#1
Last week I joined up with a few friends (bassist and drummer) to jam to some rush tunes and I noticed that I couldn't hear myself playing guitar over the drums and bass.
Turning my amp up loader had no effect and just made it sound more over driven and distorted. It's as if the sound was just mixing in with the drums and the guitar had trouble cutting through the mix.

I was using my 15 watt VOX VT15 and I didn't even try to put it up to full cause increasing it was not helping. I then plugged it into one of the big 100 watt marshall amps that they had and it still didn't "cut through" like I wanted.

Another strange effect that was happening was that it always sounded like I was out of tune. Like the notes I was playing where a few semitones higher or lower than should be. When It was just mew playing but quieter, it sounded fine and everything was in tune. Could this have been some harmonic effect that got amplified when the whole band started playing?

I've heard that at those high volumes, the guitar needs to be turned down on the treble and lowered in gain. Because the guitar is a middle instrument, it cuts through when it is in the middle frequency range. Therefore, it does not interfere with the drums or bass. Is this true? Should I try to boost my mids and lower the treble and bass next time? Has anyone else had these issues before?
#2
15 mostly solid-state watts is a little on the low end to jam with a drummer and a bassist. Not a lot, not unmanagebly so, but they need to be aware of it. Some of this is honestly, if that's your gear, they need to not play as loud. It's normal in a jam session with guys who aren't really experienced to have to remind everybody (especially the drummer) to lighten up a bit.

Speaker placement matters a lot. You want you to be louder than they are, so one important question is where is your amp's speaker relative to your ears. You want your amp off the floor, tilted up, and pointing at you. Probably pointing through you at your drummer is the best way to go. I've seen a lot of people make this mistake - speakers are really directional, and you need to be aware of where your cone of sound is.

Never had that experience with pitch, though, so can't help you there.
#3
Going through your issues in turn:

Quote by Dig_a_Pony
I was using my 15 watt VOX VT15 and I didn't even try to put it up to full cause increasing it was not helping.


A 15 watt solid state amp is generally not enough to compete with a drum kit and decent bass amp. This should be the next piece of gear you upgrade.

Quote by Dig_a_Pony
I then plugged it into one of the big 100 watt marshall amps that they had and it still didn't "cut through" like I wanted.


Possibly a bad tone dialled up. Possibly you getting used to playing with other people.

Quote by Dig_a_Pony
Another strange effect that was happening was that it always sounded like I was out of tune. Like the notes I was playing where a few semitones higher or lower than should be. When It was just mew playing but quieter, it sounded fine and everything was in tune. Could this have been some harmonic effect that got amplified when the whole band started playing?


No it was most likely nothing to do with the amp. Did everyone tune their instruments? Did everyone play in the same key?

I guess this should come with the proviso that I once dialled in a tone that was the resonant frequency of the wheels on the cab, causing an absolutely horrible oscillating low noise whenever I hit a Bb. It took me ages to figure it out.

Quote by Dig_a_Pony
I've heard that at those high volumes, the guitar needs to be turned down on the treble and lowered in gain. Because the guitar is a middle instrument, it cuts through when it is in the middle frequency range. Therefore, it does not interfere with the drums or bass. Is this true? Should I try to boost my mids and lower the treble and bass next time? Has anyone else had these issues before?


On my amp (Mesa Mark V) I find that lowering the bass and increasing the treble and mids helps me cut through. It's possible (and extremely common/easy to do) that you had a tone dialled in that sounded awesome alone, but shared too much of the frequencies occupied by the bass to "cut through". There's a lot of factors that go into it, your type of guitar, type of amp etc. If the Marshall was a solid state amp, the solid state distortion generally does not help you cut through either.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#4
*amp placement as stated above.....tilting it or placing it up high will help, tryi moving around to find the "sweet spot"

*fiddle with your mids and treble....the tone you have when playing on your own will basically be useless and you´ll find that the tone that cuts through and sounds great in a band scenario will most likely sound like crap without the other instruments

*more gain will make you sound mucky and or "muddled"....more volume/less gain

*drums that are out of tune will sound really loud and steal alot of frequency

*if you are in a small rehearsal room look at bringing the overall volume down...start with the drums....small strips of tape with tissue balls stuck beneath the cymbals, dampening rings for the drums and a pillow in the basdrum. Do a basic soundcheck starting with the drums, add then the bas and then the guitar....sometimes you´ll even need to look at the eq of the bas so that he´s not going to much into the upper mids

...as for sounding a little out of key that could be because of you hearing yourself poorley and playing harder or mabye even if your not used to playing whilst standing you might tend to overcompensate with fretting harder and or pulling your neck back whilst playing. Even having "untuned" drums can make for wierd semi-tones.


hope this was of some help....and going with the "UG motto" ...yes you need a new amp ;-)
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