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Why the Non-Master Marshall's?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by free_jazz, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. free_jazz

    free_jazz Member

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    I've noticed many preferences to non-master heads, usually when Marshalls are mentioned. Cleaner circuit, perhaps? Anybody care to elucidate?
    I assume this is strictly for playing live venues at VOLUME to allow the tone to break up via natural overdrive...?? Or does the preference extend even to bedroom volume?
    Thanks.
     
  2. michael patrick

    michael patrick Supporting Member

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    I can't speak for anyone else, but I like 'em for the way they sound. I've owned lots of amps over the years, and nothing else gives me that sound.

    I use a Hotplate to knock own the volume while still being able to push the power section.
     
  3. Mayflower

    Mayflower Supporting Member

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    I prefer to use my non master volume amps as a "Power amp with tone controls" Then use pedals on the front end.
    Others prefer the master volume when they use the amp for distortion. Preamp up, master down. Of course this is generally speaking.
    Decide which way you want to go and give it a try.
    I really do like to think of my amps as a "power amp with tone controls",
    get a great clean sound...then slam the frontend!
    When you have the preamp cranked on a master volume amp, it doesn't take time based fx ( chourusing, delay ) to well unless you use them in the fx loop, post preamp ( if the amp has one ).
    I prefer non master amps in general.
     
  4. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    I'm no Technical Guru but I believe it all boils down to Power Tube Distortion. With a Plexi style amp the power tubes are doing the overdrive you hear or most of it.

    In a Master Volume Amp the overdrive you hear is the Preamp Tubes Distorting. To me one is not better than the other but there is a Major Tonal Difference. Thats why I have both.

    As far as bedroom levels go you can get that out of a Non Master Marshall 18 watter or Fender Princeton but not out of a Plexi unless you have a Hot Plate. A Non Master Plexi Style Amp aint really for tyhe bedroom.
     
  5. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    That's still going to be an awfully loud bedroom! ;)
     
  6. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    This is often repeated, but is not really true; unless you consider the phase inverter a "power tube", it is part of the power amp section after all. The distortion from a non-MV amp comes from the entire amp, but mostly from the pre-amp & phase inverter, less from the power tubes. Most amps just do not drive the power tubes into distortion, there just is not enough of a voltage swing from the phase inverter to do this. The power tubes do add their signature to the sum total of the sound, but a lot of distortion is not typically part of it.

    Note that I said MOST, not ALL amps, there are some amps that can drive the power tubes to distort, the 18 watt Marshall you mentioned is one of them. But the famous non-MV Marshall 50 & 100 watt amps are not. The breakup you hear from them is mostly from the phase inverter being driven by the preamp to distort. This is why post PI master volume controls work well these types of amps.

    Other amps with higher gain levels and master volumes do create most of the distortion in the preamp, and pre-PI master volumes work well with them. But again, power tube distortion is not really part of the picture with these amps either.
     
  7. toddyjoe

    toddyjoe Member

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    I would say there is less power-tube distortion in non-master volume Marshall amps than most people think. From my experience, a lot of the classic Marshall distortion in non-master amps comes from the middle part of the amp, especially clipping in the phase inverter. That is one reason why post-phase inverter master volume mods are popular with Marshall owners... they still preserve much of the Marshall distortion coming before the output tubes. At bigger volumes, the EL34 power tubes clip in a way that adds some distortion and, more importantly, softly rounds off the harsh edge caused by preamp-tube distortion alone. For example, if you turn down a post-phase inverter master volume knob when the standard volume knob is maxed, you will get less of the soft clipping from the output stage and more of the harsh edge of the preamp-triode distortion. Could be why you do not see a lot of non-metal players running "Rich mod" master volumes on 1 or 2.

    The master-volume era of Marshalls has a slightly different circuit than the non-master volume models and places the master volume before the phase inverter, cutting out the phase inverter clipping from the overall sound. Not a big change when you are thinking of clean tones but it makes a bigger difference when you are aiming for that late 60's or early 70's Marshall distortion.

    Edit: It looks like hasserl and I were thinking the same thing at the same time. :)
     
  8. free_jazz

    free_jazz Member

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    Just what I was looking for...
    Thanks to everyone for replying.
    Cheers.
     
  9. Laroosco!

    Laroosco! Member

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    I like the non masters because they ssound better to me for the most part, whether it's clean with pedals or driven on it's own. Something pure about them.
     
  10. nsriley

    nsriley Member

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    I never knew this.....I always was told or thought that, that great Plexi (non-master) cranked sound, was mainly output tube distortion. I just learned something new today. Changes my whole outlook on amps! Great post!

