• How to find the sweetspots in your setup

    Sweetspot

    What is a sweepspot? The term is often used by musicians and engineers but what does it really mean? Is it just a hype? In this feature we’ll examine the myth and look at different ways to locate and achieve the sweetspot in different situations and environments.

    The sweetspot is very real. However, it’s not something physical and concrete that resides within your rig. Simply put, the sweetspot is achieved when you think your guitar, pedals and amp, either alone or combined, sound their best. It’s subjective and it means different things to different musicians. Ultimately, only your ears can be the judge.

    See the big picture

    I can give you a valuable tip on how to get the most out of your tube amp or any other piece of your rig. To make the tubes sing a bit more and to really get that fat attack that will define your tone. It’s the fine nuances when you tweak the amp. However, plug your guitar into the amp with a faulty cable and old rusty strings and the tip you got won’t make much of a difference. The sweetspot can be isolated to “should the treble be set to 5 or 4.7?” but for that tiny little tweak to have any impact at all, you need to consider each part of your rig.

    Again it’s the quest and search for a great tone. Focusing on just one part of your rig, won’t get you there. Knowing a bit about different wood, lacquer, hardware, pickups, tubes, strings, cables, pedals etc and how these interact with each other, will make it a lot easier to get an overall better tone and to locate possible problem areas. It will also help you find the sweetspot regardless of what gear you use, which is crucial if you’re for whatever reason forced to borrow an amp or guitar.

    Manufacturers will deliver guitars, amps and pedals with a recommended setup and sometimes even setting suggestions. This is what they think is the best setup for that particular piece of gear. Call it the suggested sweetspot. But again, the sweetspot is subjective and by modifying the setup, like adjusting string and pickup height, or swapping out a few parts you can manipulate the instrument to get closer to the tones you have in mind and ultimately be able to find the sweetspot that matches your playing and the rest of your rig.

    Sweetspots on stage

    On a stage, I often refer to the sweetspot as to where I’m positioned and how well I’m able to both hear my guitar and use the high volume as a part of my tone. Once the pedals and amps are set up (and sweetspots achieved) I start to wander around the stage to get an impression of how the guitar resonates. A large and open stage can make the amp sound smaller and less focused while a smaller or deeper stage can make an amp sound bigger but also boomier.

    My sweetspot is when I get just the right amount of volume from the front monitor and amp combined. The monitor can’t be too loud or I’ll get a lot of uncontrollable feedback from the guitar when I sing. The amp can’t be too loud either or the sound engineer will have a problem positioning it in the PA mix. Still, I need to be able to hear it well. I want to be able to take a few steps back from the mic stand and feel a slight feedback sneaking in when I take my picking hand off the guitar or sustain a note. When this happen and when I’m able to control it and use it as a part of my tones, I’ve reached the sweetspot. This is a common trick used by many guitarists, including Gilmour. You may have a different approach to your live tones depending on your gear and what tones you want.

    The studio

    Recording in a studio require a slightly different approach than playing live on a stage. I can still create a setup where I’m able to get that hint of feedback in my tones but I need to have a very clear idea of what I want to record and how this translates through the mic and onto the recorded track. Throwing a mic in front of the amp and just cranking everything up to 11 may work for some but it’s not quite what I need or want.

    I’ve had studio engineers come up to me and start tweaking my amp without asking. Apparently, they know better than I what tones I want. The term sweetspot is notoriously misused by engineers who have a certain way of approaching a recording session. How can they know how my amp behaves in that specific room and how can they know where to place the mic when they’ve never heard how the amp sound? Again, knowing your gear well will give you the experience and confidence to take charge and get the tones you want. Let’s look at a few common conceptions:

    1. A tube amp has its sweetspot when the tubes start to break into overdrive.
    – True… if that’s the tone you want. A tube amp can sound a bit dull and flat if the volume is too low. Pushing the tubes and speakers, will make the tone sound more dynamic and organic. However, where the actual sweetspot for that particular amp is depends very much on what tones you want, your playing and how the pickups and pedals interact with the amp. Personally, and based on these criteria, I prefer my tube amp right at the edge of break up when the tone sound fat and punchy. Not overdriven or distorted.

    2. A speaker’s sweetspot is at the edge of the centre cone.
    – True. Placing a mic right on the edge of the cone will often produce the most balanced tone. Still, it depends on the mic, how it’s positioned and ultimately what tones you want. Perhaps you need something dark sounding and need the mic at the edge of the whole speaker. Perhaps you need something bright and the mic should go right at the centre. How does the speaker respond to the amp, your playing, the guitar and the pedals? Should the mic be angled or pointing straight at the speaker? Limiting yourself to only one position for the mic will only make it harder to achieve the tones you want.

