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Old 01-24-2021, 10:18 AM
VJP5 VJP5 is offline
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Default Mid Control knob, Clean: why so important?

I am an absolute beginner to the electric guitar space. I am researching and learning about amps. I am mostly looking to play “clean” - blues/jazz/60s rock (think Beatles). Distortion is not my thing. In my research of amps, there is one area that comes up almost every time with respect to a clean tone. That is the presence of a Mid control knob (always a pro) or the lack of one (always a con).

What is the *magic* of this knob that is so crucial to getting a wide range of good clean tone?

Thanks
Vince
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by VJP5 View Post
I am an absolute beginner to the electric guitar space. I am researching and learning about amps. I am mostly looking to play “clean” - blues/jazz/60s rock (think Beatles). Distortion is not my thing. In my research of amps, there is one area that comes up almost every time with respect to a clean tone. That is the presence of a Mid control knob (always a pro) or the lack of one (always a con).

What is the *magic* of this knob that is so crucial to getting a wide range of good clean tone?

Thanks
Vince
Two of the most popular and recorded "clean" amps of all time do not have a Mid control knob: Fender Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb.
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:32 PM
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:38 PM
Steel and wood Steel and wood is offline
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Yep, I like my sounds on the cleaner side also and some tube amps do better cleans than others. (Think Fender mostly and their clones although I've discovered you can get clean chime from a Vox amp even if Fender is my normal go to).

They will start to "break up" though if you dial up the gain and volume and just about all of the modern amps (including Fender and their clones) are built for the modern player who wants levels of drive/distortion.

Again, lots you can do to keep your sounds clean (tube/solid state) by turning down the gain on the amp and the tone and volume on the guitar. (Playing with the middle control on an amp if it has one is not much of a factor is my experience).

Good luck!
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Old 01-24-2021, 03:20 PM
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Well it's super complicated, and comes down to individual preference. Sometimes you have to ask a question you aren't interested in to get the answer you want. In this case one of the best things I ever seen on mids on amps is a video on overdrive pedals that have prominent mids and those that don't. In this video it's all about the amps though! And it will help you understand what mids do to the sound coming out of your amp.

I hope you will watch it even though you might not think you actually want an overdrive pedal. Spoiler. You need one. You just don't know it yet, and this will help you "buy once" and get the right one when you do

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Old 01-24-2021, 04:50 PM
VJP5 VJP5 is offline
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Two of the most popular and recorded "clean" amps of all time do not have a Mid control knob: Fender Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb.
Hence my confusion.

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Originally Posted by Steel and wood View Post

Again, lots you can do to keep your sounds clean (tube/solid state) by turning down the gain on the amp and the tone and volume on the guitar. (Playing with the middle control on an amp if it has one is not much of a factor is my experience).

Good luck!
As a newbie to electrics, this is difficult to comprehend. When I talk to other musicians, they make it seem like it's not a big deal. But when I was researching, it seemed like the holy grail. So glad I asked.

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Well it's super complicated, and comes down to individual preference. Sometimes you have to ask a question you aren't interested in to get the answer you want.
Interesting video. Thank you for posting. Not sure I'm ready to go down the pedal rabbit hole just yet, but I will keep this one flagged.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:18 PM
Paleolith54 Paleolith54 is online now
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Originally Posted by VJP5 View Post
I am an absolute beginner to the electric guitar space. I am researching and learning about amps. I am mostly looking to play “clean” - blues/jazz/60s rock (think Beatles). Distortion is not my thing. In my research of amps, there is one area that comes up almost every time with respect to a clean tone. That is the presence of a Mid control knob (always a pro) or the lack of one (always a con).

What is the *magic* of this knob that is so crucial to getting a wide range of good clean tone?

Thanks
Vince
The only "magic" I can think of (and it's a real stretch) regarding mids is (1) that a guitar is a mid-range instrument, so having control over mid frequencies on your amp is a good thing and (2) mids are important in terms of not getting buried in the frequencies of other instruments.

As others said, some amps are already mid-heavy (like my Mesa) so for them the control is more about cutting than boosting mids. Some amps aren't that way naturally, so you may have to EQ them to get more mids. It all depends on what you play and who you play with.

