wheres it best to turn up your volume?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by cassanova, Dec 8, 2000.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Hi, my friends and i got into a fairly heated debate today over where its best for me to turn up my volume from my hartke 2000 head. One said to use the volume controls on the tube/solid state preamp section, the other said the master volume on the amp, and another said its best to use the volume pot on my bass. I was trying to tell them there is no right or wrong way for me to turn it up. But hey maybe im wrong, is one way better than the other? just curious about this and am dying to hear what everyone else does with there stuff be it hartke ampeg swr. all input is welcome. ex: high pre amp settings and low master volume etc. etc.
  2. IMO, Bass full on, tube/solid state pre-amp 4 or 5, then the actual volume you need (from Master volume.) With my 3500 it is rarely more than 3.
    If I am using an active bass, sometimes I back off the bass volume to 8 or 9 to give a bit of leeway.
  3. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    The pre-amp volume is there to adjust the signal level of the bass to the pre-amp, basically.
    What you want is highest possible level without overdriving the pre-amp (unless you have a tube pre-amp and like distortion), because this way you get the best signal to noise ratio (little noise compared to the signal).
    If the pre-amp is set too low, you are amplifying more noise than necessary in the power amp section, you will get a lot of hissing. If it is set too high, the pre-amp will be clipping (ok with tube pre-amps, bad with solid state pre-amps).
    The way to go:
    1. Set volume on bass to max.
    2. adjust pre-amp
    3. adjust EQ
    4. re-adjust pre-amp (if you're boosting lower frequencies with the EQ, this increases the signal level, so you have to turn down the pre-amp volume)
    5. adjust master volume to desired level - back off when power amp is clipping

  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to do what Matthias suggests then I stopped doing it because I found this worked better for me:

    1. bass volume at 1/2 to 3/4
    This way you can turn UP or DOWN while playing without having to walk back to the amp. Yes, with a passive bass this may mean some loss of highs, that doesn't bother me when I consider the convenience (see #4).

    2. Set master volume up full
    Only time I do NOT do this is when the amp is very powerful and I'm doing a very low volume gig with it (not often).

    3. Adjust preamp volume to get starting level
    Yes, this may mean more noise through the power amp but in most situations I've found the difference to be negligible.

    4. Make any further adjustments during the gig from the bass
    This comes in very handy if you switch instruments during the gig (I usually double URB and bass guitar)

    If you actually look at schematics of bass amps, you'll find that preamps with only one volume control are just like those with two controls when the master is all the way up.

    That's my $0.02.
  5. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Bass all the way up.
    Regular volume at 5.
    Adjust Master to suit need.
  6. Skip


    Mar 22, 2000
    Bronxville, NY
    I would think it would depend on whether or not you played active or passive basses and what kind of sound you were looking for.

    Your profile says you play active basses, so diming your volume may add noise you don't want. Your preamp is tubed so that it will tend to sound clean at low levels and clip in a beneficial way at higher levels. If you want that overdriven tone from your preamp you have to find it, set it, and leave it alone. Your master is on a solid state amp so you probably don't want to clip that - so you find a level you can go to before the noise gets ugly.

    I would get the tone you want at low volume on the master, consentrating on getting the tone right between the bass and the preamp. Then raise the master to the level you play at and reset everything if necessary. If you have a lot of headroom on the master you may want to back off the bass signal so as to give yourself some room to adjust your level easily. If you're clipping the amp you may need to put up with more noise from the bass or a more overdriven sound from the pre - or you can get a bigger amp/more cabs. :)

    Play with it and experiment. Good luck.

    - Chris
  7. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    I like to use a volume pedal. In front of the volume pedal are an A/B box and a floor tuner. I wound up in this configuration when playing upright / electric gigs. It allows for adjustment wile you are playing and lets you mute the basses for tuning, stopping feedback or whatever.

    I have noticed most PA installations have the PA amp on full and adjust the loudness on the signal coming out of the preamp or mixer.

    BTW - I have passive basses that can overdrive most any preamp. I have played blues nights through that head and it could not handle vol. bass on ten. Maybe mine goes to 11. This adage about having the volume all the way up on the instrument seems to work as a 'rule of thumb' for instruments made before the late seventies when pickup manufactures started getting frisky. Yes it is a good rule of thumb.

    To answer your question, there is NO one right way it depends. Tell your pals to stuff it if you sound good.

  8. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I agree, there is no right way - the way I described is what you find in many bass amp manuals, what is also reasonable from a technical point of view and what works fine FOR ME (using one bass, doing all the 'volume control' with my fingers - one should be able to play anything between pianissimo and fortissimo without using any knobs IMHO, but I admit you need some routine when your playing live not to dig in with all your power all the time, you need to be able to 'calm down again' when appropriate, wich is not always that easy if you are so excited ;)).

    As there are amps without master volume (the new Hartke 3000 and 4000 for example) wich are always turned up full as brianrost said, this can't be 'wrong' either.

    When your changing volume during playing by using a volume pedal or the knob on your bass, you still have to do the pre-amp adjustment with the bass at the maximum volume you will use to avoid clipping if you turn up later.

    Hope this makes sense...
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Mattias, I like the way you explained it and what you said seems to make the most sense to me, (no ofense to you others) My heads weak though 120w@8ohm runnin into a 600 watt cab, I clip alot when i turn up the volume to get loud, nasty distored sound, and Brian Rost, I like your idea of keepin the bass volume 1/2-3/4, this way you can make some tweeks if needed on volume. I usually only have my bass volume set at 1/4 turn at most, and my pre amp settings on my hartke 2000 head are usually tube 4, solid state at 2, with the master volume never higher than 3. Im trying to get the best sound that I can with what i have untill i can find a better head with more headroom, something 500 watts at least. Just cant find one that entises me enough to buy it yet. Im runnin outta ideas here, so thanks everyone for your input, its very much apreciated and trust me Im gonna try out everyones, except for the volume pedal idea because i dont have one. And yes I agree too there is no right or wrong way to set your stuff, my sound is good but Im always trying to find ways to make it just a little bit better.