• Knowing which pedals to choose for your amp

    Knowing what pedals to get for your amp

    Most of us, when we try to describe our favourite guitar tone, use words like smooth, warm, creamy and sustain, but it’s not always that easy to achieve that tone and we even have a tendency to dismiss great sounding equipment simply because we don’t use it right. In this feature we’ll look at how to achieve that killer tone on different rigs.

    One of the most frequently asked questions on this site is (something like) “how do I get my guitar to sound like David’s” or “how do I get that smooth sustain with my gear”.

    You read tons of reviews and watch clips on YouTube but once you plug into your new pedal, it seems that it has mysteriously lost all its mojo on the way from the store to your home. The disappointment and frustration comes creeping…

    Frequencies

    Now, obviously, tone is a combination of many things and most importantly, your fingers, but a great tone and achieving that, is also about knowing what gear to use. No matter how good an amp or pedal sounds, not everything work together or are even designed to be working together.

    There are no bad sounds. What you consider to be crap, others might think is pure heaven. A nasty, ear pinching fuzz might sound horrible for Gilmour, Hendrix and classic rock, but for other guitarists and genres, it’s just what you want.

    However, a guitar’s main frequency range is right there in the middle. The guitar is a lead instrument, just like vocals and our ears are designed to focus on the middle range because that’s where the frequencies of our speech lies.

    A guitar with lots of low end sounds great on its own, but in a band, it will drown behind the drums and bass. High end appears to be cutting but that’s also where the cymbals and keys are going to be, and again, your guitar will drown behind that dense curtain.

    Taming the lows and highs and making sure that your guitar has enough mid range, will place it right in front with the vocals. Mid range is the key ingredient to not only a great tone but more importantly, a tone that people can hear.

    Amps

    A loud Fender Twin has a typical mids scooped tone and very little compression. You get lots of headroom and pristine clean tones but it is not that suitable for fuzz and other uncompressed square wave clipping pedals.

    A loud Fender Twin has a typical mids scooped tone and very little compression. You get lots of headroom and pristine clean tones but it is not that suitable for fuzz and other uncompressed square wave clipping pedals.

    There are lots of different amps out there but let’s focus on the two classics,- Fender and Marshall. The reason why these are easy to focus on, apart from them being very popular and I’m sure most of you own at least one of them, is that they each represent the complete opposite sides of the tone spectrum.

    Obviously, not all Fenders sound the same (early era Tweeds usually had more mids), but in general, Fenders has a mids scooped tone (meaning that there is more bass and treble than mids). Most Marshalls, on the other hand, has a pronounced mid range.

    Now, the bigger and louder Fender amps, like a Twin, also has a lot of headroom – meaning that they have less compression and need a lot of volume to break into overdrive/distortion. Combine that with scooped mids and you get a very open and pristine clean tone.

    If you add a fuzz or Big Muff to that, with their square wave clipping, it will sound pretty nasty and harsh. There’s nothing to compress the fuzz and even out that sharp edge square wave, and no mid range to compensate for the scooped tone coming from the pedals.

    This does’t mean that there’s anything wrong. What it means is that the amp and pedal doesn’t go that well together. At least for the tones you want. You may want to return the pedal, or amp, but don’t do it with the impression that the pedal is broken. In fact, the more open and uncompressed the amp is, the less coloured the pedal will be.

    Mids scooped amps are particularly suitable for clean tones and rhythm guitars, where you just want to fill in the space but don’t get in the way of the vocals. For cutting lead tones, you either want to use mids boosted pedals, as we’ll look at below, or get an amp with more emphasis on the mid range.

    Marshall 1959 Plexi

    A 1959 Marshall Plexi, and newer models, has lots of mid range and a nice amount of compression, which smooths out demanding fuzz pedals and helps the guitar cut through a band mix.

    A typical Marshall, like the old Plexi, JCM and even newer series like the DSL, has lots of mid range and compression. Although most of these has enough headroom, at least for low output vintage style pickups, you might find that they do lack some of that pristine clean tone and that they sound somewhat dark due to the mid range.

    However, that compression will smooth out those square wave fuzz pedals and make your Fuzz Face and Big Muff sound smooth and creamy. The tone will also cut through more easily, both on stage and in a recording situation.

    But again, not all pedals work as well with Marshalls or Hiwatts. The fact that these amps has a lot of mids and compression, can make pedals like a Tube Screamer, OCD and Rat, which all have quite a lot of mids boost, sound dark, boxy and even choked. It’s nothing wrong with the pedals, but too much mids will sound just as bad as too little.

    Marshalls, and similar sounding amps, are ideal for that cutting lead tone and fat chords but they can be a bit too dominating for subtle rhythm work, jazz and other styles where the guitar doesn’t need to be up front.

    A third kind of amps are the ones with a fixed mid range, like the Vox AC30, which doesn’t have a dedicated mid range control.

    Bryan May certainly has plenty of mid range coming from his wall of AC30s and by rolling down the lows in particular, he allow more space for the fixed mid range to cut through. The fact that he also plays insanely loud, will create tube and speaker compression.

    Other amps, like the Laney Lionheart, can do a bit of both. The clean channel does a very good Fender/Vox pristine cleans kind of thing, while the drive channel sounds very much like an early Marshall Plexi, with creamy mids and a bit of compression. Both channels can handle most pedals (the channels share a 3-band EQ) but the tone between the two, is distinctly different allowing a wider range of tones.

    So, understanding these differences will make it easier to decide which pedals to buy and ultimately, make it easier to get the tones you want.

    Pedals

    This takes us to the pedals and we’ll focus on overdrives, distortion and fuzz. Modulation and delay aren’t as dependent on what amp you have, although most modulation pedals (chorus, flanger, phaser) seems to get less dominating and slightly smoother sounding, with a bit of mids and compression.

    As we’ve discussed before, and you’ll find a full list of pedals in the overdrive and distortion buyer’s gear guide, there are mainly two different kinds of gain pedals tone-wise: mids scooped and mids boosted. Obviously, there are thousands of variations within that range.

    The classic fuzz pedals, including the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, had little compression and mid range but were often used with amps that could compensate for that, like a Marshall or Hiwatt.

    The classic fuzz pedals, including the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, had little compression and mid range but were often used with amps that could compensate for that, like a Marshall or Hiwatt.

    The first pedals that emerged in the mid 60s and further into the 70s, like the Colorsound Powerboost, Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and EHX Big Muff, all had a typically mids scooped and uncompressed tone.

    They were (perhaps apart from the Big Muff) mainly used to drive a cranked tube amp into serious distortion, which provided the mids and compression from the tubes and speakers you needed to cut through.

    As mentioned above, these pedals sound great with darker sounding British amps like a Marshall or Hiwatt but paired with mids scooped Fender or Vox, they can sound pretty harsh. This means that if you do own a Fender or something similar sounding, you might want to look for pedals with more mids and compression.

    In the late 70s, with the transistor boom, pedals like the Tube Screamer and Rat emerged and these, unlike their predecessors, had a nice mids hump and lots of compression.

    These pedals were basically designed for guitarists who wanted their Fenders and smaller amps to produce that fat Marshall combined with a fuzz kind of tone and some, like Stevie Ray Vaughan, also used them as a boost for solos, allowing the guitar to do subtle rhythm work and cutting leads.

    Ibanez Tube Screamer

    The Tube Screamer has lots of mid range and compression. It can make a Fender or Vox amp sound creamy and warm and boost your tone for solos for it to cut through. On a Marshall, it can sound a bit too dark and muddy due to the excessive, or total amount, of mid range.

    The Tube Screamer, and Rat, are one of the best known and most used pedals of all time but some guitarists often dismiss them for being too boxy and thin sounding. But, that’s their nature and if you don’t find that tone pleasing, it might be because you have an amp that already has a lot of mids.

    So let’s repeat this one more time: for your guitar, and your solos in particular, to cut through and reach everyone’s attention, you need mid range. Your guitar needs to be right there in the middle with the vocals, away from the boomy drums and toppy cymbals and keys.

    A pedal, or amp, that has less low end but more mids will cut through much more easily, than a pedal, or amp, with a scooped tone and thunderous lows. It might sound dull in your bedroom but on stage and on a recording, it is crucial that your guitar has enough mids, and compression, especially for the parts where you want it to be properly heard.

    It’s also worth mentioning pedals like the Klon and pedals inspired by the Dumble amp (OCD, Tree of Life, Euphoria etc).

    While the Tube Screamer and Rat were designed to emulate the combination of a tube amp combined with gain pedals, the Klon and Dumble pedals, has a more pure amp quality, with a wider range from pristine cleans to pretty heavy overdrive. What they also have is a fat low end and tons of mid range.

    Again, used on mids scooped amps, these pedals can do wonders and Dumble inspired pedals in particular, are extremely suitable for recording. However, on amps that already has a nice amount of mids and compression, they can sound overwhelming and be tough on your ears.

    I like to say that there are no rules when it comes to tone and choosing pedals and amps, but keep this in the back of your head:

    Mids scooped and uncompressed amps (Fender/Vox and similar) – NO fuzz, Powerbooster and Muff. ONLY Tube Screamer and Rat (or similar sounding clones).

    Mids boosted and compressed amps (Marshall/Hiwatt and similar) – NO Tube Screamer and Rat (or similar sounding clones). ONLY transparent, mids scooped or flat EQ overdrives, distortions and fuzz.

    The harsh and brutal reality is that no matter how much you want a Big Muff – why not? that’s what’s Gilmour is using – it won’t get you the tones you’re looking for if you don’t have the right amp.

    Likewise, if you walk into a store and the guy behind the counter recommends a Tube Screamer, or a clone, because “you can’t go wrong, all the greats used one”, then he failed to ask what amp you’re using. On a clean Hiwatt, that Tube Screamer will sound like a fart.

    See the Buyer’s Gear Guide – Overdrive and Distortion for recommended pedals within each category.

    Guitars

    Guitars plays a minor role when it comes to mid range but different models and pickups can enhance or worsen what we’ve discussed above.

    Stratocasters generally has a mids scooped tone. Paired with a Fender amp, you get that classic bell chime and pristine cleans. But, it also means that while a Les Paul with a pair of hot humbuckers might compensate to some extent for the lack of mid range, your Strat will make it worse. On the other hand, using a Tube Screamer with that combo, gets you right into Stevie Ray Vaughn territory and the Strat will even add a nice top end bite.

    A Telecaster, although very similar sounding to a Strat, generally has more mid range and therefore, it’s often considered to be more versatile in the sense that it pairs equally well with mids scooped and mids boosted amps.

    Les Pauls and other humbucker guitars, has a much warmer tone, with more mid range and compression, mainly due to the design of the pickups. They won’t sound as clean and chimey as a Strat on a Fender amp, but they’ll compensate to some extent for the lack of mid range. They’re the perfect match for a Marshall and even a Hiwatt, but add a mids boosted Tube Screamer and you might experience a tone that’s all over the place, muddy and even choked.

    I hope this cleared up a few misconceptions and perhaps even answered some of your questions. Again, there are no rules when it comes to tone but a bit of basic know-how, will hopefully keep you from spending too much money on the wrong gear.

    Please feel free to use the comment field below and share your experience and thoughts on the subject.

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236 Responsesso far.

  1. Brick says:

    Would you say a “Fat Strat” lies somewhere between a Strat and Tele?

    • Bjorn says:

      A Fat Strat usually have a humbucker in the bridge, doesn’t it? In that sense it’s more a mix between a Strat and Les Paul.

  2. Chad from Dallas says:

    Bjorn,

    Great insight as usual. I am always learning from you. Anytime I receive a compliment on my tone, I emmediately mention your name first. I have a few questions for you. First, I play a mesa rectoverb. Which category would you place it? I have never been able to dial in a muff and get my Gilmour sweet spot. I have found a great tone though with the Soothsayer (based on your article). I have been using a Wampler Euphoria as my OD, on the end of the Soothsayer for Wallish tones and for my cleaner Gilmour like Shine On and Another brick I roll back the gain and it sounds great. My second question is about the Tubeworks Real Tube by Butler. I have read some people say that they dial in some very close to the Tubdriver tones. I found one for $100 bucks and figured I’d try it anyhow, but wanted to get your thoughts. I will switch the tube out to the AU7. Any experience with this pedal?

