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Bassists vs. Guitarists and Master Volume

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ddbassGA, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. ddbassGA

    ddbassGA Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    Athens, GA
    Got my Ampeg V4 out of the shop and it is killer for guitar and for bass.Two guitar players checked it out (independently) and both immediately dimed the master volume, then used the channel vol to control their loudness.

    I have always come at the volume from the other direction. With the master channel vol set midway I adjust the channel vol / gain as high as will give me the sound I want while not clipping the pre. Then I adjust the master vol for overall volume.

    Are my friends weird? Do guitar players usually do that? Do most bass players use an approach like I use?
  2. GrapeApe

    GrapeApe Banned

    Nov 9, 2009
    Richmond, Va
    My Hartke has two preamp channels: a solid state, and a tube emulator. I adjust both of those, then the graphic eq and low/high pass filters to get the sound I want, then use the master for volume control.

    Not sure how guitar players do it though.
  3. BKBassDude


    Jun 17, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Doing such has a very different effect on an amp that is made to get distorted like a guitar amp (well many of them), than an amp that is supposed to stay clean throughout, like a bass amp (again, most of them).

    I also find guitarists use their volume knobs on their instruments more during a performance, where as many bassists I know are full on volume all the time.

    I think it's the expectations and roles of the instruments. I know I play Orange amps which get nice and crunchy when you mix the gain vs master, so I might be inclined to occasionally use your guitarists method when checking out an amp, depending on the sound I was going for.
  4. philtoler


    Dec 3, 2009
    Sounds to me like you have got it spot on - I do exactly the same with my TB500
  5. If using a tube amp, I dime the gain and set the volume with the master.
  6. MrRatty


    Feb 12, 2011
    Guitarists are used to ratchet volume controls so maybe a different approach is required ;)
  7. Depends what you're going for with that approach you're going for. Having the master all the way up and using the preamp gain to control volume maximises headroom.
  8. Does anything sound good with any control at max?
    Not in my experience...
  9. :rolleyes:

    Some of us like a bit of dirt in our bass tone.
  10. hachi kid

    hachi kid

    Jun 2, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I've heard of this approach before. wouldn't this just make the amp ridiculously loud and clean? or is this what they're going for? or does it overdrive the power amp section?
  11. ddbassGA

    ddbassGA Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    Athens, GA
    I believe it is to overdrive the power tubes.

    On an amp with no master vol does the single vol control taper the pre or power amp...or both?
  12. Jerry Callo

    Jerry Callo Banned

    May 23, 2011
    Setting the master any lower than 10 will increase the amount of overdrive.

    The lower you can put the gain, the cleaner the sound. So to me, it makes no sense to set it halfway. You're just making the amp overdrive.

    If that's what you want, fine. But I want as much headroom with as clean a sound as possible.

    The reason guitarists set the master lower is for that very reason -- they want some overdrive , even when playing "clean."
  13. ddbassGA

    ddbassGA Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    Athens, GA
    Max master vol maxes clean and headroom ONLY IF not distorting power tubes.
  14. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    But the OP's guitarist friends did the opposite of this. I'm not sure if they were going for a clean sound, or were uninformed.
  15. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    And that's why we call them guitar'd players. The gain is used to determine the saturation (crunch) of the pre, the master the output volume. The prudent method is to set the master at 1/4 to 1/3, turn up the gain until you get the desired crunch level, then turn up the master some more, if required, for playing level. And then there's the guitar'd method. :rollno:
  16. depends on the amp. some of them just give a more 'full' distortion when the master is maxed [esp guitar amps]
  17. A non master volume amp is usually about the same as a master volume amp with the master wide open.
  18. Yes.

    Dixie Dave of the band Weedeater dimes the volume, bass, and mids on his Sunn amps, treble all the way down, to get his distortion. No pedals. 400 watts (probably more with everything dimed) through 4 15's.

    Weedeater - Dirt Merchant

    At about 2:46 in you hear the bass real clear.
  19. Jerry Callo

    Jerry Callo Banned

    May 23, 2011
    Not sure what you're saying. Even with a solid state amp -- put the master on 1 and the gain on 8 and you'll get distortion.
  20. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Pretty much. With volume control only amps the control traditionally was between the first and second gain stages. You dimed the volume control to get distortion in the final stage before the power amp. Good tone, but loud. The master volume was added to allow running the gain high for crunch while reducing the level into the power amp to keep levels sensible. But with the current generation of guitar'd players 'sensible level' seems to be an oxymoron.

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