Just got my first tube amp...need pedal suggestions!!!


I have been playing my high end guitars (PRS Custom 24 & G&L ASAT Bluesboy Semi-Hollow) through a tone buster (Line 6 Flextone II) for far too long and my father-in-law just gave me his Mesa Boogie .50 Caliber +. If it matters, the power section is 6L6 and it is 50 watts. I have had all kinds of effects at my disposal with the Line 6 pedalboard. The effects that I used regularly are delay, boost, reverb, and occasionally light distortion.

I am going to be selling the Flextone II with the pedalboard soon, and am not sure how much I will get from the sale, but my guess is somewhere between 200-300 for everything. This the money I have to spend on pedals.

What that means, is I know I will not be able to afford boutique pedals, but I don't want to buy junk either.

What I need your help for, is what pedals should I be looking at within the price range I have (200-300 USD for everything) that would work for the time being until I have funds to get some really nice stuff (zvex and analogman)

I would say the style of my band is kinda "Post-Indie Rock" I am not sure if that helps at all, but we have been said we sound like bands like Explosions in the Sky and Mewithoutyou. For an idea of the kind of music I play right now, here is a link to a live show my band just played.


Thanks for all your help!!!

Matt Trego
Tube amps (and yours is a nice one) are an effect all buy themselves.
Take your time getting to know the amp from clean to distorted and inbetween full mid , no mid , Low bottom, boosted bottom. Find your natural tones and then work within them with the amp before you manipulate the signal.

Ther is alot you can do with tubes alone to overdrive the amp and the driver is probably the biggest bang for the buck tone change you can get. $300 bucks will let you retube it and get an awsome speaker in the cabinet.

Thats how to best spend your budget.

When you get somemore scratch buy analog efx, a tube scremer, a fuzz, a univibe, compression - all of that- but go analog to keep you signal clean. Then you can boost it as needed.

Don't give your $300 away buying someone elses mistake

Check this interview with Analog Mike from tone quest


Regards Joe Tee


Senior Member
the biggest thing to remember about pedals and tube amps:

never underestimate the power of a good clean boost.
Tube amps (and yours is a nice one) are an effect all buy themselves.
Take your time getting to know the amp from clean to distorted and inbetween full mid , no mid , Low bottom, boosted bottom. Find your natural tones and then work within them with the amp before you manipulate the signal.

+1. after experimenting with your amp you may find you don't want/need any effects. but, it IS a lot of fun trying/buying FX. can't go wrong starting out with some classic pedals like a tubescreamer (try out the keeley or analogman-modded ones) as you can find them used here or on ebay.... maybe a phaser or vibe for modulation stuff....

have fun...


Senior Member
Cheap does not always equal crap. I've also tried some really expenisve pedals that I thought were ****. There's nothing wrong with stock Boss pedals. There are tone-snobs out there that will tell you otherwise. If you find a pedal that you like, get it. I'd start with the Barber pedals if you're looking to get into boutique territory. Great pedals for the price.

Use your ears, and not your eyes.

Strat God

Look into a Keeley Katana. Blows my TS808 away, plus it sustains clean tones forever without altering the original tone.


for not much cash i repeatedly hear the bad monkey is a fine pedal to flavor your OD to your taste. it can be had for 20 bucks used. i am thinking of getting one just for kicks at those prices.
maybe a fuzz??? a nice treble booster tonebender can generate KILLER useful tones and for under a 100 bucks if you are pateint


Gold Supporting Member
I'm a total gearhead, but won't splurge for the super-highpriced boutique stuff. Best bets I've had in my 25 years of playing are:

- MI Audio Blues Pro (for light crunch/rhythm)
- MI Audio Crunch Box (for Marshall-like heavy sounds)
- Fulltone OCD (for blues leads)
- Marshall Guvnor2 (for scooped metal)
- Xotic BB Preamp (all-around great versatile sound!)
- Visual Sound H20 (provides Chorus & Delay in one box)
- Electro Harmonix Small Clone Chorus (don't opt for the smaller Nano-Clone)
- Boss CE-2 Chorus (a wonderful box I never should've sold for $30 in the 80s)
- Ibanez FL9 Flanger (just a great woosh)

I'd start with a good dirt box to compliment/contrast your Boogie lead channel (maybe the BB Preamp) and then add modulation after that (maybe the H20). The H20 can probably be found here on TGP or on eBay in good condition much cheaper than new, but the BB Preamp is hard to find (used ones don't go much less than new).

Good luck, and congrats on going analog!


Play it like you mean it ~
Platinum Supporting Member
Tube amps (and yours is a nice one) are an effect all buy themselves.
Take your time getting to know the amp from clean to distorted and inbetween full mid , no mid , Low bottom, boosted bottom. Find your natural tones and then work within them with the amp before you manipulate the signal.

+2 on that. It may sound like I'm a clod, but I've have some tube amps I've owned for decades that I'm still learning and doing new things with. I know, turn it on, warm it up, click standby and go, right? What's so complicated. Still, somehow I keep finding new favorite settings ~
I'm not using effects pedals. I'm able to find everything I want just from the amps. --- 'love it !


I highly recommend a good Rangemaster clone. Whichever one fits your budget - it's hard to screw up a Rangemaster circuit.
You also may want to consider an Expandora - its low gain settings can really juice a tube amp in a fun way.
For a sweet delay, you can never go wrong with a Deluxe Memory Man.
If you go used and get lucky, you might be able to squeeze both a DMM and an Expandora into your budget.
I say get at least a Rangemaster and maybe an Expandora, and if you can't afford the DMM, just get a decent Boss delay, or maybe even a Dan-Echo.


