Posts Tagged ‘tube screamer’

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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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Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire Overdrive/Distortion Pedal

Fulltone OCD Drive Pedal

What do you do when you have two kick-ass overdrive/distortion pedals and don’t know which one to choose because both pedals bring so much to the table? The obvious answer is to use both. But my problem in choosing is exacerbated by limited pedal real estate, so I have to make a choice.

Actually, the choice wasn’t too hard to make once I started playing with the Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire. While I love the OCD, the Holy Fire wins hands-down for its versatility and total transparency. While the OCD is somewhat transparent, it can get kind of muddy and a little choppy at high drive settings, whereas the Holy Fire’s distortion section reacts a lot like a power tube at high gain settings producing a compressed effect that just rocks the house!

I still love the sound that the OCD produces. It really brings out harmonics and overtones, and set in a “sweet spot” produces a nice sparkly distortion that really sounds great. But as of late I’ve been gravitating towards retaining the natural sound of my guitar and amp, so the added artifacts that the OCD adds aren’t really what I want right now.

On the other hand, the overdrive on the Holy Fire is totally unique, and nothing like I’ve ever witnessed in all my tests of overdrive pedals (and believe me, I’ve tested a lot). The overdrive has what Creation Audio Labs calls a “wave shaping” circuit that evenly distorts the entire bandwidth of the incoming signal as opposed to creating a mid-range hump, or scooping the EQ. It really is completely even. You don’t lose any lows or highs, which is common in overdrive pedals. And the circuit reacts to both volume and pick attack, providing more wave shaping as you hit the front-end of the pedal harder. Simply put, you retain all the natural tone of your guitar! It’s insane! And it’s so special, Creation Audio Labs is trying to patent it!

I gigged with the Holy Fire for the first time this evening at my weekly Church gig. Make no mistake, this may be a church service, but we regularly hit above 100db in our sets, so there is plenty of room to let our amps breath, and take advantage of the higher gain settings on our equipment. Tonight, I made sure to pick music that would allow me to use the Holy Fire throughout my set. Talk about being inspired! I used it with my Strat and a Reason SM25 amp. What a combo! I set the gain to just above unity with the clean channel (about 10am), the overdrive at about 2pm, and distortion at about 3pm (so the distortion section would compress – it does this at around 2pm). The breakup was so smooth and delicious, I wanted to keep it on all the time! Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that with some songs, but where I had the entire band playing all out, the Holy Fire just made my heart sing!

The Holy Fire also plays well with other pedals. My mainstay overdrive pedal is my trusty green machine, an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer. That’s one pedal that will NEVER leave my board! But here’s the cool thing: Running the Tube Screamer in front of the Holy First was like nothing I’ve heard before. I did this with my OCD as well, essentially getting a combined tonal effect that the TS and OCD produce. But the Holy Fire maintained the tone the Tube Screamer produces! On the other hand, it smoothed out and thickened the distortion. The result was the expected mid-range hump from the Tube Screamer, but with super-creamy distortion, plus the TS tone, that was like candy to my ears. No extra coloration that I came to expect by running my TS into the OCD. It was like playing a fatter Tube Screamer!

Believe me, despite playing in a worship service, the way I was feeling with both those pedals running together made it seem I like I was flying with the angels! I’m not exaggerating! There is absolutely nothing compared to the feeling you get when you’re playing with wonderful tone. It inspires and emboldens you, and you take your playing to places you didn’t think possible.

That was the feeling I got when I first started playing with the OCD, and frankly, I didn’t think it could get much better. But the Holy Fire has changed everything.

On top of that, I was using another Creation Audio Labs pedal, the Mk.4.23 clean boost, yet another amazing product from those electronics wizards. I used the booster to give me just a slight gain boost for when I was doing solos, or was in the refrain section of a song when I needed just a bit more volume. It too is a totally transparent boost, adding ZERO artifacts to your signal, so all the time I spent dialing in my settings wouldn’t be lost when the Mk.4.23 was engaged.

I swear, I must sound like a twitterpated, googly-eyed schoolgirl! 🙂 But it’s been a long time that I’ve felt truly inspired, like everything was totally right with my world of tone. I’ve finally (at least for now), found total balance in my tone. The circle is complete…

At least until I get a bad case of GAS!!!

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