Question for single channel amp owners

Ctrl4Smilers

Member
Messages
27
I'm in the market for a new amp and a couple of the amps I'm considering are single channel (MB California Tweed & Friedman Dirty Shirley Mini). Both of these amps have gain on tap which sounds great (I know they are very different amps) but it doesn't seem practical to walk over to the amp and adjust the gain every time you want to use it. My question is, single channel amp owners, how are you using your amps? Do you dial in edge of breakup, and then use pedals for the rest? Do you set the gain where you want it, and roll back the volume? I really like the idea of an amp with one really great channel, but want to know more about how they are used in a practical sense.
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
6,080
Most of the amps that I've owned, even channel switchers, only sounded good on one channel. Or they had a shared EQ and only sounded good on one channel at a time. So I've primarily played on amps that were effectively single channel amps.

What I do, is set the amp up for edge of breakup. Then I can back off to clean it up, or dig in to get some break up. If I need more, I have a clean boost to push the front end harder. If I need even more than that, I have a distortion pedal to push the front end and add some extra fuzz.

The way I try to treat a guitar's tone is like a singer's voice. It should be the same voice throughout, but as the singer pushes harder, his/her voice starts to break up. It's still the same voice, but you can hear not only the rise in volume, but the rise in distress. So it's all a bunch of smooth transitions from one stage to another. I hate it when a guitar goes from pristine clean to heavy distortion, and it sounds like two different guitars.
 

Just Mike

Member
Messages
612
If I were starting over with a new rig, I would start with the amp as my foundation sound. Add pedals to taste. Unless you have a sound in your head, this is the best way to approach it, IMHO. There are too many options today. The guitar, amp and speaker-in that order-are your foundation. Adopt it, love it, nurture it. Make it yours.
 

JimmyBrungus

Member
Messages
153
Nearly all my amps are single channeled, now. I run mine with a decent crunch where I can roll back my guitar volume to clean it up, or step on a boost to push the amp into more sustaining saturation. Pedalboard is usually staffed with a wah, tuner, vibe, fuzz, boost, and delay, fed straight into the amp. I don't miss the channel switchers at all.
 

BlueWolf

Mutations Expert
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,517
I use my single channel amp both ways. Sometimes I will just dial it in to a baseline setting and use a pedal board and guitar volume knob(s) to add/adjust color, but I don‘t have any issue with dialing in the amp’s gain using the controls on the amp itself.
 

mysticaxe

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,024
When using a single channel amp (or a channel on a switcher for multiple sounds), I first set up for the best "main sound" (which in my case is almost always going to be a fairly crunchy lead) then see how well I clean up with a volume knob. If it doesn't get to an "OK" place, then I start to figure out how much I am willing to compromise the "A" sound to meet the "B" sound. For heavier gain, I'll add a Tumnus/SHO/Tubescreamer type pedal to go over the top.
 

mysticaxe

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,024
For 95% of what I tend to do, I am willing to compromise on clean tone for a better crunch tone. If I really need great cleans (for recording or something), then set the amps up for that sound/take, then re-dial them in.
 

Alfi27

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
251
Always felt the most at home with single channel amps personally, which is (one of the reasons) why I've never been able to jive with digital stuff like Kemper etc... It depends entirely on the amp how I use it though, if the amp has enough gain on tap I'll just plug straight in and use the pickup selector on my Les Paul as a channel switch of sorts. If it doesn't have enough gain I'll either put a pedal in front of it and use it just like a higher gain amp, or disengage the pedal for cleaner tones.

That said, I now have a killer channel switching amp that sounds amazing on both channels. So I'm now planning on setting up a more intricate setup with a Fractal FX8 taking care of channel switching and effects, to have something completely different. If I had to choose though, I would go with this amp over a single channel amp - it isn't always a compromise to have two channels. Dedicated EQ for each channel is a good start. If you can swing it, the Friedman Twin Sister is among the most flexible amps on the market right now.
 

sutherland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,962
Marshall set to crunch
- for cleans, a compressor to lower the signal
- for leads, an SD-1
 

dcburn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,469
I owned both of those amps within the last year or so.

The Cali Tweed was a pretty cool amp. I ran edge of breakup and controlled with guitar knobs. Pedals for more. Had a beautiful clean tone, really beautiful. Breakup sound wasn't for me. I didn't care for the tonal change when using the power scaling, and this was my first single channel amp. My goal was having a better sounding amp, with better sounding gain which I don't believe was in the Cali Tweed. I will admit though that I was not opening up on a stage and getting up there in volume. Maybe with high volume the amp would sound better with its natural gain. I did eventually attenuate (I found I didn't mind the 20 or 40 watt setting, hence using an attenuator) and it was ok but I ultimately sold it. In my mind, for $2000, I want to be happy with my tone. This was the first real amp where I wanted great amp tone, not pedal tone...

