Overdrive Pedals - the obvious truth

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Jaketone, Nov 14, 2017.


  1. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    Just had a revelation that we have all probably had before (or will hopefully have soon). I haven't played out for a while and have been through quite a few ODs while playing at home.


    We are told over and over again about how overdrives are often best going into an amp that's turned up a bit. Not necessarily on the edge of breakup but definitely cooking a bit.


    I've just spent the evening auditioning overdrives through my Laney Lionheart 20w combo with a bad cat unleashed attenuator to determine which ones I keep and which ones I sell and never has this been more true. Some ODs that I had dismissed as harsh and bright just shone at high volume (or simulated high volume care of an attenuator).


    I've always been a bit skeptical of the whole klon thing and have tried a few without success but the tumnus sounded amazing with Gain up around 10 o'clock. It had more low mids than a blues driver! The Waza BD-2 sounded great in both modes with tone a bit above noon (!!) and Drive at 2 (!!). The mick side of the D&M Drive sounded like rock and roll instead of honky harsh mids.


    It just goes to show that these pedal designers and their many derivative builders know what they are doing.


    To anyone struggling with a klon or tube screamer derivative, a BD-2, Timmy, Bluesbreaker or something that sounds a bit thin and lacking in low end or excessively bright - turn up the pedal output volume and turn up your amp volume and get these things working together. Most of these pedals were designed to be played live at volume.


    The other thing that is worth mentioning is that the boutique $300+ overdrive at bedroom volume is definitely inspiring and has maybe a hint more complexity/body/presence/whatever than a staple cheap one like a TS9 or BD2 but at volume (and with the band) a lot of these differences melt away - especially at face melting volumes! Often for me the pedal that sounded great at amp volume 2 sounds mushy and undefined at amp volume 8.


    Nothing new in this post but I just hope I can save people the time and money that I have spent hunting for 'that tone'. Electric guitar is meant to be amplified and pedals are there to enhance the tone - when used right the inspiration will just flow through you.

    Next band practice will have a much smaller board with just the right tools for the job on it, nothing more.


    Full disclosure: this will not stop me buying overdrives! It will just remind me to audition and use them under the right circumstances.
     
  2. chrismellotron

    chrismellotron Member

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    I always have my OD pedal output volume set at 2 o'clock. Opens them right up.
     
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  3. jsharp29

    jsharp29 Member

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    I always wondered why you couldn't turn the output down on the OD pedal but crank the amp to at least get THAT to cook a little.
     
  4. Sacrifice

    Sacrifice Member

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    Always a challenge to find that sweet spot at bedroom levels.

    So how about that Bad Cat attenuator? Opinions?
     
  5. Figaro

    Figaro Supporting Member

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    Some pedals definitely work better with amps at lower volumes than others. And yes, the Timnus has more low mids than most Klon clones. You can adjust that and more with the new Timnus Deluxe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  6. Spider Mark

    Spider Mark Member

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    So what works at gigging volumes isn’t the same as playing at home? ;)

    For those of us who don’t gig and have no intention of doing so, boutique is fun and does often sound better at home volume. My AC10 cannot go above 12 o’clock at home – and even that is pushing the windows.

    Whatever works best for you and your circumstances. Gigging musicians have to worry about theft, breakage, cables failing on the night etc. I gave that up 25+ years ago – hats off to all those who gig! – and am too old to try again. But I love my assortment of ODs and reverbs that don’t work in a mix (Afterneath).
     
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  7. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    It is just great! I have the second version of it (I think) which is fantastic for my needs.

    I have an offset JTM1 so I had intended to use it with that to bring it closer to gig volumes but as an attenuator on the laney it sounds great. The reactive load works so much better than the passive resistance ones I have had in the past.

    I dont use it to its full potential (2 channels, multiple outputs, line out etc) but it just deliver great tone! Highly recommended!
     
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  8. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    I know it all seems obvious but when I started with pedals I would read about what was on all my guitar hero's pedalboards and when I eventually acquired some of the pedals they just weren't all that great.

    The secret turned out to be volume! Or at least an amp that was cooking a bit.

    I will say that I have managed to simulate that amp on the edge very well with a lovepedal amp 11. Say what you will about the builder and the circuit but it is just made to stack things into. It sounds AMAZING at all times.
     
