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” 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
653 thoughts on “How to choose the right pedals for your amp”
First of all, thanks for the wonderful articles and congratulations on your updated website. The articles have been very helpful along the way and your work is appreciated.
Next, do you have any suggestions for stacking overdrive pedals (perhaps you could even write your next article on this subject)? I currently play a Fender Princeton and Fender 57 Custom in stereo with a Fender Stratocaster with vintage style pickups. I keep a Vick Audio Tree of Life on at all times on a low setting for a base tone and would like to add another overdrive. Do you think that a Klon style overdrive would serve well with this setup, or maybe a Blues Driver? I assume that anything in the Tube Screamer style would be fine as well, as long as the tone is balanced enough with the Tree of Life so that it does not become either too muddy or harsh. My goal is to achieve a rounded tone with more breakup than is sometimes possible with just the one pedal on in the background. Perhaps in the tonal land somewhere between Trey Anastasio and Eddie Hazel, if that provides any context. Any suggestions would be welcome and thanks again!
Thanks for your kind words Robert! Stacking is a tricky topic because it’s difficult to be specific. How two or more pedals end up sounding together, depends on your amp, amp settings, pickups, which pedals you use and each of these settings. Based on your setup I would say that the ToL is a great platform, set to a low gain, and you can pretty much stack anything with it. The BD2 has always been one of my favourite and it pairs well with the ToL. Experiment with combinations and settings. I usually keep a low gain overdrive last as a platform and stack different higher gain pedals placed in front, like guitar > Muff > overdrive > amp. This allows the overdrive to act more like an EQ or preamp, shaping the tone. Stacking the overdrive first will add to the amount of gain.
Thanks for the suggestions and advice! I appreciate your reply and wish you all the best in everything you do.
Hi! Revisiting this as I am fortunate enough to be able to upgrade my combo with about £900 to spend. Agonising between a Marshall SVC5 combo or a Laney lionheart 5 watt combo. I enjoy playing SRV and Trower style as well as dashes of Gilmour. I am keeping my Blackstar hr5 mk2. Great but limited clean channel So my logic says get the Marshall to go with it. Or would the best of both worlds Laney get me richer tones? Thanks as always for your channel. Very enjoyable.
Personally I don’t think you can find a more versatile amp than the Lionhearts. It can handle most pedals very well and the tones you’re mentioning.
While it is good to have a guide like this, I have to say it’s not an absolute. And as you say, it is not meant to be the end all be all guide either.
I have a Fender Deluxe Reverb Tonemaster, and MAN it takes fuzz so well, even at low volumes. I always had a problem with the tube versions, since I had to play them at low level and the fuzz would make it sound like a blown out shitty speaker. The Tonemaster series sound a lot like their tube-counterparts, but better for my usecase. Just thought I’d add this for anyone who might see this
Hey Bjorn, I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a Marshall Origin 50. I am not sure if it is a more mids scooped like a jtm or if it is mid heavy. I currently have a Tone city golden plexi. I am not sure if that is scooped or not either. My main fuzz a Jimi Hendrix Mini Fuzz Face so I’m trying to get this stuff work with it.
The Origin is close to a Plexi, with a good amount of mids. It should go well with your fuzz.
Would the Tone City Golden Plexi work with this setup as either an overdrive or boost? Or am I just better off getting something like a BD-2?
Personally I’d go for the BD2.
Hello Bjorn! Hope you are doing ok. In your opinion, wich of this overdrives is better to get some lead tones on a Twin reverb? Boss BD-2 or Boss SD-1W? I’m thinking in The Division Bell tones. Cheers!
Thank you! Can’t an eq after the SD-1W with a mid scooped shape compensate that mids hump? Or even in that case would the BD-2 be a better choice? Thanks in advance
They’re two very different sounding pedals. IMO the BD2 is much more versatile but that’s my taste. I think the SD1 is better for boosting an already cranked amp.
Hi Bjorn, thank you for all your valuable information. You made my search for the right (Gilmour) sound a lot easier for me. I recently bought a Hot Rod Deville. Do you know if it will work with a Big Muff?
Thanks for your kind words! All amps works with Big Muffs but it depends on what tones you want. For David’s smooth and sustained Muff tones, you might find that the Deville lack that mid range. The Muff will sound a bit thinner and brighter. The Green Russian EHX is probably your best choice or, you might want to look into similar pedals with mnore mids, like a Rat.
Hi Bjorn, thanks thats helpful. Didn’t know that the RAT has more mid range. Can you recommend any other pedals with more mid range?
I’ve listed a bunch in this feature. The RAT is one odf the most cloned pedals and although the stock model is great, there are lots of models out there with different takes on the circuit. The OCD is another versatile overdrive/distortion that has less mids compared to the Rat but it compliments Fender amps very well.
Ok, I already have a OCD but not tried it on the HR De Ville yet. I’m do that and otherwise I try something else with more mid range. Thanks again!
I have a question…
I have a blackstar HT5 amp. Would that be categorised as:
Mids scooped and uncompressed amp (like a Fender or Vox)
Mids boosted and compressed amp (Marshall or Hiwatt )
I’m asking because I need to know if the Boss DS1 will work with my Blackstar. My guitar is a fender Strat MIM.
The HT5 is based on typically British voiced amps, like Marshall and Vox but the amp is really designed to cover a wider range of tones, from less mid rangy tweed era Fender to pretty mids boosted modern Marshall. Keep in mind though that a 5w amp and typical bedroom volume often require pedals with more mid range and compression to compensate for low volume and the compression and mid range you often get when driving a tube amp hard. The DS1 might work well with this amp but I would perhaps consider something a bit more versatile like an OCD or even a Rat.
Hello Bjorn, Im a newbie here and have a question. I can get a killer deal on Blackstar HT Club 50 Head with cabinet (both first generation), currently own a Boss Katana 50, but no matter how I set my pedals it just doesn’t sound right. My humble signal chain is: Boss CS-3, Boss NS-2, Nano Big Muff, MXR Super Badass Distortion, MXR Phase 90, MXR Carbon Copy Delay, MXR M300 Reverb. But I never realized that some pedals dont work with certain amps, mids scooped or transparent, had no clue about this at all etc. Too late to return them to the store so I have to stick with these, plus Im looking for Overdrive and maybe a Boost that would work well with the Blackstar. Can you help please? Thank you so much.
Welcome to the site and thanks for posting! The Club is a versatile amp, capable of very nice cleans and focusing on Marshall style tube drive. It can also be tweaked for a more Fender style character. It can handle pedals very well. I do recommend tho to try the amp before buying to make sure that it’s what you’re looking for. I would check out the Boss BD2 for boost and overdrive.
Thank you so much for this quick reply Bjorn. Im going to the store tomorrow to try it out. And the BD-2 was exactly what I had in mind too :-) Forgot to mention my guitar is Fender Stratocaster MIM and will be replacing the coils with EMG 20 DG in about two weeks time when it arrives.
I really hate how humbuckers sound with Marshall amps, they don’t compliment them, they make it sound horrible, something that i wouldn’t say with Blackface amps, with a Les Paul, they sound great and with a Strat they sound terrible, so Strats,Teles and Gibson Firebirds=Marshalls, Gibson Les Paul, ES-335 and SG=Fenders .
Hmmmm…. Humbuckers and Marshall pretty much shaped the sound of modern rock.
Well, modern rock tones are one of the worst things i’ve heard, because Marshalls usually are mid forward amps and humbuckers also are mid focused pickups, so they sound mushy and nasal with Marshall amps, the best humbucker tones i’ve ever heard are mostly from 60’s San Francisco acid rock bands or from Mike Bloomfield, while Jimmy Page sounded simply awful with that boxy Marshalls and his Les Paul and sounded much better with the Tele.
If you Les Paul into a Plexi or JCM800 that’s moving some air, and can’t get great tone, I think you might be doing something wrong.
I agree with Nick here, I think they pair well if not great.
Might be doing something wrong?
Hey Bjorn, I’m a newbie in regards to effects pedals. I’m hoping you can steer me in the right direction. I’m a rhythm guitar player, trying to get a sound/tone somewhere between Sabbath and Soundgarden. My guitar is a Firefly LP with newly installed DragonFire Screamer Humbucker pickups. (Approximate 16.9K output on the bridge and Approximate 8.3K output on the neck.)
My amp is a solid state Fender Champion XL 100 2 x 12″ 100 watt combo amp, with a pair of 12″ Celestion Midnight 60 speakers. I have the following pedals. * EHX Big Muff Pi Fuzz Pedal. * EHX Rams Head Big Muff Pi Reissue Pedal. * TC Electronic MoJoMoJo Overdrive Pedal * Caline Tantrum Distortion Pedal. * An old Boss Stereo Flanger Pedal.
I just purchased the EHX Rams Head Big Muff Pi Reissue Pedal and the TC Electronic MoJoMoJo Overdrive Pedal and I’m thinking about returning them and purchasing the Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra – Black Sabbath Treble Booster & Overdrive.Pedal.
I know this is probably a dumb question. Do you think the Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra – Black Sabbath Treble Booster & Overdrive Pedal would work with my solid state Fender Champion XL 100 Combo Amp and give me the best option to achieving the Sabbath sound than either of the EHX pedals, or any other distortion pedals out there?
To be honest I don’t think the Sabbra will work that well with your amp. It’s designed to capture the tone of Iommi’s Laney Super Group amps boosted with a Dallas Rangemaster, which is what he used in the early days of Sabbath. The pedal has medium gain, a lot of compression and mid range and very little low end. I would approach this the other way around and try to set the amp up for a nice clean tone, perhaps with just a hair breakup, and then get the Ram’s Head to work with that. Be careful with the top end and treble and don’t use too much gain.
I tend to prefer Fender and Fender style amps but have been playing more HB guitars as of late. Looking to add an overdrive that is a better complement to HB and Fender than a TS style pedal. Any recommendations for OD/Fuzz/Distortion for that type of setup.
I’d check out the BD2, OCD or Crayon… or similar. These are all so-called full range. Not as mids boosted as a TS but not scooped either.
Thank you very much.
Hello Bjorn, here’s wishing you Well!
Enjoying all your newer articles, but…
I’ve read this article before today but really read it and best, I understood it more than before…Per your recommendation I purchased and love my Laney Cub12R combo. I changed to JJ tubes and just recently changed the speaker to a Celestion G12 V Type 70 watts @ 8 ohm. Two great and relatively inexpensive upgrades. Per another of your articles on tone I use the both Clean & Dirty settings on the Cub.
I have tried an EHX Green Russian twice, a Vick Audio Rams Head, and the ROUS from Pettyjohn electronics their RAT pedal. All Never really sounded good to me and I tried several different Tube Screamer type OD without success…After understandings your article today it makes sense and please correct me if I’m wrong that all those pedals generate much more mid range then I need so they suck and it’s not me! ?
Now, Here’s my top line of pedals before the modulation row:
Pigtronix Micro Optional Compressor-Pettyjohn Chine MK II (set as a Pre-Amp)
Buffalo FX Power Booster-Svisound Overzoid +-Vick Audio TOL.
All is great and I have from Clear to Beer in available and usable tones.
Any thoughts or suggestions on that line up?
Btw I have three different guitars all Humbucker equipped and two have Coil Split capabilities.
And, I wanted to Thank You for all your help, again!
Walter H. ?
I like Tube Screamer style pedals but not for everything. I often use them as boosters. Usually on an already cranked amp. The mid range and compression doesn’t sound as overwhelming but adds a nice smooth character to the tone depending on how they’re set. But a TS on a clean Marshall or Hiwatt style amp sounds like shit. Try cranking your Cub and set the TS up for a volume boost with the tone control around noon and the gain low. The Tree of Life is one of my favourites. On lower gain settings you get a nicely ballanced mid range, while on higher gain settings it gets more scooped.
Bjorn, Thanks for reply, I appreciate your input, but I don’t have any TS Pedals anymore because they did All sound like Shit as you stated…What is your opinion of the line up below? And with using the Cub settings you recommended for clean & dirty?
Again I’m using these with an upgraded Cub12R Combo
Here’s my beginning line of pedals before the modulation row:
Pigtronix Micro Optional Compressor-Pettyjohn Chine MK II (set as a Pre-Amp) Buffalo FX Power Booster-Svisound Overzoid +-Vick Audio TOL.
Three of them I thank you for your recommendations!
My guitars are described in the post above if needed.
The Cub has a tone close to an early JTM Marshall, with a bit of mids and compression but as much as a JCM or the more modern amps. For low volume bedroom playing I usually just crank the mids and bass and keep the treble low. On low volume you don’t get the tube and speaker saturation so you need to compensate for that. I’m not familiar with the Pettyjohn but the Power Boost and to some extent, the ToL are transparent or mids scooped, while the Overzoid has a bit of TS flavour, with much more mid range.
Bjorn, thanks again! This is perfect info…I do exactly as you said with the EQ of the Bass, Mids and Treble! Then In my using the Pettyjohn Chime MK II as an additional drive pre-amp it, at lower bedroom volume, helps compensate for the missing tube and speaker saturation and I get a full sounding tone! I wish I could get Pettyjohn to send you a pedal or two. I have three of them all customized with their available upgrades or a Custom Shop approach to pedal building…Check out their website when you can. I’m thinking you will be impressed…
Thanks for all you do for all of us!
I’ll check them out!
Dear Bjorn, I am an exclusively home player with no other experience in sound or equipment, than my Hughes and Kettner Statesman Dual EL84 amp that I play happily either on the clean or drive channel. I want to start exploring overdrive pedals, but I cannot tell what type is my amp and what overdrive pedals should I focus on (i.e. TS type, mid-scooped type, etc.). Any help will be welcome. Your site has been a great resource of information, thank you.
