Channel Volume vs. Master Volume

Channel Volume vs. Master Volume

Have you ever wondered why your Blackstar amp has two volumes? Or maybe three?

Let’s find out.

Each volume control on your amp has a unique purpose.

If you have a single channel amp like the Studio 10, you will just have a single volume. This is known as the Master Volume. Other amps, such as the HT20mkii have a master volume, but also each of the two channels has a volume of their own.

What is the difference between channel and master volumes and how does this affect your tone?

Channel volume controls the preamp of the amp. The channel volume, along with the gain control will give you preamp distortion. Preamp distortion is tight, sharp and great for metal and hard rock.

Master volume controls the power section of the amp. When the master volume is pushed hard, you get power amp distortion. This is warmer, smoother and has a spongier feel. Perfect for rock and blues.

Many guitar players favour power amp distortion, but you have to push the amp incredibly hard to achieve this, which is not always possible in most home environments. This is why preamp distortion comes in. It allows you to get a higher gain sound as a more manageable volume.

In the Youtube video exploring this, I dial in a few different tones using the overdrive channel of the HT20mkii. To show the big differences, I run the volumes at extremes. Either the channel volume down and the master all the way, or the channel all the way up and the master down. This is to highlight the big differences in sound between preamp and poweramp distortion.

Here are some settings you can try yourself:

British Classic Rock – Spongy and Warm

• ISF on 10.
• Gain on 2
• Channel Volume on 0.5/1
• Master Volume on 10

British Metal – Tight and Focused

• ISF on 10.
• Gain on 4
• Channel Volume on 10
• Master Volume on 0.5/1

American Blues Rock – Dynamic and Warm

• ISF on 0.
• Gain on 2
• Channel Volume on 0.5/1
• Master Volume on 10

American Metal – Dynamic and Warm

• ISF on 0.
• Gain on 5
• Channel Volume on 10
• Master Volume on 0.5/1

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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