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View Full Version : Best tube-sounding overdrive for Roland JC-120??


Dire
06-09-2010, 06:44 PM
Hello from a long-time lurker/new member...

As many of you know, the Roland JC-120 has an absolutely pristine and beautiful clean sound, but it is a solid-state amp and the built-in distortion effect is very limited and does not act or sound like an overdrive feature.

What I'd like is some kind of OD pedal that basically makes it sound as if there is a tube in the amp being overdriven... Something transparent that at minimum setting would sound the same as if the effect is off, but as you turn up the drive it would sound like tube OD... Something natural sounding, not loaded with harsh scratchy white noise and painful treble, and not something that bumps up the mids or kills the lows when switched on, but something that preserves the shape and flavor of the tone, but making it sound like it's got tubes being overdriven... Maybe some kind of pre-amp pedal with a single tube would do the trick?

If such beasts do not exist, I think that there would be a market for such a creature, being that there are many thousands of JC-120 enthusiasts out there, and the JC-120 is pretty much a "known quantity", soundwise/characteristicwise... Someone could make a tidy sum by inventing a convincing tube-ish OD pedal meant especially for the JC-120... If not a tube pedal, then something solid state like an emulator pedal which sounds, at a clean setting, like a JC-120, but then simulates hypothetical tube OD as you turn the drive up.

Something that breaks up either like an old Fender combo or a Vox AC30 would be fine, but I wouldn't want the pedal to make the amp sound like a Fender or Vox when the pedal is at a low/clean setting.

Any suggestions?

erksin
06-09-2010, 06:47 PM
I honestly think a plain old Tube Screamer is the best pedal for that job - that is exactly what it was designed for.

Arlo
06-09-2010, 07:03 PM
The now discontinued yet still easy-to-find Mesa V1 Bottle Rocket is the best tube OD I have played. I love it with almost any amp - and through a cold, clean amp like a JC or an SS Randall it is excellent as well. I have gotten more positive comments about the V1 than any other pedal I've owned, I can say for certain.

Other Tube ODs I own or have owned:

Ibanez Tube King
Seymour Duncan Twin Tube
Mesa V Twin
Budda Zen Man
Maxon TBO9
Nady OD2
Radial Hot British


Happy hunting

peridot1
06-09-2010, 07:12 PM
Damage Control Liquid Blues is good at this. Big pedal but only $139 now and it's very transparent at low settings. Crank it up and you'll get tubish sounds alright. Don't know how it would sound with a JC-120.

The most amp-like I have is Effectrode Tube Drive. It will color your sound at low settings though but in a good way. My favorite. Again JC-120 I have no clue.

never-enough
06-09-2010, 08:18 PM
the best pedal i have used into solid state clean amps is the jt pedals valve-boy, later manufactured by epicenter audio.

worth searching for.

sa1126
06-09-2010, 08:36 PM
I used to play a JC-120 throughout college. I always used my mid-90's proco rat with good success. Everything else sounded awful IMO.

I have heard some guys kick on the distortion at extremely low gain to open the amp up a bit and then hit it with a pedal. I have never tried it though.

Stratobuc
06-09-2010, 08:38 PM
Keeley modded Boss DS-1

Adam Zaiger
06-09-2010, 08:41 PM
Toneczar Dove

Dire
06-10-2010, 01:18 PM
Thanks for the suggestions so far!

Last night I tried out a friend's Wampler "Super Plextortion," and on its low gain setting, with some tweaking of the three perfectly-voiced EQ knobs to match the overall shape of the clean sound, I was surprisingly able to achieve the sort of thing I'm looking for.... It's a seriously amazing-sounding pedal... However, the particular character of it's OD is not really my cup of tea; I mean it sounds great and all for what it is, but it's kind of a Marshall JCM800 sound, which is not really my style for the stuff I like to play...

