Why do Some Pedals not Cut Through The Mix?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by wopr, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. wopr

    wopr Member

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    I played a local gig this weekend with a new OD pedal. Everytime I kicked in in, my sound would just disappear.
    I had used the pedal before in practice, and had set, what I thought were the right settings. But, I had to crank up the volume/output just to hear it at the gig.


    So, my questions are:

    What make a pedal not cut through the mix?
    Why does the dynamic attack of a clean amp cut though more that an OD?
    Does this same effect happen if your amp has a distortion channel?

    For this latest gig, I brought too big an amp (pro reverb) for the size venue. So, I had to turn down below the "sweet spot" of the amp. I have also recorded this pedal and its very compressed. Are these factors? Why does compression kill apparent volume?

    Thanks for the help,


    steve
     
  2. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    It depends on the pedal you're talking about, but yes, I've experienced that, too - OD pedals that sound good while being recorded but won't cut through in the right way at gig volume.

    FWIW, I've had this experience with some amps as well, both clean and overdriven.
     
  3. jero

    jero Member

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    in my experience this usually happens when your OD pedal cuts a little bit of higher mids compared to your clean sound. this frequency range is extremely important for being heard in a band situation. My first version OCD suffered from this a bit. Pedals that boost these frequency range (tubescreamers for example) are excellent for cutting through the mix :)
     
  4. ChickenLover

    ChickenLover Member

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    Did anything else in your rig change?

    FWIW: When you use an OD pedal with a lower output guitar you have to run the Level control at a lower setting than you would with the higher output guitar (and you have to run the Drive control a bit higher with the lower output guitar to get the same amount of distortion). It sounds almost counter-intuitive but you have to turn up the level control when using higher output pickups (and perhaps turn down the volume at the amp). It's because OD pedals compress so much when engaged...if the signal is strong there's more to compress whereas the clean signal will be loud and uncompressed...so you have to turn up the Level control to match the levels.
     
  5. iggs

    iggs Member

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    Also, I find that when a tone is set to sound good on it's own, it may get lost when the whole band kicks in ... the other guitar player in our band suffers from this problem, I always try and make him change his sound a bit but he does not like it when he plays by himself, every time we have a gig, or in rehearsal, he always complains that he's getting lost ... if only he would not be so stubborn and add just a touch more mids ... ;)
     
  6. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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    Guitar is a midrange instrument, to my ears. When I want a bassy or trebly sound, it's really more only within the midrange content, because everything else is either a) spice, b) inaudible or c) an afterthought that sounds nice at home.
     
  7. Lefty

    Lefty Member

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    For instance, Boss BD-2 (Keeley or stock) and a TS. The BD2 sounds much more transparent than the TS when noodling without the band. Once you get into a band situation, "Where did the BD2 go?"

    Mids/upper mids, it helps you get heard. It may not sound all that great by yourself, but you'll be better off with the band.
     
  8. TieDyedDevil

    TieDyedDevil Member

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  9. Jarick

    Jarick Supporting Member

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    It's worth reading the whole thing too. Diatribes are funny.

    Actually, reading those and listening to his rants made me a MUCH better mixer. Before I focused all my energy on eliminating harsh frequencies so my mixes just sounded soft in the end. Now I maximize energy and get much livelier mixes in 1/3 the time.

    Anyways, it's all about the upper mids. Also, a lot of gain can give the impression of added volume (increased harmonics, compression of dynamic range so softer notes are louder), but when you are playing with a band, that compression of volume constricts you. That's why tubescreamers are best with the gain low and level high.

    Case in point, try a Distortion + versus an OCD. Dist + has germanium diode clipping, OCD has MOSFETs. OCD is way heavier and dynamic, even if the Dist + has more distortion and gain.
     
  10. Oddos

    Oddos Member

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    I had a different experience, regarding a certain guitar.

    I just came from rehearsal and my Tyler isn`t here right now, so I had to borrow a new mexican strat of some sort.

