1. John,
    Just wondering. You’re playing through old Amps with quite some wattage. How do you manage the volume so it doesn’t annoy the neighbours or damage your ears?
    I have two 15watt Fender Amps (Blues jr and Princeton Reverb) and still use an attenuator (same as you).
    I would love to own a vintage Amp with some features and Watts but am worried about volume issues.
    Kind regards,

    1. I use an amp isolation box from from Clearsonic. Similar to the one Pete Thorn uses. It drops the volume about 50%. Its awesome!

  2. Wow! I can’t wait to get to my amp now! Some interesting tidbits in this post to try. I particularly like the “sound like this … then try this” pointers. Thanks!

  3. Lets not forget FINGERS! You could have Stevie Ray’s EXACT rig and guitar with all the correct settings and you still aren’t going to capture Stevie’s sound perfectly unless you are a clone. 90% of good tone is in your fingers and hands, how you finesse the strings and work the volume knob as you play, not to mention the energy your heart and soul exude. Perfect, good tone be it clean, bluesy or down right raunchy does depend on your equipment and controls to a certain degree, but it mostly depends on what you are putting in them as a player. Emotion, hand and finger strength, pick attack. pressure…all are factors in our quest for good tone. I can play a $75 practice amp and make it sound decent because the sound is in my fingers and my hands.

    1. So True! Jeff Beck can play a toaster oven and sound like the Gods. It is in the feel, the attitude, the magic of tone. And all of us must find what works for us, and like Hendrix said, ” keep playing, you will get there”. Time. Logic of what works for you and does not work for you, emotion , that is the vibe you choose, and equipment? That must have some integrity. Quality micro waves or equipment is tops. Just because I buy the setups Keith has, does not mean I am Keith nor sound like Keith does. I can play a roller skate and sound like Keith. I am Ketih. Be well all, and wear white if your on your bike tonight.

  4. Steps 4 and 5 are great tips that I didn’t understand before reading this.

  5. Very very interesting blog. Useful information. thank you for sharing, now I have to try your settings and…. hear if I have a clean tone….

  6. Hi John, thanks for the article man! Which will work better, playing with or without a pick when it comes to Blues? I bought a Les Paul Special II about a week ago, but not sure which amp to use. Do you maybe have any advice for me on this?

  7. Well said for sure on this topic. Thanks for the good words and inspiring opinions. Classic bro.

    1. John is correct on settings 5 on Fender amps then working the way to tone. It is called the rule of Fives with Fender amps. Myself though, knowing what I want to hear, I turn volume to four, then dial in anything that sounds good to me. And in spite of public opinion, I still use Ampeg combo’s at home, work or play. K

  8. I like to use my volume control to clean up my sound. This means I have access to a variety of tones without the need for tap dancing on pedalboard.

  9. Good Information! I have a 50watt/all Tube(JJs)1×12 combo that is designed for Alt/Metal/Heavy..do not do that much on the drive channel(bright)..mainly on the normal channel trying to dial in a more Dirty Blues style..the only thing that is on the floor out in front is a Ibenez Tube Screamer! I do not know what I’m doing wrong,but it just is not where I want it to be!(hope you understand my meaning) I was told to try out a EQ pedal..! Whats your opinions….

    1. Hi David,

      What kind of amp is this? For dirty blues a low wattage amp of around 20 watts is recommended depending on what you like. For most styles I recommend the Fender Deluxe Reverb silverface.

  10. what about the Gain? You wrote set the volume (post) to 3 or 4..but nothing on gain (pre)

    1. I don’t ever use amps with a gain knob. I would start at 5 and work from there.

  11. I used to have a hard time dialing in a good blues tone until I got my Line 6 Spider IV. It has a blues setting built it. It sounds better than any tube amp I’ve heard. Also the only way to get a good blues tone is to use a MIM Fender Strat, the MIA Strats sound too sterile. A lot of people think SRV was the king of blues but honestly he was pretty sloppy if you listen closely, he even admits he doesn’t know any theory and copies a lot of other artists.

    1. Oh the misguided. You see, MIM in general means cheap guitar as far as heft, tone woods, and metals used. When Fender Mexico ran out of cheap metal, they did go to Fender U.S.A, metal as a substitute for a period. However, like all wake up issues with Fender were cost related. Take the Jap strats or Korea strats made in 1996-98. Ash bodies on the Korean ones, way outsold American strats and now collectors, and that was the Squire modles! Of course, most sensible people put in after market pups such as Custom shop Fender or what Jeff uses, the Suhr pickups. Still, do know, the Spider amp is crap as the Frontman Fender. No soul to the sound. Pick up a Fender Blues amp or Blues Junior, or a Jet City or a old Univox for tone . Line Six is just a sound effects thing to cover up your mistakes ( not you in particular of course but many). Line 6 Pod thoiugh is a good thing for those in the know. Old tube amps, or new Fender tube low watt overdriven and miked. Beck uses a Fender Pro amp . Studio people had used Fender Champs. Ampeg jets, and your saying Line six is God? Hello Henry the Horse on Trampoline. I do not think so. And King of blues? All players took off on others before them. Sorry, no real Kings anywhere. Jeff Beck can do blues, Freddie and Albert King, Robert cray, even Page, so you see, your opinions are debateable until you grow and can measure up to those whom had played 45 years long. And you do not need theory to play or write, just a good ear and time, and patience. Hope the truth finds you in time, but for now. No.

  12. I have a signal splitter pedal That allows me to attach two combo amps to my guitar. I play a Dark Blue with original WBW picguard with soiled white knobs, 1997 MIM Fat Strat maple neck and fingerboard, 300 warm pots throughout, and a vintage Gibson LP oil & paper cap.
    I play this through my Fender FM 100 2×12 and my Fender Ultimate Chorus 130 2×12 (which I set to stereo mode). I have them 12 feet apart, in the middle of each wall, pointing toward the opposite corners and I sit in the middle. Tuned per the advice above. Last but not least I have my drum machine playing through a Fender Rumble early version 100 1×15 directly behind me (maybe 4 feet).

    With one amp tuned to wet crunch and the other tuned to a “very clean” with a hint of reverb & delay

    Then I blues the night and day away.

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