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Posts Tagged ‘pedals’

I’ve never been much of a distortion box kind of guy; at least until recently when I got my EWS Little Brute Drive. I didn’t think I’d be using it all that much, but I have to admit, it is quickly becoming an indispensable addition to my pedal board. It’s as transparent as my Timmy, which is a HUGE plus in its favor, but the gain and distortion goes way beyond what the Timmy can do. But at the same time, it behaves insanely well with the Timmy. For instance, at my church gig yesterday, I was playing a song and had the Timmy engaged to give me some mild overdrive. There was a lead break in the middle of the song where I had to do a short 8-bar solo. But instead of switching the Timmy off, I just activated the LBD. OMG!!! I was immediately rewarded with tons of sustain, and singing, sweet distortion that was not at all over the top (I had the single gain knob set at about 11 am)

Amazing that all this comes from this little pedal that’s about 1 1/2 times longer than a 9 volt battery!

One thing though is that both the Timmy and the LBD are making me rethink how I approach my overdrive tone. Since getting them, I haven’t been cranking my amps near as much as I used to. I still love that saturated power tube sound, but tend to put my amps on just below the edge of breakup, then use my Timmy, the LBD, or a boost to push it over the edge. Mind you, I still have the Master volume up there. It’s just full out like it used to be.

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AH! HA-HA-HA HAHAHA! <manic laughter>

I guess my love affair with overdrive pedals hasn’t waned one bit – even with getting my Timmy. Don’t get me wrong, my Timmy will NEVER leave my board, but this totally cool, ultra-compact “Little Brute Drive” from EWS Japan is nothing short of amazing to me. Lots of overdrive/distortion on tap, right out of the box! And look at the bottom of the picture to the left: It ain’t much bigger than a freakin’ 9V battery! Amazing!

The way I envision using this particular pedal is for when I need heavier distortion than my Timmy, which is a light- to medium-gain device. The Little Brute has a much wider range of distortion; from fairly light to searing. And like the Timmy, the distortion is fairly open and uncompressed from what I could tell from clips. But even more important is that like the Timmy, it’s fairly transparent. I couldn’t detect much tone alteration from the clips I heard. So awesome!

You can fine-tune the output level and tone from inside the box – see the two blue adjustment screws in the picture? But from what I could tell, the factory settings are perfect.

Here are a couple of video clips:

Cost? $129, which is as much as a Timmy, but unlike the Timmy, you can get this online. Here’s a link where you can buy the pedal.

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How can anyone complain about a great-sounding boutique pedal at mainstream prices? Taking its design cues from industry-veteran Gary Hoey who wanted to ensure a great-sounding, built-for-the-road but affordable pedal, HBE has created just that. This is a simple, road-worthy standalone overdrive that costs just $99. Nice!

Not much media on this pedal yet since it’s so new, and I’ve only seen one video of this so far, which was okay, but the demonstrator only used a single guitar, and only made a few adjustments; frankly, to me not enough to give a good representation of the pedal’s capabilities. But based upon what I heard in that video, this pedal is more standalone distortion than overdrive, but really a better test will determine that.

In any case, you can find a bit more information at ProGuitarShop.com. Andy hasn’t done a demo video of it yet, but since he praises it, I’m sure he’ll produce something soon.

Myself, I think this pedal is going to be worth a serious look just based upon the principle of it being so affordable. Damn! I’m GAS-ing again! 🙂

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I’m not too sure how to actually describe this “pedal.” It’s a dual looper, but could be used as a switch box, or a DI box. You could use it to direct your signal to two different effects loops and with the crossfade knob, mix in just the right amount of signal from each loop. As an impedance matching DI box, you can use it to go directly into a board or DAW. Or you could keep things very simple and use the box to go from one guitar to two amps, or two guitars to one amp. The possibilities for using this box are immense! Very interesting.

Here’s a copy of the press release I got from Pigtronix:

Pigtronix introduces the Keymaster – Impedance Matching Effects DI

Pigtronix Keymaster is an impedance matching, effects mixing direct box that allows musicians to do more with the gear they already own. Without loss of tone, the Keymaster routes any sound source (XLR mic, line level or instruments) into effects via two, true-bypass loops and then optimizes the mixed effects signal for your instrument amplifier, mixing console or DAW.

The Keymaster’s unique and intuitive arrangement provides musicians of all types with an elegant solution for routing their sound through effects in a creative fashion and then out into any device without losing signal integrity. The two loops can be switched between series and parallel, with a CROSSFADE function for on-board or expression pedal controlled blending of different effects. Input and Output boost controls add up to 10db of gain both before and after the loops.

