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    master volume settings

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    ConradK

    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2015-09-09

    master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:09 am

    Hi All

    Loving this amp and enjoying every minute of playing it. I've been playing 100% more than i used to!

    I have been using my master volume very sparingly when rehearsing with my band.

    MY RIG
    I have an esp ltd with active pickups (and a mexican strat which i use for alternative tunings)
    An ornage 2x12 ppc open back cab
    • Syle of music: Blues rock,hard rock, rock


    CURRENT AMP / VOLUME SETTINGS
    I tend to use 36 watts for everything and set the master volume level to "barely on!" (7 o clock "ish" position) -
    I then use the channell volume to set the levels between pre-sets (with default position being 12 o clock as suggested in the manual)

    I have just read (and subsequently remembered) that one should drive the master volume on a valve amp to get the best sound (for example run the master at 12. 0 clock and then use the channel volume to adjust volume between pre-sets. Although if i am reading the GM36 manual correctly they suggest that my current approach is correct

    How have you guys been using your master and channell volume and what gets you the best results (for blues rock, hard rock and rock music in general)

    All advice appreciated
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:02 am

    I am glad someone is asking this question... it's something I think about from time to time but never get around to posting.....

    I too only use the 36w mode. When I first got my GM, I did the same as you, per the recommendation I kept my channel volumes around noon. As a result, I could never turn the master up past 7:00 or so because it was just too loud (home practice). Not too long ago I decreased the channel volumes so that they are in the 9:00/10:00 area which allowed me to turn up the master, ever so slightly. I can put it at about 8:00 now before it gets too loud (again, this is just home practice). So, not a huge difference, but I THINK it does sound a little better. Don't take that as gospel though... today will be a better test...

    Today is a special day - for the first time since I've owned the amp (about 1 year) it is actually leaving my house! My band had been on a bit of a hiatus but we're finally getting back on the saddle and we have a live show in a couple weeks, it'll be our first show in 1.5 yrs. Today we are doing a dry run of the show at a nearby rehearsal studio, and it'll be the first time I've used the GM in the context of a live band. I'm looking forward to it, and I'll report back how the amp behaves regarding the volume settings.
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    HwyStar
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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by HwyStar on Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:25 am

    I look forward to hearing your review of the GM live Gravy! Best of luck!


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    ConradK

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    Join date : 2015-09-09

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:24 am

    Played about today

    I increased the master volume to 12 o clock and then used the channel volume sparingly

    within the confines of my home studio I think it sounds better and more powerful - BUT this was at low volumes again

    ill try at rehearsal on Tuesday and let you guys know

    ConradK

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    Join date : 2015-09-09

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:53 pm

    Just found this interesting article regarding gain staging (interaction between master, channel volume and gain knob)

    I'm going to be messing about with this (at volume) and I'll report back my findings

    ARTICLE
    Most modern high-gain, channel-switching amps go way beyond the simple volume-and-master format these days, offering Drive and Volume controls within individual channels, with a global Master to govern the final output.

    Try achieving the same output levels—keeping EQ the same throughout—with Drive (or gain) high, channel Volume low, and Master around halfway; then with Drive low, channel Volume high, and Master as required; then with Master high, channel Volume around half, and Drive as required.

    Each should produce a tone that’s different enough to sound like it’s virtually an entirely different amp.

    That’s gain staging at work, in its purest form.

    Davus PG

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    Join date : 2014-06-11

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by Davus PG on Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:51 am

    I have been playing a GM for almost a year now at rehearsals with my band and also found that I was running the master at around 1 (out of 10)
    one week I decided to try running it at 18w and driving it harder and to my ears the results were great. It also means I can run my clean presets at 36w so that they have plenty of headroom.

    As we mic up for gigs I never need to run it crazy loud, so it seems to be better to make it do a bit more work.

    I hadn't considered running the master higher and the channels lower. May give it a try

    ConradK

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    Join date : 2015-09-09

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:12 am

    Hi Davus

    Thanks for that feedback - I'll try the 18watt mode at higher volumes and report back
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    bordonbert

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by bordonbert on Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:08 pm

    I'm amazed you guys haven't mentioned using the power soak earlier on. It's another dimension completely in this issue. I would have to admit that I think it subtly affects the tone in a low volume environment playing solo where you can hear yourself clearly and exclusively. I think the idea of driving a cleaner more resistive load rather than a more reactive speaker load perhaps has some effect on the sound but it isn't huge by any means and could even be a feature of our hearing at the lower volume level, (or just mine!) In a live setting with the band in very small spaces, even using 5W sounds great to me tonewise, much better than 18W with lower volume settings. Getting the Master Volume up around 2 - 3-o'clock is always a good starting point.