The Statesman is based on classic Fenders like the Bassman and other tweed models, which again are somewhat similar to the early Marshall JTMs although far from identical. I would characterise it as mids scooped and vintage sounding.
So, I understand that TS, OCD, RAT or even Klon types is the way? Thank you!
Well, a TS and Klon are overdrives. A TS is best used with an already overdriven amp and not as a stand alone pedal IMO. The RAT and OCD are distortion pedals, with a lot more gain. So maybe one of each to cover as many tones as possible. The Bpss BD2 is also an excellent choice.
Thanks David Makowski!
Excellent and very informative article Bjorn.
I’ll give the Digitech Whammy pedal a try.
Hi Again Bjorn,
So after you redirected me to that article I read it very carefully :-)!
Just to remind you, I have Fender Blues JR4 + Strat pro and looking for Gilmour solo tones.
So, now I know that probably the RAM’S HEAD BIG MUFF PI will sound bad for my equipment, just verifying with the master….? actually it was my dream …..
and I wanted your advice on the Wampler TUMNUS DELUXE which includes also EQ. what do you think?
thanks, for everything
The Tumnus is a take on the Klon, which is a light gain overdirve. It will cover some of David Gilmour’s Tube Driver tones but for high gain and Muff I’d go for something like a Rat or OCD, which goes very well with the Blues Jr.
awesome website and fantastic job recreating these tones!! i have only just gone down the rabbit hole that is gilmour tones and have spend countless hours on your site. I’ve got a fender strat with emg sa pickups and just got a hiwatt dr504.. and now for the pedals?
tone wise im interested in recreating the comfortably numb tones and shine on your crazy diamond.
i saw for that song you recommend the following:
; Big Muff, Electric Mistress and delay and i need a blend of 2 pedals to achieve the rotary speaker sim?
my question is what settings do i run for all these pedals and which delay pedal??
Hi! Apologies for the late reply. Pedal settings depends on how you set the amp. See this feature for some tips on setting up your amp. Keep in mind that David’s stadium settings might not apply to a bedroom or studio. As for the pedals. On a Hiwatt, I would recommend a Big Muff and a delay. That will pretty much cover these tones. He’s also used an Electric Mistress at various periods and rotating speaker cabinets. There are countless models out there but a good start, in my opinion, is one of the new EXH reissue Big Muffs and a delay. You could pretty much use any delay but you probably want a digital unit for pristine repeats. Especially for Comf Numb. The Mooer E-Lady and the Retro Sonic Flanger are two super closer clones of the Mistress. The new Dawner Prince Pulse is based on David Gilmour’s own Doppola rotating speakers.
For what it’s worth, function f(x) makes a Ram’s Head clone that has fixed the fuzz into mid-scooped amp issue. It has it’s own dedicated mid control, an it does indeed sound glorious into my Vox ac15. Maybe you can get ahold of one to review for the web page.
Thank you, I learned a lot from your site !
GREAT site !!!
I have had the Bugera V22 head for 1 year and I am very satisfied with it. But with my Tubesceamer, sounds muddy and darker. On the other hand, the Boss SD-1 (Monte Allums mod), the T-rex Diva Drive sounds very good.
I would like to have a fuzz, the green russian Big Muff. The green russian should sound great in my amp, right?
What do you think ?
Thanks for the kind words! I would imagine that a TS would sound dark on that amp. At least darker than the other pedals you use. The Green Russian should compliment the amp very well.
Thank you for reply.
It’s been 25 years since I had my tubescreamer, and I thought it was dead, until I find your site !
Hey Alain, interesting what you say about the V22 and TS combination. I have a Bugera V22 combo with stock speaker which I always imagined was a sort of Fender but it doesn’t like a Tubescreamer style pedal at all which seems odd. Perhaps the voice of a V22 is not Fender at all. In which case what IS it apeing?
I have had more luck with an OCD style pedal for overdrive, but best of all has been a clean boost pedal into the front end. That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard from it by far. I’m planning to try a Caline Pegasus AND a Caline Pure Sky soon to se how they perform. I’m hoping that the combination of boost and transparent overdrive may be just the ticket. Then I’ll try stacking…and that effects loop too. Hope your fuzz works out. I’ll be interested to see what works for you.
It’s hard to know what sort of amp it looks like. I think he has his own sound. Some say between vox and fender, others between Vox and marshall. Others say it copies a matchless.
I don’t know the OCD.
It’s true, The V22 is great with a boost.
A transparent overdrive is great, I have the t-rex diva drive, it’s a very transparent pedal and sound amazing.
I would tell you for the green russian big muff.
I think it only takes its styling from a Matchless. I can see it sitting somewhere between a Fender and a VOX.
My OCD style pedal is just a clone so I can’t comment on your particular choice Alain. I do know that after trying several overdrives the OCD clone hit the spot that I’d been missing. Not transparent though. Just adding a very usable voicing.
I am interested in the OCD V2. Is it great with bugera v22? Boost and drive?
I tried the green russian big muff, I don’t like, too much bass. It works well on bugera v22 but it is not for me.
I bought a OCD v2. It’s very great. Lots of dynamics. The notes are well separated. It’s a killer with the bugera v22. And with the bypass enhanced, I find the real sound of my guitars. How did I miss this pedal? My old TS-9, SD-1, BD-2 are definitely out of my pedalboard.
Your expérience with Orange Dual Terror
Thanks for your GREAT GREAT site about Gilmour and guitar sounds!
I’m a bedroom player with two amps, a VOX Pathfinder 15R and a Marshall Class 5. My guitar is a Stratocaster Classic series 50´s.
My problem is that I can´t figure it out in the tone realm where or how to place my Dunlop Fuzz Face Germanium (the red one) or a Big Muff (I want to get one) for what amp?
Thanks for the kind words! Both of these amps are fairly mids scooped, as early Marshalls and Vox amps often are. Not as much as vintage style Fenders though. Fuzz Face pedals have very little mid range. I think it would best with the Marshall.
Thanks for all the work you do here demystifying Gilmour for us.
I’m in the market for a fuzz/distortion unit. I prefer 67-77 Floyd (mainly 68-75). I have an Epiphone crestwood (2 mini humbucker), 73 Fender champ amp.
What unit do i go with for the tone above? I’m a bedroom only player, not doing gigs. Thanks
I’d probably go for something versatile and not a fuzz, as these often sound thin and bright on typical bedroom setups. Maybe an OCD or even an Boss BD2.
Thanks! Never really considered either of those.
Hello Bjorn, you have said that the Laney Lionheart can do a bit of both: very good Fender/Vox pristine cleans (clean channel) and creamy mids and a bit of compression (drive channel). What about the laney cub 12? Is it so versatile? Can do get these two types of sounds? Does it handle good both rat/tubescreamers and fuzzes/big muffs?
The Cub is a one channel amp so there’s not a lot of headroom going on. In that sense it’s not as versatile but it’s an excellent bedroom/practise amp anyway and yes, it can handle pretty much any pedal you place in front of it.
Will a Boss blues driver pedal work with the Clean setting on a Marshall 30-watt amp?
Hi Bjorn !
Great topic, now I understand some subtleties on the Big Muff sound. I have a question, I already have a Big Muff NYC and I plan to acquire one of the new reissue model . I was thinking of getting the new Rams Head but I was wondering if another model would be more appropriate. I refer especially to the models Green Russian, Triangle and Op amp. I have a Laney Cub 12 as my main amp and my guitars are a Telecaster Baja, a standard Gibson SG and a Mustang Kurt Cobain. According to you, which model would be the most appropriate with my gear.
Thanks by advance for your answer and sorry for my poor english level (I am French)
Best regards from France.
The Cub can handle all Muff models but I think the Sovtek or the Green Russian goes particularly well with the amp.
Great article. I can feel my tone improving every time I read it!
Its quite nice to hear you say not to use fuzz with a fender amp because I have “the twin” (80s red knob model with celestion speakers) tried exactly this and couldn’t understand why people liked fuzz pedals – now I know!
I have a RAT and a Tube screamer now – which also sits nicely into your article. The RAT is savage – I struggle to contain it! It boosts the volume levels so much more than the TS. It sounds wonderful but I think its almost too aggressive for me. It works on some songs though.
My favourite change in tone has been a £50 second hand boss compressor though – I love the overall effect on my tone. BUT I lose the dynamics of my instrument – it just seems to be at one volume now. Any advice for other pedals to try to regain the dynamics? I was thinking perhaps a treble booster first to really amplify the signal to try to force the amp to compress but it might have deafening results which are not my aim. Perhaps the other option is a compressor with a mix from the original signal? I guess this retains the dynamics of non-compressed guitaring somewhat? I don’t have the budget for a Cali 76 unfortunately ?
I love the classic SRV style tone (neck) and I have an American special HSS strat with a pretty hot neck pickup and a humbucker on the bridge
A compressor will level the signal depening on how much compression you add so too high settings will kill the dynamics of your playing. Keep in mind too that the ammount of compression should be added depending on how your guitar and pickups sound, your playing technique and how guitar interacts and sound with pedals and amp. A good start is to set the compression fairly low, between 30-50% depending on the model and the level around unity with the guitar. Keep in mind that the attack controls how fast the compression will apply so setting it low, (left) means very fast attack and less dynamics.
Hi Bjorn! :-)
Thank you so much for this website! It’s awesome…
I’m a huge Pink Floyd/David Gilmour fan (obviously).
I’d love to know your opinion on my current setup:
– A Fender Strat with 3 noiseless Singlecoils
into a Yamaha THR10X amp (A fantastic sounding “bedroom”amp!)
My pedals: Boss DS-1, Boss BD-2, Electro Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi, OCD, Jam Pedals Tubedreamer 58.
So, any recommendations on combinations? How to get that smooth, warm singing Gilmour tone?
Thank you very much and kind regards from Germany!
Hi Stefan, looks like you got a nice little setup there! What exactly are you looking for? Is there something missing in your tone? Check out this feature for some tips on getting better bedroom tones.
As I’ve commented previously, this is an amazing article and one that I re-read frequently and copy onto threads in the Strat-Talk forum.
At the risk of putting you on the spot Bjorn, how to tweed amp circuits fit into this “correct pedal for your amp” equation? Like the old Fender Champ, 5E3 Deluxe etc.
I’ve seen a video of Mr. Gilmour holding an old tweed.
Thanks for the kind words!
Tweeds often have a bit more mids and compression. They’re not nearly as middy and compressed as a modern Marshall or Hiwatt but more so than your typical Twin and similar. The early Marshall JTMs were, as you probably know, based on the Bassman design. I would say that the tweed range, although there are different tweeds as well, is somwhere between a Twin and Hiwatt. I guess the reason David often use them is the fact that they can provide a clean tone that compliments the Hiwatt very well and they’re very easy to record.
“Mids boosted and compressed amps (Marshall/Hiwatt and similar) – NO Tube Screamer”
I don’t know about you, but using a Tube Screamer as a boost (gain down to about 8’o’clock and level about 1/2 ) put in front a Plexi is awesome, for solo’s that is! The rest of it, no issues, keep up the great work here, lots of great info, Cheers! Steve
Well, I definitely agree with that. Lots of classic tones with a Marshall and Tube Screamer. I was talking about David Gilmour’s tones.
Yes, of course! As stated I meant again for the solo tones, now especially on Animals, I think that was David’s most mid “forward” tones on record.
When we comment about “mids” and “compression” we should be more specific. I have seen many times a “low-mid” heavy pedal actually complements a “high-mid” boosting pedal so you don’t end up loosing expression by simply boosting lows too much which happens in many pedals or making high mids overwhelmingly high so your tone end up sounding thin, harsh, and loosing its warmth. I truest believe with proper match of stacked pedals we can achieve plenty of warmth for bridge pickup and plenty of mids for solos on neck pickup. We should put amp tone impact and speaker into the equation, for instance Hiwatt is heavy on high-mids so using Green Back speaker with accentuated scoop on low mids and peak on high-mids may not be a good choice, especially for using with pedals like Rat that kills low-mids and boosts high-mids, but if you use it on neck pickup, of course it could sound balanced between warmth and cut-through for solo.
Good Morning Bjorn, thank you for all the work you do with this site and your youtube channel. I recently am playing a handwired deluxe reverb clone with an old Rola Celestion Marshall Speaker(Greenback). I am wanting to build my board to include Gilmour tones and I wanted to know what you feel can get me there. I currently have a TS808 and am wanting to get a Fuzz/Muff/Distortion that will give me the Gilmour tones. I am really curious about the Friedman BEOD or Dirty Shirley(LCM45 Plexi type) and pushing a Bigmuff or fuzz in front to get Gilmour tones. Would I be better off going with a Ratt style distortion like the Katzenkonig?
The Rat will have more mids, which should compliment your amp but driving a Muff with more mids is also an option. Not sure if a Plexi style pedal will work though. I haven’t tried this particular one but I’d think you’d get too much compression and mids. An EQ or a Muff with more mids like the Vick Audios with mids boost or the EHX Green Russian would perhaps be a better choice.
I will try out the Green Russian and see where that gets me with the TS808. Would the EHX GR also be good for DSOTM tones or should I look towards more of a Fuzz?
Hi..thanks for the articles, a great help. I use for gigging a jcm800 with 1×12 80s g1265 on low input and a fender Princeton Brownface with g12h30 as wet dry. Love this tone with my Tele and Les Paul. What pedals would you recommend for low to medium to high gain? In a 4 piece rock cover band. Cheers
Please read through the feature above. My recommendations for each amp is mentioned there.
