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How to maximize a good clean sound?

Nigel Chapman

Sultana Swing
Messages
304
I have a clean sound I really like, and want a bit 'more' of it. It's not ambient, not country, not highly effected -- just general purpose clean for pop/rock/folk. Using:

CHORUS --> Red Witch Empress
REVERB --> EHX Cathedral (Mild Flerb, primarily)

I don't need more FX (trem, rotary, delay, etc). I just want to maximise this basic sound. I get that a great valve amp with headroom is the main thing and a great guitar is the next main thing and that it's all in the fingers anyway. But pedal-wise, what do/can/might/should I add? (or what shouldn't I add?)

1) A compressor/boost that mainly functions as a tone sweetener?

2) A noise gate/filter? It's more for hum than noise, obviously. Was tempted by a great local deal on an EHX hum debugger, but prefer to run everything off a single 9V supply.

3) Selective or parametric EQ?

4) There's a bundle of other stuff that might or might not be useful, and I don't trust the sound quality of Youtube to accurately convey it's effect: exciter, sparkle thing, harmonic whateverizer. I played a Sonic Stomp and thought it just sounded unnatural. What's most worth checking out if I can find it in a local shop?

Thanks,
 

Oozymouf

Member
Messages
505
You can always try to "cook" your amp:

http://www.tpngear.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=169

Basically, set your amp to a pristine clean tone, and set a boost at the very end of your chain before the amp. Slowly start to turn up the boost until the point of breakup, and pull it back just a little to keep it clean. This should maximize the input stage of your amp.

From what I've experienced, I really do think it sounds nicer, not just louder.
 

Nigel Chapman

Sultana Swing
Messages
304
@Oozymouf -- What is this!!??! A new and helpful idea? As the first response? Guards! Guards! :)

That's actually almost the opposite of my current approach; I've been playing with the guitar volume knob on 1-2 so I can turn the amp up a lot higher and make us of the headroom. It works, but it becomes a lot more sensitive to noise, of course.
 

Squigglefunk

Senior Member
Messages
3,276
a nice booster of some sort can work wonders.

I use a simple mosfet booster, it adds a touch of "clarity" and punches things up a bit on low gain settings.

 

guitarz1972

Member
Messages
4,779
I don't think you need any of those FX you mentioned; or maybe you do, I don't know (lol). I'd try squeezing every last breath of toanful goodnesses out of the amp and your guitar before adding any more compression etc., unless you just want a little more comp every once in a while or something.

My take on a "base sound": I typically set all my EQ's very flat/at about noon. Any changes in the EQ are done from the tone knobs on my guitar and/or from tone settings on whatever pedal I'm stomping at the time. Once you've made those changes at the amp you're pretty much committed; so I like to keep everything pretty neutral and have my options on the guitar and at my feet. That's just me.
 
Messages
17,958
You can always try to "cook" your amp:

http://www.tpngear.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=169

Basically, set your amp to a pristine clean tone, and set a boost at the very end of your chain before the amp. Slowly start to turn up the boost until the point of breakup, and pull it back just a little to keep it clean. This should maximize the input stage of your amp.

From what I've experienced, I really do think it sounds nicer, not just louder.
second that!!
I use a barber launch pad...sounds great on a good clean tube amp (drri, classic 30, hrdx)
 

djy8131

Member
Messages
652
I always thought I had a somewhat weak clean tone until I put a prince of tone on boast in my chain. (right after my wah)
 

kcb

Senior Member
Messages
293
I considered this problem of enhancing harmonics. It's a real question. Can you get more spread within your tone, and enhance the separation of individual notes within chords and progressions. A tone is not just a tone, it is a wave with a peak and trough.

I looked at pedals which supposedly enhance tone. Boss Enhancer, Behringer Spectrum Enhancer were the two obvious candidates (obvious because of their names). Not obvious choices include preamps, boosts, and drives. Of those, in the cheaper and more direct category I found Blackstar HT-Boost (cheap used), Devi Ever Punch Love, Earthquaker Speaker Cranker, EHX LB1, and modded overdrives with clean boost mods like a modded TS808.

But do they enhance tonal separation and harmonics? I can't say. It's still a question, and I can't tell from Youtube demos, most of which have (believe it or not) poor sound quality. I am still looking for answers.

But, I do understand the interesting nuances with use of chorus, even phaser, or flanger, set to just a touch, on clean guitar signal. Some modulation can change the shape of your tone signal in the manner of envelope. I think you're enveloping your clean to boost some part of ADSR which you respond to. Myself, using some modulation I get ding dong bell like tones on my higher strings which is really really fine sounding.

Maybe consider the type of envelope you're itching after and try to modulate to it.