    3. Always play as loud as you possibly can.
    – Not true. Some guitarists, including Gilmour, often play very loud in the studio. But, they do so to achieve a certain tone for that specific recording. In this case, we can define the sweetspot as in “each tone has its sweetspot”, meaning: when does fuzz sound like fuzz (and not a fizzy fart)?

    A common mistake is to crank the living shit out the amp when recording heavily distorted tones. What often happen is that the tones will get muddy and bleed all over the place. Distortion and fuzz has such a rich tone, with lots of harmonics and this will often get lost if you play too loud. Cleaner tones and mild overdrives will often sound too bright and harsh because the mic will mainly pickup the high transients. Each tone has its sweetspot and to get there you need to have some knowledge about how to record it.

    There’s nothing wrong with using a huge stack but in most cases you’ll have much more control of your tones and the recording if you use a smaller amp at lower volume and use effects like reverb and delay to create an impression of it being a bigger tone.

    Amp and pedal settings

    I often get the question “what are the sweetspot settings for this pedal?” There’s really no simple answer to this. A pedal or a pedal design will have a sweetspot about when the pedal sounds closest to how it was intended. If it’s a ram’s head Big Muff, the maker can suggest a setting that’s as close to the ram’s head tone he had in mind when designing the pedal. However, this only translates if you use the same gear and have the same perception of how a ram’s head sound like. A good tip is to set the pedal as suggested (if it comes with a suggestion) and tweak the controls until you get the tone that sounds best on your rig.

    Modulation and delay pedals will change less and have a more static tone on different guitars and amps. Moderate gain pedals, with a linear gain stage, like a RAT and TS9, will change to some extent but they will still be fairly static on different gear. Gain pedals with a less linear circuit, like vintage style boosters, fuzz and Muffs, will often change dramatically when used with different guitars and amps. This means that their sweetspot will vary a great deal depending on the setup.

    A pedal’s sweetspot lies in the fine nuances. Combined with the right amp and guitar, you can spend hours just fiddling with the knobs and then, just a hair more on the tone knob makes all the difference. Suddenly, the tone gets warmer, fatter, more balanced and dynamic and the sustain rings on. Experiment and try all sorts of things. Not only to discover the sweetspot of the pedal but also how it interacts with the rest of your gear and maybe it enables you to go further and achieve tones and nuances in your tones you didn’t think was there.

    I guess my best tip is not to overcomplicate things. This is not rocket science and certainly nothing worth ruining the fun of playing guitar with. I think most guitarists got a pretty good idea of what a good tone is and how to get there but the thing that’s going to inspire and make your tone unique, lies in the fine nuances and subtle details. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your comfort zone. Spend a few more minutes and don’t give up until you know you’re right on the spot. To me, the sweetspot is when I hit a not and get an overwhelming feeling of “oh yeah… that’s the tone!”

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41 Responsesso far.

  1. Ryan Duncan says:

    I’m fairly new to tweaking tube amps and pedals. I recently bought a Mesa Boogie Triple Crown because I loved the wide range of tones I could get from it. I’ve also acquired a couple pedals to play around with. The Tree of Life and 1973 Ram’s Head. It’s taking quite a while to learn all the dials, but I finally got it where I wanted it while playing my Les Paul. I got tones I loved in all three channels and found great setting while using the pedals on channels 2 and 3. Combining guitar tone controls, switching pickups, and adjusting guitar volume, I began to see why people love tube amps. I started learning to use the guitar volume for drive, the tone control to dial out any harsh frequencies in the upper harmonics, I was starting to get a real feel for tweaking and controlling the tone. Then, I switch over to my Strat. Any of sudden, the clean sounds are super quiet while the overdriven sounds are loud. Everything is trebley and only the neck pickups are usable. The Tree of Life pedal is screaming loud while engaged while the disengaged, clean sound is quiet as a mouse. It seems that my work is yet cut out again. I guess I’ll get good at tweaking.

    My question is…I’ve seen performers swap guitars once nearly per song at concerts. How do they keep things balanced?

    • Bjorn says:

      Each guitar is different and depending on how different they are, based on specs, resonance etc, you will experience some differences in tone when you swap them around. A Les Paul, with its humbuckers, will often have a much higher output and a darker tone compared to a Strat with single coils, which often has less output from the pickups. Single coils are pretty much exposed so they will often be more noisy compared to humbuckers, which have a noise cancelling design. Pickup designs are also crucial and how they’re wound and voiced effects the amp and the pedals. I guess there are as many ways of dealing with this as there are guitarists but you can have different amps for different guitars, volume pedals to adjust the volume, compressors to beef up and level single coils, boosters etc etc.

  2. Steve says:

    Hello,so glad I fell upon this site. Im a late starter in valve amps & naive to the tonal pallet. Insightful explanations that inform & then invigour the playing spirit. Many thanks for the passing on of your experience & look forward to more inspiring reading.

