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Master Volume and Gain Pedals


Fragile Harmonics
Platinum Supporting Member
I’m hoping someone can explain this to me in a technical, but yet not overly technical way: Why do I seem to not like single channel, clean amps w/ Master Volume when using gain pedals vs. single channel, clean amps w/o Master Volume?

What might be the technical reasons behind how a Volume/Gain and Master Volume interact in an amp circuit that could result in gain pedals sounding less-good (to me) in amps with a Master Volume — unless they are very, very loud on both Volume/Gain and Master Volume?

For example, I really have trouble dialing in frequencies and a sound I like with a variety of gain pedals using my Two Rock Studio Signature. The only time it sounds good is when the Gain knob is turned up a lot more than I’d prefer ordinarily (for clean tone purposes). It also has some weirdness with the Treble and Presence knobs I haven’t quite figured out, but that’s another thing…

Is it as simple as the fact that your “gain” and “loudness” are somewhat disconnected from each other in an amp with a separate Master Volume? Whereas a single channel amp with a single Volume knob means that both “gain” and “loudness” are one-and-the-same?


Gain and master controls are both volume controls, just placed at various points in the circuit. It might be that you like the sound of a certain number of stages getting hit harder with the pedal, or something. You could run your master amp like a non-master by cranking the master and then using the gain knob as your volume control. If you still don't like the sound, then it isn't the master it's just the characteristics of the amp

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