Having trouble getting good drive tones out of my direct board

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by jacoby75, May 7, 2016.

  1. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    Hey guys,

    My church currently doesn't use amps. We all play direct. Several months ago I went through a variety of options to determine what would be the best way to do that, and I decided on using the Tech 21 Character series pedals. My favorite being the Blonde thus far. My typical setup as far as drives is concerned is using the Blonde clean, and running either a Fulltone Fulldrive 2, a TC Electronics Dark Matter, or a Boss OD-1X into it for drive.

    I recently got into Joe Bonamassa. I also picked up a Tech 21 British, hoping it might get me in the ballpark of his tone with the Marshall simulation. (As a disclaimer, I fully understand that there is a lot to tone . . . guitars, amps, strings, playing style, effects). But I'm not even close. Not even a little. I can get some pretty great rhythm crunch tones using either of the sims and my pedals for drive, but playing individual notes sounds pathetically weak. No sustain, no drive.

    What am I missing?

    If you were to run direct using my setup, either the Blonde or British and the aforementioned overdrives, how would you set them? I realize comparing Joe's vintage Marshall amps to a British is like comparing apples and crappy apples. But I've seen tutorials on how he gets his tone, using largely the amp. Should I set the British to high gain for leads, and then roll back for whatever else I'm playing? But then that doesn't interact well with my other drive pedals. Do I just need to keep the amp pedals set clean and use drive pedals for drive, and run a boost before them for lead parts?

    I'm totally out of my depth here. What would you recommend?

    Thanks
     
  2. SoaringTortoise

    SoaringTortoise Member

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    As much as I hate modelers it hard for me to suggest this but, I would probably go direct with some kind of modeler amp thingy.
     
    Dr.Lee likes this.
  3. MattLeFevers

    MattLeFevers Member

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    I use the Tech 21 Blonde as well. I always have it set clean (I think it's actually the "clean" recommended setting from the manual) and use a Tube Screamer and a Rat for gain. I've been happy with the results, though I'm sure it's not specifically the same tone you're going for.

    As far as "individual notes sounding weak", are you using a compressor? That's made the biggest difference for me in terms of not experiencing a volume drop when going to individual notes. That doesn't really have anything to do with the Character pedal though, that's just a general guitar situation with any amp.
     
  4. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    I tried a Line 6 Pod something or other when I was looking for my ampless sound months ago, but I just couldn't get a sound out of it that I liked. I used a Boss GT-6 in front of my amp back in the day, but going direct is another thing altogether. I'm just not a fan of digital modelers. I like to be able to bend over and turn knobs. I don't want to have to scroll through menus. That being said, there are some brilliant modelers out there.
     
  5. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    I do use a compressor. Maybe I need to tweak that a bit. Thanks.
     
    Jet Age Eric likes this.
  6. Jet Age Eric

    Jet Age Eric Member

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    I hate DIs, but I was blown away by the Gurus Double Decker Marshall amp/cab sim. -E
     
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  7. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    True. There are great ways to do it. But perhaps I should have specified I'm looking to do it on the cheap. I'm just wondering if there is something that I'm totally missing in the philosophy of how to get great guitar tone with the combination of drives.
     
  8. +NRG

    +NRG Member

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    Do you use any delay or reverb to give the direct sound some ambiance?
     
  9. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    I do use some light reverb. That makes a huuuuuuuge difference when running direct. I actually just this morning was playing with some slap back delay, which also helped because in all the demos I'm seeing online, they're always talking about using such and such pedal for delay and reverb. It definitely helped. Thanks.
     
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  10. +NRG

    +NRG Member

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    Yes, without some delay / reverb / echo... Playing direct can sound / feel like you're playing in a vacuum!

    This pretty much nails the feeling...

    vac·u·um
    ˈvakˌyo͞o(ə)m/
    noun
    1. a space entirely devoid of matter.
      synonyms: emptiness, void, nothingness, vacancy, absence, black hole
     
  11. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    LOL. Yep, that's it. It's not an ambience matter for me, though. The problem I have is with drive. I just watched a video where the guy was using it in a Bluesbreaker setting with drive about 1:00, and then adding his drives to it. Sounded great. I'll give that a try.
     
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  12. Pao

    Pao Member

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    I think I sound okay direct! Barber DD to Rock Bug.

     
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  13. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Member

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    Dang! That some smooth, creamy goodness right there!
     
  14. tbader

    tbader Member

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    I have and use a Liverpool every week.

    The Tech 21 Character Series pedals are extremely sensitive to EQ and "Character" settings. Tiny changes can yield huge results.

    With that in mind, be sure your FOH EQ is off/flat and there isn't any compression or limiting on your channel, as it can make it more difficult getting a good base tone.

    The Drive, Character, and Mid controls are good places to start. Typically, as the Character control moves clockwise, the more gain and midrange there will be. Balancing the three will really affect the pedal's potential to cut through a mix.

    The range of tones in these pedals is incredibly vast, so use your ears and be aware of how the room is affecting your sound. Use the EQ sparingly, and try to adjust your settings with a full band mix.
     
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  15. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    The vast majority of the churches I've been in have no shortage of natural reverb - almost always the opposite (too much verb for drums or electric/amplified instruments). Are the churches you P&W types play in typically quite dry?

     
  16. tbader

    tbader Member

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    Ah, reasons for reverb.

    If you are using inner ear monitors, a completely dry band mix could sound distracting, and very unrealistic.

    My preferred direct monitoring solution is miking the room. A cleverly placed condenser mic (or two if you have stereo IEMs) at the back of the room and mixed in lightly to a spare aux send can really thicken/liven up a dry direct signal. Other musicians might appreciate the improvement in sound, as well.

    You approximately get to hear what the audience hears. If you have a good sounding auditorium, why not try to capture it?

    IMO, no artificial reverb can properly replicate what's going on in a real room (and I am a huge fan of artificial reverbs such as the BigSky, and Valhalla DSP plugins).
     
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  17. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    Ummmm... He's already got amp/cab sims.
     
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  18. tbader

    tbader Member

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    Additionally, the MS-70CDR he suggested only contains modulation, delay, and reverb effects. There aren't any amp sims on that particular box.
     
  19. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    Yep one of big things probably missing other than reverb/room ambience for higher gain lead tone is the natural speaker/guitar/pu reaction/sustain. A compressor/optical sustain could help. I use a VFE white horse, its optical and extra od all in one.
     
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  20. +NRG

    +NRG Member

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    I was speaking in general about the lack of ambience in direct situations (especially analog amp / cab units). A little slap of delay or verb can make a big difference in making for a more enjoyable experience for the player...
     

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