  3. Cooper says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    This sites the holy grail for Gilmour fans!!. I have a question on finding the sweetspots that I hope you can help with. It may seem stupid to someone with alot of experience but, thats something I lack.
    Ok I play through a Blues Jr. with a Cannabis Rex – Volume @ 4 & Master Volume @ 4. This Is the level which me and a couple guys play together at. Now in reading your sweetspot article I started foolin around with my pedals. I will use my Throbak Fuzz Haze as the example, I have the level @ approx 8 O’clock and the fuzz @ 3 O’clock and this is somewhat of a unity setting. But I Noticed when foolin around the Fuzz Haze sounded much better with the level around 12 O’clock but the overall volume was blasting everyone else out at practice. How could I go about getting that tone with my pedals and keep with the practice levels I described above? Thx for any help Bjorn your site have been a huge tool in learning about tone! -Cooper

  4. David Contesini says:

    Bjorn, my brother!
    Thank God you’re so precise in describing all these sound phenomena!
    As I get reading your articles, I see myself saying “yeah, that’s precisely right!” all the time. It’s so good to see we (guitarheads) are not alone among so many musicians that aren’t crazy about their instruments as we are. And thank you for bringing us these brilliant texts!
    Best regards from Brazil, from a fan of yours – David Guilherme Contesini.

    [Thanks for your kind words, David! – Bjorn]

  5. Richard McEntee says:

    Hi Bjorn, first comment from me so primarily a big thankyou to your relentless pursuit and sharing with us all! You provide not only Gilmour related technical solutions, but general info about how best to use one’s equipment regardless of genre – you are a star! I have a Laney L5T and am trying to find the “just on the edge of breakup” sweetspot. I note that in some posts you say you use the clean channel only – for the L20 you have does this mean it is pretty loud at home? I know for the Cub its a simple single channel design so the Gain control is a bit of both pre and power gain. The L5T has Drive channel “Gain” and “Volume” so I can tweak,however using the Volume bit on both Clean and Drive sends it loud for bedroom use! I feel I am missing your point when I use the Drive channel to get ont he edge of breakup – is it really the power section breakup point I should be finding, not the pre-amp breakup point ? Is this right, is there a difference in result ? (Also, let’s nto start on the Low vs Hi inputs or the Bright switch yet either!) Thanks again

    [Hi Richard! Sorry for my late reply… Depends on the amp. Hiwatts, which David is using, are very clean. Especially with a Strat. He’s pushing the pre-amp pretty hard, which creates this fat and warm clean tone. With humbuckers, the amp actually has a hair of breakup. An amp with less headroom, would sound thin if you push the pre-amp to get clean tones. These amps require less gain from the pre and a higher master output to maintain the headroom. Amps like the Cub are similar to the Hiwatt although with slightly less headroom. I’d set the master as high as possible and roll in the pre until you can hear that change. The Lionheart, being a two-channel amp, can be a bit tricky but if you play loud enough the clean channel can push the speakers into break up. The gain channel also has enough headroom to produce cleans and often a better stage tone, as it has more mids. Hope this helped. – Bjorn]

  6. Przemek says:

    Okay thank you for your tips! But what actually can I do with my clean tones?

    I mean that my amp may sound huge and thick in my room but it loses this magical “thing” when rehersing or gigging. I’m pretty sure this is due to a size of a venue. What I think of is that the best way to make my sound better is to get a 2×12 amp, because 1×12 can be too small. Am I right? Is there another way for my problem? EQ problably? I use a stand for my amplifier.

    [Well, an amp will sound very different in different locations. That’s just how acoustics work. A small amp might sound huge in a smaller room, with nearby walls and hard corners reflecting the bass. On a bigger stage, that amp will sound thin and not big at all. Add a band to that and it probably drowns completely. It’s important to make sure that your tone cuts through and the way to do that is to add more mids and lower the bass. Keep in mind that although your amp doesn’t sound that big to you on a stage, what’s important is how that works out in the PA and it really doesn’t matter what kind of amp you use when you mic it. A good sound tech will be able to make the amp work. So the trick is to be aware of these things and to realise that your amp will change depending on the venue. If you want more volume on stage then use a front stage monitor or get a bigger amp. – Bjorn]

  7. John says:

    Bjorn,
    First off I must thank you again. The Laney Cub stack has been a revelation. All my Gilmourish pedals began to gel into the long awaited late ’70s tones I’ve dreamed about for twenty odd years, also I have nailed the early years i.e. Childhood’s End/Echoes,Mudmen, etc., and even the Gdansk period. I have a question that I can’t find the answer to. I own a vintage Electric Mistress 76 V2, just lovely, but I don’t know which settings to use as a starting point to tweak my own sounds because the pots are each aligned differently. All the sites including yours recommend 10 o’clock on all 3(or thereabout) for the Wall swirly type sound(assuming 10:00=position 3 or 4, etc.) but I can’t find if it’s 10 o’clock universally for each, or 10 o’clock based on the relative 1 and 10 settings which look a bit like so: > v < So, clockwise that would actually be about 2-7-6 (O'CLOCK). Also, I have been setting the rate very low on my RI Deluxe EM but on the 76 V2 EM I realized that by turning the rate up the tone smooths out and sounds less metallic and fizzy; however, I cannot for the life of me understand how the COLOUR could possibly be up to @3-4(10:00). On my DEM, 76 EM, and Hartman it sounds terrible with the colour on past the 1 position. I have read everything on this site and the Mistress Mystery page. Can you give me any tips? Thanks, John