The Keymaster lets musicians easily blend their instrument’s natural tone with a floor processor or even cell phone and laptop computer based effects using a standard expression pedal. Vocalists and horn players can use the Keymaster to control their effects mix from the stage. Guitar players can now mix pedals like a DJ does two turntables.

Already in use by some of the world’s top producers and FOH mix engineer’s, the Keymaster elegantly answers the unmet needs of musicians at every level, opening up endless realms of possibility for combining the effects you already own.

“I use the Keymaster to run the Piano mic through my Leslie Cabinet, drum mics into spring reverb and to get vocals into guitar amps. This pedal kills. You need it, I can’t live without it.”
Hector Castillo – Producer / Engineer for David Bowie, Bjork, Roger Waters, Brazilian Girls

I get lots of press releases, and there are just a few that I’ll forward to my readers. The gear simply has to be interesting enough for me to publish. This is definitely something I could put to use in the studio – or even on stage. It’s definitely worth a look! In any case, check out this video describing the pedal:

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When I first heard about this pedal, which EH calls a “sound retainer,” I have to admit, I was rather incredulous. I asked, “What the hell would I use THAT for?” But after seeing a demonstration of it, I seeing some real possibilities; especially for my solo acoustic gigs. But rather than bore you with a bunch of features, take a look at this video:

That dude is a great guitar player! Don’t know who he is, but I do know he’s from Mexico as that demo comes from guitargear.com.mx. No affiliation to this site, but it’s a cool name just the same! And of course, at least for me, I have to appreciate his choice of guitar. 🙂 Nice Tea Burst Les Paul!

In any case, that demo sparked off an idea in me for when I play my solo acoustic gigs. I could strum a chord, then play a short lead over it. But I can also see how it could actually be used to introduce a whole new way of approaching music. It’s wild! I’m seeing all sorts of possibilities now with this pedal, once I saw a demo. And at under $120, it’s not expensive at all.

For more information, check out the EH FREEZE site!

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Yeah, I know, this is a bit of a long time in coming, but I actually got REALLY sick there for awhile, and was sidelined for a few weeks. But as I say in the video, “Better late than never.” In this particular clip, Doug shares a bit of wisdom on choosing gear that’s right for YOU. I’ve been a big proponent of that on this blog, and it was affirming to hear Doug speak along these lines. Here’s the video:

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“Guitar Player” mag took a recent poll asking: If you could only have a single pedal in  your rig, what would it be? Overwhelmingly, and actually not too surprising to me, most pollsters chose an overdrive pedal. I personally didn’t take the poll, but I would definitely fall into the majority. You know me, I just can’t enough of overdrive pedals!

So much to my great pleasure, Maxon has released the new ST-9 Pro+ Super Tube Screamer Overdrive. Based upon Maxon’s classic “808” circuit, and building upon the original Ibanez ST-9 and its ability to control the amount of “midrange hump,” this “reissue” adds features that have the potential of making this a truly great Tube Screamer-class pedal.

  • First of all, the ST-9 Pro+ sports 9V or 18V operation. 18V mode adds more headroom and warmth. This is controlled by a slider switch in the battery compartment.
  • In addition to the Drive, Level, and Tone Knobs, the ST-9 Pro+ also has a “Mid-Enhance” knob which controls where the mids are boosted. Clockwise moves the boost towards the high mids, while counter-clockwise moves the boost to the lower mids. To me, this is probably the most useful feature, as you can dial in the mid boost to adapt the pedal to different amps.
  • The ST-9 Pro+ also has a switch that selects either “Classic” or “Low Boost.” Low Boost gives a 12dB boost at 100Hz and a 4dB boost a 500Hz. This can be quite useful for fattening up single coil guitars!
  • Finally, the ST-9 Pro+ has true-bypass switching.

OMG!!! I love the features on this pedal! Were I to consider getting another pedal in the Tube Screamer lineage, this pedal would be at the top of my list! However, with a street price of around $206, it’s not a cheap proposition. But with it’s features, it certainly warrants a close look; and based upon my experience with Maxon pedals, their build and sound quality is undeniable. While I don’t use it much any longer, my CP-9 Pro+ compressor is a testament to that quality (I paid $250 used for that pedal), and it’s a pedal I’ll always have. As for the ST-9 Pro+, I’ll see if I can find a place where I can audition it.

Finally, here’s a great demo video that shows off the ST-9 Pro+ quite nicely:

For more information, check out the Maxon ST-9 Pro+ page!

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You know me… I LOVE overdrive pedals! I have several, and amazingly use them all, depending upon the voicing that I want, as I don’t think I’ve ever come across any two that sound exactly alike. But since I’ve been playing through really nice tube amps, I’ve come to really appreciate a great booster pedal as well. So it was very pleasant surprise to discover Doodad Guitars’ Check-A-Board RED overdrive-booster pedal that combines both OD and boost in a single pedal.

