Turning down guitar volume pot for cleans... what am I missing??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by WholeLottaGlove, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. stargazer747

    stargazer747 Member

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    Precisely!
     
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  2. WholeLottaGlove

    WholeLottaGlove Supporting Member

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    Thank you for this. Emotion and Commotion is my favorite Beck album and has the tone I was thinking of when I posted. Makes me want to go buy a Champ!
     
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  3. classicplayer

    classicplayer Member

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    I went to lower output pickups in both of my Les Pauls. I got that idea from an interview with Slash's guitar tech awhile ago. The idea of having lower output pickups driving one of today's high powered gainy amps makes sense to me. I believe I have more control of my own tone compared to high output
    pickups constantly overloading my signal with me not being able to control that. Of course, YMMV, and it depends on what style of music you favor.

    classicplayer
     
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  4. spentron

    spentron Member

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    Seems to me like half of this is yet another way of advocating low gain type sounds. The amp vs. effects argument is another flavor of it. I lived the cranked amp lifestyle with minimal effects for a long time and it was in some ways great, even though definitely not playing blues, but going back to clean (but good sounding) amp with pedals including fuzz was as liberating to me as many report for going the other way.

    As to needing a certain amp, etc., these are all variations of saying you need something that sounds good at transitional dirt levels.

    Also, a flip side of this is if you actually want a gainy enough sound that signal to noise ratio really matters a lot, you should have the guitar cranked.

    It should be emphasized that the high output pickup sound doesn't clean up well not because the high output at all, but because of the tonal shape, the mid punch. I rarely use the volume control on the guitar, but lately get great results by changing pickup sounds. At the same time, to really get a defined crunch does require that pickup sound, and to me a single coil type sound never sounds that distorted to me no matter what the gain almost, unless a fuzz or tone control makes it sound a little more like a humbucker.

    That doesn't make sense, because the best thing if the front end of your amp is clipping is to turn down the guitar (that Trainwreck video shows an example where this is a requirement with any pickup, I can't argue with the results but in some ways that's a bad design). It's not the level it's the tone differences between these PUs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  5. Stratosphere

    Stratosphere Member

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    When I first bought my Axe FX Ultra I was a bit skeptical. I had something like 2 weeks to decide whether to keep it or not. So on preset one was a Mesa Boogie simulation which I assume was meant to be a demo for the Ultra. A thick, meaty growl, kinda metal. So I played that for about 30 seconds enjoying that and then did my test turning the guitar down to about 5. It was glorious. One of the best examples (in my limited experience then) of a guitar cleaning up so nicely and changing character at the time. I kept it. Axe FX does this well on a lot of models although some really high gain simulations when cranked up only clean up a little bit. Listen to EVH when he turns down. It's never really a truly clean tone. Though if set up pretty clean you can get some of that out of those models too. But then that's really not the point of a brown sound and such having only a moderate crunchy gain and not the insane distortion those models are known for.

    And of course some other amp Fender-y / Roland Jazz Chorus sims mostly get louder with only some break-up and turning down mostly just gets quieter. It's a great modeler. I recently acquired an Axe FX II XL and while it's a lot more detailed sounding I'm not yet getting some of the throaty growl / Harley Davidson rumble out of some of the II XL's heavier models as I can out of the Ultra.
     
  6. JipThePeople

    JipThePeople Member

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    I first getva great clean tone just short of the edge of breakup. If i need crytsal clean i can move vol knob from 10 to 8 or 9. Any dirt is added with pedals, either skight od or high gain. Simole and easy to manage w/o relying on constant vol knob gymnastics.
     
  7. GenoVox

    GenoVox Member

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    In my experience, the following yields the best results for this:

    – Either treble bleed circuit or 50s wiring – this is an absolute must IMHO
    – It tends to work better with non-master volume amps (as I have recently been reminded of with my new Marshall SV20)
    – It can also work well with master volume/amp gain, but it varies with the amp (my old JCM800 was great for this… my Mesa Boogies, not so much)
    – It can also work pretty well with dynamically responsive dirt pedals into “clean” amps – I did this for years, with a RAT and a few other pedals (most recently, an SL Drive)

    Lastly… as with most things, it’s all relative. If your amp is set up for mild crunch, it should clean up nicely. But don’t expect a heavily overdriven amp to turn into Fendery cleans with a sweep of your volume knob… all that will do is make it a bit less overdriven. One would think this factor should be obvious, but you’d be surprised….
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
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  8. macmeda

    macmeda Silver Supporting Member

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    Can I change my user name ?
     
