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My clean tone is absolute garbage at stage volume.

cshore

Member
Messages
441
Dr. Z Z-Lux is the amp in question.

Playing clean at gigs, my clean tone is clippy, tinny and distorted in a not-fun way. It tends to sound ok with my OD pedals on. I've had all the tubes switched out, filter caps too. The problem is significantly less noticeable at bedroom volumes.

Possible problems I can think of:
-This is an amp with no FX Loop so maybe running a little bit of delay, reverb or wah in front is overloading something?
-Something wrong with the speaker maybe?
-Could this amp just suck?

I know that tube amps are "supposed" to "break up" when you crank them, but I'm talking about an unpleasant sound that is definitely not the sweet sounding tube breakup we all picture. I plugged into a Mesa 5:35 the other day and loved the clean sound when cranked. It still sounded like a nice clean amp and not like a tin can.

I do a lot of jazzy lead stuff in my band and need my clean tone to not sound terrible. Any advice would be great. On the one hand I think I should just sell this POS and move on, but on the other hand I think maybe there's something wrong with it where it'd be disingenuous to sell it as working condition. And also, if it is something fixable then there's no reason I shouldn't like the amp otherwise.
 

pipboy90

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
42
What's the wattage of the amp? Low wattage amps are going to "break up" at louder volumes and distort. You want higher wattage amps that can keep their clean tone intact as the volume goes up. 50+ watts are ideal.
 

cshore

Member
Messages
441
What's the wattage of the amp? Low wattage amps are going to "break up" at louder volumes and distort. You want higher wattage amps that can keep their clean tone intact as the volume goes up. 50+ watts are ideal.

40W. Should be decent enough for the small and medium sized rooms I play. Again, this isn't "tube breakup" in the traditional sense, this is "this amp sounds like absolute trash." I do probably want to try something with more real headroom, but like I said I played through a 35W amp the other day that was pretty pristine at similar volumes.
 

pipboy90

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
42
40W. Should be decent enough for the small and medium sized rooms I play. Again, this isn't "tube breakup" in the traditional sense, this is "this amp sounds like absolute trash." I do probably want to try something with more real headroom, but like I said I played through a 35W amp the other day that was pretty pristine at similar volumes.

Then like Scooter says, something is probably wrong with the amp. I'd try to get it looked at by a good tech or reach out to Dr. Z about it.
 
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cshore

Member
Messages
441
Looks like I'm a few years past the warranty period for this amp. It's about 5 years old.
 

Todd1357

Member
Messages
267
Ditto on the above question above about guitar/pickups. Also, is it the stock American-voiced Z-12 speaker in there? If you have other speakers/cabs lying around, have you tried those? What kind of amp settings do you use?

All that aside, listening to the sample vids on youtube for the Z-lux, it really seems like it's a hot rodded Fender blackface. The sound is prone to break up pretty easily and really sounds like a cranked blackface fender. I like that tone, but not for my main sound personally. And yeah if you're going for a full, rich clean tone, it doesn't seem like the Z-lux will do it the way you want.

Also, the point above saying 50+ watts are best for intact cleans at stage volumes is spot on IMO. When I use a Twin or a Showman (70-80 watts), it sounds full, rich and CLEAN at stage volume.

Best of luck!
 

cshore

Member
Messages
441
What guitar/pickups are you using?
Try it with no effects, just plug straight in as a troubleshooting method.
My favorite clean tones are with an amp turned up louder than needed with the guitar volume rolled back a bit.
Have you tried that?

Yeah I tend to play with my guitar volume a hair back. I have a few guitars I switch between, and yes the effect is more noticeable on my hottest pickups (whatever's in my Ibanez AZ), however, it's still noticeable on my other guitars with significantly lower output pickups (PRS 59/09s, Kiesel Mark's Single Coils which are comedically low output).

I grabbed a little solo'd segment of just my guitar from last night's multitrack. You can really hear it on the lower register about halfway through this short clip. This was clean with only light delay engaged in front

 

jaxjaxon

Member
Messages
844
A few things to do one would be to change out the preamp tubes for a lower gain type and the other is use a underwound alnico2 pickup unless you want a different sound profile from your pickup then try alnico 5 or 7 each type of pickup has a profile to it the windings and how they are wound give a different electrical type field.
 

Neptical

Member
Messages
1,185
Sounds like you're running out of clean headroom to me. That's what running out of headroom sounds like ...breakup in a flubby, not fun distorted way.

This is exactly why I buy I've been buying big,clean headroom amps and using them as pedal platforms. Also, my direction for awhile now as been getting more SS. Won't ever have this problem anymore.
 
Messages
549
Fender Twins and Super Reverbs of vintage are an absolute steal right now. You can grab one for under $1,000 and it will be the loudest, most glorious clean sound you ever heard. Headroom for years. Everyone is buying up the lower wattage Princetons and Deluxes and dumping the big iron. Huge mistake. Buy an attenuator and take advantage of their short sightedness. That will be a lifetime purchase and will never sell for less than you paid for it.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
35,499
Sounds clippy.
Master on full, in full power (40W) mode?
It is very easy to bench test the amp for signal integrity and output level.
Tube or a small circuit fault could be doing this.
 

cshore

Member
Messages
441
Sounds like you're running out of clean headroom to me. That's what running out of headroom sounds like ...breakup in a flubby, not fun distorted way.

This is exactly why I buy I've been buying big,clean headroom amps and using them as pedal platforms. Also, my direction for awhile now as been getting more SS. Won't ever have this problem anymore.
Fender Twins and Super Reverbs of vintage are an absolute steal right now. You can grab one for under $1,000 and it will be the loudest, most glorious clean sound you ever heard. Headroom for years. Everyone is buying up the lower wattage Princetons and Deluxes and dumping the big iron. Huge mistake. Buy an attenuator and take advantage of their short sightedness. That will be a lifetime purchase and will never sell for less than you paid for it.

I appreciate the feedback. I guess I never envisioned that such a crappy sound could come from running my amp with the volume and master both barely at 10-11 o clock!

I likely should upgrade to something with higher wattage I suppose. I'm tempted to get as close to 100W as possible, because I am very tired of this issue.
 

David M.

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
856
Dr. Z Z-Lux is the amp in question.

Playing clean at gigs, my clean tone is clippy, tinny and distorted in a not-fun way. It tends to sound ok with my OD pedals on. I've had all the tubes switched out, filter caps too. The problem is significantly less noticeable at bedroom volumes.

Possible problems I can think of:
-This is an amp with no FX Loop so maybe running a little bit of delay, reverb or wah in front is overloading something?
-Something wrong with the speaker maybe?
-Could this amp just suck?

I know that tube amps are "supposed" to "break up" when you crank them, but I'm talking about an unpleasant sound that is definitely not the sweet sounding tube breakup we all picture. I plugged into a Mesa 5:35 the other day and loved the clean sound when cranked. It still sounded like a nice clean amp and not like a tin can.

I do a lot of jazzy lead stuff in my band and need my clean tone to not sound terrible. Any advice would be great. On the one hand I think I should just sell this POS and move on, but on the other hand I think maybe there's something wrong with it where it'd be disingenuous to sell it as working condition. And also, if it is something fixable then there's no reason I shouldn't like the amp otherwise.

That’s interesting, when you use Drive pedals, it sounds good but when you roll off the gain, it doesn’t?

If you are getting your gain from pedals, then your amp should be dialed in fairly clean, so make sure your master volume is up and don’t drive the preamp, but most of all, you need an amp with sufficient headroom.
 




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