#1
Without getting too technical here is my issue:

I choose to use pedals for any type of driven sound or effects instead of what my amp already has built in (i.e. overdrive, crunch channel). So, I am running my instrument cable from my guitar through the pedal board and then into the amp set on the clean channel. My amp's clean channel has a volume and gain. However, I can't get any volume unless I raise the gain. If my volume is dialed all the way up and the gain all the way down there is zero sound coming out the amp. Why does the volume rely on the gain? I guess the problem I have is, as I raise the gain to be able to raise the volume it adds crunch to the clean channel. If I'm wanting to use my pedals exclusively then wouldn't that mean I'm adding crunch on top of distortion and not getting the same clean signal the more I raise the volume/gain? Prior to this amp I had one with only a volume on the clean channel but according to what I read if there is only a volume then it's actually both a volume and gain combined so I'm back to the same scenario. Also, how much does the guitar's volume affect this?

I've tried googling this and all I can find are articles on gain vs. volume vs. tone but none are specific to just running a clean sound and amplifying it without distorting it.

For reference I'm using a Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister 36 and was previously using a Fender Superchamp XD. I'm running all types of pedals including overdrive, fuzz, distortion, wah, chorus, delay, and reverb.
#2
Here's the manual:

http://hughes-and-kettner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/TubeMeister36_BDA_low.pdf

According to it, the clean gain only alters input sensitivity, presumably meaning not preamp distortion. I would be trusting my ears on this. For example, winding up the volume on my old Blues Deluxe just increased the compression once you got past about 4w of amplification, while my H&K Dual El 84 does actually get louder as you wind the volume knob (it has no clean gain) up, with most of the tonal change seemingly in speaker effects.
#3
A friend of mine has a blues junior and it has the same issue.

I think tube amps are very prone to actual overdriven tones. That is, the amp is actually overdriven and you get some crunch, instead of coming from an effect. I'm not sure how well solid state amps hold up to this. I do know that with almost any amp, if you're really cranking the volume out, you'll end up getting some distortion. Some amps might even be made to do this. Maybe try finding an amp that boasts a clean signal at high volume levels?

If you really need your sound loud, try going through a venue's sound system through an output on your amp, or try micing. Turning down the volume on your amp and turning the volume up through a main system will eliminate a lot of the clipping.

Also, does your guitar have active pups? Active pup guitars can add a bit of distortion just because the signal is booming.
Last edited by Will Lane at Nov 7, 2014,
#4
set the volume as high as it'll go. then gradually start raising the gain control from zero until it gets as loud as you want.

that's how you keep it as clean as possible. if it's not clean enough for you, then you have the wrong amp (more or less, anyway). I guess you could try a lower gain preamp tube like a 5751, but how much of a fix that will be, I dunno. I just thought a 5751 made my amp sound worse, and just meant it sounded the same at 6 on the dial instead of 5

EDIT: your guitar's volume will affect it as well. if the amp is crunchy, rolling the guitar volume back should clean it up. but it'll also clean up the pedals you're using.

Just out of interest, why do you want your amp to be pristinely clean? as long as the pedals sound good, whether the amp is crunch or clean doesn't really matter. at least in most instances, maybe you've found a scenario where it does matter.
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Nov 7, 2014,
#5
If my volume is dialed all the way up and the gain all the way down there is zero sound coming out the amp. Why does the volume rely on the gain?

Gain means the volume of your input signal. If you dial it to zero, you get zero input. Gain does not necessarily equal distortion. However, the more gain you use, the more the tubes get saturated and start compressing and clipping, which results in distortion. When and how this occurs depends on the amp and its channels. There are some which are built to stay clean the entire way, and there are those that are built to immediately drive into saturation.
The Tubemeister is pretty much one of the latter. It is basically made for crunch and driven sounds. You can get cleans out of it, but not at full volume. So if you want an absolutely clean sound, you will need a different amp (or, like Will said, you need to go through the PA). With that said, having a tad bit of crunch when using overdrive pedals isn't usually a bad thing.

how much does the guitar's volume affect this?

Try using a well-driven setting on your amp and then dial back on the guitar's volume poti. The sound should clean up. It's basically just another Gain/Volume poti in front of the entire chain, so, of course, it affects the saturation of the tubes (though in a slightly different fashion ).
Last edited by jinsu2301 at Nov 7, 2014,
#6
Quote by Dave_Mc
EDIT: your guitar's volume will affect it as well. if the amp is crunchy, rolling the guitar volume back should clean it up. but it'll also clean up the pedals you're using.


Doing that can rob you of your tone, so be careful.
#7
^ Yeah, but i guess if you really cared you could fit a treble bleed to the guitar volume knob (if one isn't already fitted).