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I have a single channel combo amp. By turning the "volume" (preamp stage) up to about 5, I used to have a great clean tone with just a touch of distortion on the peaks.

One night at a show, somebody borrowed my amp and had everything cranked to 10 for an entire set. Now I'm getting really bad distortion (with the overdrive turned off) unless I turn that volume down to 1 or 2 and turn up the master volume. At first I thought the speaker was blown, because that's almost exactly what it sounds like, but that's not the case. My observations lead me to believe that the problem is with the preamp or somewhere in the preamp stage. Any ideas?

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    I'd have gone for speaker, too. How do you know it's o.k? Moral of story - don't lend gear!! – Tim Apr 1 '15 at 6:59
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    Tube or solid state? – Matt L. Apr 1 '15 at 7:58
  • try another guitar, different cab, different head, different cable, different settings on your pickup tone and volume, etc. – Dave Engineer Apr 1 '15 at 15:45
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    What brand amp is it and is it a tube amp? – Rockin Cowboy Apr 1 '15 at 16:08
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Lending an amp to someone is often a very bad idea, because you risk a lot. Guitar amps are quite sensitive, cranking them up can seriously damage them. You should bring your amp to a guitar shop to let someone check it out...

However, before doing that, it might also be that your setting is messed up. Check if your gain is high enough and neutralize your eq to check the sound as neutral as possible. Be sure to keep your volume knob as low as possible, because cranked up volume with low gain often sounds really bad.

Moral of the story: Don't lend your amp ;)

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