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Tube preamp pedal: Which is best?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by stratzrus, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    I've got a V-Twin, Bottle Rocket, and Demonizer, and each has it's strengths and limitations. Are there any good alternatives or are these the best out there?

    stratzrus
     
  2. derek_32999

    derek_32999 Member

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    FATBACK and I use a J.T Pedals Valveboy IIRC that can be found on the used market for a good deal. I got mine for $175!!! I just dont use it much cause I can crank my amps where I live :RoCkIn
     
  3. drolling

    drolling Member

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    I've got a V-Twin as well and I've never been able to dial in a useable tone on the gain channel.

    I much prefer my old Hughes & Kettner Bluesmaster, tho' it's also discontinued. This one's got a preamp and a power amp tube in it, so the distortion sounds more 'amp-like' to me. It's also got a built-in cabinet emulator and is great for direct recording.
     
  4. scottywompas

    scottywompas Member

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    Try the tonebone stuff. My buddy has the classic and I was able to dial in lots of cool stuff with it. I still love my Bottle rocket though.

    Scott
     
  5. somecafone

    somecafone Member

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    I like the SIB Varidrive.

    Someone is selling a new BK Butler in the forum..not me, but it might be worth looking into.
    I had one years ago and I loved it.
     
  6. RickB

    RickB Member

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    I really like my reissue BK Butler Tube Driver. I prefer it over both of the Tonebones. Has a more natural midrange and it quite versatily. Stacks well too.
     
  7. Stevoreen

    Stevoreen Member

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    My main OD is a Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor. It has 2 switchable gain settings and a voicing control. You can set the 2 channels up for Crunch/ Lead or Light OD/Heavy OD, which is how I use it. I stack it with an OCD for leads. Works well for me.
     
  8. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    First of all, most pedals with tubes aren't preamps so much as tube flavored ODs/Distortions. To me, the only ones I had that I'd truly consider a preamp were the Siegmund (which had almost no gain, just changed harmonic content) and the Vtwin. That said there's a few things I've learned:
    1. SIB-works really well with Fenders and single channel amps-nothing else makes a tweed amp sound overdriven at quieter levels. Mine seems harsh when used to boost a higher gain amp-useless with my Wreck copy, for example. Needs a tube upgrade.
    2. Blue Tube/Chandler/Butler/Ibanez-all basically use the same "starved plate" tube architecture-if i understand it correctly they use a really low B+ to get distortion at fairly low outputs-they have a characteristic tone which to me sounds harsh. For high gain stuff that seems to smooth out, but for low gain/blues/transition tones, they don't work well.
    3. Tonebone-good sounding general pedals, but again, an OD with a tube.
    4. Vtwin-sounds like a Mesa. Takes over your rig.
    5. Matchless Hotbox-sounds like a Matchless-takes over your rig, however the bypass works pretty well-it's an expensive box but I like it.

    What I'd get if I wanted a tube preamp to turn my clean amp into a channel switching monster? No idea, maybe the Stage Hog? Jus to add a flavor or two, any of the above will work.
     
  9. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Thanks drbob1, really helpful and informative stuff.

    I agree that the V-Twin takes the sound of the amp over, and also felt that it was harsh sounding until I put GT12ax7M tubes into it. I've also heard that it responds well to 12at7 and 12ay7 tubes for better low gain distortion.

    If I'm playing in a situation where I don't need the Dual Rectifier sound I prefer the Bottle Rocket which has a smoother/more natural sound and a really fat bottom end which is an added plus for Strat and Tele players.

    I also have the Demonizer and Womanizer but both sound somewhat harsh to me. I'd love to swap out the electro-harmonix tubes but they are glued in place with some bizzare industrial strength rubber cement type crap which I assume was put there as a shock absorber. The glue actually is attached to the glass.

    Does any one have a suggestion about how to do the tube replacement without messing things up? The manual says that there are no user servicable parts inside, but I've alreaty pulled the bottom off and poked around a bit. If the glue is necessary, how could i replace it?

    I'm still looking for that perfect Blackface Fender/JCM800/Dual Rectifier in a box pedal. Any alternative suggestions are appreciated.

    thanks, stratzrus
     
  10. Moe45673

    Moe45673 Member

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    You want all three of those in one pedal? Good luck with that!!

    For plain blackface sounds, I've heard amazing things about the V-stack Tweedy. I don't know how it acts as a preamp, though.
     
    SeeMoore likes this.
  11. afterburner

    afterburner Supporting Member

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    correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a preamp pedal something that can power a PA/power amp on its own?

    I doubt the Tonebone stuff qualifies... I think most of the pedals discussed here are indeed ODs with tubes.
     
  12. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    This is definitely a tube OD, but doesn't run in "starved mode". The Seymour Duncan Twin Tube. It ain't perfect, but no OD I've ever tried is.

    It has 2 channels. The lower OD channel does everything from clean to "amp on the edge" to "amp cranked" tone. The Higher OD channel goes from "amp of the edge" to major OD, does the Warren Haynes fat sound pretty well.
     
  13. WailinGuy

    WailinGuy Member

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    I own a Seymour Duncan Twin Tube, and am liking it quite a lot. It's the only tube based overdrive pedal I've ever owned (and I've tried quite a few, both starved plate and high voltage designs) that really works and sounds realistic. The dynamics and harmonic "activity" are impressive.

    One thing, I replaced a cathode bypass cap with a lower value one to reduce the bass response, which helped tame the somewhat "flabby" low end that someone else had complained about. I might experiment more with mods, although not having a schematic limits what I can do. I can't help feeling that it wouldn't take all that much to make this pedal about as perfect as an overdrive pedal could possibly be for my needs.
     
  14. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Interesting, I'll have to try that. Hadn't even thought of modding mine until now.

    One thing that bothers me is, on the high gain channel, I get intermodulation distortion when playing some double stops..like holding the dominant 7th and bending up a 4th to a 5th (Duane Allman thang). It creates some wierd out of tune note. I guess I'll have to try backing off on the gain.
     
  15. WailinGuy

    WailinGuy Member

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    Mike K.,

    In case you're interested... I changed the cathode bypass cap on the 2nd gain stage from a 4.7uF electrolytic to a 1.5uF tantalum. There appear to be 4.7uF CBC's on the 1st and 3rd gain stages as well. I'm not sure what's going on with the 4th tube stage. I don't think the cathode resistor is bypassed. Might be a cathode follower or an actual 4th gain stage. I'll have to investigate. Anyway, with the mod in place, I like the sound better and there's still more bass available than anyone would ever need. I'm wondering if maybe changing all three CBC's to something like 2.2uF might work even better...

    Jim S.
     
  16. tedwoods

    tedwoods Member

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    There's ofcourse the Stephenson Stage Hog.Not just a preamp but a whole tube amp in pedal format.A bit on the expensive side at first glance but a bargain if you actually get to play through it and realise its potential.
    Info at:www.stephensonamps.com

    Ted
     
  17. Berlin Chris

    Berlin Chris Member

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  18. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    Other way around...a Power Amp 'powers' the preamp, hence the name. Preamp just kicks up the signal to obtain amplifiable levels.
     
  19. afterburner

    afterburner Supporting Member

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    yes I know. sorry I meant that isn't a preamp something that takes the signal to a level that the power amp can use? same thing, I think the tonebone stuff doesn't do that. or do they?
     
  20. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    Anything adding dB can be considered as a preamp pedal, AFAIK. Although I'm not certain of the structure of those tonebone pedals...I know they are 'distortion' pedals, which doesn't necessarily mean a boost.
     

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