A clean-sound, tube preamp pedal? Not overdrive or distortion

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Marcelo R, May 15, 2017.

  1. Marcelo R

    Marcelo R Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2014
    Location:
    Uruguay
    Judging by what I've seen, almost every pedal effect that includes a tube on its circuit is actually an overdrive or even a distortion pedal.

    Now, I wonder if there's any tube pedal that acts not like an overdriver or distortion pedal, but like a preamp that adds some "tube flavour" to a solid-state amp.

    I saw some pedals that come close to this, but all of them finally get into overdrive territory, and that's not the goal.

    I'm talking about pedals, but it also could be an off-board preamp unit, of course.

    Any recommendations? Maybe some schematics?

    Thank you very much, best regrads.
     
  2. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,215
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Location:
    Turdcaster, WA
    ehx lpb2ube...use some old rca 12au7. I frame or buffer my pedal board with this and it works great.
     
    Agitator and ukepicker like this.
  3. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,814
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2014
    Location:
    Finland
    Just turn down the Gain knob on the pedal until you get clean enough.

    I have a Blackstar HT-Dual, with two "channels". The clean side stays clean until you turn the Gain way up, or switch to Crunch. The hotter side distorts easily, unless you turn the Gain way down.
     
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  4. coolikedat99

    coolikedat99 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    129
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    -Two Notes Le Clean
    -Laney IRT Pulse
    -London Power Preamp Kits
    -Effectrode’s offerings
    -Sarno Music Solutions Classic Tube Preamp

    Several of these have a dirty channel as well, but the clean channels sound pretty good on the demos I've seen.
     
  5. Ed Boyd

    Ed Boyd Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,916
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    http://www.effectrode.com/blackbird-vacuum-tube-preamp/

    The problem is a real tube preamp needs 150-330v plate voltage. Quality parts and transformers are expensive and it will be a small scale specialty product. It is pretty much easier and not much more costly to just play a quality tube amp to begin with.

    Most "tube" pedals are starved plate designs. They are marketing guitar Jedi mind tricks. Usually IMO these things are not as good as quality analog solid state pedals.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
    Agitator and bottlenecker like this.
  6. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,969
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2015
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    What Ed said. If you want outboard tube clean that's worth anything, get a tube mic preamp with a real power supply.
     
    jimash likes this.
  7. wulfenganck

    wulfenganck Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    867
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Location:
    Seligenstadt, Germany
    I recommend those: http://www.reussenzehn.de/de/musiker/gitarren-booster.php

    I have the "Max Röhrig" which is not continued anymore. I first used it only as a volume booster in the effect loop, but then had it always on to "smoothen" the sound. It left my pedalboard since I have my present amp, as this one has a convincing basic sound and the Max Röhrig is a bit....bulky and needs a 12V AC-poweradapter.
     
  8. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,673
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    Location:
    NJ
    I've been using an Ibanez Tube King, made by BK Butler in Denver.
    It really sounds different with every tube. Even different ones of the same type.
    It came with a new EHX 12au7. meh.
    Ended up dropping in a NOS International branded Mullard that I have been sitting on for about 38 years.
    It can do both ends of the spectrum rather nicely. Savage distortion =on the one hand.
    But turn down the gain and up the level, and the tone comes through.
    And it runs on a one-spot tap !
     
    DeVilleDude and joeybyron like this.
  9. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,773
    Joined:
    May 9, 2014
    Location:
    Behind my beard.
    Be prepared to roll your guitar's volume pot back a little for a little less gain.
     
  10. Marcelo R

    Marcelo R Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2014
    Location:
    Uruguay
    Thank you very much to all of you for your replies.

    I was considering a Behringer Mic 100 Tube Ultragain - wich is what is available here in Uruguay - but I'm not sure if it could serve for this purpose. Do you think it will work?

    And yes, the obvious answer is "play a tube amp" :D I've got an AC15 Vox wich sounds great to me, but the idea was to add some tube tone to a solid-state amp - an old Kustom L1 wich is now on repairing.

    Best regards.
     
  11. Slim

    Slim Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    846
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    Location:
    Fayetteville, AR
    I think you'd be disappointed in using a mic preamp into a guitar amp. Plus, I think these Behringer tube things are the starved plate design @Ed Boyd is talking about.
     
    JD0x0 likes this.
  12. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    3,810
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Rather than the Mic 100, try and get hold of a VT999 by Behringer and budget to replace the shockingly awful 12ax7 it comes with with something better. I get quite pleasing results from mine with an EH 12ay7. It's a starved plate design, but don't hold that against it. It can go from clean boost through quite growly to over the top and can really push the preamp valves in my valve amps when set fairly clean with the master volume raised. It comes in to its own when used as an overdrive to my solid states though. Much nicer than the on-board diode clippers. I've also run it as the pre-amp into the FX return. Good sounds emanate.
    It has gain, master and bass,middle+treble to play with and a reasonable noise gate. Check them out on Youtube, it may fit the bill for you sonically and financially.
    I've tried a JJ 12at7 ( meh ), JJ 12au7 ( hmm, not bad. Bit flaccid though ) EH 12ay7 ( very good ) and various 12ax7's ( all too gainy ) in mine and find the 12ay7 gives just as much gain at the extreme end of the gain dial, but is far easier to dial in something clean(ish) and punchy.
    Avoid the VT911 unless you want to emulate The Stooges. Seriously, they may be cheap, but they are only good for raucous fuzzy stuff.
     