Hi… new to your articles but really helpful. I am playing a LP style 1979 Aria into a Peavey Classic 50 2×12… I have 2 Bandits and a Deuce too. When my drummer kicks in my sound loses all definition. After reading your features, I may try some compression for my clean tone and a fuzz type for my drive. Its just me, drums and female vocals. Tricky to balance.
I’d go for pedals with more mid range to allow your tone to cut trough. The problem with loud drums and symbals is that they occupy most of the low end and top so you need mid range to cut through.
Hello Bjorn, how did you like playing in Quebec City?
Where does/did DG place the Digitech Whammy Bar in his chain?When did he first use it?
It was great fun! Beautiful city/old town :)
The Whammy was placed, and should be placed, after the compressor pedals and before the gains. David started using the pedal during the 1993 Division Bell sessions. It was featured on Marooned, obviously, and several songs on the Endless River album, which are from those early 90s sessions.
Thanks Bjorn.Come and see us again, in Toronto perhaps!
Great article. I have been playing Marshall Amplier’s my entire life. Just a Wah Wah Pedal and a good Les Paul is all I ever needed. That is until I received a 2010 Fender “Limited Edition” Wine/Wheat ’65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue Amplifier. Once I got that amplifier I definitely needed some Gain pedals. After years and years of trial and error, I finally happened upon the trifecta. I use a Seymour Duncan “Hi-Def” Pickup Booster into an Ibanez TS808 Overdrive Pro Tube Screamer into a Boss OD-3 Overdrive. While this may not be for everyone I can say this is my ultimate Gain tone. I have been consistently using these (3) pedals together for about (4) years without changing my pedalboard at all. Just my humble opinion on what I feel is the BEST Gain tone for a Fender ’65 DRRI.
With the pickup booster you are basically adding bass and mids and shaving off some treble, the tube screamer is shelving some bass and adding even more mids, and the OD-3 is a full range OD with a bit of a bass boost. It might be easier to switch to humbuckers or at least drop one in the bridge if it’s a Strat. Might be able to knock a couple of pedals off that chain by doing so.
I also have the Fender FSR Wine Red ‘65 DRRI. If you want a one and done overdrive for that amp just buy an Analogman King of Tone V4. Buy one with the high gain option on one side and the regular drive on the other side. Trust me… You won’t need anything else drive wise for that amp.
I have a Vox AC15 & a TI15 Tony Iommi Laney. Guitars I have are a Epiphone SG Special with John Birch Hyperflux 5 picks in the neck & the bridge & I have the replicas of Tony Iommis neck pickup on his Heaven & Hell album on his SG. There very warm creamy dynamic & very powerful humbuckers. I get woman tone easy. Roll in the treble they scream. Other guitar is a Epiphone Wildcat with Dog Ear P90s. My Laney is Warm Creamy & crisp. It works great with a treble booster & fuzz. My issue is: I plug into my Billy Gibbons Octave Fuzz into my Cry baby wah into my Vox AC15 & it sounds great I can pull back the Wah & gets very dark & eire & heavy kinda reminds of Saint Vitus power chords I wonder if that’sa mid range sound in the territory of my Laney. I love that sound but plug my fuzz & Wah into my Laney with the Sabbath tones & Cream woman tones & it doesn’t sound right. Now the Octave Fuzz without the Wah sounds amazing but bring the Wah it doesn’t sound right. Also My Laney with just the Wah reacts different with my Laney compared to my Vox without the Fuzz. Is it important I have both my clean amp & my dirty amp for different tones. Thank you I hope you can answer my questions.
Hard to answer when I haven’t tried your rig and heard all the nuances of your tone and setup. Sounds to be that there’s some issues appearing due to conflicting impedance or how the pickups or volume pot interacts with your pedals. Is the wah placed before or after the fuzz?
Hello friend, great advice! I have an HSS strat (apparently singles are based on the Dimarzio SSLs, and the hb on the JB), and a VHT special 6 amp. Should i get the tube screamer? I’d be using mainly for soloing with bridge and neck pickups. I ask because i have no idea, sorry.
Are you using the amp for gain or is it clean? What sort of lead tones are you looking for?
Hi bjorn , i have the same set up with this guy , and i want to ask you almost the same thing. Well this amp is inspired from a fender blackface and is very clean with little break up at high volumes (it has 12AX7 and 6V6 tubes). For better hendrix tones , will a boss sd1 or a tubescreamer into my germanium fuzz face be a good idea ?
That would get you closer yes but obviously, it wouldn’t produce the sound of a Marshall and fuzz combined. The Tube Screamer has a nice mid range and compression, that will compliment a fuzz. I’d keep the gain low though, or else you’ll end up getting too much fuzz and compression. You could go with teh SD1 as well but vintage fuzz circuits doesn’t like the Boss buffers so a true bypass Tube Screamer or something similar would be better.
Hello Bjorn! Reading through the comments it seems a lot of people have Voxes and questions about them. I’ve spent several stretches playing and recording with AC30’s and I’ve found it much easier to get the smooth saturated singing tones with a Tele or a Les Paul than a Strat. I feel the Vox EQ is finicky with pedals and the scooped mids of a Strat creates beautiful clean and edge of breakup tones but it’s hard to get a great high gain tone even with the help of pedals. It’s an amp that seems to need a guitar with more midrange thrust and output for higher gain tones. Just thought I’d share my personal experience.
Thanks for the input Nick! AC30s do need a bit of volume. They don’t have the mid range control but you can manipulate the controls to bring out more mids. The more you push the amp too, the more it will compress and enhance the mids. It’s really an amp that’s designed for louder playing rather than bedroom, which can make it sound quite dull. I’ve had great success with single coils but again, you need to be careful with the tone controls and the baance between the pre and master volume.
Thanks for this information, it’s great! I have a question about a fender 5f2. I want to be able to crank it live. The overdriven tones sound good but I would like to smoothen out some of the strident quality to it. Would this be best suited to an eq pedal? Or a good transparent drive like an Fairfield circuit barbershop? Or maybe a treble booster with a wide range of adjustability? Like an DAM red rooster? Also, for bedroom use, what would you recommend?
What sort of pickups do you use? Do you use pedals with the amp?
I use a tele with strat neck and a tele bridge. I use reverb and delay sometimes.
Based on how you describe your tone I would either go for an EQ or, perhaps better, a booster of some sort. A treble booster can make things “worse” but I’d try something with a hint of mid range and maybe even some compression, like a Klon type pedal that can provide headroom and tone.
Ok, I built a jhs haunting mids pedal. I will see how I like that. If not I will build a Klon and see how that goes. Appreciate your help, and will let you know how it goes.
I use a 5f1 which is like a 5f2 without the tone stack and I found upgrading to a 12″ speaker made all the difference, I tried with a Seventy-80 (which i liked very much, despite all the negative opinions that the internet folk have about it), the C12N (which is surprisingly similar to the Seventy-80, but with better cleans and somewhat fuzzier OD, perhaps due to not being fully broken in), and the G12H30 Anniversary (which sounds a bit too dark for my taste, but has the smoothest OD of them)
Diggin a lot of gear I’ve bought thanks to your advice. I had a question concerning the newer Laney LT5 out. Do you think this amp is comparable to the older made in UK, as far as quality goes? Also, if you know anything about the digital reverb it has in it. I had a pretty tempting offer for a used one made in china and was wondering if it’s worth it. I don’t like the idea of a digital reverb, I’m used to tube but I’m curious what you think. Thanks again! Joe
I don’t think the China models are any less than the UK ones. Great amps all together. The digital reverb… depends on how picky you are. I wouldn’t hear the difference on a big stage but for recording you probably want to use a pedal or a better sounding plug in.
Thanks for lots of good information!
Hi Björn! Love the site.
I’m currently using a Fender Bassbreaker15 (dry) and a LaneyVC30 (wet) in a wet/dry rig. For Fuzz I’m using a Caroline Olympia and my Keeley Dark Side which gives me more of a “Fuzzstortion” tone than a legit Big Muff sound; I don’t use that sound often although with a power booster after the “Fuzz” section, it cuts through like a ProCo RAT. I use the Keeley for 75% of my modulation.
Big Muff is the EHX Green Russian reissue. Excellent, no problems there. Works great alone or with a booster/EQ pedal after the Muff.
I’m struggling with a good Rhythm tone. A BD-2 is ok, but it just isn’t quite right with these amps. I don’t know why, but it just disappears in the mix.
I’m thinking of something like a Bluesbreaker tone. Do you think something like a JHS Morning Glory or even the little Mooer Blues Crab would give me that bright, punchy, compressed rhythm sound heard on early Floyd eg: Time, Money, Sheep etc?
I use a Keeley C4 Compressor and a MIM Deluxe Players Strat w/Vintage Noiseless pickups and a modded Epiphone SG with splittable P90 ‘Buckers (with the C4 and my Replica delay, it captures that “5am” Live at Pompeii tone beautifully, ABITW Pt.2 solo, etc).
Clean boost is an RC Booster. Other mods are Mooer E-Lady and an old CE-2. Delays are Replica (MIDI-controlled) and in my ES-8 loop switcher I have an MXR Echoplex and Visual Sound Tap Delay synced to a global tap for Run Like Hell and other songs. I like to use my delay pedals creatively, different subdivisions, tones, levels, rhythmic delays etc. If I just want one, excellent delay I always go to the Replica. It’s like the perfect delay, never gets in the way (Chorus, MXR Delay, Replica and a little Room/Hall Reverb to wet amp only
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Any advice on Rhythm tones would be much appreciated.
Both your amps are in the “less mids” category so for overdrive you might want to look into something that will compensate for that, like an OCD, Vick Audio Tree of Life, EHX Hot Wax etc.
Thank you Bjorn. The Bassbreaker doesn’t like the OCD, but I’ll definitely take a look at the Tree of Life. The Laney is definitely has less of a mid-push than the Bassbreaker15 combo, which has a kind of “hybrid” British/American (ie: Marshall/Fender) tone – as you step through the 3 gain settings it gets more Marshall-like. I prefer to use it as a clean-ish platform on the low gain setting.
I do recall that it responded very well to an old Tech 21 Double Drive with an AC Booster placed after the Tech 21. Sadly, I no longer have the Tech 21, but it may offer a clue as to what sort of OD might work best with both (the Laney sounded good with that pedal as well).
Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
This was very educating, thank you for that!
So I bought the Boss Blues Driver (BD-2). Using it with my Gibson Les Paul and Fender Hot Rod Deluxe set on the clean channel provides unpleasant overdrive tone on every gain level I tried. Very harsh and thin sounding. However, other ODs/distortions that I tried work great, for example, tc dark matter, tc mojomojo, MXR GT-OD, MXR M75.
Would appreciate your thoughts on this matter and recommendations on how to improve the tone (maybe some kind of boost in front).
Hi Me again have you tried the Moore triangle buff? or the jet city jca20hv? and also do you put your delay and modulation in front of the amp or FX loop?
Yes, the Mooer is OK. I think the new Triangle from EHX is a much better buy though. I always have all of my pedals into the front of the amp. Read more about the effects loop here.
Hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy new year bjorn. You’re the best.
So a fuzz or big muff is scooped so its the bottom of the circle or sine wave you wouldn’t wont to match that with a fender twin reverb that is scooped also because you are not making a complete matching cycle. What do you think bjorn?
Well that’s the point I’m trying to make. However, there are no bad tones. Lots of people have been using mids scooped fuzz with mids scooped amps. It’s just a different sound although not something I’d recommend for Gilmour’s tones.
Think of your amp as a pedal platform this way like a circle. A mid scooped pedal or amp is bottom of circle or a u the upper part of circle is the mid heavy part . If you have a mid heavy amp just choose mid scooped pedal that completes that circle. A scientific way of looking at it.
Very helpful review! I have a charvel custom San Dimas with SD 5 and 59 pup’s. Playing through a Marshall valvestate 65 with a Boss Blues Driver. Valvestate doesn’t deliver the tube warmth I’m looking for. Was thinking a tube Screamer might do it but now I think it’s time to splurge on a JVM205c Marshall !
Only new Marshall’s break up early. Old Marshalls are very clean until 6 or 7 – it gets dark at 8,9 or 10 obviously. So mine are the hand wired ones that have a ton of head room. So the Fulltone FD3 boosts the volume setting at 3 and pushes the tubes a little and then the FD2 you push more volume on top and still very little drive and it seems to sound like Gilmour Glass to me.
I just got a FD-3 to go with my Bassbreaker & Laney Cub rig. Do you use a Fuzz or Muff with your Fd-3 and any recommendations on how to set up the pedal to work as a mid boost and Gilmour-ish OD tone?
Guitars are Mim Strat w/US Jeff Beck noiseless pups, Shecter PT Diamond Tele Deluxe, SG w/P90s and a Gretsch Streamliner semi.
Hi, I’ve always been a straight into amp player, except perhaps for a wah, this has been true for all amps I’ve played over the years, from Marshalls to Mesas. I’ve just discovered the Friedman Buxom Betty and it is what I’ve wanted all along, big, open, aged tone. I discovered my love of Gretsch guitars about the same time, I just love the chiming, edgy quality this combo delivers, my style of playing is melodic and acoustic and I find the moment I introduce a pedal, the tone narrows or becomes nasally, I just don’t get it! That said I feel it could use something, I don’t want to miss out! Today experimented with a Boss Blues Driver and a Pro Co Rat, the rat is quite unbearable to my ears even wound down, the blues driver could have a use for low end neck pickup riffs or breaks but again, its very specific and when I kick it off I get back all that range I so want in an amp. What I did like was a Boss compressor, this actually worked with the amp in a way I considered genuinely beneficial, I also feel that I will enjoy an authentic tremelo and verb. Will I ever find an overdrive or distortion pedal that inspires me? Have I just been testing the wrong ones? Or am I just a tone purist? What pedals would you recommend to a difficult to please player like me for this guitar and amp? I really dont have a style I play as such, I lean towards alt Americana, Jazz/blues, Tom Waits or good country pop.
