Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Techniques for getting your tone to tape.

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sixpakldp
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Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by sixpakldp » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:30 pm

Since I've built my Metro 100 Watt Kit back in May, I've been experimenting quite a bit to settle on what method I plan to get my dirty sound from.

I installed a Master Volume on the amp during the build, as I didn't have enough money for an attenuator. Originally getting all my dirt from the MV circuit I found that the tone was ok, but lacked character. I also found it difficult to get a good clean tone by rolling back my volume knob without having a significant volume drop. In a live setting, the difference in volume between clean and distorted tones rendered a completely clean sound unusable. Effects are hard to use when plugged into the front end as I don't have an fx loop installd.

Next, I purchased a hot plate. I've tried using this two ways; in conjuntion with the MV (MV about 3/4 up and volume about 6.5) and 100% power tube distortion. The first method sounds decent, but is still hard to clean up. Effects are better but not great. The second method sounds good but requires more attenuation. Cleaning up the tone is easier, however not as clean as I would like. I also think using too much attenuation muddies up the tone, even with the bright switch on.

So today I tried something which is almost like taboo to me . . . setting the amp up for a good clean sound and using my TS808 tube screamer as the main distortion. It actually sounds pretty good this way, effects sound good even straight in and my strat has spank to it and my les paul grinds when digging in to single notes.

So now I am at a cross roads and looking for some direction. To my ears the tubescreamer method seems to provide the best balance between getting good clean and distorted tones, I could use a little more gain for leads but the distorted/clean tradeoff might be enough to go this route.

Am I doing something wrong or have others had the same experience? I thought when getting a plexi that using the volume knob would take care of it, but it just doesn't seem to work. I can't seem to fathom that using a pedal with a plexi to get distortion is the right answer.

My questions are how did the rest of the famous plexi users get their clean and distorted tones (I know what Hendrix and Van Halen did)?

1. Led Zepplin-Jimmy Page always had good clean and distorted tones. Did he have one rig set for clean and one pushed into distortion or did he use od or distortion pedals with the amp set to clean. I know his Marshalls were modded to 200 watts.

2. 1980's era crunch machine plexis-is there anyway to get the amps that sound like this clean? Amps in question would be SIR #39 (Slash, George Lynch-I know these had an extra gain stage).

3. Eric Johnson-He is definitely a plexi guy. Is he using two rigs or pedals?

4. Any other plexi artists that use both clean and distorted tones, what methods do they use?

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by redozzman » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:16 pm

sixpakldp wrote:Since I've built my Metro 100 Watt Kit back in May, I've been experimenting quite a bit to settle on what method I plan to get my dirty sound from.

I installed a Master Volume on the amp during the build, as I didn't have enough money for an attenuator. Originally getting all my dirt from the MV circuit I found that the tone was ok, but lacked character. I also found it difficult to get a good clean tone by rolling back my volume knob without having a significant volume drop. In a live setting, the difference in volume between clean and distorted tones rendered a completely clean sound unusable. Effects are hard to use when plugged into the front end as I don't have an fx loop installd.

Next, I purchased a hot plate. I've tried using this two ways; in conjuntion with the MV (MV about 3/4 up and volume about 6.5) and 100% power tube distortion. The first method sounds decent, but is still hard to clean up. Effects are better but not great. The second method sounds good but requires more attenuation. Cleaning up the tone is easier, however not as clean as I would like. I also think using too much attenuation muddies up the tone, even with the bright switch on.

So today I tried something which is almost like taboo to me . . . setting the amp up for a good clean sound and using my TS808 tube screamer as the main distortion. It actually sounds pretty good this way, effects sound good even straight in and my strat has spank to it and my les paul grinds when digging in to single notes.

So now I am at a cross roads and looking for some direction. To my ears the tubescreamer method seems to provide the best balance between getting good clean and distorted tones, I could use a little more gain for leads but the distorted/clean tradeoff might be enough to go this route.

