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Drive Pedal That Does Low, Med and Hi Gain?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Mimirr, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    If the highest gain needed is for hard rock like Guns N Roses, that actually pares down what all you'd actually want to consider, nicely.

    Also, for hard rock, I think of distortion with lots of mids, and probably a bit less bass. So any drive pedals with a flat EQ, scooped mids, or heavy bass can all also be excluded.

    Likewise, if the pedal is an OD proper, and is incapable of more toothy aggressive distortion, it can be excluded.

    IMO, after you exclude everything above, that puts the Rat at the top of the list. It will obviously do hard rock, but also will do mid gain and low gain stuff, too.

    In 2nd place, I put a DS-1 modded for midrange, and with the clipping/distortion modified to be less buzzy/fizzy. These changes will make it especially work better at medium and lower gain settings, IMO. Also, adding mids will make the pedal much more flexible with the vast majority of clean amps, which tend to have flatter or scooped EQs.

    Runner up would be either a Marshall Guv'nor or Shredmaster. The Guv is going to be the one you want for medium or lower gain stuff, and it's obviously EQ'ed for rock-type stuff. The Shredmaster's strong suit is the harder high gain rock, and has a contour control that lets you sweep from scooped to mid-emphasized, also adding a bit of flexibility with whatever clean amp you might end up using it with.

    ...Most folks would probably end up with some kind of clone or variation of the Guv or Shredmaster. The Crunch Box and Riot are just two flavors of Guv that have the singular tone control, if you don't think you'll need to really fine-tune the EQ. The Joyo High Gain Distortion is a low cost variation of the Shredmaster (with the only caveat being that you can't adjust the bass). The Barber Dirty Bomb takes the Shredmaster to an envelope-pushing place, and probably could be used for metal, too.
     
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  2. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bill Frisell and John Scofield have gotten fantastic low gain tones out of a Rat, IMO.
     
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  3. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Holic

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    I used to think it could, but compared to other pedals that can REALLY do low gain well, it just can’t. Low gain on a Rat is still actually pretty mid-level gain.

    To me, low gain is just barely there. A Rat can’t do that, in my experience.
     
  4. Mimirr

    Mimirr TDPRI Member

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    Wow. Thanks for the detailed response. I'm gonna have to look into giving the Rat another try. I haven't had one for close to 20 years. I'll also check out your other recommendations.

    P.S. I wonder if a newer pedal from other builders of the Rat exists. Like JHS and others who base their pedal on an existing pedal.
     
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Chicago Stompworks makes a great 1:1 Rat clone with the correct chip etc, based on the seemingly most loved original version. Those are under $100, cheaper in an unpainted case.

    Our @11 Gauge is as knowledgeable as it gets on pedals, a builder/ modder/ designer.
    The one on his list I'm not familiar with is the modded DS-1 which I want to try one of these days.

    My problem with knowing stuff about pedals is that in the end many of us just don't like the pedals that come up when we write words describing what we want for sounds.
    The Rat does indeed do almost clean at the lowest gain setting and almost fuzz at the highest gain setting.
    But while 25% of users think ALL Rat sounds are great, 75% of users can't stand ANY sound it makes.
    Much like the tube screamer you have and don't like. Probably 60% of users can be pretty happy with a TS, while 40% will throw it out the window in frustration and just play clean.

    The only thing I know for certain is that once you find a low gain sound you really like, or any pedal sound you really like, it's worth hanging on to because different pedals with different sounds won't get you the same sound.

    This is why I suggested dropping the idea that you should toss the two sounds you like and replace them with one unit that produces three sounds you like.

    I'd comment on the OCD here, another very useful pedal that does your three gain levels and satisfies many players while pissing off the rest who buy it due to the rave reviews it gets on the internet.
    That pedal I really love for lowest gain sounds, with the gain knob all the way off. Fat & sweet really good low gainer.
    Can't use the mid or high gain sound it makes though.

    Looking at that pedal we see a huge family going back to the DOD250 and the MXR Dist +.
    More the 250, which became the great Voodoo Lab Overdrive (VLOD), the OCD, and the Oddfellow Cave man.
    They all do great low to fairly high gain, all based on the same circuit, but all sound a little different.
    Even the original 250 came in two versions (gray and yellow), and I prefer the less popular V2 yellow where like the original Rat, everybody feels that the gray V1 is the best.
    The point again being that we can choose a circuit that gets popular support, and find it just doesn't make us happy for whatever reasons. Our ear, our music preference, our guitars, our amps, our speakers and most of all our touch and method including settings; are the interactive parts that prevent specs form telling the whole story.
    Of big importance is do you set the pedal for unity gain or to boost and over drive the amp?

    Youtube?
    I've bought a variety of pedals based on hours of youtube comparisons with mixed results.
    At the very least the demo needs to be a Tele, but the durn fools always add a neck pickup to the sound and ruin it for me.
    Players with my guitar, my amp, my settings, and my touch?
    Never seen them on youtube!

    This guy sold me on what's gotta be the least popular truly great dirt pedal ever.
    I think his marketing and graphics really hurt his business, won't go into that.
    Anyhow, really good higher and lower gain sounds, very "amp like".
    Damn I'm sick of hearing "amp like" describing pedals!

     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  6. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    Barber Gain Changer or Direct Drive - the latest versions have low and high gain modes, plus other options like mids toggle, bass, presence, etc.

    GC for more Fendery, DD for more Marshally.
     
