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Posts Tagged ‘Effects’

One of my biggest problems with Strats in the past is that while I loved their tone, the stock pickups never really satisfied me; being a bit too bright and not powerful enough. Plus, the Strat is not a guitar that sustains very well. With my new Strat, I’ve solved the brightness problem, and most of the power problem with the Kinman pickups that came with the guitar. But the sustain issue still exists. Mind you, this particular guitar has some very nice inherent sustain and resonance; still not as much as a Les Paul, but more than what I’ve experienced with other Strats in the past.

Among those in the know, a Strat really needs help in the sustain area, which is why overdrive pedals will never go away. They provide extra gain yes, but more importantly, they provide sustain. For me, as the title states, the Timmy overdrive has completely changed the game for me. Being a transparent overdrive, it retains my tone then gives me more of it, as well as giving me some extra sustain. Oy vay!!! I love this pedal! The note definition and separation is incredible with the Timmy. There’s nothing washed out at all.

There’s a song I recorded a couple of years back called “In the Vibe.” I liked the tune itself, but I was never happy with the guitar tone. I was using my old MIM Strat with a Tube Screamer, plus a cranked up Reason SM25. I just felt that the guitar didn’t have enough bite, and no amount of EQ was going to get me that. I even re-recorded the song using my Les Pauls, but the song was made for a Strat. So I just let it sit in limbo.

But last night, I thought I’d revisit the song and use the Timmy with my Strat, and I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! The guitar parts have the bite I want, and the Timmy just adds tons of balls to my tone. Here’s what I recorded last night:

The first guitar part is played in the neck pickup. I love that pickup on this guitar as it has the real vowelly-like tone. The second part is in the bridge pickup that has a lovely drive and a Les Paul-like honk to it. Yummy! For that song, I set the pedal with volume at about 11 am, gain at 1pm, bass at noon, and roll off just some of the highs with the treble at 9am. My Aracom VRX22 was set with both Master and Volume at 1pm, which is on the edge of breakup for the guitar cranked up. I gotta tell you: The Timmy is absolutely marvelous!

What about the Dano TOD?

There has been lots of discussion about the Dano Transparent Overdrive being a ripoff of the Timmy circuit. From demos that I’ve heard, it’s close, but to me, the Dano doesn’t have near the amount of clarity that the Timmy does. Conceivably, you could get it close, and in a performance situation it may not matter. But in a studio situation, where  you want as much clarity as possible, I don’t think I’d ever use a Dano. Yeah, I paid three times as much for the Timmy and waited for 6 months. But at $129 it is so well-worth the wait, and at that price it’s near the cost of a BOSS pedal.

So in my mind, the Timmy wins hands down, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, it will never leave my board.

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Paul Cochrane Timmy Overdrive

Summary: Others boast transparency, but the Paul Cochrane Timmy overdrive is one of the very few transparent overdrives I’ve ever used, and to me it is the best OD I’ve ever owned!

Pros: Super-simple to dial in a great tone for the guitar you’re using. Bass and Treble cut knobs make all the difference in the world with respect to dialing in your tone!

Cons: None.

Features:

  • Separate Bass (pre-distortion) and Treble (post-distortion) cut dials
  • Gain knob to control amount of clipping
  • Volume/Boost to control output gain
  • Three-way clipping switch to choose between two types of symmetrical clipping (up, middle) and asymmetrical clipping (down)

Price: $129 direct (twice as much on ebay if you don’t want to wait 6 months)

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I’ve only played with this for a little over an hour this evening, and already I’m in love with this OD pedal! You know me, I love OD pedals, but this one was well worth the wait. I can confidently say that this will NEVER leave my board.

Like many, I had heard of the Tim and Timmy pedals from Paul Cochrane, but I had never played one. I had only heard accounts online, then heard one in action at a concert. After speaking with the guitarist (Dylan Brock of Luce), and hearing him rave about the pedal, I finally got around to ordering one from Paul Cochrane back in October 2010. I finally got the pedal today, and it is hands-down the best damn overdrive pedal I’ve ever played in my life – and I’ve played a lot of them.

I now have only two overdrive pedals on my board: My trusty Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2, and now, my Timmy pedal. They will never leave my board. The Abunai 2 is much more of a distortion pedal than an overdrive and I love the color and compression it adds to my signal. The Timmy, on the other hand, is truly transparent. It takes your tone and give you more of it. And while other pedals will give you a midrange hump or scoop your tone, the Timmy lets you dial in (actually cut out) the amount of bass or treble you want in your signal.

Volume and Gain are pretty standard, so no need to go into those features. What makes this pedal special are the EQ knobs. Both are cut knobs. Fully counter-clockwise, they let in all the bass or treble. As you turn the knobs clockwise, they cut out. It’s a little backwards, but it makes sense once you start messing with the pedals. Paul says he made these like that because of the taper of the pots and doing it in reverse avoided dead spots.