    [Sorry for my late reply John. Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) The 10:00 o’clock settings are for the Deluxe. Personally I prefer the range to be off. That gives the tone a bit more focus. The 76 is very different sounding and needs slightly different settings. Pots on it have a different sweeping range and the range also needs to be set right on the sweetspot or it will sound very different to what David used. Try setting the rate at 1:00, range 7:00 and the colour at 5:00 (witch on most pedals would be off). Use this as a starting point. For a deeper setting try setting the rate and colour to about 30% and the range to 55-60%. It’s difficult to give exact settings for the 76 because the pots differ from pedal to pedal… – Bjorn]

  8. Przemek says:

    Hi Bjorn. This is my setup:

    http://sendfile.pl/8337/view/IMG_0219a.JPG
    http://sendfile.pl/8332/view/IMG_0198a.JPG

    The guitar is 91′ American Standard (my dream guitar). The amp is Marshall VS 8080 (80w, hybrid, 1×12 Celestion G12T). The black box is a copy of silicon Fuzz Face and Big Muff Ram’s Head.

    I use a stand for my amp so that the sound flows towards my ears and not my legs. It helps a lot but most of the time I can’t get the tones I want (and get in my room). On the stage my Marshall sounds thin and like a glassy box instead of what my hear in the bedroom.

    BTW it is a good topic for an article ;)

    [Neither fuzz or Big Muffs have that much mid range and you might have a hard time cutting through with them. Mid range is really what you want. The solution might be to increase the mid range on your amp. Try turning it all the way up and if needed, adjust the treble down. You might also want to consider gain pedals with more mid range, like the OCD, Evolution, RAT and similar. – Bjorn]

  9. Przemek says:

    Any tips on cutting through the mix in a rehersal/gig situation? Especially when my 1×12 combo sounds thin.

    [What amp, guitar and pedals do you use on your gigs? – Bjorn]

  10. Gareth says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I was sitting and listening to some music and thinking about the topic of tone and what is “good” tone and thought I’d just post my 2 cents haha. While we can go on for days how this thing has too much mid range, and this thing sounds too thin, or this thing sounds great, the truth is that a fantastic tone is not just what it sounds like on its own. There are many factors that make someone (or atleast me) percieve a guitar tone as good. To me the tone needs to compliment the playing and create an atmosphere or make you feel something and either blend or contrast the rest of the mix. If you just look at the wall for example 2 guitar tones both beautiful, elusive and powerful in its context are Brick in the Wall part 2 and CN. However they are completely different in how they sound but when you listen to them within the context of the song (and of course the context of the entire album) they both move you in the same kind of way. They correspond to the message of the song and to me a good solo kind of plays in a way that the guitar “comes to terms” with the content of the song. Sometimes listening to the song and figuring out what the song needs from you as the guitarist may actually lead you to use a tone that is big, full, thin, or harsh so that artistically it complements the song (that to me was part of Gilmour’s genius besides his chops). Instead of trying to work for your tone, make it work for you. By forgetting the boxes we try place ourselves in terms of tone and what we want our tone to sound like, experimenting with a rig and coaxing what the song needs out of whatever you have will make all the difference. Im also of the opinion that the quirks of gear influences your playing and embracing it instead seeing how far off you are from a CN tone or a woman tone will make you a lot happier (and less poor haha) musician. I think John Mayer actually said that he found his own unique tone trying to sound like someone else haha.
    Anyways Bjorn hope everything is well your side. Looking forward to adding your solo album to my vinyl collection when it comes out!
    Cheers

    [You make a very good point here. There’s a big difference between just playing in your bedroom and trying to make a guitar fit into a recording. If you got the tools I recommend that you try to record yourself once in a while. Either try to make a song or record your guitar onto a backing track. That will teach you a great deal about tone and it’s also a great way to practice your chops :) – Bjorn]

  11. Marco says:

    I find that it can be like drinking wine. You open a bottle none evening and it’s like nectar. You try the same wine two nights later and it just isn’t hitting the spot. You’re a little bit tireder, or the food you’re eating is a little different or the temperature is higher/lower or you’re not in good form, or distracted by different company … Whatever, something’s different and that wine that seemed monster value last week suddenly just isn’t doing it for you any more.

