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Amptone.com is copyrighted original research.

If you learned systematically about volume-independent power tube distortion, double-layer isocabs, and pre-distortion eq voicing largely from Amptone.com, then you need to point to "Amptone.com" to help out the industry get a clue on this most key topic and to give me proper credit for research on gear hookup and feature packaging since 1983 23 years of research and experimenting.

About Dave Hunter's 2004-2006 books on amps, fx, guitars some of my systematic research is essentially condensed into a chapter on quiet cranked-amp tone Hunter wrote after he previously wrote (as a strong, unqualified assertion of fact) the usual predominant fallacy that you can't get power tube distortion at low volumes. He wrote that initial common fallacy, then in a book very soon after, he shows mysteriously sudden enlightened expertise, out of the blue, in the subject of quiet cranked amp tone. He generally credits some people in the Acknowledgements but I want to know where he suddenly, overnight, became an expert to write ch. 6, Sizes and Requirements, in _The Guitar Amp Handbook_ (pp. 116-131) which directly contradicts his complete ignorance asserting that power tube distortion requires loud volume, in a book he wrote shortly before.

July 28, 2006 I found some sites that, at first glance, appear to directly plagiarizing my work, copying the very paragraphs I wrote, and implicitly signing their name to my words with no indication of having copied them.

It is possible that Hunter relied on an article in Electronic Musician (http://www.grailtone.com/guitar-tone-articles/low-volume-fat-tone-p1.html Electronic Musician, December 2003 by Orren Merton) which neglected to mention online sources but credits "Thanks to Ed DeGenaro, Gary Gerhart, Andy Marshall, Ted Weber, and Zachary Vex for help with this article." Hunter's book thanks include Ted Weber, who has helped me at this site too. As an example of how gray-shaded plagiarizing can be, it's possible that magazine article relied on online pages which copied and pasted from my site without pointing to my site or at least setting-off the copied text such as the following webpage, which appears to sign their name to my writing:

http://www.tabcrawler.com/articles.php?action=readarticle&articleid=79 Below, I mark in blue the text copied from my site without any indication:

Thanks for your article on Tone, we have a few other Pre-Distortion EQ-ing tone secrets to add:

o Put an EQ-pedal before preamp distortion - such as before amp's input.

You can also use an overdrive pedal that has tone controls, before the amp's preamp distortion.

o Turn guitar's volume control down to 5-7 for more treble.

o Use a power attenuator, such as the Hot Plate or Power Brake.

One of the first things every guitarist should do is run out an buy an EQ pedal and a power attenuator (Hot Plate is unsurpassed)

I recommend that everyone have an EQ and Hot Plate available, for flexibility of Tone and volume. Having this gear on hand expands the range of combinations of Tone and SPL available. Having an EQ and Hot Plate available does not narrow your Tone down to one sound; it expands the range of sounds and the volumes at which you get those sounds. I take it for granted you have multiple guitars, tube amps, and overdrive/distortion pedals. The main thing missing from such a collection, if the goal is to get more Tones and more volume levels, is EQ and power attenuation.

To complement a typical solid-state beginner's amp, I would recommend buying an EQ pedal (for pre-distortion EQ control) before buying a distortion pedal. People still treat the Hot Plate as an exotic, unusual device. They still talk about the "secret" of pre-distortion EQ. That should change. Pre-distortion EQ and power attenuators should be as common as distortion pedals, because they can open up a wider range of basic amp tones than adding a distortion pedal usually does.

The goal I address is to expand the range of basic amp tone and at a wider range of SPL's -- to get a wider range of sounds out of a standard amp. Adding a distortion or overdrive pedal is comparatively unnatural -- it's adding a lot of processing. EQ and power attenuation are more like assisting the amp to do what it does, with added range. It's more like opening up the voicing range of the amp itself rather than adding processing.

-TC Staff

The paragraphs I markd in blue were written by me, Michael Hoffman, as paragraphs in a couple postings associated with Amptone.com in 2001, then copied and pasted by TC staff (that's ok) to their site (the url above) *without clarifying that they didn't write the paragraphs* -- that is not OK and does not help the industry.

After my text, notice how TC staff appears to sign their name to the paragraphs I researched and wrote, above. Also notice the disparity between the plural of "TC Staff" and the singular "I" in the text. In fact, 'I' refers to me, Michael Hoffman not some "TC Staff". I will ask TC Staff to clarify that the text is by Michael Hoffman at Amptone.com.