The bass knob functions pre-distortion or before the clipping circuit. Other pedals dial out bass at a fixed level to avoid the bass being too muddy. The Timmy allows you to dial in as much or as little bass as you want. The treble knob functions post-distortion. Again, other pedals have treble set at a fixed point after the circuit to avoid fuzziness. The Timmy lets you dial in as much or as little as you want. The net result is a finer level of EQ control than I’ve ever experienced with an OD pedal, and those two knobs make that pedal very special for me.

I thought I was done with Overdrive pedals…

I actually thought I was done with Overdrive pedals for the most part, and instead started relying on my clean boost and occasionally would fire up my Abunai 2 to add some color and compression to my tone. But that all changed when I got my latest Strat. Even though the Kinman pickups and the X-Bridge pickups have more gain than stock Strat pickups, even cranked, they don’t have enough gain to get my vintage Plexi-style amps into their sweet spot – even with the amp cranked. For instance, I had to use my clean boost and/or my Abunai 2 this past weekend to push my amp into its sweet spot.

The clean boost works great in giving me the gain I need, but it doesn’t give me much sustain. The Abunai 2 gives me sustain, but it colors my tone and adds compression (I like that only for certain situations). Enter the Timmy. With the Timmy, I can get the gain boost I need to push my amp into its sweet spot, and with its clipping circuit, I can get a bit of sustain – but without the compression, which is HUGE for me. Mind you, this is all for a Strat. It’s a completely different story with my Les Pauls, as they have plenty of gain on tap, and have LOTS more natural sustain than a Strat. With a Strat, you always need some help. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just it is what it is.

With the Timmy, I think I’m now all set for OD pedals for awhile. Notice I didn’t say I was done… 🙂

I know, I normally do some description of how it looks and how it’s built, but suffice it to say that the pedal’s built solidly, and the purple finish is cool. ‘Nuff said. It’s how it sounds that is important.

How it sounds…

As Paul explained to me six months ago, the Tim and Timmy were designed to be transparent overdrives; that is, they take your tone and give you more of it. Though the signal path does include a clipping circuit, unlike other OD pedals, the Tim/Timmy circuit doesn’t add any color. In any case, here are a couple of clips.

In both clips, I have my Aracom VRX22 set up in its drive channel with the master and and volume knobs set to about 1pm each. With a Les Paul, cranked up in its bridge pickup, this will give me a sweet overdrive tone with lots of harmonics. With a Strat, these gain positions set it at the edge of breakup, and I have to really dig in to get distortion out of the amp.

The first clip is just a raw recording switching between just the Strat cranked up in its bridge position, then playing the same thing with the Timmy engaged. I did add a bit of extra volume to the Timmy so I could make sure that the amp got pushed into its sweet spot. Give it a listen:

The next clip is a re-recording of the song that I used for my Strat review. This time, I play the first part with the raw Strat, then in the second part add the Timmy to finish the song:

Overall Impression

In my mind, there’s nothing not to like about the Timmy. When Dylan Brock said to me, “Man, I just love my Timmy pedal,” I really couldn’t understand what he was talking about at the time. I now understand, and I mentioned above, the Timmy will never leave my board.

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Awhile back, I mentioned that one of the next pedals I was going to get besides my Timmy was an envelope filter. I was really digging the Electro-Harmonix pedals, but then got contacted by Jeff at Source Audio who was saying that they were working on a new guitar envelope filter, following the bass envelope filter they recently released.

If you’re not familiar with Source Audio, they build the SoundBlox line of pedals. What makes these pedals different is that they can be manipulated on the fly with a motion sensor ring called the HotHand Motion Controller ring. I’ve always been intrigued by these pedals, but haven’t had the chance to try any out. Until now. I hopefully will be getting a couple of their pedals for review soon, and I have to tell you, I’m excited!

The envelope filter has a TON of cool sounds, so you can get all sorts of vowel tones out of it. With the motion controller ring, you can even get variable wah sounds! THIS IS COOL STUFF!

In any case, here’s the demo video they just released of the new guitar envelope filter:

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You gotta dig the folks over at EHX. They take classic designs then put their own unique twist on them. I’ve been considering getting one of their envelope filter pedals for  awhile, but then they recently released a harmonizer pedal called the Voice Box that is very intriguing. I myself have been using DigiTech’s Vocalist Live 4 for a few years, and it has served and continues to serve me well. But after a few years of gigging, things are starting to wear down, and some buttons are just plain broken.