    Don't forget, with the controller, you can store all of your favourite settings at different power soak levels. I have my own favourites set in 4 banks of 8x4, 1-8 are 1W, 9-16 are 5W and so on. So, for example, 1C, 9C, 17C and 25C are all the same voice except for the power soak level. Depending on where I am playing I then have instant access to all of my voices in exactly the same order.

    And I would point out that the 18W setting doesn't even use the power soak, it simply takes out one pair of the output tubes leaving the other driven at the same level as 36W.

    ConradK

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    Join date : 2015-09-09

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:43 pm

    Great point

    I never realised the 18watt setting simply turned off two valves!

    Tell me does using the 18watt setting (and subsequently switching off two valves) with a higher master volume translate to the same sound at 36watts with a lower master volume ? Logically there should be little difference ?

    As for using the power soak settings frequently - I'm not to keen on this as quiet frankly this head produces enough heat as it is. I know h and k say it has no effect on the amp but I'm simply not convinced of this, as heat and electronics NEVER go well together.

    We are practicing on Thursday so I'll definitely be messing about with various settings.
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:31 pm

    The band rehearsal went well. As I mentioned this was my first "live" experience with the GM and overall it did not disappoint. Remember I was saying I don't turn the master up past 8:00 when at home... Well at the rehearsal I kept the master between 9:00 and 10:00 and it was PLENTY loud, even with a live drummer. The engineer was actually asking me to turn down a hair (?) This is with the channel volumes at 9:00-ish... so I can't imagine turning up the master anymore than I had it. I don't know how people are saying they have the master past noon... unless they are using a lower wattage setting.

    The clean sounds in particular are amazing at band volume. I'm also happy with the dirty tones, but not as much. I use the ultra channel with low gain (9:00-ish) for my dirty rhythm and then slightly more gain and volume for solos. Sounds good at home but in the context of a full band I felt like my tone was getting lost in the shuffle. Treble = 2:00, Mids = 2:00, Bass = noon. Presence and Resonance both at about 1:00. I'll probably bring the treble down a bit, it's good at home but seemed a little shrill at volume.

    Any suggestions on my EQ settings? Thanks!
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    namklak

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by namklak on Tue Oct 06, 2015 2:48 pm

    Power soak baby!!! I don't know why more tube amp players don't use this glorious device....

    I found I like the master between 12 and 1 o'clock - things get a little noisy above 1 o'clock, but the EL84s seem to cook around 12 o'clock (depending on channel volumes, pickup output, etc).

    My channel baseline (using the windows app values of 1-255 for all settings) is to have the Clean channel gain at 255, and the volume at around 80. I tend to compare the other channels to that volume level. BTW, that setting is killer for almost clean Strat tones...

    I'm interested as to why the OP didn't want to use a pedal? I use both a TS and/or a buffered gain into the front end of the GM, sounds great. I use the buffered gain into the Ultra (with the Ultra gain at about 40) to get the Warren Haynes Soldano tone - in ways kind of similar to the Carlos tone the OP is looking for...

    I've always liked a little transistor distortion then mangled by a tube amp - a great combo!

    Someone mentioned the article about how the different gain stages work (I read one recently that was very informative, probably the same one) - overdriving the first tube stage with an OD petal is another (valid) source of saturation. I remember reading Carlos's first main amp was heavily mod'ed, I'm thinking by the guy who started mesa boogie - so probably had an extra gain stage right up front to get the warm heavily saturated but not buzzy sounding tone.

    Keep in mind in a band setting (I play in a big band with a 2nd guitarist) mids are necessary for solos to cut thru. After I swapped to JJs (YES!!!), for many patches I crank the Presence to 255 - seems a tad bright in the bedroom but sounds great on live recordings. Even for my brown buttery Duane Allman Bass Plexi and Warren Haynes Soldano patches. Gee I wonder what type of music my band plays...
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:29 pm

    I had tried the 18w setting once but didn't care for it, but that was before I started using the Ultra channel for my driven and solo patches. I'll give it a go and report back. Thanks for reminding me to try that Smile

    I'd like to repeat ConradK's question... What would the tonal difference be between two presets where preset 1 is 36w and preset 2 is 18w, with all settings identical except volume is adjusted so that the 2 presets are the same volume?
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    bordonbert

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by bordonbert on Tue Oct 06, 2015 6:57 pm

    Tell me does using the 18watt setting (and subsequently switching off two valves) with a higher master volume translate to the same sound at 36watts with a lower master volume ? Logically there should be little difference ?
    Woah there Neddy.  That's a big assumption and it's not at all logical!