Why do you feel you need pedals? Seems to me that you’ve found your tone by just using amps, so what is that you feel is missing? I wouldn’t recommend buying pedals just because you feel you have to. A transistor pedal will sound different than a loud tube amp. It’s just two different worlds. I don’t think that makes you a purist. That would imply that using pedals makes you less interested in tone. Whatever approach I think what’s important is that you trust your ears and find the inspiration to develop as a guitarist. Pedals can certainly do that but it shoudn’t be because you feel you have to.
I think I get where you are coming from, Jon. And I like the sound of your musical interests. I seem to have an aversion to OD and distortion pedals that simply attempt to sound like a big overdriven amp. My latest failure was a Blackstar HT-Dual Overdrive. It seemed no better than a cheap OCD clone which does its job when needed.
Where I do like pedals is if they give me some new character so, despite not liking crunch OD pedals and happily getting that from my amp, I do like more obvious pedals that go all warm fuzzy or, as you already have suspected, some tremolo, shimmer verb or some step pitch shifting thing. Something that gives me an atmosphere, some swampiness or new sound to create with.
Might be worth checking out Equipboard.com for the pedals that some of your favourite guitarists are using. Marc Ribot for instance.
There is also the proviso that something that seems to set your teeth on edge in the shop may be perfect in a recorded mix. Nothing is out of bounds. Best of luck with your search. You may find something that makes you go, “What the heck is THAT?” You never know, you may discover you absolutely NEED a DigiTech Whammy.
Check out the Blackstone pedal by Jon Blackstone in NY.
My 2 cents
Hi Bjorn! I started a band recently (my first), and I need a OD/dist pedal. my setup is pretty good but the amp is too clean for the music we’re playing (blues rock) and I only have one overdrive pedal which is a clone Klon – a Movall Minotaur, essentially the same pedal as the more famous Tone City Bad Horse. it’s good but not enough to drive the clean channel.
I have to use my amps’ drive channel and I’m boosting it with Minotaur. it sounds great but it’s noisy for some reason, probably cause of gain even though I don’t use much (Robben Ford Tiger Walk much). it buzzes even when my guitar is off.
– my question is: can you recommend me an OD or a dist as a base drive so I can use my clean channel? I was thinking of the new Nobels mini or maybe something cheap like DS1, OD3…
the amp is handmade and it sounds kinda like a marshall, I’m not that experienced to tell you. it has 22W, 3xECC83, 2x6V6, one Celestion G12m 65, here’s the panel: https://i.imgur.com/gNioxZM.png, essentially a Dumble style amp. and here’s an old video and a bit from a band practice a month ago: (drive channel on both) https://youtu.be/PK9g6dNvcco?t=110 – https://soundcloud.com/emdblues/jeep-35
I need to solve this in the next month or less cause we’re gonna start gigging in January. thanks
Depends on what sort of platform you need. The Klon should be enough and a DS1 or OD3 will probably not do much difference. I would try to tweak the amp a bit more and maybe add more of a booster pedal, like a Boss BD2 or a EP Booster to get a bit of bite going while preserving the true tone of your amp and guitar.
you mean like a clean boost? btw today I tried the Fulldrive 2 and I didn’t really like the sound. the grain of distortion is kinda separated, it’s not smooth enough, even with a boost on. it’s britle.
I used the FD3 boost on with the 1st channel of the FD2 (new one) on and it sounds really glassy and nice with a Marshall 50 way JMP and a intahe strat. The second Chanel of the FD2 I turn on with the drive down and volume way up to avoid exactly what you are saying about the brittle sound. Try less drive more volume. It is great but loud. I get great Gilmore tones like this. Extraordinarily glassy.
I’ll try that today, hopefully it works.
ps. the thing with most Marshalls, they distort at lower volume so it’s easier to drive it. that’s what’ve read and heard.
Try the Kingsley Jester. Very smooth OD with 3 modes and 3 band EQ and also a clean boost with 3 voices. Distinct channels and both built on real tubes.
Visual Sound Jekyll and Hyde is also good. Not in the same league as a Jester but with a GE-7, it’s a fantastic dual OD. The “sharp/blunt” and baas boost switches are really handy for different amps/guitars/other FX.
Hi Bjorn, hi everybody! Since february 2018 I’m using Gilmorish”s configs/rigs suggestions but on a USD 1,500 Line 6 Helix “studio-quality” pedalboard. Most of the amps/cabinets pedals mentioned here on this topic are fully emulated with an awesome acuity when compared to my “boutique physical pedals” (Strymons, EHXs, Buffalos, Keeleys and so one). Marshal, Fender, Mesa, Hiwatts amps? They are ALL there in one pedalboard (and third party companies comercialize, for a few USD, “Input Responses” specific for some musicians amps configs).
Without the myriad of patch cables, power cables, power supplies the “hums” and “hisses” become greatly reduced even on my “vintage single coils”. And I can build different 1,204 presets (each one including, amps, cabinets, al sorts of distortions, modulations, equalizers, compressors you can imagine) for 1,024 of my favority songs (plus 04 “send-return” entries for my “favorite physical pedals” that can be inserted on any preset on any position (and de MIDI ones fully controlled by Helix)!!
I strongly suggest this 21st century awesome “all-in-one” solution for the “not so purist” (I was one of them – my expensive pedals are all on their boxes nowadays) to give a try… Follows some links for those curious about Helix’s emulations options:
1) Helix “guitar amps list”: https://helixhelp.com/
2) Helix “distortion pedals list” (fuzzes, ODs and so one): https://helixhelp.com/category/models/effects/
3) A full “Gilmour style” preset for Helix video demo built by a professional on modeling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLJVW3lnTGs
Thanks for Sharing Carlos!
Just wondering: If a Tubescreamer is no good for Marshall / Hiwatt Amps, why is there a Tubescreamer on the pedalboard for the division bell tour / the pulse live album, where Hiwatt and Marshall amps were used? Does the Alembic Preamp behave more like a Fender then?
He didn’t use a TS on the tour. That’s a compressor. There is one on the studio board but it’s not known whether he used it or not. He did use Fender Bassman amps on that album so that might be one answer. But, I have not said that you can’t use TS style pedals with Marshall and Hiwatt. There are plenty of persons who do with great results. It all comes down to what sort of tones you need then and there. What I’m saying is that all pedals are designed with specific tones and use in mid. A TS is designed to capture the compresson and mid range you get from a Marshall. The idea is that you could get those tones on a small amp and maybe a Fender, which is quite the oposite of a Marshall. People often buy a TS and get disappointed because it sounds thin and flat. That’s it’s nature. It is designed that way but it’s also designed to be used with a slightly cranked amp. If you do that it will sound awesome. If you do want to use TS style pedals, including OCD, RAT etc, with Hiwatt or Marshall, you should be aware that you’d get a lot of mid range and compression going so you might want to tame that slightly on your amp. That’s all.
Very interesting post. Thank you for the information on this site.
I am now in a quandary…. i have a Fender 65 PRRI and I also have an MXR Dist + from the early 80s and a modernish big muff (no idea what date or age.) Reading all this makes me realise that with them being all scooped mids which is probably why I have never been exactly happy with the end result. I have always suspected it was my playing…..
I have a variety of guitars from Ibanez RX 40 to a DIY Kit Strat but my main one is a MIM Telecaster with a SD Broadcaster pickup in the bridge and an unknown HB in the neck (+/- 14k)
I also don’t have a whole bunch of cash so was thinking of one sub £100 pedal to edge me in the right direction to regain the “lost Mids”… in your opinion would it be better to get something like a Rat or TS clone or would an EQ pedal be a better choice?
If you’re looking for Gilmour’s tones, then I think the issue is both with your pedals and pickups. What sort of pickups do you have? Your amp is a great pedal platform but yes, you should probably look into pedals with more mids and compression. Rat or a TS are obvious choices but check out the EHX Hot Wax as well. I recently did a review of that.
Thanks Bjorn. Always helpful and sincere. Keep up the good work!
please watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdKjhXWpjq8
Hi,I use a Gretch electromatic with a fender champ amp 20 watt. I play Eddie Cochran to The Clash. I’m using a DD7, Blues Driver and also have a because I love The Cramps a Big Muff. Are you saying I should ditch the Muff and go for a Tube Screamer for a more driven dirty sound? Thanks for your help.
No, not at all. Use whatever you need to get the tones you want. Muffs can be a challenge on Fender amps if you’re trying to nail David Gilmour’s huge stadium tones but that doesn’t mean taht you can’t usea Muff with a Fender. You already got a BD-2 so the overdrive tones should be covered. A TS would give you a bit more mid range and compression.
Great site, great article.
I’ve had over 10 original 73 Big Muffs, and there is one in particular which is easily the best. It is my baby.
I play it on a vintage JTM100, and it is perfection. The JTM compresses the hell out of it, in the best way. It sounds more like an overdrive, but with all that power and sustain on tap. This has been my main setup for years.
But I am switching to a recently acquired ’59 Bassman now, because its clean and semi-distorted tone is far better than any amp I’ve ever played. I have to sell the JTM to pay for it.
The Muff sounds great on the Bassman, but much more untamed and uncompressed.
Any suggestions on how to compress the Muff on the Bassman to get it sounding more like the Marshall? I have some colorsound boost clones and BK Butler’s Tube Driver on the way. About to try some compression pedals on it now.
Thanks for the awesome site!
Hi Rick! Sorry for the very late reply. Try a compressor, hitting the Muff hard, or a Marshall type pedal like the Wampler Plexi Drive or JHS Charlie Brown. Set them up with just a hint of breakup to get the compression going and fine tune the tone with the EQ/tone controls. You could also go for a Tube Screamer type of pedal but they’re often too compressed and you’d lack the headroom.
The compressor and slamming the Muff work better than expected. I put some EQ on it too. Can really get any tone now, amazing. Four pedals instead of one, but I have the best of both worlds! The only thing I miss is the feedback of the Marshall, but I guess that it just a matter of sheer volume. Maybe I will try a high power tweed Twin if I can find $20k.
Nothing sounds as good as these old tweeds to me. The sound is so alive, so real.
Thanks again for the great site, its deeply appreciated.
For a Boss Katana 50, what pedals should work best? A green russian big muff or tubescreamer or something else, when going for the overdriven leads like comfortably numb, on the turning away etc?
I have a green russian and Maxon OD808 (is this a tubescreamer or Overdrive?) but I guess I can sell and get other pedals depending on what you think works best. What would you have done?
Hi Simon, sorry for my very late reply. The Katana handles pedals very well and you can dial in all sorts of tones and using that as your platform. Still, it’s a transistor amp and I do think that the more mid rangy and compressed pedals work better.
I think If your compressor magnifies some frequencies more than others (which mostly is the case), certain things like fast transitions could sound unnatural. Do you get that situation without compressor? I found out with a couple of Y cables you can test if parallel signal (either through 2 compressors one set on low or blending natural guitar signal with compressed signal) could create a sort of beef up and sustain but without loosing natural transitions.
I’m playing out of two amps at the same time to provide a fuller sound because my band is just guitar, drums and vocals. (Melodic punk band)
I use a Fender Frontman 212 and a Fender Frontman 65R with my Epiphone DOT (my favorite guitar ever).
I’m using a Keely/Aria compression/distortion pedal.
Can anyone suggest the best way to get that Marshall crunch or as close to is as possible. Something is missing during fast palm muted parts.
I haven’t tried the Aria but I’d check out pedals like the OCD or typical Marshall in a box pedals that has more mids and compression.
I use the Carl Martin Plexitone. It’s not cheap (about $275) and it has a hardwired AC cord on the back, but it’s incredible. It has a lower gain crunch channel, a high gain channel, and a clean boost channel. I used to use it on a Fender Blues Jr then on a Fender HotRod DeVille 410. It nails the sound of the old Superleads and the JCM 800 (in my opinion) and does other EL34 based amps relatively well. I’m currently using it with an actual 50w Plexi (with the tone dialed back to compensate for the amp’s brightness) because I can’t crank the amp in most situations. I always put an EP Booster or a Clinch FX EP Pre after it to sweeten the midrange ala Page/Van Halen but it holds up well on its own. It’s amazingly amp-like in the way it sounds and functions and responds to all aspects of picking. Best pedal I ever owned. They also make smaller and more affordable versions that are single channel (either the low gain or high gain versions) that can be run off of a standard 9v power supply. Hope this helps!
PS – you can even hear what it sounds like with a hollow body Gibson in this first video. It’s an ES 335 I think, not the same obviously as a Dot but in the ballpark at least.
Hi bjorn, in the article about amplifiers you say that the amps fender has medium-sized carving and little compression, this goes for the fender hot road and for the fender blues junior?
They have more mid range and compression than say a Twin but not nearly as much as a Marshall or Hiwatt.
Great site and articles, but I think we have a different concept of mids. You call ocd and the V2 mid heavy, I call them scooped, especially the latter vanished in the mix at rehearsals, and I use amps with plenty of mids(tweed bassman and a dr z 18 with pushed mids and EP booster). I find a tubescreamer to work great with Marshalls, giving them some much needed low mids. On a clean Fender, they sound nasal to me. Just an oberservation that struck me in various articles.
