Amp volume control changes tone?

Discussion in 'Guitar Gear Talk Forum' started by fidach, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. fidach

    fidach New Member

    Hi guys,

    I'm a total newbie as far as electric guitars go - just bought a guitar + amp on Saturday.

    I've been messing around with the settings on my new Laney LX20D and I find that the volume control does not just increase the volume, it actually changes the tone that I hear from the speaker. Is this a feature of cheap amps or am I just imagining it?

    Is it better to keep the volume at full and listen through headphones to get a good tone?

    Also can someone tell me what the tone control on the guitar does - does it vary the relative amount of bass::treble in the output signal from the guitar?

    Thanks a lot guys,
  2. tallkien

    tallkien DIY GURU

    It is quite possible with simple circuits that Volume adjusts percieved tone also. A simple high pass filter wired to your volume control should fix it but i won't advise fiddling with a new amp, you'll void warranty. You'll probably notice the same thing happening with your guitar- you lose highs as you lower the volume.
    Not to worry too much, you'll get used to it soon enough. If its really bad, get it checked out but otherwise I'd say you're very perceptive to notice that

    A guitar's tone control is a simple passive CR(capacitor/resistor) circuit that works by sending high frequencies to ground as you roll back on the control. Natural tone when tone is fully open and cuts off highs as you turn it down
  3. .:SpY_GaMe:.

    .:SpY_GaMe:. New Member

    where is laney?
  4. horned_guitar

    horned_guitar New Member


    hey man just got a electric guitar dont mess with can mess with the ****in box guitar but not with da electric 1........

    You may spoil it......
  5. thehundredthone

    thehundredthone New Member

    ^ Heh.

    I doubt that the volume control doesn't affect the volume. There's something about things sounding different when you increase the volume slightly - I can't remember the term.

    And yes, the tone knob cuts off high frequencies at the 0 setting, generally.
  6. nebuchadnezzar

    nebuchadnezzar G34r G33k

    If you were playing with distortion on, it might be possible that with volume turned down it sounds clean and as volume increases, it gets dirtier/ more distorted. If this is the case, its actually a very desirable feature.

    As mentioned before by others, many volume control circuits will roll off your high-end when turned down. This can be fixed by attaching a capacitor to the volume potentiometer(called a 'treble bleed' mod)
  7. conodeen

    conodeen New Member

    i'm a novice myself on the electric but i've sen that if u increase bass(low) n lower treble(high) or vice-versa or make any sort of changes the sound does change. i'm not sure if thats what hes heard way can some one explain why there are the high , mid and low knobs on an amp if they aren't for making modifications to the tone.
    i repeat again i'm a novice at this electtric guitar tones n stuff. i've never even seen a distortion or heard one live.though of course i've heard them in songs. but u get the picture i guess.
  8. fidach

    fidach New Member


    Thanks for the information - really clears things up a lot.

    nebuchadnezzar : Right now I am working on getting a good clean sound going, so am not trying any distortion stuff yet.

    To keep things simple I am using only the neck pickup and trying to get the bass/mid/treb setting correct. But I was a bit mystified that the setting I used on Sat night at a low volume ( to avoid getting evicted from my society ;) ) seemed to sound a bit different on Sunday morning when I pumped up the volume a bit. BTW, I never knew that 15W could sound so LOUD!!!

    tallkien, etc: I was struggling to figure out what the guitar tone control was doing exactly, but all your replies have helped me make sense of it.

    horned_guitar: Bud, Don't worry... I'm not messing with any internals yet :)

    Thanks again!
  9. nebuchadnezzar

    nebuchadnezzar G34r G33k

    Most equipment sound best when decently loud. At lower volumes and all the worry about neighbours/family making you play softly, you are usually not hearing everything your amp is putting out. At very low volumes, it will surely sound dull and lifeless. At very high volumes(say more than 7-8), even your cleans may become slightly dirtier because of the speaker getting distorted. Increasing the mids will have a noticeable effect on perceived loudness too.

    I find a volume of 3-4 enough for home use on a 15W SS.

    EDIT: BTW I didnt read your thread properly, the distortion cleanup thing I was talking about was the guitar volume and not the amp volume. having said that,many tube amps will just have a volume control which takes the amp from clean to distorted as it is turned up.
  10. tallkien

    tallkien DIY GURU

    Treble middle and bass controls are basically the same as your guitar's tone control, only three of them, technically they are "high", Low" and "Band"-pass filters that affect different frequencies of the signal and they usually have a fixed range. If your pickup is bright for instance (like mine) you may find the TMB controls less (or more) effective in that range than some other guitar or your guitar on some other amp.

    I have a very crazy situation with my guitar. My bucker is much brighter than the singles and that plays havoc with my amp settings when I switch pups. So I've got a CR combo wired to the bucker lug of my pickup selector switch to bleed off some highs. This balances the tonal range of the pickups but suppresses some of the quack of the bucker, not too much of a problem coz it didn't have a lot of quack to begin with

    FWIW the amp guru's I hang out with on another site work hard to replace a TMB tone stack with a single tone control that works the entire range. Apparently a single tone control is a lot more punchy and yields more output
  11. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    In a hi-fidelity amp+speaker, the volume knob shouln't lead to any change in tone.

    1. you are talking about guitar amps, which are not hi-fi.
    2. there is immense tone coloring from the speakers. At low volume, the speakers will behave differently from when they are being pushed against their wishes (at high volumes)
    3. Equal loudness contours or Fletcher-Munson curves: . The same sound will appear to sound different at low volume (decibels) than high, because your ear's sensitivity to different frequencies changes according to the volume.
  12. thehundredthone

    thehundredthone New Member

    That's what I was talking about.
  13. laneymaney

    laneymaney Banned

    Somebody called?
    @threadstarter: Congratz and welcome to the family
  14. AceRoom

    AceRoom Future Grammy Winner

    Are you sure you're changing the volume knob? In amps with built-in distortion or OD, there is also a gain knob which basically changes the tone (More gain, more distortion).

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