    I have spent minutes dialling in a tone (gtr, fx & amp settings) that just nails all my preconceptions of the perfect tone. Sweet spot achieved … Only to find that the next time I sit down to play it just sounds rubbish. Everything is the same, but it’s completely different. It’s not, it’s really just me, but at that moment, I am determined to replace everything and this is why and when GAS sets in ;-)

    Just a thought :)

    Thanks for all the years of this site and looking forward to the album!!

    Cheers
    M

    [Thanks for sharing! Good points :) – Bjorn]

  12. Pepper Roberts says:

    Bjorn; This is the best advice I ever heard. I’ve been at this now for just about 40 years now and over the years, I’ve used just about every setup any Guitarist can imagine. Right now I’m using a Strat with the DG EMG active pickups ( LOVE this setup ) and a Gibson Les Paul with a Bigsby and 59′ Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups. For amps. I have a 65′ Fender Twin on the right channel and a 71′ Fender Bassman head on a 4 X 12 cabinet with Celestion speakers. On My pedal board, I’m using a Ramshead EHX Muff, a Blues driver, a Electric Mistress, a Uni-vibe, a delay. a chorus, a Cry Baby Waw, a loop and a Peterson Strobe tuner. I always am adjusting something depending on what style I’m Playing be it somewhere between David Gilmour to Eric Clapton. I’m a Blues Rock Guitarist so I’m changing Guitars and tunings a bit. The other two Guitars I use are an ES-335 and a Martin GPCPA-4 so My rig has to be versatile. I’ve been reading Your articles for some time now and like anything in life, I learn every day. You are very helpful and insiteful. Basically, I just want to say Job very well done My Friend. Thank-you and PLEASE keep up the good work. ~Pepper~ Austin Texas

    [Thanks for sharing and for the kind words :) – Bjorn]

  13. Stephen Ford says:

    At Roger,

    As far as placement is concerned most often the looper is last in line but there are different schools of thought. A looper at the beginning of the effects chain allows you to use effects on the looped material. A looper post effects allows you to record the effects into the loop and then choose different effects for the next part. Syncing loopers may be tricky but another cool option is to have one before the effects or somewhere in the chain allowing you to mess with the loop (such as delays and modulation) and then having another at the end of the chain which allows you to not only record all sounds effected but also record the other loop.

    Cheers
    Stephen

  14. Roger Sartori says:

    Hi, Björn.
    I know this has nothing to do with that theme, but I hope you may help me: I’m considering to get one loop pedal, as the TC Ditto Looper, which seems to be very funny and not so expensive as the Boss Loop Station, but I would like to keep all my other pedals: big muffs, overdrive, compressor, chorus, etc. on the line… so, where do I put the looper? On the final of the chain? Or in the first place? Thanks for all, man. Cheers.

    [I’ve never used looper pedals so I really don’t know. I would imagine last but I don’t know. – Bjorn]

  15. KEITH says:

    Bjorn, how do you deal with the tone suck on your CryBaby. I’ve bought around 10 wahs, from high dollar RMC III Teese, to my final choice, the Castledine he modded for me. And while, the Crybaby original, GCB-95 has by far done the best seagull out of the box, every Crybaby I’ve tried, sucks the tone out of everything I’ve tried it with. And because they’re not TB, the tobe suck is there even when it’s off. And if this happened with one, or two, I’d put it down to bad units. However, I’ve bought and returned at least 3 new ones, and bought several older models, and they all severely dampen the tone. Have you had a TB mod? The Castledine is the most neutral, and vocal wah I’ve found by far, and IMO, the perfect Gilmour wah, with the reverse switch that deactivates the Fuzz Friendly resistor,( FF circuits impede the Gull effect.), but in normal mode, it sounds great in front, or behind vintage Fuzzes, and hit the micro switch, and it’s Seagull city!!!! Not to forget that it’s as close as you can get to the Italian made Vox/CryBaby, made by Thomas Organ between ’66, and ’67, supposedly the best wahs ever made. But mainly, I’m just curious how you deal with the tone suck. I’ve had the same revision as yours twice, several earlier ines, all the way to the current one, and they all sucked, literally?

