Blues boy !!!

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by fuzzface, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. jeak

    jeak Member

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    You're most welcome. It was fun checking out the pedals with a guitar. Now I wish I had a really nice guitar rig so I could relate more useful info to other people. As a Stick player, I have different needs than most folks here, so whatever my ears hear is likely to be very different from what guitar players would hear. But it's still fun talking about all this stuff. I haven't been this much into tone in a long time.
     
  2. fuzzface

    fuzzface Active Member

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  3. jeak

    jeak Member

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    Hey, fuzzface, are you still following this thread? I did some experimenting with different ICs in the Blue Boy. I tried the 358AN, 833N, 0721N, 072ACN, and the 4558D, which is the same one that’s in the Blues Pro.

    I still prefer the 1458 that my BB came with. Some of the others are louder, but the 1458 is the smoothest and the least fizzy. The BB is not a fizzy pedal, so “fizzy” is relative here. What I hear with most of the other ICs, especially the 358 and 833, is what I call “after-fizz.” A note may sound smooth on attack, but it fizzes out as it fades. All of the OD pedals I’ve tried so far have some degree of after-fizz, but the BB with the 1458 seems to have the least.

    I also looked at my BB’s internal trims. They are set with the Character at 0 percent, Voicing at 50, and Brightness at 60 (approx. 4 o’clock, as this trim turns counterclockwise unlike the other two).

    The most interesting part of the experiment was trading the stock chips between the BB and Pro. The BB with a 4558 (which is stock in the Pro) sounds darn close to the Pro, at least with my rig. However, the Pro remains ever so slightly deeper and more transparent. It has a tiny sparkle that the BB lacks, even when the two pedals are running the same IC. Finally, I took the 1458 from the BB and put it in the Pro. It’s still smooth, but it takes some of the life out of the Pro. The Pro seems to lose its transparency a bit, and it loses its mysterious depth for sure. It’s like Mr. Blackmore (from his Deep Purple days) has left the building.

    The Pro is a strange gizmo. While I find it to be more transparent than the BB and the other ODs I’ve been auditioning, it’s also full of character. At high gain, it gives me a compressed Marshally tone, yet it retains its transparency. Usually you read about a pedal being one way or the other: compressed or transparent. But the Pro, to my ears and with my odd rig, seems to be both at the same time. Go figure. It also has an airy openness to it that I have not heard in my other few OD pedals. I call it the “tube gas” sound. It’s like you can hear the notes moving through the gas in a tube. With my setup, I do not hear this in the Blue Boy -- or in the Barber DD or the Zendrive or the Blackstone or my 1980s RAT. As always, YMMV. And I'm still waiting for my Bad Monkey and my Timmy to arrive so I can throw them into this mix. Also starting to look at the Xotic stuff. The quest continues ...
     
  4. fuzzface

    fuzzface Active Member

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    Hello JEAK! VERY INTERESTING post. Hmmm, well the blueboy and the bluespro due sound to have different circuits based on your descriptions. So they are different pedals as stated on the website. I can't wait to try the new MI AUDIO crunch box and the tube zone! I really want to try to the BB pre by xotic, I hear the xotic pedal use the same type tone controls that the bjf seablue eq pedals use ( can't remember where I read it). Hey this is a sillly question, how do you remove and install the op amp chip safely?
     
  5. jeak

    jeak Member

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    Touch something metal before you handle the IC so that you can discharge any static electricity in your body. Then simply pop the IC out of the slot in the pedal and drop the other one in. I'm sure there is a special tool for this, but I just used a pair of tweezers.
     
  6. erksin

    erksin Member

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    And make sure the new one goes in the proper orientation - the old one will have a dot in one corner of the top, make sure you line up the new one the same way...

    Kinda looks like this - use your imagination...

    [ .] <- chip
     
  7. fuzzface

    fuzzface Active Member

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  8. jeak

    jeak Member

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    My Bad Monkey arrived yesterday, and I just staged another little shootout: Monkey, Blue Boy, Blues Pro. For kicks, I also threw in the Zendrive. I have the Blackstone too, but I ran out of patch cables to string it in (I’m away from my studio these days).

    The Monkey is great, just like all the endless Monkey threads say. It’s built like a tank and weighs a ton. Super solid. The knobs are stiff, so they won’t get out of adjustment. No true bypass, but I don’t notice any tone suckage. And I don't mind the green and yellow paint as much as I thought I would. I thought I was going to have to repaint this guy. Maybe I will if I decide to keep it. Anyway, the pedal sounds great too.

    But. I still like the MI Audio pedals more. The Blues Pro especially. It’s more alive sounding. More transparent. The Monkey has a more even sound, more generic. It’s very tweakable with separate high and low knobs, but once you get it set up for a certain tone, it remains very predictable. The Pro tends to keep surprising me depending on what and how I’m playing. It also beats the Monkey for clarity and note definition. Chords are more sparkly and alive. At times I like the Monkey better for single-note soloing, but I like to play a lot of doublestops and dyads (fourths, thirds, sixths, octaves), and the depth and character of the Blues Pro have it there for me. The Blue Boy also beats the Monkey for character and note definition, but like the Monkey, it is also more predictable and even-sounding than the Pro. As I said, I like the Pro’s surprises.