The page http://www.grailtone.com/guitar-tone-articles/guitar-signal-chain.html credits Amptone.com, and perhaps I can't expect them to point here at every single use of my work, or place where they spread the word per my objective.

http://www.grailtone.com/guitar-tone-articles/evh-brown-sound.html -- the most key formula on this page is written by me, provably; the grail author writes the intro sentence:

Here is a break down on how to get your own Brown Sound.

He then follows with the formula obviously written by me:

EQ with frown curve --> Slow phaser mixed 50% with dry signal --> Preamp distortion --> amp eq with slight smile curve, or flat --> Power-tube saturation --> Dummy load --> Speaker

The following search shows exactly two hits: Amptone.com and Grailtone.com, showing exactly where grailtone.com copied the above words and expressions from, in the processing chain: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Slow+phaser+mixed%22+%22with+dry+signal%22


Now I will demonstrate some more intellectual property leadership. I added new notes about the Van Halen MXR Phaser to my Van Halen page, copied here as an example of being the first to truly explain processing principles for guitar tone. I'm probably the first one to make these technical rig-hookup systematic comments about this phaser; you heard it here first; if so, please mention Amptone.com when repeating these points:

The new EVH MXR Phase 90 adds a Script switch, which logically confirms what I've always asserted: despite all the magazine articles, I've always posited, the block MXR Phase 90 cannot possibly produce the VH1 sound such as Eruption; it turns out that only a Script MXR Phase 90 can, because the Script switch does what I was surmising that Eddie did: it mixes some dry signal with the wet signal, to give the key, necessary *mild* phasing which the block Phase 90 cannot do. I suspected as much the moment I saw the EVH phaser, and confirmed it a week ago by demo test (around July 21, 2006).

I've read reviews of the EVH Phase 90, and the reviewers have a poor grasp of this subject, because of poor understanding of the interaction of fx involved in pre-distortion EQ. The block-logo MXR Phase 90 sounds awful, with brick-wall processing, unmusical; Eddie would never have used it, and the crap tone that kids have when they follow the bad advice from the magazines is all too typical of bad-sounding use of effects in the 80s and 90s, that awful result of hooking up a bunch of brick-wall-processing fx pedals and then wondering why it sounds horrible compared to the album.

I'd like to make a sick-humor page that shows actual tone-disaster diagrams from books and magazines a recent diagram shows Eddie driving the output of a solid-state power amp directly into the input jack of a Marshall head. My guess that Eddie modded his Phase 90 to mix dry in with it was probably wrong, but I was essentially right, in that he did not use "the MXR Phase 90" he used the early, script-logo MXR Phase 90; there were two significantly different-sounding versions of the MXR Phase 90, and though I'm anti-vintage, this is a clear-cut case of an early design being musically superior to later versions of guitar gear. Confirming the anti-vintage argument, the third version of the Phase 90 is better than the first it offers both the original subtle and the later heavy blends of wet/dry signals. If you learn about the relation between the 3 MXR Phase 90s here, regarding Van Halen's required use of earlier, milder phasing as pre-distortion eq, and you write as much elsewhere, please mention where you found it out: "Michael Hoffman at Amptone.com pointed this out." Citing Amptone.com as the central concentration of this information helps the whole industry and leads to better products, because I am a revolutionary activist designer out to change not only product design, but the entire paradigm of "good tone is hard to obtain". Michael Hoffman, July 29, 2006


The page http://www.grailtone.com/guitar-tone-articles/predistortion-eq-article.html uses my terminology, which is good to do, and their link page points to Amptone.com, which is good, but their page is directly and closely based on my research and explanations and explanatory style, so their page ought to mention or link to Amptone.com Amptone.com is such a direct basis for their page, that if Amptone.com didn't have the explanation, I'm certain that their page wouldn't exist or would be inferior in its explanatory clarity. My routine use of "smile curve" and "frown curve" in this specific context of pre-distortion eq is a giveaway. Note the phrase "some internet research" the authors use at that page:

Some Internet research turned up how using pre distortion frown curve can be useful in achieving a EVH type tone with the following signal chain:

Double-coil bridge pickup -> EQ with frown curve -> Phaser -> Preamp distortion

As a matter of fact, their phrase "some Internet research" really means specifically Amptone.com.