Wampler does make a "Plexidrive" with more of a JTM45 flavor, which would be more to my liking, but it doesn't have the three EQ knobs that would enable me to sculpt the tone shape to match the clean sound of the amp (it only has a single tone knob). They also make a "Cranked AC" pedal (AC-30-type OD), but it too lacks a 3-band EQ and has only a single tone control. If either one of those pedals had the 3-band EQ, I would buy one in a heartbeat. My friend's pedal truly sounded like it had tubes in it, more so than any other effect that claims to mimic tube OD that I've tried, and it was very easy to scuplt the frequency spectrum so that there was absolutely no weird EQ spikes or holes when switching it between on and off, no harshness or hollowness whatsoever. It sounded so amazingly natural, like the JC-120 clean sound breaking up into a modern Marshall-like overdrive...

Right now, all I have is an old Vox Valve-Tone, which apparrently is a Tube Screamer clone, and it definitely doesn't do what I need it to (it bumps up the mids and kills the lows) and a Tech 21 VT Bass pedal, which I love for bass through my bass rig, but it adds a huge harsh high-frequency spike to the sound when played through my JC-120; I have to back off the treble on the amp to about 9 o'clock when I use it that way, which makes it useless for switching on and off mid song between clean and OD... Otherwise, it sounds surprisingly nice with the character knob all the way up and the mids cut to compensate (the character knob adds mids as you turn it up).

Orwells Ghost
06-10-2010, 02:57 PM
The Catalinbread Silver Kiss is reputed to be quite transparent and has a three band EQ. It might fit the bill, if you can find one.

Lintybits
06-10-2010, 03:10 PM
I honestly think a plain old Tube Screamer is the best pedal for that job - that is exactly what it was designed for.

correct answer.

that was all I used for years with my jc120

62Tele
06-10-2010, 03:36 PM
You might try another Tech 21 pedal. The VT Bass is a little brighter than the Blonde or Liverpool (we have all three around the house these days), although I noticed that the Character effect is almost "backwards" compared to the others. I set my daughter up with one and for my tastes it sounds best for guitar with the character knob back around 10:00 or so. All of them have a lot of highs on tap and typically you have to run the treble back on the pedal.

My go to is the Blonde, but the Liverpool is equally good. Deal with these is that they take other pedals very well so it's very much like adding another front end to you JC. Either of these does a really nice low gain tone, the Blonde more along the lines of a Tweed and the Liverpool more Vox sounding as you would expect.

Otherwise, I think what you're describing is an open, organic kind of drive. I like Jetter pedals for this - the Jetdrive is really versatile and the new Tritium is kind of a condensed version. A Skreddy Screw Driver has some push to the mids but you can dial in a huge range of useable tones including high gain, almost fuzz stuff. A Barber LTD is a really nice low gainer as well - very transparent, only a little gain. Most of you online dealers have a great return policy so you can send something back if it simply isn't working for you.

Good news is, that as a member of this board, you will eventually try them ALL out at one time or another. Run while there's still time. And WELCOME!

Cap'nMayhem
06-10-2010, 07:55 PM
Check out the Menatone stuff. They've sounded great through every SS amp I've tried them with. Even an SWR California Blonde w/ the tweeter off.

Mr. Limbic
06-11-2010, 12:51 AM
an ethos tle would do as a preamp like you described

customtonesinc.com

prop joe
06-11-2010, 01:23 AM
I had good luck with a Keeley modded Blues Driver into a JC-120.

sleejay80
06-11-2010, 01:29 AM
Keeley BD-2
OCD

NG7
06-11-2010, 04:17 AM
TKp7FoCMdcE

I'm no gear maniac, but this would do for me.

Lucidology
06-11-2010, 04:59 AM
Right now I'm having a love affair with sound of the Jetter Gold and/or Red through the JC120...

Though IMO, the way to get the best OD sound through a JC120 is with a good compressor in front of whatever OD pedal you choose ...

charmboy
06-11-2010, 09:02 AM
I used to play a JC-120 throughout college. I always used my mid-90's proco rat with good success. Everything else sounded awful IMO.

I have heard some guys kick on the distortion at extremely low gain to open the amp up a bit and then hit it with a pedal. I have never tried it though.
I was going to suggest a Rat or Rat variant as well. Lots of gain range and warmth on tap. Get the BYOC and you've got 6 different clipping options. Brown Rabbit is also quite nice or just a regular old (pre-China) Rat.

