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Volume, drowned out from rhythm to solo parts

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Active Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

I have played acoustic for fifteen years and recently find myself in an all electric 80's band, something I've always wanted to do. Except, I have no understanding of all the aspects with electric playing - everything from the signal chain, to what the hell is a cabinet?, to amps, pedals, tone, any and all configurations for live playing, and to my novice frame of comprehension something I'll call my "volume."

My gear: Jeff Beck Fender Strat, Fender Blues Deluxe amp, Digitech RP500 multi-fx pedal.

In an 80's band there are many tone possibilities, but I find myself alternating between two sounds: a) clean, whispery yet choppy, a little delay, reverb, and b) distorted rock a-la EVH. Basically here I want long sustain on the high notes, and a heavy, slightly distorted sound on the chords and low notes.

I also find that during the rhythm parts my sound is nice and loud, but as soon as I launch into my solo, my guitar gets drowned out by the other instruments. Can't hear myself at all. I don't know if this is simply a matter of volume, or some weird aspect to the presets on the multi-fx pedal, the amp or what. In general, do live guitarists control volume from the knob on the guitar? Is it just a shitty preset? What is the best practice for managing this in a live setting? I have no idea what I'm doing.

I find that when turning down the volume knob on the guitar, the volume is the same down to 9...8...7, and then at maybe 6 it drops sharply off to nothing. So I have little actual control over volume from my guitar. But maybe it's just the features of this preset on the RP500? I can't tell.

I know this was a lot of random information, so my general question is relating to controlling volume between rhythm parts and solo parts, what do guitarists usually do? Really frustrating. What gear could I look at for simplifying things to the above two sounds?

Ugh...newbie here, lot of confusing questions...Thanks for anyone pointing me in the right direction!

Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1305

Firs and foremost, put that amp on a stand, pointed at your head where your ears are. That solves the problem 90% of the time.

Rhythm sounds fine, leads don't cut through. Sounds like a scooped EQ setting. Bet you have lots of treble, very little or no mid and lots of bass dialed in on the EQ knobs?

Mids help you cut through the mix. The thing is the bandwidths on the EQ knobs for Fender amps overlap and interact in strange ways sometimes. Fender amps are also usually voiced with a "scoop" if the EQ knobs are set flat (6 on all knobs cuz they go to 12!)

Start with the "Magic 6" settings that work well with blackface Fenders: treble on 6, Mid on 3, Bass on 2 (3x2 = 6). ideally your volume would be on 6 for the clean channel, but that's really loud without an attenuator, so set the clean volume where ya want. Use 6 on the drive and set the master volume where you want for the "Drive" channel.

One of the quirks of the Hot Rod series amps is that the Mid EQ adds a lot of cut and crunch to the sound. If you're still having trouble with leads cutting through, start bumping the Mid knob up a notch at a time. NOT the volume. You want to tune to the freq range to where you cut through without getting louder.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

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