The Woodshed

Master Volume Sonic Taper


Normally I play with a bit of natural overdrive on my amp and the guitar's volumes and tones maxed out. However, I started experimenting with playing on the clean channel of my amp recently and noticed that the master volume on my Duo Jet with Gretsch Dynasonics has some very interesting tonal characteristics.

Imagine that these knobs have numbers from 1-10. When the guitar is on 10 going through my clean channel the tone is too powerful and pretty much unuseable. When I first turn down the master to about 9 I notice right away that the high end is cut immediately. I do not have a treble bleed. However, as I keep turning it down the low end starts to taper off too. When the knob is somewhere around what would be 3 or 4 I found a really nice sweet spot where there appears a really nice, clear, balanced and useable sound that seems to be more about the guitar's natural tone and less about the pickups' character.

While listening to The Beatles: Live at the BBC I noticed that the guitar sounds that John and George were getting reminded me a lot of this tone I'm able to get when I dial back the master volume. It got me wondering if this is the secret to the jangling guitar sounds of the 1960s. I also started thinking if turning down the guitar volume is how The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others were able to use their Gretsch guitars, Casinos and ES-330s at high volume on big stages without too much feedback.

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