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daveinspain

Struggling with volume/dynamics

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I mainly play rhythm in my band but play lead in a few songs and as I get better I hope to play more. One things that always gives me a hard time though is volume… I'll be cruising along, smooth as ice, playing my rhythm nicely blended in with the band, the a lead comes up. If i satay at the rhythm volume my sound for the lead gets lost and every damn volume pedal I have ever tried goes from 0 to blasting at the slightest touch. Why can't someone make a volume pedal that has a nice linear sweep…. ](*,) ??? Should I be using the volume pots on the guitar more? The volume pots seem to do the same thing. 0 to 2 is soft, 3 to 5 blasting and 5 to 10 not much difference. Maybe it's my touch, I do tend to play very heavy handed…

 

How do you guys go from blending in to a nice lead volume without being stupid loud and everyone thinking you are a hog…?

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I'm certainly not an expert on the electronic side of things but IMX(!) I find 500k (audio taper?) pots and '50s wiring works perfectly.

 

Unlike the scenario you experience in this type of circuit the vol pots seem to do 50% of their work between 8.5 and 10.

As well as the vol pots working in this fashion the tone also 'cleans up' when the vol is rolled down from 10.

 

What this means in practice (again, IMX) is that I can be playing rhythm, clean and clear, at around 7.5 / 8 and as I get towards the more juicy parts of a lead break I can dial in the vol gradually so that 9 - 9.5 is quite a bit both louder and grittier and for the last part of the break, if I wish, I can roll it up to 10 where there is even more crunch.

 

I'll try to find the relevant Gary Moore clip...lol!

 

P.

 

EDIT : Here it is. The whole thing is well worth watching as the dynamics on display here are IMHO magnificent but, if you want to cut to the chase, the solo starts at around 2:00 mark.

Pay attention at around the 2:35 - 2:40 bit for a perfect illustration of what I mean.

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I've always just kept the volume knobs backed off to say, 7 on my guitar for rhythm. then for a lead I'll give 'em a twist. My Traynor has a boost which is handy. that way i can set things how I want, then for a lead just step on the boost switch to get enough to put it over the top.

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Dave... if memory serves me well you usually play a Les Paul. When I play one of my Pauls, I keep the bridge pick up almost all the way open...full volume. The neck pick up (rhythm) is considerably quieter. Come solo time. Flip the switch..either in the middle, or if its a rocker..straight to the "give 'em a nose bleed" setting. I was always taught to play like a record. When there is a solo on a record...thats the main thing you hear. When the solo is over...flip the switch..and you are back to the nice comfortable sound that fills in all the cracks.

JMHO

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Pedals are really not the way to go IME, I just don't think they get you ALL the way there and depending on how much boost you're trying to get, they are smacking the front end of the amp hard, and that can sound like a$$ if you're not careful.

 

 

I put my amp(s) volume to where I need it to be for solos, and cut if back for where the rythm is needed - {I run stereo quite a bit and this helps spread out the sound coverage without having crucify the sound man}

 

there are a few things to consider..

 

the amp you use (Tube amps deal with this much better than solid state)

 

and,

 

your pickups. Often times backing off the volume as much as I do, you can loose some of the bite out of your top end. to rectify this, you can install a treble bleed on the volume control. this allows me to tweak the amount of top end I want to retain when I pull back my volume control

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I'm not big on volume pedals, Dave. It's hard to operate them properly.

 

There's two things I'd suggest. One is to have a boost or channel pedal so you can just kick in another "channel" with a different volume. So that your lead setting has enough volume for what you need.

 

Or if you want to use the volume controls on the guitar, just find a few settings that you can depend on to give you he volume difference you need. Like maybe play rhythm with the knobs at seven or so and then dime them for lead work. And practice switching back and forth until you get it down.

 

Another trick you can try is to set the lead pickup volume at 10, set the rhythm at 6 or 7 or so. Then play rhythm with the pickup switch in the middle setting, using both pickups, and then switch to the lead pickup to play lead. Then you won't have to change the volume controls to raise the volume, you just use the pickup switch.

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I run my amp clean, use a dirt box (JHS Angry Charlie) for the dirt, and put a boost pedal After the dirt box. The amp has lots of headroom (50W head) so the boost does nothing but increase volume.

 

If you're using the preamp gain of your amp, and your amp has an effects loop, you could throw a boost in the loop and that should give you a nice volume boost (assuming you aren't driving the power section already).

