Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby Stevo123 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:20 pm

Been doing some reading online and came across this site http://www.amptone.com. In particular there is a page discussing preamp distortion vs. power amp distortion here http://www.amptone.com/g098.htm that I found pretty interesting. Basically it says that tube preamp distortion is the buzzy, non-expressive type, and tube power amp distortion is more of the musical, dynamic type. He also basically says that there is very little if any audible difference between tube and ss preamps. I know the jerry guys like to roll with tube preamps and SS power amps. Just curious if others find the info about pre vs. power amps on this site to be true, and if so, what then are the advantages of using tube pre and ss power?
In my experience, the tightest and most expressive my amp sounds is to get it as loud (pushing the power amp tubes) as I can without pushing the preamp very hard, if at all. I also helped a guitarist I play with (who is a great player but has no idea how to harness his gear effectively lol) to sound a thousand times better on his marshall amp by messing with his settings to get him more in the range of power instead of pre amp distortion.
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Re: Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby strumminsix » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:28 pm

I find the 2 to be just different. Neither better or worse. I guess if we are going to say distortion I'll agree that the powermap is more musical but for OVERDRIVE I find preamp to be more musical, easier to control, and very musical.

Stevo123 wrote:I also helped a guitarist I play with (who is a great player but has no idea how to harness his gear effectively lol) to sound a thousand times better on his marshall amp by messing with his settings to get him more in the range of power instead of pre amp distortion.


How exactly did you do this? My experience is that the only 1 way is for him to turn up more. Sending a low signal to the poweramp and forcing it to crank doesn't give the same sweet musical clipping that you would get if you sent it a hot signal.
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Re: Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby Stevo123 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:53 pm

Not sure exactly how his amp functions. It has some built in FX and on the channel he uses he has a volume control and a "fuzz" control, as well as an overall volume. Don't know if the fuzz thing is some kind of BS transistor circuit or what, but it adds volume, and he was using that rather than the actual volume control to get distortion. He was getting these awful, super compressed, un-musical tones lol. Not sure exactly how it changes the pre vs. power amp distortion. So I turned that fuzz thing down, and messed with the balance between his volume knobs.

Guess I should probably ask: What controls the amount each stage distorts? Is it a hot signal running into the stage, or is it making that stage work harder that does the distorting? For example, when I turn up my volume (not master) control, that causes my preamp to distort, correct? And more overall volume (cranked master control) will give more power amp distortion? Correct me if I'm wrong about that.
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Re: Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby strumminsix » Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:05 pm

The poweramp tube sweetness, to my ears, is accomplished by feeding in a hot signal and pushing it hard!
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Re: Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby JonnyBoy » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:09 pm

Some of the Distortion talks on line have to be explained by what kind of distortion they are going for. We (Jerry/bobby) use very little distortion, more of a drive, rustling some harmonics to give the tone body. To some guitarists they would find that a clean tone or barely overdriven. Led Zepplin, Guns and Roses, ZZ Top etc are clipping a good bit. Way more than I would ever use for serious guitar playing. I agree with Strum, to get that heavier OD You just need that signal to hit the tubes right to push them into OD, which is partially preamp clipping also. I disagree that preamp distortion is unusable or not musical, maybe as a hard distortion, but not as a slight drive.

I think it is how much you are trying to get, at what level and for what reason. For a slightly clipped tone I will push the pre a little and then let the mac mix in its unique clipping using a LPB1. together it is nice. Otherwise, and most commonly I will use a pedal like a Boss Overdrive or coming soon a Danelectro CTO-2 Transparent OD. The you tube vids on that pedal are awesome plus some horsey mouths around here liking it too. I hope it sounds as good through my amp and guitar. Now a days its easier to use pedals.

For jerry tone it may just be easier to go totally clean on the amp and clip with a box. Maybe add a LPB1 or similar to help push a pre or power amp a bit. A few ways to get to the same place I guess.
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Re: Preamp vs. Power Amp distortion

Postby strumminsix » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:17 pm

JonnyBoy wrote:Some of the Distortion talks on line have to be explained by what kind of distortion they are going for. We (Jerry/bobby) use very little distortion, more of a drive, rustling some harmonics to give the tone body. To some guitarists they would find that a clean tone or barely overdriven.


Agree with the terminology and perception. Bobby, however, had a heavily distorted and other times fuzzed tones in the late 80s and 90s.
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