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DSL40CR- Help dialing the amp in - Tone questions

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by Whizzinby, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Whizzinby

    Whizzinby Member

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    I bought a Marshall DSL40CR about a month ago, was looking for some advice on dialing it in and some answers to how each knob/switch impacts tone. TBH I can get an ok clean tone, which I’m then using as a pedal platform, but I cannot get a high gain distortion tone I like with any of the higher gain channels (Clean Crunch, OD1, or OD2) OD2 provides plenty of saturation but no clarity or articulation, and the other channels a bit too mid-rangy and not enough bite. Anyways would love some feedback...


    1. For those that have the amp, what settings do you use for the various EQ’s and switches
    2. For those that don’t, what is your general method of dialing in a Marshall amp?
    3. Channel volume vs Master Volume, what are they affecting within the amp? I’ve operated under the assumption the channel volume would be driving the preamp and master would be power amp. Trying to determine where best to set these.
    4. Presence and Resonance. I get that these are tone settings at the power amp stage, unlike the three band eq which is done at the preamp stage. But, generally speaking how are these used? Let’s say you have too much bass, would you first back off the Bass knob or the Resonance? Let’s say you want more treble or high end, would you start with Presence or the Treble knob? Also, is noon the “neutral” setting for these, or are they cumulative, meaning at zero they aren’t affecting tone from the preamp eq and turning them up only adds to the tone?
    5. Tone shift button. The manual states selecting this reconfigures the preamp EQ to add new tone shaping. Also they note for Mids, controls are accentuated with tone shift enabled. To my ears enabling tone shift slightly scoops and compressed the overall sound. Which I find oddly improves the tone somewhat on higher gain channels, even though I hate scooped sounds. What accentuation is occurring with the mid knob with tone shift enabled?
     
  2. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the MF @Whizzinby:welcome:

    I have a DSL40CR and I can throw in my 2 cents (for what it's worth).

    1. Probably best to just post a pic of my current knob settings:

    20200617_165611-1800.jpg

    The caveat is that I run the 40CR in MIDI controlled 4CM with a Boss GT-100, so there is some external EQ'ing going on (but not much).
    BTW I don't play live. These are bedroom volume settings. Plus, I have changed the speaker to a G12 Century Vintage and run the V-Type in a 112 cab under the DSL.

    2. See above.

    3. In general terms (and I know I will get shouted at) the channel Gain sets the amount of distortion, channel Volume sets the channel volume (!) and is used to balance the relative volumes of the Classic and Ultra channels.
    Master Volumes actually choke the preamp volume before it gets to the power amp.
    To make a DSL40CR into a non-MV amp simply turn the Masters to 10.
    The 2 Master Volumes can be used to create a level boost (Solo) for the amp, or to balance the inherent volume discrepancy between the Classic Clean and Classic Crunch channels (i.e. assign MV1 to Classic Clean and MV2 to Classic Crunch and the Ultras).
    I think the general consensus is that the volume discrepancy is more marked with lower gain settings on the Classic channels.
    I still find I can get a clean enough tone for my needs with the Classic Gain at 10 (clean up further with guitar volume knob).
    At 10 I get the Crunch I like without an additional OD (and with!).

    4. Pres and Res I know little about, but what I have gathered is that they are negative feedback circuits. So as you turn either one up you are actually reducing the negative feedback at either high or low frequencies (I think). Reducing negative feedback allows a frequency to stand out more (negative feedback supresses).
    Some prefer to use Pres instead of Treble to control the high frequencies (i.e. Treble @ 0). Play around with the two!
    Also, I think that whilst noon is generally the neutral setting for EQ knobs, for Pres and Res 0 is the neutral setting.
    There is a lot more to it though.
    Try reading this: http://blog.hughes-and-kettner.com/presence-resonance-and-eq-settings-for-a-great-live-guitar-tone/

    5. I don't use the Tone Shift. I have read that some use it for Single Coil guitars.

    One thing about the high gain setting of the 40CR (in my experience) is that the Ultras (esp. OD2) seem to mush up and compress (volume dips) with the Gain set above 6-7. To get a better 'articulated' high gain tone I use an OD (from the GT-100) in front of the preamp.
    I can get higher gain tones I like with lower amp gain, and pushing the preamp with a neutral OD (and I love my high gain).

    We are all different and tone is subjective.
    Play with your knobs and have fun :hbang:
     

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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  3. Whizzinby

    Whizzinby Member

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    Sky monkey,
    Which modes are you using in each channel with those settings?

    Wowzers with the gain set full blast on the classic gain channel. I’ve been setting mine somewhere around 3-4 on the clean setting and then just using pedals over it. Maybe I’ll experiment with that later.

