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  1. #1

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    Hi everyone!

    Today I use a small solid state amp and want advices from you about how to achieve the sound of Polytones. Generally, what amp settings will be useful to sound like Polytones?
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    What amp are you using?

  4. #3

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    Hiwatt Maxwatt G20R. Originally a british-voiced amp but still works great for jazz.
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

  5. #4

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  6. #5

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    I have no experience with Hiwatts, but their tone stacks look similar to Fenders with a lot of emphasis on bass and treble, and where the mid control only serves to cut the mids even more. Polytones and Ampegs have Baxandal tone stacks, which jave a fairly flat response at mid position. Try starting with bass and treble set to zero and mid set to ten. Set your volume where you want it, then dial in a little more bass and treble to taste. If bringing up the treble and bass still leaves you with too much mid, try dialing the mid control down a little at a time. The mid control may tend to reduce some of the bass and treble as well, so you might need to raise your volume control a little as you reduce the mids.

    Speakers can make a huge difference though, and I have no idea how your Hiwatt speaker might compare to a Polytone.

  7. #6

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    0,10,0 is flat on a Fender, Vox,Marshall. ..just like 5,5,5 on a Polytone.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP View Post
    I have no experience with Hiwatts, but their tone stacks look similar to Fenders with a lot of emphasis on bass and treble, and where the mid control only serves to cut the mids even more. Polytones and Ampegs have Baxandal tone stacks, which jave a fairly flat response at mid position. Try starting with bass and treble set to zero and mid set to ten. Set your volume where you want it, then dial in a little more bass and treble to taste. If bringing up the treble and bass still leaves you with too much mid, try dialing the mid control down a little at a time. The mid control may tend to reduce some of the bass and treble as well, so you might need to raise your volume control a little as you reduce the mids.

    Speakers can make a huge difference though, and I have no idea how your Hiwatt speaker might compare to a Polytone.
    Thank you, KirkP! I’ll check this out later. The speaker is a custom 1x8" ”Heavy duty loudspeaker”, but I also have no idea how to compare it to Polytones.
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    0,10,0 is flat on a Fender, Vox,Marshall. ..just like 5,5,5 on a Polytone.
    I have seen this many times and it just always makes me wonder how Fender amps are so ubiquitous. Just seems like a terribly limited “starting position” because you can only adjust in one direction. I’ve seen so many “ how to tame the brightness on my blackface” threads across the internet it just astounds me. That along with having no mids control is for me a recipe for an amp I can’t work with. I’ve had one blackface amp and realized it was the antithesis of what I want in an amp.
    Ignorance is agony.



  10. #9

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    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."

    Try it. It really does put you in the ballpark of an Ampeg or a Polytone on 5,5.

    If you set a Fender Deluxe Reverb on bass = 5, treble = 5, you get a big "smile," i.e., a bass hump and a treble hump. It's not displeasing, but it's the classic "Fender sound."

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."

    Try it. It really does put you in the ballpark of an Ampeg or a Polytone on 5,5.
    This is why I eventually gave up on Fenders 20yrs ago. In college, I used to set the treble and bass at around 2, and volume under 3, for Princetons, Deluxe Reverbs, etc, to get what sounded to me to the cleanest and closest to “true” sound of my guitars without knowing much about the circuit design.
    As much as I liked many BF/SF amps in these settings, there was just no headroom for gigs, especially with inefficient speakers.
    When I tried a Mesa Mark I Reissue, I finally was ready to dump the last Fender I owned (a ‘66 Showman Head).
    Now, my Ampegs....that’s a wholenudder story.

  12. #11

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    Yes. In comparison to Fender, Mesa amps are much more midrange oriented. I used to think MB (Mesa Boogie) also meant midrange bark.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."
    Deluxe reverb mid resistor is 6800ohms, which amounts to mid control being around 7.
    Attached Images Attached Images Polytone sound on non-polytone amp-tone_stack_calculator-jpg 
    It takes a pretty good drummer to be better than no drummer at all. -- Chet Baker

  14. #13

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    Here's the same tone stack calculator set for Fender, with the bass=0.5, middle = 7 (fixed resistor), and treble=0.5. It is virtually a flat response, i.e., like an Ampeg/Polytone on bass=5, treble=5.
    Polytone sound on non-polytone amp-fender-070-jpg

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Here's the same tone stack calculator set for Fender, with the bass=0.5, middle = 7 (fixed resistor), and treble=0.5. It is virtually a flat response, i.e., like an Ampeg/Polytone on bass=5, treble=5.
    Polytone sound on non-polytone amp-fender-070-jpg
    Tone stack is flat but I think negative feedback ads some scoop later in the signal path. Speaker is another factor. With a mid-emphasized speaker, it's possible to get a flat eq on a DR. Of course there is always an eq pedal option.
    It takes a pretty good drummer to be better than no drummer at all. -- Chet Baker

  16. #15

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    Many people speculate online that Fender didn't add mid control on their lower powered amps to cut costs. That doesn't make any sense, there's not that much difference in price between Princeton, DR, Vibrolux Reverb, Super Reverb and Twin. Not a difference that can't be explained by power difference alone (and shipping costs due to size and weight increase).
    I think the reason Fender didn't put mid control to lower powered amps can be easily seen with the tone stack calculator. Turn bass and treble to 0, now adjust mids. You'll see adding mids is just increasing the signal level across the board. It's a headroom issue. Lower powered amps just don't have enough headroom to push the mids higher at reasonable volumes.
    It takes a pretty good drummer to be better than no drummer at all. -- Chet Baker

  17. #16

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    Sure, you can change the speaker or use a pedal. However, it's pretty easy just to roll the bass and treble controls back. This actually works. Doesn't cost a penny.