Having said all that, I've never encountered the kind of Holy Grail emphasis you seem to be finding. Mids matter, but in practical terms no more than a dozen other variables.
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:14 AM
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That mid control gives the ability to add or reduce mid-range presence in your sound. It is very effective on louder gigs where you have trouble hearing your guitar in the mix. Often, a little increase in the mid's can make the sound cut through better than increasing the over all volume.

Fender amps with only bass and treble controls were/are usually lower priced models. They can work just about as well, you just need to compensate by using both the treble and bass control to affect the mid-range.

In such cases you want to increase the mid's a bit, just reduce both the treble and bass controls, and raise the volume to compensate for the loss. To reduce the mid's a bit, raise the bass and treble and lower the volume.

Its not really that big of a deal though, just keep tweaking until you get the sound you want.
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Old 01-25-2021, 09:30 AM
VJP5 VJP5 is offline
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Having said all that, I've never encountered the kind of Holy Grail emphasis you seem to be finding. Mids matter, but in practical terms no more than a dozen other variables.
The articles I read just seemed to put a ton of emphasis on the mid. As I am quickly learning, it is probably good, but just another important spoke in the wheel.

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That mid control gives the ability to add or reduce mid-range presence in your sound. It is very effective on louder gigs where you have trouble hearing your guitar in the mix. Often, a little increase in the mid's can make the sound cut through better than increasing the over all volume.

Fender amps with only bass and treble controls were/are usually lower priced models. They can work just about as well, you just need to compensate by using both the treble and bass control to affect the mid-range.

In such cases you want to increase the mid's a bit, just reduce both the treble and bass controls, and raise the volume to compensate for the loss. To reduce the mid's a bit, raise the bass and treble and lower the volume.

Its not really that big of a deal though, just keep tweaking until you get the sound you want.
I am getting a much clearer picture around this. This has been my reluctance around dipping in the electric guitar pool because it seems so complicated (as compared to an acoustic). But, I ain't getting any younger (comin' up on 60) so it's time to buckle in and get going.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:06 AM
Paleolith54 Paleolith54 is online now
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The articles I read just seemed to put a ton of emphasis on the mid. As I am quickly learning, it is probably good, but just another important spoke in the wheel.



I am getting a much clearer picture around this. This has been my reluctance around dipping in the electric guitar pool because it seems so complicated (as compared to an acoustic). But, I ain't getting any younger (comin' up on 60) so it's time to buckle in and get going.
This stuff isn't at all complex, you just have to wade through piles of bad explanations to get the information. Even more true these days, with 30-minute videos that contain 2 minutes of information.

It's easy if you're playing clean: turn knobs until it sounds good. The stuff that clouds that picture a bit (headroom, wattage vs volume, speaker charcteristics, pre-amp gain vs post-amp gain, effects loops, overdrive stacking order, etc ad nauseum) doesn't apply to what you say you want to do.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:12 AM
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Hence my confusion.



As a newbie to electrics, this is difficult to comprehend. When I talk to other musicians, they make it seem like it's not a big deal. But when I was researching, it seemed like the holy grail. So glad I asked.
.
I'm new to all this as well. I spend half the day here it seems soaking up information and then go out into the real world and try to talk like I know something, and my friends who have been playing guitar for decades look at me like they have no idea what I'm talking about. They say, do this, do that, hook it all together and it works. No long explainations, just do it.

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I am getting a much clearer picture around this. This has been my reluctance around dipping in the electric guitar pool because it seems so complicated (as compared to an acoustic). But, I ain't getting any younger (comin' up on 60) so it's time to buckle in and get going.
I got my first electric back in June. I just wanted to keep it simple too. But then I learned about slap back delay, quickly I had to have a spring reverb to go with it, then I needed a Boss Blues Driver to fill it all out. Now I have a whole board full of them and I'm looking at a fuzz pedal. Resistance is futile. Once you actually get started it isn't that confusing unless you want to make it so, but really it isn't.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:38 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is online now
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Much of the guitar's signal is in the midrange, so the "shape" of the midrange reproduction contour is very important when balanced off the bass and treble. Here is your obscurity for the day: just because there isn't a midrange knob doesn't mean there isn't a midrange control built into an amp.