    Thanks for the info!!

    Chad

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Chad :) I haven’t tried the amp myself but from what I understand, it’s based on the Rectifier series, which do have a bit of mids scoop for that modern metal tone. The Soothsayer and other mids oriented pedals might be a better choice, as you’ve also experienced, than the typically scooped pedals.
      The Tubeworks, although not identical to the Tube Driver, is well worth checking out. You can easily dial in some nice tones with that. Keep in mind though that with your amp, you might want to look into something with a bit more mids.

    • MA L says:

      Chad,

      I use a Rectoverb 25 combo, and I find that if you use the “Pushed” mode in Channel 1, you can get a pretty good tone with a muff. I don’t run it with a ton of gain, just enough to get light overdrive.

      If I’m wanting to use the “Clean” mode in Channel 1, I use an MXR Il Torino Overdrive (in boost mode) between the muff and the amp. It allows me to sculpt the tone a little bit before it hits the amp, and adds a bit of compression as well.

      I find the first option a bit better sounding, but if I really needed the diversity for a gig or something, the second option works well.

      Not sure if you’re using the same version of the Rectoverb as I am, but thought I’d throw it out there.

      Mark

      • Chad from Dallas says:

        I have the 50. I have tried the BYOC triangular and rams and just couldn’t get a good tone. Tried boosting from front, behind …both…lol! The Soothsayer though with a boost on the end sounds really good. Not quite the muff tone, but it sounds really good. I did receive and Mojohand Iron bell the other day though and it sounds really good as a stand alone. It might be a little thinner than I would like, but overall it sounds really incredible for Wallish tones. One thing I have learned is that we have to use what we have and the combination to get that tone we are looking for is different for all of us! Thank you for your info Mark.

        Chad

        • MA L says:

          “One thing I have learned is that we have to use what we have and the combination to get that tone we are looking for is different for all of us! Thank you for your info Mark.”

          > I know all about that!

          No problem at all :)

  3. Daniel says:

    Thanks again for another important lesson… I learned a lot and now I understand why I cant get the sound I want: I basically use Byoc rams head + BD2 + Wampler plexidrive (the latest to replace the 2 tube drivers), in my room with a fender champ (the simplest one from 1979, with 3 knobs, just volume, bass and treble)…. so what I basically did is just using mid scooped stuff…. I should then looking for another amp or may be another pedal in the screamer area…

    I have a question… I can then just buy the right amp or pedal in my home… but then when I go to the rehearsal room, they can have any amp.. (We use different rooms)… so, if you dont know with which amp you will play… how do you get the right pedals? should I have a mix of mids scooped ones and mid boosters in order to cover all the possibilities and just adapt in a dynamic way in every place? how do you solve this problem?

    thanks again

    • Bjorn says:

      I have found that the Buffalo FX TDX has a bit more mids than the Tube Driver and the Buffalo FX Evolution, has a bit less mids than the Rat (and it’s got a mids booster control as well). These two pedals will get you something in between and they’ll work nicely on most amps. There also other similar models on the market. A good guide though is that it’s easier to roll off mids than to boost them – when combining pedals and amps that is. So, you can roll off the mids on a Marshall and pair that with a Rat but you’ll have a hard time getting smooth tones with a Muff and Twin.
      I also borrow amps on the road, as it’s just too expensive to travel with my own amp. I usually get what I ask for but when you do festivals and such you’re often stuck with the same rig everyone else is using and I always keep spare overdrive and distortion pedals that can match any amp.

      • Daniel says:

        thank you for your answer!1

        I think the evolution is what I need… and I read it is a wonderful pedal. Looking at your site you have talken very good also about another rat clones… so I dont know really which one to choose… evolution seems ok but the others seems fine too…. how to decide? youtube videos are not real audio experience. thank you Bjorn you are the master

        • Bjorn says:

          The Evolution is perhaps the most versatile. You can get great overdrive tones with and screaming distortion and fuzz. The Rat, and other clones, can do pretty much the same thing but it does have more mids and gain, which makes it more a dedicated distortion than anything else.

  4. Ran says:

    Where does Mesa Boogie fall in the categories?

  5. DavidGilnot says:

    This, presumably only applies to valve amps where the compression is coming from hot valves.

    I play through a solid state Tokai amp which has some Fender Champ qualities and does had treble, mid and bass controls. Are you saying that when playing a strat into this I should boost the mids on the amp – can an amp with scooped mids be ‘unscooped’?

    Can using the tone controls on the guitar itself compensate for the amp’s scoop?

    I’ve never liked a Les Paul into it but shouldn’t the scooped mids get balanced out by the mid range ‘bump’ of humbuckers? Or should I just forget all that you’ve just beautifully explained because solid state need not apply.

    • Bjorn says:

      Tubes will create both compression and mid range when driven hard but the topic of this feature certainly applies to solid state or transistor amps. I’m no technical expert, so I won’t go into details, but compression and the overall tone of the amp lies in the circuitry and not so much in the tubes.
      You can bring the mids back by boosting them but the amp will still have that particular voicing and it depends on how the EQ is set up and how much you can boost and in what frequency. Dramatic EQ setting will often make things worse so it’s much more efficient to set the amp up for a fairly neutral tone and use pedals and perhaps a dedicated EQ to get those mids.

  6. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Bjorn. Great article. I’m thinking of buying a Fender amp using it in parallel with my Laney. Splitting the signal sending the clean to Fender and overdriven tone to Laney. Still dreaming of a creamy smooth overdrive but with sparkly clear attacks. Putting EQ on each signal path to even out the tone.
    What do you think?

  7. Tommy J. says:

    Hey Björn, this was very helpful! Even though I’ve been an electric guitar player for more than 30 years, I needed a clever guy like you to put this into words for me. Thanks for your excellent site and the time you spend on it, I always enjoy your write-ups!!!! :-)

  8. Gaëtan B says:

    For a Peavey Classic 30 ? I jave Providence sov-2 and Diamond MK3 drive too…Am i wrong Bjorn ? Regards from France

    • Bjorn says:

      The Peavey Classic 30 has lost of mid range, which makes it a great amp for both bedroom and practice. My point isn’t to say that you can’t use this or that pedal but some pedals work better with certain amps. Use whatever sounds good to your ears :)

  9. Patrick Kennedy says:

    Very, very good and insightful information!! Here’s a video (over 34 minutes long,) that lets us hear how 2 different pedals (EHX Nano Big Muff Pi, Boss Super Overdrive) interacted with different amps / gain structures. Extremely interesting stuff. I, for one, was astonished at how badly the Muff sounded through the Fender Twin amp.

    • Bjorn says:

      Yep, this clip clearly shows what I’m trying to explain :)

      • Cody says:

        However, kit Rae plays through a fender twin and he’s got great tone in my opinion, especially with muffs. What do you think of that?

        • Bjorn says:

          Well, yeah he’s got a nice tone and I’m not saying that you can’t but it requires a different approach as to playing a Marshall or Hiwatt. There’s also different Twins that sound very different from each other, based on the model and year. What’s important is that one is aware of the differences between amps and not just focus on pedals, and ultimately, dismiss great sounding pedals, just because they don’t go as well with all amps or at least, doesn’t provide the tones you want on all amps.

  10. Guilherme says:

    Very nice article, as always Bjorn. In which category would you say de Laney Cub 12R falls into?

  11. Justin says:

    I might be mistaken but didn’t the Time solo feature a silicon fuzz face into a loud fender twin reverb? I could be wrong but that would certainly be an exception. Another that comes to mind is the use of a tonebender fuzz into a vox ala yardbirds era Beck. Watcha think?

    • Bjorn says:

      That’s what most sources refer to, although he could have been using a Hiwatt as well. David has always played loud and he certainly did back in the early days. Apparently he played so loud for that solo that all of the crew left the studio. He probably drove that Twin into heavy compression and got some mids out of it too. Now, keep in mind that studio is often very different from a live situation. You can do all sorts of things in a studio to compensate for the lack of certain frequencies or get a specific tone from your instruments. Angle the mic slightly and compress the input to the tape machine or mixing desk and you have a very different result than just mixing a guitar and feeding it clean into a desk. Hard to explain just how one gets a tone in a studio.

    • Nicolás says:

      Although I pretty much agree on everything Bjorn explains, there are some nuances that should be taken into account. For the purpose of understanding the basics, this article is excellent. BUT…
      Not all the Fender amps are Twin Reverbs. I have a Custom Vibrolux Reverb and it gets seriously compressed and overdriven if you turn up the volume and the valves get hotter. Usually Fender lovers hate it because it’s not as pristine and clean as you would expect from a Fender amp but it’s just they don’t understand what it was made for. I dare you to try a fuzz face into a Deluxe Reverb or a Blues Deluxe that is being pushed into overdrive territory…
      I usually solve the Fender problem that Bjorn explains by using a light overdrive/booster after the distortion/fuzz. For me, stacking pedals is always been the key. Another thing that I’ve discovered is that is great to use the gain channel at the verge of overdrive sound (I mean, that point when you can’t tell if the sound is clean or not and if you press harder the strings, it definitely drives). At that point, the dynamics lies in your fingers: you can play softer and even roll down the volume knob if you want clean but when you turn up full volume and add a fuzz or a distortion pedal, you fly away.

      I think this topic provides a lot to discuss and share.

      Let me give you this link, so you can understand a little bit of what I’m trying to say: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2QTLMr0dLI

      Take care!

      • Bjorn says:

        Great point. As I said in the article, not all Fenders are the same and the early tweeds, the Vibrolux etc had much more mid range and compression, hence the link to the early Marshall amps. The Vibrolux is sort of a modified Bassmann, which again spawned the Marshall JTM. You also point out the importance of gain and volume, which will solve a lot of the problems but it can be hard to achieve in a bedroom situation.

    • Steven Brockway says:

      I use a tonebender MkIII through an AC30 and they match amazingly well together. More of an Interstellar Overdrive sound.

  12. Awesome post Bjorn, but I am confused about a few things:

    1. You seemed to conclude that fender style amps are off limits for Muffs. This is new to me, especially from you, and your gear guide for amps. Surely we are considering Muffs and Powerbooster types even with our recommended Fender amps?

    2. How about the Civil War mid-rangey muffs? I have noticed that my Musket works better overall on my Tweed Blues Jr. and this guide would sort of confirm the reason, however, I do like the sound of my Stomp Under Ram’s Head for certain sounds.

    3. My Blues Driver does indeed sound a bit spitty on the Fender, but at breakup/boost status, I prefer it for the Shine On break-up tone era as I like the semi-spitty boost. How hard set are you on these guidelines now?

    I am really liking my Tree of Life overdrive and don’t feel I need a Tubescreamer clone for my tones on the Fender, but I’m curious if you have used it on something other than your usual review amps (ie a Fender style). Anyway always good to read your stuff, and by the way, Madison Square was amazing, he was definitely warmer than when we met in London. Cheers!

    • Bjorn says:

      This is meant as a tip or guide but what’s important is that you go with the tones you like. I’m not saying or concluding that Fenders and Muffs doesn’t work. There are different models of each and some Fenders have more mid range and less headroom than others, the Blues Jr being one of them, which can go nicely with most pedals. What I’m saying is that a Fender amp, and similar, usually have less mid range, while Marshall, Hiwatt and similar, have more.
      The Tree of Life is loosely based on the Dumble tone, which is similar to the Tube Screamer so you pretty much got those tones covered.