Silver Supporting Member
I think you left your request way too wid open.. it all depends on what you want to do.

Delay? Phaser, Flange, Chrs? trem? Overdrive...

we all have a slew of suggestions for all of them.

In overdrive to distortion.. I agree with the Barber effects... Great Great Prices, Great products.

Analogman stuff is amazing.. but a bit pricey... best chrs and compressors ever.. period.

Boosts? Catalinbread or Nick Greer

etc etc...

Let us know what you are trying to acheive..

there are many many boutiques out there for about $100 that are just killer.

Clark from Cleveland


Being a fan of both bands that you mentioned as influences, especially mewithoutYou, I would have to say the first pedal to get would be a delay.

My suggestion for the price range would be a Line 6 DL-4. TONS of options there and you can get em used for $150-$175 in great condition.

Second would be an OD or boost. I like the Keeley Blues Driver, and you can get them here all the time for around $120.

I'm diggin' your bands sound for sure.


First of all, the tubes, to the best of my knowledge were replaced recently, at least in the power section. I have also been told that with a tube amp, as long as I am not going for "metal" that I should try to get the cleanest sound first, and then add grit or overdrive from a pedal.

So here is what I think I need:

Tuner (pedal style)

Other things that I would like:

Light Distortion
Volume (not necessary, but it might be nice)

I don't really use chorus, but I am not opposed to it, I just haven't been using it with the band I currently play with. I think the reverb in the amp is pretty good, and chances are if I wanted a reverb pedal, I would go with a EH Holy Grail...nice and simple.

Although I love metal, I am not trying to get high gain at all with this setup.

Thanks for all the help so far. I really hope to support some of the guys here that make effects, but starting out, my guess is most of what I purchase will be off the shelf stuff, considering my limited budget.


I agree with the others who suggest you focus on a delay pedal. Your amp has reverb, no? And if you only use light OD, you might be able to dial that at the amp (use your guitar's volume knob to clean up, or just pick lightly - it'd be good practice to try that approach, even if you decide not to stick with it).

Then you need to decide whether to use your delay in front of the amp or in the loop.

Then use the TGP search functions and prepared to be overwhelmed by the infomation in all the threads about various delays on the market.

Unless you want strictly analog, you'll probably end up choosing to get either the DL-4 or the TC Nova, or maybe the new Roland Space Echo . . .

Getting an analog delay with the features you're probably used to would be very expensive.

A good boost pedal is probably worth looking into as well. The Catalinbread Serrano Picoso looks appealing to me, because of its diminutive size. But I currently use an RC Booster and like it well.


Wah, delay, tuner. Use the amp for overdrive. does the .50 cal have 2 channels and a footswitch?.. if so boogies have great drive channels from my experience(f30,f100).. the line 6 echo park is a great choice and cheap(make sure you power it with a boss adapter).. a decent wah such as a Vox V847, and a Boss TU2.. that's all you'll need. later if you find you need more or different type of driven sound then experiment with some OD's. The boogies I had were 2 channels with an additional boost to the drive channel called "contour".. I found this extremely useful as I set the clean channel with a nice clean tone, the drive channel almost the same but with a tiny bit of grit and a touch more volume, and then the contour would just kick it into overdriven gear with nice crunch and a bit more boost. There was no need for OD's with those 2 amps.


Silver Supporting Member
I think I can echo what has been said about getting to know your amp. That is a cool amp, and if it's anything like my boogie, you may spend months dialing it in soundwise.
A boogie works great with the volume on your guitar down, and then turn up for more crunch.
Cry baby wah is always a good bet.


Trego, It's quite clear to me that a lot of folks rattle on about their own favourite pedals without giving a moment's thought to the style and tones that you will be looking for. Your needs will be VERY different from someone who mainly plays blues-based music for example.
I suspect also that many people have opined without even listening to the youtube link that you gave.
Some people have hit the nail on the head and recommended a delay - to me that seems the obvious number one need for you. You'll really need it in the effects loop of your amp to be able to use the distortion on your amp effectively. So be careful to choose a delay that will "play nicely" in your loop. Loops can be fussy !
I'd certainly give your amp's distortions a good try. You might find that it is exactly what you like. If not, then other OD/distortion pedals can get you different flavours.

BTW, I would not advise getting a used DL-4 delay - they are notoriously unreliable and you would have no warranty buying used.
I have also been told that with a tube amp, as long as I am not going for "metal" that I should try to get the cleanest sound first, and then add grit or overdrive from a pedal.


No pedal can compare to a good tube amp cranked up. Case in point: My '76 Marshall JMP 2203. I paid what some of these guys have in a single OD pedal for it, and it sounds incredible. Of course, the guys with OD pedals can have a bunch of different flavors and the JMP IS a bit of a one trick pony, but it is REALLY good at that one trick.

Learn that combo. I owned one for a while and really liked it. The lead channel is fairly gainy so watch that and use the graphic eq to your advantage.

The Boss DD-20 is a swell delay pedal used by alot of bands. There's probably a reason for that.

I say a used DD-20 and an OCD would be a good place to start, but if you don't already own a TU-2, get one. They're a standard for a reason.

I'd say OD, Delay, Volume Pedal, and maybe fuzz for some cool texture or "wall of sound" moments.

If you just had a delay and a volume pedal, you could cover a LOT of ground.

Good Luck,

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