As such, I’ve been looking at either getting a new VL4 or going with a completely different unit altogether. The TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch seems pretty cool, but this new entry by EHX warrants a deep investigation; especially as it is priced at under $220 street, where the VL4 and VoiceLive Touch run about $500.

Granted, the Voice Box doesn’t have many tweaking features, and it doesn’t have nearly the amount of presets as the VL4 or VoiceLive. However, from what I could gather from watching a couple of videos, the sound quality of the harmonies is great, and it includes a vocoder! Now THAT is cool!

For me as a solo gigging musician, a harmonizer has been an important part of my rig. And after years of use of my VL4, I have to admit that I only use four of the 100 presets of my VL4 – just four! So with the EHX’s nine presets, if I can get the harmonies that I use most often, then I may just have to get it. Besides, at around $220, it’s not going to run me broke. It also means that as a pedal, I can mount it on my pedal board, and not have a big unit that I have to run separately into my board. As I only use three effects on my board, there’ll be plenty of real estate to take this pedal!

Here’s a video:

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I’ve gotten to the point in my playing where I’ve pretty much established my base tone, so I’m extremely sensitive about the pedals I add to my rig; especially modulation effects. To me, they should only enhance my tone, and not define it. I should still sound like me whether I have a particular modulation effect on or off. In other words, if the effect is off, I shouldn’t feel as if something is missing from my tone. There are, of course exceptions to this rule of thumb, like my Boss CE-2, where I actually want my tone altered, but in general, I want my modulation effects to simply “fit” with my tone.

Such is the case with TC Electronic Corona Chorus. It simply “fits” with my rig. I’ve been playing with it for the last hour or so, and the more I get to know it, the more I absolutely love it. And all this for $129? This is a winner. In any case, I’ve recorded a couple of clips to demonstrate the pedal. Mind you, all these were done in the standard chorus mode. I haven’t started playing with the TonePrint or TriChorus much yet.

Subtle/Clean

The first clip has me playing clean fingerstyle with a short song. I do the song first without the pedal engaged, then play the song over with the pedal engaged, just adding some subtle chorus. The result is simply amazing:

Liquid/Clean

In the next clip, I do sort of a funky rhythm with a syncopated bass line. Here I’ve turned the FX Level to past 2pm, the Depth to 2pm and Rate to noon. What I get is a real liquid tone:

Swirling/Dirty

In this final clip, I add a little more depth and FX Level, then get into the dirty channel of my Hot Rod Deluxe. The result is a flange-like swirling tone. The interaction with the distortion of the amp is totally cool – at least to me:

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I took the Corona to my weekly solo acoustic gig last night to give it a gig test. From the moment I started playing it, I was in love with this pedal! I actually got to my gig a little early so I could play around with the settings and find a “standard” setting that I could use. My thought behind this was that the pedal would just stay on all the time, except for specific songs that I just want my raw guitar sound.

My standard setting was Speed at 11am, Depth between 12 and 1, FX Level at just past noon, and Tone right in the middle. This produced a super smooth, lush, liquid, and sensual tone that also added a three-dimensional quality. It was total ear candy!!! Not only that, I was using no other processing, doing straight into the restaurant’s board and relying on the high ceiling to get my reverb. The result was absolutely stupendous!

I used the “standard” setting for the songs I play fingerstyle, which is most of the time. For songs where I was strumming, I backed the depth to noon. It’s a very subtle change, but an important one, as any chorus can muddy up your tone when you’re doing fast strums. I do this with all my chorus pedals. But the interesting thing with the Corona is that when I wanted to do any kind of adjustment, I didn’t have to move the knobs nearly as much as I would with other pedals. With the Corona, all the controls are interlinked, so it only takes minute adjustments to affect the overall tone. This is totally cool!

I didn’t use the TonePrint or TriChorus modes at all last night. I just didn’t feel a need to use them. As I mentioned in my review of the pedal yesterday, if the Corona only had the standard chorus mode, I’d still buy it. It sounds that good! I could get super-subtle chorus tones to gorgeous, liquid tones ala Andy Summers with this mode. In fact, I played “Every Breath You Take” last night, and just loved the chorus sound that the Corona produced for that.

Finally, a question I asked myself last night was: With how much I love the Corona, will it possibly replace my beloved Boss CE-2? Probably not. Not because the CE-2 is a better chorus, but simply because it has a distinctive tone that no other chorus I’ve every played can cop. Besides, I also like the slight gain boost that the CE-2 gives me when engaged. For bluesy stuff, that gain boost actually comes in handy. But for general chorus duties, I’ve found my go-to chorus pedal. This thing absolutely RAWKS!!!