    Peace, Keith

    [Mine isn’t modded and it does take some of that upper end. However, I have buffers both in and out of the board, which compensates for some of it. I don’t know, I’ve always used either the Vox or CryBaby and never really considered the circuit an issue. I guess I’ve learned to live with it although I probably should replace it… – Bjorn]

  16. Joaco '77 says:

    hello Bjorn, little doubt. I have a friend that has a small boutique pedal company and he is offering me an Xotic RC Booster clone. I read that you recommend the RC for covering Colorsound Powerboost tones or at least say that, but is the RC dirty enough to reach heavy tones like Pigs, Sheep or Have a cigar?? I have this doubt because everyone mentions the RC as a clean boost that doesnt sound heavy at all to me. So the question really is, can the RC cover well powerboost tones or lacks dirt?
    thanks

    [The RC is an all clean booster. The AC has more gain :) – Bjorn]

  17. Brad Roller says:

    Can’t wait to hear it man! I know we are all in for a treat! I’ve actually been spreading the word on airbag! My aunt is a huge floyd fan so I showed her y’all’s music and she really digged it! Btw I bought the evolution….I couldn’t resist ;) lol

    [Awesome! Thanks for your support! – Bjorn]

  18. Brad Roller says:

    Oh wow I didn’t think to try that…thanks for the tip man! God bless! Looking forward to your album!

    [Thanks! Actually, one of the solos on the new album was done with a Cry Baby and the OCD at full blast. Sounded pretty good :) – Bjorn]

  19. howard says:

    hi bjorn,
    you wrote about using a patch cable between the channels on your amp to get a great tone/ sound, i am sorry but i can not find where you wrote that info, please can you explain again or direct me to that post,
    all the best, howard

    [Hi Howard! Combining the bright and normal channel is an old trick performed by many guitarists typically in the late 60s and early 70s to add more presence and brightness to the dark British amps like Marshall and Hiwatt. These amps has four inputs. Two high normal and bright (typical for signle coils) and two low normal and bright (typical for humbuckers and active pickups). Combine the high normal with the low bright and plug the guitar into the high bright. Set the normal and bright volume controls equal or different depending on what tone you want. Personally I prefer the normal slightly higher than the bright. – Bjorn]

  20. Justin Bomar says:

    Bjorn you are a very talented and intelligent person and musician. I love Gilmour and just Found This website a few Months ago and it is outstanding. I love Airbag too…..Gilmour, Knopfler, Gibbons, Clapton, Hendrix, Frusciante, Satch are my favorites. I have been playing 15 years and Working On a solo album. Gilmour’s solo on Poles Apart is amazing. My album is “The Sun Won’t Last Forever”. J.T. Bomar from Virginia.

    [Thanks for your kind words, Justin! Good luck with your album project :) – Bjorn]

  21. KEITH says:

    I had the wonderful experience of seeing “Skunk” Baxter with the Doobie Bros. back in the ’70s, and was amazed at his home built pedal board,( I think he’s been a Rocket scientist for Nasa, or some other Branch of government at some point), I guess he could make a pretty good pedal! Haha! But my favorite part was watching him play from his recliner, he rocked it back and forth, and his pedals were up where the foot rest would normally be. One of those very underestimated, and relatively obscure to most, guitarists. Love his work with Steely Dan, and the Doobies.Thanks for pointing that out Jim, I always thought there was something familiar about that outro.
    Peace Y’all, Keith

  22. Brad Roller says:

    Hey Bjorn! Got my money back on the amp btw lol reeves cutom 50 it is for me now! But I wanted to ask if you have ever tried the OCD as a distortion? This thing has ALOT of gain for an overdrive! I tried it the other day with my strat and it sounded like a dg2 or g2 to me. Not just like it but I guess it could make a good substitute. I played the solo to castellorizon with it and was surprised how good it sounded with the gain at about 75% and the HP switch on. Maybe it’s just me? Your thoughts please?

    [Hi Brad! The OCD is a nice alternative to both the G2 and Tube Driver I think. It’s kind of a beefed up TS9 but, as you’ve experienced, you can push it into heavy distortion. I’ve used it a few times for recording and the mid range makes it very smooth and easy to record. Try powering it with 12V or 18V. It increases the headroom and makes it sound a bit bigger :) – Bjorn]

  23. jim says:

    Slightly off topic, but I was wondering, and couldn’t think of where else to post it…

    Anybody here noticed Walter Becker from Steely Dan must have wished David Gilmour was there, when he recorded the ending solo on the trackFM (no static at all) in ’76, ’77 or ’78?

    Compare these fragments fromFM
    to these fragments from Wish you were here

    I think Walter Becker nailed some of the sound and technique amazingly well. Never used it again. Later on they replaced the guitar solo on FM with a sax part for reasons unknown as wikipedia states.

    BTW
    I read somewhere David did a short guitar jam session with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) at Abbey Road Studios which was released in Europe on a guitar video hosted by Baxter in 1991. (Baxter, a remarkeble player in his own right, has a right-hand technique that seems close to George Benson’s now that I think of it, imho).

    Thanks for a nice informative blog!

