Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor OD

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by slambango, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. slambango

    slambango Active Member

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    Any thoughts about the Tube Factor Overdrive?

    I love mine! It runs on a real AX-7 tube. Awesome sound, true bypass, 2 stages of gain.

    I was running the Hot Cake into the Tube Factor, but when I swapped them around, the whole situation came to life. I love it.

    Did I mention I love this OD?
     
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  2. VHS analog

    VHS analog Member

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    I've been looking into getting one as a replacement for my departed Soldano Supercharger GTO. The Soldano was beautiful but way too noisey. Never tried the Tube Factor but I need a tube OD that doesn't buzzzzzzzzzzzz. I have a Tonebone Hot British that I like alot, but it's not very transparent.
     
  3. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    I would look up the VOX Big Ben and the Ibanez TubeKing. Also I hear the new TubeDrivers are stellar.
     
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  4. gearboy

    gearboy Member

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    The Tube Factor is a fantastic pedal. It's big, bulky, ugly (at least the 1st versions), and needs it's own power supply but gives you two nice usable distortion channels. My drummer has one (he plays guitar also) in front of an old Marshall JMP and it sounds pretty damn amazing especially for higher gain stuff....
     
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  5. slambango

    slambango Active Member

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    I'm a stickler for added noise. I simply will not tolerate it. This pedal gets my stamp of approval (whatever that's worth here) in the noise department. :AOK
    It's very quiet, even at high gain settings.
     
  6. katarzis

    katarzis Member

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  7. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Member

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    It will make ANY amp sound better!
     
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  8. zenfreud

    zenfreud Member

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    I've been meaning to post some thoughts about the Tube Factor, now that I've had one for a few months. Mine is the later version with the 'swirled' metal top panel, supposedly improved over the plain metal top earlier version. I'm a long-time Hughes & Kettner user/fan, have owned their Crunch Master (later re-named Blues Master) and BATT bass mini-amps for many years now. One thing that's obvious is the Tube Factor is physically large as far as pedals go, so if you want a lot of functions in a small package you'll probably pass it by. A pity, because this thing sounds huge.

    To cut to the chase, the Tube Factor is one of the best-sounding preamp/overdrive pedals I've owned to date. It is extremely amp-like in retaining dynamics and bottom-end. This is a very big and fat sounding tube device. But like some other dual drive pedals, there is an obvious shortcoming: the Tube Factor has two channels that share a single output level control and a single eq control. Scenario: adjust the first (lower gain) channel to taste. Now select channel two (high gain) and prepare to have your speakers/ears blown. Way too loud. Solution: use it as a single-channel drive, pretend the channel foot-switching doesn't exist.

    The first channel goes from very clean to just a bit crunchy/edgy and compressed. My favorite setting is with the drive control at about 2:00, the feel is just a bit compressed, there is a subtle edginess and note to note clarity is outstanding. However, if you desire just a bit less crunch from the Tube Factor, I've found that backing off the drive also lessens the treble content, can get a bit dark, the eq is very dependent on the specific drive level. Provided you adjust your guitar/amp tone controls accordingly, it's not that big of a deal. But if you're used to sweeping the drive level on the fly to suit your playing, it's a limiting factor. Another pedal that offers a similar level of clarity is the Foxrox ZIM (with the VT Vintage Tube card), but by comparison, the ZIM doesn't seem as big and amp-like.

    The second channel's gain range seems to start where the first channel leaves off, pretty logical. However, the tone of the second channel is much darker. I play a bright rig (Strat thru AC30 or Fender amp) and the second channel is still pretty murky, only the lower gain settings are very useful. The second channel is also pretty compressed. It's been a while since I've owned an MI Audio Crunch Box, but the Tube Factor's second channel kind of makes me think of a warmer/murkier/looser version of the Crunch Box. I don't spend much time on the Tube Factor's second channel, that's not the gain range I generally play with.

    As I already mentioned, there is only a single tone knob that is shared by both channels and it seems to mostly serve as a very broad mid & high cut. To be more specific it seems like a mid suck-out or scoop control. Try as I might, I cannot meaningfully lessen the treble on the brighter lower gain channel, nor can I increase the clarity (treble) on the higher-gain second channel. Maybe the eq was voiced for humbuckers/scooping metal tones, I don't find the eq useful for single-coils in the low gain to edge of breakup gain range. There is extra unused room on the front panel; dedicated mid and treble controls would have been far more useful to me.