People should use my terminology and explanatory approach, but while doing so, should point to Amptone.com for more information to help the whole industry. If you copy and paste a paragraph, per U.S. Fair Use law, you should set off the quoted text so that at least it's clear you copied rather than composed it.


It's good that authors and columnists are learning from Amptone.com and spreading the knowledge systematized here, but it's bad if they refrain from mentioning the site when discussing volume-independent power tube distortion. This has been for years the only site that is focused on private-level power-tube distortion, doing the designers and industry the huge favor of promoting awareness of their products and teaching the techniques to everyone. This site is synonymous with the subject of quiet cranked-amp tone, being even to this day the only site dedicated to the subject of making guitar gear what it ought to be, making guitar gear able to reproduce without simulation the best album sounds at private levels.

Whenever a book mentions the subject it should cite this website, which has a hundred times as much information on that subject as anywhere else systematic coverage. Maybe my lack of promotion caused no book authors, no columnists to be aware of the site. Maybe they are threatened by its being free, or too good, or too broken. This site gets 10 hits per minute, obviously serving a great need and demonstrating a lack of practical gear for private power-tube distortion and control of tone. Authors and columnists should show awareness of this site when they discuss the subject and credit others for help in writing and research.

I've done as much as possible to cite and promote books, products, designers, researchers, rig customizers, and so on in return, it's in everyone's interest to cite and promote my contribution to systematizing volume-independent cranked-amp tone and pointing the way toward products that make sense, as opposed to the absurd irrelevant choices offered by today's Marshall, Fender, and Guitar Center corporations: fake sound via digital modelling, or absurdly loud 50-watt amps that are incapable of useful attenuation that preserves power-tube distortion.

Credit "Michael Hoffman at Amptone.com" for being the leader in systematically gathering information all about this. It's in everyone's interest to do further increase the awareness and popularity of this informational website. My goal is to spread knowledge, but give me the credit due; help me, help the whole industry out, by citing "Amptone.com". The payoff is that everyone will know how to force today's misdesigned gear to cough up the power-tube distortion at milliwatt listening levels, and eventually, new products will finally be available (and stay available) that are centered around the principle of actual power-tube distortion (from real power tubes, not 12AX7s) at volume-independent levels.

Most of my conclusions for product feature combinations are clear enough here now; instead of relying on me to further push the designers and columnists in the right direction, it would be sufficient for everyone to point to Amptone.com, to learn about products like the H&K Crunch Master, London Power's Power Scaling and Studio amp, Damage Control's hybrid design philosophy, Demeter's isolation cab, PS Systems' Power Tool, Emery Sounds' Superbaby and the THD UniValve, as well as "common" gear that's still unfortunately unknown and too rarely seen or hooked up in stores, such as the THD Hot Plate.

Citing Amptone.com will result in the following, the end of the Dark Ages for guitar gear:

  • Power attenuation will become a standard feature on guitar amps, demanded by guitarists just like preamp distortion has been demanded ever since Marshall's master volume amps
  • Power tubes and dummy loads will be integrated into preamp/processors
  • Isocab products, isobox kits, and isolation booth construction will be common knowledge and truly common practice; it will be routinely discussed in all books on amp tone how to use an isocab or construct a cab isolation box.
  • The grandma amp: finally, *finally*, a small, $175 combo guitar amp with power tube (not 12AX7) and power attenuation allowing volume-independent power-tube distortion, as well as headphone jack, suitable for staying at grandma's house or for at work, yet also with jacks to be scalable to pro live performance. There is no reason for the existence of solid-state "beginner" amps or "kids' amps".
  • Modelling amps will be properly built around actual power-tube distortion, not just preamp distortion or preamp tube misuse.
  • Pre-distortion EQ voicing (pickup voicing) will no longer be considered an "advanced trick" that's understood only by Eddie Van Halen and Slash. Books will finally start talking *systematically* about eq *placement* and how it affects and enables *distortion voicing*.
  • Libraries of dry guitar playing will be available and routinely used to help dial-in tone, and will help prove that digital amp modelling by itself or a 12AX7 misused as a power tube fails to sound like power tube distortion. The reamp technique will be used to find and attain the limits of all the approaches and types of setup, as well as comparing power tube distortion character; it will so speed up exploration and experimentation, alternative power tube types and circuits will be found.

-- Michael Hoffman, BSEE, Amptone.com -- a revolutionary activist designer out to change not only product design, but the entire paradigm of "good tone is hard to obtain".


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