  13. Rafael says:

    That’s a very nice post. Thank you!
    Bjorn, I’m struggling in this issue with my Blackstar HT60 Soloist!
    I can’t find a distortion pedal that matchs the amp clean channel. It seems that this amp has a fender taste in the clean channel, although it runs a pair of EL34.
    The drive channel has a marshall character, but not so compressed as I’d expect.
    Tha amp has lots of low end so I run back down the bass control, but it still lacks midrange! With bass and treble controls rolled back ir allows me to crank the amp but either way I find it little compressed…

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried that particular model but from what I understand, it’s designed to be very versatile. I’d probably be running it in boutique mode, for that class A character. That should give you more mids and compression and work nicely with most pedals.

  14. bukanans says:

    I play in my bedroom trough a Marshall solid state bass amp and is so fucking nice. It sound great with everything.

  15. Ray says:

    Wow, thanks for the great info! I am addicted to this site! I buy a new pedal almost every month, my wife hates you… ;)

  16. Toni says:

    Hi Björn,
    Great article, as usual.
    Have you got any experience with Mesa Boogie Mark V? How would you classify this amp? Your viewpoint is always welcome. Thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t played that amp myself but it’s got options for several different tones and models right? The overall tone of the Mark series has quite a lot of mids. Personally I fond a bit too throaty and the mids can be a bit piercing but you can easily dial in some EQ settings that’s more neutral.

  17. Ed says:

    Thanks, Bjorn. I play through a Peavey delta blues 210 with El84 ‘s. Does it’s eq fall somewhere between Fender and Marshall?
    Thanks for everything,
    Ed

    • Bjorn says:

      That amp has a lot of low mids right? I might be mistaken but I seem to remember that. Should make a nice basis for most pedals.

  18. Paul says:

    How can I tell if a pedal is mid scooped or boosted? I’m struggling to get a great blues tone on my Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue — maybe just strat > TS808HW > amp? I also have a Tychobrahe Octavia, but it sounds like crap.

    • Bjorn says:

      The description of the pedal should say something about how it’s voiced. Tube Screamer style pedals has lots of mids. So does most pedals either named or associated with blues. The tone should be full, warm and smooth. A scooped pedal sound brighter, more crispy and you should recognise the emphasis on the lows and highs. Your TS808 has lots of mids and should go nicely with your amp. You might also want to look into similar pedals like the Fulltone OCD and Vick Audio Tree of Life, which has a bit more low end. The Tychobrahe is very scooped, so no wonder it doesn’t work that well with your amp.

  19. pickpink says:

    Thank you, Bjorn! Very useful post. I don’t have the luxury of buying high-end pedals, so posts like these, where you talk about sound shaping, help a lot with understanding how things work (in Gilmourish sense). Bjorn, I know you don’t usually do this, but could you please take time to review this new plugin? It’s the first software emulation of Binson Echorec unit. It features 4x oversampling, so I guess it’s not rubbish. 30-day fully functional trial is available on the page. Thanks! http://emptyroomsystems.com/ers-echorek2-delay.html

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Brad. Gear and the quality of it certainly plays a part in a good tone but I think it’s far more important to know how to use the gear you have or are going to get. A budget rig can sound so much better than a high end one, if you just know how to tweak it and what not to do. Besides, budget gear has come a long way lately and I’m definitely not ashamed of using stuff like Mooer.
      Thanks for the link. Looks interesting but I can only see a PC version and I’m using Mac and Logic…

  20. Will says:

    I can’t see the video, would you mind posting it again?

  21. Emi says:

    Great article Bjorn! as always!
    So.. if I have a Laney Cub 12r, Can i go to Big Muff?
    What about a Laney Cub 12r with Boss BD-2 Blues Driver (similar to Tube Screamer)? Thanks!! =)

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes, the Cub goes well with most Big Muffs. In a bedroom setup, where you probably need to keep the volume down, I recommend a Sovtek style Muff to compensate for the lack of lows and compression in your amp due to the low volume. The BD2 goes nicely too… It’s very different from the Tube Screamer though.

  22. Brad Roller says:

    Bjorn this is by far my favorite article of yours! Very informative as usually but I really dig how in depth you got on midrange and what it does. Sent the article to a buddy of mine that’s indecisive of which amp to use. He can’t seem to find tone he needs. And what pedals to match with what amp. This probably helped him big time. I really look forward to more articles like this. I just wanna say thank you again for all you do man. You’re a great friend and great listener! I don’t know where I’d be without you man. Looking forward to the new airbag album!

  23. DavidGilnot says:

    If you don’t mind Bjorn, I’d like to share this article on the Harley Benton forum, with full credit given to you and a link to your site. It’s one of the clearest explanations I’ve read of what we are all trying to achieve but can’t work out what’s going wrong. The YouTube video link that onother commenter put up was good too but I couldn’t help thinking on that, ‘get up and change a few settings on the Big Muff and the Twin’.

    Rest assured I’m forever poking people who say they can’t find anything they like to listen to any more to give Airbag and particularly your solo album a try. It’s prog rock for those who don’t want incessant key changes, meaningless time signature alterations and fretboard twiddling. (You know who you are!!).

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! Glad you liked the feature (and our music :)). Please feel free to share. I’d appreciate the link to my site :)

  24. Patrick says:

    Great feature, Bjorn!

    I’ve been meaning to ask about your Reeves amp. I wanted to get your opinion on it’s power-scaling feature? (if you’ve used it) Does it work well? Is there a noticeable tone suck/loss when it’s in use? Would you say it’s better for the tone than an attenuator?

    (I ask because I’m thinking of getting a power-scaling kit from the same place that does the Reeves amps, then getting a local amp builder to install it for me – rather than an attenuator, which I gather can wear out an amp’s tubes pretty quickly)

    Thanks very much for your time.
    Patrick

    • Bjorn says:

      Mine is without any PS. I’ve never tried their PS but from what I’ve read, it doesn’t affect the tone in any way. My opinion about PS or attenuators is that they’re great if you want to use the drive from the amp. If you’re running the amp clean and use pedals for dirt, then they’re sort of redundant as you can lower the master for the same result. A lot of people get the PS feature and scratch their head since it doesn’t do anything but they’re also running the amp clean.

      • Patrick says:

        Oh sorry, I assumed the amp came with them standard. Thanks for sharing your knowledge anyway. I’m planning to run the amp just before the point of breakup, which is unfortunately still too loud for home (but perfect for gigs).

        Cheers.

        • Bjorn says:

          Maybe they do now. Mine didn’t and I didn’t need it either. PS might be a good idea if you want that slight breakup.

      • Gerard Smulevich says:

        Bjorn:o

        I just bought a Reeves Custom 12 with PS, running it through a cab with an 80s Fane classic 50w 12. I agree that running the amp in master volume mode the PS is redundant, but in order to play late at night at “point of breakup” as you suggest in order to get the od to od, the PS turned down 50%really helps keep the same tone/breakup at a lower volume. I’m also using a Mojohand Iron Bell instead of a muff and that also helps keep it sustaining even at that reduced volume. I’m still experimenting.

      • KEITH says:

        Well, since I went for the PS, I’ll add my 2 cents. I’ve noticed no tone sucking, or even the slightest change in my base eq when using the PS. Attenuators are inherently bad for tubes, and transformers, whereas the PS actually extends tube life by simply conyrolling the voltage, instead of cutting the output between the amp, and speakers. I’m no tech, but from what I understand, attenuation causes the amp to still put out the same amoumt of output voltage, which has nowhere to go but back into the amp. They say the device “soaks” the extra power, and they are sometimes called “Power Soaks, but they don’t siak all the excess, and that goes back to the trannys, and tubes, and I’ve witnessed catastrophic amplfier damage from those. The PS is not known to do anything but change the voltage at the tubes, and isn’t for everyone, but should you want a Hiwatt sound, perfectly recreating a 70’s Hiwatt, and have it able to emulate the 4 preamp Who model Hiwatt as well, then the OS does both PERFECTLY!! I can dial in my Gilmour tones, running without the PS, and get his tones very well, but a little boost of the pres, a lityle eq change, and some PS, and the DR 103, ( don’t remember the model # of the 50 watts), beomes a CP 103 instanly, ehich is the amp Townshend used at Leeds, my favorite of his tones. So in conclusion, the PS gives you two iconic Hiwatts in one head, and if you are a Who, or Jethro Tull fan, then I can’t think of a better amp than the Custom 50PS! Look on Youtube for Live at Leeds tone with Reeves custom PS, and you can hear for yourself. Sorry so long, but the PS is definitely a plus if you want more versatility!
        Peace, KEITH

  25. Ben Ferwerda says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    Right now I have a Fender HRD. Its a USA 90’s model with the original Eminence Legend 125 speaker in it. It makes my TD-X sound like total garbage, almost like a really bad synth lead tone from a Yamaha keyboard, but like a really cheap Yamaha keyboard! It’s smooth and sustaining but sounds very fake if that makes any sense. I’m considering a new amp because I’d really like to be able to use a fuzz and Powerbooster, and definitely a rams head big muff. My question is, is a Laney Lionheart L5 or L20 going to have the mids hump that is needed for those pedals? Also, I don’t have any music shops that stock Laney stuff. In your opinion, does the Laney L5 have enough headroom to handle a venue about 4,000 square feet? I play with an amp mic’d on stage and use the amp as a monitor. I think one of the reasons my Fender sounds so bad is because I have to keep the volume on about 1 since it is too loud for the room. Thanks for the awesome article!

    • Bjorn says:

      The HRD, although not entirely mids scooped, isn’t the best option for the typically mids scooped pedals. The fact that it’s very loud, with a lot of headroom (or lack of compression) also makes these pedals sound thin and fizzy. The L5 is loud but perhaps not loud enough if you rely on it being a monitor. I’d go with the L20 and use the gain channel with the pedals. Set it as clean as possible – there’s enough headroom there – and you got a nice early Marshall. I’m using the L20 as my main stage amp and for all the reviews I’ve done lately and it sounds really great.

  26. Excellent article Bjorn,very clear.You’re laying down a solid foundation here.

    Now,to what extent,if any, would the use of a compression pedal such as the MXR Dynacomp or the Boss CS-3,improve the mids of Fender amps,(particularly the vintage re-issues,Twin Reverb,Super Reverb,Deluxe Reverb,Princeton Reverb and Bassman),and make Fuzz,Big Muff and overdrive pedals,(like the Throback Overdrive Boost),sound like they do with a high mids amp like Hiwatts?

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t think it would make much of a difference. A compressor, compressing the lows and highs, will bring out more of the mids but you’ll also be creating more headroom, which is not what you want. It really comes down to how these amps are voiced and the frequency of their mid range.

  27. Robert Hackett says:

    I run a Reeves C-50 PS. Jump upper normal to lower bright. Feel all my eq is dialed in pretty good. I have all, and I mean all, lol, the Muffs you rate highly, all the correct mods, and delays. My biggest issue is finding a pedal combination that works for anything from DSoTM to The Wall. If I do enough switching this, switching that, using eq pedal, not using eq pedal, yada yada, I can always get what I want. At least for home. Just can’t find a combo that works for the works. Maybe just asking to much, or to OCD about perfect tone for each tune.
    Any thoughts Jedi Master?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Robert! Sorry for my veeeeery late reply. Depends on how picky you are doesn’t it? David’s using a wide range of pedals on the current tour, to replicate his old tones but obviously, not all the songs gets the full authentic treatment. The Tube Driver and a Muff seems to be replacing most of his old boosters and fuzz pedals. You could do something similar but I don’t think there’s any way around it if you want THE tones… I rarely do Gilmour tones anymore but for my own stuff, I’m currently using a Buffalo TDX (Tube Driver clone) for most of the overdrive and milder solo stuff. In front of it, I have a TopTone Shine Boost set for max boost and mids hump and I engage it for more dirt and presence. Having it in front of the TDX works similar to driving the front end of an amp. I also use that booster with a Muff but now it’s placed after the Muff. For bright vintage tones, I use the Muff alone but for more saturated and smoother tones, I engage the booster. That’s three pedals and a wide range of tones :)

  28. jaden says:

    MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE TONES ARE MIKE MCCREADY FROM PEARL JAM CIRCA 2000-2003 TOURING BAND AND MSG DVDS, ITS BASICALLY PLEXI STRAT CRYBABY DM3 AND TS9 AND ITS REALLY DARK AND SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, DRY AVERAGE GUITAR TONES LIKE THOSE YOUTUBE VIDEOS THEY SAY SOUND LIKE HENDRIX ECT THAT SOUND NOTHING LIKE THEM ARE USELESS, I DONT CARE IF I GET A GUITAR TONE THAT IS TOO GOOD AND DRIVES PEOPLE CRAZY I THOUGHT THAT WAS THE POINT

  29. Bernie Heerey says:

    Hi Bjorn – no questions this time, just wanted to say its great that you cam make such an apparently complex subject become clearer. Its enabled me to find what I am looking for tone wise through understanding, more fully, the effects the various elements of a set up ( guitar amp etc) will have. those pedal show videos are excellent too.. Thanks again.

