Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #117186  by Cmnaround
 Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:28 am
Running a Mesa pre amp and curious about any recommendations for gain and master volume settings on my pre amp relative to the volume settings on my power amp (mesa 20/20).

I know that you typically crank the gain and keep master volume low to drive grit and distortion, but in serach of the super clean Jerry tone what would you guys recomend?

When I lower my gain to 3 it is super crisp and bright, and I can compensate by cranking my master volume more, or set my gain higher at like 7 and get some drive, not distortion but just more of a thicker sound, and adjust my master volue down a bit. All of this independent of my volume settings on my power amp. Here are the pics of my amp settings - where would you start to get the clsoest Jerry tone - and should I be really cranking my power amp volume? How does that impact my tone relative to my master volume control on my pre amp?

(I use treble around 8, bass around 1, mid at 5, presence around 6 - settings in the pic are stock)

Pre amp

Power Amp
 #117188  by mgbills
 Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:52 am
I'm assuming that's the V-Twin?

That will be a great setup. Take small steps. Mesa equipment is incredibly powerful. In accord with the recently updated info from Waldo on non-McIntosh setups, this is where I'd go.

On the preamp...Leave the gain around 3 initially. Leave the Master wyde-clyde. I'd roll the Treb to 7-7.5. Try the Bass at 2-2.5. Mid's at 6+. Take each change a little at a time. You're heading for clean/balanced vs clean/ice-picky. Power amp as low as possible to be fully present. Let your ear be the judge. I'm now taking the Treb down on my Fenders to "just above" the point where it sound like the highs are being squashed. 7.5-8 on my Deluxe. I like it bright, as my GD taste's tend toward the '74-'78 era.

When you've got the tone stack adjusted, bring the gain up ever so slightly until it just barely breaks. You may have to lower the master in the process.

I can't remember how the Presence adjustment behaves, but that will also add high-end sparke (or at least not supress it). After the preamp is adjusted, use the same process.

The 20/20 is LOUD! In the house I'd barely crack the volume & it'd be too loud for my house.

Great rig. Enjoy. Mine was very Jerry through a JBL. Super Sweet, with lots of options for bands that dont' just do GD.
 #117195  by Cmnaround
 Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:18 pm
Wow thanks M - that is really helpful advice. Here is a brief clip I knocked out last night with the gain around 4 and master at 5, with a new dimarzio super distortion DP100 in the bridge, single coil, direct out record from the Mesa v-twin. When you say wyde-Clyde do you mean all out open on 10 for the master? And therefore the pre amp master is way more important than my power amp master for contribution to tone?

 #117200  by mgbills
 Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:22 pm
I just pulled up the V-Twin manual... ... PreAmp.pdf, as I couldn't remember exactly whether the Presence controls were boosts or attenuators. I had to read quickly because I"m misappropriating work time.

My methods for tuning an amp involve changing only one parameter at a time. The Masters (either on the power amp, or the pre) should only lower volume. Personal experience (to my ear) leads me to believe that they also change tone in minor ways. The most powerful control is the Gain. By opening up the Master on the Preamp (Wyde-Clyde is like Dimed, or Cranked), any attenuation of signal should be eliminaed. Same with the Presence. My sense is that you'll have to barely crack the volume on the power amp, or you'll be removing paint from your walls.

So...Eliminate any secondary or tertiary attenuation. Presence and/or Master. Send the Mix to the Clean Channel, and adjust the tone stack. Then (if you can bear it) bring the gain up till it's just "there." Everyone hears Jerry from a different era in their own personal Head. Now you can pull remaining ice-pickyness with minor adjustments to Presence. At some point, just try the Master. Once you understand the other tone controls, you'll use this to tame the beast volume wise.

Once you've got the dynamics in the preamp to your liking, start playing with the Presence on the Power Amp.

This is an incredibly sophisticated setup. I've loved all the Mesa gear I've own, and I'm playing almost exclusively GD.
Be patient. Read the manual at a leisurely pace. Your playing sounds great, so have a great time grabbing the tone you want.

