I am new to electric guitar, though I've played acoustic.
I have the Zar E20R amplifier and I am struggling to get certain styles I want. I'm attempting to get a distorted rock sound.

Any tips?

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  • 2
    I see your problem straight away - it only goes up to 10… Cue compulsory Spinal Tap link
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 21 '19 at 12:29
  • 1
    More seriously, what have you tried & where have you failed? Basically "rock" is anywhere from everything on 7 to everything on 10.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 21 '19 at 12:38

Hopefully you are not playing with all the EQ knobs on 0! Most active EQs act as a cut or boost depending on if they are high or low, and so you'll want to start them all on 5 for a flatter EQ response until you know you need something different.

For distorted rock sound, try turning on the overdrive channel, and turn the volume up to somewhere between 1-3, then play with the gain knob (push it high, 6-10 maybe). Keeping the volume low while increasing the gain should help you hear whereabouts the gain (distortion/clipping) behaves how you want it to. Then you can adjust the volume to suit how loud you want to be playing.

Frequently there's reverb in there as well, so after dialing in the distortion, try fiddling with the reverb knob and see how that affects the sound.

Frequently when I'm playing heavy rock/metal stuff, I cut the mids a bit and boost the bass a little bit.... and depending on the amp, possibly cut or boost the high frequency. After getting everything else dialed in, try lowering the mid to 4 or 3, move the bass up to 6 or more, and fiddle with the treble. Don't forget to also fiddle with the tone knob on the guitar if you have one; that controls how much of the high frequency signal from the guitar makes it to the amp.

I play on 6 different amps regularly, and I've got 17 guitars. I have built pedals and redesigned the guts of an amp or two. I can tell you that there's a lot of "moving parts" between an electric guitar and the amp it's plugged in to, so a lot of it boils down to the setup.

Some things to consider: The pickups and electronics in the guitar are what shapes the analog signal that the amp gets, so it all starts there. The amp itself might have some quirks or tendencies, so what works on another amp may not be quite right on your own.

Your best bet might be to try and find a nice middle ground on your amp, and see what happens when you play with one knob at a time, until you get a feel for how each knob affects the sound, with your setup.

Rock on!

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