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Old August 22nd, 2011, 08:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Master Volume amps vs. No Master

Just curious here, but I seem to like the tone of non-master volume amps better than if I used the master volume on an amp. It just seems to me that cranking the preamp tubes with the master volume makes for fuzzy and farty distortion.

Does anyone else experience this? It just seems that turning the master all the way up and using the gain/volume as the actual amps volume knob sounds best.

Can fuzzy preamp distortion be fixed with tubes?

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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nope, I love my MV. I use channel volume to get the effect I want, particularly gain. I would be shattering windows facing divorce court if I used you method
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What you're saying seems to be the consensus among guitarists. In my experience, its really difficult to duplicate (pedals, master volume, or otherwise) the feel and response of an amp that's truly having its power section pushed. Power-tube distortion is what everyone seems to prefer, however I have played through a lot amps (just in passing, though...like in a music store) that have Master Volumes and can get great distort tones at lower volumes. Mesa-Boogies and Egnaters seem to do well at this. Also the newer fender hot rod series....older ones not so much. So no, all preamp distortion doesn't suck.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
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What you're saying seems to be the consensus among guitarists. In my experience, its really difficult to duplicate (pedals, master volume, or otherwise) the feel and response of an amp that's truly having its power section pushed. Power-tube distortion is what everyone seems to prefer, however I have played through a lot amps (just in passing, though...like in a music store) that have Master Volumes and can get great distort tones at lower volumes. Mesa-Boogies and Egnaters seem to do well at this. Also the newer fender hot rod series....older ones not so much. So no, all preamp distortion doesn't suck.

The funny thing is that I am referring to my new Egnater Rebel 20 and Tweaker heads. I MUCH prefer the sound of pedal overdrive to that of the amps, but these take pedals so well that the clean sounds are phenomenal.

Even when I played a Vox AC15C1 a few weeks ago, the master volume and gain I got from it just sounded so fizzy and unnatural...maybe I'm just not hearing what I should be hearing.

Maybe some tubes could help open up the Gain?
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My ValvePower amp has a Variable Voltage Regulator, seems to use a Mosfet to do it's work.
Can sound good at low volume, but still sounds better at 'amusing' levels.
It lets you just have a master volume, and use the amp as if you are cranking the whole thing, not just the pre gain.
The fly in the ointment is the speaker, as you are not really working it at lower volumes.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The funny thing is that I am referring to my new Egnater Rebel 20 and Tweaker heads. I MUCH prefer the sound of pedal overdrive to that of the amps, but these take pedals so well that the clean sounds are phenomenal.

Even when I played a Vox AC15C1 a few weeks ago, the master volume and gain I got from it just sounded so fizzy and unnatural...maybe I'm just not hearing what I should be hearing.

Maybe some tubes could help open up the Gain?
Well, at VERY low volumes it will nearly always sound kind of weak. Any amp over about 2-3 watts you have to turn up past what is generally considered "acceptable home volume" for the amp to hit its stride as far as fullness and definition. 20 tube watts is more power than most people realize. You can switch the tubes out, and while it may change some of the characteristics of the amp at certain volumes, I dunno if it will fix your problem.

Also, AC15s can be fickle beasts, in my experience. They take some real sit-down time to dial in, but once you do they sound divine.

If you want that fat, "pushed" sound at home check out any one of the 1-2 watt tube amps out there. I have a Vox "Lil Night Train" thats awesome. Its two watts, and you can get some fantastic power amp distortion out of it without waking the neighbors....even though its still pretty rowdy.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, at VERY low volumes it will nearly always sound kind of weak. Any amp over about 2-3 watts you have to turn up past what is generally considered "acceptable home volume" for the amp to hit its stride as far as fullness and definition. 20 tube watts is more power than most people realize. You can switch the tubes out, and while it may change some of the characteristics of the amp at certain volumes, I dunno if it will fix your problem.
Agreed. Little do people know that many of our favorite tunes were recorded with cranked Champs.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you want that fat, "pushed" sound at home check out any one of the 1-2 watt tube amps out there. I have a Vox "Lil Night Train" thats awesome. Its two watts, and you can get some fantastic power amp distortion out of it without waking the neighbors....even though its still pretty rowdy.

I'm very satisfied with the Egnaters, but I get my drive from pedals anyways. I just find that preamp distortion isn't nearly as sweet as cranking the volume on the amp.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm very satisfied with the Egnaters, but I get my drive from pedals anyways. I just find that preamp distortion isn't nearly as sweet as cranking the volume on the amp.
Ok well that works, just offering some friendly strat-talk advice. You are correct though regarding the preamp dist. Not much of a way around it.

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Agreed. Little do people know that many of our favorite tunes were recorded with cranked Champs.
If you're into that sound, nothing beats the sound of a Champ on "10."
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Most MV circuits come before the phase inverter, so it's really just the common-cathode stages (plus a cathode follower in some amps) that's distorting. The phase inverter plays a big role, as do the power tubes.