    The set up was a SD-9, my school`s DSL 100 head and my Guytron cab with V 30s. Should be enough midrange there already. I always cut through anything, but with this guitar nothing seemed to help. I turned up the presence and midrange all I could, and it didn`t help one bit.
     
  11. wopr

    wopr Member

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    My rig is a Les Paul into a BF pro reverb. The pedal is MOSFET. It also has a buffer, which I have turned "on". Maybe its the buffer?

    What's also weird, is I tried the pedal out at practice where I play with the full band to create my settings. So it not just me playing by myself, and then playing with the band. Maybe its the amp volume that night that changed the pedal's response?

    The pedal I used has a mid emphasis. In fact, I've turned the mid emphasis up. But, I can't believe its just frequency that controls whether you "disappear". For example, I couldn't have just turned up my treble or my bass and "fix" this issue.

    I appreciate all the responses,

    steve
     
  12. TimH

    TimH Member

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    mostly its frequency response. It could obviously be volume as well.
     
  13. Rossl

    Rossl Member

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    I found this with distortion pedals and any pedal that uses diodes to "clip" the signal. If I drive the pedal too hard the signal seems to loose it's "punch". To my ears this overdriven sound sounds much louder than normal if you are playing by yourself and muffled when competing with other instruments.

    I always thought it had something to do with the clipping of the signal. If I back off some of the gain it seems to help. It is very hard to find the sweet spot that gives the gain I need and still retain the volume.

    I love the sound of my Vintage Reissue RAT's heavy distortion, but it definately gets lost in the mix.
     
  14. Doug H

    Doug H Senior Member

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    Two things I've found that lose my sound in the mix:

    1) Not enough midrange.

    2) Too much compression.

    I suppose some pedals can be guilty of one, both, or some combination.
     
  15. gitpicker

    gitpicker Silver Supporting Member

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    When I was 18 (back in the 70's) I began working at a local recording studio. I was amazed at how, when soloing single guitar tracks, how "nasty" a lot of the tones were - but when the entire mix was brought back up the guitar sat nicely in the mix and sounded great. This experience has led me to go for the "nastier" type tone both in my rig, and my OD pedals. Although I might not sound like the wrath of God at home, I sounds great live, and I never have a problem being heard, even at low volumes.

    But beware! - My experience has been that most soundmen are not hip to this. Right about the time your guitar sits correctly in the mix they tend to come complaining that you are too loud and they cannot put you in the PA because of your incredibly loud volume. The thing is that you can be half the volume of the other guitar player in the band, and be heard twice as well. The same applies to other band members, who will complain about your harsh, loud tone. Don't listen to them! My experience is that drummers and bass players generally know nothing about guitar tone, and following thier advice will leave you sounding mushy and buried.

    I spend a lot of time listening critically to the mix on CD's and to guitar tone. It is very interesting how clean most guitars are on recordings, and how guitar players in bands will crank up tons of overdrive and distortion when trying to play those songs. A TS pedal with the drive knob dimed will not get you Angus Young type tones! I rarely turn up the drive on any OD past 9:00, and I generally dime the volume knob. I find this opens up the sound and gives me the punch I need to get my leads over the top without having to play at 130 db on stage.

    Listen to Cream's live CD and check out Clapton's tone - harsh, nasty, and totally out front.
     
  16. bobbymack

    bobbymack Member

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    I believe the frequency recs are on target.

    But, it could also easily be the fact that your amp was out of headroom based on where you had it turned down to. If you're cruising along with the guitar opened up and the amp is putting out all it can based on your setting the amp's Master or Vol knob at 9 o'clock or wherever, then you kick in the OD, all the amp can do is distort the signal more because it has no more "loudness" to give at the limited volume setting...

    My $.02 is turn your amp up, and use your guitar Vol knob as necessary...
     
  17. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Less drive equals more cut EVERY time. Use as little as you can.
     
  18. wopr

    wopr Member

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    Can anyone explain why a compressed signal doesn't cut through? What's the science on that?

    Usually, for me, a distortion pedal set on unity, will sould louder than the clean channel.
     

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