Well I disagree. The OCD is certainly not scooped but it all comes down to what amps you use. Based on what you write it seems to me that you might be experiencing som compression going on when you combine the OCD and Bassman, which can be perceived as less volume. The Bassman, although more mids than typical Fenders, has much less mids than say a Hiwatt or Marshall. TS compliments some Marshall amps very well and ads a bit of warmth and lower mids. I think what you’re describing is exactly my point – it all depends on what you use, how you use it and what tones you need.
Hello. Very useful article. About the OCD being scooped or not I’d like to tell about my own experience. I do not own that pedal, but a clone – Joyo Ultimate Drive – that is been said to be a very close one to the original OCD. As the OCD it has two “modes “: High (high peak) and Low (low peak). I find de High mode to be very scooped but, on the contrary, the low mode has plenty of low-mid frequencies that make the pedal cut fine through the mix. I wonder if this could be the reason (to use exclusively one of the two modes) for what while some people call this a scooped pedal, some other call it a mid-boost pedal.
By the way, my amp is a Ibanez TSA15 h, and the built-in Tube Screamer works nicely.
Regarding the Joyo OCD clone, I have just spent two days using a Behringer Tube Monster real valve overdrive into my Katana 50 and my Fender Champ 25SE. It was very fizzy and, despite the pedal having three band EQ I just couldn’t get rid of that fizz based overdrive.
My OCD Mosky Obsessive clone has the Hi/Lo switch. I decided to compare it. With the switch on ‘Hi’ it got exactly the same sounds as the Tube Monster. With the switch on ‘Lo’ it was far better.
The Tube Monster’s going back, so I’ve saved myself some cash and can get it’s tone if I want it and can get a better one too.
Shame, I really wanted to like the Tube Monster and try out different tubes but that’s just silly really since it’s unnecessarily massive and I already have this little OCD clone.
Maybe I could have deep edited the Katana to a more Marshally response but I’d really lost the patience by then. My fault.
1). Just wanted to say I have both your Grey Granith Booster and the Persian Green Screamer in my pedal collection. Love them and they’re on a special separate board than my main!
2). I’m currently considering purchasing a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mofset for my medium overdrive needs. I already have the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe and the Keeley Katana Booster (Mini) on my board and love both of them. I’m just wondering if these two pedals would need to give way to the Mofset pedal or if they all have the potential to complement and live harmoniously on the board. I also have a feeling that the Katana and Tumnus combo might already be doing the job of a dual overdrive pedal. Still, I’ve played the Mofset and it seems to be in a different tonal pedal category. Lots of thoughts, I know!
Anyway, I’m playing with a VOX AC30VR on the clean channel with a G&L Legacy Tribute in the neck position, mostly. Just wondering what you think. Thanks!
I guess the Fulldrive would compliment both of the Tumnus and Katana. These are fairly clean, while the Fulldrive will provide a warm mid rangy overdrive that also fits your amp nicely.
Much appreciated! The Fulldrive ended up pairing quite nicely.
Hi im loving this site i have an OCD,A Ts808 Clone,and a Dumple Based pedal the Euphoria,Also a MXR Super bad ass distortion , I also have an Fender Blue Jr, Clone , What can u recommend me a Good setup for David gilmour tones i have 57 Reissue Black strat with CS69 neck and middle then SSL-5 Seymour duncan bridge i dont know what Overdrive to use and how can i stack them any help? thanks
Obviously you can set it up in a number of different ways and it depends on how you’ll be using the amp and what sort of tones you want. I’d start with setting the amp up for a clean tone with a bit of bite. Try to roll back the treble and maybe increase the mids. I’d go for the OCD. You can use it for both overdrive and distortion. The TS really needs a bit of dirt from the amp.
Hi,Bjorn..I am playing a fender deluxe strat into a vintage Traynor ygm3 (el84)amp….i have been trying to find a overdrive/distortion pedal to go with this setup…i am using a fulltone fulldrive 2 (pre mosfet)not really liking the way it sounds in vintage mode..thinking to much mids… sorta like a tube screamer…FM mode sounds better…anyway,what pedal would you reccomend for this amp…?going for a marshall kinda sound…thanks for your time
The Traynor is sort of Marshally-ish without actually sounding like a Marshall. I would perhaps go for a Wampler Plexi Drive or JHS Charlie Brown for vintage Marshall or a JHS Angry Charlie or Xotic BB for more modern sounding Marshalls.
Thank you for the response, also wondering if you think my fulldrive 2 in vintage mode, should sound alright with this traynor..with the fulldrive being based on the tube screamer circuit in this mode…maybe it could be that the “tube screamer “pedal/sound is not a good match with this amp…seeing how the traynor ygm3 seems to be more marshallish instead of fenderish?maybe adds too much mids to the mid heavy amp…?thanks again for your time…
I haven’t tried that pedal with that amp but I would imagine that it might be a bit too much mids. Keep in mind too that TS style pedals are designed to be used with slightly cranked amps. They rarely sound good on clean amps. Regardless of the brand and model.
Good point…thanks again!
Hello again, I just swapped out the old preamp tubes that were in there…rca and sylvanias… put in some electro harmonics and sovtek lps…12ax7s….and sovtek el84 in power stage…and wow sounds way more like I wanted…even with fulldrive in vintage mode…maybe those old preamp tubes were tired…thanks again!
Hi, so what about Gilmour using Rat pedal on Hiwatt amp?
What about it?
What do u think about blues junior nos tweed with les Paul and tube screamer?
It’s a mattter of taste I guess. Both are classic and certainly capable of producing awesome tones.
Hi Bjorn, I had this awesome violin like tone between my overdrive distortion pedals, and a long delay setting out of my TC Alter Ego sent to Reeves Custom 50 as usual setting you suggested on the amp. I use both left and right output of the delay pedal sent to lower Normal upper Bright. I shutdown everything and went back to it in a few days. The sound was nowhere near what I had. It was really harsh and loud and not soaring and violin like at all. Does it ring a bell for such situation? Do you think it is a non true bypass pedal issue, bad cable, or even surge in the power supply? I get that from different guitars so whatever it is, it is downstream of the guitar. I tried to use elimination method to find out but still come across this with different cables, and taking off off-pedals from the signal chain. Someone pointed out that power supply makes a difference. I’m in an old house with not very stable and noise-free power source. Also the power adaptors for the pedals are not high-end.
Hard to tell as I wasn’t there. No obvious issues comes to mind… Could be that you unintentionally altered te settings? Did you play for a long time that first day and your ears got tired and started to compress the tones? I really have no idea…
I find this to be a common experience. Tone can change a lot with temperature and humidity changes, and likely with fluctuations in the power delivered to your home on a given day. It’s a frustrating experience to change none of your settings and to not be able to return to the same sound you had the last time you played. My advice is when you do get a great sound, take careful note in your head what it’s qualities are. Then the next time you play, if the sound is different, try to tweak the settings carefully and gradually to rediscover this tone. This will help you become very familiar with the nuances of your gear, and knowing your gear “inside and out” is the best way to achieve consistenly good tone. Consider David Gilmour and his pairing of a dedicated EQ for each overdrive sound. He knows his gear so well and can approach it with the intimate touch of a lifelong sculptor or painter.
Thanks for that helpful advice. I think it’s not uncommon for the electric guitar players especially ones with lots of pedals to feel lost in too many variables. But becoming familiar with each set of variables and how it impacts the sound and slowly adjusting things further make it a more organic and more solid approach. Also this sort of community feedback is so helpful psychologically and by the information gathering to overcome that sense of being lost or not know where to go from that point. Cheers.
I’m happy I was able to help. When I read your post I immediately recognized my own experience at various times in it. I certainly haven’t mastered the advice I gave but I still know it to be the best way of going about things and I have made progress with this skill.
It’s true that there are so many variables, which can be overwhelming, but with consistent diligent effort it can be done :). I just wanted you to know you are not alone in this and even professional musicians struggle with this same thing at times!
Good luck to you
This is the article I was looking for ! Thank you. I’m not sure to know which od pedal to choose with a 5w Fender Vibro Champ Tweed, any recommandation would be very appreciated !?
Depends on what tones you want but in general I’d go for something versatile as described in this feauture, like a Rat, OCD or similar. These should be able to cover most of the tones and fit your amp.
I play Fender and Gibson guitars into Fender and Vox amps. I want something versatile and natural, maybe you’ve tested the Wampler plexi ? There is something nice with the Marshall like pedals on this amps. But Fender Champs doesn’t have that classic sound, I don’t knowl if it’s mid scooped do you ?
The Champ has a bit of mids and compression going on but like all Fenders, it’s more scooped and open sounding than say a Marshall. I’m a huge fan of the old Plexi sound and the Wampler does a very good job. Works nicely with Fender amps too. Check out the JHS Charlie Brown as well.
Hi Bjorn ! I have a mexican strat with SSL-5 and CS 69 neck and middle.
The tones that i’m after are Gdansk lead tones.
Compressor : Mooer Yellow Comp
Muff : Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head
G2 Type OD : Vick Audio V-2
Delay : Boss DD2
EQ : Boss GE-7
I want an overdrive pedal can be replaced David’s Tube Driver tones in budget. [I have read all the articles you have and including Kit Rae’s website.] What i would like to do is drive boosting Ram’s Head with it as shown in your article about Live in Gdansk settings. (like P1-TD(OD)) And also want to use that OD pedal alone as main OD and distortion unit.
Can you suggest me an OD pedal cause anytime i read the OD-Dist page you’ve written, things getting so confused to me considering the amp type.
How well this setup work with Fender Blues Junior III. (Or i can change it the one you suggest)
I would go for a Boss BD2. Check out my recent video of it here. It’s an incredibly versatile booster/overdrive that will work nicely on your amp. You might also want to check out the Crayon fom EHX. It’s based on the Tube Driver. Your Vick pedals doesn’t really need boosting though. The Ram’s Head has a mid range booster and plenty of gain and the V2 has more of a distortion type of sound that doesn’t really need boost. What David does is not so much boosting but rather adding character and tone. Having a clean Tube Driver as a boost adds a hint of compression and tone, not volume or gain boost.
Thank you so much for answering.
Since i don’t want to open up the new post, i want to ask it from here.
I’m about to buy these gain pedals i mentioned above.
How well these gain pedals[Vick pedals and Crayon] work with my amp-Blues Jr III- considering David’s Gdansk lead tones?
I think they should work fine with the amp but you shouldn’t expect a small Blues Jr to sound like a huge stadium :) You might need to spend a bit of time tweaking and finding the sweetspot for the amp – I find that most of the speakers they use for the Jr are a bit too bright – the pedals should go nicely with it.
Hi Bjorn. I do not know if you have been able to try the Mooer Pre Amp, which simulate classic tube amplifiers.
If you have not tried them, by the description of each pedal or by watching Youtube videos, which one do you think would be the closest to Gilmour’s Hiwatt amps in Gdansk?
Thank you very much, very kind greetings.
Haven’t tried them. Sorry…
Do not expect a tiny Mooer pedal to get you even remotely close to the GdaÅ„sk tones. Thatâ€™s like wearing roller skates and trying to race a jet.
True. Depends on how close you want to get. Obviously, a tiny transistor preamp can’t fully replicate the dynamics of a large tube amp but for bedrooms and practice, it’s often more than enough to get some nice tones.
Sure it may get some nice tones. I just wanted to temper his expectations of sounding close to Gilmour Live in GdaÅ„sk lol because those tones are absolutely divine!
– ELECTRO HARMONIX mod. CRAYON XO
– ELECTRO HARMONIX mod. GLOVE XO
– MAXON mod. OSD-9 (MAXON mod. OD-880 based)
– MAXON mod. OOD-9 (MAXON mod. OD-880 based)
– BOSS mod. OD-1
– MASOTTI mod. OD BOX (IBANEZ mod. TS-10 based)
– FULLTONE mod. SECRET FREQ
– ELECTRO HARMONIX mod. BIG MUFF GREEN RUSSIAN XO
– IBANEZ mod. MS-10
– IBANEZ mod. LM-7
– DANELECTRO mod. COOL CAT FUZZ V.2
– B.Y.O.C. mod. E.S.V. MKII (SOLA SOUND L.T.D. mod. TONEBENDER
– ELECTRONIC ORANGE mod. GENUINE PIG FACE
Which of these pedals sounds good combined with the ORANGE mod. TINY TERROR 7/15 watt swichable amp?
Oh… I haven’t tried any of these with an Orange amp. Not a huge Orange fan myself so I don’t have much experience with them. What I can say is that Orange, like Marshall, although they’re not identical, are great pedal platforms. They can handle pretty much anything. Like Marshall though, Orange is fairly aggressive and the Tiny Terror is mainly designed as a plug-n-play amp, with little headroom for gain pedals. You can set it up for cleans but I think there are better options out there if you’re looking for David Gilmour’s tones. But again, I think any of these pedals will go nicely with the amp.
Pardon, I did not understand the answer.
Why you write that the Tiny is great pedal platforms but after, at the end of the answer, you write that it can not play well with any of the pedals listed ?
Waiting for a reaply.
Which VERSATILE amplifier would you combine with the list pedals?
See the amps listed in the buyer’s guide.
No I didn’t write that :) I said that I’m sure all of these pedals will go nicely with the amp but you should be aware that it doesn’t have a lot of headroom or clean sound.
what power amp head for medium home space room ?
Do you think about the HIWATT mod.T5 MK III ?……. or T20 MK III or T40 MKIII ?….
…..your opinion ?
…….an amplifier that combines well with the pedals on the list.
