"Bluesbreaker" styled pedals

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by steam-powered, May 17, 2015.

  1. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have a madbean (board based) King of Klones, which is a clone on a Prince of Tone, which is half of a King of Tone, which is based on a BB1, which I liked more before I found out there was TS genes hidden inside.

    I do consider it a bright pedal, and I play Esquires through bright but fairly squishy amps.
    Tone controls stay around 10-11 o'clock, two of them because the KoT style trimmer is on top instead of on the board.
    Not exactly the same as a BB1, but I believe they share the tone control that actually sounds good and clear turned down, so functionally it doesn't have to be overly bright, if you can stand to twist that tone knob back to the right spot.

    I sometimes have visual issues with pedal settings, wanting to set the knobs in familiar ways.
     
  2. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    ^ I don't really think the TS and the BB1 have much in common...
     
  3. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

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    I don't either but there was a post by 11 gauge where he discusses the similarities.
     
  4. ICTRock

    ICTRock Tele-Afflicted

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    to clarify, he was discussing the XOTIC BB Pre
     
  5. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes - The BB that 11G was writing up was the BB Preamp - not a Bluebreaker pedal. The BB Preamp is kinda like a TS, but the Bluebreaker pedal is not.
     
  6. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

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    That would be me this morning, also! I found the videos and information about it a few weeks ago, but finally got a chance to try a Mooer Blues Crab last week and really liked it. The Snouse Black Box is basically the same price, and is supposedly based on the '92 original original Bluesbreaker circuit, which may be a bit warmer (though if it sounded just like Blues Crab in a nice handwired box, I would not be disappointed).

    I definitely don't think of it like a Tubescreamer. Reminds me more of either a Klon-style or something like the Mad Professor Sweet Honey - just a little bit of hair added to your tone with some dynamic brightness and saturation.

    They are low output, however, so you basically need to run the volume at 3:00 (or higher) and adjust gain to taste. Excited for the Snouse to arrive, but he's on back order because demand has been high - may be a few weeks out.
     
  7. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Snouse is the fantastic. You will love it.
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Oh, good, it probably sounds way better now...

    Reading posts by 11 gauge takes all my tech concentration, got lost on that one.

    I've come close to buying a Blues Crab a couple of times, but among those who love it there are enough others around the net who say it falls well short of an original BB1, so skipped spending the $45- $50 for a used one.
     
  9. richey88

    richey88 Friend of Leo's

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    Betcha a dollar those are Pro Jr's (I know for a fact Jeff's are, too far away for Noel).
     
  10. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    You are probably right. :D
     
  11. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

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    Awesome! It never hurts to get at least one endorsement from another poster after committing the money. Still, the vibe on this one is pretty universally positive. I expect it to have flaws, also, because the original Bluesbreaker pedal had some flaws, but it looks like a very nicely built copy at a very reasonable price.

    I have not played an original Bluesbreaker, and certainly not side-to-side. I don't get the impression that people are disappointed by the Blues Crab. Like I said before, it isn't like a DS-1, OCD, Tubescreamer, etc. where most experienced guitarists have had access to the real version of one. The pedal is slightly low output, and it can be bright, and those things are surprising to people. I liked the Blues Crab enough I thought about impulse buying it - the reason I didn't is because they are the usual retail price of $88 in that store, and they are available online for about $60. Plus, I knew about the Snouse BlackBox and felt that was the more intriguing deal.

    But as a micro pedal version of a classic pedal circuit, yeah, I think the Blues Crab was excellent.
     
  12. dblues

    dblues Tele-Afflicted

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    The Bluesbreaker Brawl thread from a few months back got me interested in the Snouse Black Box. Here it is: http://www.tdpri.com/forum/stomp-bo...brawl-4-bbv1s-enter-1-leaves.html#post6342943

    I ended up getting the Blueline from a member here. It's the Black Box with a few more bells and whistles: a higher gain setting, presence control and smooth/bright switch. I'm not usually a fan of additional switches on pedals but I find all three of these useful on this pedal. With the higher gain selected I could see this pedal filling a "lead boost" role but I like it for slide work at lower volumes. I usually use my little Gibsonette cranked for slide playing with a full band but for practice or lower volume jamming the high gain setting on the Blueline gets a nice bluesy slide sound. The presence control adds highs that don't get harsh, just adds some definition.

    I normally keep the bright/smooth switch on bright. With the presence all the way down and low gain selected it's the standard Black Box, ie. Bluesbreaker v1 clone. I would have been really happy with the standard Black Box but I don't regret getting the "fancy"version because the presence sounds nice and I can flip the high gain switch for slide.

    To address the OP I do have one amp which can get overly bright, a Fender Princeton 65 (SS). I took it to a jam a few weeks ago with the Blueline and only needed the tone control on my guitar to tame it. Highly recommended.
     
