When more gain doesn't equal better tone

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by DannyStereo, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington
    I'm not sure if this is the right place to discuss this... But this is just a general observation, not a rant on a specific amp/pedal/guitar/etc.

    As many of you know, I play in a Seattle-based band called Moments. Here we are - www.soundcloud.com/momentsnw

    I play my Tele and Esquire primarily, and occasionally I break out my Les Paul. Years ago, I remember reading somewhere that if you really wanted to goose your amp with your tele's weak pickups, you should invest in a boost, like the EP booster, because it gives your guitar's wimpy single coils more oomph.

    Well, first I had a V1, but I couldn't deal at how loud it jumped even at the lowest setting, so I sold it, and eventually found a V2 with the unity gain option and thought 'hey this is awesome!'

    Fast forward several amps and guitars later, with me leaving the EP on literally 100% of the time, and I became pretty frustrated. There was something 'blanketing' that sweet Tele sound, along with a Casino and Riviera P93 I found 'too muddy'.

    Then I clicked the EP off. Yup, there it was. I had rehearsal last night with the EP off, and I only used it for stand out parts. All kinds of Tele tone was coming out my amp. Clear, responsive, and fat.

    And like I said, I'm not dogging on the EP. It's a great pedal! And I also own a Fatboost, which I tried as an 'always on' boost (how I was using the EP) and realized this: sometimes, more gain isn't the answer.

    We play what I consider pretty rocking music, but even with my 'wimpy' pickups (OV Pickups on the Tele, Nashville Lion in the Esquire), my overdrives do all the heavy lifting on their own... The 'tone sweetener' becomes that your guitar's tone is actually coming through, with the plus side of having no 'boomy' or overly bassy tones when playing rhythm because your preamp is cooking, hard. How many guitars/amps have I moved along just because I didn't turn off the EP?

    Fellas, I feel like a buffoon. I fell into the Internet hype of having an 'always on' boost, and the result was dissatisfaction with what otherwise were probably killer instruments.

    Again, I know lots of y'all use the EP always on, and that's fine - but with my rig I am finding many more usable tones when I use it as a lead boost as opposed to always on. In the end, I was trying to make my Tele into something it ain't by adding more gain in the signal, when it would have saved me a lot of headache to just click that boost off.

    End of rant.
     
  2. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    17,246
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast
    I'm a clean boost guy through and through, but never "always on". It's an effect to me, like an OD. Another gain stage to play with.

    FWIW- I think the EP is one of the worst ones I've used. I'd not go so far as to say it sounds awful, but it's not good IMO. It's much better for me with a higher wattage (50-100) amp that has a tighter response. But even there I'm not a big fan. I too find it muddy, and kind of splatty.

    I got a Fat Boost instead, which is light years better for a chunk less money. Still not as good as the Pigtronix Class A boost that was stolen from me, but very good. Works awesome with acoustic, too. Ive come to find I really like class a FET boosts better than anything else. But even my old Boosta Grande smokes the EP in my opinion.

    My EP is up for trade. I'm calling that pedal a failed experiment as far as my board is concerned. Just not enough clarity, too much goop in the tone.
     
  3. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    Yeah I do like my Fatboost for a strictly clean boost. I am debating whether or not the EP will stay long term. The Fatboost has a hi-fi thing going on that cuts really well.

    I may look for another boost to replace the EP at some point. Maybe a Spark? Idk. For now, it's getting used on leads only, not always on, and that works much better. My Supro goes up to 60w but it has a 15" speaker. Plenty of bass already. So that kinda gets boomy with the EP.
     
  4. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,996
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2011
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    When more gain doesn't equal better tone = Precisely when to stop cranking the gain knob :D
     
  5. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    5,898
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    Never really understood the whole 'weak pickup' thing. I've got tons of mild output pickups, and some very high output ones, and into the same amp, the most it requires is a slight turn of the preamp gain knob to compensate, if it's even needed.