All of the amps listed in the buyer’s guide pairs well with most pedals.
I think all of these have power scaling so it depends on how loud you’re allowed to play. All of them produce classic Hiwatt tones.
I would like to dare with Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18 head…..I think that it’s very versatile amp……
The Hughes & Kettner products would seem more performing……
your opinion ?
I had a H&K 18 in my home recording studio for several years. You can find some videos of me on my YT channel where I’m using it. Awesome pedal platform and great for bedrooms and practice.
!!!!! VERY THANK’S !!!!!
I will assess…….
I just tested a Tube Screamer Mini with my Hiwatt T20/V30 combo and as I was expecting, it sounded too dull, dark or muddy, as explained by you in this article :P
I mean it didn’t sound awful, but not “right” to my ears at least, especially in comparison with the Keeley Phat Mod. The transparency and pickups shine through with the Phat Mod, while the Tube Screamer drowns the sound in mid range.
Is there anything in between a BD-2 and a Tube Screamer in terms of mid range? A RAT maybe? Gilmour used on in the 90’s didn’t he?
The RAT is very similar to the TS, sort of taking off distortionwise where the TS max. I guess the Tube Driver (or a clone Buffalo FX TD-X or EHX Crayon) has a bit more mids than the BD2 but also a less compressed tone. You could also try a Klon (there are lots of clones out there including the EHX Soul Fodd) although it can get very middy when you turn up the gain.
Great site! I have a question on what combo to pair up with my home studio. I have a large 100 watt Peavey 6505 tube amp with Orange 4×12 cab but cannot use it on loud setting due to living in an apartment. I also have a small Vox mini G3 practice amp and small Marshall MG 10CF practice amp. What combo would you recommend and why?
I’ve listed my recommended budget/mid range bedroom/club amps in the buyer’s gear guide. I’m a huge fan of the Laney Lionheart amps. Great on their own, easy to record and a very versatile pedal platform. They come in different shapes and sizes :)
Bjorn: based on your quote, what pedals do you specifically classify as ones that would not interfere? Your quote: â€œMids boosted and compressed amps (Marshall/Hiwatt and similar) â€“ NO Tube Screamer and Rat (or similar sounding clones). ONLY transparent, mids scooped or flat EQ overdrives, distortions and fuzz.â€
Well first of all, there are no rules. You can very well use a Tube Screamer or Rat with a Marshall. Lots of people do. My point was that different pedals are designed for different amps and one shouldn’t expect all pedals to work equally well with all amps. For Hiwatts, Marshalls and similar amps I would personally go for less compressed pedals, like a BD2, Tube Driver, Power Boost, fuzz, old boosters. Depends on how you use the amp as well. Nothing sounds more classic rock than a cranked Marshall combined with a SD1 or TS9 but again, it depends on what tones you want and how you’ll be using the amp.
Great thx! I have a Marshall Bliesbreaker 1962(Handwired) and was curious about specific ones for that. I use a BK Tube Driver and like that at higher volumes as well as an old big box Soul Bender by FT that apparently has a nice set of Nktâ€™s in it (not all FT does) and an Ox Fuzz which has similar but different kind of fuzz. I also use the effectrode fire bottle which is amazing thanks to your suggestion. Any recommendations along those lines?
Seems that you pretty much got it covered. I have a Silver Jubilee. Different than your Bluesbreaker but I often set it up for a Plexi kind of tone and add a Distortion + or TS9 in front of it. Instant classic tone. The TD works very well too and compliments those older BBs, JTMs, Pexis etc. I don’t know, the old Colorsound Power Boost goes very well with mid rangy and compressed amps. You could either go for the original reissue or one of the many clones, like the Electronic Orange Bananaboost or Buffalo FX Powerbooster.
Hi Bjorn, I’ve got a silver jubilee 25/50 and I’ve tried using it with a big muff nano and sun face bc109c without much luck. The tone ends up getting really compressed and thin with either pedal, more so on the drive channel. Any tips on amp settings for these fuzzes? Thanks!
That’s pretty much the nature of Marshall and the JCM models in particular. That heavy mid range, compression and low headroom is perhaps not the best match for a Muff. At least not for David’s tones where you want lots of headroom and little compression as the platform for your Muff tones. I would try to use the clean channel, roll back the mids and treble to 10-11:00 and perhaps consider a slightly less aggressive Muff, like the EHX Green Russian or a triangle clone.
I’ve been hoping for a thread like this because I am at a loss for which distortion pedal will kick the newest amp addition in my collection. I’ve always been a Fender amp type of guy with a vintage 1966 blackface pro reverb for the post tweed era and a couple of tweeds, a super and and deluxe, to round things out and i’ve been happy with them but my newest amp threw me a curve in figuring out the right pedals. Some of my existing pedals love the amp but some are a bit flat. The new amp is a recent Marshall 2245THW and I had a custom made Mather 2X12 open back cab made that is loaded with cream back Celestions with an M & H for a crossover flavor and the combo is killer for a luscious sounding base tone overall but even at 30 watts this amp is pretty damn clean overall and the only pedals I’ve found that it loves is a JH-1 silicon fuzz face and an older wampler plexidrive that works moderately well. I tried a custom shop soothsayer and it was a good pedal but didn’t really like the Marshall. Bottomline is this, I don’t know which distortion pedal will be the perfect marriage for this amp. Thought about an older rat but after reading the recommendations on matching amps to pedals as regards mid heavy amps I am lost as ever. Would love a recommendation for 3 pedals that would like the Marshall 2245THW amp and really push the amp over the edge in a good way. Thanks for any help you can give me on this. In closing I wanted to mention that I had thought about the Mojo Hand Colossus since Eric Gales seems to get good mileage out of that pedal but don’t really know if it would favor the Marshall, I think Gales uses Two Rock amps for the most part but I could be wrong. I’ll close and hope someone has sorted this out already. Thanks in advance.
Hi Calvin, personally I find that those vintage style Marshalls sound best with a bit of dirt. Set clean they sound a bit flat. Either cranked really hard with a fuzz or booster in front of it or, in combo with some of the classic Marshall pairings like a Boss SD-1, MXR Distortion + etc. I also love how the Tube Driver sounds with Marshalls. The JTM has a moderate mid range and compression but pedals like the RAT, OCD etc will often sound a bit too overwhelming. It also depends on the settings you have on the amp. I like to roll back the treble and mids a bit, which seem to provide a better pedal platform. Hope this helped.
I have a mid 2000’s 100W twin and I know what you mean about the Big Muff. It sounded huge, but very aggressive and harsh. However, I recently picked up a Soul Food (klon klone) and, if hit the muff with the soul food (before the muff in the chain) it really smooths it out and gives it a great attack. I’ve started using the muff again through my Twin as a result.
I should mention, I’m using mainly a 2006 American strat 57/62 pups, or a 2004 61RI SG with P-94s. Love me some single coils!
Yep, adding some mid range boost does the trick :)
Hey Bjorn ! Excellent article. Enjoyed reading it. Please help me with this…I have a Peavey 6505+ combo which is a popular metal / high gain amp. But I was looking to tighten it’s tone and maybe color it a little hoping that I’d have a unique tone and not a generic metal tone. So instead of the usual TS9 / 808 pedals, I was looking into pedals like a Friedman BE-OD or a Wampler Tumnus deluxe and run them through the clean or crunch channel of the amp. Will that be a good idea ?? Thanks.
I haven’t tried that but they both have a bit of mids and compression, which I guess will compliment often scooped metal sounds. You might also look into the Xotic EP Booster.
Hello guys, I am new to this tube amp thing and I hope you could answer my questions. I recently bought a fender tube amp and I was wondering if I still need to buy separate pedals like overdrive, distortion or fuzz. I know that this amp already have built-in distortion or overdrive when cranked some dials. So, do I still need those dedicated pedals? If yes, which one should I get? I am more onto blues and classic rock type of player. Appreciate all your future comments and suggestions. Peace!
Depends on how you’ll be using the amp. Most amps are capable of producing anything from clean to crunchy overdrive and distortion but that often reuqire that you play fairly loud. The reason you want to use pedals, apart from experimenting with different tones, is to better be able to control the amount of gain on different volume levels. Most Fender amps can do a pretty good overdrive tone but for fuzz and heavier distortion you might want to add a pedal or two. I’ve suggested some pedals in the feature above.
Thanks Bjorn. I appreciate it… You have a good point. That’s why I am going to try pedals. I’ll try an overdrive and a fuzz.
Your website is seriously awesome. Very informative.
Hoping for your opinion on something here – I sold my old amp that i hated, and now I’m left with a few pedals, among them a Chandler Tube Driver and a ProCo Rat. Do you think i could get some decent Gilmour tones out of these two from a Katana 50? Thanks!
Sorry, i meant a Tube Works Tube Driver. One of the 3 knob ones.
Yes. The Rat should go very well with it and you shouldn’t have any issues with the TD either. The Katana is a great sounding and versatile amp.
Hi bjorn, i dont understand english very well but in your opinion, do you think tube driver bk Butler and green russian big muff cab be a good choice with a fender blues junior mark iv ?
Yes but it wont’ sound as smooth and compressed as with a Hiwatt. You’d get a brighter and more open tone. For a similar tone as David’s you might want to go for the more mid rangy and compressed pedals as discussed in this feature.
Hello, OK I bring some clarifications.For the moment, I have not chosen my amp yet but I have a find a BK Butler Tude driver and I bought it. It was a unique opportunity. My guitar is a Fender American Standard with custom shop fat 50 pickups.
If I understand your answer, Fender amp is not the best solution with a tube driver or a big muff. For a similar tone as Davids’ it would be better to buy a Marshall amp (for example) because it is naturally compressed ?
A compressor with theses pedals can be a solution for a Fender Amp ?
A compressor or EQ can compensate to some extent but they won’t turn a Fender into a Marshall :) A Marshall is one way to go, especially the more vintage sounding models but they can be a bit too aggressive for David’s tones. One of my best non-Hiwatt tips is the Laney Lionheart amps. Basically a VOX meets early Marshall meets Hiwatt. Very versatile and they can handle any pedal.
OK thanks for your answer and for the tip :). I think I made a mistake buying the tube driver too early, without knowing the importance of the amp compared to the pedal.
the bassbreaker, although it is different from other fender is not a good solution ? the h & K tubmeister either ?
The gain channel on the H&K sounds like a modern Marshall. I guess that’s as close as you’ll get. It’s not a vintage sounding amp by any means.
OK, thanks ! Do you thing new Marshall Origin can do the job ? I’ll go test it with the bassbreaker and a laney
Haven’t tried them yet but based on the specs I guess so.
Hello Bjorn, I found my amp !!! A fender FSR midnight oil bassbreaker with HP greenback. Tubes are 3 12 ax7 (preamp) end 2x EL84 for 15 watts. I foud my sound and with BK Butler Tude driver, I get closer to David’s tone. I use a TC nova delay and I think i will buy Mooer Elec Lady but I’m not sure for the compressor :-(
Thanks for your tips !
What do you think about ALH effects ?
Awesome! Nice rig! I haven’t tried the ALH effects yet so I can’t really tell… See the buyer’s gear guide for some tips on compressor.
If you are NOT a “purist” have you ever considered a Line 6’s Helix pedalboard as the main (or unique…) gadged on your rig? I’ve bought one this year and its emulations (amps, cabinets and effects) are awesome and we can connect our favorite “physical pedals” via its send-returns entries. And… Build personalized patches for each desired song that can be saved (and you can make backups also). If the Fender BassBreaker you’ve bought is the one with send-returns on the back, with Helix you can bypass the “amp” and use the pedalboard emulated ones (the Hiwatt, Fenders, Mesa Boogies, Marshals etc.). There are hundreds of “ready to go” patches for Gilmour, Mayer, Clapton or any other guitarhero you can remember (some for free, some are paied) that you can adust to your taste and to your amp and room/studio. Best regards from Brazil!
Your advice is super helpful. I wanted to see if you could recommend an overdrive pedal for my bedroom set up. I play a PRS Custom 24, through a Laney Lionheat Head and matcing Lionheat cabinet w/ Celestian G12H 70th.
I was considering an Analogman King of Tone, Buffalo Evolution or Soothsayer paired with a clean boost like a Paul Chochrane Timmy or a Soul Food.
Would one of those ODâ€™s make sense and would it pair well with a clean boost?
The Evolution and Soothsayer has a lot of gain and are better used alone. If you’re looking for a versatile overdrive and one that you can boost, I’d go for a KoT, OCD or the Vick Audio Tree of Life. They’re all somewhat similar.
Amazing article, as they all are. Sorry if you have already answered this, but there are over 400 comments – I have a gibson SG with P90 pick ups. Where do P90s fit in terms of frequency? Am I right in thinking somewhere between a Tele single and a humbucker?
Probably… depends on the model but yes, they have a bit of twang but the warmth of a PAF style humbucker.
It looks like THE Pink Floyd reference book!!
I am mostly a bedroom player (small clubs very ocasionally) i’d like to know if the new Green russian big muff would work fine with my fender Princeton 112plus.
(For Gilmour tones)
You can tweak it for something similar as the Princeton has a bit of mids and compression but it won’t sound as smooth and big as when paring it with a Hiwatt or Marshall, which have much more mids and the character of David’s tones. If you’re seeking THAT tone, I would go for something a bit more versatile like an OCD or similar.
I have a Peavey VK 212 and a Fender frontman 212.
Which one is the most suitable for David’s tone ?
Both I would say. Depends on how you set it up. The Peavey might be easier to mix with typically scooped pedals such as Muff and fuzzes but the Fender will provide that clean chime and a great platform for pedals that have more mid range and compression. Depends on your guitar and pickups too and what sort of tones you’re looking for.