    I guess my general frustration is that I have a Marshall but am basically using it as a pedal platform. I should be able to to get a good distorted tone out of it without resorting to pedals over the clean channel. I just find that with gain reduced its very mid abrasive and bright, but when I use like OD2 which has a great distorted saturation, it just loses articulation.

    Looks to me like your using more channel volume and less master volume, I’ve been the exact opposite based on some YouTube stuff I’ve seen where it’s said that the amp sounds better with the master volumes gunned and then using the channel volumes to preferred loudness. That where I’m trying to figure out what amp affect channel vs master volumes have technically.

    Good to know that Presence and Resonance at 0 don’t affect the EQ. Was wondering if those were “neutral” at noon or not. But it does beg the question when to use them. I mean why would one choose to alter Resonance vs just the bass eq knob etc. I don’t quite get why having multiple knobs that presumably do the same thing is there, but my guess is they affect the signal in different ways. (Which is love to know how)

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  4. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    I have tried gunning the Masters and it sounded harsh to my ears. Plus the inherent hiss of the amp was far more prominent.
    My settings have very little background noise.
    As I said, I play at bedroom volumes and really have no need to get the power tubes 'Hot' as some purists insist you do.
    Some have even claimed that most of the tone in the 40CR comes from the preamp anyway, and using an attenuator to enable the power amp to be gunned is a case of diminished returns.

    I am hazy on the Presence and Resonance details (someone else may chime in soon).
    But a thing to be aware of is the EQ section is part of the preamp circuit. The Pre and Res are part of the power amp circuit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  5. lordquilton

    lordquilton Well-Known Member

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    I have the older 40C, but here are my observations:
    Where you set Presence and Resonance effects what the preamp tone controls seem to do.

    On the 40C the Presence control is central to the overall voice of the amp, in my opinion.
    I think of it as how much I want the amp to cut through, and the Treble is like an upper midrange "air".

    I've heard that the CR can be pretty bassy, and SkyMonkey's Resonance control seems to bear that out.
    I'd keep the amp out of corners and not too close to the wall behind it, set the Resonance to 10 or 11 o'clock to start with.


    I always use the green crunch channel with the gain set between 1 o'clock and 5 o'clock depending on the output of the guitar, and I back off the volume knob on the guitar to get clean sounds. I would strongly recommend using the green crunch channel this way as the core sound, and seeing if you can get the other channels to sound good from that starting point.
    I use boost and overdrive pedals to get the lead tones on the same channel, I only use the OD channels on the amp for songs where I need that EVH, modded Marshall type of sound. Guitars with high output pickups, essentially.

    The amp sounds pretty good with the eq knobs set at 12 o'clock, with slight adjustments per guitar;
    a little more bass for Strat, a little more treble for Les Paul etc.


    Here's something you can try: sweep each eq knob with one hand while you repeatedly hit the open D and G strings with the other hand.
    Start with Presence, and just listen carefully as you sweep each knob up a quarter turn at a time.
    You should notice that there is a section of the knobs sweep where it's a little louder than the rest of the knobs travel.
    That's where that particular control has it's greatest headroom. Leave it there.
    Do Mid next, then Treble, then Bass and Resonance.
    Now you're getting everything the amp has got to give frequency-wise, and like I said above you sculpt it a little for whichever different guitar you use.

    When setting things like Bass and Resonance, it can be helpful to set masters up as loud as you will use them for band practice or playing out, then add as much body and thump as you can without the amp sounding bloated/boxy and farting out.
     
  6. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    A looper would be a good thing to use at the input to set the EQ etc. hands-free.

    And, yes, mine is set about 21" from a wall, under an overhang, but with an open backed extension cab.
    That will affect my settings.
    Like I said, we are all different, as are our amp environments.
    Knowing someone's settings is only half the story.
     
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  7. Listogast

    Listogast Active Member

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    1. My settings are as follows: Bass 10, Mid 6, Treble 0, Presence 4, Resonance 10. That's for my basic clean tone. For some heavy distortion I'd crank the presence on 10 which adds tons of bite and really helps cut through.

    2. I dial in my amps by setting the EQ all to 10, and then dialing down settings until it sounds good. 10 is essentially the "neutral" point since Marshall amps work only by cutting frequencies.

    3. I'm not exactly sure the difference between regular volume and master volume, but the preamp volume is what's labeled gain.

