"To the charge of using too much preamp gain, how do you plead?" the judge asked in a tired, bored voice.
I hung my head in shame, and muttered, "Guilty."
So, there it is, I admit it. I was using too much gain through the lead channel of my SE30. I don't know why, I'm not a metalhead. Just young and dumb I guess. I was on vacation for a couple weeks, and when I came back and fired up my amp, it just didn't sound that great. The lead channel was oversaturated, fizzy and grainy. Don't know why I hadn't heard it before. So I rolled back the gain knob to about noon - BOOM. Whaddya know, a little Marshall walked right out of that amp. I think it was just a combo of gain and EQ settings I'd never tried before, but wow, that amp was really purring. The higher gain settings must have been limiting my EQ responsiveness, the mids suddenly perked right up. I think the distortion character of this amp is just that crunchy Marshall-esque flavor, having a lot of tonal character that doesn't need heaps of gain to stand on its own. I was pushing my amp to be a fire breathing gain machine, but it's not that kind of amp. It's the muscle car, the old Detroit classic - tone with timeless appeal, not the newest style on the road and not trying to be. So I had a blast working my volume knob, going from plexi cleans with some grit, to 800-900 territory.
Now I know a lot of people aren't fond of the SE amps. But I'll tell you, I love mine, and haven't yet played anything that can match it in the price range.
So anyways, I took Les' recent advice and hugged my amp. And all is well in tone land.