Actually I have a Epiphone Les Paul with humbuckers and later I will buy a Fender strat classic 70. I’m really in love with DSOTM and Animals tones.
Thanks for the article, I’m always looking for tips on how to manage fuzz.
I always thought Hiwatt was similar to a Twin in that it was very clean and had tons of headroom. I can see why a Fender amp wouldn’t replicate a Hendrix fuzz tone, but wouldn’t it be close to Dave’s use of fuzz? Didn’t Dave use a Twin on parts of Dark Side as well? I suppose the EQ is different, but the clean character is shared between a Hiwatt & Fender, isn’t it?
Not really. There’s much more to an amp than just what you perceive. Fender Twins has very little mid range and compression. The much sought after clean tone has a fat low end and bell-like top. Once you crank it or add pedals, you’ll notice how it gets brighter and more open sounding. Hiwatts has a lot of headroom too but headroom is always a combination of power, tubes and speakers but Hiwatts, being similar to Marshall, has a lot of mid range and compression. So no, it’s not the same amp. David did use Twins on those early 70s recordings and he’s always used Fenders in the studio. They can often be easier to record and combos are always easier to tame than those large Hiwatt heads, although he’s used them a lot in the studio as well. Depends on what tones you need.
Re BD2.Thanks Bjorn;your articles comments and responses are always excellent!
Hey Bjorn. I managed to pick up a Deluxe Mistress XO for my setup, instead of the Mooer elady. I do really like it actually. But based on your reviews of modulation pedals, you had stated it adds more midrange than the original, or the mooer. I am playing through a mid range heavy British Orange CR60 amp. I also have a BYOC Triangle for a muff, and the Fulltone OCD for overdriven PULSE tones. All these pedals are mid range heavy, with the midrange heavy Deluxe Mistress. So I suppose the question I am asking is what happens when you add too much mid range in the mix? Would putting the Triangle into “mids scooped” mode take care of all that? Skol!
It all depends on how you’ve set the amp, what pickups you use and what sort of tones you like. Too much mid range can often sound dark, almost choked and a bit overwhelming but it also depends on what frequency we’re talking about. There really isn’t a good answer to this but trust your ears and hear how your setup blends in a recording or with a band.
Hi I have a Mesa 5-25 and where would it set in the amp category? It has some fender setting and has some Marshall setting so which pedals would you recommend for that warm creamy tone?
I haven’t tried it but from what I understand, the clean channel has that scooped Fender chime, while the gain channels has more of that Marshall mids boost and compression. I assume that you’ll be using the clean channel for pedals so I’d choose overdrive and distortion pedals that can compensate for the lack of mids and compression, like the OCD and similar.
Very educational. Thank you my friend. I presently am using a Hot Rod Deluxe with a Cannibus Rex spkr: 57 RI Amer. Strat w/ Fat/50, SSL5 & 69. Got Russian Muff mini, OCD, SUF 74 Rams Head, Script Phase 90, T Rex Replica”, DD-2, and so on… I’m thinjing a new amp may be in my future. Your opinion would be most appreciated! In ckosing, I love your sight ..I-ve bn following you for years although I stopped playing 6 ir 8 yrs ago when I lost my left forefinger(no more barre chords) Id love to find a small HiWatt, Laney, etc for home as I’m basically learning to play all over again. “I will never surrender.” Thanks again for all your hard work and dedication.
Depends on your budget. I’ve listed some of my favourite budget/midrange amps in the buyer’s guide. I really can’t praise the Lionhearts enough. It’s down to taste obviously but it’s an incredibly versatile and pedal friendly amp.
Hey Bjorn, i m thinking about buying a TC Mojomojo as an overdriver for blues and boosting sound.. i am using a blackstar HT5r for practice.. will this pedal do the work?
The MojoMojo is kind of a beefed up Tube Screamer. Lots of mids and compression.
so the answer would be positive, correct?, will work perfectly in a tube amp.
I’m sorry but I have to wholeheartly disagree Bjorn, I find the MojoMojo to be quite flat and transparent when the treble is cranked, otherwise is just dark and bassy as if the tone knob was rolled off but nowhere middy as a TubeScreamer, also, the distortion is not creamy at all, very amp-like until 3 o’clock, then it becomes a bit fuzzy, like a cranked BD2, in fact, between the two pedals, the only differences I find is a bit of lack of bass in the BD2 in comparison and the BD2 has a crispy attack and a bit more clarity than the MojoMojo
Well, it’s definitely based on that TS9/SD1 tone but the fact that you got separate controls for treble and bass, makes the tone stack more versatile and you can easily tweak the pedal for a more transparent BD2 tone, OCD and similar but its got the mid range and compression of those “modern” pedals.
Great stuff Bjorn thank you!
Im currently gigging with a mic’ed up 2006 Dr Z Maz 18. Im sure you know the amp, it has a good EQ section, treble, bass, and mid controls as well as cut, master Vol, and channel Vol along with verb. In reference to this article on amps and OD pedals that get along well, how would you classify this amp like you talked above with Fender, Vox, Marshall, HiWatt etc? Also, I have over 30 OD pedals and would like to know pedals play particularily well with this amp if possible. “to be heard” in the mix. Cutting through has been my biggest dilemma for years. I can have a great clean tone going, very well heard, then sometimes a I stomp on one of my “stacked” OD’s which I usually set at unity gain or slightly above, and I get lost, so I compensate by kicking on a boost or another pedal. Help! If you can understand what I am saying. Thank you! Bruce
It’s closer to a Fender than Marshall for sure but it’s got a different character all together. Hard to compare and it seems to handle most pedals better than typically scooped and uncompressed Fenders as well.
Good explanation, thanks.
I use a 1979 music man, just finished cap replacement, and fitted early breakup E34Ls. Its got great cleans with strat and just breaks nicely with humbuckers. I like the sound so much I don’t like to use pedal. Its too loud to wind up at home though.
I also built a 5W british amp from a kit, that’s really good for bedroom as you can push the valves (1xECC83, 1xEL84) at almost no volume. I use it with DIY clones, OCD and Alpha (dumble style), and a Buffalo Evolution (after watching your review).
One sound I REALLY like is the fire bottle pedal you reviewed, I watch that one over and over just for entertainment. Not sure it would work with my setup though. I had an effectrode blackbird which didn’t do it for me.
One of the best basic considerations article on combining guitar gear I have read, perfect for me as a newbie to guitar gear.
Hello Bjorn !
I just bought myself a Twin Reverb and play mostly with a Telecaster. I LOVE my clean and crunch sound with the Twin for jamming, but with my band we play Hard Blues Rock where I need a fat/fuzz tone kind of like Dan Auerbach/Jordan Cook.
I thought of trying to combine a mid-pushy pedal like the TS or Fulldrive 2 with a fuzz, have you ever tried to combine both?
Also, I am looking for the best Fuzz to use with my Twin and Tele. Do you know if some kinds of Fuzz react better with the mid-scooped Twin? Will Tone-Bender types work better than Big Muffs?
Thanks in avance for the insight ! :)
Fuzz pedals and Muffs often sound kind of choked when you combine them with compressed and mid rangy pedals like the TS and similar. It will work better on mids scooped amps like the Twin but you’d have to be careful with total amount of gain between the two pedals and personally I find it hard to dial in the tones I want. I’m sure others have other experiences. As I’ve tried to point out in this feature, fuzz and Twins isn’t wrong. You’ll find that combo on countless recordings but it will not sound as smooth and compressed as when David cranks his FF or Muff on a Hiwatt. It’s just different. Unless you really want that late 60s fuzz buzz I’d rather go for something a bit more versatile like a OCD or similar, wich will provide that fuzz character but with more compression and mids which will suit the amp.
But you should ðŸ˜‰
And gilmourish.com is awesome.
P.S.What do you know about Roger Watersâ€™ bass,
amps and effects?
It’s covered in the Pink Floyd Encyclopedia by Vernon Fitch.
Hi Bjorn! Great feature, very useful! So, the point is basically that Big Muff goes well with mid rangy amps and less well for mid scooped amps (at least for Gilmourish tones). But what about using a Muff with a combination of the two type of amps (e.g. Marshall and Fender), as shown in this episode of That Pedal Show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWQKq1Yy7TU)?
As I understand, there are many famous Big Muff users that employ this kind of multi-amp voicing (Auerbach of The Black Keys should be doing that). I’m very curious to know what do you think about that.
Thanks for your great works, bye!
Ps: I know you disclaimed these tips aren’t gospel, but aren’t some pedals like the OCD and especially the RAT quite versatile and useful with both kind of amps? You used them with your Reeves, right? And David used the RAT in Pulse with Hiwatts, didn’t he?
Yes and that’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s no rule saying that you can’t use Muffs with Fenders or Rats with Marshall or Hiwatt. A lot of people do but you shouldn’t expect that to sound identical to David’s tones. It’s not wrong but different. In many cases, rather than trying desperately to make a Fender+Muff sound like a Hiwatt+Muff you might be better off with different pedals. David has often combined Fenders and Hiwatts in the studio and with Muffs. It offer a wider palette of tones and more dynamics.
Great, thank you very much again. And Happy New Year!
I might have asked you this before;if I have,please accept my apology.
Are you familiar with the EHX Micro Synthesizer?If you are,what do you think of it?
Never tried it… sorry… :)
I use a silverface Princeton Reverb mostly, but my backup for gigs is a Goodsell 17 watt amp with a Celestion 12 inch speaker and I am not sure if this amp is Vox or Marshall inspired. Looks cosmetically like a Marshall though. So would I need different ODs for these two amps?
I’m not familiar with the Goodsell so I can’t really comment on that. The Princeton has more compression and mid range than most Fender amps but you probably want to check out some mid range oriented pedals to pair with it, like the BD2, OCD or TS9… or similar. You should be able to determine whether the amps are similar or different by plugging the guitar straight into the amp, set the EQ controls at noon and add a bit of breakup from the pre amp tubes. If a Marshall, the Goodsell shuld sound much smoother and pop out more compared to the Princeton. Hard to describe but you should notice a difference if they are different.
Hi Bjorn! thanks for you’re job! the site is amazing! (i’m a fan of airbag, great song!)
I have a question for You:
actually i have this configuration: strat with d allen echoes pickup into a hiwatt t20. the pedal board: dynacomp vintage ’74->orange moon vibe->pig hoof (yellow label)->buffalo TD-X-Z->buffalo Power Booster->Ehx electric mistress->Tc Electronic Alter Ego delay-> boonar dawner prince.
In You’re opinion is the right sequence of pedal?
thanks a lot
Seems about right :)
Hello Bjorn,my question has to do with the BD2.Are you saying it has less mid range and compression but it has mid range and compression nevertheless?
I thought the BD2 was mids scooped and works well with compressed amps,(like Hiwatt).
It’s more like a full range overdrive, like the Tube Driver. It’s got a bit of mid range, but considerably less than a Tube Screamer. It goes well with most amps, while a TS often sound too compressed and overwhelming with Hiwatts and Marshall.
kanskje du kan hjelpe meg med valg av pedaler:
Jeg har el-gitar Duesenberg 49er med de opprinnelige pickupene. RÃ¸rforsterer Laney L5 Lionheart head (5 hhv 0,5 w) med tilsvarende Laney 2×12 inch kabinett. Anna forsterker jeg harer solid state Roland JC 22 pga clean tonen, men har lyst Ã¥ prÃ¸ve om jeg fÃ¥r til en god distorted sound med den.
Jeg er forholdsvis ny til gitar-verden og spiller igrunnen bare hjemme, ingen gigs el l.
Vil gjerne ha delay og overdrive/distortion pedaler, evt er reverben Keeley Nocturner ogsÃ¥ aktuell.
Er klar over at du ikke kan ha oversikt over alle forsterker, pickups osv, men jeg tar sjansen Ã¥ spÃ¸rre om din mening om hvilke pedaler kan funke fint med mine forsterker.
Hei Carsten. Det kommer jo helt an pÃ¥ hvilke lyder du Ã¸nsker. Tenker du fÃ¸rst og frems Gilmour eller noe som vil dekke en rekke ulike sjangre og stiler? Jeg anbefaler ofte minimum en distortion, overdrive og delay. Med disse tre kan du dekke det meste. OgsÃ¥ Gilmour. Utover det kan du ogsÃ¥ vurdere f.eks. phaser, chorus, flanger osv. Lionheart tar det meste av pedaler. Jeg ville kanskje gÃ¥tt for noe allsidig, som f.eks. en Fulltone OCD til distortion og en Boss BD2 for boost of overdrive. Til delay anbefaler jeg TC Electronic Flashback. Denne er utrolig allsidig og koster ikke all verden. Jeg har enbefalt noen pedaler i artikkelen over ogsÃ¥ anbefaler jeg deg Ã¥ lese How to get killer tones on your bedroom setup samt kikke igjennom Buyer’s Guide oversiktene.
og takk for svar samt tipsene. Ja, tenkte ulike sjangre og stiler med bl a Gilmour, Gary Moore og Santana. Fulltone OCD’en har jeg hÃ¸rt om, men den hadde jeg ikke tatt sÃ¥ virkelig i betraktning. Rotet meg litt vekk i reviews om Xotic Soul Driven, Tortenmann TA100, Diktator Dawner Prince Electronics, Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe og Thorpy Gunshot. Kanskje peker de seg virkelig ut av mengden, kanskje er de bare flavour of the month? Headroom pÃ¥ Laney L5en er jo litt begrenset som noen sa til meg, kanskje er disse pedalene ‘for gode’? I’m new to this pedal world though :) Jau, har lest ‘How to get …’ og ‘Buyer’s guide’, men fant ikke helt ut av det, er newbie som sagt.