  30. Huy Tran says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    You are a great fella. You write such a good self help guide and you still take so much time answering questions that is already explained in the article.. You are a far more patient man than I.

    If you ever feel like you are too busy you can always post the questions and ask for other’s inputs. Which you already know and have done before.

    Thanks for continually updating the site. I’m a fairly recent fan (started following the site and you, as an individual away from Gilmour, on Bjornriis.com in 2011) and it has been quite a journey.

    I also love the promo band photo for Disconnected. That grimace!!

  31. Mariano says:

    hi Bjorn, what do you think of a Laney Lionheart paired with a BK Butler tube driver? will it make the sweet spot of that classic Division bell sound?
    What about the Laney with a Muff?
    Is there an amp that will handle both? Muff + BK Tube Driver?
    Thanks

    • Bjorn says:

      I think so. I’m using the Lionheart L20 for most of my tones these days, including all the reviews I make for this site, and it can handle all pedals very well.

  32. Emi says:

    Hi Bjorn! I just bought the Laney CUB12r combo because of your recommendation. It sounds good! Now I want to try it at full volume!
    One question, I want a distortion pedal, I want to go to the Proco RATS 2.
    Is it a good combination with the Laney CUB12r? Do you know it is a difference between the Proco RATS and RATS 2? Which will better for the Cub?

    Thanks Bjorn!! Slowly, I’m starting to build the Gilmour’s sound because of you and this excelente site. Great work! and thank you for share it!
    A big hug from Argentina!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for your kind words! The Rat goes nicely with the Cub. You might want to roll off the mids just a tad to avoid any “boxy” tones. You might also want to check out some of the Rat clones or similar sounding pedals, like the Arc Effects Soothsayer or Buffalo FX Evolution. These have a bit more low end and an overall more open sounding character. Still, the classic Rat is great too. The Rat2 has a bit more gain. Otherwise, they’re very similar.

      • Emi says:

        Thank you for your answer Bjorn! Here it’s little difficult to get some pedals. Anyway, I just bought the Rat 2, Incredible sounding! I’m really happy with it. Maybe in the future I can mod it like the Arc Effects Soothsayer pedal.
        Greetings!!

      • KEITH says:

        I may be wrong, but I think the later ,Rat 2’s,cand other Rats have a different chip. Don’t shoot me if I’m wrong, but one of my favorite local guitarists was using the first Rat I ever saw back in the 80s? And he said not to buy the Rat 2, that in his opinion, it was a totally inferior pedal.

        Keith

        • Bjorn says:

          The newer Rat’s doesn’t have the LM308 chip as far as I know. The Mooer, and most other clones, does however.

          • KEITH says:

            Thought that was the case, and the difference between the LM308, and the current chip is like the difference between NKT-275’s, and the transistors in a regular old Dunlap Ge Fuzz Face. I have a mooer with the LM308 on order! And a bit off tppic, but DG used an HM2 Boss Metalizer, which when introduced as HM-1 was called the Heavy Metal pedal, and if you can find an HM-1, it is the best amp like distortion I’ve ever used, and the only pedal I’ve ever used on stage, and was playing through a JC 120! One of the best soundimg clean amps I’ve owned, and even though it’s solid State, the HM -1 made my drive tone sound like a pair of cranked Marshalls, with great stereo separation from the great Chorus the 1980’s JC’s had. Having a separate transformer for each speaker, it was easy to have the amp modded so the ext. Cab output was right, and the two speakers in the amp were left, so that I had that separation with the amp on my side, and the other 2×12 on the other side of the stage. It was an incredible sounding rig, and with the HM-1, it went from Al DiMiola to Living Colour in a single click! Sorry, bored and waxing nostalgic!

            Haha :) KEITH

            • Bjorn says:

              HM1? Did they actually make that? I’ve only seen the HM2 and HM3. David used the HM2 during the About Face and Momentary era and a MZ1 was featured in the Pulse rig…

  33. Tyler says:

    Bjorn, you say in your Amp Buyer’s Guide that the Fender Blues Junior is a good amp that can handle fuzz. Is that true? Being a smaller amp with less headroom, will it compress properly to take a fuzz, or will it sound harsh and hollow?

    • Bjorn says:

      It doesn’t sound as smooth with a fuzz as say a Marshall or Hiwatt but it works pretty well. Germanium fuzz seemed to sound better than silicon though. The Blues Jr doesn’t have as much headroom as some of the other Fender amps and there’s a bit more mids as well. There are a couple of popular mods available, for more mids. Replacing tubes and speaker can also do wonders.

  34. KEITH says:

    Wow, a lot of replies to this article, and I’m very happy for that. This is a subject that while you’ve incorporated the basics in many articles, and reviews, this dedicated article gives those who didn’t know these basic frequency issues a great bit of information, in layman’s terms that are clear, and easily understood! Once again you’ve hit the proverbial “Nail on the head.”, and thus the rapid 60 replies which I’ll now read every word of. You have a great sense of the subtle, yet very necessary skills of the ear, and the gear, and as one of the old hacks, I wish I hadn’t had to learn these things on my own, trial, and error! I wish there had been a ” Gilmourish” when I was a youngc16 year old aspiring rock God, I would have progressed much faster. I have now been playing seriously for 38 years, yet still learn something every time I open this page!!!! To all you aspiring Gilmours out there, listen closely to Bjorn, you are lucky to havebsuch a fine tutor, and for free. Keep up your fine, selfless work Bjorn, you know how much I appreciate your opinions, and knowledge, and your friendship more than anything.

    To Bjorn, and the Gilmourish community, I send my Love, and best regards for your continued journey down the road that is music, whether pro, or hobbyist, you can gain so much knowledge from this priceless, PRICELESS, site!
    Peace, KEITH :)

    • Bjorn says:

      Thank you Keith :)

      • KEITH says:

        Thank YOU! I see you’re doing the midnight replies. I hope that Patrick reads my take on the PS, there are many misconceptions about what it really does. The best use I’ve found doesn’t make it quiet enough as a clean high headroom pedal base for bedroom use, but if you want to slightly cut the volume, and get the amp to breakup on it’s own, it’s a great thing to use. Hat’s 4 cents now I guess, Ha Ha!!

        Peace Y’all

  35. Rob says:

    Your right on Keith,
    I don’t do any Who or Tull tunes, but with a minimal amount of eq tinkering, BAM!!! Gilmour like I’ve never had it before! I get so caught up in the tone, I find myself off on tangents, and forgetting what I’m trying to nail. Just sucks up any Muff I throw at her! Not an easy task. If I could take the front end of my Maz 38 NR and put it in the Custom 50 PS…….tonal bliss! Incredible amp!

    • KEITH says:

      HEY Rob, Is your Maz the one with the eq bypass, and if so is that why you’d like the pre in the Reeves, or could it be the valve rectifier, instead of solid state? Just curipus, as I’ve played a lot of amps, but never had the chance to try a Dr. Z, but hear great things about them! And you’re right about Bill’s current PS amps, they’ll take anything you throw at them, or they sound great all by their lonesome if you can find a good place to crank’er up!
      Keep Rockin’, KEITH

  36. Hello Bjorn,
    What do you think of the modern Hiwatts,particularly the Custom 20 2×10?
    How do they compare with the Highlight era models?
    Regards,
    Michel Giroux

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tested them enough. You’d need to do a proper A/B test. The thing with the old amps is that they will sound different since they’ve been properly “broken in” and aging even does something to the tone. Both have mostly the same parts, so if you fit them with new, identical tubes and use the same speaker cab, then it would be down to the actual tone of the amp. People will always say that the original and old stuff is better, for whatever reason. The new Hi-Tone amps are supposed to be as close to the original Hiwatts as you can get so I think those would be your best choise. Or the Reeves.

      • KEITH says:

        Here’s 6 cents! If you put a set of NOS Mullards in a Reeves, you’ve got a late ’60’s -early ’70’s Hiwatt. Until recently Bill’s amps were the closest you could get because of the reverse engineered trannys. Musicground was making crap, but seems to have decided to put the Dave Reeves back in their amps recently,. Reeves son also got together with Mark Huss the HiWatt historian, and make HeyWatts. All are great amps, and the country you live in is about the biggest difference, although I sincerely believe you can’t get closer to Dave Reeves era amos than Bill Jansen’s Reeves amps. A local Sam Ash had a ’73 DR 103 in for sale, and I did AB it with my Custom 50PS, and the only difference was of course the volume, and the ’73 was a tad warmer, but I put this to the NOS Mullards, and a well broken in 40 year old amp. I almost bought it, but someone had broken the ohms switch, and I think the cord plug, and they were still asking too much for basically what I’d get with a tube change. All great amps, but if you’re in the US, Reeves is the way to go unless names matyer to you

        Peace, KEITH

        PS. The reason I say the country matters is due to what a new HiWatt from the UK costs in the US, so prices vary greatly, and they’re basically identical. However, you will NEVER find any company that has better customer service than Reeves!!!

        • KEITH says:

          I made a faux pas in that last post, I said Hey Watt, I mrant Hi-Tone as the amps produced by Reeve’s son, and Mark Huss. So much information crammed into such an old, and full brain,( or lack thereof). Please forgive! But, I hear Hey Watts are nice too!
          Peace, KEITH

      • Thanks Bjorn.
        The Reeves and Hi-Tones are quite expensive,(they have to be ordered from the US),in Canada because of the strength of the US dollar relative to the Canadian dollar.There are UK made original David Reeves Hiwatts as well as modern ones,(Music Ground),available however,they’re few and far in between not to mention expensive.

  37. Paul rivans says:

    Bjorn, your article is brilliant and very well explained. The way you have analysed the permutation of pedals resonates with my problem I have had over the last three years and consequently led to me selling quite a number of pedals due to the fact I just wasn’t getting that tone I so longed for in fact I sold my new fender deville my Marshall jvm combo.
    Playing blues mainly with styles from the 60’s and current like bonamassa, it was difficult to get the sounds I wanted. I have a fender strat, and Gibson Les Paul and your article really described all the experiences I went through, very frustrating to say the least. But by chance this is what I found has eventually worked.
    I bought a Hughes & kettner grandmeister 36 with a matched speaker cab with 2 x 12 celestion vintages.
    This was my biggest discovery, the mids that the amp and cab pushed out were awesome, then I switched the jvm combo to the h&s cab and wow what a difference even though the jvm had a vintage & heritage celestions in it.
    So I sold the fender and jvm combo, and bought a Marshall jvm head and that’s my backup amp.
    But now have the h&k with the vintage celestions and use an ocd and boss ds1x which I use for a subtle edge for when using my strat.
    So I now found my holy grail, if only I had read your article a year or two sooner, but to be fair I found this new generation of Hughes and kettner amps to be quite special.
    I had an AS64 when they came out and it lasted 20 yrs of great sounds then a switchblade also very good but the grandmeister takes it to a new level.
    Gary Moore smooths, bonamassa , robert cray, several, got them all.
    What’s your thoughts on the h&k.
    Brilliant article many thanks, I can now your wisdom with others in my community.
    Regards
    Paul

  38. Thanks Bjorn,much appreciated!!
    P.S.Does a volume pedal do the same thing as a master volume control?Can one get similar tones at lower volume using a volume pedal?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on the placement. If you place it last, or before the delays, it will act as a master for the effected signal. If you place it first in the chain, it will attenuate the signal from your guitar and you can adjust the amount of gain coming from your pedals. Not quite the same as using an attenuator on your amp but similar if you’re mostly using pedals.

