I've never met a distortion pedal that I like.

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by schenkadere, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    Have you?

    I've played many OD's that I like...and usually go for a high gain OD over a so called distortion pedal.

    I'm looking for something to fill that metal void.

    My criteria:
    cheap...under $100
    smooth...not grainy or fizzy.
    something I can actually try before I but...so accessible.

    Doesn't need to be ultra gain...for modern metal rhythm...just a real standout lead tone.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. paulvcarter

    paulvcarter Tele-Holic

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    If you have a valve amp buy a treble booster - they are cheap. If your amp doesn't have a 1/2 or 1/4 power mode you might need an attenuator as well. The treble booster will give you all the natural drive from your volume pot instead of a fake pedal.

    Listen to Brian May, Rory Gallagher, Richie Blackmore -

    Treble boosters are cheap, low power and use your amps tones - they are not too treble - the boost the signal you can tweak your bass treble as required.

    I use an AC30 with a mango attenuator - treble booster (Fryer) strat, Les Paul, Tele, Brian May Super....all work awesomely.
     
  3. fraser

    fraser Tele-Holic

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    yup- rangemaster style treble boost- old school judas priest sound. makes all your solos "pop" out of the mix.
    does distort, to a point, but in a way i find much more pleasing than a distortion or tubescreamer effect.
    easy to diy- but if youre not into that, dont spend a lot for one. its not something one should be paying over $100 for.
     
  4. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    The "farther away" from "ultra" that you can get, the more you will improve your chances of finding something, IMO.

    Even tube amps suffer from the same thing when pushed too far into clipping - the waveform gets chopped off so hard that the audible end product is basically the same.

    So therefore the usual reason for the fizzy, crappy sound is just too much gain in any singular stage - instead of a nice and smooth cascading of the dominoes falling, they all get violently collided together.

    It basically leaves you with two options:

    - Find a pedal that has been designed with multiple stages that are individually tuned EQ and gain wise. This obviously isn't going to happen with a single pedal at GC for a C note or less, so...

    - Grab some low cost dirt boxes, set them for low gain, and start experimenting stacking them into each other. You can mix up boosts, OD's, fuzzes - there's no real rules to apply. I do typically like something brighter early in the "stack," and something that approximates some of the tube amp "sag," like a Rat pedal can do. Something with a good PASSIVE tone control at the end of the line will typically work out better, since it will be helpful to remove any "residual" treble content.

    ....Many of the "amp sim" type pedals have a dual pass or notch filter at the tail end that nukes selected frequencies. Use the tone controls in the pedals to your advantage.

    You might also be able to "harness" a trick that is done with cascaded tube preamps - many/most of them address the issue of stages getting overloaded specifically at the third stage - not much gain is added there. Also there is typically some circuitry to bleed off an "abnormal amount" of treble. I guess the thinking is that you recover it after that point.

    I'm NOT suggesting to use a half a dozen pedals to do this, but you might want to try at least three.

    I rarely use a single pedal for higher gain tones. I have combos of stuff that I stack together that give me tighter/looser/more mids/more modern combinations.
     
  5. redstringuitar

    redstringuitar Poster Extraordinaire

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    Got a DS-1 years ago...truly dreadful sound, it reminded me of the tone I was "rewarded" with when, as a teenager, I salvaged the speaker from a tiny broken radio, taped it to my el cheapo acoustic, twisted the wires onto one end of a guitar cable and plugged the other into the family hi-fi system...absolutely bloody awful!

    Then I read about the SEM/Ultra mod and ordered one from a guy on ebay who buys new DS-1s in and mods them for under £60 all in.

    The difference is like...WOW!! No more farty fizz nor frequency-robbing mush, and very little noise compared to stock...it turns even a small combo into a real fire-breather, especially when goosed with an MXR GT-OD and P90s!

    I'd be hard pressed to find a stock pedal that sounds this good for under 60 quid, that's for sure.

    Here's a link to the guy's ebay shop, if you're interested...no affiliation, just a happy customer!
     
  6. JG806

    JG806 Tele-Holic

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  7. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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  8. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I'll tell you what..... make a recording (say a minute or two) of you playing clean, but playing the licks, chords, etc that you'd like to hear 'distorted' and post it here...

    I'll download it and re-amp it... I'll give you six choices, if you like one of them... I'll tell you what it was....

    sound fun?
     
  9. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    The best distortion I have found in pedals is an early Rat driving a hand wired TS808 pedal in series.
     
  10. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Everyone's "stack" is bound to be a little different.

    Probably my favorite is a runoffgroove.com Peppermill into a modified Blues Driver. It never gets too bright, has lots of harmonics, and approximates some of that "sag" that a good amp has.

    My second favorite is the Peppermill into a bone STOCK Tube Sound Fuzz. Yep - a FUZZ. The PM provides the harmonics and "initial gain stage" feel, and the TSF is like a class AB1 power amp section - strong bass with crispy highs. It's more of a "modern" higher gain sound - there's less mids and the bass is stronger. It's great for the more fusion-y sort of things.