Am I doing something wrong or have others had the same experience? I thought when getting a plexi that using the volume knob would take care of it, but it just doesn't seem to work. I can't seem to fathom that using a pedal with a plexi to get distortion is the right answer.

My questions are how did the rest of the famous plexi users get their clean and distorted tones (I know what Hendrix and Van Halen did)?

1. Led Zepplin-Jimmy Page always had good clean and distorted tones. Did he have one rig set for clean and one pushed into distortion or did he use od or distortion pedals with the amp set to clean. I know his Marshalls were modded to 200 watts.

2. 1980's era crunch machine plexis-is there anyway to get the amps that sound like this clean? Amps in question would be SIR #39 (Slash, George Lynch-I know these had an extra gain stage).

3. Eric Johnson-He is definitely a plexi guy. Is he using two rigs or pedals?

4. Any other plexi artists that use both clean and distorted tones, what methods do they use?
I have always liked the tubescreamer/plexi combo which can go clean and mean at reasonable volume. I guess it really depends on the type of music you are playing. I think the tubescreamer gives you the best of both worlds in that with it off you have the great clean tones and then you can punch it in to get those good lead tones and distorted tones. The great thing about plexis is they are one of the most pedal friendly amps out there and there are a tone of tubescreamer clones voiced a million different ways. What you give up is the sweet tube distortion but if you gain flexibility.

You could try the reamping way but you would need another head for reamping(more money) and I really don't think it provides the best cleans(those big full sounding Hendrix type clean tones) but the amp will clean up pretty good using the volume knob and you can crank the shit out of your main amp!!!(power tube distortion heaven)

As for the players you mentioned, Johnson has a two amp setup he uses Plexi's/chandler tube driver for distorted tones and fenders for his clean tones. Page had several amps on stage, regardless, he could crank his amps and work the volume knob which is a luxury you and I don't have in that volume is an issue.

As for the 80 sound not much cleans going on in those songs and yeah if you want those amps to sound clean you need to remove the added gain stages.

sixpakldp
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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by sixpakldp » Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:45 am

I'm wondering if it has to do with my bias being too cold? I read a post yesterday about this causing the tubes to distort early.

The reason I say this is if you watch this video of a 50 watt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR3Os80p0u4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My amp does not get clean and dirty as easy with my les paul.

One thing I noticed when doing the build was before I installed the MV my bias range bottomed out around 32 MV. After installing the MV it bottomed out at 41 MV, which is where it is now.

Any suggestions. The other thing about my amp (which I am assuming is normal) is that it is loud as hell even on volume 1. There is no way in hell I could probably sit in a room like this guy in the video is at the volume levels it takes to distort . . . even with two tubes pulled.

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by Sral68 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:48 am

I've read that Steve Stevens uses non mv marshalls set up for clean, and the a RAT for distortion in front. I thought Eric Johnson did the same.

For my taste plexis sound best on 10. To get the output stage to distort you need to push it with the pre amp.
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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by Cado » Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:51 pm

I'm using a BK Butler Tube Driver in front & getting excellent results.

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by jcmjmp » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:33 pm

Seems like a waste to use a plexi clean and use the TS-9 to generate the disto when the plexi is already such a nice amp when cranked into dist.

I'd get two amp heads. Sell the TS-9, Hotplate and you're only a few hundred bucks away from a 2nd tube head. all you need is an AB switcher and a stereo 4x12 cab.

A DSL can be had for 600-700 bucks and it does an awesome clean. Use the plexi for crunch.

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by Guitar-Sam » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:48 pm

I'm kinna in the same boat.My amps do great OD for what I play.But my cleans suck.
But I just deal with the crappy cleans till I can get a clean head and a means to switch them.
I would rather have an OD just the way I like and a clean thats too fuzzy(temporarily)than run my amps clean and a pedal and have an OD thats almost there and a clean thats almost there,but neither is completely there.

