What exactly is "clean"?

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by duceditor, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. Croppertone

    Croppertone Squier-Meister

    Mar 31, 2010
    He used 12-56, Gibson strings I believe. Big strings=big sound. And Gibson strings are very good, I used to use the 11-52 that came in a light blue package.
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  2. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    You'll find that a lot of the greats, when you pay attention, don't play with mega distortion, not Angus, Blackmore, and many others too. They achieve powerful sound through volume with a pretty clean non master volume Marshall, not a MB Dual Recto cranked to fizz levels.
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  3. wonkenstein

    wonkenstein Squier-holic

    Feb 3, 2017
    12 -56 is what the average Bluegrass player uses - medium gauge - for power, volume and tone. When you hit them they are loud... so imagine driving a pair of PAFs with that kind of string energy through a big amp with clean head room.
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  4. wildelectric

    wildelectric Squier-Nut

    Sep 23, 2016
    Western Illinois
    A totally "clean" tone on an electric guitar sounds terrible, in my observation.

    With some compression added so that the low strings don't dominate the sound and a slight touch of overdrive to address the 'tinny-ness' of a totally clean electric, I get what is, in my experience, most commonly considered a clean sound.

    I play virtually everything exceptionally loud, though, so YMMV.

    My .02.
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  5. Catalyst

    Catalyst Squier Talker

    Dec 27, 2018
    Clean means free from fuzz or distortion and effects.
    Every guitar has its own character, acoustic or electric, so there will be differences in the tone of course.
    That's why people compare guitars clean, so you can hear their difference clearly.
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  6. jordnot

    jordnot Squier-Meister

    May 1, 2020
    What most ppl mean when they say clean, it means without effects, usually, in particular, distortion, direct into an amp.

    It is understood by most ppl that the acutal sound of the guitar and amp itself will be different from guitar to guitar, and amp to amp.
    wonkenstein likes this.
  7. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    I'm right there with ya, Don... To me, "Clean" is just an electric guitar plugged into an amp with low gain... I started gettin into Country music a few years ago, and traditionally those guys go REALLY clean... A Tele (with single coils, obviously, lol) into a Twin Reverb... It kind of became the norm, and guitars with ANY kind of gain were considered "Rock And Roll Guitars"... But listening to people like Brad Paisley and Danny Gatton taught me to appreciate overdrive tones in Country (when they rarely trot them out...

    But nothin grinds my gears worse than some guy on YouTube attempting to demonstrate some pedal, and he says, "Here's my clean tone;" and he hits it and it's ALREADY breaking up! I don't know why I'm such a stickler for it, but "Clean" to me means NO BREAKUP whatsoever... No matter HOW hard you hit it...

    But I absolutely agree that when people think "clean", they're thinkin of an electric guitar WITH the sound of a "clean" amp... If you wanted JUST the sound of the guitar, people would be just plugging straight into the P.A. ... As a matter of fact, take the Katana Series of amps... As most people know, there's a "Clean" channel on there... And it's based on a classic solid state Roland JC-120, so there really ISN'T much breakup at all... Just yesterday I saw someone in a Katana group asking if anyone had found "The edge of breakup" on the clean channel... I told him if THAT'S what he wanted, he should try the "Crunch" channel... that's what it's FOR!!! But also on the Katana, there's an "Acoustic" channel that's made for acoustic/electric guitars... It's designed to NOT add any "color" and be JUST the sound of your acoustic guitar, just louder... It's for acoustic/electric guitars, keyboards, anything that you'd normally go straight to the P.A. with, but you don't see ANYBODY using it for electric guitar... And for good reason, lol... We've grown to accept the "color" the amp adds to the equation, and the sound of the amps themselves have became a PART of the sound...

    I JUST got that California Sound pedal that's supposed to emulate the Mark 2 Mesa Boogie amp, and it's currently teaching me even more about tone... I know it's MILES away from what you normally dig, Don, but the REASON I bought that pedal was so I could emulate some of Metallica's earlier tones... They used a Mesa Boogie Mark 2 for MOST of that stuff, so I figured this pedal would get me close... Now, I think maybe I got this pedal for the wrong reasons... I can't quite dial in a good heavy gain sound without getting that farty, cabinet rattling sound that I hate... I'd probably have better luck just running some humbuckers through my MetalZone 2, lol... But this pedal is slowly teaching me that everything isn't as black and white with guitar tones as I thought... There are some really nice tones in there that seem to be BOTH "clean" and "dirty" simultaneously... Which is nothin short of a miracle with me, lol, because I had such rigid definition of "clean"...
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  8. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA

    The guitar/amplifier interface effects tone in ways other than "breaking up." There are frequency peaks and hollows. There are various types of compression. All are, or at least can be, part of a "clean" sound.

    Many have an idea of tube distortion that is actually a diode circuit that comes into play as the level is changed. Marshall was quietly doing this for quite a while. -Long enough for many to call it 'the Marshall sound. And that is why there are so many pedals that people say sound like a Marshall.

    The only tube amp I ever played that has none of that break up, be it diode or true tube, is the Twin Reverb. Although Wangs' Mini 5 can come close.

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  9. Tepid Pilot

    Tepid Pilot Squier Talker

    To me clean is when I run the guitar straight into the amp and adjust the settings so that it sounds like a giant acoustic guitar.

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  10. beagle

    beagle Squier-Nut

    Nov 19, 2017
    To me clean means no distortion whatsoever.
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