Pedal Question

Mr. C

New member
I've been looking for an overdrive pedal and have watched more vids than I care to on youtube. I really like the Mesa Flux Drive, but don't know if I can bring myself to spend $179 on it. Really would like something around a $100. Anyways, listening to all of these pedals got me thinking about how these pedals really work, or any others for that matter. Do these overdrive pedals actually boost the power of the amp causing the overdrive or is it the inherent sound of the pedal itself that is amplified through the amp? Or neither?
 

Greg_L

Banned
Both. Some overdrive pedals are a straight clean boost that just hits the front of the amp harder. I like those myself. It doesn't boost the power of the amp, it boosts the signal going to the amp which drives the amp harder leaving you with pure amp overdrive. Most overdrive pedals will also add "dirt" or their own character though. Some of those are nice. Some are shit. Youtube vids are crap. You gotta go try some if you can.

I personally like the Tube Screamer and the Boss SD-1. They're simple all-time classics, and for good reason. They go well with Marshalls. I don't use the "dirt" of either pedal. When I use one of them, it's set as a clean boost. No "distortion", max volume. They each impart their own character.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
They can boost the input signal to the amp...not really the "power" of the amp, and the tone/crunch is being generated by the pedal, though again, if you hit the input of the amp harder, you can get some crunch from that too...so it's a matter of dialing in the pedal and the amp to a tone you like.
 

Mr. C

New member
Ok, boosting the signal, that makes sense. Greg, I listened to the tube screamer and sd-1. They both sound sort of harsh to me. I like a warmer tone. Do you have any clips of you using the tube screamer or sd-1? I'm using a Peavey Classic 30 with a 2x12 cab and mainly play a strat. I have a MXR 10 band EQ in the effects loop. GC doesn't have the Mesa pedals yet for some odd reason so can't demo it anyways. I prefer to just buy it and try it because it's hard to copy your own setup at GC. I'm really leaning towards the Mesa Flux Drive, but would love to spend less if I can get the tone I'm after.
 

Greg_L

Banned
Ok, boosting the signal, that makes sense. Greg, I listened to the tube screamer and sd-1. They both sound sort of harsh to me. I like a warmer tone. Do you have any clips of you using the tube screamer or sd-1? I'm using a Peavey Classic 30 with a 2x12 cab and mainly play a strat. I have a MXR 10 band EQ in the effects loop. GC doesn't have the Mesa pedals yet for some odd reason so can't demo it anyways. I prefer to just buy it and try it because it's hard to copy your own setup at GC. I'm really leaning towards the Mesa Flux Drive, but would love to spend less if I can get the tone I'm after.

Use your 10-band as a clean boost in front of the amp and see if you like it. Set the sliders all flat and use the output level to boost the signal. That would work as a really clean boost to slam the tubes, and it's probably cleaner than any overdrive pedal.

I don't use my overdrive pedals often. I'm an "all amp" kind of fella. But I do occasionally use one of the pedals for leads. Trouble is, I can't remember which song I use them on or what parts. I do know this though...I used the Tube Screamer set as a clean boost for the lead bits on this one:


It's not fancy, just a little hairier than the rhythm tones. I find the Tube Screamer adds more midrange thickness and bite, and the SD-1 adds more texture/harmonic type richness. To my ears, the SD-1 is the more transparent of the two.
 

ranjam

New member
Keep in mind with anything I say you should ask yourself 'What the Hell does he know?' Also, I have no idea how to resize any drawing I uploaded, so I apologize for the excessive size. :o

Now, any 'clean' boost, or straight preamp is usually just a simple op-amp, like so;
opamp1.gif sine.jpg

.......clean, and what goes in should be what comes out, just bigger. However, you can clip the signal, or square it off, and that's the overdrive/fuzz you typically get. Mild clipping is 'overdrive, whilst extreme clipping with over shoots is 'distortion' or 'fuzz'. You can clip the output in parallel or shunt;

opamp2.gif square.jpg

..... you can clip the feedback loop;

opamp3.jpg

.....or you can clip the output in series;

opamp4.gif

..... everyone does it a little different; even germanium/silicon/LEDs clip differently, then if you use symmetrical vs. asymmetrical clipping; the possibilities are endless. Some pedals use a combination of clipping. The trick is finding what you like. Harsh clipping with overshooting is fuzz; and on a scope may look like this;

distortion.jpg

Find what you like, which is a never-ending hunt. But damn, it's fun.
 

