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Educate Me on How to Use My Amp's "Gain" and "Master"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by pipelinepete, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. pipelinepete


    Jan 1, 2017
    I tried searching but got hundreds of hits, apologies if this has been covered already (I'm happy to read existing threads if you can point me in the right direction). I don't understand how I should use the Gain and Master controls on my new amp (a Rumble). I read that some players like to keep the Gain maxed and control volume using Master; others seem to do the opposite. I cannot hear a difference between these two approaches; they sound exactly the same in my amp. Not knowing any better I keep the Gain mid-way, and control volume using the Master. Perhaps it doesn't matter?? BTW I don't gig with the amp (in church I go into a DI and my output is controlled by the sound guys). I don't use the amp's built-in distortion, nor do I run any pedals. Any help appreciated! Peter.
    JulienP. likes this.
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The way you use the controls varies with amplifier design and user intent. Gain is typically near the front of the signal path. If the amp is designed only to produce clean sound, there is often a peaking led. The gain is turned up until the led lights and then backed off a bit. This maximizes signal to noise ratio.

    If the circuit is designed to produce compression and/or distortion, you increase the gain until the circuit produces the desire amount of drive. It's totally up to you.

    Once the gain is set, it's normal with most amps to use the master volume to control the level of output. There are some exceptions such as the GK RB series where it is common to use the gain or boost control to set the level of the output. The reason is because the GK RB series has separate woofer and tweeter master volumes and it is a bit tricky to adjust them without changing the relative level of highs and lows.
  3. iagtrplyr

    iagtrplyr Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Clinton, IA
    I'm having to remember since its been a couple of years since owning a Rumble, but the gain/volume works differently than other amps.

    You don't have to increase the gain at all to still have volume. It acts more like a boost. I actually didn't care for the gain and rarely ran it past 9:00.

    Calling all Rumblers out there for a more in-depth explanation...
  4. Bim1959


    Apr 15, 2009
    Naples Florida
    Sales and electronic tech/piano tech: England Music Center - Clinton IA - now closed
    Or there's always the old school way of doing things (which we did on amps before the master volume controls were introduced) and that is to run the master volume wide open and use the gain control to adjust your volume, which would be perfect in your case considering you dont use any distortion.

    Is your Rumble a seperate head/cabinet setup or a combo?
    JulienP. likes this.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    In my experience most Master Volumes (MV) get noisy if you run the Master too high. Many of my MV equipped tube amps are scaled to run the Master around 11 o'clock. Many of my solid state/hybrid amps seems to be scaled to run the Master around 2 or 3 o'clock. The Orange AD200B is the only one that likes the Master wide open.
    quickfix likes this.
  6. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
  7. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    Gain regulates the sound coming into the amp.

    Volume is how loud you want it.

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