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  9. Old Possum

    Old Possum Member

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    Lol, you know...just a baby bottom touch...nice and soft
     
  10. classicplayer

    classicplayer Member

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    All it took for me to figure out what sounds I can get just using guitar volume controls...was to just
    boost the volume of my amp. I also went from the 7 watt setting to its 15 watt mode. Viola! To me,
    there is nothing so satisfying and relying on just my guitar and amp with maybe a reverb or delay pedal in the amp's loop. With the amount of gain built into my Orange and the degree to which I like hearing it, I don't need external distortion devices.


    classicplayer
     
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  11. De Batz

    De Batz Member

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    It is worth a bit of a diversion, here, because there is some info that is useful to readers of this thread that might need a bit of explaining:

    • In general, a master volume works towards the end of the preamp circuit
    • In non-master circuits, the volume control is often at the start (ish) of the preamp
    • In gain/master circuits, it is the gain control that is near the start of the circuit; gain controls very rarely control gain per se, they generally drop out some signal to avoid overloading later stages (or to make sure they do overload!)
    • Your average MV circuit is overdriving a handful of half-ECC83 stages in the preamp, but probably not doing the same to the power valves
    • Several of these gain stages are well into the distortion range (and compressing quite hard)
    • Reducing the signal here won't decrease the amount of distortion much because of the number of stages overdriving; you might underdrive stage 1 by lowering your guitar volume, but you'll still be overdriving stages 2, 3 and 4
    • Your average NMV circuit is dangerously loud when it's overdriving the power valves
    • But this same NMV circuit is also overdriving the preamp (a bit) when it's overdriving the power amp.
    • No one stage in the loud NMV amp is really far down the path into distortion.
    • Because of that last point, reducing the signal a relatively small amount reduces the amount of distortion a relatively large amount
    • So a gentle twist of the volume control can reduce the amount of overdrive and get you to actual (or nearly) clean sounds
    • The amount of gain in the preamp of an average (old or old-fashioned) NMV amp will be less than in the average modern MV gain channel.
    When it comes to mud, wooliness and EQ, my guess is that in most cases the way you EQ a MV gain channel is to reduce the treble a lot internally to prevent fizzmageddon, and this sounds bad for clean sounds. In the NMV amp case, there just is a lot more treble in the signal at each stage, but you're not adding high order harmonics to it by hammering gain stages into distortion, so it doesn't sound like fizz.

    To summarise: playing loud is clever. Try it.
     
  12. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Fishing for an uptick in PM's?
     
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  13. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    The technique works best with Single Coil Guitars IME - and Humbucking Guitars need a Treble Bleed on the pot to make it work right - one caveat IMO it's doesn't work as well with Humbuckers - even with the Treble Bleed circuit.
     
  14. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    agreed on all points ! :agree

    its just - my posts here were so long already :rolleyes2: without explaining general architecture (which you did admirably well now !), my apologies if I took too much for granted. :oops:

    but most of all, your famous last words bear repeating :
    playing loud is clever ! :dude

    lol,
    Rhino
     
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  15. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    allow me to disagree here.
    hard clipping the input stage implies you have to roll back quite a bit before even reaching the max input level before clipping (what would be called 0 dBFS in pro audio).
    so you already dive in with a big handicap ...

    and what's wrong with advocating lower output PUs in the context of this thread ?
    they do work better for cleaning up. :dunno
    everybody is free to stack distortion pedals into a high gain amp to make their high output PUs scream even more, but that's not what this thread is about, afaics.

    peace,
    Rhino
     
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  16. De Batz

    De Batz Member

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    Most of the replies seem to concur that it's loud but relatively low gain overdrive sounds that will clean up.

    One thing with high output active pickups is that they generally retain their treble turned down a bit, so maybe they provide a route...? Your average passive motherbucker is too mid-focused to really work to do this, I suppose. But it's not really my area...
     
  17. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Member

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    For me it works well with all types of pickups (I haven't tried it with active pickups). I use 50s wiring instead of treble bleeds.
     
  18. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Maybe. The main thing is it is just a thing to try and see. There are variables here for all such as PU signals strength, OD pedal or just straight in, MV (set as much like non MV as possible to negate it) or non MV, type of amp.

    So I take the info here as a guideline, but even if ones setup isn’t optimal for the technique, one might be a lot happier with the result trying some of the points here. I think most of us also have more than one guitar so many possibilities to try!
     
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  19. damian1

    damian1 Member

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    I never got it until I got a fuzz face. Amp turned up pretty loud. In my case for home I use an old harmony amp thats probably only a couple of watts through a marshall jcm 900 412 cab.

    I am now totally a believer. The range of tones I can get with the twist of a volume knob is astounding and has energized my playing. The difference in volume level between dirty and clean is not too drastic, a problem Id had before when trying the the volume knob clean up. The "clean" is not sparkly clean but its not my thing anyhow. With some lighter pick attack you can get close though.

    Truth be told I have not tried any of my humbucker guitars yet just my strat. Get a fuzz face and give it a shot
     
  20. ledzep618

    ledzep618 Supporting Member

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    your guitar is missing a treble bleed circuit.
     

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