Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

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Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby WayneS » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:55 am

I play blues-- for very many years, acoustic only, but I've been slowly getting into electric. I've got a Gibson BluesHawk and a wonderful Supro lap steel, both of which I play through a 1967 Bogen all-tube 50-watt PA amp which was rebuilt by an amp designer for harmonica and guitar. This nice old amp has no effects, so I need an overdrive pedal.

I got an old, starved-plate Tubeworks Real Tube pedal to give me the overdrive I wanted to play blues, especially on that Supro. Though it was recommended for this amp, it simply does not deliver.

Looking around for a new overdrive pedal. It doesn't need to be a tube pedal, just something that works well with an all tube, no-effects amp. I'd really appreciate any advice you folk can pass on.

Thanks in advance-
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby deltablues57 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:02 pm

go to your local guitar shop and try em all. I have a Barber Small Fry and a Fulltone GT500 that are both fantastic. Since tone is subjective what I like might not be what you like.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby WayneS » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:57 pm

Thanks for the note-- I appreciate it.

That Real Tube from Tube Works, it seems, most likely just needs a repair (though I initially heard otherwise). I am assured by the pro musicians and repair guys I have talked to (all of them but the first) that the Tube Works Real Tube is an excellent unit for my amp. In fact, they're downright enthusiastic about it. So I will be forking out a few bucks for a repair and a new three-wire cord and plug.

Didn't want to leave a criticism of what is most likely a very good product out there. I'll report back when I get it back and try it out.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby leftyguitarman » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:20 am

I'm very happy with my Visual Sound Open Road overdrive. Sounds good all the time. And it can go from nice creamy OD to snarly, raunchy gain in no time. I think I picked it up used for about $60. Last time I was in my local Sam Ash, they were have a 50% sale on all Visual Sound pedals because they were going to stop carrying them. They had my same pedal for around $75 brand new in the box.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby maxx england » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:07 pm

Depends what you want out of a pedal, I got given an old Boss pedal I use with my old Hacker amp and it's superb at driving it just enough. Having said that, I don't go for massive overdrive, just enough to make it Elmore-ish.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby Buffalo_Bill » Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:27 am

You got the wrong amp.
What's the use of a tube amp if you gotta use a solid state pedal to make it distort?
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby old mojo » Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:36 pm

Buffalo_Bill wrote:You got the wrong amp.
What's the use of a tube amp if you gotta use a solid state pedal to make it distort?
Bill


I was thinkin' more in terms of a swap for hotter p'ups. ???
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby leftyguitarman » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:52 am

old mojo wrote: I was thinkin' more in terms of a swap for hotter p'ups. ???


Hotter pickups aren't going to drive your amp much more. The effect wouldn't be any bit the same as an overdrive pedal.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby texas blues » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:55 am

leftyguitarman wrote:
old mojo wrote: I was thinkin' more in terms of a swap for hotter p'ups. ???


Hotter pickups aren't going to drive your amp much more. The effect wouldn't be any bit the same as an overdrive pedal.


I haven't used any pedals in almost a year. Ones I dug before were Box of Rock (Marshall tones) and Bixonic Xpandora (Billy G).

Lefty, right you are on the pup's. In fact I have found in some cases that lower output pups provide a much smoother overdrive with more balanced tone. Evidence the Lollar p90's. What a sweet sound through a Champ or 5E3. 7K p90's + a JMP Marshall..good 'Gawd yall!
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby leftyguitarman » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:04 pm

texas blues wrote:Lefty, right you are on the pup's. In fact I have found in some cases that lower output pups provide a much smoother overdrive with more balanced tone. Evidence the Lollar p90's. What a sweet sound through a Champ or 5E3. 7K p90's + a JMP Marshall..good 'Gawd yall!


My Strat with the Custom Shop 57/62 set overdrives both of my amps way better than my Strat with Texas Specials. Just as you said, smoother overdrive and more balanced tone. I used some high output single coils in a Strat for a while thinking it would give me the tone I wanted, but they always lacked in tone. Sure they were loud, but volume ain't everything.

Interestingly enough though, the Texas Specials, for me, are the best pickups ever for playing clean. They have such a sweet tone to them while clean.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby bottleneck » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:48 am

i do not use any effects,although i don't have a problem with guys who do,as long as they're not after me,haha

but seriously,your amp probably sounds great with no effects,cranked all the way up,right?it is probably too loud that way.i think the best answer is to get a lower wattage amp or two to make up your arsenal instead of pedals and effects.

the bogen 50 watter you already have for large rooms,a 15-25(like a deluxe) watt for medium rooms and a 5 watt(like a champ) for small rooms.

i do have a Masco tube PA head that uses 6L6's but only puts out about 5 or six watts(to my ears)when pushing a 2x8 cab.of course it is louder and bassier with a 2x12 cabinet.

i also have a bogen tube head,but i haven't converted it yet.

i come from a position that i play electric and acoustic exactly the same way as a bottleneck guitarist.if you don't need effects to play acoustic,why do you need them for electric?

now,if you're still determined to try pedals,you might consider a mesa boogie V-twin,a hughs and ketner cream machine or others that use a tube.then there is always the ibanez tube screamer route.

a traditional way to reach distortion at low volume is to slice your speaker cones with a steak knife.i wouldn't suggest that to anybody though,haha

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby rodman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:45 pm

I use a Digitech Bad Monkey sometimes , usually if I need a little boost and dirty sound for a solo part . It's not a fuzz box , it's a lot more subtle . It has Level , Low ,High and Gain controls . It's an overdrive pedal , not enough distortion for a metal head .I don't use it much and I agree with the idea of a smaller amp . I have a vox DA5 and I love the tone options , about the same price as a pedal . I use the pedal with my Music Man amp ,65 watts and no effects [just a master volume that I don't like to use ] . RODMAN
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby leftyguitarman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:20 pm

Another thing to take into consideration is how you adjust the volumes on the amp. If your amp has two volumes on the clean channel, you can get different amounts of breakup. If you turn the master down and turn the channel volume all the way up, you'll get considerably more breakup than if you turned the master all the way up and the channel volume down. At least that's how it works with my Classic 50.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby rossfloss » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:27 am

Yeah, that's how it works on every tube amp with that configuration I've ever used. Which is because the "volume" knob on a tube amp, as we all know, is a bit more like a gain knob. The traditional "master volume" knob is a strictly volume boost.

If the PA has that configuration it's certainly worth trying, given that you haven't tried already.
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Re: Gotta find a good overdrive pedal for a tube amp

Postby WayneS » Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:45 am

I got that Real Tube pedal back.

The Bogen amp, by the way, had been set up as a switch-selectable 12, 20, or 40 watt amp. (For reasons I won't go into, "40" here pretty likely means "50.) It also has a few high-end filters, a "raw" setting on one channel, some other niceties.

I have been experimenting with the rejuvenated Real Tube and the Bogen, and have found a combination of settings (definitely including those volume controls) that delivers a wonderful bluesy growl on that Supro, and on my BluesHawk, too. (By the way, the old Supro pickups are VERY hot.) Lots and lots of sustain. I'm a happy camper.

When I got the pedal, it had a 12AU7 tube in it. Still does. On the advice of one tech guy, I am trying a very high quality 12AX7 Chinese tube to see which I like more.

I think I scored pretty big on this rig; very happy with it. Many thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions.
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