As far as the spectrum enhancer, dynamics enhancer pedals I looked at it seemed they just scooped some mids out which of course emphasizes bass and trebles. That's no solution really.
 

fattone

Member
Messages
198
I've found that the Graviton Boost from Field Effects is a very transparent boost pedal. The pedal sounds like your amp, only louder.
 

fr8_trane

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,111
I have a clean sound I really like, and want a bit 'more' of it. It's not ambient, not country, not highly effected -- just general purpose clean for pop/rock/folk. Using:

CHORUS --> Red Witch Empress
REVERB --> EHX Cathedral (Mild Flerb, primarily)

I don't need more FX (trem, rotary, delay, etc). I just want to maximise this basic sound. I get that a great valve amp with headroom is the main thing and a great guitar is the next main thing and that it's all in the fingers anyway. But pedal-wise, what do/can/might/should I add? (or what shouldn't I add?)

1) A compressor/boost that mainly functions as a tone sweetener?

2) A noise gate/filter? It's more for hum than noise, obviously. Was tempted by a great local deal on an EHX hum debugger, but prefer to run everything off a single 9V supply.

3) Selective or parametric EQ?

4) There's a bundle of other stuff that might or might not be useful, and I don't trust the sound quality of Youtube to accurately convey it's effect: exciter, sparkle thing, harmonic whateverizer. I played a Sonic Stomp and thought it just sounded unnatural. What's most worth checking out if I can find it in a local shop?

Thanks,
Optical compressors can add a polished sheen to clean tones. I happen to love this sound.

Boosts just make your sound louder. Fine for solos but not as an always on sound enhancer unless the boost in question does something cool to the tone at unity volume. Like...

The klon and its klones can be set to make your clean tone sound...BIGGER without adding any volume or obvious dirt to the tone. Hard to explain but it just adds more mids without cutting bass, a touch of compression and a bit of harmonic complexity without obviuos distortion. Very nice for a big clean tone.



A noise gate is the last thing I'd put on a clean tone.

If you are happy with you basic clean tone then I don't see the benefit of an EQ pedal. I see EQ's as problem solvers not enhancers.
 

Oozymouf

Member
Messages
505

atson67

Member
Messages
1,193
I have a clean sound I really like, and want a bit 'more' of it. It's not ambient, not country, not highly effected -- just general purpose clean for pop/rock/folk. Using:

CHORUS --> Red Witch Empress
REVERB --> EHX Cathedral (Mild Flerb, primarily)

I don't need more FX (trem, rotary, delay, etc). I just want to maximise this basic sound. I get that a great valve amp with headroom is the main thing and a great guitar is the next main thing and that it's all in the fingers anyway. But pedal-wise, what do/can/might/should I add? (or what shouldn't I add?)

1) A compressor/boost that mainly functions as a tone sweetener?

2) A noise gate/filter? It's more for hum than noise, obviously. Was tempted by a great local deal on an EHX hum debugger, but prefer to run everything off a single 9V supply.

3) Selective or parametric EQ?

4) There's a bundle of other stuff that might or might not be useful, and I don't trust the sound quality of Youtube to accurately convey it's effect: exciter, sparkle thing, harmonic whateverizer. I played a Sonic Stomp and thought it just sounded unnatural. What's most worth checking out if I can find it in a local shop?

Thanks,
I got me a maxon cp101 compressor and it helped me to be better in the mix in a live band. No big tone coloration, my amp sounds great as is.
Than I got a micro amp clone (TBP and with better parts than the original) couple of months ago and that helped as well. Just a hint of boost fattens the sound considerably. No fancy stuff but real life improvements.
 

Goo Fighters

Member
Messages
6,406
There's many different ways to get the same result, but this is what has worked for me:

1. A pedal with a great buffer - I bought the Stereo WET for the reverb, but the buffer on it warmed up my signal a bit and made my clean tone sparkle a tad more. Sweetened the highs a touch. Not a dramatic difference, but enough that I noticed.

2. A clean boost that isn't completely transparent. I use the boost side on my Kingsley Jester to enhance my clean tones. The EQ from the dirt channel has no effect on the boost side, but the boost side imparts a bit of colour to the tone. Again, not dramatic, but noticeable.

3. A low gain OD. I use a PTD Ge/Si Bone Machine, which is actually a ripping fuzz. The low gain tones on it are amazing, though, especially with the mood and bore dialed right back. Low gain doesn't necessarily mean you're hearing any break-up, or distortion though. The BM is very 'transparent' at these settings, even with a little dirt dialed in. I think it has a positive effect on dynamics, adding a bit of punch without being harsh at all.
 

JaminJuno

Member
Messages
119
If you are thinking of checking out clean boosts, do yourself a favour and look at the ClinchFX EP Pre. Not so much of a boost actually (only gives you a couple of db extra, the EP Pre + will give you some more) but a "tone polisher". It does something magical to your sound without sounding at all unnatural. Everything sounds sweeter and more 3D and sits better in the mix. I play mostly clean and I never, ever turn it off. There is plenty of info on it around and I have never heard a bad thing said about it.
 

goodgodsey

Member
Messages
224
I've been happiest when rather than turning up my amp to taste, I instead crank my amp, and then roll my guitar's volume back to the equivalent volume. Using this approach yields cleans that are much fuller and harmonically richer, and with much better sustain.

Also, the ZVEX SHO adds a lot to your basic clean tone, adding clarity, punch, and sustain. The Fairfield Barbershop OD also does this well.
 






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