    [Interesting comment, Jim! Never thought about that :) David did indeed do a jam with Baxter. He also used his #0001 Strat for he session. Check it out here. – Bjorn]

  24. KEITH says:

    Hi Bjorn, been awhile, and day didn’t know where to post this, so here it is! Originally planning on using material from the various bands I’ve been in through the years, with the addition of one Floyd cover, a song, and idea hit me like a ton of bricks two days ago, and I’ve decided to do all new material, and base it on the concept of the complexity of human relationships. The title track is written, and thus the album will be called,”Little Big Man”. I will be tracking the acoustic guitar for the title song this weekend, and without trying, to me it comes out sounding like a cross between pigs; n the Wing, and possibly Mother, at least style, and tone wise, although the mix will be the true discription of it’s tonao characteristics. It focuses on disappointment with some old friendships, and the joy of some newer ones, and I will attemot to sew it together in the fashion of WYWH, or Animals, telling an entire 35 year story in a somewhat chronological order. There still may be a way to fit a Floyd cover in, but if so, it will likely be an early ballad, Possibly from Syd, I will have to put a great deal of thought into it all. I have a verse here, and chorus there, for about 2/3 of the record, and should I get even more comfortable behind the desk, it could be out by this time next year. I also think it’s time to show off a bit, and am having some nice photos of my gear taken for the gallery. Nothing too extravagant, but quite versatile, and a few really nice, and rare touches. Well, just checking in, I’m still here, just busy, but still get my Zen time Gilmourish fix each day.

    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish, Keith :)

    [Hi Keith! Exciting news :) Love to hear what you come up with when you feel ready to share :) Best of luck with the project! – Bjorn]

  25. Brad Roller says:

    Bad news man. I bought a blues deluxe the other day, used, and when I tried it out it sounded good! I get home and go to use it the next day and I noticed this nasty sounding rumbling sound and the bass was waaaay too much. I had the bass all the way down and it was still too much and the rumble was there. I managed through the show but it bothered me the whole time. I’m taking it back this week. I think I’m just going to save for a reeves custom 50 either the combo or head and cabinet atleast then my search for amps will be over. Thanks again for your help with the amp though man! I just have horrible luck I guess! It sounded great one day then went to hell the next. Ah well!

    [Oh… that’s too bad! Sounds like there’s something wrong with it. – Bjorn]

  26. Jeff Pinkstaff says:

    Hey Bjorne! I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmour footage as of late and I’ve decided that your next tutorial should cover David’s Strat Pack performance! It is classic Gilmour and it seems like he has a scales back setup.
    Anyway, Thanks and you’re the best!

    [OK, I’ll keep that in mind :) BTW, his Stratpack setup is very similar to the Live 8 setup, which you’ll find examined here :) – Bjorn]

  27. Scooter says:

    Hi Bjorn nice article thanks for sharing your knowledge can’t wait for the bedroom setup tips since that’s what I’m having to use as a studio right now
    Keep up the good work
    Scooter

    [Thanks! – Bjorn]

  28. Steve says:

    You know, 99% of your audience can’t hear the difference between the sweet spot and ‘just okay’.

    But that’s not the point. YOU can hear it, and when you find the sweet spot, your playing will change dramatically and become more emotive, and THAT is what 99% of your audience will hear.

    [Indeed! – Bjorn]

  29. Brad Roller says:

    Ok thank you! Luckily I play with dg2 for distortion and OCD for overdrive so from what your telling me I’ll be fine! Thanks again Bjorn!

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  30. Brad Roller says:

    Ok thank you so much for your time and answer! I will try out your advice! Btw I tried out a fender blues deluxe yesterday. It seemed to sound pretty dang good. I was wondering if you knew anything about this particular one? It seems to be like the hot rod deluxe but without the extra drive channel. I told the guy at guitar center what I wanted, a super clean amp but plenty loud and he said that was the amp for me. Well he’s just trying to make a sale so it’s hard to trust them. I wanted your advice before I went and bought it. I’ll leave you alone after this I promise haha thanks again Bjorn!

    [The Blues Deluxe is a great sounding amp. You should be aware that it can be a bit bright and, with the “wrong pedals” sound a bit harsh but it’s great for a wide range of different tones and styles and works nicely as a basis for most pedals. – Bjorn]

  31. ricardo says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Thanks for your answer about Muff and RAT choice!

    Did you mean that in your opinion:
    – BYOC Big Muffs large beaver are better than the Mooer Triangle buff?
    – Mooer Black secret is as good if not better than other vintage rat clones with LM800N (BYOC , hartman…)?

    Best regards and thanks again for your precious help!

    Ricardo

    [The BYOC is much better than the Mooer. The Black Secret is perhaps not as warm sounding as many of the clones on the market but you can’t really beat it for that price. Well worth checking out. – Bjorn]

  32. Stephen says:

    Tricky Subject with elusive targets, but nice work.
    I find the less I have in between the guitar and the amp the easier it is to define and control the sweetspot. Often multiple pedals in line will interact with one another in unexpected ways. When alone each has it’s own sweet spot but when used together the sum of their parts will have to be adjusted to create a new sweet spot for the combined tone. This complicates things as you have to decide how the gear will be used and if they will be dedicated to be used together or separately.