You'll go deaf fast, though, unless you build a VERY low wattage amp (like <5W) or use an attenuator.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 01:52 PM   #11 (permalink)
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My ac4 head running through the 1x12 is damn loud for 4 watts. I too like the sound of my OD pedals through the clean channel of my V22. You can get pretty good sound a low volumes. To get sick tone though you really need to crank your amp to ridiculous levels like this...
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 04:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The BYOC British Blues Overdrive Clone I just got and posted about in the Effects section is the closest to smooth power tube THD that I've heard. It's a clone of the extinct Marshall Blues Breaker pedal.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 04:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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People tend to forget that high volume amplifiers have a unique way of interacting with the guitar that changes the "texture" of the sound, so to speak. In almost every instance of MV V. Non-MV discussions, people tend to forget to do the comparison at FULL volume, thereby leveling the playing field. FWIW, I play a MV amp like a non-MV amp, when I do play.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 05:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Welcome to the big leagues of tone...nothing sounds better than a non master volume amp cranked into overdrive in my opinion.Nowadays,that is the only tone I want to use.I play Blues so I want the most natural tone possible with the widest range of harmonics and dimension.Some amps with a pre amp channel sound ok for my needs like a Blues Deville's overdrive channel...I can work with that if needed.But the Deville cranked to 7 on the normal channel sounds so much better....no piercing treble and compressed,fizzy tone.Instead the tone is fat,rich 3 dimensional and beautifully balanced harmonically.These days I play my Fender tweed 57 twin reissue for live gigs.I crank it to 8 and gives me a beautiful Keith Richards type overdrive that works perfectly for all my needs.I barely use pedals...just an occaisional 808 tubescreamer or wah wah for 2 or 3 songs where I need a little more.As for excessive volume,I simply place a gig bag in front of the amp to partially cover it and help reduce the projection into the audience...I'll cover it up more for lower volume gigs and less for louder ones and remove it for the loudest ones.No one has ever complained about me being too loud.I get to have my cranked,natural tone without having to use pedals,master volumes or attentuaters.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 06:43 PM   #15 (permalink)
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A couple of things. Look up Fletcher–Munson curves, they show how if you turn it up or down, you hear it differently.

You don't just hear with your ears, when it gets loud, your body to scene the pressure waves and your brain integrates that with the information from your ears. Turn it down and you lose that extra information.

Speaker non linearities, the farther a speaker voice coil moves from its rest position, the less linear its movement WRT input voltage becomes. Turn it down and the speaker does not move as far, so is more linear, ie less distortion.

All attenuation schemes change tone to some extent, all of them fail to deliver good tone at lower volume if you have to lower the volume to much
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 11:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I build all my amps with a Master Volume knob. All the feedback I get is how awesome and powerful it is. I can get a lot of great sounds out of it alone, or make your pedalboard sing like nothing else. So there's good in a MV.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 10:45 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Another "better tone" thread. Master volume is nothing but a pot-resistor from preamp to power amp section. Crank it all the way up, and you have a short as it would be in amps with no Master volume control. All the master volume does is lets you to drive preamp section hotter without driving the power tubes. This way you get more tone variations out of the amp (not necessarily good ones for some but I guess some people like it). Obviously, the amps with Master volume, have extra room for design implementations that help to take advantage of the over-driven premap tubes.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 11:10 AM   #18 (permalink)
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My personal preference, and I'm a cack handed rubbish player, is non MV, as most of the music I enjoy was probably recorded pre MV amps.
I have had a go with a couple of pre gain amps, and, probably due to my inexperience, only managed to get wasp in a jam jar noises.
My ValvePower, with only volume, tone and power controls to play with, (yep, three controls) is enough for me, with the controls being very interactive.
I can sound really pants without even trying.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 05:07 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I build all my amps with a Master Volume knob. All the feedback I get is how awesome and powerful it is. I can get a lot of great sounds out of it alone, or make your pedalboard sing like nothing else. So there's good in a MV.
there is no difference between a non mv and a mv when the mv control is turned up all the way, so no matter what, a mv adds some versitality
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 05:13 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Another "better tone" thread. Master volume is nothing but a pot-resistor from preamp to power amp section. Crank it all the way up, and you have a short as it would be in amps with no Master volume control. All the master volume does is lets you to drive preamp section hotter without driving the power tubes. This way you get more tone variations out of the amp (not necessarily good ones for some but I guess some people like it). Obviously, the amps with Master volume, have extra room for design implementations that help to take advantage of the over-driven premap tubes.
Actually there are lots of ways to make a Master Volume amp, the pot between the pre amp and amp is just one way to do it, You can also use the pot to change the value of the PI tail resistor in a LTPPI or use the pot and a cap between the outputs of the PI to partially cancel phase, or use a duel ganged pot to ground on each phase, or use a sheet/beam deflector tube as a PI and just change its Mu
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