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TC Electronic Corona Chorus

Summary: Part of TC Electronic’s new Compact line, this is just about the most tweakable chorus I’ve ever played. Standard chorus most offers a wide range of chorus tone from subtle, ringing tones to thick leslie-like warble. But with TonePrint and TriChorus, you’ve got even more chorus sounds at your fingertips.

Pros: For the chorus lover, the Corona is a tone tweaker’s wet dream! There’s so much you can dial in with this pedal, and guess what? It all sounds great! Great TC sound in a standard-size enclosure? No problem, mahn!

Cons: None. Granted, I haven’t played with it much, but I just can’t think of anything NOT to like at this point.

Features:

  • TonePrint – instant access to custom pedal-tweaks made by your idols!
  • 3 chorus types – expansive tonal options from glassy shimmer to mind-boggling swirls of sound
  • Speed, Depth, Color and Level controls – sculpt your chorus sounds from subtle to extreme
  • Stereo in & out – for added flexibility to your set-up
  • True Bypass – zero loss of tone
  • Analog-Dry-Through – maximum tonal integrity and clarity
  • ToneLock – protects your presets under all circumstances
  • Easy battery access – makes changing batteries fun! (well, almost)
  • Small footprint – save precious pedalboard space
  • High quality components – only the best will do when it comes to tone
  • Road-ready design – ready to follow you wherever your playing takes you

Price: $129 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~TC Electronic is finally coming down from the stratosphere. In the past, price was a big barrier to entry, but with the Compact line of pedals, that’s no longer the case. You get great TC tone at an absolutely affordable price.

Selling Like Hotcakes

I called up my buddy Jordan over at Gelb Music in Redwood City today to see if he had any of the TC Electronic Compact Line in stock. He said he had one chorus and one delay left. He had three of each two days ago, and people are calling, so he has a bunch on order. I’ve been reading the buzz about these pedals for the past couple of days, and it seems that dealers sell them as soon as they get them; and for good reason: At least for the Corona, the pedals sound INCREDIBLE! As soon as Jordan told me he had a Corona (which is what I was originally interested in), I told him I’d be down in a few minutes and he said he’d pull the pedal. He knows me too well; if I like and bond with some gear, I’ll walk out the store with it.

Well, such was the case with the Corona. As soon as I got to the shop, Jordan handed the pedal to me. I took it and got set up to test it. I tested it through a 100 Watt Sebago Double Trouble with a Gretsch Electromatic at the shop and immediately fell in love. This is a keeper, and will be going on my board – today! Let’s get to the review, shall we?

Fit and Finish

Can you say, “built like a tank?” 🙂 The enclosure is absolutely solid. The knobs feel totally sturdy, and the bypass switch (yes, it’s true bypass) feels solid. In other words, if the Corona is any indication of the rest of the line, these pedals will be gig-worthy.

How It Sounds

Sorry, no clips yet as I have yet to bring it home. 🙂 But all I can say is that the chorus is simply silky-smooth. The “Analog-Dry-Through” (ADT) technique that they’re using really works. Basically, with ADT, the dry signal stays untouched in the pedal, and the effect is simply blended in. I really like this technique, as it ensures that your signal retains its integrity. So there’s no signal loss, and no gain boost like you get with other pedals that modify the dry signal directly. It also gives you a lot finer control over how much effect  you want.

I tested all three modes: Chorus, TonePrint, and TriChorus. Here’s a synopsis of each:

Chorus Mode ~ If the Corona only had this mode, I still would’ve bought it. Based upon TC’s classic SCF circuit, this is a smooth, sexy chorus. There’s nothing bell-like with this mode, but it just adds some very beautiful character to your sound and it doesn’t sound at all processed. Based upon my initial test, this will most probably be the mode I use the most.

TonePrint Mode ~ This mode, of course, offers the ultimate in tweakability. Out of the box, the default TonePrint is an asymmetrical TriChorus that has some really cool swirls. But if you don’t like that, just hook the pedal up to your computer via the included USB cable and print a chorus sound you like. You can download TonePrints from the TC Electronic site, where they’ve had some major artists provide TonePrints. Want a Bumblefoot chorus sound? How ’bout one from Orianthi? Pretty cool stuff!

TriChorus ~ For me, used subtly in mono, this mode out of the box will give you very cool leslie-like tones. Apparently, it’s best used in stereo. While I liked it, it was the least of my favorites, but I can actually see where I can use it in one of my songs. It’ll work perfectly for that.

Overall Impression

As I entitled my previous article on the Corona chorus, I really thought I was done getting chorus pedals. But this is a must-have for me as I wanted to have another chorus pedal that could do sounds that me Boss CE-2 can’t do. The CE-2 is a really in-your-face type of chorus, while the Corona can be dialed back for a much more subtle chorus tone. I’ll be using this pedal – A LOT!!!

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