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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I find it kind of funny that people don't view preamp gain as an option for dirt when playing quietly yet it's perfectly fine to put a $100 box full of electrical components with no tubes in sight in front of your amp. I'll admit it, I used to be a power tube overdrive snob. "Preamp gain sounds like a can of bees!!!" but recently I went through an exercise. I bought six pretty standard OD pedals, Ibanez Tubescreamer TS-9, OCD 1.4, Boss SD-1, EHX Soul Food, EHX Crayon, JHS 3 Series Overdrive and compared them all to the preamp overdrive in my Fender Bassbreaker 15. The preamp gain blew all the pedals away. The pedals sounded harsh and had no sustain. The preamp gain was smooth and creamy with lots of sustain. People also view pedals which drive your preamp section to overdrive as ok but just turning up your preamp gain til it overdrives is not ok??!?!? What?

So why is it always crank your amp til it overdrives or run clean and use dirt pedals. Why is preamp gain never considered as an option?

Sounds good to me.
 

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Super fair point.

Then there are those who will swear by a pedal with a real 12ax7 tube to put in front of their own tube amp, minimizing the impact of their amp's own preamp tubes. Of course not all preamps sound the same, so one can have opinions about it all. I have played amps that, in my opinion, have had pretty awful preamp distortion. Others have been great.

Lastly, there must be many people who swear by power amp distortion who actually have never really heard/felt it for what it is or can clearly identify it as such. By the time you get power amp distortion, you are likely also going to have the preamp tubes cooking too. So, how to distinguish what it is that you think you like (power tubes) from that thing that you don't like (preamp)? And by then, the speakers and transformer are also certainly in play...and depending on the wattage of the amp, your house may fall apart.
 

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Preamp gain is all I use.
I own three tube amps and some popular overdrive pedals.
I get all of my overdrive from the preamp gain stages on the lead channels and they sound great, much better than using a pedal on the clean channels.
 

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I had a guy come up to me when I was playing Custom Special 100 at L&M, asking me how I was getting that gnarly tone at such a low volume.

Preamp gain was the answer.

Yes, power amp gain is nice and all, but who can really blast even a 40-watt amp that loud?

And the reason it sounds good is because it's tube gain, at least on my amps.
 

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Preamp gain is just fine. I prefer a programmable approach either way.

I like some saturated tones, but not ALL the time, so if you have a modeller and want to get all your dirt from the preamp, and can have settings with progressively more gain, why not?
 

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I had a guy come up to me when I was playing Custom Special 100 at L&M, asking me how I was getting that gnarly tone at such a low volume.

Preamp gain was the answer.

Yes, power amp gain is nice and all, but who can really blast even a 40-watt amp that loud?

And the reason it sounds good is because it's tube gain, at least on my amps.
i CAN blast my 40w tube amp that loud (and it sounds fantastic when i do) but i almost never do it. the amp is 6' from my toe. cranking my amp that loud is ridiculous. i have dirt pedals, but i rarely use them. almost never, for an entire song.
fuzz being an exception for obvious reasons. i will admit i'm almost always behind on trends and stuff, so i didn't even know there was a bunch of people avoiding pre amp gain. i just thought that was what you had to do if you're playing madison square living room, and wanted to sound good. there is one exception to this, but it's probably just me.
on my mesa, there are 3 kinds of gain available. tweed, hi 1 and hi 2. i really dislike the high gain setting. i use the tweed setting 95% of the time, a few songs i'll use hi 1, but i just don't like the high 2 sound. it's too fizzy for my taste. my fuzz just works better when i need that kind of a sound.
i still play really loud, mostly on the 15w setting, and mostly the tweed position on the switch.
 

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Playing amps that aren’t meant to be played at low volume will sound not quite as good no matter what you pedal you put through it.

The OP is just a huge generalization covering all amps and pedals at once not considering the many differences between all the will give vastly different results with every combination and control used to compare what is “better”

I thought powertube distortion was mostly a myth anyway?

Is there an amp that is all powertube with no preamp circuit at all that sounds great for electric guitar?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Playing amps that aren’t meant to be played at low volume will sound not quite as good no matter what you pedal you put through it.

The OP is just a huge generalization covering all amps and pedals at once not considering the many differences between all the will give vastly different results with every combination and control used to compare what is “better”

I thought powertube distortion was mostly a myth anyway?

Is there an amp that is all powertube with no preamp circuit at all that sounds great for electric guitar?
I don't really know how I have to phrase things to you to let you know I'm not making broad sweeping generalizations. I'm not saying "ALL PREAMP GAIN IS GOOD!" or "ALL PEDALS BAD!". I'm saying the preamp gain ON MY AMP.... TO ME..... sounds better than any pedal I've tried IN MY PERSONAL AND UNIQUE OPINION and the moral of the story of what I'm saying is preamp gain is a valid option for bedroom use if your amp has it and it sounds good. The people who don't even include using preamp gain as an option are the ones making huge generalizations.
 

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I don't really know how I have to phrase things to you to let you know I'm not making broad sweeping generalizations. I'm not saying "ALL PREAMP GAIN IS GOOD!" or "ALL PEDALS BAD!". I'm saying the preamp gain ON MY AMP.... TO ME..... sounds better than any pedal I've tried IN MY PERSONAL AND UNIQUE OPINION and the moral of the story of what I'm saying is preamp gain is a valid option for bedroom use if your amp has it and it sounds good. The people who don't even include using preamp gain as an option are the ones making huge generalizations.
Ok well just the title is then.

it’s awesome you love the preamp on your amp at bedroom volume.

For an awful lot of amps it might not be the case.

For an awful lot of amps pedals into a channel will sound awesome at low volume or better at high volume.

I really think it depends on the amp whether pedals sound really good through them at low volumes and not the other way around.

I find the bass breaker 15 tones to be harsh and nasally and lacking real depth at any volume.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok well just the title is then.

it’s awesome you love the preamp on your amp at bedroom volume.

For an awful lot of amps it might not be the case.

For an awful lot of amps pedals into a channel will sound awesome at low volume or better at high volume.

I really think it depends on the amp whether pedals sound really good through them at low volumes and not the other way around.

I find the bass breaker 15 tones to be harsh and nasally and lacking real depth at any volume.
Yeah the title is. I'll admit that.

You must wonder why all these amp companies even bother adding preamp knobs to their amps.
 

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Yeah the title is. I'll admit that.

You must wonder why all these amp companies even bother adding preamp knobs to their amps.
Why would I wonder that? I use the gain on all my amps and only use pedals to boost mostly or occasionally a pedal through the clean channel for different flavour or to add an extra “channel” to my amp.

I think both amps and pedals sound best when played at the volume suited to their design. Nothing fits universal IMO
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Why would I wonder that? I use the gain on all my amps and only use pedals to boost mostly or occasionally a pedal through the clean channel for different flavour or to add an extra “channel” to my amp.

I think both amps and pedals sound best when played at the volume suited to their design. Nothing fits universal IMO
I fully agree with you but for many many people, playing extremely loudly is not an option.
 

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There is also the factor of the speakers. Some speakers add their own breakup to the mix.

It is true, some amps do need to be pushed to really sound good. That isn't an option for me. Heck, I can't even crank my 6505MH on the one watt setting without some repercussions.

Note to self -- basement reno must include some soundproofing.....
 
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