    -Peace
    -Nate
     
  11. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

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    Non master volume amps sound fantastic to my ears when they are turned up loud enough to saturate the power tubes. I think they have more clarity and punch than the amps that generate their distortion from preamp fizz.

    Non master volume amps don't lie. If your chops are sloppy, it will show. Since I have moved to NMV amps, my playing has cleaned up by miles.:)
     
  12. Slaphappy

    Slaphappy Member

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    Can you just not use the master volume on a MV amp and get the power tube tone???
     
  13. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    Well you just have to take what I say as being what I believe.

    I would agree the PI does contribute to the sound.

    In my opinion the Post Phase Inverter Master Volume Turned down does not at all sound like the Amp cranked. With a 100 watter Cranked the sound is not the same. Maybe those tubes dont saturate at all but the sound isnt even close to my ears.

    I guess thats why so many folks use Hot Plates because there is no distortion comming from the Power Tubes/Output Tranny end of the deal.
     
  14. PlexiBreath

    PlexiBreath Member

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    The tone players seek from non-master Marshalls is a blend of preamp, poweramp (phase inverter + power tubes + output transformer). But it's not because of the master volume in the early master volume amps, many other things are different, though not much different, different enough.
     
  15. toddyjoe

    toddyjoe Member

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    Please do not read my prior post as saying you were completely wrong. As I mentioned above, the output stage does contribute to the overall sound in a significant way. That is why I mentioned that a post-phase inverter master volume changes the overall tone of the amp when it is turned down unreasonably low. Of course, Hot Plates and other attenuators also have their own tonal changes when you use them to significantly cut volume -- Fletcher curves and all that jazz.

    My main point is that one has to be careful with taking the extreme positions on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, Marshall distortion does not come primarily from the output tubes. On the other hand, the output tubes are not insignificant to the overall tone of a cranked Marshall. If you want to have some fun and see how it breaks down, grab a scope and a non-master Marshall and start the myth-busting. :)
     
  16. sgmarshall

    sgmarshall Member

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    I have both a 1987, and a 70's jmp master volume. To me, if I turned the master on 10 (of the MV model) and use the pre amp vol as the main volume, it sounds exactly like channel 1 from the 1987. At low volumes you get a mild pre amp crunch. You still have to crank it to get power tube distortion. Great amp distortion is BOTH pre amp and power tube (hell, and output tranny saturation for that matter) together. Some people like to jump the channels on the non mv's (I personally don't), but either one sounds good. Especially once I added a hotplate into the equation (on BOTH amps), they sound much better running on 5 or 6,(the "sweet spots" on both amps are between 3.5 to about 8.5) then setting the attenuator to -12 at practice and -8 at gigs.
     
  17. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Slaphappy, that helps. It's not quite the same as not having a MV at all imho, seems that MV amps with the MV dimed are a bit noisier in general than NMV amps, but that may be because MV amps tend to be higher gain.
     
  18. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I love my TSL's tone. It has 4 preamp tubes. And it's distortion sounds better than any pedals. Warmer, and richer.
     
  19. Wizard of Ozz

    Wizard of Ozz Silver Supporting Member

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    They simply sound great.
     
  20. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    TJ I hope you didnt think I took offense to your quoting me. I was simply trying to restate my case.

    I dont need a scope to hear at all. I hear what I hear. What you hear may be quite different from what I hear. How would you know what I hear and how would I know what you hear? How do you know what you see on a scope is reallity? You could very well be suffering from a Mass Halucination in Mono. :D

    I think you can add Science into the mix and try to work it all out using math but if one can really work it all out how come one can not duplicate whats going on with different equipment at different volumes in different applications with etc...

    To me you cant use quantum mechanics to really define truly whats going on. If you could you could bend it, warp it, twist it, magnify it, reduce it, etc..

    Now this is only little ol me talking hear but I havent heard a good take on it in any different manner than itself. Of coarse there are folks who will quote me and tell me I'm wrong but thats (in this imperfect world) just an opinion (to me).

    When everyone agreed that the world was flat did that make it so?

    I'm cool if your cool. Please undesrstand that these are just my lowly 2 cents nothing harmful meant by it. Just the Ravings of a Mad Plexi Hatter and yes there are shades of grey also.

    I just got in from rehearsal using my 1959 HW Half Stack a Les Paul Standard Limitted and a freakin Hot Plate and I must say I dont have any other amps that will duplicate what that thing is doing no matter where you twist them knobs. I think its clear we agree on several points and disagree on others. Thats all.

    Salutations. :AOK
     

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