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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Why do overdrive pedals sound so damn good through my Vibro Champ?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by teleblueman, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. teleblueman

    teleblueman Tele-Meister

    Dec 7, 2009
    I gig with a Fender 6G3 clone as well as a MAZ 18 sometimes, but nothing gets me that "dream tone" as my little Vibro Champ home practice amp. The Vibro Champ has incredible cleans, a good "edge of break up tone" (with my Tele), and when I push it with an OCD or K.O.T. it just sounds killer. Nice, cutting, lead tones that sustain like crazy while not being "too much" crunch. If only I could gig with it:(

    Would a DRRI offer similar tones and accept pedals as well as the Vibro Champ? If not, What, in your opinion , would offer these tones in a gig worthy amp??

    P.S. Modulation & delay pedals also shine through a Vibro Champ....I mean they sound REALLY GOOD. What's up with that?

  2. tubejockey

    tubejockey Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2015
    the bozone
    A deluxe reverb definitely takes pedals very well. I find that I prefer pedals through amps that don't over emphasize bass. It may be that what you like about the Champ is the small speaker.
    dr_tom and Danjabellza like this.

  3. BubbaTheHutt

    BubbaTheHutt TDPRI Member

    Aug 18, 2017
    I think it is the single ended thing. I have a THD Univalve I feel the same way about. It just makes every pedal I own sound great. Drives are chewy, modulation and delays are lush. It is not always my favorite amp on its own, but it kills with pedals. There is just a harmonic complexity to a SE amp that I can't seem to find in even great sounding A/B, push-pull amps.

  4. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2016
    I too love my Vibro Champ. I'm saving up for an SF Deluxe Reverb to use as a gigging amp.

  5. fender_freak

    fender_freak Tele-Meister

    Jul 13, 2017
    La Crosse, WI
    I have a SF Vibrochamp and a 68 Super Reverb, I think tonally they're both very similar and they take pedals equally well, it's just the VC has the same sound at a lower level. So I'd look for a Super Reverb. Or just mike the VC.

  6. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Holic

    Jul 1, 2008
    because you can crank the amp and then tweak with the pedal. the other amps have to be turned up too loud compared to the vibro champ.

    play music!
    tubejockey likes this.

  7. bryan83

    bryan83 Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2006
    I run my '66 Vibro Champ between 8-10 on the volume dial. I get some amazing slightly overdriven tones. These things are awesome! For some more OD I turn on my Timmy.

    DRRI's take OD pedals very well and you will get Moreno volume. I like them but sold mine to becuase I got bit by the vintage fender amp bug. Looking for a real one.
    asnarski likes this.

  8. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2007
    Moon Township, PA
    Te ultimate quest. Translating the sound of a small amp to a big space.
    Dumble, Mesa Boogie, Demeter and everyone else have been working on that for 40 years, and it's not easy.
    The space is part of the equation.
    asnarski likes this.

  9. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    "accepts pedals well" is really a meaningless phrase, even with "overdrive pedals". There are far too many variables in "overdrive" pedals alone - some are clean boosts meant to push an amp into saturation (which is what overdrive really is), some create their own distortion - and a zillion different ways - gain levels vary, tone stacks vary....

    And that's before you get into the amps themselves. Comparing a VC and a DR or DRRI is comparing apples and watermelons - they operate it completely different ways, and the operation changes even more significantly when pushed into distortion.

    Champs are unique single ended, low output amps and while there are amps that operate similarly with more output they are uncommon and generally expensive. The speaker also will make a huge difference - it's nearly impossible to duplicate a Champ's sound with larger speakers and multiple 8" speakers are neither practical nor similar in sound. The amp design is also not very efficient and becomes exponentially more complicated when made "bigger".

    It''d be best to test different amps yourself - with your guitar and pedal(s) so you know exactly how they react/sound. What you are looking for can't be precisely duplicated and using your sears is the only practical method of judgement.

  10. vintagelove

    vintagelove Tele-Meister

    Oct 18, 2014
    My 2 cents, because it's a relatively low volume amp, you can hit the front end of it hard enough to sound right.

