I know this is all about horses for courses but I want to hear about your experiments with your amps gain stages. This can relate to playing in your bedroom,rehearsal space,local pub,nightclub or Wembley stadium (actually they demolished that,I think)

It's pretty common to have preamp, channel level and then master volumes on many amps and it can be a balancing act getting it right.

I haven't gigged for years and recently got a Randall RG100G3 (valve pre,Mosfet power) Tested it out really loud today in a space around 40 feet by fifteen feet and got a great mix of smooth heavy rock solo sound and epic warm feedback at will without any kranky,unwanted feedback.

It seemed to me that with the preamp gain at 8 1/2 with the channel on 4 and the master on 7 seemed more convincing for rock than having the channel higher and the master lower. Seemed to be more musical.

Worked for different styles with preamp adjustment too.

Any thoughts or anecdotes?

Obviously each amp is going to be different but please share.
Last edited by guitar-name at Apr 16, 2015,
If you want to play with gain stages, I'd suggest jumping on eBay and picking up a Carvin Quad-X (it'll probably run you about $300-350) rackmount preamp. They have nine 12 AX7s inside, four channels, six (!) FX loops, built in bass cloaking, built in boost, a great reverb, active controls, an assignable five-band graphic EQ and more. The original intention with these was to run it into a stereo tube power amp (usually something like the Carvin TS100 100-Watt 50/50) and out to a cabinet. If you run it out directly to recording or to a mixer, there's a 4x12 cab simulator built in.

Each of the four channels has a different set of gain stages, up to ELEVEN (no, seriously, eleven gain stages).

What you have your amp set at (volume/master/gain) is irrelevant when compared to another preamp or amp, because there's really no basis of comparison available there. Halfway on one volume control might actually be producing all the volume there is (or 99% of it) while halfway on another amp might not be a quarter up. EQ is all over the place. The Quad-X has active controls which means that "5" is where most amps are, dimed. Above "5" is boosted, below is cut, and that boost can be 15 dB (ditto the cut). Completely different from passive controls.

Most preamps have three, four or five 12 AX7s, one of which is usually reserved for something other than gain stages.

A Quad-X will be 20 years old, but it's still an amazing piece.