  13. Marcelo R

    Marcelo R Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2014
    Location:
    Uruguay

    Intresting: I must admit that I didn't know about the "starved plate" concept - though it isn't probably very difficult to realize it: after all, pedals don't usually run at high-voltage. Here's a quote from another forum that seems adamant:

    "Starved plate tube designs are 99.99999% marketing crap. They use $1 Chinese 12AX7's basically as high pass filters in a horribly misguided attempt at "warmth", and honestly it jacks up the price while at the same time screwing with the sound."


    Well, I think this answers my question. Thank you very much for helping me on avoiding waste my money.

    Nevertheless, there's this nice pedal with a tube on it... :D :D :D

    palmer-mutterstolz-179619.jpg
     
  14. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    30
    Posts:
    5,915
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    I think a 'tube clean pedal' will disappoint someone looking to 'tube up' a SS amp. It doesn't work like that, IMO. You can't just throw a tube in the mix and make your sound 'more tubey' especially 'clean'
    The pleasantness of a tube clean sound is due to the distortion of the tubes that is happening even with a 'clean' tone. The harmonic distortion is what gives that complexity and fullness. If you use a 'Mic preamp' you're NOT going to get that. The tube stage is generally not meant to produce harmonic distortion in a mic preamp. Also, much of those pleasant tube cleans are actually from multiple tube stages, including the preamp and the Phase inverter and power section. A single preamp tube or two is not going to produce the same sound as a harmonically swirling Phase inverter stage.

    Mic preamps and Hi Fi tube amps used for guitar amplification will not usually make a guitar sound better. They're designed for accurate sound reproduction, which is NOT what guitar players are after. The sound of an electric guitar has a lot to do with inaccurate reproduction and distortions coloring the sound. If you plug in a Hi fi amp or Tube mic preamp they will not provide this 'distortion' I know I also should clarify OP wants a 'clean' tone, people need to understand that 'clean' guitars even the crystally clearest Fender twin you've heard, all have 'distortion' on their clean sounds which is what gives 'that sound' people are going for when using tube amps.

    Starved plate pedals and amps sound like poo, IMO. I never found one that I liked the sound from. Careful of marketing. People think things are superior because they have 'tubes' most are pretty gimmicky, IME.

    Dont get me wrong, you totally could use a mic preamp to give you a 'clean boost' it will not sound 'tubey' just because it has a tube in it. It will sound 'transparent' which is a term often used by guitar players, what they dont realize is a 'transparent' pedal adds nothing to the sound, as the term might imply, and most pedals marketed as 'transparent' actually color the tone and aren't really 'transparent'
    A mic preamp would work well if you wanted a completely transparent 'boost' to your signal.



    Here's an example of a non gimmicky pedal which uses high voltage
    http://www.delisleguitar.com/shop/de-lisle-eighty-sixed-ef86-tube-preamp-overdrive/
    this might work, if the volume is set high, and gain is set low, to add some more 'tube flavor' to a SS amp, but you're still pushing transistor stages, in the amp, which clip differently than tubes, and will in turn sound and respond different than a tube amplifier no matter how many, or what tube pedal(s) you put in front of it.

    When all is said and done, it often just makes more sense to get a different amp, when you consider most 'tube' pedals are considerably over $200. That could get you a used hand wired VHT special 6 or special 6 ultra, all tube, single ended amp.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  15. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,814
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2014
    Location:
    Finland
    Some tube preamp/overdrive pedals run at high voltages - but they are still just a tube or two in the system.

    On the other hand, there are some analog SS amps that sound "tubey" on their own. They might not accurately emulate your favorite vintage tube amp, though.
     
  16. Marcelo R

    Marcelo R Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2014
    Location:
    Uruguay
    You stated it very clearly. Thanks!
     
  17. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,041
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    dublin
    there are of course a healthy selection of readymade hybrid amps with tube preamps and solid state power sections for your consideration.
     
  18. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    10,122
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    Coral Springs, FL
    I thought most hybrids, although they have a pre-amp tube, are still basically SS in the pre-amp. And the power sections are pure tube.

    But for clean, which is what the OP wants, this is what he wants anyway...like me. He's not looking for gain in the pre-amp.

    Clean and warm.
     
  19. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,683
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lewes De.
    Do you make your own projects ? I designed and built a Nuvistor preamp where I could move the bias down toward cut off which produces cool mellow tones rather than the sharp fuzzy distortion from current starvation. I know the schematic is around somewhere. 12 V DC heater 35 V plate which is what it wants for proper operation. Gain of 10.
     
  20. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    2,008
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Location:
    Arivaca AZ

    Don't know if you can find one but I'm still using a Peavey TGRaxx tube preamp (2 12ax7) in my rack. It's not a pedal but does the job Sometimes they are available on EBAy. I think they were discontinued about 20 years ago,. They can be adjusted from clean to a nice bluesy OD.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.