Pedals and Amp: The Volume Question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Raug, Apr 29, 2022.


  1. Raug

    Raug

    Apr 1, 2022
    Hi,

    I have question about setting the volume with amp and pedals.

    I've got an Darkglass Bass Harmonics Booster V2, an Darkglass Alpha-Omicron Distortion and an Hartke LH-500 Amp.

    The setup is Bass-Guitar -> Harmonics Booster -> Distortion -> Amp

    I've got a "Level" knob on the distortion for setting the volume and a "Boost" knob on the Harmonics Booster for "-20dB to +20dB cut or boost" and the Volume knob on the amp.

    So experts out there what is better? Setting the amp to a lower volume and setting the rest on the pedals or the other way around? Or is it not that simple and you can feed me knowledge?

    I have seen this question getting discussed in the internet but I only found discussion about Tube Amps and the Hartke LH-500 is a hybrid amp.
     
  2. crguti

    crguti

    Feb 14, 2011
    Scandinavia
    Do you play in a band? If the answer is yes, first set your amp volume then set your pedals volume.
     
  3. Raug

    Raug

    Apr 1, 2022
    Well I am in a band but why is this a difference in setting the volume?
     
  4. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I tend to go with whatever gets me the best signal to noise (S/N) ratio (i.e. cleanest sound out of the speakers). Usually that is achieved (for me with my gear) by getting the most gain early in the signal chain. However, there are trade-offs such as creating noise/distortion when over-boosting some elements early in the chain and having that overdrive or overload the next element.

    In general though boosting closest to the source and using less gain to get the final volume/performance as I move downstream is most often the best strategy IME. Now if you're counting on running your amp at a level where you are using its distortion or OD characteristics, then you are back to a balancing act between having acceptable (to you) S/N ratio with lower pedal gain settings and using more of the bass head's capabilities.
     
  5. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I feel it’s best practice to try for unity gain at every pedal output into the amp. I suppose a boost pedal might be the exception lol.
     
  6. Raug

    Raug

    Apr 1, 2022
    OK I often read that it depends on where and how you want to overdrive. Beeing at tube amps this all makes sense but do hybrid and transistor amps overdrive in the same maner as a tube amp? Do transistor amps overdrive at all? I mean so that you can say it sounds like an overdrive effect?
     
  7. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I would argue that all amps and preamps can be overdriven and that they will all produce some type of artifact as a result...some will sound much less musical or pleasant to listen to than others. There are solid state amps and preamps that have specific circuitry/design aspects that allow them to be overdriven in a more "musical way". Some solid state amps are even designed to emulate the behavior of a tube circuit being overdriven and others are simply a signature type of solid state overdrive/distortion. Examples of this would be the Mesa Subway line of bass amps and GK amps that have a signature growl.
     
  8. Raug

    Raug

    Apr 1, 2022
    OK so from the answers here it sounds like the best way is to put in the punch with the pedals and then drive the amp at a "lower" volume, I will try it out!
     
  9. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I would start there. I think of getting the effect I want with the pedal while keeping gain and S/N ratio high and then using the amp in its clean region to deliver the sound at the right volume and voicing/tone to my speakers.

    The more signal (within reason) and lower noise you present to each successive stage, the better sound you usually get at the end of the signal chain. That idea is what guides me as I start to wire things together.
     
    joelns likes this.

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