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Amp Settings

How to Adjust your Amp Settings for the Guitar Tone You Want

So you finally have a great guitar and amp, but are still trying to figure out how to dial it all in to achieve the tone you want. There are a lot of factors to consider when configuring your amp settings, so lets start with the basics.

Benchmarking

One of best ways to shape your tone is to set the amp to equal settings. To do so, just set your bass, treble, mids, and presence to 12 o’clock. At this point, you want to start playing your guitar for a bit and get a feel for the tone that you are hearing with the ‘benchmark’ settings. At this point, you’ll start to hear whats missing. If its sounding like the guitar is lacking low end, increase the  bass. If its sounding ice-picky or ear-piercing, turn down the treble and increase the mids. The great thing about this method is that it builds your ear for EQing. This is a great skill to have as dialling in tone will become easier over time.

Clean Tone

To dial in a good clean tone, there are a few things to consider. First, if your amp has multiple channels, make sure you are on the clean channel. A no brainer, but still needed to mention it. When it comes to eq-ing, make sure that your bass, mids, and trebles, don’t proceed 1 o’clock. The reason is that around this point, it will start boosting the signal, and distorting the tone. Another thing to mention is your guitar itself – if it is sounding a bit distorted when your guitar volume is all the way up, roll it back a bit to clean up the tone. Also a light pick attack will make the tone cleaner as well.

Dirty Tone

Just the opposite of the last paragraph. If you have a two channel amp, set it to the dirt channel if it has one. Turn the presence, bass, mids, and treble about 3 quarters up to boost the signal, and increase/decrease as necessary. If you are playing on a tube amp, the hotter the tubes, the dirtier the tones. To get those tubes hot, it means cranking the amp really loud. Also again, a stronger pick attack with your guitar will dirty up the tone.

Setting Reverb on the Amp

I usually say, set the reverb to taste. For a good clean tone, having reverb between 9 and 12 o’clock sounds great. For a dirty tone, I would skip the reverb, or just put a touch. For a jazz tone, put the reverb either 3 quarters up or all the way up. If you are looking for a sound-scapy, mesmerizing, dream tone, then turn the reverb up. If you are looking for a more in-your-face tone, turn the reverb down.

Final Tips

  • Use your ears. They are the best judge of tone.
  • If its a tube amp, let the tubes warm up. And give it a bit of volume for better tone.
  • Two channel amps allow you to go from clean to dirty with a foot switch, so you can do it on the fly.
  • Try using some pedals to dictate the tone you want. (i.e. Clean Boost, Overdrive, etc.)
  • Practice technique.. as they say, most of the tone is in your hands!
I hope these tips on amp settings help you to get your desired tone!

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