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On a guitar amplifier, what is Gain? How does it distort the guitar signal?

This is something I feel I should know more about. ;)
 

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On a guitar amplifier, what is Gain? How does it distort the guitar signal?

This is something I feel I should know more about. ;)
As an electronics engineer the use of the word 'gain' to mean distortion has always bugged me!
Distortion can be the result of several things, such as demanding more gain from an amplifier circuit than it has headroom for, or 'overdriving' the circuit.
 

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Gain is in a literal sense a measure of voltage increase of your signal. It is related to distortion because increasing gain causes signal distortion in a vacuum tube amplifier. So in a practical sense more gain = more distortion.

What makes this confusing is that you can distort a signal in other ways that have nothing to do with gain. That's how many pedals work.

The other thing that happens with increasing gain in a tube amp is increasing compression.
 

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Like the others said, gain is just a term used to describe the increase the signal amplitude from input to output in an amplifier. In guitar amps it is more commonly used to describe the increase in the incoming signal through the preamp, at least from the amps I've used (I'm no expert).
 

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Gain does have an accepted "technical" definition, which differentiates it from distortion and overdrive.

In common parlance, even amongst musicians, these terms are often difficult to pin down precisely, and usually there's a lot of overlap and meaning of "feel" to distinguish different types of signal processing.

Nonetheless, gain is defined as simple signal amplification. Contrasted with other signal manipulations that influence the properties, gain is defined as solely boosting the signal. Essentially, this is +dB.
 

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Bros! Do you even lift, Bros?!!??!

Gain is like the amount of lbs of muscle you add after a heavy lift and chugging down whey protein and BCAAs whilt listening to Godsmack!
 

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Bros! Do you even lift, Bros?!!??!

Gain is like the amount of lbs of muscle you add after a heavy lift and chugging down whey protein and BCAAs whilt listening to Godsmack!
Ohh an there was me thinking it was what comes next after you 'invest' in Bitcoins.. 😉

Gain is just signal amplification isn't it? But the fact that any signal amplification pushed into a next stage that lacks the headroom to take it causes compression/clipping means it can cause an overdrive/distortion effect.

Pedal and amp manufacturers then started labeling the distortion/overdrive knob as 'gain' regardless of whether that was the actual means the device in question used to generate distortion and decades of mild confusion ensued...

Blame marketing basically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Gain is in a literal sense a measure of voltage increase of your signal. It is related to distortion because increasing gain causes signal distortion in a vacuum tube amplifier. So in a practical sense more gain = more distortion.
Thank you! This is pretty much what I was after.
I appreciate all the other replies too. Now, explain this "Bitcoin" I keep hearing about? JK ;)
 

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Crypto is supposed to be non fiat currency, but considering it's backed by absolutely nothing but what the market says it is, somebody is going to have to explain it to me too. I'm just waiting for the whole pyramid scheme that is USD to come crashing down and take the rest of the world with it.
 

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There's some nuances, and quite some side explanations/foundational concepts (even aside from blockchain) accompanying it.

Basically, there are just some very fundamental principles of a) "cryptocurrency" in general and b) a given example (Bitcoin, Ethereum etc) that differ from traditional fiat currencies, including defining attributes of intrinsic value derived from utility and scarcity, as well as the blockchain-derived nature of the system determining an inherent level of security/trust for which there was no precedent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Crypto is supposed to be non fiat currency, but considering it's backed by absolutely nothing but what the market says it is, somebody is going to have to explain it to me too. I'm just waiting for the whole pyramid scheme that is USD to come crashing down and take the rest of the world with it.
I would ask questions about crypto-currencies to give people capable of answering them a jumping off point.

Why do you think the USD is a pyramid scheme that will come crashing down?
 

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If you have an hour, and don't mind not sleeping well, it all started with Nixon taking us off the gold standard.

 

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Oh, I see. Well, crypto does not use gold or trust as a standard. It uses CPU power, a transparent ledger, and encryption as it’s standard. I owned a minuscule amount of Bitcoin to learn about volatility. Right now, it is more of a commodity than a currency because it is not stable enough to be used as normal money. However, any recent sale of long held Bitcoin most likely resulted in substantial financial gain. ;)
 

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But crypto is also back by nothing, it has no actual value except what people say it has. It's nothing different than regular currency in that aspect, except that there is a fixed amount. That would mean something except now there are 100's heading toward 1000's of crypto currencies diluting that market, just like printing more dollars.
 

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Bros! Do you even lift, Bros?!!??!

Gain is like the amount of lbs of muscle you add after a heavy lift and chugging down whey protein and BCAAs whilt listening to Godsmack!
LOL... Reading this on break at work listening to Godsmack's Awake album! (rough night) \m/
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
But crypto is also back by nothing, it has no actual value except what people say it has. It's nothing different than regular currency in that aspect, except that there is a fixed amount. That would mean something except now there are 100's heading toward 1000's of crypto currencies diluting that market, just like printing more dollars.
I do not know what gives a decentralized crypto-currency it's value. It's a good question.
 
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