  7. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    The great blowtorch recommended the Danelectro Breakup pedal when I was looking for something to bring out hard-rock grit without excessive volume in my Princeton. It sounds fantastic, just totally organic and natural, like you're plugged directly into a great amp and simply turning up the gain. It does everything from barely-audible breakup to full-on tubey grunge without ever getting fuzzy or artificial sounding. It's very early 70s Zeppelin and would work for G'nR too. Fantastic pedal with a single coil guitar. Nice harmonic stuff too.

     
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  8. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Holic

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    A treble booster (I like the Catalinbread Naga Viper for its versatility) in front of any dirt pedal will improve dynamics and guitar volume control clean-up. Try it!

    I have my Naga Viper first in my chain and it’s always on.
     
  9. RhythmFender

    RhythmFender Tele-Meister

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  10. Mimirr

    Mimirr TDPRI Member

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    So, I found a video from "That Pedal Show", where they are trying a bunch of Rats and Rat clones. When they get to the Walrus Iron Horse with Dan's Telecaster, I'm REALLY enjoying that tone. And, as Dan states, it even cleans up nicely. I'm gonna keep looking at all of the other suggestions that people have made, but I feel like I've found a keeper.
     
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  11. Mimirr

    Mimirr TDPRI Member

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  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you buy it, report back when you dial it in and let us know how it worked out!
    A good basic circuit can be tweaked for decades and keep delivering a little something new and "improved".

    I'd note that for a G&R lead sound, what makes that distinct of the lack of grit except when he digs in or plays double stops.
    LP into JCM800 can get that despite the fact that the 800 tends to have more grit in the sound than he gets with his anniversay amps.
    I think that' probably the sound you reference, the LP into the white anniversary 800.
    It's a harder sound to get than the many gritty MIAB pedal sounds.
     
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  13. wulfenganck

    wulfenganck Tele-Afflicted

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    I must mention the Fulltone OCD, I had this for lowgain settings on my board for around 3 years. It works nicely for the whole range of the gain-knob. If you don't mind the present hassle about Mike FUller, it's definitely worth considering.
    I lately bought an Electro-Harmonix OD Glove as a substitute for the OCD and it does this job sufficiently.
    Versatile pedal to a true bargain price (59,- Euro in Germany), I highly recommend it.

    A last one with good results is the TC Electronics Dark Matter. Very flexible with bass and treble knob, a good range from low to high gain (not really metal, but solid rock).
    It works nice, but it has a bit more compression even in lowgain settings, so the OCD or the Glove cut easier through a bandmix.
    But still a nice pedal, especially for the price.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  14. Vibro Chimp

    Vibro Chimp TDPRI Member

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    Another vote for the Rat.

    Also, the Dirty Little Secret sounds great at all gain levels.

    Or just get both and stack them...sounds absolutely crushing and glorious.
     
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  15. nobis17

    nobis17 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I have a RYRA Klone (klon clone). I think it meets all of those things, as long as you are feeding it into an all tube amp. It doesn't really do it well into a solid state.
     
  16. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Friend of Leo's

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    Try this one...

     
  17. Mimirr

    Mimirr TDPRI Member

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    I sure will...

    Because I just snagged one for $99. It's V2 and dude said it was mint like fresh out the box!
     
  18. ahiddentableau

    ahiddentableau Tele-Meister

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    I have built dozens of pedals and have a fair amount of experience with all the usual suspects. That said, I think I can honestly say that IME there is no such thing as a pedal that sounds truly great as a low, medium and high gain drive pedal. Most of the best low drive circuits use soft clipping (Klon and 250 types are the big exceptions), all of the best high drive circuits use hard clipping. Setting up a circuit to do one well usually makes it less suited to the other type. Some get close. Timmy. ODR-1. Ecstasy. Distortion+. But all of them sound better doing lower or higher depending on the design. I think it's just the nature of tuning drive circuits and can't really be avoided.

    There are designs that get you close. The OS-2 is an interesting suggestion. It lets you dial in either soft or hard clipping, or blend the two. I like that pedal. But the closest thing for me would be something like a modded distortion+.

    Bottom line is I think you should extend your board and use two pedals, especially if you've found a pedal that gives you low and medium sounds you really like. If not, well, this stuff is super subjective, so start trying some of the suggestions and see what compromises you're willing to live with. Maybe you'll get lucky and find you're one of those people who likes a RAT at low gain settings (I'm with telenmonics on this one...I like the RAT a lot but not as a low gain pedal), or you like a cranked Timmy and it's enough gain for you, etc.

    Good luck with your search!
     
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  19. Mimirr

    Mimirr TDPRI Member

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    The new Walrus Ages has five different gain states. All by clicking through them with a knob. All are soft clipping except for the last state, it's symmetric silicon hard clipping. Curious about your thoughts on it, since you're a pedal builder.
     
  20. nedorama

    nedorama Tele-Meister

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    I have an original Direct Drive, and it can definitely get the crunch, but by controlling gain on your volume pot on your guitar, it cleans up well. I like it both with my AVRI 63 Tele Custom and my custom Gumby Tele-Paul humbuckers.

    For stacking, I like the Rockett Majestic in front of it. On its own it has a great gain sound, but not high gain. I leave it with gain and vol knobs at noon for a bit of grit; with that and the Direct Drive on it's tasty sounding into clean Fenders or slightly pushed Dr. Z MAZ 18.
     
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