  13. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Apologies for that - ALWAYS a concern of mine. I get way too much into the nitty gritty with a lot of this stuff but can't seem to help myself.

    Anyway - I guess a comparison of a Marshall BB pedal and a TS is then in order... :lol:

    Both pedals are just two basic op amp stages, which comes in the form of a single (dual stage) op amp chip. The TS has always had something like the 4558 or similar, while the BB had the venerable TL072 (or another manufacturer's version of it).

    I often say that I don't like to poo-poo op amps as having more of an audible effect on a basic OD box than one might think, but the 4558 is generally "mushier," or tends to behave in a way that lots of players are familiar with - I've heard some techie-types refer to it as "recovering better from overdrive". The TL072 has "jFET inputs" (within the integrated circuit), which tends to make it "less mushy." Just for reference, something like the Klon Centaur uses the TL072.

    ...That said - almost ALL of the popular OD or distortion designs that borrow heavily from the Marshall stuff tend to NOT use the TL072. The Crunch Box uses the LM833, and the Suhr Riot and KoT use the NJM4580 - more similar to the TS's 4558 in some ways.

    Anyway - that's too much detail about just the op amp itself.

    The TS has IMO a VERY basic setup with the two op amp stages - the first one has your clipping/OD/distortion and gain adjustment, and the second one is tied to the tone control.

    ...The BB is a bit more unique (IMO), as are all of the "original three" that Marshall offered. The first op amp stage is used more to drive the second one. Instead of having the gain control "isolated" to just the first op amp stage, Marshall configured it so that the gain is affected at BOTH stages.

    The TS has just a basic pair of silicon diodes in the negative feedback loop of the first op amp stage (called "soft clipping). The BB has a quad of the same type of diodes, arranged in a "series/antiparallel" arrangement. By using 2X the diodes, it increases the point before the diodes start to affect the clipping.

    ...Not only that, but Marshall also put a resistor in series with the clipping diodes - it FURTHER softens the clipping effect. Lots of pedal builders or modders seem to have no idea why that 6.8K resistor exists there, or even how (apparently) carefully Marshall figured out the optimal value. The BB is chock full of VERY common component values, but the resistor in series with the diodes is just a bit unusual...

    The TS removes all bass below ~700Hz at the input of the first op amp stage, and then removes all treble above ~700Hz after it! These two filters are NOT adjustable. The tone circuit in the TS is then (IMO) kind of goofy in that when you push it clockwise, it's supposed to "restore treble" that was thrown away. :confused:

    The BB - actual FIRST PRODUCTION YEAR - removes treble at the first op amp stage at ~590Hz - roughly 100Hz below the TS makes a BIG difference. There's also a "parallel filter" to it that adds some presence at what is sort of like 1KHz (removing bass below this frequency). The secondary filter is more subtle, and there isn't a big amplitude gain at the first op amp stage - it's just a "driver/shaper."

    Remember how I said that Marshall was CLEVER and figured a way for the gain/drive control to affect BOTH stages? Well, the clipping diodes happen at the 2nd op amp stage. Lots of weekend tweakers might look at any given Marshall design and think the 2nd op amp gain stage is fixed, but it isn't. Marshall "fed the signal" into what is called the "inverting input." That means the cap and resistor going into the 2nd op amp stage are actually a high pass filter. That filter works out to be 160Hz (cutting bass below that frequency), but that is with the gain/drive at max. As you decrease the gain, the filter frequency at the 2nd op amp stage's input drops lower, and cuts less treble. It's basically full audible spectrum with the gain/drive set low.

    ...Where Marshall might have dropped the ball (for some users) was with the tone control circuit. It falls after the 2nd op amp stage (it has to - that's where all of the clipping/gain is, primarily) with (again) all of the original 3. In the case of the BB, it's a simple low pass (treble reducing) design, but actually removes treble in two passes. One of the two varies depending on the setting of the tone pot, but the the other one is fixed at ~2.3KHz, which is admittedly a little bit low for a mild OD. It's no surprise to find that something like the KoT has an internal trimpot for "presence" that basically diminishes the effect of that 2nd filter, the more you turn it up.

    To summarize:

    - clipping in a TS happens at one gain stage and has a relatively big gain adjustment

    - clipping in a BB happens at both gain stages, with one being a driver/shaper, and the other being the "primary clipper"

    - TS has fixed EQ treatment that heavily removes both bass and treble, at the same center frequency

    - BB has less bass cut at first op amp stage, and the corner frequency at the 2nd op amp stage varies depending on where the gain/drive knob is set - more bass is cut as the gain goes up, which is what you want!