    4. My method is to set Bass Mid and Treble to 10, and Presence and Resonance to 0. If you find that you have too much bass, then you want to lower the bass dial. After you have your tone dialed in that way, then I'd adjust the presence and resonance. If you find your tone lacking punch and definition, then I'd add presence. Resonance is a bit tricky, but I've always heard it as making your amp feel more open and alive, where a low resonance sounds really tight to me.

    5. Tone shift is the button that you never want to press in my opinion. It just kills the body of your tone and you can hear a significant volume decrease when you press it. It's just scooped mids.
     
  8. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    See, everyone's different!
     
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  9. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    The best thing I can add here is your ears, are going to tell you what you want to hear, mine are the older Dsl40c’s and on the red ultra 2 I run gain at 3-5 mids, treble, presence 7-8 bass is always at 5 tone shift is out
    (I only use it with my strat)
    But mine are plugged into MG 4-12 cabs , and for heavy FX laden
    tones I use a Vox Tone Lab into the front of both amps, on the green clean channel, when I want a more traditional Marshall tone, I use an MXR10 band eq into the front of the amps, on the red ultra 2 , and I like what I hear.
    Welcome to the forum my brother
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  10. Seventh Son

    Seventh Son Well-Known Member

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    I loved your post. Very useful info, except that I would add one more thing. You said that you start with all EQ on 10 and then cut stuff by taste until you have the desired tone. There's is nothing really wrong with this approach, except that the knobs are interactive, meaning that when you set all your EQ at noon, for example, and then shift everything by one, meaning, all EQ on 6, the difference is not purely one of greater volume on 6. There will be also tonal differences between the two settings. But, technicalities aside, if you land on 10-6-0-4 and it's exactly the sound that you want, then that's all that matters.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  11. Whizzinby

    Whizzinby Member

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    Didn’t have much luck tonight dialing it in. Not giving up hope, but kinda disappointed I can’t get this dialed how I want.

    So I did have the amp wedged in a corner about a foot from one side and about 2 inches off another wall. I got it up off the ground on a side table about a foot and half off the ground and about a foot away from back wall and several from the side wall. I will say this gave me a much better idea of what it really sounds like.

    I only had about a good 30 minutes to play with it (kids are needy) and here is about the best way I can articulate it:

    On any gain channel (OD1 or OD2) it’s sounds under water and/or thin under high gain. I tried cranking bass and Resonance as one poster mentioned above but to me it doesn’t add punch to the bottom end, but just sorta made the bottom blurry.

    I played around with dropping the master volumes down to halfway so I could crank the channel volumes up a bit, but it didn’t make any noticeable difference. I’m also convinced it’s 40w mode or bust, the tone difference is significant between it and 20w.

    I do think cranking the Resonance and Presence knobs helps in general open the sound up. But generally speaking if I want to get it cooking with gain it’s generally at the expense of any clarity or articulation.

    And I have noticed, it’s easier to get somewhat closer to what I’d like on my SG’s bridge pickup, but with the neck, forget about it. I just can’t get it to not Sound like a soupy mess with too much low end mud and no high end clarity.

    But, here is the rub. If I dial in a decent tolerable clean (Not Clean Crunch or the OD channels, but the actual clean channel) I can get about 75-80% there with the Strymon Riverside overdrive pedal. (With it In high gain mode, with gain near dimed and the mid boost all engaged) Still a touch muddy on the neck pickup but oh so damned damn close with the bridge.

    So that gives me some hope that it’s somewhere in this amp on a gain channel, but I really don’t want this to be a pedal platform amp.

    I am wondering if a speaker change might help. Not sure if a V30 or Creamback GT12H 75 could help. But worried that might be a sunk cost. (Cringe saying that)

    Trying to keep the faith. Fun times, this guitar stuff...
     
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  12. Jethro Rocker

    Jethro Rocker Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    It should be on the floor IMO. Not off the floor.
    You also need to be directly in line with it. I angle mine backwards. OD1 should give you plenty of gain yet still maintain some articulation with gain on like 7. When I had a 40C, I found I needed an OD with high level, no gain on Crunch mode channel 1 to get enough distortion outta channel 1 for my likings.
    Mqybe a speaker change, yeah. Not sure. I hear the V series is quite good with these amps.
     
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  13. Listogast

    Listogast Active Member

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    Well sure, the same thing can be said if you put all knobs to 0. I'm just saying that I think starting at noon is nonsense. By doing that, you're already getting some signal loss. It makes more sense to me to start out using the full signal available, and then just dialing down the aspects that you don't like. It just simplifies the process and you don't have to deal with weighing the question of dialing a frequency up, or the other frequencies down in order to achieve a result.

    Just my opinion, but I think a lot of guitarists are afraid to explore the entire EQ range on their amplifiers.
     