    The German company Okko performs fairly extensive modding of the Tube Factor to address some of it's short-comings. (I also owned an Okko Twinsonic, a very clever and high-quality preamp/drive pedal; I'd trust they can do some useful work on the Tube Factor.) But I've read that Okko is no longer offering these mods (at least to those of us outside the EU), a pity because this pedal has incredible potential. If anybody knows if Okko (or another credible source) can perform mods on the Tube Factor, please pass it along.
     
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  9. slambango

    slambango Active Member

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    I solved this problem by changing the order of my pedals. When the H&K was last in line it has this problem, but running it into the Hot Cake (buffered) solved the problem for me. I do notice the compression on the gain channel. A little less would be ideal.
     
  10. Rob Taft

    Rob Taft Supporting Member

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    I own one an early one and I use it quite a lot. Well I did until I lost the power supply...I since purchased another PS. I agree with other regarding the dynamics between the 2 channels and as a result I generally only use the first channel. Its a warm sounding pedal that really thickens your tone. It does a good job at warming up SS amps. I'm waiting for a Zendrive....well at least I think I'm waiting for a Zendrive and I'm looking forward to pairing the Zen with the 1st channel.
     
  11. zenfreud

    zenfreud Member

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    Reviving this thread for a real sleeper of a drive pedal. Seriously, if you're not absolutely worried about the size of the pedal, give one a listen. It's embarrassing how little I paid for mine.

    My Tube Factor is currently the first pedal in my effects chain. I'm running mine into a EH DMM and then a Boss DD-7 (buffered), and the volume imbalance between the two channels is huge. But I can live with the Tone Factor as a single-channel drive, it's tone seems worth it. I have to admit that I have no idea what tube is in my pedal (I bet it's the stock 12AX7A); the next thing to do will be to make a few tube swaps and see how it affects the tone.

    I'd appreciate any leads on techs who might have experience modding the Tube Factor, especially with regard to sharpening/expanding it's eq range. Maybe the Okko folks will pick up on this thread.
     
  12. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Member

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    If anybody knows if Okko (or another credible source) can perform mods on the Tube Factor, please pass it along.[/quote]

    +1
     
  13. ocripes

    ocripes Supporting Member

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    +1[/quote]


    I'm w/you. Especially someone in North America.

    Love mine, but the volume differential is a big problem. That's why I have three dirt pedals and the H&K is on the shelf.
     
  14. Unabender

    Unabender Member

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    The second "channel" of Tube Factor seemed way too loud for me also, until I tried it in a band context. It really helped soloing to stand out.

    Yeah it's a great pedal but there are many good ODs available now... I personally just don't see the justification for a tube based OD pedal as I really don't think they are really better compared to their solid state cousins...
     
  15. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    Reviving an old thread here, because I've recently gotten into Jimmy Herring's tone. He has used one for years.

    Does this range from boost to OD to distortion?

    What would be comparable type pedals? Just trying to get a reference point.

    Thanks.
     
  16. Blue Bee

    Blue Bee Member

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    yea it does it all, but i think the distortion doesnt go thru the tube. changing the tube really varies the tone too. i liked the eq/tone knob alot too. the duncan twin tube kicked it off my board because it was a bit smaller and the od/dist was more switchable between each other.
     
  17. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    It never worked for me and neither did the Seymour Duncan small tube variation ...
    The B.K. Butler Tube Driver had a better feel then both of 'em (IMO)...
    However lately even that's been replaced by the Jetter Gold3D..
    and there isn't a tube in the very small footprint ...

    Brad at Jetter stylef the Gold3D to feel & sound like the fluid sound of Fusion player's tones
    (i.e. Herring type of player's tones ...) and he truly did a great job...
     
  18. 79stratman

    79stratman Member

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    I liked them (original versions) that I used TWO of them PLUS a Rotosphere. Tell me that doesn't take-up a good chunk of real estate! ;)

    I've since moved-on to other boutique pedals (a virtual museum of OD's).
    I was curious a few weeks ago and hooked one of them up, but was disppointed. I didn't remember them as being as comparatively-muddy sounding as I had remembered. :( I may try the second one, in case the first's tube was aging poorly.

    The one thing I remember the Tube Factors doing is providing this 3-D effect, which I struggled to find in any other pedals.

    I searched the globe trying to find someone interested in modding the Tube Factors and the Rotosphere, without any luck.
     
  19. jnug

    jnug Supporting Member

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    I LOVE MINE! sounds great in front of every amp i use it with. as some stated above it added that 3d effect that i could not get from any other pedal. i love mine and i've been using it for 4 years now:dude
     
  20. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    I demoed one recently. Loved the clean boost side, but the gainy side wasn't my cup of tea ... I only used it at moderate volume, it could be that at higher volumes it's quite a different beast.
     

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