  39. Aidan says:

    Hello Bjorn,
    I recently read on your site that on his “Animals” pedal board Gilmour eventually had both a MXR Phase 90 and a Electro Harmonix Small Stone. I was wondering if you knew of any recordings (live or studio, although by what you’ve written I don’t think he ever used it the studio) where I can hear the Small Stone?
    Thanks,
    Aidan

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not sure. He used the Phase 100 for Shine On and a couple of other songs during the very first dates on the Animals tour. There’s also a lot of phasing going on on the early Wall demos, but I can’t tell whether that’s a Phase 90 or Small Stone. Not a Phase 100 in any case.

  40. Ernie Botelho says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Fascinating article, and I love the site! I was wondering if you could elaborate on stacking overdrives with particular amps, as I am doing currently. I used to use mainly a fender 410 deville which I thought sounded great with my Tele and a TS9. However I hated it with my Led Paul. I bought a Carl Martin PlexiTone pedal to compensate until I was able to get my Marshall 1987x. The Marshall sounds beautiful with both guitars and the PlexiTone pedal still works beautifully in front of it (as I can rarely crank the amp into full break up) to get me a nice creamy overdrive tone. I assumed I would never need my tube screamer with this set up but while experimenting one day I found that stacking the tube screamer after the PlexiTone in the signal chain actually yielded a really nice sound with my Tele. It doesn’t do much for the Les Paul, but I almost always kick the tube screamer on with the PlexiTone whenever I use the Tele. I think (to my ears at least) it slightly resembles the tone on the opening leads to Coming Back To Life on the Pulse album. Does this make sense??? I did see that you compare the Tube Screamer to the Tube Driver for use in bedroom setups (if I’m not mistaken) and I’m now using the TS Mini in this role with even better results. Any thoughts on this would be wonderful.

    Thanks!
    Ernie

    • Ernie Botelho says:

      PS. I should also mention that I use a ClinchFX EP Pre in conjunction with my overdrive pedals so that adds another variable to the equation.

    • Bjorn says:

      Thank you, Ernie. Depends on what pickups you have, I guess. A Tele will need a bit more mids and that’s probably why you get a better tone using the TS9. Humbuckers has more mids and an overall hotter tone, so stacking two fairly middy pedals on top of that, might not be a good idea. But again, depends entirely on what types of single coils and humbuckers you use.

  41. Sean says:

    Bjorn:

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read! Right up there with your “The Sounds of Rattle That Lock”. Thank you so much for all of your work!

    Sean

    PS

    In the past year I’ve picked up the Buffalo Patriot, BK Tube Driver, Vick Audio ’73 Ram’s Head & V-2, TC Electronic Nova Delay, and a buffer… all based on your articles & reviews. Hmmm, I think you have way too much influence over me! :-)

  42. Rob says:

    To picky, to be sure.
    Been eyeing a Shine Boost for awhile. I’ve had good luck with a Dover Drive before the Muff. But maybe it could SOOOOUND BETTER!!! BETTER, BETTER, BETTER!! Lol. Finally got a TD. Mr. Butler installed an NOS 68′ Sylvania ECC82 in er that sounds killer. Having a TD, or quality clone, in the chain is absolutely key. Should’ve done it sooner. Grats in Air Bag. Very cool!

    Respectfully,
    Rob

  43. Alfredo Martínez says:

    Dear Bjorn,

    After reading this article, which is very informative and a good guide there take cosideration always, I have new doubts about whether my effects and amplifier are properly chosen. Everything that I have now as effects and amp, I’ve bought following your guide equipment purchases. I have an amplifier Fender Blues Junior III, and my effects on distortion and overdrives are: Electronic Orange Pig Hoof, Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head, Buffalo Fx Evolution, Wampler Plexi Drive, BK Buttler I Drive, and use a Fender American Standard with Seymour Duncan pickups SSL5. Until now I have not the opportunity to test my effects in another amplifier like Hiwatt, Laney, etc, but from what I can listen to and compare the sound with your videos, I can say that my sound is not bad, but can probably be better.

    My question is then focuses on whether both my effects and my Fender Blues Junior amp are right? I hope that if …. otherwise I’m in deep trouble ….. !!!!! Additionally, in this post you talk about the possibility to make some modifications to this amplifier, in this way considering my guitar and effects, what modifications could make in my amplifier, what kind of speakers and tubes you recommend me?

    Thank you very much for your time and for sharing your valuable knowledge.

    Alfredo.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Alfredo! First of all, you need to decide whether your tone is good or bad. Do you miss anything? Do you feel that you got the tone you want? Don’t need to fix it if it ain’t broken. A Blues Jr works better with typically mids scooped pedals as it has less headroom and more mids than a Twin or similar. Still, it’s not as middy and compressed as a Hiwatt and Marshall.

  44. Dimitris says:

    Although, in studio they might have done all sorts of things to manipulate their tones, from the first time I noticed a difference in Gilmour’s tone on Echoes and Time. I mean the solos, where as far as we know the FuzzFace, Echorec, Amp setup was used.
    On Echoes I understand the Hiwatt was used, while on Time a Fender Twin. To me they sound a bit different, the first a bit darker and rounder, while the second more edgy and harsh.
    What do you think?

    • Bjorn says:

      Yep, that would sum it up. The Hiwatt has lots of mid range and moderate compression, while the Twin has little mids and compression.

  45. pickpink says:

    Greetings Bjorn! I was working on Mother tone and found some use of Twin Reverb, I think. Pedal chain is muff > booster > echoplex > ce-1. I was after a chorusy lead tone instead of flanger/rotary variation. Could you please take a listen and tell me what is missing or what’s too much here maybe. Thanks a lot! https://soundcloud.com/gunners-dream/mother-extended-guitar-solo-cover

  46. Huy Tran says:

    Heyo Bjorn,

    Was wondering if your Toptone Shine boost was a treble booster or more of a clean booster with some mids closer to the TC spark booster?

    I recently found out about the Trouble Booster and my god it sounds good. It also sounds like an interesting pedal in that it interacts with your rig the same way a fuzz does. Has to be first in chain and all that. Does the Laney Lionheart need the upper mid ranges?

    I’ve just been reading about the treble booster and how the name is a bit of a misnomer in that it boosts the upper mids and presence (which has perceived treble increase)

    Most importantly, it helps you cut straight through the band mix Brian May style. What are your thoughts Bjorn?

    Thank you!

    • Bjorn says:

      The Shine Boost is bascially a transparent clean booster but you can flick a switch for adding a slight hump in the upper mids, much like a treble booster or, more accurately, how the Echo Plex pre-amp coloured your signal. The Lionheart’s drive channel, which I’m mainly using, has a lot of presence in the upper mids so I mainly use the Shine as a volume booster to boost the front end of a Tube Driver for more gain.

  47. Christophe says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Have you tried the New Peavey Classic 20 head (MH)?

    How close do you think it is to the Laney Lionheart L20 head or L5 head?

    Regards,

    christophe

    • Bjorn says:

      The Classic 20 is basically the Classic 30 is a small head packed with features for bedroom playing and recording. Very similar to the features on the Lionheart Studio 5. The Peavey has a nice headroom and creamy, compressed drive. Lots of mids and very easy with pedals. The Lionheart has a more vintage flavour and having two channels, you can go from a Vox AC30-ish clean to early Marshall creamy distortion on the gain channel. Both amps are great so it depends on what flavour you want :)

  48. Kaden says:

    Hey Bjorn, I’m thinking about buying my first overdrive pedal, and wanted your opinion on which one I should get. I have a Blues Junior III, but my family doesn’t mind me playing loud. I guess since I have a Fender amp, I should buy something like a TS9 or an OCD, but I was thinking about getting the Tree of Life, and I don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on multiple pedals, so I was also looking for something versatile that can act as a overdrive/distortion, and as a booster in the future. Is the Tree of Life capable of all that? Anyways, I love your website, and any advise you could give me would be much appreciated.

    Kaden

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Kaden! The Tree of Life is definitely a good choice. It’s got that compression and lots of mids, which is what you want for you Fender amp and Gilmour tones… and versatile tones in general. It can do pretty much anything from clean boost to warm overdrive and saturated distortion.

      • Kaden says:

        Thanks for replying! And also thank you for making this website, it’s taught me a lot about tone, effects and most of all, how to sound like the great David Gilmour! All the best from Canada.

        Kaden

  49. Hello Bjorn,

    I was about to buy a Laney Cub Head for home playing.

    In a previous answer you say that Laney Cub “has a nice mids hump like a 70’s Marshall”. But in the Amps section, you’ve described it as “Typically British with a familiar 70s Hiwatt-ish character. Lots of headroom, scooped mids and a warm, smooth top”… , You have also written once: “The Rat goes nicely with the Cub. You might want to roll off the mids just a tad to avoid any “boxy” tones”.

    So I’m a bit lost….. once fitted with JJ electronics tubes, in which catergory will the Laney Cub head belong? Mids scooped or mids humped?

    I’m asking because I do have some mid hump pedals (RAT, Tube screamer, marshall clones like wampler pinnacle or Xotic Sl drive), and also the typical midscooped gilmour pedals (sunface, Pig Hoof, throbak Powerbooster…)….

    Will the amp take easily the two families of pedals, just by tweaking the Mids knob?

    Best regards an thank you for sharing your great knowledge!!!!

    Jean Claude, Paris

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi! Terribly sorry for my very late reply. I have no idea why I wrote mids scooped for the Cub. I’m updating the Buyer’s Gear Guides so maybe there was a bad copy paste going on… It has a noticeable mids presence, similar to an early Marshall and you can easily tweak it for tones similar to a Hiwatt as well, although the mids seem to be in the lower register. The Rat and other mids oriented pedals goes well with it but you might want to roll back the mids on the amp a tad. Sorry for that mix up.

  50. Hi,
    It’s me again, sorry for being so curious but your article was a revelation.

    I’m also considering the Laney Lionheart (L5 head).
    You say that the clean channel does a very good Fender/Vox pristine cleans kind of thing, while the drive channel sounds very much like an early Marshall Plexi, with creamy mids and a bit of compression.

    Do you mean that the Clean channel is midscooped (Like Vox / fender bassman ), and the overdriven channel mids-boosted?

    So, would it be possible to use the gain channel with the Mids scooped pedals, setting it as clean as possible to make it sound like a 70’s Marshall or Hiwatt…

    And to use the clean channel With Mid humped pedals like the RAT, Tubescreamer, or Marshall clones like Wampler Pinnacle or xotic Sl Drive, or Catalinbread DLS III)?

    Thank you so much again!!!

    Jean Claude

    • Bjorn says:

      Again, sorry for my late reply. Yes, the Lionheart is an extremely versatile amp. It’s like you describe, the clean is scooped, similar to a Vox but you can tweak it for something very similar to a Bassman. The drive has a noticeable mids hump, similar to a Marshall JTM or Plexi but with more distortion.

  51. Patrick says:

    Good evening M. Riis.

    Your article was very interesting. I’d just like to share my opinion, and also ask for yours, regarding the category in which belong the early marshalls from the 60’s , like the JTM45.

    I have read many many times that they were the original inspiration for the Fender bassman. So the JTM 45 and Marshalls from the 60’s have the reputation to be midscooped amps like the fenders and Vox AC 30. Are you Ok with that?

    The pedal that makes Wampler, the Plexidrive, is a very transparent and Midscooped pedal, and it is supposed to be a JTM45 Clone.