    - TS attempt to "recover some treble after it's thrown away" with its tone circuit

    - BB simply removes some treble

    - TS will generally have buzzier/more compressed characteristics via its simple diode pair, despite it being "soft clipping"

    - BB will generally have more sublime/less obtrusive clipping characteristics, because the "proximity to clip" is increased by doubling the diodes in series, AND Marshall used series resistance with those diodes as well (this is much less commonly found in dirt boxes)

    ...While both circuits are incredibly simple, the BB circuit has a LOT of components that are common or similar values. There are really only two capacitor values used in the signal path, and both are stupidly common .01uF and .1uF in value. Yes, there's a small value cap in the negative feedback loop of the first gain stage, but that's the only exception.

    I tried to break that down into what I hope is like layman's terms, but I had to use some circuit specifics to flesh it out. I hope it's not too heavy on the geek-speak. I also hope I didn't bugger up anything by simplifying explanations. And some of it might contain what amounts to IMO/IME - so take that into consideration as well! :lol:
     
  14. Whoa Tele

    Whoa Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I also have a Snouse and while I'm still in the honeymoon period initial impressions are good.
     
  15. Radspin

    Radspin Friend of Leo's

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    I always liked the Drivemaster better. I sold one a long time ago and wish I hadn't. Does anyone make a clone?
     
  16. vegetablejoe

    vegetablejoe Tele-Holic

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    Excuse my ignorance, but was the Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal supposed to be reminiscent of their Bluesbreaker amp? Seriously asking, as I don't know what the history/pedigree is and have not been able to try either piece of gear, but do have a KOT and Blues Crab which I both love.

    Also wondering if I should still consider grabbing a locally available Snouse, considering I already have the 2 pedals above.
     
  17. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have a Drivemaster. It's a repackaged Guv'nor. There are a ton of Guv'nor clones or Guv'nor-based designs. Lots of the more popular Guv-based tend to have just a single tone control, like with the Crunch Box or Riot.

    The Danelectro Daddy-O is a Guv'nor clone (with buffered bypass) too.

    There are also the clone kits that are available - it's a relatively simple build for the circuit itself. It's only the 5 knobs that make things a bit more labor-intensive. I think BYOC has a kit for one? If so, they use pots with leads that solder directly to the board, eliminating most (or at least a lot) of actual hand-wiring.

    ...And there are probably tons of other options that I don't even know about. Cloning or basing a design on the Guv'nor has been a lot more popular than the BB, or at least it had a VERY good head start!
     
  18. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Have a snouse inbound...
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have Drivemaster and Shredmaster originals, in addition to a BB1 clone like pedal, and the masters are a whole 'nother beast.

    I was playing the two masters set for a similar sound yesterday, and liked the Drivemaster better, but listening back today the Shredmaster is more articulate at the same well distorted level.
    I suspect that the Drivemasters best sounds are in the less distorted range.

    My BB1ish pedal has too many knobs and switches, and I prefer it's cleaner sounds, not so much into it set for any amount of graininess.
    Set clean it just makes an 18w sound like more of itself, better than any other OD or boost.
     
  20. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    I agree. It only has a pair of op amp gain stages like the BB, and like so many other OD-vibed pedals. To expect a really distorted sound out of it IMO is kind of asking a bit much.

    The Drivemaster/Guv'nor also has a fairly complex passive tone stack after the gain stages. It's actually a little more complex than the T/M/B that you'll find in a lot of amplifiers, but that's because Marshall had the insight to realize that it...wasn't an amplifier - what a concept! :lol:

    Anyway - less complex passive tone circuits that don't have any recovery stage after them tend to suffer a bit. That's why you tend to see one of two things:

    1. Some kind of recovery/active stages after the tone controls

    2. Something that takes the Guv/Drivemaster design up to the clipping diodes, and then substitutes in a simplified tone circuit (Crunch Box, Riot, etc.).

    Also - LED clippers aren't the greatest thing for "tight sounds" when you really push the gain/drive up. The voltages that they conduct at are obviously pretty high. So it's funny that a popular mod is to change out the LEDs for "something else," while in other pedals it's popular to change out the diodes for LEDs :eek: (DS-1, non-Turbo Rat, etc.).

    ...After the clipping circuit in the Shredmaster, there IS what is pretty similar to a tone stack in an amp. But there's a recovery stage after it, and then the Contour control is actually a NOTCH filter that REMOVES midrange. The control simply disables the notch effect as you turn it up. There's also another recovery stage after the gain stage for the Contour control, too.

    Generally speaking, the harder the classic high-distortion sounding pedals are expected to be, the more heavy-handed filtering is used to keep them sounding less like a big fuzz bomb. This ISN'T meant to say that some won't sound like a buzzsaw or basically trash any semblance of the original guitar sound though. But some folks find that to be appealing. I personally think there's a law of diminishing returns, and you lose too much of "the good stuff" when you exceed a certain point of clipping. And it's not just a SS/pedal thing - hard clipping is hard clipping, period.

    I think the Barber Dirty Bomb is one of the most slick Shredmaster-derived pedals available. Dave really tweaked the @%$* out of that one, to the point where the differences are "more than a bit subtle," so calling it Shredmaster-based is almost kind of erroneous.
     
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