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How do you set your overdrive pedal?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by bluesky636, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. bluesky636

    bluesky636 Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2010
    I'm not talking about what specific settings you use, but how you arrive at those settings. Here is what I do:

    I have two OD pedals, a Monte Allums Supra Plus modded Boss OD-3 and Monte Allums H2O Plus modded Boss BD-2. I use the OD-3 primarily with my Fender SCN equipped Strat, and the BD-2 with my GFS Fat Pat humbucker equipped parts guitar. I play through a Fender BDRI with a full JJ retube kit from Eurotubes. I like my ODs to go from a nice clean sound to a slightly overdriven sound with good pick dynamics.

    With the guitar volume set to about 5 or 6, I first set the pedal gain controls to zero. Then I adjust the pedal volume or level controls so that the level with the pedal on is the same or just slight greater than the level with the pedal off. Then I adjust the pedal tone control to match as closely as possible the guitar tone with the pedal on as with it off. This establishes my pedal-on "clean baseline".

    With all settings as described, I then start increasing the gain control so that the clean baseline just barely starts to sound a little hairy. Since increasing the gain usually increases the overall volume through the pedal, I roll the pedal volume back slightly until the pedal on/pedal off levels are the same again.

    From this point, as I increase the volume knob on the guitar, the OD gradually increases until it reaches the desired amount of OD with the guitar volume set to 10. Roll the guitar volume back and it cleans up nicely. It all sounds very natural. Picking dynamics are great. I can then adjust the amp volume or the pedal volume as necessary to achieve the desired overall volume without messing up the OD sound.

    The net results are slightly different settings on the OD-3 and BD-2 as the output levels of the two guitars are quite different. If I want more OD than either pedal provides by itself, I use the BD-2 to drive the OD-3. Sounds great. [​IMG]

    So how do you do it?
  2. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 31, 2004
    Hackettstown, NJ
    Guitar vol full. Amp set to my dirty rhythm tone, but also Eq'ed so that when I roll back the guitar vol it can get relatively clean. That's it- the guitar & amp are set. Then I add an OD on top, for a little more gain, compression, and I call it "juice"... just makes it a little easier to play than the rhythm tone... takes off a little of the top end, smooths everything out.

    If I'm playing live, I'll also bump the vol up on the OD for a solo boost, OR add a clean boost pedal after the OD.
  3. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    I try not to overthink things, but there is a method:

    1. I use clean Fender amps (rarely turned up to to the point of breakup- maybe just a little, but some gigs are very quiet too) as I always want to have that access to that clean sound as it's not just a rhythm sound, it's a lead tone for me too

    2. I gravitate towards OD's that either breakup a Fender amp (or emulate that) and try to find ones who's Gain sound and EQ can create that sound at any volume I need- mainly to either match or just be a little louder than the guitar>amp (pedal bypassed) sound
    For me that is either a Blues Driver, a Dano TOD V.1 or a modded GC/MXR Classic Distortion- they are all capable of doing more or less the same things for me, but they each have their own OD flavor (and different Gain range, strengths/weaknesses) but all 3 are pretty "transparent" IMO

    3. With the Pedal Gain up just enough to cause breakup and the pedal Level where I want it, I adjust the pedal EQ to be almost identical to what I hear if the pedal were bypassed, and then tweak from there. I then just maybe turn the Gain and Volume up a bit more as it seems like for a lot of music the pedal is ON the whole time and I am controlling clean/dirt with the guitar.

    4. If I want more volume and sustain (not really more distortion) I will run the BD-2 as a dedicated lead boost pedal before (guitar>BD-2>Dano TOD>amp) one of the other 2 pedals- the tone does not change!
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  5. bluesky636

    bluesky636 Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2010
    I'm an engineer first, guitar player second. :lol:

    Thanks for you input.

    I don't gig, I just play at home and like to get a similar sound to what I would get if I could crank my amp. :D
  6. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 31, 2004
    Hackettstown, NJ
    aaah...... then buy an attenuator and crank your amp. Seriously! I use an attenuator at home all the time. You won't get "tv conversation" volumes out of it, but you can bring it down to a low roar (as opposed to a high roar!) :p

    You could also go the route of "finding an overdrive pedal that sounds alot like my amp so I can use IT for some of the dirt I'm not getting from my amp, since I'm no longer cranking my amp." That could be a very long quest. I've done it. And while I LOVE OD pedals, for the specific goal you have I SERIOUSLY suggest an attenuator.
  7. bluesky636

    bluesky636 Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2010
    I am not looking for advice. I have no interest or need for an attenuator. I was simply describing how I achieve the sound I am after and am just curious how others go about it. I thought it might be a more interesting discussion than a dozen threads on "Which OD should I buy?" ;)
  8. Brian blaut