    Of course, the bass=5, treble=5 "Fender smile" sounds nice, too.

  18. #17

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    I didn't realize that I had chopped off so much frequency bandwidth in my first pic. Here is the Fender "flat" setting from 10-20KHz. You can see that there is no "scoop" to speak of. The result is achieved by setting the Deluxe Reverb at bass=0.5, treble=0.5.
    Polytone sound on non-polytone amp-fender-flat-jpg

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Tone stack is flat but I think negative feedback ads some scoop later in the signal path. Speaker is another factor. With a mid-emphasized speaker, it's possible to get a flat eq on a DR. Of course there is always an eq pedal option.
    It’s true that a tone stack with a flat response doesn’t necessarily mean the amp’s response is flat, as there are other ways to affect frequency response. I guess scooping could be done via negative feedback if the feedback loop filtered out the highs and lows so that only the mids were subject to negative feedback, but I doubt Polytone did that.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP View Post
    It’s true that a tone stack with a flat response doesn’t necessarily mean the amp’s response is flat, as there are other ways to affect frequency response. I guess scooping could be done via negative feedback if the feedback loop filtered out the highs and lows so that only the mids were subject to negative feedback, but I doubt Polytone did that.
    I was referring to Fender in this instance.
    It takes a pretty good drummer to be better than no drummer at all. -- Chet Baker

  21. #20

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    Among my 6 amps are a Polytone, a Fender and a Mesa. Using the tone controls on the amps I can get a great jazz tone at any volume with all three. The right speaker is an important part if the equation to be sure.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhahn View Post
    This is why I eventually gave up on Fenders 20yrs ago. In college, I used to set the treble and bass at around 2, and volume under 3, for Princetons, Deluxe Reverbs, etc, to get what sounded to me to the cleanest and closest to “true” sound of my guitars without knowing much about the circuit design.
    As much as I liked many BF/SF amps in these settings, there was just no headroom for gigs, especially with inefficient speakers.
    When I tried a Mesa Mark I Reissue, I finally was ready to dump the last Fender I owned (a ‘66 Showman Head).
    Now, my Ampegs....that’s a wholenudder story.
    The Fender tone stack achieves the scooped response by severely attenuating the signal after the first stage of amplification, then allowing treble and bass frequencies to bypass that attenuator via the treble and bass pots. If you prefer low treble and bass settings (for a fairly flat response) but you feel the preamp is lacking in gain, you can remove a lot of that attenuation by increasing the value of the resistor I’ve highlighted below.

    If a Fender amp has a mid control, you could achieve a similar result by putting another resistor in series with the mid pot. The effect of the treble and bass pots will be reduced, so you might find yourself using higher settings than before.

    You could even remove all attenuation by snipping the connection of that resistor to ground (infinite resistance). Then you’d have nearly flat EQ (at that stage, not necessarily the entire amp). The treble and bass controls would then have no effect, so I wouldn’t recommend going to that extreme.

    I should mention that while removing attenuation from the tone stack increases gain in the preamp, it doesn’t necessarily increase headroom. The power section puts an upper limit on headroom. Once the power stage goes nonlinear or clips, more gain in the preamp won’t add headroom.
    Last edited by KirkP; 07-12-2019 at 07:02 PM.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I was referring to Fender in this instance.
    Fender’s typical negative feedback circuit is just a resistor, so I don’t think it would scoop the mids. Fender amps with Presence controls add a pot and capacitor to the negative feedback loop, but that results in more upper treble in the output, not scooping.

    It’s not really an important point—I’m just nitpicking a detail.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    Among my 6 amps are a Polytone, a Fender and a Mesa. Using the tone controls on the amps I can get a great jazz tone at any volume with all three. The right speaker is an important part if the equation to be sure.
    I agree.
    The cab design and speakers are crucial. I’ve played polytones for a couple of decades, but found them to be usually boxy and, some times too low-fi. Had an old head that was great with a 15” cab till it died on me sometime in the 90’s.

    It’s a dance where every aspect of your entire rig works in harmony to produce your sound: just like playing jazz, the more you understand and can hear, the better you sound.

  25. #24

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    Hi everyone again!

    For two weeks ago I got advices from you about how to achieve a Polytone sound with my Hiwatt solid state amp. I’ve tried several different amp settings this afternoon and feel that flat EQ (0, 10, 0) sounds closest to a Polytone with my amp.

    Thanks everyone for your contributions to this thread,

    Bbmaj7#5#9
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

  26. #25

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    For myself, what’s more important is the feel of a polytone. They have an ever so slightly compressed feel, unlike modern super fast SS designs.

    A smile of compression might help get you closer.

  27. #26

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    True...like an old tube amp

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    They have an ever so slightly compressed feel, unlike modern super fast SS designs.
    Good specimen of old Polytone would have that squishy feel without being “muffled” or too low-fi.

    On a side note, at one point (sometime in the early 2000’s), I finally gave up on Polytones altogether- old and new, due to the company’s archaic approach to design and business model in general.
    Ironically, the conclusion came after visiting and talking with the corporate hq for some time (I was local then).
    It seemed painfully apparent to me that it was the end of an era.

    It seems to me now that there are more and better options for that old sound and then some, at various price points.

    Again, if you can hear the sound you like and know how to dial in what you hear, we live in a pretty decent time in terms of having fun with relatively little coinage. Sounds like OP had some success.