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Old 2008-08-23, 14:49
Senior Metalhead
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Malta, Europe.
Posts: 194
Question Overdrive Volume knob?

Hi, everyone

I own a Marshall DSL 401 all-tube amp and I just can't figure out how the "Overdrive Volume" knob affects the sound, if at all. It just sounds louder when I crank it (obviously). I don't notice any change in the tone. However, on the amp's manual, it says the following:

"Overdrive Volume

This control adjusts the level of sound coming out of the overdrive preamp channel and allows you to balance it against the Clean channel.

User Hint - To achieve the normal Marshall style heavy rock ‘punch & crunch’ especially at lower volume levels, this control should be used to keep the volume down and the output Master Volume should be kept higher. To achieve a squashier type tone, great for lead work, then use this control higher and bring the level down on the output Master Volume.

User Hint - When using the less gain/more level way of driving the power stage, keep the overdrive gain low and use this volume control to drive the power amp."

I think I understand the first part about using this knob to control the volume of the overdrive channel against the clean channel to balance them with each other when using both.

I think I also understand the part where it says that in order to achieve a heavy sound at lower volume levels, this knob should be kept at lower levels in order for one to be able to crank the Master Volume to achieve power-tube saturation, right?

What I don't understand is this "squashier type" tone, great for lead work. To achieve this tone, it says the Overdrive Volume knob should be kept high and the Master Volume should be kept low. (The opposite of achieving the "Punch and Crunch" sound, apparently.)

I also don't have a clue as to what the second user hint means. haha

Any opinions?
Old 2008-08-25, 18:20
Senior Metalhead
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Malta, Europe.
Posts: 194
Thumbs up

Hi again, everyone

I just wanted to post an update on this thread as I think I figured out how to solve the problem.

So, for those of you who might have an amp with an "Overdrive Volume" knob on your amp's distortion channel. (That is, besides the "Gain" knob.)

...what I did to get tube saturation from my amp was to krank the "Gain" (for distortion and saturating the pre-amp tubes.) as well as the "Master Volume" knob (for saturating the power-amp tubes.)

The point I'm making is that it is therefore possible to achieve both pre-amp and power-amp tube saturation without destroying your ears and getting the cops called to your house by your neighbors, because you can control the volume from the "Overdrive Volume" knob.

Now, like I said... I just discovered this myself. This is probably something everybody knows and I imagine that most of you, by the time you've read up to here, you may be laughing your head off. But I just thought I'd share my 'little discovery' just in case there's some dumb shit like me out there who hasn't haha.

P.S. The "maxed tubes" sound may probably also be a mixture of tube saturation and speaker overload or whatever it's called, so maybe by controlling the "Overdrive Volume" one may not quite achieve the full tube tone. That is, one would have to play at the highest maximum volume the amplifier can achieve to get the best quality sound. Again, I'm not 100% sure that about this speaker part. Perhaps others might know about this, thanks.
Old 2008-08-28, 18:56
the_bleeding's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,816
Its a channel volume. Much less complicated than what you think. Its just a volume for that channel.

Also, you cant get powertube saturation without high volume. Imagine your signal as a river, and each volume knob as flood gates. To overdrive the powersection, you have to fucking flood the thing with current. If you cut off alot of current early in the chain (with say a channel volume), and then run the master wide open, it wont matter, because there isnt much current going through the master anyway.

Now im not going to fully explain how potentiometers work (because it will take forever), but basically the more you turn them up, the wider the range of frequencies are let through. So depending on how high you turn the volume knobs, your amp will yield different tones. Its not the tubes saturating
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