    The characters of preamp overload distortion and output stage overload distortion are very different.  Running the power amp into the power soak means you will have to drive it harder to get the same volume level out of the amp so up goes the Master Volume setting.  That means giving yourself more lovely EL84 output stage distortion.  The whole character of the sound can change with that.

    Use the higher output levels backed right off at the Master Volume to make life cleaner and easier for the output stages and get your overdrive/distortion from the preamp, or kick in the power soak and ease off on the preamp Channel/Gain and dial up the Master Volume to your own sweet spot and go for output stage overload distortion.  This is the difference between the modern high gain approach ( Evil or Very Mad ) and classic 70s (  Twisted Evil ) rock sound.

    You really do need to have a play with this if you haven't already got your power soak usage sorted.  It's another level of variability to your tones.

    ConradK

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    Join date : 2015-09-09

    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Wed Oct 07, 2015 1:42 am

    So to be clear you are saying the classic rock approach is

    Kick on the power soak (18w)
    Increase master volume ?
    Lower gain settings ?



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    bordonbert

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by bordonbert on Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:57 am

    Yes, that's about it in a nutshell.

    In the early days amps weren't designed as Master Volume/Gain types. You had a Volume which dealt with how loud you were and the gain was fixed throughout the chain. The really early rock models like Marshall Super Leads derived a lot of their sound from the overdrive of their output stages. Nowadays we have more flexible setups with a Volume at the start of the chain, a Gain control to basically set the amplification factor of the preamp, then a Master Volume to set the level of signal from the preamp into the power amp and output. Too many people just turn their amps on, set the Gain to give the level of distortion they want and use the initial Volume control to set loudness levels. It misses out the whole aspect of balancing preamp distortion against output stage distortion. That's why so many guitarists just sound like another metal player, whether they are playing metal or not!

    Do explore the power soak at 18W, but try your power soak even at 5W! The difference from 5W to 18W in terms of perceived loudness is not really that great and can usually be compensated for. Turn the Master Volume up to about 2-3 o'clock, back right off on the Gain then set it to just the amount of Crunch you want, then trim it with the Volume control. If you don't already do it, it can often be a good idea to back off a couple of notches on your guitar volume to give you some headroom under your fingers to adjust with while you play. Does it sound the same as powering up to 36W, lowering the Master Volume to 9 o'clockish, upping the Gain to a higher level then upping the Volume to compensate? The character of the overload distortion should sound very different in each case. Preamp distortion is generally quite hard, output stage distortion is generally more smooth and creamy, (that's a very big generalisation but sometimes you have to). By balancing one against the other you can blend the two to get a wide range of sounds.

    ConradK

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:03 am

    superb ! looking forward to trying this. This fits into what I read and posted about gain staging however, i had not tried it practically on the GM36.

    I also never thought about using the power soak in conjunction with these settings o im looking forward to trying this out today and thursday at rehearsal
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Wed Oct 07, 2015 1:33 pm

    I tinkered around a bit at home last night. Compared my usual 36w presets with some newly created 18w versions (same settings except lowered wattage and increased volume so that the 2 respective presets have the same perceived volume)... I have to admit, the 18w versions sound better. It's a fuller, thicker, tone. The 36w presets sound slightly anemic in comparison, like something is missing.

    Here's my take-away on this... in hindsight I am stating the obvious.... For home practice, and probably most "live band settings", 36w is too much (for me). This was proven to me a few nights ago when I had the Grandmeister at band rehearsal and with the Master and Volume at about 9:00, @36w, I was plenty loud enough (almost too loud) but my tone was not great, and as a result I nor my bandmates were able to hear myself very well. Despite having my mids pushed up quite a bit. I sounded fine until the whole band kicked in and then I was suddenly lost in the mix.

    I am quite certain, although another band rehearsal will prove it, that if I go with 18w and turn up the Master (and Volume?) to compensate, I will be loud enough AND my tone will be right, able to cut through and sit in the mix properly. I am thinking that the 36w mode doesn't sound good to me because I'm not able to get the Master or Volume past 9:00-ish (it's just too loud!). I imagine it would have to be a very, very large room to accommodate the 36w mode!



