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Stupid tone question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by silvermaneZ, May 29, 2001.

  1. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Ok, I have debated asking this question for fear of looking like a goober, but here goes.

    I am having trouble with distortion from my rig when I am playing. We usually play 3 sets on weekend nights. The first two sets are usually rather tame for us and the crowd. The third set, the crowd is wound up, I get wound up from their energy, and I tend to play finger style ALOT harder. I really dig into the strings, kind of like Geddy when he is going at it. I really like digging in and playing like that, but I tend to get unwanted distortion out of my rig.

    Per. my profile, I have a Carvin 115 and Carvin 210 that I am running with a Hartke 5000 going in full range. On the head, the SS gain is set at 7, the Tube gain is at 5, and the Master is at 4. The output of my Ibanez Ergodyne is only at about 30%.

    So, is there anything rig wise that I should try so that I can continue to dig in and play without distortion? Or should I just wait 6 months until I have my new amps and basses and see if better quality equipment solves the dilemma?

    I know it seems like a silly question, but I have honestly tried every cabinet chain, EQ, pre and post volume combination I can think of, and it is still distorting when I play as hard as I want to. And please do not tell me to play lighter, I do not get a tone I like that way.

    P.S. Another stupid question - how do you put the colored faces in your posts? Another thing I have not figured out yet.
  2. Page regarding the "colored faces" in our posts:


    Enjoy :D

    As for the distortion, if you are ramming into the strings tha much harder, you might be increasing the signal enough to run the amp into clipping. How about turning down for the 3rd set?

  3. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    If I am clipping the amp with my bass at 30% total output and my amp at 50% total output, then I definitly need a new head with some more headroom than the 5000 has.
  4. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    P.S. fretless, thanks for the link to the smilies. I have no idea why I could not find that before.
  5. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Sound like an amp question for me...

    Moved in the amp section of the forum

    Edit: I just reread it, if it turn out to be a technique question just move it back in technique
  6. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    I have a Carvin stack with 2x10 and 1x18, and I very often drive the R600 (and sometimes R1000) head into distortion with these speakers. Problem is, I have a loud drummer and these speakers are not very efficient, in my opinion.

    If you need more headroom, you might seriously consider upgrading to more efficient speakers. I ultimately wound up using an Eden 2x15 cabinet in place of the Carvin 1x18 on gigs. I allows me to turn the low channel's gain down from 7 to 5! You could also buy a much bigger amp, but even if it were twice the wattage, you'd do better with speakers that are 4 dB or higher in sensitivity rating.

    - Mike
  7. The position of your knobs doesn't necessarily reflect the percentage of the output. If your knob is at 50%, that in no way means that it has to be at 50% power. Very possibly it's closer to full power.

    Have you tried running the master higher and the gains lower? Say, master on 10 and gains on 3 or 4? That might reduce your distortion, if not eliminate it. Also, if your head has a padded and an unpadded input (for louder and less loud basses, respectively), make sure you're going through the padded input to lessent he chances of overdriving the front end.

    If none of this helps, you probably just need more amp power (there's no such thing as too much!).
  8. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Ok...I'm not an amp genious, so don't take this stuff as law. BUT, it seems to me like the HIGHER your GAIN is, the more distortion you're going to get. You should turn your gains down a bit, and turn your master up. Techies correct me if I'm wrong, but thats what gain does is make the preamp push more and overdrive the poweramp, causing distortion. So, you drop your gains down and bring up the master, that should solve the problem.
  9. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    I used to run into the same problem, everything sounds fine at the start of the night and by the last note it sounds like farts. After spending way too much money on useless gear I finally figured it out.

    As you playing intensifies during the night the amp setting as you have them get maxed out. IOW, it might be fine to have you gains set at 7 and 5 when you're not hitting so hard but once you start wailing on the bass there is no headroom left and so you get distortion. I agree with the others who say turn down the gains and up the master. You may also want to consider a compressor before upgrading your whole rig.

    Also, why is the volume on your bass set so low? You might be losing headroom right there.
  10. dytakeda


    Jul 18, 2000
    I think that ihixulu hit it on the head with pointing out the bass' volume. With the volume control on the bass so low, you're not sending a proper signal to the amp.

    Rule of thumb: leave the bass at full volume to provide as much signal at the start of the chain as possible.... then, adjust it at the amp. You can't add it back later, so make sure you start with as much as possible.

    AND... playing hard is going to cause some distortion. It's a matter of physics. A smoothly plucked string will vibrate nice and evenly resulting in a nice even tone. A string hit hard will have a huge peak at the beginning and the harmonics will be all out of whack. That's distortion.

    It could even be the strings are hitting the frets excessively if you're playing that hard.
  11. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    :eek: :) :D :confused: COOL
    I am really not very knowledgeable in this area, but I would definitely try turning up the guitar volume.;)
  12. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I concur about the bass volume. Try the bass all the way up and back off the tube gain; I bet a lot of the distortion will disappear. By the way, I like to play hard, too!
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Turn down the pre, turn up the master. You're driving both preamps pretty hard, actually. On some amps, that's the way you get distortion when you want it ... crank up the pre-amp. The other guys are right. When you run your master at only 4, you're not opening up all the headroom the amp has to offer.
  14. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Actually, with my *limited* experience, I'm going to have to disagree on the "turn your bass all the way up". The whole thing about turning the gains down is that you're pushing the pre-amps too much....turning the volume on the bass UP is only going to cause MORE output to the pre-amps, therefore overdriving them even though you dropped your gain. Now, I'm not saying it wouldn't hurt to turn it up a bit...I've always heard that the best volume to have your bass on is about 7 or 8, but just don't turn it ALL THE WAY up.
  15. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    You should be able to tell, through the process of elimination, where the overdriving is occurring. First, turn the amp master down so you are assured that the power amp isn't clipping, then move one stage back (pre-amp gain) - turn it down so you know it's not overdriving. Finally, at the bass, turn the volume *up* as much as you can and really dig in (or aggressively slap) to see if the output of the bass is too much for the pre-amp input. Back it off little by little if it is. I have passive basses, and they themselves do not overdrive inputs. If you are using effects, include them in this process. Next, just turn up gains downstream, one-by-one, doing the same aggressive playing, and see where each limit is.

    All audio equipment has this basic tradeoff between having gains too low and suffering from excessive noise and signal degradation during quiet passages vs. having gains too high and overdriving during loud passages. I usually set the gain as high as possible (e.g., when doing recording) so that it does not overdrive during the loudest transient signals.

    If you still have a problem (particularly with extremely dynamic playing), then a little compression can help a lot.

    - Mike
  16. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I want to underline this statement. Though I don't know if it's the strings or the pick ups which are distorting, IME distortion can occur irrespective of any setting of bass or amp. When I really dig in, my Fender Jazz will distort. The only way to avoid this is playing softer, no amp setting, no compressor will help because this kind of distortion occurs right at the begin of the signal chain.

    All other statements regarding gain, headroom, etc. are also true, of cause.

    Hope this makes sense,

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