Mr. C

New member
Nice straight ahead rock and roll there Greg! The leads, and the rhythm for that matter, are pretty close to what I want to achieve. Are you using your Marshall on this track? Maybe the Tube Screamer would get me what I want. It certainly sounds smoother in your clip than what I've heard on YouTube. I'm mainly looking at using this with rhythm to get the sound I want. Thanks for the help. I'm sure I'll be debating myself about this for several days before I make a decision. I'll give the EQ a try in front of the amp.
 

JHudson

New member
Also check out the Fulltone Fulldrive 2 - Can be used as a Distortion type pedal, which for a pedal has a pretty "creamy" tone - and can also be used as a clean boost - the Fullton OCD is also a great pedal, but not as flexible as the Fulldrive. I have both, have recorded and played live with both, and am very pleased. They can be picked up reasonably on Ebay used - and of course any of the big companies new..
 

ranjam

New member
Also check out the Fulltone Fulldrive 2 - Can be used as a Distortion type pedal, which for a pedal has a pretty "creamy" tone - and can also be used as a clean boost .......

The Fulldrive 2 is a Tube Screamer, regardless of what anyone says. Symmetrical clipping in the feedback loop, like a TS9, but slightly 'darker' tone control. If you like Tube Sceamers, you'll like the Fulldrive 2.

...... the Fullton OCD is also a great pedal, but not as flexible as the Fulldrive.

The OCD is really different in that it uses MOSFETs configured like diodes for the parallel clipping. However, with four versions of the OCD at last count, who knows how they'll all differ to your ears. Apparently MOSFETs have a slower response time, so it gets sold as sounding more 'tube-ish'. LEDs do the same thing. I popped a set of LEDs in an old MXR Distortion+, and it's a different pedal. Much smoother and creamier, much less harsh. I think some versions of the OCD used diodes, but maybe Zeners?

You'd have to try them all. That's why some people, including me, have a dozen overdrive/distortion boxes around. If you can grab a cheap one, do it. There's all kinds of mods for them online, or with a schematic you can figure out your own. Then what someone didn't like enough that they sold it to you cheap, and you may be only partially in love with, can be tweaked into a keeper. Heck, a modified Boss SD-1 is one of my keepers.
 

antichef

pornk rock
I've been cycling through overdrives recently. I really like the Fulldrive 2 on a JCM 800 amp that I have, but on a cleaner sounding amp it tends to sound fizzy - same is more or less true with the 2 tube screamers (TS-10 - does that count?) I have. I only recently started worrying about pushing through a cleaner amp sound when I started playing through an older non-master-volume marshall.

Current favorite is the Timmy - It sounds good generally, but I think what I like most is that it has separate bass and treble controls, and the bass control comes before the overdrive circuit. I think most OD pedals just summarily cut the bass so that things don't get muddy, but this one lets you control how much of the original bass signal goes into the OD circuit. You can order these new, but there's a wait - the used market costs more at the moment. Maybe other OD pedals will start showing up, if they haven't already, with the bass control done that way.

Anyway - if you can possibly try out a pedal with your own amp before you decide, that's the best way to do it. Who ever does that? I was gonna, but it takes too much discipline for me.
 

Greg_L

Banned
Nice straight ahead rock and roll there Greg! The leads, and the rhythm for that matter, are pretty close to what I want to achieve. Are you using your Marshall on this track?

Thanks. Yup. Les Paul + Marshall. The two most basic ingredients in all of rock and roll. You pretty much can't go wrong with a LP plugged into a big loud tube Marshall. :D
 

Telegram Sam

New member
Use your 10-band as a clean boost in front of the amp and see if you like it. Set the sliders all flat and use the output level to boost the signal. That would work as a really clean boost to slam the tubes, and it's probably cleaner than any overdrive pedal.

I don't use my overdrive pedals often. I'm an "all amp" kind of fella. But I do occasionally use one of the pedals for leads. Trouble is, I can't remember which song I use them on or what parts. I do know this though...I used the Tube Screamer set as a clean boost for the lead bits on this one:


It's not fancy, just a little hairier than the rhythm tones. I find the Tube Screamer adds more midrange thickness and bite, and the SD-1 adds more texture/harmonic type richness. To my ears, the SD-1 is the more transparent of the two.

This thread is awesome, exactly what I am trying to figure out.
So do you think that you might use the pedals less because your amp is more easily self-overdriven?