 

I almost always roll my volume off before hitting a boost, then roll it up to avoid the sudden jump in volume.

 

-Ryan

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Dave, maybe what you need isn't a big volume boost, but a boost of specific frequencies to make your guitar stand out better

 

I think you could use an EQ or Rangemaster type boost

 

But if you can get it done by just switching pickups or using the volume control on your guitar then that's the best

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Ahhh, "Dynamics!" A critical part of playing, that seems "lost," all too often, these days.

Without pedals (as I, and a lot of other players here, played for years, in "The Sixties")

we got our "lead tone" with the amp, and guitar at (or near) "full on," with pickup volume

and tone controls (adjusting for one's own taste, of course), and the "rhythm" tone, with

the guitar down 1/3+/-, where it naturally "cleaned up," as well. Any pedals, were only for

their specific purpose and/or "Coloring," but it was NEVER for lead "Tone" and/or dynamics.

 

Back then, we used "whole band dynamics," as well, for accenting certain passages, and during

the vocals, quite often. I still prefer that approach, as opposed to "one volume all the time!"

 

 

CB

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Great question Dave. I either use the vol knob, especially if I'm playing with some crunch and go from 8-10 OR I play rhythm through one channel and lead through another using the channel selector switch if this is an option for you. The latter choice is great if you want to play clean rhythm and slightly dirty lead.

 

My 2 cents.

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All very good advice! If you don't want to stop playing, a booster or eq pedal would be ideal.

 

However.....

 

I use a volume pedal ALL the time.

High-impedance vol pedal with tuner output at the front end of my fx chain. I have 2 boards, one has a Boss FV50H and my most-used one a Boss FV500H which is steel.

I also run the guitar's pickups on 10 - full on - all the time and control my volume with the pedal because I'm such a klutz I'll never set the vol knob quite right if I have to touch it.

I've tried Morley vol pedals which don't have enough travel IMO and cut off too sharply for me as they are optical.

Steelies usually use a Sho-Bud or Ernie Ball but I never trusted the little piece of string inside though they may have changed that by now.

Regards to all!

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Easy, I always have a booster pedal on the floor. I set it for the level change I think I need, but I can also tweak the level on the fly with my toe if volume needs adjusting during a song.

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I feel your pain Dave. Or at least I used to when I was playing out regularly. [unsure]

 

There has been some good advice already, but I found no matter what I tried I could not escape having to walk over to my amp and tweak it up or down several times every set. Sometimes in the middle of a song. I would always try to set my volume high enough on the amp with my guitar volume rolled down to about 7 or 8 with the theory that I would roll it up for a boost. But once the whole band started, my guitar volume knob seemed to quickly end up on 10.

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I use a TC Spark Boost.

 

It can be set up for just a volume boost or can add gain/dirt.

 

I myself could never get used to the "sweep" of a volume pedal. I want to kick a button and have it "there". That way I can worry about the playing and not be thinking about the level.

 

Just my two cents.

 

NHTom

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In my perception volume pedals are for those guys that know how to incorporate them into the style they play, I have seen some players do a fantastic job with a volume pedal but they use them for much more than a lead boost.

 

For a simple boost it depends on what you play, frankly I like running the volume knob at 10 on my guitar and while I understand the dynamics that can be had by playing with the volume some music styles just don't go with it.

 

You can use a booster, rangemaster style booster or even a compressor with the right setting to get good lead tones, you just have to find what fits the style of music you play, you may not even need a pedal at all but use the guitar knobs as already suggested.

 

For me, if I am rocking I don't want to run the bridge pickup at 8.

 

My Divided by 13 Dyna Ranger pedal provides fantastic tones, I don't know why I waited to get a RangeMaster style pedal for so long.

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As one who has used volume pedals a lot at various times, I think riffster kinda nails it - a lot has to do with incorporating it into your technique.

 

The guys with the recommendation for switching pup settings do as well - although...

 

As I recall, in the old days, guys I knew using them tended to set a medium position on the volume pedal for rhythm and turn the amp to where it came through as desired. then if you wanted more or less, you had room on both sides of the pedal throw distance.

 

I think that's kinda what Buchanan did with the volume knob on the Tele.

 

It also offers "sustain" forever if you consider "sustain" and slow "decay" as roughly the same thing.

 

The thing is, using a volume pedal can give you variations also in attack and decay - as used by Buchanan and pedal steel players. That's where the technique "schtick" comes in. I used that capability along with the Leslie emulator, or in the old days a real Fender Leslie, to get about as close to a B3 organ sound as possible with a guitar.