    If I want burning hot without fizz, I will run a 72 Degrees into the modded Blues Driver or the TSF (or something called an Evelyn Dual Drive). But with a Tele it's typically just too much (the notes will sustain and hang for days), but it's a lot of fun with humbuckers. If the EDD is set for too much gain, it can get bright.

    All of the above are with stone clean amp tones.

    They are just meant to represent some of the endless combinations. It's also cool because you can have four different dirt boxes or boosts and get EIGHT different tones out of them.
     
  11. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    As much as mods such as Keeley's or MHP's Super Sport really make the DS-1 a solid player...I just don't ever see the DS-1 as a stand alone, rich, singing lead tone.
     
  12. Impulse

    Impulse Tele-Meister

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    You're a fan of smooth and mellow, singing leads, so why don't you give ZenDrive a try?
     
  13. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    I've thought of that...maybe I can find one on ebay, but...still...it's nothing I can try first. I'm sure it would be easy to flip if it didn't work out.

    I think the closest ting I've actually been able to try would be the Lovepedal Superlead.

    Other considerations are the Seymour Duncan Power Grid which sounds great and has a good EQ but adds a lot of hiss. Then, the Tech 21 XXL (Burgerman does a great Youtube demo)...the Tech 21 British Character Series.

    Then...I start to think that a Big Muff style fuzz might be a better choice. IDK.:rolleyes:
     
  14. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    That's because there is too much gain at too few of gain stages. It makes the higher frequencies more stinging and aggressive. In the case of the DS-1, it is kind of what defines it.

    You've got to have more gain stages that aren't run so ridiculously hard, to keep the treble frequencies under control (and the bass from getting too flubby).

    It's like a series of soft clipped stages that are all voiced differently. Taken as a sum, they give you a complex clipped tone.

    You're getting lots of suggestions for OD pedals with lots of gain, but IMO that isn't much different from a distortion pedal with the gain run lower. IOW, too few gain stages. You're pushing things past the redline. They are all variations of the same thing.

    Maybe a better way to put it is that you need a circuit that has no fewer than three gain stages that actually contribute some clipping. The problem with some pedals is that there is only one stage that clips and one that is an EQ shaper, like ANY TS variation. A pedal like a Rat or D+ has a singular gain stage, so it's not the answer. Even a Timmy gets all of the distortion from the first stage, with the second giving you a 3dB clean boost.

    Another one to try might be a Boss OD-3 paired up with some other boxes. Cheap, readily available. Park something TS-like in front, and something like a Rat at the tail end. Adjust the gains as low as you can, and dial in all three tone controls.
     
  15. Tele-phone man

    Tele-phone man Tele-Afflicted

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    This has been my recipe for years now. The OD3 is a great platform to build on because it doesn't drastically color your frequency response, and it has a very smooth basic character. I set it up with mid-level gain settings, and use my volume control to go from clean to mild dirt. For higher levels of sustain, I will pre-drive the OD3 with something else, also set for modest levels of dirt and a slight boost in volume. I use either a Tech21 Double-drive, a modded SD1, or a modded BD2 these days. Each has its own character, with different strengths and weaknesses, but all are good. I also have an Xotic BB+ preamp, which is basically two drive boxes in one that you can stack in either direction. What I've found that's interesting is that in side-by-side comparisons, I always prefer the OD3 with a predriver to the BB+. The OD3 just sounds clearer and less of a drastic departure from the basic clean tone.

    For a more Marshall sound, I have enjoyed my Guv'nor II, and I'm also using a Digitech Hardwire series Valve Distortion (I forget the model number). Very versatile, low-noise, decent level of gain.
     
  16. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not a fan of stacking. I always find the results to be hissy, overly compressed and farty...kinda over-processed if you will.

    I also don't like the idea of setting up a particular pedal that I like simply to accommodate another pedal. If I like the way a pedal sounds on its own, it's rare that the same setting is going to work stacked...so there goes the simplicity of stomping one for a particular drive and another for a different level of gain...there needs to be dialing and tweaking done on the fly.

    That's my experience anyway.
     
  17. dinkymau

    dinkymau TDPRI Member

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    I'm gonna tell you something, I'm selling my power grid, it's new I've played it very little, I bought it because I went to new York and I had left some money, I went to Sam Ash and it was 69 or so...I didn't like it very much it's very noise and it's not a clear distortion its kinda muddy, but it has tons of gain, you should play with it,
     
  18. winny pooh

    winny pooh Friend of Leo's

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    thevBlackstone mosfet is my new fav, No Fizz and very natural sounding
     
  19. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    I thought it was very noisy too...too much so. I almost went for that closeout sale too...kinda glad I didn't.
     
  20. Nub

    Nub Friend of Leo's

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    I think your problem is going to end up being the "cheap... under $100" criteria. There are some great sounding distortion pedals out there, but most are going to be above that price point (around $150-$200 used)... unless, like 11 Gauge, you can build one yourself. ;)
     
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