i usually set bass, mid and treble in the middle, set the volume up pretty loud, then turn each of the 3 all the way down, then slowly turn them back up, until it starts to be too much. then i back them off a hair
There is a time and place for them. For me that time is never and that place is nowhere near my amp/guitar. Being in a rock n roll band mids are very much my friend. I typically run my trebble and bass at about 2 o'clock and my mids at 3-4 o'clock. Nice thick rock sound with my amp and it cuts through everything.
Now if only my band would understand why I NEED to be so loud...
I too came from the heavily compressed, late 80's Metallica scooped mids sound.. and I still go to it for some stuff..
But, I find myself NOT scooping the mids too much anymore, depending on the amp, i might even turn them up a bit!!!
(I've also found that, sometimes, just MAYBE, sometimes, I don't dime the gain And less gain has an effect on the tone curcuit of most tube amps.. Egnaters come to mind, especially the tweakers)
one thing to note.. it also depends "WHERE" the mids are scooped...
that's one reason why turning the "Mid" knob down can sound great or sound like ass..
on most guitar pedals, and amps for that matter, you don't have a choice of the frequency...
and that's what gives a pedal or amp its "tone" Where the cut off points for the tone controls are!
Many of the mods out there for amps and pedals deal with changing the center point of the mid knob!!
Cutting the Mids on a JCM800 is not the same as cutting the mids on a Powerball or a Hot Rod Deluxe!
One of the "legendary" things about Dumble amps is that he did something with the mid circuit that is not "normal" (but I have no idea WHAT that is, especially since he covered the boards with black goop!!)
Also.. Many of the modern Metal guys, have gone the opposite way and use their mids.. (but, also, a lot of these guys are drop tuned to the point where thier "mids" were the late 80's era "low mids"!!
Wanna play with your Mids? Get a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone.. it has an INSANE amount of cut or boost on the mids and a very wide rand of the center frequency selection
It might say "metal" on it.. but a LOT of guys use it in all kinds of music.. and in part becasue of its tone shaping capabilities.
I have two.. and original for that "static X" chug chug type stuff.. and one with the Monte Allums tone and gain mods.. The modded one is just super warm and versatile.. hardly the same pedal
If you play humbuckers, get you a Mesa/Boogie Throttle Box pedal and engage it. Turn the Mid Cut knob all the way counter-clockwise and a 12 bar blues progression very loud.
You will hear Metallica in your head.
Then gradually turn it the knob clockwise for each subsequent 12 bar phrase until it is all the way up.
Somewhere around 75%, you should hear the sound that God intended for a guitar to sound like and then you'll realize that scopped mid's are not a good thing for the human ear. . . .unless you're a heavy metal guy.
If you're a single coil fan, take a Fender Stratocasters (they are very mid-scooped by nature) and play it into a clean Fender Blackface. There is your chimey, 60's style mid-scooped sound.
Then you will recognize that sound as early 60's pop music. Which is why in about '67 that the pedal market exploded as everyone attempted to "fatten" up the sound. Fattening up the sound is a great example of going away from "scooped mids" and not necessarily just adding gain.
The addition of tone controls on overdrive and distortion pedals were probably the greatest advancement in TONE of the past 20 years.
The old producers had a saying 'The music is in the mids', high end is the cymbals, low end is bass and kick drum. Of course, there's many way to skin the cat and not everyone wants that traditional, balanced, lush sound. Industrial music, extreme metal, types of dance music etc all want to 'assualt' the ear rather than 'caress' it.
It comes down to what you want to achieve. I like the old sounds so my guitar sound has a slight emphasis on mids and slightly less focus on high end and bass. That way I know that I'm not robbing frequencies off the other instruments and we all have some sonically clear frequencies where we can sit in the mix.
The only brand of amp on which I have ever cut the midrange tones severely is Mesa Boogie. On the MK III and Nomad I used to own, the mids were just ugly. I scooped them severely, and was able to get a pleasant tone for practice on both clean and distortion settings. BUT, when playing with a band, I had to really crank the master to cut through the mix. And when I did, the tone was mushy and drew audience complaints for being too loud. On the amps I have now (see signature) I can get great tones without scooping the mids and therefore can cut through the mix at more acceptable volume levels.