 

m

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My Divided by 13 Dyna Ranger pedal provides fantastic tones, I don't know why I waited to get a RangeMaster style pedal for so long.

 

That's a cool pedal. Do you use it with the selector on the #1 setting where it's more like a Rangemaster or the higher (more full range) settings?

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I usually keep it in the middle position (and tweak from there) because I usually engage it for rhythm playing, to get a different texture in my overdriven sound. For leads this thing will cut through the mix for sure.

 

The first position thins out the sound quite a bit even a fat Les Paul humbucker, the 5th position fattens single coils or if you are using humbuckers in that 5th position is like a fuzz pedal 70's Black Sabbath style.

 

I love this pedal, it is surprising the variety of tones you can get with two knobs and humbuckers/single coils.

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experiment much? yeah, prolly should get it done when practicing before rehearsal and playin live. personally, i don't play solos. don't hafta worry bout boosting my signal. that's what you get for playin solos.... [flapper]

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So.. let's see if I get the above advise correct!

 

The way to improve skill and technique is to buy more pedals. I wish someone would have told me that 45 years ago, I wouldn't have spent all this time practicing and studying.

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Hi Dave, I have the same issue and like to play with the guitar volume on 10, so need a boost for couple of songs per gig on lead solo and generally struggle with this (and also when switching to single coil guitar for couple of songs). I tried an mxr micro amp a while back and will probably buy one if I find one second hand. unfortunately it isn't same fitting as my other pedals for AC daisy chain connection, but battery is OK as will be limited use.

good luck to you.

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It definitely takes a lot of trial and error to find the "sweet spot" when you're looking for a smooth transition between an appropriate rhythm volume and a lead that cuts through without being too harsh. When I switch guitars, I basically have to start the process over again. Below is my process (I don't use a volume pedal though). I always rehearse with the band/settings I plan to use before the gig so I can get everything relatively close to what I want beforehand. For the most part, I handle dynamics with pedals and guitar knobs during gigs.

 

Let me also say that if you're playing through a mixer it always seems to make the dynamics easier, particularly if you have someone that can adjust the volume while you play. Using a mixer for volume adjustments keeps the tone more consistent than messing with amps, pedals, and guitar knobs.

 

1. AMP VOLUME. Because this is usually the least practical to mess with on stage, set this up to a volume you're satisfied with. Dime out your guitar and pedals, so you know that if you mess with them, there won't be any surprises on the upper limits.

 

2. PEDAL VOLUME. Often times when I switch from rhythm to lead, I will use some sort of pedal to do so (boost, gain/distortion). With each song, the settings on pedals will change, so once again play with your band to figure out roughly where you want your pedal settings. Do your best to remember/mark the settings. If you can, switch back and fourth quickly before starting the song to double check.

 

3. VOLUME POTS. Although this greatly affects tone and differs greatly on each guitar, you really just have to know your guitar/pots. Figure out which number(s) are good for upper/lower limits on each pickup. This takes a lot of "feel" and familiarity with your guitar, because while on stage it can be difficult to be precise. Particularly when it's dark, rolling to an exact number can be hard. Almost every time, I have to adjust the pot several times to get the volume I want.

 

4. PICKUP SWITCH. If your guitar has more than one pickup, you can set each volume pot at a specific level. One of the easiest ways to switch between lead and rhythm is to set one pickup to a rhythm tone and one pickup to a lead tone. Then you can just flick the pickup selector switch to move between lead/rhythm. Simple and quick.

 

*My favorite ways to switch between lead and rhythm tones are by flipping the pickup switch (since you should already have the tone/volume set), and by stomping on a pedal to begin/end the solo.

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So.. let's see if I get the above advise correct!

 

The way to improve skill and technique is to buy more pedals. I wish someone would have told me that 45 years ago, I wouldn't have spent all this time practicing and studying.

 

"Talent Pedals!" [flapper][biggrin]

 

CB

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Hello Dave!

 

Hehe. As far as talent pedals are concerned...

 

Another solution might be the OKKO Diablo Gain+.

 

It`s basically a two-stage Tube Screamer pedal (an excellent one!). It has two level controls, one for the first stage (LEVEL), and another for the second stage (PLUS). You can preset the "PLUS" for leads and activate it with it's own footswitch. It is a very mild overdrive pedal, You can set it up to act as a booster, if You don't fancy overdriven sound.

 

Cheers... Bence

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