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One Man's Grit is another Man's Clean

Lucidology

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,097
Wouldn't you agree that "clean" tone is a relative term ...?

So many "clean" tones have way too much breakup to my ears,
and I could never call it a truly "clean" tone...
Yet many folk describe they slightly breaking up tones as clean (i.e, complex, character, smooth, etc.)

Seems odd to moi to call something clean which really isn't...
but then again moi is an odd one ... :YinYang
 

xcycle

Member
Messages
424
Yes... guy's like Carlton will be playing along doing some greasy single note stuff that sounds clean as a whistle and then suddenly hit a triad and low and behold there is quite a bit of dirt going on there.

I like my cleans to be dirty.

Eric
 

Flameout12

Member
Messages
1,178
I agree.
In fact, playing amps at their absolute cleanest settings are not always the best tone IMO, at least for picking.

Seems we always need a little compression or some kind of pick attack mojo to find the sweet spot when picking.
 

BCJek

Member
Messages
902
I do know that occasionally on gear demos I click on the link to the "clean" sample, and what I hear has a fair bit of hair to it. I guess what the poster meant that it was perhaps "as clean as THIS amp gets".
 

Jay Mitchell

Senior Member
Messages
5,643
So many "clean" tones have way too much breakup to my ears,
and I could never call it a truly "clean" tone...
Yet many folk describe they slightly breaking up tones as clean (i.e, complex, character, smooth, etc.)
You've hit a pet peeve of mine. When I say "clean," I mean squeaky-clean. No hair. No wool. Compression is fine, as is some tube-amp high frequency edge. It also means to me that you can play double-stops and chords without audible breakup.

I'm not saying I don't like certain hairy or gritty minimal-breakup sounds, I just don't call 'em "clean."

Seems odd to moi to call something clean which really isn't...
Yep. Go figger.
 

jnug

Member
Messages
674
i like to dial in a clean with a crunch, so i guess it's actually a crunch, then roll the guitar volume back to get it clean, and the roll the volume up to get the crunch back.
 

ripoffriffs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,142
You want clean? Try a Gibson J-45/50. Can't get any cleaner than that.

You've hit a pet peeve of mine. When I say "clean," I mean squeaky-clean. No hair. No wool. Compression is fine, as is some tube-amp high frequency edge. It also means to me that you can play double-stops and chords without audible breakup.

I'm not saying I don't like certain hairy or gritty minimal-breakup sounds, I just don't call 'em "clean."

Yep. Go figger.
 

alguit

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,838
Clean to me is Chet Atkins playing sparkling parts on Gretsch with the pu selector in middle position.

It always cracks me up that in guitar magazines, when talking about reducing OD for better tone, they usually give as an example Angus Young and say how he gets a surprisingly clean tone. One time, a young friend then called me to say that he was playing his SG through a Fender set really clean and couldn't get Angus' tone!

"Clean" and "dirty" and most of the others are so subjective-I'll set up my guitar and amp so that there's a Black Sabbath-type overdrive, and that same young friend, who's mostly into death metal, says it "too clean," "not brutal enough," etc.
 

CharAznable

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,077
AC/DC is downright clean for the people that like teh brootulz.

For me squeaky clean is the early 80's King Crimson stuff.

My own "cleans" have a tiny bit of crunch in them, to allow the upper midrange to pop a bit. You can't really hear it unless you play more than 3 notes at the same time.
 

Jay Mitchell

Senior Member
Messages
5,643
You want clean? Try a Gibson J-45/50. Can't get any cleaner than that.
Well, there's "acoustic," which I often use, and there's "clean" electric, which I often use as well. Different sounds, different musical uses.

Not all acoustics sound perfectly "clean," BTW. There's always some amount of fret buzz, depending on the guitar setup and your playing technique. Sometimes I will intentionally play hard enough to create some "pop" when I'm playing acoustic.
 

Pat Healy

Senior Member
Messages
10,952
You've hit a pet peeve of mine. When I say "clean," I mean squeaky-clean. No hair. No wool. Compression is fine, as is some tube-amp high frequency edge. It also means to me that you can play double-stops and chords without audible breakup.

I'm not saying I don't like certain hairy or gritty minimal-breakup sounds, I just don't call 'em "clean."
+1. When I play clean, I want no dirt at all, and I adjust the amp's settings until I don't hear any breakup.
 
Messages
3,383
I used to think cleans needed a little hair on them to sound good. This also has to do with feel; I like a spongy attack on my clean sounds, but that doesn't necessarily mean grit. With my new 100-watt Dumble-style amp, the cleans aren't necessarily dirty (at good loud volumes), but they have this very satisfyingly elastic feel and sound to them, so even if they are crystal-clean or if they are a little dirty, they still have a great quality to them. Not many amps have been very satisfying in the way they feel and sound. Most cleans of just about any amp I've tried at low volumes lack that quality -- they are pretty sterile and lifeless. But crank it up and you get more interaction between speaker and amp, which in my opinion causes the clean tones to have that elastic spongy feel and sound.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,273
I. But crank it up and you get more interaction between speaker and amp, which in my opinion causes the clean tones to have that elastic spongy feel and sound.
That's a nice area to play in.
I agree that what is posted as clean is often not.
'Clean' is direct into the mixer set for vast overhead.
Clean, with a band is, typically, a classic Fender, with the guitar on full and the amp volume up, but no discernible breakup even on 'power chords.'
Just like Leo intended, right?:AOK
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,548
i def understand, but.....

i don't care what ya call it,
if it sounds good & the music moves me.

dt / spltrcl
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Hearder
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,224
Ya I agree Joseph - cleans are clean. "Semi-cleans" are semi-clean. "Gritties" are gritty. Dirties are dirty. :D

Using them is equally simple. You use a clean tone when a clean tone makes most sense musically. You use a semi-clean tone when it makes sense musically. Etc. Etc.

The corollary is you don't use a semi-clean tone when it's really a clean tone that is called for...
 




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