Dire
06-11-2010, 01:23 PM
Wow thanks for all the suggestions so far... So much to sift through and investigate!

I should probably add that I am not really looking for a thick-sounding overdrive with lots of gain. Just something to add a sharp bite to the tone. Kinda like a cranked 1960's Fender combo.

Dire
06-11-2010, 01:31 PM
Actually, from reading the Keeley BD-2 page, it might be what I'm looking for...

"...supplying really nice lows, crystal clear high frequency, great picking response and detail. For those wanting to set their amp on fire but not change the tone of their system, this is the pedal."

"...it sounds like their rig without the "distortion-pedal-carpet" over their amplifier.

This is the pedal if you are looking for the cranked Fender Super amplifier sound."

gill
06-11-2010, 01:54 PM
I would suggest the Rat too, Goes very well with that amp

Faraldi
06-11-2010, 01:55 PM
Chandler Tube Driver or the Rat

matt morgan
07-27-2010, 10:38 AM
The best tube-sounding overdrive for a Roland JC-120 amp would be amp modulator pedals.

Check out the Boss 59 Fender Bassman pedal or the Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb pedal.
These pedals were made for the Roland JC-120

For a killer modulator pedal check out the Love Pedal Englishman
is modulates vintage vox amps at the break up points.

rummy
07-27-2010, 10:44 AM
I love a tube screamer or Barber Small Fry in front of the JC.

RolloTomassi
07-27-2010, 11:14 AM
I honestly think a plain old Tube Screamer is the best pedal for that job - that is exactly what it was designed for.

You mean the Tube Screamer was designed to compliment the JC-120 or to emulate a tube amp? Because there are plenty of other dirt pedals that emulate tube amps WAY better than TS

Dire
07-27-2010, 11:53 AM
I recently acquired one of the 8-knob Menatone Workingman's Blue pedals for my JC-120. I hate it!!! Maybe it would sound better paired with other amps, but it sounds brittle and lifeless with the Roland, no matter how I adjust the settings. It sounds like some cheap buttrock pedal. The Tech 21 VT Bass pedal I'm using now sounds 100x better, although I have to keep the treble on the amp turned almost all the way down. I may end up trying out the Liverpool pedal, but for now I have another pedal in my "pedal boneyard" that I don't use... Bleh...

vegetablejoe
07-27-2010, 08:51 PM
Maybe you can share what else is in your boneyard, so that folks will know what else to suggest that you haven't tried. fwiw. Cheers!

jakeowen
07-27-2010, 09:56 PM
The Effectrode Tube Drive would probably sound amazing through a JC-120. It seems like it is almost a preamp in itself.

Catch
07-27-2010, 10:08 PM
I use a Tim with my JC120 and it sounds great. I also cheat at times and use the line out of my Swart Nightlight and run my Xits X4 amp through the JC120. When I do that I'll make a stop at my Skreddy Echo for a wet/dry rig--it is one of the best configurations I use. Some scoff at the JC120 because it's solid state--it's a great tool to have around, the cleans are epic.

I'll also say that my other three overdrives (Tubescreamer, Eternity, and Screwdriver) sounded too brittle through the JC120. Try the Tim, it makes every amp and guitar I own sound better.

Lucidology
07-28-2010, 06:14 AM
BTW... if U haven't seen this yet ... here's my Jetter Gold through my Roland JC


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pvlcassic30
07-28-2010, 08:18 AM
Thanks for the suggestions so far!

Last night I tried out a friend's Wampler "Super Plextortion," and on its low gain setting, with some tweaking of the three perfectly-voiced EQ knobs to match the overall shape of the clean sound, I was surprisingly able to achieve the sort of thing I'm looking for.... It's a seriously amazing-sounding pedal... However, the particular character of it's OD is not really my cup of tea; I mean it sounds great and all for what it is, but it's kind of a Marshall JCM800 sound, which is not really my style for the stuff I like to play...