    I’ve been thinking about the “depth” of the Blues Pro that I have had trouble putting into words. I really think it’s simple transparency. I’m eager to hear how it compares with the Timmy, as I bet the Timmy will sound even "deeper" in this regard. I now believe that this mysterious “depth” I hear when playing the Pro is in fact coming from my instrument (Chapman Stick) more than from the pedal. But because the Pro sounds more transparent to me, it is allowing the depth and complexity of my Stick’s sound to come through more than the other pedals are. I’d be interested to hear from some guitar players who have compared the Pro and the Boy.

    One more thing I’ve been forgetting to add about the Blues Pro. It’s so darn easy to operate with my toes. I like to tweak pedals with my toes while I’m playing, and I often replace knobs with MRX knobs and MXR pads to make this easier. Well, the Pro doesn’t really need them. The stock knobs are large and perfect cylinders. No tapers or fancy shapes. And the pots rotate easily. I cannot say this for the Blue Boy, the Zen, or the Monkey, and especially not for the Blackstone. With those other guys, I have to reach down and crank knobs to adjust them. The Blues Pro is tweakable on the fly with toes. Very cool. And as I think I mentioned earlier, the Pro really is plug and play. The other pedals offer more tweaking, and for me they also need more tweaking to produce a tone I really like. Nothing wrong with this, especially if you are a tweaker. I prefer to plug and play.

    Anyway, that’s it for tonight. Now I’m not sure what to do with the Monkey. It’s a smashing deal at $40 or even twice that. I do really like it. But now I can’t decide whether to keep it for those reasons or return it so it won’t torment the Blues Pro! Ha ha!

    I know I didn't say much about the Zen, but this thread is about the MI Audio guys. But the Zen is great. Just not my fave. Next up will be Blues Pro vs. Timmy. For now, take care and overdrive carefully.:cool:
     
  9. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    I love using a Timmy into the BP and then boosting them both with a Klon...by using them seperatly or together in various combos this setup has allowed me to get just about any OD-distorto tone I need...

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  10. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I'll be interested in hearing your comparison. The Timmy seems to have much more EQ flexibilty built in than the BP - but in my limited experience with the BB, Michael's designs seem to have a voicing that works really well. Since the Stick has such an extended range, it'll be cool to hear what you think about the Timmy's tonal capabilities.

    I hear you on the knobs thing too - I switch most of mine out in favor of the creme Fender amp knobs that came on the Brownface stuff, much easier to turn with your feet and easier to see too...
     
  11. BillyK

    BillyK Member

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    "I know I didn't say much about the Zen, but this thread is about the MI Audio guys. But the Zen is great. Just not my fave"

    I've got a Blue Boy that I really like and a ToneBone Classic w/NOS tube that is my usual go-to OD/Distortion. I've been through a ton of OD/Distortion pedals over the years, but these two are keepers. I'd like to hear more about your thoughts on the ZenDrive, if possible, and how it compares to the MIAudio stuff.
     
  12. jeak

    jeak Member

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    Ah, the Zendrive. Not sure where to start. I’ve had a strange relationship with the Zen since I got it. My big OD search began when one day I suddenly decided I’d try to find something I like more than my 1980s RAT. I bought that thing new around 1985 and could never find anything I liked better. First up was the Barber Direct Drive, which I sent back. It’s a cool pedal, but it was not the texture I wanted. So the Zen was next (bought used), followed by all the others I have mentioned.

    At first I wasn’t sure. It’s very different from the RAT, so it took me a while to get used to it. Then I gigged with it and decided I loved it. But there was still something missing that I could not figure out. So enter the MI Audio pedals (also bought used).

    The Blue Boy came first. Immediately I felt more at home with it than I did with the Zen. Like the MI pedals, the Zen is full of character. I know it’s considered a Dumble-in-a-box, but this means little to me given that I have never played a Dumble. The pedal is rich in texture and tonal complexity, like the Blues Pro especially, but I don’t like its texture as much. Somewhere on one of these forums I read a post likening pedals to food: Sometimes you like the flavor but not the texture.

    Compared with the MI stuff, the Zen to me sounds thicker and darker. I like thick and dark, but the MI pedals, particularly the Blues Pro, seem to have a bit more “life” to them. Slightly more transparent with an openness and airiness to them. I wish I knew more about tubes and tube amps to give you some better analogies, but with the Stick I am an avid solid-state guy (the Stick just sounds better through SS bass amps).

