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Volume knob vs Boost Pedal


juri
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I just picked up this book by Dave Hunter

 

Tone Manual: Discovering Your Ultimate Electric Guitar Sound

 

http://www.amazon.com/Tone-Manual-Discovering-Ultimate-Electric/dp/1617130044/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309480021&sr=8-1

 

And I really like it... I'm a big fan of the whole series of books he's written.

 

Anyway one of the tips in the book is that rather then using a boost pedal you should run your amp as loud/distorted as you want it during the distorted parts and then when you want to play clean you should lower the volume on your guitar. This is very similar to the way the Catalinbread Formula 5 works.

 

So my question is do you use a boost pedal to get your amp into distortion or do you use the volume on your guitar. Why do you choose one over the other?

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Anyway one of the tips in the book is that rather then using a boost pedal you should run your amp as loud/distorted as you want it during the distorted parts and then when you want to play clean you should lower the volume on your guitar.

 

Hey Juri, I've been doing this for a while and love it. I set the amp to just where I want the max breakup and volume to be. Then I'll dial back the guitar volume to somewhere between clean and breakup. When I play with a lighter touch it's clean, when I dig in it's overdrive and when I turn up the volume on the guitar it's all out breakup.

 

I don't use boost like I used to pretty much for this reason, and the fact I use fuzz for more of the boosted stuff.

 

I highly recommend Dave's "The Guitar Amp Handbook" as a intro to MI amp tech terminology and the technology of. Great book, easy to read and an excellent springboard to more advanced topics on the subject.

 

Edit: It's $16.50 at Amazon for those that might be interested. The price of a pepperoni pizza.

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Both have their uses, but you have to bear a couple of things in mind depending on what you want your boost to do.

 

  • If your amp doesn't have enough gain on tap then your volume pot is useless, you'll need a boost to add drive.

  • Depending on the wiring in your guitar, rolling back the volume pot might also change the tone darker or brighter, which may not be desirable.

  • Your volume pot will always be the first thing in your signal chain, whereas some people prefer to run their boosts after their dirt pedals or in their effects loops to get an actual volume boost instead of just a gain boost.

 

There's no right or wrong here, it really depends what you want out of a boost. More gain? More volume? Something else?

 

There's also the fact that sometimes you might want to boost (or cut) certain frequencies, and that's where an EQ pedal can do things which no volume pot or plain boost can do.

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When I'm just playing around at home I often use the volume knob to go from amp distortion to clean and back.

 

When I'm playing a gig i use a boost, because I don't feel confident that I can turn my volume back down to the correct level without missing a beat. Oh, and I just set the amp to a clean sound and rely on my pedals for dirt. So there.

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Both have their uses, but you have to bear a couple of things in mind depending on what you want your boost to do.



  • If your amp doesn't have enough gain on tap then your volume pot is useless, you'll need a boost to add drive.

  • Depending on the wiring in your guitar, rolling back the volume pot might also change the tone darker or brighter, which may not be desirable.

  • Your volume pot will always be the first thing in your signal chain, whereas some people prefer to run their boosts after their dirt pedals or in their effects loops to get an actual volume boost instead of just a gain boost.



There's no right or wrong here, it really depends what you want out of a boost. More gain? More volume? Something else?


There's also the fact that sometimes you might want to boost (or cut) certain frequencies, and that's where an EQ pedal can do things which no volume pot or plain boost can do.

 

I'm with Chuck 100%

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Timely post. Just this week I've started trying a new bunch of settings that rely on turning my ac30 up to overdrive, and backing off for cleans. Still using my overdrive and boost pedals as usual, just with the guitar volume usually set to halfway unless I want dirty but natural amp sounds. Seems to be working well so far. The treble roll off and lower guitar level going into my OCD and Rat clone seem to give more headroom/clarity but also more thickness.

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I use a variety of methods and pedals to get variation in volume, gain and tone. IMHO there's no one fix. Sometimes I want my single notes to be louder and cleaner than my chord sounds, Sometime I want clean cleans, sometime turned down cleans, sometimes I set the amp for a little breakup, use an overdrive and turn that down. Sometimes I use the boost on my wah, sometimes wah it sometimes leave it static.

 

For me it's all about the sound and there's a million ways to tweak it.

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Both have their uses, but you have to bear a couple of things in mind depending on what you want your boost to do.



  • If your amp doesn't have enough gain on tap then your volume pot is useless, you'll need a boost to add drive.

  • Depending on the wiring in your guitar, rolling back the volume pot might also change the tone darker or brighter, which may not be desirable.

  • Your volume pot will always be the first thing in your signal chain, whereas some people prefer to run their boosts after their dirt pedals or in their effects loops to get an actual volume boost instead of just a gain boost.



There's no right or wrong here, it really depends what you want out of a boost. More gain? More volume? Something else?


There's also the fact that sometimes you might want to boost (or cut) certain frequencies, and that's where an EQ pedal can do things which no volume pot or plain boost can do.

 

Pretty much this. I use both. I have a Maz38 which gets almost no breakup but the volume knob rolls off some of the high frequencies. I keep it about 6-7 and roll it up with some fuzz or something to make the sound really open up. I have boost I use too usually to push pedals. Also I use a mid-fi clari(not) which reacts differently with the volume knob. I can get clean-weird-vibrato-delay to fuzzy-detuned-tape-warble with my volume knob.

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On a normal performance, I prefer setting my amp clean and using pedal dirt. I just like having the immediate CLICK for my tones, and not having to rely on turning a volume knob back to the perfect spot. I have pedals for pushed breakup, middle of the road overdrive, heavy distortion, fuzz, and any combination of the four (plus my compressor). Plus, I like more gain without all the volume that goes along with that, which can be problematic if my amp isn't just cranked.

 

That said, I regularly bypass my board and run guitar>amp in practice, and I love being able to call up several tones with just my fingers.

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Dont settle for one way of boosting, or cleaning up your tone, or whatever, use every feature you have. dont settle on only ever using your volume control on your guitar because you read it in a book. im not saying its not a great book, but use
everything
to your own personal advantage

 

Just to clarify, the book talks about boost pedals, etc... as well, it talks about the potential for treble roll off also when turning down the volume. It also talks about the advantage that has when you turn the volume back up since you add some of the treble back in and this allows you to cut through a bit more.

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Hey Juri, I've been doing this for a while and love it. I set the amp to just where I want the max breakup and volume to be. Then I'll dial back the guitar volume to somewhere between clean and breakup. When I play with a lighter touch it's clean, when I dig in it's overdrive and when I turn up the volume on the guitar it's all out breakup.


I don't use boost like I used to pretty much for this reason, and the fact I use fuzz for more of the boosted stuff.


I highly recommend Dave's "The Guitar Amp Handbook" as a intro to MI amp tech terminology and the technology of. Great book, easy to read and an excellent springboard to more advanced topics on the subject.


Edit: It's $16.50 at Amazon for those that might be interested. The price of a pepperoni pizza.

 

Thanks for the suggestion! I have the amp book, it has an awesome interview with Ken Fisher and Dr. Z in it. I have the effects one as well with interviews of Zachery Vex, Pete Cornish, .... and I have the pick-up one.

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