You might be thinking, “So what?” I certainly did, until I found out that you could operate either one separately or both in tandem to not only add some clipping before your amp, but to also slam the front end with more gain. That really piqued my interest!

I discovered this pedal through Mal Stich over at The Alternative Guitar and Amplifier Company (“Alternative” for this discussion) as I was searching for more information about Marble Amps, a Dutch company that makes vintage Fender clones. “Alternative” is their US dealer. I called up Mal to get info about the amps, and we had a great conversation. He shared that the amps were fantastic, but it was tough to sell them here in the states because shipping and duties are so high for such heavy gear that it makes it hard for Marble to compete in the boutique amp marketplace in the States. Then he mentioned that he was working with another Dutch company that had just released a brand-new overdrive-booster combo pedal. That got my ears up! So he graciously offered to send one to me for review.

So as a first impression, what do I think? This is a killer pedal, folks! I love both sides of the RED pedal. While the overdrive is supposedly based upon the classic TS-808 circuit, it doesn’t sound at all like a Tube Screamer (remember, I have one), but that’s a good thing, as it has it’s own voice. It can go from slightly gritty to super saturated and sustaining. But the coolest thing I dig about it is that it doesn’t compress your signal much with the drive set high. But like the Tube Screamer, at high drive settings, it sustains for days!

With respect to the booster, I dig it. It doesn’t give me as much boost as my Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23, but very importantly, it doesn’t add any artifacts either; in other words, it boosts as expected, and does it transparently. And it comes in handy when I need a slight volume jump for a lead. I guess you might compare it to the VOX Satchurator’s “More” toggle, but with this booster, the gain is adjustable. Nice! While I really love the overdrive side of the pedal, I’ve found myself using the booster a lot more because my amps just loved to be slammed with gain on the front-end! 🙂 The booster really brings out the best in these low-wattage amps!

For controls, the RED pedal has four knobs: Three (Drive, Tone, and Volume) control the overdrive section, while the four controls the amount of boost the pedal produces when the boost is engaged. The Tone control is more of a high-cut filter than a true EQ, but that’s okay. I prefer that with overdrive pedals as I usually want all my tone, so I normally have it all the way up, or if I’m playing a naturally bright amp, like my 18-Watt Plexi clone, I just dial out a tiny bit of the highs. One thing that I noticed immediately with the overdrive besides its sustain, is the incredible note separation, even at higher drive settings. That makes it a no-brainer to use when I want singing lead tones! As I mentioned, the signal doesn’t compress that much, so having that note separation is killer!

In my short time using the pedal, I’ve actually preferred to use the overdrive and booster separately. My little low-wattage amps provide enough dirt that slamming them with overdrive AND boost is just overkill. If I had higher-wattage, high-gain amps, it probably would make more sense to use both. In any case, I have some clips of the pedal. I’m using my Squier CV Tele plugged straight into the RED pedal then into my Aracom PLX18BB Plexi-clone.

PLX18BB By Itself

Overdrive Engaged

Booster Engaged

I have some more playing to do with it before I do my full review, but I will be giving this pedal a pretty high rating!

For more information, go to The Alternative Guitar and Amplifier Company site!

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I had my weekly church gig yesterday. It was storming REALLY badly beforehand, and the thought of lugging my regular rig in the rain was just not appealing to me. It usually consists of my pedal board, a couple of guitars, an amp, a 1 X 12, cab, an attenuator, and a gig bag for cords and tools for spot emergency repairs (never leave home without some tools – I even have a soldering iron because you never know…). With all the rain, I just did not want to do that, so I opted for a solution where I could just make one trip, and that meant leaving my attenuator,  pedal board, and main amp – an Aracom VRX22 – at home. I also wanted to keep things as light as possible, so I wouldn’t have to use my portable hand cart.

So I decided to use my little Fender Champ 600 and my 1 X 12 cab (because the Champ just doesn’t have enough bottom-end). The thing about the Champ is that you have to crank it up all the way to get some decent breakup, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but in a church environment, that could be problematic as even 5 Watts through a 1 X 12 can be loud. So my solution to get some grind? I took the dust off my old TS-808 Tube Screamer, threw it in my gig bag, grabbed my Tele, and went to church!

I have to say that that was one of the most enjoyable sets I had played in awhile. I hadn’t used the TubeScreamer in a LONG time, and I mainly used it yesterday because I didn’t want to “peel” an OD off my board. But I had forgotten just how good a pedal the classic TS sound; that is, if you use it right.

