Hi. I'm taking lessons and it occurred to me I don't know how to tweak an amp for the right sound. 

Is there an approach to this. I know that depending on the settings you can sound more bluesy, heavy metal, 60's rock, and many other unique sounds.

To top it off, I am not even sure how the knobs and levers on the actual guitar play into this.

I have an inexpensive $300 Fender Squire 15G amp and guitar from guitar center. 

Can someone offer some tips about how to approach the seemingly infinite variables and create the sounds I want--or at least send me a link where its explained on this site.

I have it sounding OK right now, but sometimes I tweak the knobs, it sounds dirty, and I cant figure out how to make it sound clean except for some trial and error. I'm looking for more of a science.

Thank you

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Hi Jack.

If you're taking lessons, that's probably the place to start. In particular, your teacher can probably get some great tones out of your gear and then, when you try it, you'll realise that the sound which comes out is a combination of gear, settings, skill and experience. However, while the last two are only going to come with hard work, at least you'll get a sense of what might be possible.

If you have a particular set of sounds in mind, it might be the case that you just can't get there with the gear you've got. However, unless you've got very specific tastes, you can probably find something to work on before splashing out more $$$.

Finally (from me, for now), YouTube is your friend. I searched for "Fender 15G amp" and came across a range of demos of the amp and also some general ones about amp settings (How to Adjust Settings on a Guitar Amp looked fairly instructive although I only skimmed through). Online videos should give you some starting points, although you still need to listen, tweak and learn from the sounds you get.


Hi Jack, I'd second Wulf's recommendations regarding researching youtube etc, asking your tutor too.

The link you gave doesn't go to any specific amp, and there have been a lot of Fender/Squier (note spelling) 15 watt amps, so giving more specific advice is tricky.

Let me also suggest... ask your sound person, if you have one.  Sometimes the sound that fits into the rest of the band, that sounds best out in the room, is not necessarily the one that you as the guitar player like when you're up on the stage...

Speaking to your issue of it sounding distorted, and you not wanting that, that "gain" knob (if you have one) has a big effect on that.  It says how much of the guitar sound is fed to the remaining elements of the amp circuit, and if you want a clean sound, back the gain way off.  Unfortunately, that also means that the output volume from the amp is going to be reduced.  I'm not sure exactly what amp you've got, but just be aware that these tiny little practice amps are just not capable of a whole lot of volume.  I would suggest propping the amp up on a chair or something, pointing it right at your ear, and dial in a sound you like... and then have the sound person put a mic on the amp and let them take care of making it loud enough in the room and for the singers to hear. You're just not going to be able to fill a room with nice clean sound from a tiny practice amp.

I bought a Line6 30w Spyder amp that has a lot of onboard effects (which I hate; they also managed to build in a tuner which is 1/4 step sharp and there's no way to adjust it), and we've just ended up pointing it at the drummer and me so we can hear what I'm playing.  I have an FX box and we send the L channel to this amp and the R channel to the PA and just accept that it doesn't sound real good onstage, but the sound person assures me that it sounds a lot better out in the room...


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