    It can not be overstated. Quality Cables is part of the key to good tone. If you are going to blow a wad of cash on an incredible amp and pedals it is foolish to link them together with Radioshack Dollar Bin Cables.

    Noise Floor is something else that needs to be worked with. Sometimes the sweet spot comes with a noise floor above your level of acceptance, peaople using Fuzzes have already realized this one. It may mean either tweaking the system or getting a Noise reduction system like a ISP Decimator G String, as well as checking for grounding issues on the guitar and shielding.

    With Solid State amps it really seems to come down to pushing the speaker to a level that is giving you the response you like to have. Tube Amps really do transmit signal very differently at different volumes. Getting the amp with a wattage level that suits your volume needs can save a lot of annoying conversations with sound techs and band members complaining of your deafening levels. It used to be less than 100 watts and no one took you seriously. Now I think 50 Watts is still more than I need for most venues.

    It is possible to add a power attenuator between the amp and the speaker which allows you to push the tubes to obtain their sweet spot but then I often find that the speaker is not moving enough, still sounding a bit lack luster and I find it necessary to have a separate cab for lower attenuated situations.

    Perhaps a less practical but more efficient method of obtaining the right combination is to have an isolation cabinet for the speakers. Keeping the room volume low but truly driving the amp and speaker at the volume that gives you that perfect sweet spot. Of course if you can afford to go this route you probably have no issue in buying the Hum V to transport all the gear around in either.

    Thanks for the article Bjorn. It is certainly not an easy subject to explain and so little is concrete but you tackled it gracefully.

    In the end… Less is more. If you have a lot of pedals get a bypass looper and keep the signal as clean as possible. Quality Boosters and buffers can really help keep the signal strong and pure if you are running a lot of gear.

    Good Luck to everyone!!

    Cheers
    Stephen

    [Thanks for your input Stephen! You make some good points :) – Bjorn]

  33. ricardo says:

    Hi bjorn, i ll be a bit off topic but what would be your choice for a triangle muff clone: mooer buff triangle or byoc large beaver triangle version? Just your advice knowing that the price won t stoop me.
    Same question for a rat clone between mooer black secret or cmatmods ratified?

    Thanks for your help@!!!

    [The BYOC definitely. I haven’t tried the Cmatmod but the Black Secret is really good. – Bjorn]

  34. Marco says:

    Gilmourish.com is the sweetspot of internet! :)

    [He he, thanks! – Bjorn]

  35. Roger Sartori says:

    Wow… you blew my mind!
    And for bedroom setups, how can we apply all these concepts? Is it a combination of live and studio? Cheers!

    [I’ll cover that in a future article but you’d have more or less the same approach. Being forced to keep a low volume at home often require that you use settings and sometimes additional effects to compensate for some of the tone loss and physics you get from playing loud. – Bjorn]

  36. boonexy says:

    Definitely something beginners should read, it would save a lot of hassle, although I suspect some of us have shaped our own tones through trial and error with this stuff. My “sweetspot” moment came in college, when I got my Epiphone Blues Custom amp and was rehearsing with a Strat into a Boss SD-1. A fellow guitar player came over and couldn’t believe the sound I was getting was a Strat. Just goes to show you don’t always need to use the tried and true “cookie cutter” setups if you will.

  37. Brad Roller says:

    Nice article Bjorn! I’ve been having a hard time lately deciding what sounds good here lately. I’m over thinking it I believe. On a blues jr. With stock speaker, I can’t tell what sounds better to me, having the master volume, lower than volume, or vise versa. I’m mostly playing at high volumes all the time wether at home or at a small venue.(I don’t have neighbors close to my house so I can blow the windows out my gf don’t mind either lol) both settings give me a clean tone, but I want to know what settings you would recommend. When I play in the neck pickup on a dg2 the bass strings sound a bit overwhelming if that makes sense? On my buffalo power booster, with the bass controls down a lot it’s still boomy sounding, so I went to my amp and turned the bass down, and it seemed to help everything out. It was set on 4 now 3. So did I go about that the right way? Anyway any settings on the amp would be appreciated. This amp sounds good but I think I need to upgrade because I believe I’m expecting too much from it. Thanks for your help! Btw I hate I couldn’t send you those sounds clips a week or so ago on Facebook. I don’t know what the problem is! Anyway great job on the article, thanks for all your help, and I’m very excited about your new album! God bless!

    [Thank you, Brad :) Depends on what tones you want. Having the pre-gain high will add more gain but the amp will also sound thinner. Personally I prefer the master highest. It will push the output stage for a cleaner and warmer tone. This works nicely on a Fender but on my Reeves I prefer the pre-gain highest… – Bjorn]

  38. Will says:

    Another great article Bjorn! Very inspiring! As always, thanks :)

    [Thank you :) – Bjorn]

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