Hope this helps.
 #117209  by TI4-1009
 Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:28 am
Double thanks M-I've been very impressed with everything my Lonestar Classic can do, just scratching the surface. Out to my JBLs for Dead, to my Ampeg cab for bass, internal combo speaker for "everything else".
 #117211  by mgbills
 Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:29 am
Always happy to help...

Remember Brad's post..."Jerry's rig let the note "Bloom" through the preamp." You'll find the right settings to create that "Bloom."

And you'll have a Wicked Metal Monster on the other channel for when your bandmates ask you for some In-A-Gadda-da-Vida.

 #117219  by mgbills
 Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:36 am
Something else to think about...

I used to own a '70 Volvo 142. Great old car. At one point I needed an engine...around 1995. Many of the old B20's were already twice rebuilt. I found this guy in Salt Lake who specialized in Volvo's. Called him up. I could totally tell...this was "The Man." He send me a crated engine. Didn't overheat. Produced plenty of power. Would not idle. My local guy tried everything. Finally I just drove the thing from Seattle to SL to see the Guru.

He taught me about a systems approach to mechanical systems. His thoughts distilled... "Customers will come in & say they need a tune up. Most shops will give them a tune up. But this is a customer diagnosed issue. A systems approach will look at a rough idle as a complete system. It could be ignition. It could be aspiration. It could be valves. It could be compression. One has to eliminate variables withing the system which feeds the apparent problem. This will insure that a fix will stay fixed." On my car, the overheating of the original engine caused the intake manifold to warp. No amount of futzing with the SU carb needle valves, or changes in ignition timing, were ever going to address the rough idle.

It occurs to me that in a more complex amplifier, one needs to eliminate factors (or make them as transparent as possible) to understand the intent of the designer, and to educate one's ears as to the total tonal possibilities. When I got my SMS, I forgot this principle. I dimed the Treble, put the Mids on 6, and dumped the Bass. Plugged it into the old MC2100 & lit it up.
It drove me nuts! Everbody was like "Man this is ice-picky!" Mine was like Warm...almost Creamy. WTF! Gain ...that's what. Very powerful on the SMS.

By taking Master Volume & Presence out of the equation, and then slowly re-introducing them, I believe one can get to the "transparent signature" of that system. Once can add only what you need. There will be trade off's. Most Master Volumes do affect tone...somewhat minorly. Presence obviously will. So maybe at bedroom level the solution is to attenuate with the Master Volume, and sparkle it up with the Presence.?. Unknown. Starting with a transparent tone signature will allow you to decide.

Hope this is more help than ramble.
 #117286  by JonnyBoy
 Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:17 pm
That is a really great metaphor. So many variables in this mess. I remember trying to get my Mac to sing without sacrificing someting in the pre and without melting the paint off the walls with volume through sensitive JBL's. I would rather have a root canal than to sit and tweak a rack amp guitar system into submission witout a starting point. Combo amps seem to be created to work together a litlle better.

In the "Jerry rig" case, the SMS and Mac are two entirely different systems never meant to meet each other in nature. Like a squirrle mounting an alligator. The magic is that Jerry paved the way to understand this possibility. I don't envy Counterstrikers delema. Currently, with my mac I like to dime the "pre" master pot on the back and then adjust the power amp to volume. I have tried other "pre" master settings, but it seems to sound best like this for me.

Conversely, if I use my HRD3 I have to use the SMS rear master to set the volume, because the HRD3's "effects in" is a dimed power section basically. But still nice tone from there too. If I boost a little you can get the power section clipping, especially the Qtron, which I don't always prefer. Always a trade off!!

I think finding the point where you get some "smoothing power amp clipping" (as Brad calls it) from the pre's singnal into the poweramp is where its at for Jerry regular tone, me thinks. Then when you boost you can get a little gritty for solo's. Otherwise, I guess a pedal is needed to achieve this process like an Earth Drive or similar if your poweramp won't smooth the signal with some clipping.

Good luck Counterstriker! BTW, post some newer material soon!