  11. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2009
    I personally think of a relatively clean amp as being one that "takes pedals well". Who needs to add dirt to an amp that already does that low on the dial. Same with a Princeton Reverb. You have more of a base pallet with a higher volume potential to shape once you dial in what you like. Thats one aspect I loved about my non-reverb Princeton. It just started to think about breaking up at about 9.

  12. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    IMO (and no offense meant at all guys!!) the confusion comes in because 1) both those descriptions can be the same - or mutually exclusive, and 2) they *only* apply to "distortion" pedals - not any kind of time-shift pedals, "spaciousness" pedal, and not even true overdrives/clean boosts, because there's no qualification for the amp being set at max clean so it can be pushed into saturation.

    Hitting a "low volume" amp hard can do something or almost nothing depending on the preamp design, how it's set, the overall amp design and at what point the preamp pushes the power amp hard (or doesn't - ever). "Low volume" has nothing to do with the topography or gain level - just the "loudness".

    And a "relatively clean" amp + a "dirt" pedal limits things to one category - and not all clean amps work well with specific types of "dirt" pedals, some work fine with overdrives that add some of their own distortion but not distortion or fuzz pedals; others don't work with overdrives (that add distortion) well at all but get mild distortion nicely with clean boost type overdrives...yet may or may not work with heavier distortion or fuzz pedals.

    So this is exactly what I meant when I said "accepts pedals well" is a meaningless phrase - not only the type of pedal and its settings, but the style of music, specific amp settings and amp volume level (every progressive setting of each one - thousands of different possible combinations) all need to be defined. There's simply no way to provide a clear answer with that many variables, although these threads keep coming up and well-meaning answers given.

  13. vintagelove

    vintagelove Tele-Meister

    Oct 18, 2014

    I'm not speaking in hypotheticals, I'm speaking from experience. It's not about volume, it's about hitting the front end of a gain stage hard enough that it starts to add the nonlinearities that we love about tube amps.

    Want a wimpy distortion tone, plug your dirt pedal into an amp with the volume low on the pedal.

    Want a better tone, hit that gain stage hard and attenuate it afterward.

    I rebuilt an amp which allowed things to be patched in between gain stages, and the volume could also be controlled. What I found was regardless of MV, if I hit the first gain stage hard, and attenuated it afterwards, the sound was much better than if I plugged into the first gain stage and used the pedal to reduce to the same volume volume.

    Regardless of how hard the following gain stages were hit, as long as that first one was cooking, the sound was there.

    My point about the op's amp is it's much easier to tolerate the volume of a 5 watt amp being pushed, than a 100w. And even when we're not talking a dirt pedal pushing the small amp. The tone the op seems to be fond of is created by pushing the tubes until they start doing what we all love tubes for, adding nonlinearities that our ears find interesting. To be clear this doesn't mean distortion, just running it to the point of where the magic starts happening.

    A BFSR sounds amazing on 1.5, but few will argue it doesn't sound better on 3.5.

    Well, maybe our wives...
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017

  14. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    I agree - when you are talking about a good VC like the OP is discussing. My point was that not all low-volume amps, or amps set to low volume, sound good with a front-end gain hit. Quite a bit depends on the topography of the amp's first stage *and* what follows.

    And IMO this is one of the examples where it doesn't work. Of the couple hundred or so Super Reverbs I've serviced (and the - heck, I don't even remember - ones I've owned, gigged with, tweaked, modded etc) exactly zero sounded good turned up to 1 1/2. 3 1/2 yes - there's normally a point between 3-5 (depending on several amp setup factors) where almost all medium and larger Fender amps start to drive the speakers enough to produce the amp's full frequency response. Below that point some players that prefer clean tones like the sound, but it's not the optimum "lower volume" clean sound the amp is capable of. The speakers simply are producing an imbalanced sound that is upper-mid heavy and lacking bass. Cranking the bass control doesn't help - at that volume level it has little effect or causes the sound to go oddly hollow, not more full.

