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Do you own any “cheap” sounding pedals?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by SweetClyde99, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. SweetClyde99

    SweetClyde99 Tele-Holic

    Feb 1, 2016
    Jefferson City, MO
    Earlier today I was searching the archives for reviews on some Chinese clones of a popular overdrive pedal, and in these situations I inevitably come across someone who posts that the cheap Asian clone sounds “cheap.”
    1. I’m not sure how cheap translates to sound, and
    2. I am a bit skeptical that the poster would have arrived at exactly that adjective had he/she tried the pedal without prior knowledge of its cost or country of origin.

    What do you think? Do you have any cheap-sounding pedals, or can you help flesh out the definition of a cheap overdrive tone, as opposed to one that’s, for example, unpleasantly harsh, thin, or unnatural sounding?
    matrix likes this.
  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Interesting question, but yes, some pedals sound cheap to me. "Thin" might be a better term or the pots don't "sweep" far "enough" or perhaps the footswitch feels "hard" or "loud" or "wimpy". I have had three pedals that felt cheap, the Danelectro Deli pedals and the Boss DS-1. I know people will probably agree with the deli pedals because the switch and housings are pathetically fragile and as time went by, I'd say the effects were wimpy. People will probably disagree with me on the DS-1, but it was just blah. I modified mine the first week and it was still just blah. It served it's purpose fairly well, but there are way better pedals that do a similar effect.

    BTW, I don't own any of those pedals anymore and wouldn't put up with anything like them now.
    RetroTeleRod likes this.
  3. Rocksteadyeddy

    Rocksteadyeddy TDPRI Member

    Jun 10, 2018
    Bangsaen, Thailand
    Yep. I have the joyo vintage overdrive - tube screamer clone. Sounds great to me. I don't own an original Ibanez TS so can't give you an empirical comparison.
    However you tube has a wealth of A/B shoot outs for this very issue.
    Check out the you tube channel for 'In The Blues'. He has compared a wide variety of 'cheap' Chinese pedals - either as a demo or in shoot outs.
    His most impressive compared a Joyo American Sound with his amp. The amp cost the right side of 1000 pounds and the pedal ( a clone of Tech 21 Sans Amp) cost around 40 pounds. He does an A/B with sound only - leaving only yours ears to tell you which is which. A follow up vid is the reveal. Well worth checking out the vids.
    I bought the American Sound. The only issue I have is that it is designed to go direct (nothing wrong with that and a great advantage to giggers who can rock up with their amp in their gigg bag's pocket). I have tried using it as a stomp box into my blues junior and found it to generate a lot of hiss.
    Good luck on your quest - loads of very very impressive pedals coming out of China for 30 or 40 bucks a pop
  4. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Holic

    May 30, 2017
    Silicon Valley, CA
    I have a Danelectro phaser that is quite distorted sounding. Looks like a piece of junk too. If you take it to the used shop they make you pay to give it to them.
    Obsessed likes this.
  5. Just-Jim

    Just-Jim Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 4, 2008
    I don't really have any pedals that sound cheap to me. I probably flipped them years ago if I did. The thing I am finding is that many of my cheaper pedals sound better than my more expensive ones, so I don't really look at price when I buy pedals any more (or true bypass for that matter).
    SweetClyde99 likes this.
  6. RifleSlinger

    RifleSlinger Tele-Meister

    Mar 12, 2016
    Another vote for the DS-1. Too fizzy.
    Obsessed likes this.
  7. gobi_grey

    gobi_grey Tele-Holic

    Jun 7, 2011
    clinton, ia
    They gave me 5 bucks for mine. Guess I'm lucky.
    Obsessed and Digital Larry like this.
  8. Kayle McGuire

    Kayle McGuire Tele-Meister

    Jul 31, 2017
    I have a cheap striped Fender Stereo Chorus. It’s cheap because A) Poor build quality. It feels nothing like a solid Boss pedal. B) It has a lot of background noise when the mix is turned up. I’ve noticed with other higher quality pedals (Boss CE-2w, JHS Emperor) that is not the case.