  14. konrad gibson

    konrad gibson Active Member

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    My settings...
    Gain on Classic and Ultra 12 o Clock, Volume 1, Bass 12, Treble 9, Middle Full, Resonance/Presence 12, Reverb Classic 3, Reverb Ultra 1, Master I and II volume different Volume II for solo sound
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  15. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    Everone has more bass on than me. I start with it at 0. I never go above 2 - 3. I went through a phase of using the resonance but it always seems to make the response slow so back to 0. Mids I'm always futzing around with. Sometimes it sounds good to me up full then other times it just sounds harsh so I back down to about halfway. Presence full.. Then it's too bright so back the treble way down to 2 - 3.or less. This is at bedroom levels. It sounds weedy like this for gigs/jams ( if they ever start up again) so then the bass goes up to 4 - 5.
    I should point out this is with a pedal which is always on. I used to be no pedals ever but I don't really use it to add a lot of gain - just to tailor the sound. It has a high cut so I use that to tame any nasty highs. This is on channel 1 crunch with a Les Paul with PAF type pickups. By a lot of faffing with pickup heights and screws I've got a reasonable balance - like the OP I never used to use the neck - too woolly but now I sometimes think it sounds better than the bridge. I don't have the neck tone pot connected and I occasionally consider doing the nail varnish mod on the neck pot.
    I guess I'm looking for a LP into cranked superlead classic rock sound. I know but you have to try. For years I've had a 50 watt plexi and I used to be able to crank it quite regularly so I guess that's what my ears are trained to/deafened by.
    I sometimes faff around with the tone shift. It does lose you a lot at the bottom but you gain articulaion and if it sounds weak just turn up the volume. That said I get bored with it soon enough. Overall I think it's a good sounding amp that can be a bit muddy at low volumes esp on the high gain channel. This is less of an issue as you get the volume up.
    Also be aware that mine took a long time for the speaker to soften - maybe a coupla months using it ar rehearsal/gig volume. Being a single 12 it's also very directional - you need to get the speaker pointing at those things on the sides of your head....
     
  16. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Err....sorry, which pedal?
     
  17. IOSEPHVS

    IOSEPHVS Well-Known Member

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    I have a JCM600, but the concepts are pretty much the same.

    Instead of EQing the amp for each and every room, I keep the Bass, Mid, and Treble controls on each channel flat (12 o'clock), and control the tone with the EQ section of an EHX Graphic Fuzz (just about any EQ pedal would work) and my guitar's tone knobs. The Gain on the OD channel is set to around 2 (out of 20). That gives me plenty of pleasant overdrive distortion on that channel.

    I'd like to add, when adjusting the tone (frequencies) attenuate rather than amplify, i.e. instead of increasing a certain frequency range decrease the others. I never adjust anything above unity. When multiple frequency ranges are amplified, things can easily start to sound messy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  18. Whizzinby

    Whizzinby Member

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    Guys thank you for the feedback!!! Means a lot.

    Hope to be able to get some extended time today to keep fiddling. I’m going to try the “max bass, mid, treb” approach and then roll off. (Rather than add approach) Then if that doesn’t work I’ll try the specific settings listed here and see where it gets me. I’ll also get the amp back on the ground per above feedback.

    I have considered getting an EQ pedal as some have mentioned. Not opposed to it at all, but am sorta getting to the point where I’m flinching to spend more on the amp, if it’s ultimately not going to work out. (Which is why I’m sorta hesitating to buy a replacement speaker too)

    I’m not waiving the white flag, but I am curious what people thought of the Origin 50C ? I realize its only one channel, and not as high a gain of an amp, but I’m only using the clean channel of the DSL as a pedal platform anyway, so just wondering if it’s EQ/Gain profile might be the little difference I need. (Before even thinking about going with something more expensive)
     
  19. Daniel Tobin

    Daniel Tobin New Member

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    Have you checked the bias on your amp? It's very easy to do on this amp and could be at least part of your problem. Possibly some new/better tubes might help as well.

    I tend to only use the green channel on the ultra gain side and keep the gain relatively low(10-12 oclock) and for my purposes(classic rock) it sounds really good. Like others have said maybe boosting with a pedal from this point might work better for you than adding more amp gain.

    Also, wondering at what volumes you are playing at? I'm guessing on the lower side with the kids at home. Turning it up if you can will oftentimes tighten things up and give you a very different/better tone.
     
  20. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Daniel Tobin. Welcome to the MF :welcome:

    Good point about bias.
    Not sure how much effect it would have, but fresh from the factory the bias could be set wrong.

     

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