So I have a big admission to make: I’m not sure if I had ever really used the Tube Screamer to its full potential before I replaced it. I loved its tone, but could never get the drive that I wanted with it. So yesterday, knowing that I was playing the Champ, which is all about clean headroom, I cranked the Overdrive knob on the TS, and set the level to just over unity gain, with my guitar volume a little past halfway.

Cranking the Overdrive knob made the Tube Screamer absolutely come alive! To me at least, it has a tasty, mid-rangy tone, and turned up as high as I had it, added tons of sustain that amazingly enough didn’t muddy up my tone. There was just a touch of compression as well. But the best thing about it was that the TS was very responsive to volume knob and pick attack at that higher gain setting. Rolling off my volume cleaned up my signal immensely, and when I’d dig in, I’d get some subtle grind; perfect for playing rhythm. During lead breaks, I’d throw my Tele into the bridge pickup, crank my guitar’s volume, and I’d get a singing lead tone!

Granted, I’ve got some fantastic drive pedals on my board right now that I’d be hard-pressed to remove. But I’ll always have my Tube Screamer for those times when I just want to keep things simple. 🙂

Here’s a clip that I recorded this evening with the Champ 600 and the Tube Screamer. Both rhythm and lead parts were recorded with the Tube Screamer’s Overdrive maxed, and the level set to unity gain, and the Tone knob set to about 3pm – close to max. The rhythm part was finger-picked with my Tele in the neck position, while the lead was played in the middle position. I added just a touch of reverb to each part to smooth out the tones. They can be quite bright on the Champ 600.

Admittedly, the Tube Screamer’s mid-rangy tone isn’t for everyone. But I love it, and the sustain that it adds really does it for me.

With regards to my Champ, for a $149 amp, it really kicks some ass! I didn’t particularly like the tubes that were originally in it, so I tried several. My latest combination is a NOS ’59 GE 12AX7 and a NOS ’53 GE 6V6. That combination works great with the amp. I highly recommend getting some good NOS tubes to put in that amp if you endeavor to buy one. For under $50 you can get those tubes. My 6V6 was a “good pull” that I got for $15! The pre-amp tube cost $30. Totally worth it!

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Yup, you guessed it… yet another overdrive pedal. I came across this pedal while perusing the forums over at Mark Wein Guitar Lessons. Mark occasionally posts “Pedal of the Day” entries, and this was his latest. I know, lots of people complain about “yet another OD pedal.” But if you stop to think about it, there’s probably a great reason why there are so many OD’s on the market. What comes to mind for me is that no one overdrive can cover everything. Let’s face it, a Tube Screamer or TS-like OD can only take you so far tonally.

Don’t get me wrong: Not all OD’s are created equally. Admittedly, there’s lots of crap out there, which is a fallout of the boutique gear movement. I’ve suspected several boutique gear “manufacturers” of simply building gear based on kits, putting a nice paint job on them, then selling the pedal for hundreds of dollars; which is why I’ve always stressed to folks – try before you buy!

The LovePedal Kalamazoo is no exception to this rule. While it has some very cool features (I’ll list them below), you really never know how a pedal will work with your rig until you put it in your chain. But despite that, I’m really intrigued by LovePedal’s twist on the overdrive with the Kalamazoo.

So what’s to like? As you can see, there are two little knobs called Tone and Glass under the common Level and Drive knobs. I believe this is where the magic of the pedal lies. Tone is a treble content roll-off, while glass is a treble booster that doesn’t affect the lows. These are wired in series, so they interact with each other. From what I could gather from the demo from ProGuitarShops I’ve seen, these two knobs offer up a world of tonal possibilities.

Another thing that appeals to me is that I prefer a more “open” kind of overdrive to let my power tubes do the compression. To me, it sounds more natural that way. The Kalamazoo was designed to create an “open” type overdrive tone. With it, you can slam the front-end of your amp, and make that gain push the power tubes into compression.

And from what I could gather, the Kalamazoo is VERY responsive to input gain, which is demonstrated in the ProGuitarShops video.

Here are the pedal’s features (from the Love Pedal site):

9VDC Input
True Bypass LED Status
Compact Die cast Aluminum Case 4.37″ X 2.37″ X 1.07″

Controls:
DRIVE – Sets the amount of overdrive
LEVEL – Master volume control
TONE – Softens the treble content
GLASS – Increases treble without cutting bass response
STOMPSWITCH – Turns effect ON or OFF

Cost: $199

To top it off, the pedal has a mirror finish! I really dig that! My Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 booster has a mirror finish as well. Sweet! And at $199, this is a pedal that will not break the bank!

Here’s LovePedal’s Intro Video:

And here’s ProGuitarShop’s Demo:

For more information, visit the LovePedal site!

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