise. Then I realized that I had moved my cab to adjust some crap behind it and never moved it back. The cabinet was on axis with my ears and was causing me to hate my normal settings. After I realized this and inched it ever so much off axis with my head everything was 100X better.
I think it's this much more than finicky tubes, warm up, etc. On or off axis makes more tone difference than anything else by far (to me) and distance from the amp is right behind that. If those are the same and its still happening, you are probably telling yourself you need yet another amp :aok
 

mixsit

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,202
This might be a bit of a deviation.. But maybe not.
There's another huge factor. 'Masking. How (or 'where perhaps more important) are we assuming these 'changes / shifts' happening? In a band context?
One thing I found early on was most tone tweaking I thought I was getting 'at home'.. went right out the window at a gig.

Then, even 'day to day, or 'song to song, the mix' -others roll' and playing, even stage volume variations- has affect on 'what sounds right'.
 

recto-robbie

Member
Messages
2,322
Also ear fatigue plays a role... if my ears are worn out from volume the amp just won't sound great no matter how much I mess with it. I find the best cure is honestly to take a break from playing for a day or two, or play unplugged

This is what I have always thought it to be, take a break for a day or two and its almost always much better when I return.
 

mixsit

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,202
Not uncommon. All of us probably go through that to varying degrees. I do.

The biggest cure for me was to have something like my Fender Pro Jr, which has only a volume and tone control, or better yet, my Champion 600, which has volume only.

Plug the guitar straight in and turn it to a comfortable volume and play.

It also helps if you don't try to get a sound out of the amp. Let the amp do what it does, and you play with what the amp gives you.

I think all these people here are always trying to force X to sound like Y and that's why they're doing all these mods and whatnot.

But you know, I look at it like this - the Pro Jr is what it is. Rather than try to make it sound different, I accept it, and then take what it gives me.

OK, so I'm not going to get soaring lead tones.

So I don't play soaring leads.

Obviously if you want or need to play soaring leads, you need something that gives that to you.

But my point is, while it may in fact sound objectively different because of humidity and temperature, it can also sound subjectively different based on your mood, your perception, your wants...

You can't really control the physical nature stuff too much, but you can change your attitude - how you "accept" what it is you're getting out of the amp that day.

And I think working through it - learning to deal with it - is an important skill and ultimately you'll be less hung up on "it's not doing what I want it to" and more like "sounds funky today, so I'll play funky riffs".
Wow. I guess I blew past' this first time through. Very excellent :>) I sort of envy some players -blues guys for example, that go very simple' and straight ahead. I'm always 'tweak as I go.
 

Papanate

Member
Messages
19,822
I get this sometimes for sure! But the worst culprit is my pedal board;
I can spend hours playing with OD pedals and delays only to find it sounds awful to me the next day. Also eat fatigue plays a role...
if my ears are worn out from volume the amp just won't sound great no matter how much I mess with it. I find the best cure is
honestly to take a break from playing for a day or two, or play unplugged.
To be right up front - and not to scare you - but if you indeed are hearing a radical change between days
you are either playing way to loud when you do play - or you have exceptionally sensitive ears that you've
damaged. IOWs your ears are fatigued to the point you've damaged them. The Reason taking a break
corrects the issue -- is simply that you've rested your ears.

A true test would be to stick a mic on the amp and record it the days you think it sounds great.
Play your favorite riff you know inside and out and the same for a chord sequence.
For the next 5 days don't move the mic - and record the same bit you've recorded the first day.

Take a week break and listen to the recordings - I'd bet you a dozen donuts it sounds the same.

Go get your ears checked out.
 

BADHAK

Member
Messages
9,675
Suffered from this for many years. My solution. ......

Find the amp that you can plug straight into, that makes smile with little or no tweaking. Only add pedals when you could be happy just playing straight in.

Turn that amp up to a reasonable band volume. That may be louder than you're allowed to play, but the volume issue can be fixed down the track. At least you are hearing the amp how it was designed to be played. The speakers are getting involved, and things can start happening.

Now turn the guitar down abit. Might take awhile to get used to, but it will smooth out your tone beautifully. Things like using vintage , or at least very worn in speakers can make a difference also.

But basically, I was using amps that had a base tone/compression /response that I didn't love, I'm was using pedals for most of my gain, I was playing the amp to quiet, and I wasn't using the guitars controls properly.

The reason why it can sound good after hours of playing (but not when you start playing....take note, this is very important! !), and then crap the next day, is because your ears are fatigued, and they block out all the harshness that bugs you when you first start. The amp might have too much low mids AND too much harsh highs, so over the period of hours playing,tweaking, tweaking,playing, you dial in more highs to lose the low mid mud, and your ears lose the ability to notice the harshness. Next day, fresh ears.....sounds like crap......because you never liked the tone in the first place.

Will that amp sound better at a gig ?? Definately. But IME if it doesn't sound great at home, then it's just not the right amp for your ears (and it might be a crap amp :)
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
7,050
You need to get your rig looked at.

I have had this MANY times with modelling rigs but not tube amps. Yeah, they can sound brighter or warmer than I remember from the day before (especially if I adjust the volume from the day before) but not radically different.

That is one thing I love amp tube amps. They differ slightly depending on the day but just slightly. Nothing major so a simple turn of volume and a notch of BMT sorts anything different from the previous day.
 

C-4

Member
Messages
14,192
The only device that consistently gives me the tone from the time before that I used it is my Kemper.
Unfortunately for me, I have yet to be able to get it to respond with the feeling I desire in a live situation.
I totally blame myself and not the amp. But, alas, it is what it is.
 






Trending Topics

Top Bottom