A few years ago I came hear on a search for tone and the prevailing wind was pretty simple, use a tube amp for distortion. I recently started investigating pedals (for weird fx, not for distortion), and pretty much completely tangential to my research, I found that there's a fairly large community who are entirely about using pedals for their distortion. I found this counter-intuitive and surprising after hearing over and over again from ""everybody"" that you need tube distortion, not the digitalness from pedals/multifx/SS amps, etc. What I found is that this large group of guitarists that is all about pedal distortion is also often about non-master volume amps. And this makes sense, somewhat, as with (old-school?) non-master volume amps, the amps couldn't be put into high distortion by themselves, you basically require a pedal to push the front end in order to get distortion. Often, and sort of as a cause and effect of the non-master volume amp, is that 1/3rd of the distortion is from the boost pedal, 1/3rd from the preamp, and 1/3rd from the power-amp. Since by definition a non-master volume amp cranked up to push to distortion is driving a full signal into the power amp, you're also distorting that as well. I'm not trying to criticize or saying one way is better. I'm just sincerely curious to understand this fairly widespread love of the non-master volume amp. To me, it seems that with a multiple tube multiple gain stage pre-amp with a master volume, you should be able to push multiple tube stages into distortion and still suppress the final output volume, and achieve the same sound as pushing a tube preamp and a tube power amp into full-volume distortion. Is this not accurate? I mean, basically, if I used a traditional non-master volume amp cranked, and pushed it into a tube power amp cranked to get more distortion, and then passed that signal through a separate volume control to turn the level down before it went into a speaker (so I could still hear the next day), would that sound the same, and would that not have just re-created a master volume tube amp? (ignoring the affects of whether a speaker itself only sounds good at high volumes, which is often true, sound has to be turned up to some amount before the speaker starts hitting the right response curve) The other issue is, assuming you can get as good of a sound with a master volume amp (assumption may not be true), why would someone choose to have a system that requires cranking everything into ear-damaging territory just to get a good tone? I've read a lot about people having to then size their speakers/power-amps, etc for the venue, and often having a setup way too loud for their small venue and no way to turn it down. Somewhat related to my pedal search, is I was also looking to see if I could improve my tube distortion tone with some kind of tone-shaping boost pedal (like a tube screamer with the drive turned down, or actually it looks like the Seymour Duncan 805 is really nice if you don't need drive, and it even lets you adjust the peak of the mid-boost (the TS is fixed at 700hz). However, in playing with this stuff, it seems that a good high-gain tube distortion pre-amp really already has a pretty tight bass response and strong mids. I'm finding any kind of boost pedal just requires cranking the gain on the amp way down to compensate, and results in something that's not as warm and organic as I'd hoped. I've found even just using a straight up pre-eq to dampen some 100hz and boost some 700hz (which should simulate a TS frequency response) just results in a hollow middy distortion result. However, if you're using the non-high gain side of the amp, the results start to vary more. I haven't fully explored that yet. But obviously these boost pedals were designed for amps with less internal gain to begin with, so this probably makes sense. I'm just curious on other people's insights and opinions here.