    Another thing about the Zen that I have not cottoned onto is the way notes sound when they are fading out. With the Stick, I hear a nice Zennish tone on attack, but then the after-ring seems to lose that character. To my ear, this translates to better sustain, clarity, and note definition with the MI boxes. There’s just something a little “blurry” about the Zen with my rig. I’m betting that this would not be a problem with a guitar through a Zen going into a tube amp. Just a hunch. I imagine a tube amp on the verge of breakup would be a feast with a Zen. I guess what I’m getting at is that the MI pedals seem to be more solid-state-friendly.

    Another thing about the Zen is that I don't like it much at its higher gain settings. For me it sounds best around 12 o'clock. The MI Audio pedals are more versatile in that I can play them with low or high gain. They are considered "low to medium gain," but both of them offer way more gain than I need. To my ear, they get almost into "singing voilin" mode, though I'm sure other players with Mosferatus and TubeZones would laugh at me for thinking that! Maybe it's a Stick thing. My Stick has active EMG electronics, and the pickups are pretty hot. Now, I do think that the MI Audio boxes also sound best at low to medium gain (between 9 o'clock and 2), but there is lots more gain there if I ever want it.

    I did briefly try the Zen with my old beloved solid-body Gretsch (a 1980 BST 5000). That guitar has kind of a Les Paul configuration with two double-coil Seymour Duncans (not the stock pickups) and a coil splitter for the neck pickup. Even through my SS Stick amp, that guitar sounded gorgeous through the Zen. I have not played that guitar through the MI stuff yet.

    I hope this helps. I know it’s Stick-specific, so it may not be too relevant to you guys who play guitars through tube amps. But that’s my take on Zen vs. MI Audio. It’s interesting. Some of the other pedals I have tried are decidedly in the “sell” pile now. But I keep coming back to hear the Zen again and again. I know it’s a deeply beloved pedal, and I keep thinking I must be missing something. The Blues Pro, while it’s my favorite so far, is not totally perfect either, but it’s the closest to what I’m looking for. I think. :)

    My Timmy is a couple of weeks away, and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces with the Blues Pro and the Zen.
     
  13. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I would agree with you here - my Blue Boy has dethroned my Mos for med/higher gain tones right now, just has a more 'open' sound that I'm currently into. Mine is set to do dark/thick (fat screamer mode, per the instructions and with the LM833 chip) but with more 'air' than the Mos...
     
  14. BillyK

    BillyK Member

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    Thanks for the info guys! I've got a ZenDrive and a Mos4 on order. I play Strats/Tele/LP into vintage tube amps typically, and playing into solid-state amps is a different world - still great to read your feedback though.
     
  15. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I use vintage tube amps as well - both the Hermida and MI Audio boxes work great in my rig, they really meld with my amps unlike most boxes I've tried.
     
  16. Marcello

    Marcello Member

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    Jeak, that's an interesting post as i'm considering a zendrive to complement my BB. Just wondering if i really need it :cool:

    For my rig (voxish 20W tube amp), i find that my strat likes the LM833 best, great clarity, i get some cool Jimi tones. For humbuckers i favour 1458, its really the smoothest of the bunch. When i go back to the JRC4558, i find that it lacks complexity and deepness.

    I usually set it like that :
    character : 5-10%
    voicing : 60%
    brightness : 40%

    the fat screamer setting is also very cool. Had this pedal for 10 monthes now and i'm in love with it, the thing is i can't stop tweaking, it has so many tones that its not funny. Now for the gain, at 1 o'clock i can do holdsworth legato with no problems, think scott henderson's tone in tribal tech, smooth.
    For rythm, power chords, it sounds meaty, i don't see how you could ask for more gain, but that's just me.

    Let's hear about your fav trim pot settings !
     
  17. jeak

    jeak Member

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    Whether you need the Zendrive or not is something only you can decide. I do think it's different and distinct enough to warrant having both pedals if you want them. You might find that one guitar or amp likes it better than another or better than the BB. The Zen is definitely worth a try. It really has its own character. I have not been able to make my MI pedals duplicate it.

    I can't believe I forgot to mention one of the most important things I've observed about the Blues Pro. Compared with the BB, Zen, and others, it seems more dynamic (touch sensitive) to me. With the slightest touch of a string, I can hardly tell it's on if it's set at low to mid gain. Then when I dig into a note, the pedal follows with sweet overdrive. I find the BB slightly less dynamic, and the Zen, at least with my rig, much less dynamic. It is dymanic, just not like the Pro is. As always, YMMV.
     
  18. michael_ibrahim

    michael_ibrahim Member

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    Hi Jeak,

    That's a very good observation about the Blues Pro. I really like it with a low output single coil, and the gain set to 11 O'clock. With the guitar volume on 7, it sounds completely clean. Turn the guitar volume up, and dig in, and you get some beautiful bite.

    I'm really looking forward to the BB Deluxe. I've just been tweaking a prototype tonight, and it sounds gorgeous,... It's perfectly evolved, at least for my tastes!
     
  19. El Jimbo

    El Jimbo Member

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    Has it changed much from that green proto version I have Michael?
     
  20. fuzzface

    fuzzface Active Member

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    does the BB deluxe sound different than the BB?
     

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