Why not Unity Gain?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by EddieLocrian, Mar 2, 2018.

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  1. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

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    One is a Timmy, set to very low gain. The other is a Fulltone Fat Boost 3. They both have gain knobs, for goI'd reason. In many cases, 2 pedals is better than one. Take the Timmy. Base dirt is a BB Preamp. Think clean amp, BB creating AC/DC level crunch. Step on the Timmy, which goes into the BB for leads. The combo make a better lead tone than either pedal can alone IMO.

    I didn't need a pedal company or magazine or the internet to tell me that. My ears did.
     
  2. EddieLocrian

    EddieLocrian Tele-Afflicted

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    And thats the thing, cos back in the home running the amp on the Edge is a no no for most people.
    Just me in a room with the amp that loud is a novelty yes, but I just don't want that level in my ears for 2 hrs.

    Maybe I'm just like my father, too old...
     
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  3. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ever hear of a tubescreamer? They're typically meant to push an amp run hard into heavier distortion. The pedal adds its own clipping, but the main purpose was to hit the amp with more input signal to make the TUBES distort more. (hence the name 'Tube screamer' it has no tubes in it, nor does it sound like tube distortion itself. It's called a screamer, because you turn the gain down, and crank up the output, to make those tubes 'scream')

    That's why you don't typically run unity gain.
    1. Solo boost: cut through more. Sometimes distortion can hide you in the mix more, especially if you don't add any volume.
    2. The intention is to drive the tubes in the amp harder for more saturation.
     
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  4. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    MilwMark is right-- it's all about what you hear. I also think context is everything. What works alone at home doesn't work on stage. A setup for one amp
    needs to be tweaked for another amp. The settings might need to be adjusted for the same amp if in one setting the amp is set to a low volume and
    in another setting the amp is cranked and there's no more headroom. Chords have a different volume than single notes, etc.

    I mean, how is someone even measuring "unity gain"? Unless they are using a sound meter, your ears are naturally going to compensate for the perceived
    loss of volume due to compression by bumping up the volume a little bit. So "unity gain" is probably a little louder than true unity gain to begin with.

    I have standard settings on my SD1 and OD3 marked with a blue Sharpie, but I always adjust from there.

    As others have related, in my general experience unless it's an "always on" or "almost always on" pedal I tend to get better results with dirt pedals when they make everything
    seem just a bit louder when I kick them on. Partly because they just sound better that way , partly because I'm typically kicking them on to do a lead and will
    be mostly playing single notes, not chords. And at that point I want to jump out and be louder to be heard clearly above the rest of the band. (Though they all do a good job of
    backing up and making room rather than engaging in typical volume wars.)

    But for my ''almost always on" pedal, OD-3, here's what I'm usually doing: I need to have a crystal, clear, pristine clean sound available
    for funk rhythm playing, so my tube amp is setup to deliver a beautiful clean tone. But I also want to have access to a classic rock tone where there's just a little bit of dirt.
    So that's what my OD3 is for. In both cases I am mostly playing chords, and sometimes I'm switching back and forth, so I don't want the clean sound to be way softer than the slightly
    dirty sound. So for that reason my OD3 "almost always on" pedal is set to what my ears perceive as pretty much unity gain.

    The silver lining is that I get a third dirt option by stacking the SD1 into the OD3. And for highly scooped amps such as a Twin Reverb I played on backline
    at my last gig, the SD1 actually was my go to pedal much more than the OD3 for most of the night. So it's also good to have a couple different flavors of dirt, IMO.
    I also use a GE-7 as a jack-of-all trades that can sculpt my volume and EQ as needed depending on the situation and the amp.

    All of this is in a live gig context. At home I just do whatever, often playing totally unplugged. At home is when I really mess with pedals and amps, trying all kinds of different
    combinations, letting my ears be the judge. I also switch up guitars and amps a lot, so there's a lot of adjustments to dial in my tones.
     
  5. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    One of the reasons I use OD is to control volume. For that I'm at unity or even a bit below and I can creep up with the guitar volume as needed.
     
  6. RetroTeleRod

    RetroTeleRod Poster Extraordinaire

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Agreed.

    This is something where I definitely adjust by ear, even if that can be a little bit aggravating in a gig situation. But after you've spent some time with the same pedals/guitars/amp, you can usually get things set close, and tweak from there.

    Depending on my guitar's pickups, I typically adjust the (preamp) gain on my Quilter from anywhere between 3 - 5 (9:00 - 12:00), and it's not uncommon for me to have to tweak the levels of the drive pedals as well.
     
  8. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Tele-Afflicted

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    I see what you did there!
     
  9. the tool

    the tool Tele-Holic

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    I guess it depends on music style and what kind of dynamical range the music is going for. In my case, i play in a band thats kind of progressive/metal'ish, we have a very broad range dynamically. We often go from lower cleaner softer to faster harder louder.