    So, do you think it would be right to separate the early 60’s Marshalls, (midscooped), from the 70’s marshalls, Plexi, and Hiwatts (midsboosted) ?

    Sleep thight!

    Patrick

    • Bjorn says:

      To some extent. The later Marshalls are much closer to a Hiwatt, with more mids but they also have more compression and less headroom. True, the early JTMs are similar to the Bassman but these, including the Bassman, are not nearly as scooped as a Twin or AC30. They did have a nice amount of mids and much more compression and less headroom, which makes them go better with different pedals. The PlexiDrive has a noticeable hump in the upper mids and when you turn the tone past noon, you get some of that compression you got from the JTM.

  52. Actually,it was the late ’50’s Fender Bassman that was the inspiration for the early Marshalls.Check Tom Wheeler’s book “The Soul of Tone”.

  53. Bjorn, I use the pod hd500x so as you know I have a ton of options at my disposal. Have you ever used this system? I love it but 1 thing it doesn’t have is an electric mistress. What would a good alternative be? I can add on a real pedal but wanted to try if I could find something on the system 1st. Also, it does have a Leslie 145 which I do use quite a bit but was wondering where the best place was to put it in the signal chain. For some reason I’ve always put it last, even after the delay and reverb. Would it be better to place it last pre-amp or 1st post-amp or is where I have it where the best spot for most effective use?

  54. Carlos Rojas says:

    Nice article as usual. Where do you put the peavy classic 30? Mid scooped or mid boost?

  55. Pablo says:

    Bjorn,
    Great article as always. This makes so much sense. I’ve heard it explained before, sort of. And, I’ve heard it. But, nobody’s ever explained it so clearly. Thanks so much.

  56. Hello again Bjorn,this is quite a hot topic!!Thanks for your patient and excellent answers!!
    If you’re using a Big Muff>overdrive,(like a Throwback Overdrive),set up with Marshall and Hiwatt type amps,would you add a booster after the overdrive i.e.Big Muff>overdrive>booster?What booster would you recommend?Is the Boss BD-2 considered a booster,(as well as an overdrive)?

    • Bjorn says:

      I wouldn’t pair three gain pedals. Regardless of what amp you’re using. That would in most cases, cause a lot of noise and conflicting frequencies. Always start with setting up the amp for the best clean/crunch tone possible. Add a Muff or other high gain pedal and listen if you need any boost or compression. If you’re happy, then don’t add anything. If the tone is missing some smoothness or compression, then you might want to add a compressor in front or, a transparent booster after. Keep in mind though that the booster should be used carefully and mainly as an EQ, with subtle settings.

  57. Paul says:

    You say you wouldn’t pair three gain pedals, but in this article http://www.bjornriis.com/my-gear/effects/ your recording pedal board has a Ram’s Head, Evolution and Plexi-drive in succession. Any reason why? I have my own board set up this way, followed by a transparent booster (Buffalo FX). I get a small amount of buzz with each one, running one only–not too bad, really, but could be better I think. The Ram’s Head, however, sounds thin and under-powered, not sure why.

    • Bjorn says:

      On my current stage board, I have 5 gain pedals and a compressor but I never use more than two gains and a compressor at once. My point was that you should be careful with using them all at once. You can have 50 gain pedals on your board but if you use more than 2-3, you will get more noise, feedback and conflicting frequencies.

  58. Thanks Bjorn,much appreciated!!

  59. Rubén says:

    What about a Rockbox Boiling Point into a VOX AC15VR?
    I understand my amp is mids scooped, but…I wanted to give a try with the boiling point

  60. Martin says:

    How do I tell if a particular amp, speaker, or pedal boosts mids, is flat/transparent, or has a scooped mids? For example, this post says that generally, Fender amps have a mids scooped tone and most Marshalls have a pronounced mid range – how do I tell if my particular Fender (I have a Tweed Blues Jr and a Hot Rod Deville 212) has the normal Fender scooped mids tone or a more Tweed like pronounce mids? Or my particular Marshall (VS100). Or any of my other amps (Pignose G40, Picovalve, …)? Or speakers (Vintage 30, Vintage Jensen C12q, stock speakers from amps…) Or pedals (too many)? Is there a trick I can use to evaluate this? Along the same line, how do I find where flat EQ is on an amp? For example, I have read that a normal Fender Tone Stack is not flat w everything at noon, but would be close to flat w Bass and Treble at 10:00 and Mids at 2:00.

    After reading advice online, I often can hear the difference when I play and it helps me better find/craft the sound I want. Over the years, I have accumulated many pedals and amps. I’d like to stop buying new shit (that’s a lie) and be able to use and evaluate the gear I have, so I can use your advice to mix them effectively.

    Thanks a ton. Great articles and webpage. Love it. Thank you

    • Bjorn says:

      Sorry for my very late reply, Martin. Amps and pedals have different voicings and the manufacturer often state whether it’s scooped or if it has a mids hump. It either says so or, it will say brown or British, meaning Marshall, which has a lot of mids and compression, or American, which is Fender, with a scooped tone and less compression. It’s also about experience and being able to tell what you hear. Mid range often make the cleans a bit harsh and gain sound smoother. It also depends on the amount of compression. Mid range will also add presence and make the tone cut through more. Alone, a mids boosted amp or pedal may sound a bit too boxy and overwhelming, while with a band, they will cut through effortlessly. A mids scooped amp or pedal, will often sound better and more pleasing to the ears alone, but it will often drown in a dense band setup.

  61. Alan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Figured I’d get your opinion on the Marshall JTM1C as I absolutely love it. Whats your stance on it? If you’ve never tried it then thats fair but I have a sneaking suspicion you’ve tried a JTM series Marshall at some point!

    Alan

    • Bjorn says:

      I have :) Not a huge Marshall fan but I love the JTM amps. The 1C is a great practice and recording amp. Perhaps not that Gilmourish but it can handle pedals pretty well.

  62. Aaron says:

    Hi Bjorn, in Australia here – how do amps like Supros and Orange stack up when used with BigMuff’s and Germanium style fuzz’s? I”ve always have a VOX 125 Climax which is a dark sounding amp that has onboard EQ and never really had a problem with Muff and the ultra- high gain Roland AD-50 Double beat.. Cheers

    • Bjorn says:

      Never tried a Supro, although I would imagine it will work fine. Muffs and Orange amps goes nicely together but Orange, like Marshall, has much less headroom than a Hiwatt or Fender, so the Muff will sound slightly more aggressive and, depending on the amp, less smooth than on a Hiwatt.

  63. LittleBear says:

    Hello Bjorn,
    Your web site is really interesting and helfull
    I have a Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue for Amp
    and I want to tell you how I configure my pedalboard :
    Today the order of my set is :
    – MXR Dyna Comp
    – FullTone OCD
    – Wampler Velvet Fuzz
    – Wampler Tweed 57
    – MXR Phase 90
    – EHX Electric Mistress
    – MXR Analog Chorus
    – Boss DD2 Delay
    Is it correct or do I change the order of some pedals ?
    Thanks in advance for your answer
    Regards (from Toulouse in France !)

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the kind words! The chain looks fine. Only thing I’d change is that if you use the OCD as a booster, I’d place it after the Velvet.

      • LittleBear says:

        Thanks Bjorn for your quick response ;-)
        I forget in my configuration that I have also a MXR MC-401 Boost (placed at the end after the Boss DD2 Delay)
        Do I change the OCD or this Boost ?
        Thanks
        Regards

        • Bjorn says:

          Depends entirely on how you’re using it and what tones you want. Having a booster at the end of the chain can be great for leveling the signal and driving the front end of your amp but it can also decrease the headroom in your amp and make your delays bleed a little. Try different configurations and hear how that affects your tone :)

  64. john wolff says:

    first off , i love your site , very cool and intersesting . i just wanted to add this and i thought here it would fit . mostly because of the plexi picture . i read a story once from Steve Vai . he said one day out of the blue , Eddie Van Halen just showed up at his door , so naturally steve invited eddie in . steve took ed down to his home studio and showed him around . of course steve asked ed if he wanted to try some stuff out and ed said yes . ed started jamming out real hard and blew steve away with perfect eddie van halen tone(which is legendary , just like the gilmour tone) on steves equipment . after ed finished steve said to ed , man you hit your sound (tone) perfectly on none of any gear you use or own . Steves conclusion to himself was its not the gear , its the player . true story . I write this because i completely agree with what you wrote in the very first line of your FREQUENCIES paragraph on this page “tone is a combination of many things , ‘most’ importantly your fingers” . hope its cool i shared this little story . thanks and keep on jamming and experimenting with cool gear and making sweet tones .

    • Bjorn says:

      Awesome story! True, tone is mainly coming from the mind and fingers of the guitarist. Gear and pedals are just icing on the cake. I think that a lot of people mistake tone for only being distortion, modulation and delay but it really doesn’t matter what gear you use if you don’t know how to use it. David’s using a lot of effects, but he always experiment and gear has never been in the way of his technique. As goes for Van Halen. He has a unique style and technique and the story you share explains perfectly that it will shine through no matter what.

  65. Andrea from Milan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thank you very much for the time you invest in this project and for the outstanding quality of you job.
    I haven’t seen anything similar or comparable on the whole http://www…congratulations…I must be the benchmark for this kind of sites.

    I would like to ask you three different things in order to be closer to the dreamed Gilmour tone:

    1) do you think that I have to invest on another amplifier because mines are actually too far away from “the right” one or I can recover with some pedals? And which ones? => I have a fender twin (100 watt) and a JCM 900 combo 100 watt.

    Introduction to the following 2 questions:
    I use the following pedals:
    – boss CS-3
    – wha-wha vox
    – drybell vibe machine (thanks)
    – boss ch-1
    – nux drive core (sold as it where “a Chinese copy of the tube screamer”)
    – dunlop fuzz face
    – Marshall guv’nor

    2) which pedals do you think I have to keep with the Marshall and which with the fender ? ( probably none, but while the fuzz with the fender sounds very bad, with the marshall…)

    3) which pedals should I add to the two different amps if it is worth?

    Sorry for the questions, but…take them as a drill ;-D (for me are a dilemma)

    Bye!
    Andrea from Milan

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Andrea! Thank you so much for the kind words! Sorry for my very late reply. Your two amps are on the oposite end of each other the tone spectrum. The Twin being very scooped and uncompressed and the Marshall, very compressed, with lots of mids and less headroom. The Marshall is probably a better choice for David’s tones, as it will sound better with a wider range of overdrive and distortion pedals. Your biggest problem might be volume, since both amps are fairly loud. As I mention in the feature, the Twin require more mid range oriented pedals, like a Tube Screamer, OCD, Rat, Buffalo FX Evolution etc. The Marshall can handle pretty much anything but you need to be careful with the headroom.

  66. brendan says:

    Bjorn, do you have any input or opinion on using modeling software and audio interface to replicate tones?

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m working on a feature but in general I would say that it depends on what tones you want and for what purpose you need to use software or modelling units. None of them can do everything, so if you’re really keen on replicating a certain tone, you should look into pedals and an amp but for certain stuff, they can be great and some of the software in particular has come a long way and sound very impressive.

  67. Matteo says:

    Thank you once again, Bjorn this was very enlightning as ever.
    rock on
    Matteo

  68. Nathan says:

    Hey Bjorn have you heard about boss re releasing th ce2 under their waza craft line of pedals? I’m sure it’s worth checking out.

  69. ThomasTang says:

    Very, very interesting reading. I never knew. It lookes like it’s not just chance that I have a TS808 and a OCD with my two paired amps Vox AC and Fender Tweed. I just all makes sense now 😀

  70. Raphael says:

    I would really like well developed thoughts from you over the Peavey Bandit 112.

    These amps are unbelievably good for their price and often beat higher priced all-valve amps. The current model has have three different voicings and I think you would make a marvelous analysis of it.

