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Most amps have a volume and a gain control. Start with a little volume, then turn up the gain to get the amount of distortion you want. You can then increase the volume to get the sound level you want. As for the bass/mid/treble controls, I usually start with them middle for diddle then adjust up or down to give the sound you want.
Remember, the volume and tone settings on the guitar will have a huge influence as well. It all really comes down to experimentation and personal taste. I like a clean guitar sound. Others like it distorted to the extreme. What suites you is what counts.
Have a look here.
Funnily enough I was watching this a few days ago
Which piece of string are we measuring?
OK putting aside the issue of personal taste and style for a moment. You need to thoroughly understand each knob/switch or control and how it interacts with the others, so experiment and then experiment some more. Great guitarists have their own tone so whilst it is good to be able to sound like 'x' record, it's also important to sound like 'bluesfloyd'.
Now to be more practical I will assume from your name you are a fan of PG and Blues in general. I don't know what type of amplifier you have so I can only generalise but these are words not a tutorial.
If the amp has a gain and a master volume, set the master a bit louder than you want and the gain at the point it just starts to break up when you pluck hard on a note. Set the tones a bit brighter than you want and then back off the guitar volume to about 7 then turn down the guitar tone so that it sounds sweet. At this point it should sound quite musical and possibly a bit 'middey'. Remember we are seeking a tone that blends with the band but stands out at the same time.
Now when flicking from 7 - 10 on the guitar volume you can go from clean to gritty for solos etc. The pickup selector and picking position combined with this basic tone gets you a lot of musical tone (classic styles). After that I'm afraid your ears and playing will dictate far more than any of us can put into words.
many thanks for the above posts, lots of answers about my first question, lots of advice for me to try, i am sure i can get my amp tone sounding better now,
all the best, bluesfloyd.
If you're using an analogue amp, most of the tone controls will have a sort of "sweet spot" where as you go through that point there is a sudden or more rapid change in tone. If you find that point for each control and start with them at that point you'll be in a good "neutral" position to start cutting or adding from each control to shape your sound.
But it is really just playing around until you really know your amp.
To be honest, on my Marshall I just whack all the tone controls up full then back off the treble on the clean channel and the mid on the o/d channel. It works for me ....
When you start working with an amplifier, you need to know how to tune it up properly so that when you play your guitar, you don't blow it out. Every amp is different, so you'll want to familiarize yourself with the various levels and controls of your new amplifier so that you get to know its unique quirks. The tone controls are there since it's conceivable that your room and its furnishings falsify the signal, and they allow rough-and-ready compensation of the upper (treble) and lower (bass) frequencies. Start with the centre - that's the position in which the signal going to the speakers matches the source signal. Then adjust whilst listening to well recorded sources until it sounds "right" to you. If two differing positions sound "the same", the one closer to centre is probably to be preferred.
I've always preferred simple EQ sections, I think this why a gravitated away from Marshalls and toward Orange.
My TH30 has a remarkably flexible shape control on the dirty channel that runs from all mids to scooped. I generally find that the tone I want is between 10 and 2 o'clock. The clean channel has simple bass and treble. Both my Terrors have single tone option.
The benefit to me is that I play more and twiddle less!