    And when an amp is lacking normal bottom end and it's hit with a high-gain boost (or "overdrive" that produces distortion or doesn't - or the master is used to allow the preamp to be cranked for high gain) the resulting sound is thin and buzzy. With no bottom end to start with the distorted signal (even mildly distorted) can't possibly sound like the cranked amp because the frequency response is incomplete.

    :et me be clear so there's no argument (please - this is a preference thing - an opinion of what sounds best - not what's "right") - there are players who like the low-volume, less-bass sound. And they like it when it's "overdriven" (when that term is used for low to medium distortion), without the full amount of bass. IMO, though, if a larger amp is being used like that much better tone is available by simply using a smaller amp that can be cranked up enough to fully drive the speakers, which is what virtually all gigging players I've worked with in the last 10 or 15 years do.

    Anyway, back to a Vibro Champ - If the speaker is decent (or it's run through a big cabinet, which I've actually used as a gig setup) they can sound *amazing* with a good boost pedal in front. I use an old Klon Centaur, but the Tone City Bad Horse is almost a dead-on copy tone wise, and if the VC is cranked to the top of its headroom and it's hit with a good clean boost like that (that does not color the signal) the resulting overdriven sound is absolutely *huge*. You can easily get the sweet, singing Larry Carlton sound or even go more aggressive, and the volume level is much higher (with a cabinet - or mic'd) than most would think. I've played like that with two different drummers - playing with sticks - in small clubs. Works amazingly well.

  15. vintagelove

    vintagelove Tele-Meister

    Oct 18, 2014

    Ironically I play a lot of jazz, and yes a super reverb sounds great at 1.5. Brite off, t3.5 mid10 bass3/4... mmmmm

    But it still sounds better at 3.5.
    Silverface likes this.

  16. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    +1. Exactly what I was talking about regarding differing opinions regarding amp sound. I think it's wonderful you found a setup that works for you!

  17. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2016
    Silicon Valley
    If you want more of the same tone without miking you could try running two VC's live. Many performers have run several identical amps live. With the side benefit of not having to worry about an amp failing mid-song.
    Of course two amps won't seem twice as loud to your ears, but it will be a bit more sound, with wider dispersion.

  18. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    That's a good system.

    I can't gig nowadays due to some nagging pain issues, but when I did I generally applied the same equipment technique no matter what style I was playing (and I played just about everything short of metal/hardcore, punk straight jazz or classical) - the lowest-output amp I could crank near the top of the headroom at each specific venue (with just a smidgen of room for clean solos); whatever pedals I needed for what I was playing including a reasonably non-coloring clean boost; and on every type of guitar I rolled the volume control(s) back about 75% for normal clean playing.

    I used the same thing since the 70's, which I got from Clarence White and a bunch of players have gotten from me (one of them pasted me with my motto "No Chops but Great Tone"©). With the right setup a good tube amp can be driven with a pedal - or even better, from the guitar or even pick attack (I pick very lightly most of the time). I also roll guitar tone controls back just a bit and turning those up changes the attack slightly.

    Most gigs since the 70's were with a '64 Vibroverb (later a '64 Vibroverb Custom), '62 Concert, holland Little Jimi (dialed in to below-Delouxe Reverb output), a DR or a '55 Deluxe, but rarely the Vibroverb or Concert - most of the time the Holland or '55 Deluxe was plenty.

    Many players who had constantly struggled tonally - especially with larger amps - found it a simple solution once they got through the learning curve (mainly the guitar controls). And most gigging players I've known have multiple amps and rarely needed to do more than get rid of a duplication or two and pick up something smaller.

    Oh - and ALWAYS take a backup amp to gigs. Trust me on this one!:eek:

  19. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 5, 2012
    South Louisiana
    I also agree its cause you can turn it up. Mine stays on 7.

  20. jondanger

    jondanger Friend of Leo's

    Jan 27, 2011
    Charm City, MD
    Have you thought about a non-reverb Princeton? Kind of under the radar, and definitely has some tonal similarities to the VC.

    Here's a demo with a BB Preamp:


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