  9. sliberty

    sliberty Member

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    I agree, and will add the following:

    The purpose of an overdrive pedal is to push your amp harder. This implies lots of level. If you try to use an overdrive pedal at low levels, you are really using it like a distortion pedal. ie: adding distortion to an otherwise clean signal. The overdrive pedal is probably not voiced for that purpose, and will likely sound unpleasant.

    When an amp is cooking hard, it probably already sounds great. Putting an overdrive in front of that amp will push it too hard, into mud and overly compressed territory. Think about what happens when your pickups are too hot, or raised up too close to the strings. Mud. For the same reason.

    The reason we bug these pedals is because we are not getting the tone we want from our amps alone. This is often because our amp is too loud for the situation. At home, even a 5 watt amp can be too loud. At a bar, a 20 watt amp might be too loud. Overdrives can sometimes help get you better tone in these situations, but sometimes they just make your amp even louder (too louder????).

    It’s a balance that is very hard to strike without buying 5 different amps for different situations. And then, if we really had the right amps, we might not even need the overdrive pedal.
     
  10. Bluesful

    Bluesful Member

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    A KoT into an on edge BF Fender is a thing of beauty.
     
  11. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    That is another very important statement. Pedals that sounded crap with my DRRI shine with the Laney.

    Again, all sounds obvious but I wish I knew years ago what I know now - I could have saved a whole lot of money and disappointment in crap tone from what were supposed to be great pedals!
     
  12. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

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    There is a balance that needs to be struck when you play live with a NMV (non MV) single channel amp and need to play a variety of material that requires clean tones, overdriven tones and fuzz tones.

    Simply pushing the amp into constant breakup may be fine if that's the sound you need on every song (blues?).
    But, if you need to crunch and then deluver pretty clean arpeggios and then do something in-between then the truth may not be so obvious.

    Picking pedals wisely and knowing how to use them can be the make or break.

    -bEn r.
     
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  13. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    Absolutely agree - and I am not advocating edge of breakup for everything by any means. But Even a clean amp on 2 sounds, feels and responds different to the same on 6.

    All I am saying is the right tools for the right job.
     
  14. guitarman92

    guitarman92 Supporting Member

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    I’ve always heard that overdrives don’t mix with attenuators. Is there something special about the bad cat one?
     
  15. DrakeSequation

    DrakeSequation Member

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    Recently discovered this about the Vox Satchurator. It was a bust commercially because it was thin and fizzy. At low volumes it definitely is. It was bought by bedroom players for the most part, likely playing at low volumes and not through a tube amp. But when I turned up my amp I found it really opened up and sounded full and refined. Sadly, as many demos as there are out there no one mentioned this.
     
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  16. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    I think that people that say that might not be using an attenuator for the right purposes.

    The guys at TPS covered it recently really well - the best results with attenuators are really when you are only taking 10-20% off the volume. Any more than that and things get mushy due to a combination of the amp working really hard and the attenuator's shortcomings (ie. not being an actual speaker moving air).

    Attenuating a 100 watt tube amp down to bedroom levels will probably sound crap.
    Attenuating a 5 watt tube amp down to bedroom levels might be on the money
     
  17. ryandfl

    ryandfl Supporting Member

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    My whole pedal setup is designed to make a quiet Fender amp sound huge. Some pedals work great at creating a tone at low volume, while some do sound better louder.

    I feel like univibe does better as the volume goes up.
     
  18. guitarman92

    guitarman92 Supporting Member

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    While that makes sense for the amp did they test that with overdrives as well? I was more talking about the combination of ODs and attenuation than attenuation itself.
     
  19. Jaketone

    Jaketone Member

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    I think its just a balance - like anything. I just take a bit of volume off which means my amp still has plenty of dynamic range to interact with the overdrives.

    If I was to attenuate right down and turn my amp up the overdrives will sound crap. Same as if I try to push an overdrive into a heavily compressed amp.
     
  20. V

    V Gold Supporting Member

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    This is why effective tone controls are very important. Ideally, you should be able to dial in the pedal for whatever volume you need and not just in terms of the output volume.
     
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