  71. Luca Gregori says:

    Thank you Bjorn this is the best article I’ve ever read about this topic. This site helps me in many ways, keep it up!
    Cheers from Italy
    Luca

  72. Jc Dusse says:

    Hello M. Riis,

    Could you please tell me what settings you would use on the lionheart head ( L20H or L5 studio), in order to set the channels for:

    – Clean channel for that Bassman type of tones / Clean Gilmourish tones when he’s using fenders
    – Gain channel, but set clean or just about to break , for that early Marshall – Hiwatt 70’s tone, / i. e David using his Fuzz or Powerbooster or Muffs, Mid scooped pedals

    thank you!

    Jean Claude

    -

    • Bjorn says:

      I rarely use the clean channel. Find it a bit too Voxy… if that makes sense :) Here’s my main setting: drive channel, bright mode, drive a hair below 2, volume as desired, bass 6, middle 6, treble 3, tone either off or just a hair below 1, reverb off. Now, this is a basis for all my sounds. Kind of a JTM, only a tad darker. Depeding on your pickups and pedals, you might want the mids a bit higher but be careful with the treble and especially the tone.

  73. David Du says:

    hi, Bjorn
    I just had Dr.z Maz8, which is a class A tube amp, is it a Mids scooped and uncompressed amp? or amp like Marshall?
    Thanks

    • Bjorn says:

      I’ve never played that model but from looking at the specs, I would assume that it’s closer to a Marshall and teh earlier models. Not overly middy, but certainly in the mid rangy and compressed end of the scale.

  74. John says:

    So what pedals go well with, say, Supro amps that don’t fall into either category really?

    • Bjorn says:

      They’re close to the Fender Bassman and Marshall JTMs. They have a nice amount of compression and a slight mids scoop but can handle most pedals very well.

  75. Tom says:

    Hey Bjorn, great article – really enlightening as to why my Dunlop mini Fuzz sounded amazing on my Orange Micro Terror, but sounded harsh and ugly on my Mesa. Just wondering, where would you place a Mesa Boogie Mark III (Red Stripe) Simul-Class on the scale of compression? I mostly use it on the 15W because I play small bars, and I keep the Volume around 7 with Master around 3. I’ve been toying with using my compressor post Fuzz with mixed results, it definitely smooths it out but gets noisy. I know status quo recommends comps before gain, but I’ve set up my rig based on Trey Anastasio’s, with the comp after TS9’s so guitar volume can control the grit level while keeping output volume relatively consistent, and it also reacts to picking more. As far as mids, the Mesa has a Mid control, but I usually keep it around 4 because i mostly use TS9’s for gain, and I just figured out thanks to your article that I can use the graphic EQ set in “reverse V” for mid boost and it totally changed the character of the Fuzz for the better. At this point I’m now wondering how I can fine tune the 5 band EQ to get closer to David’s Dark Side tones, any recommendations, especially in the low-mid/high-mid regions?

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s a very diverse amp, with setups for different tones. It’s definitely on the Fender side of the scale but with enough compression and mids to place it somehwere between a Twin and modern Marshall. Closer to the Bassman and JTMs but with slightly more mids and compression for a more modern flavour.

  76. Mike says:

    Hi, Bjorn!

    First off, great article!

    In my case, I actually have a modeling amp for the bedroom, a Line 6 Spider IV 15W. I was hoping to ask if an OD pedal, maybe a BD2 or BD2W, and/or a Distortion Pedal, MXR ’78, would work with the amp.

    Appreciate very much the advice.

    Thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      My experience with modelling and solid state amps is that they often sound better with pedals that aren’t too demanding. The BD2 should go nicely for overdrive and boost but as for distortion, I’d look into something in the Rat territory, like the Buffalo Evolution, Mooer Black Secret or similar. These have lots of mids and compression and will sound great on almost any amp.

  77. Jc dusse says:

    Thanks!
    Do you use the hi input or low input? Same input for your strats, Tele, and Les Pauls?

    Regards,
    Jc

    • Bjorn says:

      The high input for passive pickups and the low for active…

      • David Du says:

        can we use the two jack together?

        • Bjorn says:

          Depends on how they’re linked up to the channels but on a typical four input head, like the Hiwatts, you will get more presence by combining the upper normal and lower bright and plugging your guitar into the upper bright.

          • David Du says:

            got it! I will try it on my orange crush 30r, I was told, one of the guitar’s sound will weak, if I plug 2 guitars in low and high input.
            Thank you

            • David Du says:

              I just tried the 2 guitar into 2 jack, it sounds no difference, and can play together. but I may not do that again

  78. ethan says:

    Hey Bjorn!!

    Been looking at your amazing site for a while, extremely helpful!!!

    I am wondering if the Irig software can get David Gilmour tones, would love your opinion on the matter!!

  79. Anestis says:

    Ηi Bjorn,

    Great article!
    I see that Vox AC30 is considered as a mid scooped amp.
    But it hasn’t bass range like fender, not even like Marshall and also the highs are not like fender.
    So I am a little bit confused.
    From what I have listen until now, from recordings of bands, like queen,radiohead,incubus,beatles etc I consider them to be mid boost amps but not on the same range with Marshall.
    They are in a lower range of the mids than Marshall are.
    So having in mind the way that you categorized the pedals
    what is the best category of pedals to look for those amps.
    Mid scooped, mid boost, something different or something between?

    Thank you!

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, AC30s are perhaps in their own category because although they are mids scooped, they can be manipulated to have lots of mid range. By playing loud, you will bring out that tube gain and compression, as well as speaker compression, which is how Brian May gets his tones. Also, you can roll back the bass and treble to give more room for the mid range. Although I would prefer mid rangy pedals with an AC30, they can handle pretty much anything, given the right settings.

  80. Jean Hubert says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    Very helpful column!

    Still, there’s one thing that comes a bit in contradiction: what do you think about zakk wylde putting a SD-1 (almost like Ts 9, has a lot of mids) in front of his JCM 800 amp heads at the beginning of the 90’s!!!!????

    I’m asking because I know you’re a big Wylde Fan!

    Regards,

    Jean Hubert De Montmirail

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Jean! He still does that and it’s very much inspired by how Randy Rhoads would use a MXR Distortion + to crank his amps. Hendrix also did that with his fuzz pedals and Eddie Van Halen with the preamp in the Echoplex. It’s just a different approach compared to David’s setup. While these gues are using pedals to drive the front end of an already cranked amp for more gain, David’s using a clean amp and only pedals for his gain tones. He’s often boosting one pedal with a second, but it’s more for adding more character and tone, rather than volume and gain. Different approaches but the result is somewhat similar.

  81. Hassan Barhani says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks for an awesome site! Which Distortion/overdrive/fuzz pedals would you recomend for a Matchless dc30 amp?

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t have any experience with that amp, so I can’t really tell. It’s based on the Vox AC range, so I’d go for something with a bit more mid range than your typical Ram’s Head Muff or vintage fuzz. You’re probably best off with a Sovtek style Muff or a more modern sounding distortion, like the Buffalo FX Evolution or Arc Effects Soothsayer.

  82. Yaniv says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Great article. It take a lot of intelligence to make thinkg look simple, and you got it.
    I have h & k tubemeister 18. After reading this, i understood how to use the rat fuzz pedal, or ocd: on lead channel, simply roll off the mids eq to 9 o’clock, and the harsh sound is gone.

  83. Daniel George says:

    So even though ive been following this page for years, I only just today ditched my fuzz, muffs, and ended my quest with a RAT. FINALLY I can actually dial in some reasonable distortion at a bedroom level. Still the tone is just…off…I have a vicks overdriver that sounds ok after, but at that point the background noise is almost too much to handle. Im using a bone stock Bugera V5, not the 1st choice for a gilmour tone I know, but I love the amp for everything else. Maybe an EQ is needed?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Daniel! Are you using the Vick Overdriver to boost the Rat?

      • Daniel George says:

        Yes sir, Ive been tweaking it a bit more and can get it close, but the background noise is still fairly bad….im wondering if an isolated power supply would help. Im running almost no gain on the vicks, but I am able to increase the bass which is much needed with the amp/rat combo.

        • Bjorn says:

          Well, lots of gain and volume will increase the noise level and depending on the circuit of the pedal, some pedals will pick up more noise if they’re close to the source.

  84. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Bjorn, I just read a review for Fuzzrocious Feed Me pedal (please see below):

    http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/24536-fuzzrocious-feed-me-review?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PGN%20-%20083016&utm_term=PG%20Weekly

    It looks like it could be a good option for people that like to make their Fender mid-scooped tone more mid-rangy for fuzz kind of tone or simply taming the shrills and boominess prior to signal hitting the amp pre stage. If you think it’s worth trying it and giving it a review, I will be very eager to see how it performs in conjunction with other pedals and amps (especially giving more definition to alnico 5 neck pickups for overdriven tones).

    Cheers,
    Arya

  85. Patrick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Great article as usual.
    I play on a Gibson ES135 ,set with a pair of mini humbucker, on a valvestate marshall amp.
    I’d like to buy a stratocaster and a wampler euphoria overdrive, to play on my marshall.

    I read that I need a transparent overdrive (like the euphoria)
    is it the right combination ?

    Thanks
    Patrick

    • Bjorn says:

      I wouldn’t say that the Euphoria is entirely transparent. It can do cleans pretty well but the pedal is based on the old Dumble circuit, which has a lot of mid range and compression. I haven’t tried that pedal on a Marshall but I would think it’s better suited on Fender amps and other mids scooped amps, rather than a Marshall. But at always, it depends on what tones you want. I would perhaps go for something brighter, like a Buffalo TDX or Boss BD-2 (or clone).

      • Patrick says:

        Thank you for your reply,
        I try to walk in the Robben Ford and Larry Carlton territories.
        I ‘d like to find (now for years) this creamy, sweet ,non agressive overdrive.

        thanks
        Patrick

        • Bjorn says:

          I think Ford’s using a combination of several amps, including Fender Twins, which are very scooped and I assume he’s using that for cleans, and the legendary Dumble amps, which have lots of mid range and compression. I think he’s also mostly using humbucker guitars and pedalwise, if any, it’s very basic with a couple of boosters in teh Tube Screamer territory. So, the whole rig seems to be oriented around tubes, mid range and compression, which will give you that sliky smooth tone, with rich sustain without having to use that much gain or distortion.

  86. Thomas Hagemeijer says:

    hey Bjorn, thank you very much for the help so far with everything.

    I was wondering, I am looking for an amplifier that does a very good hiwatt imitation(or something similar, you know, with that classic british midshump tone), and I can’t really afford the best high end stuff. So I looked around a little and soon I saw the Laney GHR range, and it seemed decent. I was just wondering what you think of them judging by the videos of them online(assuming you haven’t tried one).

    And lets say after a while, I do can afford a dr103. Do the new ones have just as good of a quality both structurally and sonically as the vintage ones?

    Thank you very much!!

    Thomas

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Thomas! I haven’t tried the GHRs yet but from what I understand, they’re in that modern Marshall land. Hard to tell by just the videos but while they sound modern and somewhat pristine, they’ve got some of that JCM and even some Laney Supergroup. Typically British, with lots of compression and gain, although the headroom seems to be pretty nice. Quite a different amp compared to the Hiwatts, which has much more headroom and slightly less compression. The new DRs are very good but you might also want to look into some of the newer “clones”, like Reeves and Hi-Tone. These are based on the original schematics and specs.