Lately I've been gigging with my Orange Tiny Terror and my 4x12 straight in and I really do love the OD it gets at a nice low stage volume but there is no such animal as rolled off cleans in that 15W el84 MV amp.I set it for lead tones and live with it.
My 2210 has two channels but the clean effects the OD so I dial the clean so the "bleed over" complements the OD,thus the clean sucks.
I did used to have a middle pickup in one of my strats that was "dead",it made sound but barely had any gain what so ever.I used to use that for cleans(till I tried to "fix" it)had a volume drop but was better than anything else I had for cleans at the time.
As for Eric Johnson I read about his rig one time.He uses a 100W plexi for leads a 50W for rythm and a fender deluxe for cleans.
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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by jimmy_j » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:21 pm

sixpakldp wrote:Since I've built my Metro 100 Watt Kit back in May, I've been experimenting quite a bit to settle on what method I plan to get my dirty sound from.

My questions are how did the rest of the famous plexi users get their clean and distorted tones (I know what Hendrix and Van Halen did)?

1. Led Zepplin-Jimmy Page always had good clean and distorted tones. Did he have one rig set for clean and one pushed into distortion or did he use od or distortion pedals with the amp set to clean. I know his Marshalls were modded to 200 watts.
I would beg to differ about Page. If you listen to the boots he had a really good crunch tone from the amps being cranked up (also used pedals in front) up until around 1973 or so. His clean tone was just backing off on the guitar volume control. Then his tone (and playing) took a turn for the worse when they got modded and they stayed clean and loud. You'll hear that he didn't have enough gain at all.

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by gutpile » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:30 pm

I thought Eric Johnson was a JTM45100 guy!! I get great cleans from my 45/100 and I just picked up an analogman Beano Boost that is proving to be the Boost pedal I have been seeking for a LONG time!!
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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by aquilarosso » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:08 am

I like setting the amp to be really crunchy and gainy when I play with my gat on 10 (I just turn the amp above 2 and jump the channels to get mega overdrive), then I either get my cleaner tone with the volume on the guitar, or by having a 2nd loop for clean that is lower volume, thus keeping the amp clean (loop on the pedalboard). Lots of famous guitarist use both these techniques.
When you get an attentuator, Give a Dr Z Airbrake a go, I have one and think it is pretty awesome.

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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by NY Chief » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:57 pm

gutpile wrote:I thought Eric Johnson was a JTM45100 guy!! I get great cleans from my 45/100 and I just picked up an analogman Beano Boost that is proving to be the Boost pedal I have been seeking for a LONG time!!
And, it's verrry nice going into the BB, too. Eh, mikey??? :twisted:
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Re: Attenuators, Master Volumes and Tubescreamers

Post by sixpakldp » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:58 pm

Was searching through this section and realized this post is still on the front page.

Having said that, I've got my set-up to where it gets pretty god cleanish sounds as well as distortion.

My amp is currently wired like the Neil Special on SDM's website, with the following exceptions: 100pf cap on the phase inverter (instead of the 47pf) and a 100K negative feedback resistor tapped to the 8 ohm. My bright capacitor is currently a 470 on the plexi side and no bright cap on the 2203 side. I'm running Tung Sol EL34B's with EH 12AX7's in the pre.

For whatever reason on my amp, the combo of the 100 pf PI cap and keeping the NF resistor between 82-100K really brings the amp alive in plexi mode. You can dime everything (maybe back off the bass to 12 o clock) and the amp sounds really great. Not harsh at all.

The amp cleans up nicely like this. Most times I have the neck volume on my les paul set to about 5 or so which is pretty clean and use the bridge for distortion. If a song requires distortion and clean from both pickups, then I use a morely alligator volume which has a minimum set point that you can dial in. I have the set-point on the volume so that all the way down is clean and all the way up is distortion.

On 2203 mode, you can use the channel 2 low input to pretty much get a clean sound. Works nicely with a strat and tube screamer for bluesy stuff.

Anyway, 2 years down the road I am pretty happy with this set-up.

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