    *For context, my guitars have humbucker pups and my spkr cab is a 2x12 w/greenbacks*
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    bordonbert

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by bordonbert on Wed Oct 07, 2015 1:59 pm

    Don't be scared to try 5W and almost full Master Volume Gravydb. I can get away with that at rehearsals playing loudish 70s/80s rock like Robert Palmer, Bad Company, ZZTop. For my ears the higher you can get that MV the better it sounds.
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:22 pm

    Thank you bordonbert. Your posts have been extremely helpful (and not just this thread!)... I am very grateful Smile

    ConradK

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:16 am

    Thanks guys

    I'm playing this evening and plan on trying both 5watt at almost full volume and 18watt at 12 I clock master with less gain

    I'll report back

    ConradK

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:15 am

    I just tested this with my whole lotta love patch (much to the delight of my retired neighbours, i'm sure!)

    I dropped the amp to 18watts,
    I cranked my master to 12 o clock,
    I reduced my channel volume to 7/8 o clock (low)
    I dialled my gain back from its 12 o clock position to 9 o clock
    Bumped my mids and reduced the treble

    and the result is AWESOME!!! Cracking Whole lotta love tone! It gives you that classic rock sound - full and meaty!

    Tried a similar thing with the 5 watts setting and same thing its sounds fantastic (although the little voice in my head is saying "5 watts is too little, switch it back to 18, switch it back to 18!").

    Prefer this to using 36 watts with low volume and high gain - as someone said with those settings you sound like just another metal player (irrespective of whether you are playing metal or not!)

    Glad i asked the question and thanks to everyone who has contributed so far - its got all of us experimenting with this awesome amp and getting HUGE TONES out of it!

    Davus PG

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by Davus PG on Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:23 am

    Great to hear I'm not the only one who had abandoned 36w - except for some cleans.

    I had toyed with the idea of going down to 5w and really cranking it but never got round to trying it. Rehearsal tonight and we're playing a new song I've yet to dial in the tones for so will give it a go at 5w - just better make sure I don't then switch to am 18w preset!

    The GMT is my first valve amp so I'm still learning, however for years I've read articles where people had said about nothing like a valve amp cranked, which is why I switched to 18. I guess us GM users really could be missing out on a trick as we have the option of going to 5 and really making the amp work.

    Thank you bordonbert for the tips regarding gain settings and how they react. Looking forward to trying it out.

    We have our next gig coming up in Dec so it'd be great to really get the GM sounding great before then.
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    gravydb

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by gravydb on Thu Oct 08, 2015 7:45 am

    Not to belabor the point, it seems the moral here is that if you aren't able to get the master into the noon-ish range (or greater!) without being 'too loud', you need to drop the wattage until you CAN get that master up. Because otherwise you are simply not working the power section hard enough and not getting optimal tone. Does that sound like a fair summary?

    I have a mini struggle in my brain saying "you bought a 36 watt amp - use the full 36 watts!!!" but I need to accept that under the situations that I perform, 36w is simply too much, and 18w seems to be a better choice. I'll also experiment with the 5w and 1w settings when I get a chance. I honestly can't imagine a scenario where I would need 36w... the sheer sound level with the master at least noon and the channel volume only at 9:00-ish would be hellish! : )
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    bordonbert

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by bordonbert on Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:47 am

    Your summary makes perfect sense to me Gravydb. (I'd actually say a bit above 12 noon but that's only to my taste.)

    Think of it this way. With 18W selected and the Master turned up high you ARE using the amp's full capabilities but, just as you said, that's to produce TONE. And with only one output valve pair in use you've got a spare pair in reserve you aren't even running out for an occasional swap around. You're then using the power soak simply as a coarse volume control. Would you feel as though you're wasting something of the amp if you were setting it to 36W and then running it with the volume turned right down? What about all that Spinal Tap capability from 3-11 going begging?

    And remember that the Clean channel may sometimes be useful with very low levels of Gain and a reserved Master Volume level for an ultra clean sound, so you may need the 36W setting to get volume to balance that with your 5W/18W driven sounds.

    ConradK

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    Re: master volume settings

    Post by ConradK on Thu Oct 08, 2015 5:51 pm

    Tried 18 watts this evening at rehearsal with the
    Master volume at 12.00 and channel volume at about 6/7 (low)

    The 36 watt setting with master volume low sounded much heavier and chunkier to me AND my band mates (I didnt tell them what I was doing - I just asked them which sound they preferred and they chose 36watts !

    I could not get the channels volume beyond 6/7 as even at 15 watts it was too loud - yet I felt I was lost in the mix (yes I did bump the mids)

    I'll try 5 watts next week with higher master and channel volume and advise

    Any suggestions / advice ?

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