Soooo, my buddy owns a Friedman and really likes what he gets out of it. Started looking into them and next thing you know I am buying my first head and cab, Dirty Shirley mini 20 watt. Wow what an amp! I don't agree with everyone here that the MV is the greatest thing ever. Low volume on the amp is very thin and anemic. In comes a Fryette Power Station 2. Again wow! Everything I wanted. Great tone! Edge of break up sounded great as well as turning up the gain knob. She just sings! Roll back the guitar and cleans up so nice. Three way gain stage toggle is pretty sweet. However as you go up in gain stages you get less roll back clean. So I tended to keep it on the first and sometimes second gain stage when I was feeling crazy. Amp absolutely blew me away!

However, I did get tired of not using the third gain stage and turning knobs. I really play clean a lot. I noticed that with the single channel amp, that I was turning knobs. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a lot, but I was noticing.

Being primarily an at home player, maybe I really do want the versatility of a two channel...

Well the DS mini is so effing awesome, I sold it and purchased a Twin Sister first week of December '21, Merry Xmas to me. From first plugging it in, what a tonal difference between a 20 watt and 40 watt. Night and day! Now I have the best of both worlds. I can set up the first channel edge of breakup and roll back guitar clean and then the second I can run with more gain, maybe even the third gain stage when I'm feeling crazy, haha. I don't need any pedals, well I do use an Immerse reverb in the loop. I love boosting with a klone (if I run out of guitar volume sweep).

Sorry if I rambled on. I will say if I went back and had to choose between the Cali and the Dirty Shirley mini, its no contest. I'd take the Dirty Shirley every time, hands down!!! Looks cooler and sounds even better!

Good luck...
 

Benz2112

Memba?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,496
Non channel switching amps are a lot more about the grey area between clean and gained up, then a channel switcher that is geared towards the extremes of that spectrum. I have two different rigs, both non channel switcher, one of which has two channels, a Supro, but is not a switcher. On that amp, I use a jumpered channel, which is rather gainy on its own, roll off the volume to go clean, or hit a pedal for more compression and saturation. My Suhr Badger rig is much more jangly clean, and then I stack gain stages to get to a meaner place.
 

G'OlPeachPhan

Member
Messages
1,323
I really like single channel amps and using guitar knobs for clean up, and I’ve been satisfied with setups like that for many years. That said, the Dr. Z amps that have the footswitchable variable boost (such as the Z-Plus and Z-Lux) bridge the gap between single channel and channel switching very effectively, and have kind of ruined me for other single channel amps that don’t have it. Also, the MV’s on Dr. Z’s amps are terrific.
 

TooMuchFiber

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,049
With my Cali Tweed I go from clean to a bit of break up with either the volume knob or a Timmy to boost and add a bit of gain. The amp itself doesn't deliver a lot of gain by modern standards (or even by 5e3 standards), but the cleans are amazing and the low gain tones are certainly tweedy.
 

TDJMB

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,727
The best OD sound I ever had was with a Mesa Boogie IIIC. But the clean sound wasn't great so I sold it. I now wonder if I should've kept it and gone with separate amp heads for clean & OD.
 

MoosBros

Member
Messages
423
I'm in the market for a new amp and a couple of the amps I'm considering are single channel (MB California Tweed & Friedman Dirty Shirley Mini). Both of these amps have gain on tap which sounds great (I know they are very different amps) but it doesn't seem practical to walk over to the amp and adjust the gain every time you want to use it. My question is, single channel amp owners, how are you using your amps? Do you dial in edge of breakup, and then use pedals for the rest? Do you set the gain where you want it, and roll back the volume? I really like the idea of an amp with one really great channel, but want to know more about how they are used in a practical sense.
I've been using a pair of Excelsior's for a while now. One channel/no efx loop.
They sound best just on the edge, and I use a pretty elaborate pedalboad setup with them. In some situations they're too loud, in other situations, not quite clean loud enough.

They seem to work best around 85-95db SPL. Too loud for church, not loud enough to compete with a gorilla drummer. A treble booster at the front end seems to go a long way to solving the problem in either situation.

The core tone is good though, and the pedalboad adds the variety of spices.
 

altouchet

Member
Messages
137
To the OP’s original question, I think it depends on whether you play live and cover a wide variety of styles. I play in a 3 pc Classic Oldies Band. I’d say about 60% of our songs require some level of crunch/overdrive, and on the other 40% I need a good clean sound. If you are in this situation, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to sacrifice a pristine clean sound for maybe a slightly dirty clean sound. If you set the amp up for edge of break up, and roll the volume down for cleans, you may find that you don’t have enough volume level for your clean sound.
I set up my single channel amp for a good clean sound and let the pedals do the dirt. Do they sound as good as if they were hitting the front end of an amp that’s already breaking up? No, probably not, but I managed to find some overdrives I like and maybe stack a couple to give me the various levels of gain I need. I do ride my volume knob a lot, but it usually to go from a slightly dirty sound to a heavier dirt sound. I’ve never played a Dirty Shirley. I have always wanted to try one. It may have a beautiful clean sound, but my gut is the MB California Tweed probably has more clean headroom, which might work better if you need to cover a lot of variety of styles. Just get a couple good overdrive pedals.
 




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