    Cheap components result in excess noise (sometimes) and poor build quality decreases its lifetime. A pedal can only endure so much, I suppose.
  9. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 2, 2003
    Rocktron Sonic Glory. I love most all OD/distortion pedals ( Addicted to...? ),
    but found this one just generic and uninspiring, so it's gone
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  10. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Tele-Afflicted

    Joyo American Sound. Noisy. OTOH I have plenty of cheap Mooer pedals and they sound really good. I thought the Soul Food sounded cheap, but that’s because I was using it the wrong way.
    rogb likes this.
  11. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

    May 12, 2013
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Behringer Stereo Tremolo pedal. It doesnt sound cheap per se, but, it is built cheaply and I didnt trust it.
  12. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 25, 2011
    Turdcaster, WA
    There are cheap pedals that sound cheap or at times good and then there are expensive pedals that I can make to sound cheap.

    It seems to me, some folks, e.g., Jack White seem to do pretty well with making the cheap tonez sound really good.
    Obsessed likes this.
  13. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Dec 11, 2009
    Bloomington, MN
    I gave up years ago with pedals. I just couldn't make them sound like warm tubes no matter what I tried. They always sound too digital to me...
    gobi_grey likes this.
  14. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2006
    I use an Ibanez Lo-Fi pedal (LF-1, I think?). It's basically a bass-treble cut/gain pedal. You can get those faraway-sounding radio tones, and such.

    But then, I guess that one's supposed to sound cheap.
    SweetClyde99 likes this.
  15. richey88

    richey88 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 28, 2009
    philly suburbs
    Have lots of pedals I paid very little for, but have been fairly lucky that they sound good..
  16. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2017
    York PA
    joyo Vintage OD & Sweet baby on my board..when i use a board...sweet baby is the most transparent pedal i ever any will just enhance what you already have with no coloration..i tried to not believe it cause it was $22..but it def does it...great for just a lil push or a lil wake up to an already good tone
  17. fabricator

    fabricator Tele-Meister

    Jun 29, 2012
    I can make nearly any pedal sound cheap.
  18. DeVilleDude

    DeVilleDude Tele-Holic

    My Joyo flanger was my intro to the genre, and I thought it was pretty good until I got my Source Audio Orb. Now it sounds pretty cheap by comparison (to my ears). Similar experience with Joyo's chorus vs the Orb, but I do throw the Joyo chorus on my small board occasionally. The Joyo flanger never sees any board time.
  19. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2006
    Near Athens GA USA
    I've brought a lot of inexpensive pedals in the last few years but most sound quite good, not significantly different from the original circuit design.

    My Behringer Vintage Tube Monster sounded cheap, buzzy and thin, until I replaced the tube.
  20. J-Flanders

    J-Flanders TDPRI Member

    Aug 4, 2016
    Cheap translates to sound/tone because you associate it with sounds/tones coming from cheap equipment. Think clock radio, beach radio, or (old) telephone quality... So here's your answer:
    No bass and no treble or relatively lots of mids (700hz-1kHz) = cheap sounding.
    Turn the contour control on a Marshall all the way and you get that sound. It sounds kinda cheap on its own but it's perfect in a band mix. It requires a different mindset to fully appreciate this kind of tone for guitar.

    The opposite is Fenderishly scooped mids, or relatively more bass and treble = HiFi sounding.

    It's associated with 'cheap' because in general, bass and to some degree treble are harder to reproduce well than mid frequencies.
    Expensive (Hifi) equipment has better amps and speakers than a cheap kitchen radio.
    You could say one is meant to be heard and the other meant to be enjoyed.

    Maybe next time you should try an analog distortion pedal...o_O
    Joking aside, I guess the huge amount of gain available in pedals combined with hard clipping results in something that approaches square waves and they might remind you of synthesizer tones which in turn you associate with digital (though there are analoge synths)
    EHX marketing babble describes it as 'violin like sustain'... Suddenly you're thinking Stradivarius instead of Casio...;)
    Mr Ridesglide likes this.
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