Why so much available gain on modern guitar pedals?

spentron

Member
Messages
1,687
While one person may want to boost with low drive using a loud pickup, while another may use single coils with the volume turned down. However the range of variation is still smaller than a main volume control, needing to go from very quiet to very loud smoothly. Usually an audio taper pot is used for that, while most dirt pedals use linear. As long as the volume works out to be more than about 1/4th, it is still less sensitive to adjust than audio taper, but it is very sensitive near off. With an (standard 10%) audio taper, most people will never use below halfway unless max. is super loud, while with linear it is the opposite.
 

tonedover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,263
Why is it that so many guitar pedals have an abundance of volume on tap? I am sure most players prefer to set the level of their effected signal to match that of their bypass signal or maybe with a slight boost when activated. However, nearly every pedal I have owned (save the Spaceman Atlas III) has waaay more volume available than I could ever need. There is a such a small sweet spot on the volume/level control sweep range. Dare I nudge the knob a bit clockwise and the signal gets really hot really quick.

I love my Atlas III because the volume increase is extremely gradual. It is the antithesis of how the level/volume control acts on most pedals. There is SO much extra volume available. How is this useful? Obviously, there must be a use for it since most pedals are made this way. Are most of you slamming the front ends of your amps that much? You must go through preamp tubes like crazy.

-Steve
its frequently a product of what the pot values are that the circuit designer aimed for.
some pots have different. min/max values, there are also pots where the “taper” of the value differs through the knob turn. (ex: the volume jumps up fast but once past noon, the volume barely rises any further)
 

Ripthorn

Member
Messages
533
Another reason has to do with how pedals are designed. To reduce the max volume, they have to add extra components, typically, which is more labor and parts cost. I build tons of pedals, and most people will leave the extra volume available because it's just easier.
 

dhdfoster

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,067
Isn’t the output on most OD pedals significantly dependent on how high the overdrive is set? Talking about the output without saying how much overdrive is being used seems pretty meaningless, IMO.
 

sjwieczorkow

Supporting Member
Messages
491
The more output your pickups have, the more volume the pedal has to have on tap in order to go above unity.
Very interesting. You may have hit the nail on the head. Being stuck in low-output pickup land for so long, I never took your perspective.
 

sjwieczorkow

Supporting Member
Messages
491
Isn’t the output on most OD pedals significantly dependent on how high the overdrive is set? Talking about the output without saying how much overdrive is being used seems pretty meaningless, IMO.
From my experience, "No". The level control never seems to influence the other gain stages as they would in a guitar amplifier.
 

cameron

Member
Messages
3,953
Designers want their pedals to be flexible and usable in different situations. Many, many people run their drive pedals into already distorting amps, and hence like the extra boost. Very few people use their pedals as an underboost to reduce the volume. Hence most of the volume knob sweep is in the boost range, with unity gain around 9:00-10:00.

I have a rig I recently put together where I run a Tumnus with the gain at minimum, and the volume dimed. I actually run this into my Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170 but with a Lightning Boy 2020 Instrument Transformer between the Tumnus and the amp (all other pedals before these). It's an unusual setup, but it warms up the solid state amp a bit. I need the volume boost to make the transformer have any effect at all, and even then it's subtle.
 

sjwieczorkow

Supporting Member
Messages
491
Because it's one of the most requested mod on many pedals. As stated above, in stage volume scenarios or with amps that are overdriven, you need more volume to push through the mix.
Isn't that what clean boosts and treble boosters are for? Do you really need 20+ Db extra to achieve what you speak of?
 

sjwieczorkow

Supporting Member
Messages
491
Many, many people run their drive pedals into already distorting amps, and hence like the extra boost.
You echo the response of another. I believe I have found my answer. As a primarily clean player I have failed to look at this from the perspective of the guys who's base tone is quite hairy to begin with.

Mission solved.

I appreciate all of the responses.
 

Valves-R-Us

Member
Messages
206
I think the conversation assumes we generally turn down volume as gain is increased to maintain close to unity. But a pedal is often started, even demoed at 12:00 straight up. Most then turn 'em down to 9:00-ish finding unity. I have a first gen J. Rockett 'The Dude' that is absolutely crazy how loud it is at 12:00. They quickly changed that 'feature' on the ver. 2. Designers follow no standards, just good guessing.
 
Last edited:

spentron

Member
Messages
1,687
Re: overdriving amps, I found the opposite, I have a fuzz that always seemed plenty loud in front of a dirty amp, but I found issues making unity when I switched to a clean amp.

From my experience, "No". The level control never seems to influence the other gain stages as they would in a guitar amplifier.
I think you're mixing up volume and gain like your original post. The gain definitely affects the volume and everything, while the volume on the pedal just controls how much of that to let out. However, except for sound adjustments, the issue here is just as much that the pedal is more constant than bypass. If the output changed with the input level like most other effects there wouldn't be this problem. But of course that would eliminate the desired result too.

Consider playing a bass through a drive: most cut bass a lot. There are pedals that can't achieve unity gain in the bass region when set to low gain, even though they may seem loud with guitar.

I have considered the subject of an internal trimmer for volume level, but there are a lot of other things one might want to adjust, while even if the volume control is touchy, it still can do the job.
 

tinkercity

Supporting Member
Messages
5,247
Isn't that what clean boosts and treble boosters are for? Do you really need 20+ Db extra to achieve what you speak of?
I don't, but many people want that extra volume on tap in case they need it. Clean & treble boosts are fine but why buy an extra pedal just to match a level on a single pedal?

FWIW, I look at Clean & Treble boosts as gain and EQ changers.... either hit a pedal or amp for more color, gain or cut/boost a frequency.

There is also a major difference between GAIN and VOLUME... many vintage pedals that don't have enough volume end up with these mod requests... hence why so many newer iterations of said pedals have more volume on tap.
 

Tiny Montgomery

Supporting Member
Messages
8,742
There is also a major difference between GAIN and VOLUME...
Not really. There is a difference between distortion and volume, though.

If you have headroom to spare, a gain boost results in more volume. If you don’t have headroom to spare, a gain boost results in more distortion.
 

thekeefus

Supporting Member
Messages
1,446
I like having the extra volume of I want to really hit the amp hard. The only pedals I've had that had problematic levels of volume were the v1 Dude and a couple of Lovepedals. I could hardly crack the volume open on those with it being stupid loud.
 

cosmic_ape

Supporting Member
Messages
6,439
What’s being said already. If you add gain on your amp and your default sound is broken up/overdriven, you will need more output coming out of your pedals.
 




Top