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Gain=Overdrive?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by playerofthebass, Aug 11, 2007.


  1. playerofthebass

    playerofthebass

    Feb 4, 2007
    Noob question: I was playing through an Ampeg b2re at a local gc and I saw a gain control, which made me think I could overdrive it. Wrong. I cranked the gain all the way up all I got was a louder clean sound. Not even a hint of dirt. Here's the question: What is the point of having gain control without being able to overdrive the preamp? There has to be some reason, but in my limited experience, volume control on a clean signal is more easily controled by a single gain/master combo. Could someone enlighten me?
     
  2. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    The gain control is used to compensate for the different output levels of basses. On some amps you can use it to overdrive the amp, but many (most?) you can't. It depends on how they designed it.
     
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    "Gain" literally means "how much the signal level is increased" and nothing more. More gain = hotter/louder/stronger/more signal into that stage of the amp.

    On most amps, "Gain" is more specifically to increase the level of the signal into the preamp stage. Guitar amps are often designed to distort when you increase the signal into the preamp, so in the case of a small tube amp, (or a distortion pedal) turning up the gain will usually result in overdrive. Bass amps are more commonly designed not to distort so much, so in that case "gain" just sets your clean levels into the amp.
     
  4. turcmic

    turcmic

    Jul 30, 2006
    Montreal, QC
    you'll get distortion using the gain knob on an amp equipped with a tube preamp (b2re doesn't have a tube pre).
     
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Not necessarily. You can get it, but there are plenty of tube preamps that will not distort with their gain up all the way.
     
  6. playerofthebass

    playerofthebass

    Feb 4, 2007
    Thanks for all the replies. BTW, does anyone know if any SWR heads have an overdrive channel?
     
  7. SWR Interstellar Overdrive (IOD)
     
  8. Their 750X head does, and while some here don't like it I think it's a pretty nice overdrive/distortion circuit (I own their Mini Mo', which SWR took the effect from and put it into the 750X). With the Drive and Level controls low you get a nice "grindy" overdrive, but as they raise you quickly move into Jack Bruce/Pete Steele/general mayhem areas. It's fun. :)
     

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