    Brian blaut Friend of Leo's

    Feb 13, 2005
    SF North Bay
    I like to set the gain so that it's not too gainy, but just gainy enough. Then I like to set the volume so that it has enough volume, but not too much. Then I set the treble and bass controls to where each is just right, not too much, not too little. That's about it for the pedal, but I also say 3 hail Mary's and click my heels inbetween each step. Seems to work purty good so far. Ask me how I set my amp. ;)
  9. bluesky636

    bluesky636 Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2010
    If it involves swinging dead chickens over your head during a full moon, I don't want to know any more. :lol:
  10. tele2313

    tele2313 Tele-Meister

    Jan 16, 2009
    Nashville TN
    I use two distortion pedals. Both of them after a compressor pedal so they sound pretty much the same everytime I engage them. The first pedal is for light dirt for rhythm or some country leads. The second is for a much heavier sound for anything else. After the dirt pedals I have a volume pedal I have one foot on all the time it seems. I leave my guitars volume on 11 and my tone cranked to the treble side. For different tones I switch pickups from bridge to middle to neck. On occasion I will back off the tone usually when I'm on my middle strat pickup.
  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    ^^^ That's basically how I set my pedals/amps at gigs- to try to get a cranked amp (but my amp ;)) kind of sound at any volume and still always have access to the amp's clean tone too; I think I come pretty close. BTW, most of the time I'm only using one of the OD's I listed earlier depending either on the type of music or amp I am using, so the #1 spot on my pedalboard (very small) is always open and changing as needed, its fun!
  12. emanym

    emanym TDPRI Member

    May 26, 2010
    I set my amp to the loudest cleanish tone I can get out of it first.On the OD pedal I put the level all the way up,which at this point isn't increasing volume as much as gain due to the amp settings.Then set the gain & tone to taste & if necessary use an attenuator.

    Note:This is for NMV amps.The idea is to drive the V1 tube hard,kinda like using the pedal as an external "gain" knob for the amp.
  13. stevieboy

    stevieboy Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    the valley
    I set mine in the back of a drawer.
  14. superhand

    superhand Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 4, 2009
    Clovis, CA
    I was going to say in the garbage can
  15. silentechoes

    silentechoes Tele-Meister

    I'm all about the simple: gain dimed, volume at slightly hotter than unity, tone flat (noon). The reasoning for these: I believe that tone should come from the player, not the tone knob; I have different pedals for different amounts of gain, and slightly hot volume to cut through.
  16. RexGuitars

    RexGuitars TDPRI Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    KY, OH, WV, USA
    I use a Fulltone FD2 w/ my amp set to almost clean. I run a Boss BD-2 before for a boost/crisper OD sound. I run a EH Big Muff Pi after and use the OD side of the FD2 w/ it to give it a RHCP sound.
  17. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    I set my Fender amp clean. Then I use an overdrive designed for a clean amp and use it for all my overdrive sounds. I set the pedal so that the drive is to taste and the level is just above the bypass level. The amp then basically give me the same clean and overdrive tones at different volumes.

    Since I play at home my setup is designed for nice sounds at living room volumes.
  18. JesterR

    JesterR Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 8, 2009
    Russia, St.-Petersburg
    I set one overdrive for light OD and another for heavier OD. And no basic rules. Set them on settings, that sounds best for me. Only one basic rule is setting them a bit louder, then bypassed signal, because in that case they sit better in mix, no extra gain needed (better to be slightly louder, but with all dynamics, then compressed dead tone), and pedals stacking better when set in that way. Oh, second rule is, two low gainers are better, then one high gainer for me. And not only because you can get 3 overdriven tones with them, but because higher gain tone (when both are on) feels better. When I had Catalinbread SCOD, I loved it, but when I started stacking CB Formula N5 into CB DLS, I realized, that it sounds even better :)
  19. vedt

    vedt Tele-Holic

    Nov 8, 2010
    I set all knobs to noon and then adjust slightly from there. My opinion is that a pedal maker knows their pedal best, so if you have to crank the tone, gain, etc. knobs all the way to one side, then you're using the wrong pedal. It's sort of like buying a suit and then having to have every single thing tailored. If it's the right suit, it should fit well off the rack. Same with an overdrive - it should sound good in the middle.
  20. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    I move all of the knobs around until I get what sounds like me.

    Currently, my main OD is the FD2 Mosfet. I set the volume about 10 or 11 o'clock, and the first switch to "FM", then I run the tone around 9 or 10 o'clock depending on the room, gain 10-12 o'clock depending on my mood, second switch set to "mosfet", and boost maxed.

    I also run my boosta grande in front of it. Usually set around 11 o'clock, just to goose things just a smidge.

    Gets nice and fat and warm, while still retaining a nice cut to get me out front when I need an overdriven solo tone.
  21. JesterR

    JesterR Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 8, 2009
    Russia, St.-Petersburg
    Actually, I do not think so. If this combination work great for you, that is your sound. If you can set in this way and not tweak them every 5 seconds, it would be great.

    Also, for example, TS-like pedals has tone control acts like tone of your guitar, and you should turn it all the way up to have all your highs, and I used all screamers in that way. Maybe just a little roll off, when gain is high.

    Another point is that knobs are created to adjust your pedal to your guitar and mp. So, with one amp knobs can be on noon, and with another, you will tweak them in another positions. Also, hot modern humbackers and vintage singles needs different gain adjustment. But yeah, in this case you should remember, that if your knob is maxed and not enough, you need another pedal.

    And finally, some pedals really sounds great with extreme settings. I really love my formula N5 with gain all the way up. Pure Neil Young style tweed madness)) Also best sound on fuzz face is gain on max, and slight adjust with volume knob.

    So, If it sounds good for you, that is your pedal.
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