Huh? Back in the 1970s I used to play a 1966 Gibson GA-55RVT Ranger amplifier. It was a 50 watt, 4x10 amp, very much like the Fender Super, but with a far, far different sound. It had a much gentler treble and broke up more gently and at a much lower volume. The only way I tended to like to run the amp was with the midrange and volume controls maxed out. I sold that amp because it lacked a master volume control and I didn't want to irradiate myself anymore. Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I stumbled across an example of its little brother, the GA-45RVT Saturn.



The main differences between the Saturn and the Ranger is that the Saturn has only two 10" speakers, it has a smaller transformers so that it only puts out 35 watts, and it doesn't have midrange controls on the channels. Well, at least it doesn't have midrange knobs. The amp sounded a bit thin so I pulled up the schematics of the Ranger and the Saturn and looked at the midrange control. Lo' and behold I discovered that they were very nearly identical except that the Ranger had the potentiometer to control the midrange and the Saturn had a fixed resistance, basically the same as running the pot all the way closed, in the same position. Makes me want to go in and jumper the resistor to see if I can fatten up the amp.



I've got a similar situation with a newish Fender Custom '68 Princeton Reverb. Fender wanted to voice it more like a Bassman so they altered the tone stack to increase the midrange - a fixed mid increase. You can go in and alter a couple of components and jumper one connection and you've got the standard Princeton.

Soooo... Whether an am has a pleasant midrange can be a function of a midrange curve set by something other than a midrange knob!

Bob
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:48 AM
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Interesting video. Thank you for posting. Not sure I'm ready to go down the pedal rabbit hole just yet, but I will keep this one flagged.
The part of the video I want to emphasis, is not about the pedals. It's about mids, how much the amps bring, how much the guitars bring, and how those factors play together. Everybody talks about "icepick highs" on a tele. But in this vid you hear the difference between "vintage sounding" strats and teles, and how much mids the tele brings, and how different they sound through 2 different styles of amps.

That's why it's complicated. It involves the nature of the amp when all the knobs are at 12 o'clock, and the nature of the guitar when you play it where you like the tone control (I like 7 or 8 on the tone knob of almost all my guitars so I can go up or down). They aren't all created equal to begin with. If you own two different styles of guitars, you likely have two different EQ "challenges" to contend with.

For instance on many Mesa amps I've played, the Bass knob is really the one I couldn't do without. Even on the more recent "Fender-y" ones, as you add gain (naturally present in these low-ish gain amps), I like to turn down the bass or it gets muddy.

Pick an amp for how it sounds with everything at 12 o'clock. Then you can tweak it for whatever guitar you play. But don't necessarily sweat the mid knob. My favorite amp. The one I will keep until it or can't be fixed anymore () is a Mesa that doesn't have a mid knob. Unlike most Mesas which are knob crazy, this one has four knobs per channel, and one of them is Master Volume! But the treble and bass really work together more than on other amps I've lived with.
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Last edited by blue; 01-25-2021 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 01-26-2021, 12:49 PM
VJP5 VJP5 is offline
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Its not really that big of a deal though, just keep tweaking until you get the sound you want.
Yep... that seems to be the recurring them. Thanks

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Originally Posted by Paleolith54 View Post
This stuff isn't at all complex, you just have to wade through piles of bad explanations to get the information. Even more true these days, with 30-minute videos that contain 2 minutes of information.
So true

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Originally Posted by rllink View Post
I'm new to all this as well. I spend half the day here it seems soaking up information and then go out into the real world and try to talk like I know something, and my friends who have been playing guitar for decades look at me like they have no idea what I'm talking about.
I can so relate. it's been one heckuva ride so far.

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Soooo... Whether an am has a pleasant midrange can be a function of a midrange curve set by something other than a midrange knob!

Bob
Thank you for all that information. Very interesting history. I should have realized that there is more than one way to attack this.
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:48 PM
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As you add mids, you increase the gain and the chances of overdrive. The Fender Eric Clapton strat has a mid control just for that purpose.

So, no. For a clean sound, not important.
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