Wampler does make a "Plexidrive" with more of a JTM45 flavor, which would be more to my liking, but it doesn't have the three EQ knobs that would enable me to sculpt the tone shape to match the clean sound of the amp (it only has a single tone knob). They also make a "Cranked AC" pedal (AC-30-type OD), but it too lacks a 3-band EQ and has only a single tone control. If either one of those pedals had the 3-band EQ, I would buy one in a heartbeat. My friend's pedal truly sounded like it had tubes in it, more so than any other effect that claims to mimic tube OD that I've tried, and it was very easy to scuplt the frequency spectrum so that there was absolutely no weird EQ spikes or holes when switching it between on and off, no harshness or hollowness whatsoever. It sounded so amazingly natural, like the JC-120 clean sound breaking up into a modern Marshall-like overdrive...

Right now, all I have is an old Vox Valve-Tone, which apparrently is a Tube Screamer clone, and it definitely doesn't do what I need it to (it bumps up the mids and kills the lows) and a Tech 21 VT Bass pedal, which I love for bass through my bass rig, but it adds a huge harsh high-frequency spike to the sound when played through my JC-120; I have to back off the treble on the amp to about 9 o'clock when I use it that way, which makes it useless for switching on and off mid song between clean and OD... Otherwise, it sounds surprisingly nice with the character knob all the way up and the mids cut to compensate (the character knob adds mids as you turn it up).

If you like Wampler effects, then you should try the 65 Black. Its supposed to sound like black faced tweed pushed hard. But it makes for a clean boost on low gain settings.

WoodyStrat
07-28-2010, 09:40 AM
[QUOTE=Lucidology;8766418]BTW... if U haven't seen this yet ... here's my Jetter Gold through my Roland JC

QUOTE]

Lucidology beat me to the punch posting his video. He is getting just about as good of a tone as I have heard anywhere out of his JC-120. According to him:

"There's three pedals on in this clip ..
Maxon CP101 compressor, Jetter Gold OD, & Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay"

Jetter Gold would be the first one I would try based on what I hear here. But as he mentions in an earlier post,the compressor is being used to great effect here. In a way the combo seems to add dynamics with the JC rather than take away. I would PM Lucid and pick the hell out of his brain as it sounds like he has some real experience with the JC-120! It is tempting as hell to go back to one myself!

I had a JC-77 and I think I used a regular tubescreamer for a long time. All I had. I did use an analogman modded Boss SD-1 with very good results in the end. But as I said Jetter Gold would be my first try!

jkg
07-28-2010, 09:50 AM
I played a JC in highschool/college. I had good luck then with a Real Tube by Bk Butler. The new ones are pricey but the old ones can be had pretty cheap and I am sure there are other modern equivilents.

voorhiessa
07-28-2010, 09:58 AM
SS amp man here. My suggestions:

Tubescremer.....probably best you'll get
Boss Blues Driver....very different than TS, actually works really well together
Rat....didnt work well for me, aside from using it at very low gain (more of a treble boost w/ slight hair), crank the filter

The trouble is, that you often have to do a LOT of tweaking to find the sweet spots, and then it seems volume/speaker distance/etc also play a role in a bigger way than with tube amps.

For instance, on TS, it sounds good on about 3 positions, but mess with it much, and it's garbage.

lp_bruce
07-28-2010, 10:40 AM
I always had better luck with preamps like the Sansamp than OD stomps. All of my OD/DST work well and easily with a tube amp, but are far too brittle through the JC-120. Not saying it can't be done (many examples above), it was just too much work for me and the Sansamp worked fine (so why bother?).

Peace,

Lucidology
09-12-2010, 05:48 PM
[QUOTE=Lucidology;8766418]BTW... if U haven't seen this yet ... here's my Jetter Gold through my Roland JC

QUOTE]

Lucidology beat me to the punch posting his video. He is getting just about as good of a tone as I have heard anywhere out of his JC-120. According to him:

"There's three pedals on in this clip ..
Maxon CP101 compressor, Jetter Gold OD, & Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay"

Jetter Gold would be the first one I would try based on what I hear here. But as he mentions in an earlier post,the compressor is being used to great effect here. In a way the combo seems to add dynamics with the JC rather than take away. I would PM Lucid and pick the hell out of his brain as it sounds like he has some real experience with the JC-120! It is tempting as hell to go back to one myself!