    I've got low output Filtertrons (TV classic) Alnico 3 single coils, with mild coils wind, and neither lack compared to my high output L-90 humbuckers. The L-90's just sound a tad more saturated and of course the EQ difference of the pickups. I actually find the 'twangier' brighter pickups can often me made to sound 'heavier' and 'ballsier' through heavy drive. PAF's and high output humbuckers, kind of just smooth out, or get mushy, to me. While, twangier pickups seem to have better definition to get that heavy palm muted sound.

    I use boosts and OD's for bumping up the gain/drive/saturation significantly, not for plumping up 'whimpy' pickups, personally.
    Just my .02
     
  6. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,839
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    N.Ireland
    Yeh,yeh,blah de blah.

    I enjoyed the link you posted under the guise of pedal wafflement,Dannystereo.

    Job done and consider yourself rumbled. :p
     
  7. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    Mr. Parker,

    I will NEVER consider doing that ;)
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    18,486
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    I agree about the gain point and also about the "weak" pickup point.

    The trend to overwound pickups seems as crazy to me as the trend to "boost" the clean sound with a "clean boost".
    When I want distortion and sustain I might boost the gain, but I won't go to a higher output pickup, because clarity is something I don't want less of, and IME more windings to boost output of a given pickup takes away low end clarity.

    I actually just bought an RC booster for the tone controls, to add some bass and cut some treble on an amp with no tone controls.
    But I'll run it at unity gain, because the amp distorts pretty easily.
    I hope it works like I expect, ha!
     
  9. dblues

    dblues Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    961
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    smyrna tn
    I could make a long list of things I once did or used that were supposed to be "better" that I eventually realized were "useful" for specific reasons. The short list is: guitar volume and tone all the way up, using at home or rehearsal amp settings on gig, reverb always on. As far as pedals go my home brew treble boost seemed to make everything sound better so I left it on all the time. One day, like you did, I turned it off. Ahh. That's better.
    I think some times I just like different but in the last few years I strive to set levels on all my pedals so when I turn them all off I'm still hearing something I like.
     
  10. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    That's an interesting way of explaining it, and in fact a good approach to overdrives. I do think a lot of people do use a boost to increase the overall Output of the pickup though. IME, singles will sound 'quieter' than 'buckers, as in the overall volume, before it starts saturating the amp.
     
  11. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    Haha touché my friend. Pardon that shameless self plug?

    I did include it as a means of referencing the kind/amount of gain I use regularly.
     
  12. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    I also used to goose the volume on my drives and that left me Unsatisfied when I clicked them off, I started lowering them to just a hair above clean.
     
  13. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,839
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    N.Ireland
    Saul Good man. ;)
     
  14. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington
    Now I'm itching for a Casino... I really thought the pickups were too muddy on the one I had. Could it have been I was running the EP too hot?
     
  15. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,613
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Lowell, Michigan USA
    I run a FatBoost 2, on most of the time. I have it modded, though, to reduce the low end. Still, I noticed today that it was clouding up the clarity of the middle pickup on my Strat. Something too much in the low-mids. So, yes, the on-off switch is an important feature.
     
  16. DannyStereo

    DannyStereo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,036
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Kelso, Washington

    Who modded it?
     
  17. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,848
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    IMO if you have a boost pedal 'always on' you're not playing the right amp. I use a Fat Boost as a boost, for when I want a little more volume for solos. Otherwise my amp is set for the gain/volume I need.

    FWIW my Strat and Tele both have vintage spec pickups.
     
  18. Spaceboy

    Spaceboy Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,320
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    The EP Boosters is a pedal that sounds great at home, but does nothing in band context. That thickness it adds is not at the frequencies needed to contribute anything in a loud environment. All it does is make things a little muddy, darker.
     
  19. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,613
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Lowell, Michigan USA
    I did.
     
  20. bluescaster72

    bluescaster72 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    734
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Location:
    pennsylvaina
    Really I'm learning too , that too much gain gives you a really scratchy tone . Modern telecasters can be thin sounding in the bridge pickup. but I think like most things can be eq ed out with the amp . As far as fattening it up an Ibanez tube screamer set on a low gain setting should give you a good clean boost. I've never tried any of the clean boosts that are out there . but might be worth looking into to.
     
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.