What pedals should I be looking at to put in front of my Vox AC15?

I need to beef it up a bit, and I would like to increase the "chunk" just a little (I think I can do some of that at the amp and the guitar, too).
 

Greg_L

Banned
This thread is awesome, exactly what I am trying to figure out.
So do you think that you use the pedals less because your amp is more easily self-overdriven?

Partially. For one, I generally don't like the sound of "distortion" pedals. Never really have. They were a necessary evil in my crappier gear days, but I'm thankfully past that now. My ideal tone generally falls somewhere between a little more aggressive than AC/DC, but nowhere near the over-the-top gain of modern metal. My TS and SD-1 were free, so I happily took them, but they're not at all a staple of "my sound" or anything. If they broke, I probably wouldn't replace them. I'm also a little bit of a purist and/or snob. I've always viewed pedals and rack gear as the tools of cheesy 80's wank shred dorks, and I hate that shit, so I naturally carry a strong disgust for frills. My guitar heroes just plugged in and ripped it up - even with lower gain amps. Johnny Thunders used Fender combos and P-90 guitars and his tone was mean and nasty simply because he cranked his shit. I like effects pedals - flangers, delays, tremolos, wahs, etc - but I'm not into fuzz, dirt, distortion, etc. I'd rather get my sound naturally from the amp and from playing aggressively. That's just me. Other more talented and open-minded people do very very well with loaded pedal boards.

What pedals should I be looking at to put in front of my Vox AC15?

I need to beef it up a bit, and I would like to increase the "chunk" just a little (I think I can do some of that at the amp and the guitar, too).

I don't know dude. I've never tried any pedals with an AC15. I'm sure the usual suspects would be fine. How does it sound cranked? I think that if it sounds awesome cranked, then all you'd need at lower volumes is to just push the preamp harder with a boost. If it's not all there even when cranked, then you'll probably need the dirt of a nasty ol poo-poo distortion pedal to help out. Yuck. If that's the case, you're defeating the purpose of the AC15 which is a cool amp in it's own right. It's not a dirty high-gain beast. That's the snob in me. I think if you need distortion pedals to get your basic ballpark tone, you're using the wrong amp for your intended purpose.
 

Telegram Sam

New member
I'm thinking maybe they are more popular for people looking for versatility in covering the bases when playing cover tune gigs,
not so much for folks that find a sound and stick with it.

That said, amps and guitars have circuits too, if can you boost the signal with care between the too..., well, it seems a logical place to do it.
Angus Young does this, right?

I am going to have to add reverb for one, that's a given.
I find it odd that this amp doesn't have reverb.
 

Greg_L

Banned
I'm thinking maybe they are more popular for people looking for versatility in covering the bases when playing cover tune gigs,
not so much for folks that find a sound and stick with it.

That said, amps and guitars have circuits too, if can you boost the signal with care between the too..., well, it seems a logical place to do it.
Angus Young does this, right?

I am going to have to add reverb for one, that's a given.
I find it odd that this amp doesn't have reverb.

Angus supposedly boosted his signal with his wireless unit. Vintage Angus/Malcom tone is not very "dirty" though. It's awesome and aggressive, but it's damn near "clean" by today's standards.

I think pedals are great tools for people looking for variety and tonal possibilities. I'm not one of those people.
 

Mr. C

New member
There is a difference between a distortion pedal and an overdrive, right? At least that's what I've read over and over again. As Greg and ...oops, forgot, I think Miroslav(?) stated earlier, the overdrive boosts the signal to the amp, so my impression about a distortion pedal is that the sound of the pedal itself is just amplified by the amp. Of course since I'm usually wrong about these technical matters...I just might be wrong about this. I do want an overdrive to keep some of the character of my amp, but don't want just a totally clean boost, a little dirt wouldn't hurt.
 

Mr. C

New member
Hey Greg, look up the Mesa Flux Drive on YouTube and tell me what you think. They also have several others: ToneBurst (TubeScreamer clone?), Throttle, and forgot the name of the other. Anyways, a little analysis of the Flux Drive would be appreciated. I know it's my decision which pedal I get, but I like to hear other people's opinions. The Flux Drive is really more than I should spend, but since I just returned a pedal I bought I might be able to spend the extra $50 without my wife noticing what I did. (Even though she's pretty accepting of my GAS!!!)
 
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