    This means we have a lot to take into consideration when setting gain levels. Not only that, our drummer needs to be very dynamic in his levels. When he needs to accentuate a loud hard progression, his frequensies will effectively kill any kind of guitar that is to low in volume.

    So a high gain distortion set to unity with a clean sound is not going to work in our case. The percieved volume level of an overdrive or distortion is always higher. At perceived unity the gain pedal will actually have a lower volume than the clean sound, which will become noticeable depending on music style.

    My rig is setup very simple as i mostly do rythm and no solos. I don't even use my signal clean. My "clean sound" is a Timmy set at mid gain and the Level (Volume) of that pedal is balanced according to where my higher gain pedals sounds the best in their Level (Volume) range, but they are not in unity with eachother. As i use an high headroom amp that doesn't break up easily i can then balance the gain pedals to each other without worrying about the amp which basically just becomes a master volume. Imho this makes using pedals very easy.

    Side note: Many overdrives and distortions have spots in the Volume range where they might sound better. More often than not (imo) thats above unity. By not being dependent on amp drive/gain, its much easier to use those pedals at their best sounding spots.
     
  10. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Friend of Leo's

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    Most people using pedals, not in bands are probably going to use unity, Sort of. But if you have the pedal set to scoop mids its actually going to need the gain boosted to sound the same level.

    A lot of people go for a pedal to solo. and the want it louder than when they are just playing fills (or chords)

    Myself its accidental as my pedal is just an ab switch. When I change inputs on my JCM I'm actually adding a 12ax7 stage so it's harder to keep the level the same without adding a volume change.

    For a lot of old timers the solos are boosted because of similar problems. We weren't big on pedals.
     
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  11. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire

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    I dont keep mine on unity with my Fender Deluxe.

    its a strange thing. The amp seems to sound its best when the volume knob is on at least 3. At that point, its freaking loud as hell in an indoor room. So I use an attenuator to knock the volume down. And then the pedals are all set to a level that boosts.

    that sounds crazy, I know.... hey I AM crazy.

    But, it sounds better to me, than all the other scenarios I tried.

    This is what I use at gigs, too. With the pedals all set to boost, and the volume on 3, its just beyond loud for a small stage. Set the pedals to unity and cut the volume on the amp or the attenuator back, it doesnt have the bite or attack anymore.

    Its a weird thing.

    But I'm a weird thing.

    So I like it.
     
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  12. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    How is this thread still going...?

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Spaceboy

    Spaceboy Tele-Afflicted

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    theres a point on a amp volume where turning the knob no longer increases volume but most overdrive and harmonics. tps and many others crank their amps to that point for the demos, so that stepping on pedal that is over unity gain increases signal going into the amp, which results in more compression and overdrive rather than just volume. if you play at lower volume alone, when you can the gain above unity it increases volume quite a bit more.
     
  14. Iago

    Iago Friend of Leo's

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    That's my perception too, they're always on edge of break up, at least (and damn, they had their Db levels above 100 for that video, that's WAY above bedroom volume, IME. How can they survive that being that close to the amps in such a small room is beyond me, LOL). That makes a difference on how the guitar+pedal+amp combo will sound cos' there's very little to no clean headroom left anymore.
     
  15. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    My amp is out of headroom when all the way up, so it's a little overdriven and can't get louder. I set the output of an effect depending on how dirty I want the amp with that effect. If a pedal output cuts my signal a little, it can make the amp sound clean without changing volume. If it boosts a little, the amp will distort more without changing volume. I usually have the output of my fuzz dimed because it sounds better to me when it's going into a more distorted amp. With pedals off, a clean sound requires the guitar's volume to be rolled back a little.

    When they demo dirt pedals into a decent amp and goose the amp with the pedal output, it's kind of cheating. It is a way that buyers will use the pedal, but a lot of buyers will think they're hearing the sound they'll get, and that can only be true if they have the same amp.
     
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  16. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Run my dirty side at crunch level (quite a bit above unity). I roll the vol back for cleanish. I turn it up for crunch and add the BD-2 for a lead tone. Clean channel is a base volume with either BD-2 for “Hendrix clean” or dead clean without. Compressor for clean leads if low volume. Rat is for really kill/ugly stuff through the clean side....
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  17. songtalk

    songtalk Friend of Leo's

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    And a RAT is for eating a hole in my garbage bag and making a big old mess? A Big Muff is for....uh......

    Sorry, I just think you're describing a use for that pedal and attributing the name of the pedal to your conclusion a little bit strange.

    FWIW, I use the pedals clipping to simulate a tube amp through a solid state amp. I boost volume over my clean tone but it doesn't really cause any amp clipping, just is louder so as to be heard. I think it sounds phenomenal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
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  18. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ditto. Dirt pedals at unity, boost pedal for boost, and what's TPS?
     
  19. the tool

    the tool Tele-Holic

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    That Pedal Show, on youtube.

    And i pretty much agree with what they do. But they do it with live applications in mind ( i think )
     
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Posted yesterday. I think we can flog this one for a few more years!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
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