  87. Marcello c says:

    Hello Bjørn,

    I have now been playing` a Hiwatt T20 (Head+Cabinet with Fane 12” speaker) for about two weeks and I love the tone of this amp. It may not be in the same category as the Reeves or the old Hiwatts, but it is quite good (especially for the price). Obviously, I had to reset all the settings in my pedal board :-). Interestingly, while the tone of most of the pedals really improved (like, e.g. the Patriot and the Buffalo Power Booster which now really shine), both the Buffalo Evolution and the Wampler Plexi Drive did not. Actually, it seems that I now have problems in getting tones I like with these two pedals (but they are good with the Fender blues deluxe ). The Evolution sounds thin and fizzy and the Plexi Drive muddy and boxy. Do you have any suggestions? Here are my amp settings (Clean Channel); master volume 02 (0`clock); trebles: 02:30 mids 02:00; bass: 01:00 ; gain: 11:30. And here`s my guitar to pedal chain: Strat with Fender CS `69 and SD SSL-5>Boss Tuner> Boss CS2>DB Vibe Machine>Mooer Ninety Orange>Patriot>Buffalo Power Booster>Wampler Plexi Drive>Evolution>Mooer ElecLady>Boss CE2>Trex Reptile2>TC Nova Delay> Amp. And another question if I may: if I have to re-tube this amp, which tubes would you recommend?

    Cheers,

    Marcello

    PS: I really, really like “Disconnected”. Great album, great guitar playing, congratulations. Any visit to Stavanger in the near future?

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Marcello! Terribly sorry for my late reply. While both pedals have a lot of compression and mid range, which can sound a bit overwhelming on amsp like Hiwatt and Marshall, you should be able to dial in some great tones with both. Seems to me that you’re amp’s treble is set very high and the master as well. I’d try to roll back the treble a bit to around 10:00 maybe and set the master much lower than the channel volume. Try to find the right balance between a clean headroom and a warm and punchy tone.

  88. Russ says:

    Bjorn

    Great information on your site, I am learning huge amounts of useful information from you. I have a carvin v3m amp. What Category would you place these amps? Thanks again.

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks Russ! I haven’t tried that one yet but from the clips I’ve seen it seems to be in a Marshall-ish territory. Perhaps a bit more modern sounding, with a nice amount of mids and compression.

  89. Thomas Hagemeijer says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks, I will definitely check them out. Are these closer to david’s sound than the dr103’s?

    Also, what about the Hi-Gain, Max-Watt range? Have you checked them out? Are they capable of producing david’s tones? Basically I’m looking for an amp that is much like the classic Hiwatt sound like the Tube Series of Hiwatt but higher wattage.

    Thanks!

    Thomas

    • Bjorn says:

      The Hi-Gain and MaxWatt are more modern sounding with a Marshall-ish character. If you want THAT tone, check out the Hi-Tone or Reeves :)

  90. Jesse says:

    Great article. Two questions: where does a mesa boogie fit into the spectrum? It seems most modern metal type pedals are both compressed and mid scooped. Im also curious about the vox classification as being in the fender camp inspite of being british. The most well known example of treble booster is probably Brian May with the ac30. You mention it but put vox in the fender camp.

    • Bjorn says:

      The clasdic Mesa amps are similar to the Fenders, while some of the newer models has channels for more Marshall-ish tones as well. But the MK and Recitfier series are on the Fender side. Vox are somewhat in the middle but it doesn’t have a mids control and the tone is fairly scooped so they belong in the Fender category. Now, the thing about Vox is that if you roll back the treble and play as loud as Brian May, you can get some nice compression and mids, which makes them cut through like a Marshall or Hiwatt. But, in a bedroom situation, most Vox amps will sound very scooped.

  91. Christopher says:

    Hello Bjorn and greetings from a greek Pink Floyd’s fan!I own a Laney Lionheart combo 20watt.The cleans are exactly as you wrote but i’m curious to know which fuzz pedal you recommend for an amplifier like mine.I want to capture that Gilmour tone like Dogs Solo but also i’m a big fan of Obscured by clouds Childhood’s end tone and similar.Unfortunately 3 months before i bought a Big muff Pi (the reissue),it works for Smashing Pumpkins style and tone but i’m not pleased in solos.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Christopher! The Lionheart can handle pretty much anything. I usually use the gain channel for fuzz and Big Muffs. It adds a bit more mid range and compression. Try this: gain channel, bright on, bass 12:00, mids 100%, treble and tone off, gain 8:00 and volume as desired. It’s a fairly dark tone you’re getting but it will open up when you crank the volume. You can also try to raise the tone right under point 1. The Dunlop JH-F1 is probably your best choice for those Obscured/Pompeii/Dark Side tone. The AnalogMan BC109 is also excellent. Big Muffwise, I think the Buffalo FX M1 and Skreddy Rust Rod goes particularly well with the Lionheart.

  92. tomer says:

    Hi bjorn

    Thanks for the post, i really learnt a lot. I have a Fender Bassbreaker 007 amp (home use only). This series of ams is supposed to have the sound of early Fenders, which, if i’m correct, sound more like a Marshall. So, I’m confused, is it mids-scooped or boosted? I just bought a Boss sd 1 (before i read your post…) and it sounds a bit too mid rangey for me with that amp. Will a Rat go well with that amp?

    Thanks a lot !

    Tomer

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi! Well, Marshall copied Fender, so yeah, those early models sounds somewhat similar. They have more mids and compression compared to the later 60s and 70s range of Twins etc. The SD1 is similar to the Tueb Screamer, so you will get a lot of mids from it, which can sound boxy with your amp. The Rat is just the same. Both sounds great with a band, cutting through the mix, but a bit too overwhelming alone. You can compensate to some exent by rolling off the mids on your amp but you might also want to look into pedals with less mid range, if that’s what you want.

  93. Dave says:

    Hi Bjorn

    Thanks for this article (and the many others on this site), they’ve really helped me find my tone. I just wanted to ask if you could recommend something specific.

    I play in a blues/classic rock cover band and really love using fuzz pedals for solos – mine is a fulltone 69 with a tc electronic spark booster placed after it. I followed your advice and am using the fuzz with quite a mid-heavy amp and guitar (ampeg gvt15 and an epiphone dot) and it sounds utterly amazing, especially the hendrix, cream and floyd tunes we cover. However the problem is it doesnt work so well for other songs where im playing rhythm and need a more crisp attack (led zep and thin lizzy tunes for example). The 69 sounds awful whenever i’m palm-muting anything. I don’t like having too many pedals at my feet, so i was thinking of swapping out the spark booster with a more traditional overdrive pedal that i can use both on its own (with the gain turned up) and as a clean boost (gain turned down) when using the fuzz. Are there any specific pedals you can recommend for this? I was thinking of maybe an ehx soul food or a zvex box of rock. The alternative is to switch to a fender amp and use the fuzz with a tubescreamer type pedal, which would mean I’d also be able to get nice un-obtrusive, scooped clean tones when im playing rhythm, but im not too sure how well my fuzz would pair with such a pedal. Anyway I know thats a lot of questions but id be interested if there’s anything you can suggest.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Dave! As you mention, your amp has a nice mids hump and a bit of compression, so since you seem to prefer the vintage tones, I’d go for a Powerbooster. It’s very transparent and need that mid rangy amp to sound smooth but it works nicely as a booster for both cleans and your fuzz, and you can turn up the gain for a glassy overdrive, much like Page, Beck and early Gilmour. The Vick Audio Overdriver is probably the closest to the original but check out the Buffalo FX Powerbooster as well, for a bit warmer tone.

  94. David Joyner says:

    Hi, I found this article very helpful. I’m thinking of having two amps now. One for clean, delays, wah, whammy and compression. And the other for distortion, fuzz and solo sounds. And having a amp selector at the end of my chain. BUT, I would love to be pointed in the right direction and I’m very appreciative of your time.
    I have some high fuzz pedals and am looking for some tight, thick, creamy, in your face Zappa leads. I have a Red Muck, Afro Fuzz, Disnortion and Wampler Dual Fusion. I’ve had experience with that harsh sound from fender amps and they really are amazing clean amps. So, what amp do you think would work well with creamy tight fuzz/distortion pedals? Any insight is much appreciated.
    Thank you very much for you time,
    David

    • Bjorn says:

      Sorry for my very late reply, David. For the tones you describe, I’d go for either a Marshall (like the Silver Jubilee) or the Laney Lionheart. Both take fuzz pedals very well and will make them sound creamy and vintage. You might also want to check out the Peavey Classic 30. Fender amps sound harsh with fuzz, due to their lack of compression and mid range, so unless you really want that tone, it’s not the best way to go.

  95. Hey there,

    Thank you for this post! I have just realized that I have been unconsciously mixing, swapping and getting along with my pedals and amps ‘the right way’ apparently! Let me elaborate:

    I used to have a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (but not anymore), and that amp screamed when it was paired with my Boss Overdrive (OD-3, mid-rangy pedal), and the same pedal didn’t do as well with Crate Palomino V16, Peavey Classic 30 and Marshall. Now I know why.

    On the other hand, I also have a DOD Preamp 250 and a Boss Blues Driver (BD-2) that really work well with these amps: Marshall, Crate, Peavey. I use overdrive mainly as a boost and the BD-2 works well with those amps, now I know why as well.

    You just clarified a lot of info in my mind that I can now actually make sense out of (if that makes any sense at all…) Great post! Thanks!

  96. noureddine says:

    Mr Bjorn
    please what overdrive i need to my fender strat vg and mesa dc5 with eq .i play just in my room. Thanks

  97. Jesse says:

    I feel as though I am a bit late to the party but I’m still going to comment because I feel like what I am saying could be of help to some people. We can talk about pedal and amp combinations all day long, but the reality is that it takes work to set up pedals and amps, and eq them to find usable tones. Under certain situations I love the way a fuzz sounds into a Fender or Vox amp. That was basically the sound of the late sixties, especially on the west coast. Quicksilver Messenger Service, Canned Heat, and Funkadelic all used cranked fender amps and germanium fuzzes such as The Maestro, and the Mosrite Fuzzrite. I use a fuzzrite into a mostly clean music man hd150 (very similar to a twin) and it sounds great. However I didn’t just plug it in and find the tone I wanted. One thing that can really help is a compressor. Don’t resell your amp or effects just because you don’t instantly fall in love with them, and at the end of you should also consider if it is your ability rather than your gear.

    • Bjorn says:

      Very good points, Jesse. Obviously, this being a David Gilmour site, all my features and tips are based on his tones but it’s always a matter of what tones you want. There are no bad tones. It might not fit Gilmour but it would nail something different. And yes, spedning time learning the potential of the gear you have, is crucial for achieving the tones you want. Doesn’t matter what you have, whether its high end or cheap if you don’t know how to use it.

  98. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Bjorn, I got a Jetter Gain Stage Red pedal about a week ago and put it to exercise through my Fender Strat / Gibson Les Paul, and Reeves Custom 50 with downstream with Vick Audio Overdrive (mild OD setup) or Boss DS-1 mod (distortion tone), or Butler Tube Driver (high OD setup). I have Demeter Compulator upstream of Jetter pedal. Really smooth yet rich and defined sound with low to medium gain coming from this unit is the ticket to all those that feel their amp or downstream overdrive is too bright, too in the face, too much attack, too thin, or even too choked with the neck pickup. This unit actually doesn’t compress audibly to loose the mid range definition and dynamics. It is pretty dynamic but it is smooth too. There is enough attack and clarity of attack that can be used stacked. It sounds like it turns the vintage low output single coil pickups to mid-boosted EMG character or even put it further toward a vintage low output humbucker while keeping the nuances of the single coil and some of the high frequency definitions, etc. It helps fatten up the low-mid frequencies of the bridge pickup while avoiding mudding up the sound with excessive lows of neck pickups. There is term used by Seymour Duncan called resonance frequency shift that they apply to their Pickup Booster pedal. So for single coil pickups the pickup booster pedal shifts the resonance frequency from high frequency more to the middle to get a thicker tone. I think Jetter Gain Stage Red perhaps has that sort of quality which helps to get the tone ready for a downstream high gain pedal like Butler Tube Driver. And as you know the neck pickup is always prone to choke with most of the high gain pedals. Well, putting Jetter GSR upstream of the high gain pedal makes the tone shape so you can still run it through the high gain pedal without choking using the neck pickup. So when you switch back and forth between the bridge and neck pickup, there is a difference in tone but not excessive difference as if you need to run to your EQ / OD / Amp to adjust things. Both can sound expressive, detailed, yet smooth. Highly recommended.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?