!

Thank you very much my good man Woodystrat ...

mondo500
09-12-2010, 07:42 PM
I'm partial to one of the old Tubeworks/B.K. Butler Blue Tube pedals through a solid state amp. They were designed primarily to impart a little warmth and breakup to keyboards (Butler plays keys, not guitar), and that they do well. Plus it's fun mucking around with different tubes in there. They seem to turn up at decent prices (under $150 or so) fairly regularly in the US, not so much elsewhere... I searched for ages before a 240v model turned up here in Australia.

Canon
09-12-2010, 08:41 PM
replace those roland speakers with some 30wt celestions/scumback. That will open up your pedal choices. I thru some 16 ohm scums in there and it became a different amp, still a bit sterile/stiff, but so articulate, I like it for a lower volume gig
Also, chan 1 is a bit darker, at least on my 84 version, and sounded better than the effects channel when used with an OD. I don't know if this is consistant with other versions YMMV

MjCartney
09-12-2010, 09:14 PM
I feel similar to WoodyStrat, most OD into a JC-77 can be a bit shrill. I actually like the 55 better, sound more 120ish to me.

I like the Xotic BB Preamp with my 55. Versatile and very smooth, not shrill or fizzy. Little Green Wonder isn't too bad either, but it can get fizzy at some settings. BB was smoother to my ears, couldn't dial in a bad tone with it.

RupertB
09-12-2010, 09:34 PM
SS amp man here. My suggestions:

Tubescremer.....probably best you'll get
Boss Blues Driver....very different than TS, actually works really well together
Rat....didnt work well for me, aside from using it at very low gain (more of a treble boost w/ slight hair), crank the filter

The trouble is, that you often have to do a LOT of tweaking to find the sweet spots, and then it seems volume/speaker distance/etc also play a role in a bigger way than with tube amps.

For instance, on TS, it sounds good on about 3 positions, but mess with it much, and it's garbage.

This was my experience as well. I played a JC120 for about a decade in a couple of different bands. Wound up using my TS808 mostly, RAT occasionally, & tried various other ODs (MXR, Digitech RP7, Boss, DOD, etc.).

The 808 provided the most usable options & some midrange warmth. The RAT had lots of harmonic content but the note definition was lousy; Single note lines sounded ok but chords were an indistinct mess.

None IMO sounded (much less felt) like a driven tube amp.

flantrax
09-13-2010, 01:53 AM
RAT or Tube Screamer...

Lucidology
09-13-2010, 01:24 PM
IMO, the smoother the OD, the better it will sound through a SS ...
Stay away from the edgy overdrives/distortions ...

whiteop
09-13-2010, 01:31 PM
an ethos tle would do as a preamp like you described

customtonesinc.com


If you have deep pockets and are very patient to wait awhile before you get it. I agree it's a great overdrive pedal though. The other factors just get in the way of being more popular around here.

TaZMaNiO
09-13-2010, 04:02 PM
SIB Varidrive.

Dire
09-25-2010, 04:45 PM
It's been awhile since I last visited the forums... I went a couple of months without a computer when my old one died... Anyway, I greatly appreciate all the suggestions in this thread! I had my Menatone Workingman's Blue listed for sale or trade on Craigslist for a while now and finally got a response from someone who was interested in a trade. So this morning he brought over his pedal for me to try out--a TC Electronics Vintage Tube Primer. I was very pleased with it, and he with my pedal, so we made the trade.

There may be other pedals out there that would sound better, but the VTP sounds pretty damn good, does what I need it to do, and doesn't do what I need it not to do. It doesn't really impart much of a flavor of its own; it's Tube Screamer-ish but a lot more adjustable, and has a blend knob as well as separate on/off and boost switches. It also plays nicely with its pedalmates on my board, like my Digiverb and Delay Champ.