Boss BD2 Waza er blant kandidatene fra fÃ¸r, og TC Electronic Flashback stÃ¥r nÃ¥ pÃ¥ lista.
Utrolig bra artikkel forresten (husker ikke tittelen pÃ¥ den i farten) du skrev om man alltid vil ha mer, dyrt er (ikke) nÃ¸dvendigvist godt osv.! Har unt meg en Duesenberg 49er (eneste gitar som jeg har), men kjenner pÃ¥ meg lysten Ã¥ ville mer, les: flere. Ufornuftig, jeg vet …
Lykke til med prosjektene dine – keep on rockin’
Nei, det er ikke prisen det kommer an pÃ¥ :) Likevel anbefaler jeg alltid Ã¥ bruke det du kan pÃ¥ gitar og amp. Det lÃ¸nner seg i lengden ogsÃ¥ fÃ¥r du instrumenter som er inspirerende. Det betyr ikke at du skal kjÃ¸pe dyrt, men det beste du kan. Pedaler lÃ¥ter bedre pÃ¥ skikkelig utstyr, men det viktigste er alltid Ã¥ vite hvordan du bruker det du har. Jeg kjenner ikke alle de du nevner, men OCD, Plexi Drive og BD2 er absolutt Ã¥ anbefale.
Could you please recommend me a hi-gain pedal for my Hot Rod Deluxe? IÂ´ve already tried the RAT and the OCD which I love, but I think I need a bit more gain. IÂ´m playing an Epi Sheraton II.
Well, both should have lots of gain. Perhaps you’re thinking of more top end, which will open up the pedal a little? Try the Buffalo FX TD-X or Vick Audio Tree of Life :)
I play a Gibson es-335 through a 1950’s Magnatone 213. I have found little information about using this amp with pedals and effects online (for instance how to get around fact that there’s no effect loop) any idea how an amp like this stacks up against the ideas in this article? I know it doesn’t sound like a Marshall but not a Fender either…not sure what effects the 50s electronics lend themselves better to.
I’m not that familiar with those amps but based on the specs alone, I would guess something like an early Fender perhaps Bassman. In any case typically US voiced, with less mid range and compression that the British Marshall/Hiwatt etc. I’m not sure how these amps work with pedals but it shouldn’t be a problem using pedals like the Boss BD2, Tube Driver and similar for some nice overdrive and milder disortion tones. Not sure how fuzz and Muffs would work with David’s tones in mind.
Ive had a range of fender amps. the original 410 deville that I wish I kept ( I had a great tone out of it with a wf rat). A 1969 silverface super reverb and they are great amp. You are right about the mid scoup of the bf/sf amps as I now play a tweed super with 2 12inch jensons built by Achillies here in Australia. It is a great amp with a very defferent tonal range to the other amps I have had. but a no go zone for ts type peadals. I run a dod 250 as a boost.
Brilliant info on this blog. Trying hard to get my head around it all & hoping you can help a little please.
I have a 1989 Gibson Les Paul Standard with “The Original” circuit board (Bill Lawrence) pickups still fitted. Also I have an unused Tone City tape delay pedal. My family have bought me a Egnater Tweaker 15 Combo for my retirement. Now its up to me to learn so I would like to get to a tone that I can enjoy as I begin the journey.
I would like a sound that is clear (ish) but warm with a sweet creamy tone and a crisp bite at the end. (how on earth do we describe a tone that only I can “hear”??)
These 2 links to Matt Thorpe are close to the tones I like.
First at 1min.36sec, similar to what I seek but with a touch more bite.
and also this intro tone on Knocking on Heavens Door – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwGRHkGPMkw
Do I need pedals to get to my dream tones if so which ones would work for me on the Egnater Tweaker 15 combo amp? ( mids or scooped mids or both?) on the gear I have or do I need a change in pickups?
I’m not that familiar with that amp but from what I understand it has the ability to cover a lot of ground, from typical scooped Fender to more British early Marshall and Vox. Perhaps not as mid rangy as a modern Marshall or Hiwatt but conciderably more mid and compression that your Fender Twin and similar. You should be able to get similar tones to what you are describing with just the amp. See this feature for some amp set up tips. If you want to look into some pedals, I suggest something versatile that will cover as much ground as possible and sound good on different volume levels. This should be explained in the feature above but check out the overdrive and distortion buyer’s guide as well for more tips. See the buyer’s guide for modulation and delay as well if that’s something you consider getting.
Hi Bjorn! Great article! I’m just getting my way into effects for amps etc.. It’s quite overwhelming!!! I’m looking to re-vamp my board as I’m getting a little better. I’m using a Fender Bassbreaker 15 Amp. Can you recommend a board set up to compliment it? My influences are Kotzen, AC/DC, Bonamassa, Foo’s, Wayne-Shepherd to name a few. Thanks
Almost impossible to suggest anything because it depends so much on what you really like and prefer. I would go for something versatile that suits your amp, like the Fulltone OCD for overdrive and distortion and perhaps a Boss BD2 for boost and milder overdrives. There are many similar pedals out there so do a bit of research but I think you would want something with emphasis on the mid range for your amp. These two pedals should cover most of the ground and you probably want a delay and perhaps some modulation for flavouring. See the delay buyer’s guide and modulation buyer’s guide for some tips.
Hi Iâ€™ve got an epiphone les Paul and a Vox ac30. Iâ€™m using the boss blues driver to get the crunchy sound for the indie rock sort of sound but I have to turn the tone all the way down otherwise it crackles and sounds awful. Is there another pedal I should try that would work with this combination? Thanks
If the pedal crackle, there must be something wrong I guess. The BD2 works nicely with Vox amps. That’s at least my experience. What’s your settings on the amp and pedal?
Hi! Great and clear article! I am always learning from you.
How would you describe the Two-Rock Studio Pro 35 combo? Mids scooped tone or pronounced mid range?
I haven’t tried the amp but based on its specs I would imagine that it’s based on vintage Fenders with a fairly scooped tone and lots of headroom.
Hi Bjorn. Love the site.
I’m running a Fender Bassbreaker 15 & Tweed Blues Jnr III as a dual mono/wet-dry rig with my MIM Deluxe Players Stratb w/ Vintage Noiseless pups.
The Blues Jnr loves my OCD but the Bassbreaker does not. Any thoughts on a mid-hi gain overdrive that could work ok with both.
I’ve found that VOX AC15s like OCDs and some Fuzzes no problem. That Pedal Show did a recent episode on this topic.
Thanking you in advance :)
I would try the Boss BD2. It’s somewhat similar to the OCD, but less mid range and compression and you have a wider sweep from clean to fuzz.
Thanks, my pedal repair/guitar tech said much the same. Will grab the Waza Blues Driver he has held for me.
Any thoughts on Butler Tube Driver into the amps I mentioned. I am thinking not enough headroom.
I haven’t tried the combo myself but I would imagine that the Bassbreaker would go nicely with the Tube Driver. For Vox amps I would go for something with a bit more mid range and compression, like the Vick Audio Tree of Life or similar.
Hey man! I am running a similar rig to you and thought I would ask a question on how you set both amps? I run a fender bassbreaker 15 dry with a modded peavy classic 30 wet (the mod has made the amp way more clear and crisp but still with a fairly pronounced mid range which I believe is reminiscent of older tweed amps). I am constantly unhappy with the amount of mids in my tone and I believe this is lower mids cause it just tends to sound way too honkey and muffled. I have recently started using a Waza Craft BD2 for light overdrive and using the Andy Timmons clean tone trick. Even though the BD2 is a bit flatter in the EQ it’s still too mid range for my ears and wondered how you were setting the two amps? I am struggling to set the bassbreaker to compliment the classic 30 and remove that lower mid honkeyness. My lead tone has ample mids at the moment and it’s more taming the mids for my clean and slight overdrive tone. Sorry for the long message but I seem to be running around in circles not achieving the sweet, clear and crisp tone that works to my ears. I have an OCD that sounds great into the classic 30 but just way too honkey into the bassbreaker!
The C30 has more mids and upper mids than the Bassbreaker so you’re probably getting too much lower mids and bass. You shouldn’t expect the two amps to sound or behave exactly like the other and, it might just be the case that the Bassbreaker isn’t what you need for your desired tones. Still, don’t be afraid to experiment with the EQ controls and if needed, turn down the bass on the Bassbreaker to make room for the mids and treble. The BD2 also has a lot of low end so you might want to look into pedals with less lows and maybe dedicated bass and treble controls, like the Buffalo FX TDX or EHX Crayon.
I’m playing a Fender Deville 2×12 and was strongly considering a Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop Overdrive.
Would this peda and amp combination work?
I haven’t tried that pedal so I can’t really tell.
Hi! Great and clear article!
How would you describe the Hugh and Kettner Tubemeister 18’s two channels? I believe you know the amp, saw it in one of your other excellent articles! Scooped or boosted?
I notice a difference between the channels as if they have different tone/eq presets? I can’t really put my finger on the difference though…
The clean channel has a distinct Fender chime with practically no compression. It’s not that suited for pedals… or that’s at least my experience. Nice tone of its own though. The lead channel is somewhat similar to a JCM Marshall but more modern sounding. I used to have this set clean with pedals. Worked nicely with almost anything.
Thanks Bjorn! Much appreciated!
Hey bjorn, i’m using a bb preamp for boosting my wampler plexy drive and my iron bell… my amps are fender blues junior and fender hot rod deluxy. The ts9 is a best combination from this amps? Or bb pre amp is ok?
I would like your sugestions that the eq for my amps, who are your sugestions?
Tks!!! I’m sorry for my english…
For those two pedals I would go for the BB. The TS9 can be a bit too much.
I’m using a bugera v22 head what overdrive an distortion pedals would you recommend
It’s based on the British Vox amps, which has less mid range than your typical Hiwatt and Marshall. For David’s tones I’d go for something versatile and mid range oriented, like the Fulltone OCD, ProCo Rat or similar clones.
Hi is a Mesa Rectoverb 25 more like a marshal or fender? Mis acciones or mid boost? Thanks anyone!
It’s more Fender than Marshall.
Thank you, Bjorn. I have a Fender HSS Shawbucker Strat running through a Michael Landau inspired Fender Hot Rod Deville. I was ready to purchase a Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head based on your Buyers Guide recommendation but then I read this article. Now I’m having second thoughts. Should I reconsider? I do have a Rat pedal and an OCD overdrive pedal already in my pedal board. Given my amp/guitar combo, should I just stick with the Rat? Also, would it make any difference if, when using a 73 Ram’s Head, to adjust the midrange volume on the Deville?
A matter of taste I guess but I would stick to the Rat and OCD.
Hi Daryl, greetings from Brazil. I know that my response will not please those who are more purist about hardware … But … After years of pedals of all kinds and switchers (that need to be adjusted for every song or style that we want to play every moment) I would not fail to consider a Line 6’s Helix pedalboard with its embedded Yamaha-based amps and pedal emulations (and 04 extra “send-returns” to our favorite pedals). I already had the opportunity to see 03 of this model in use (one in a studio by a famous Brazilian rock band) and the possibility of creating and recording patches (combinations of amps emulations, distortions and modulations) for EVERY MUSIC including the favorite pedals mentioned in any position in the “virtual rig”) is impressive. I only found a video of the old model HD 500 of Line 6 demonstrating the creation of a patch with “David Gilmour style” (it is in Portuguese and with poor audio, but it gives an idea of â€‹â€‹the potential of this type of pedalboard) . Imagine how much evolution has occurred until the manufacturer reaches HELIX (including the software for editions on your computer that is far more advanced and user friendly than this one on the video) … Follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPXGMoal5ZE. I hope I have collaborated in some way :-)
Nice article Bjorn.
I mainly use a Goodsell champton (tweed champ/Princeton mash up) around the house and a 5e3 tweed deluxe for playing out. Contrary to popular opinion you can get a great singing type of clean sound out of a deluxe at band levels if you know how to set it up. This being my favourite, easily attainable sound from this amp, to distort it’s just too damn loud. This deluxe being a bit of a monster. My king of tone sounds great through both amps which is my main overdrive. I have various fuzz pedals which all sound good but I’m after something with a smooth sustaining muff like distortion but without too much fuzz. I am particularly interested in a Buffalo fx evolution. My main guitar is an amazing Kingbee S type I’ve had for some years with Lollar blackface strat pickups. With your experience of the evolution do you think it will work with this set up. I will say muffs and fuzz faces work well with this circuit but are just too fuzzy for me!!
The Evolution has much more compression and mid range compared to Muffs and fuzz pedals but it is fairly bright and it has a lot if gain so in that sense it’s really not that far off the other two. Still, you can easily dial back the gain on the Evo for some nice tones. You might also want to check out stuff like the Buffalo FX Carrera or the Vick Audio Tree of Life. I think both will go nicely with your setup.
Thanks Bjorn, had my eye on the Carrera since it came out. I also use Gas fx Drive Thru which is a really meaty sounding handwired overdrive set quite clean into the kot. It would be interesting to hear the Carrera compared to that. I will say that I’ve been using my old carl Martin comp/limiter again lately which does smooth things out quite nicely into the tri/ram. I used that for years and don’t know why I stopped using it! I must say that your site is an amazing resource, I’ve been reading your articles for some years and really must take my hat off to you. Just need someone to start a Neil Youngish site to cover my two favourite guitarists!!!
Thanks! Cheers :)
Hello Bjorn! I ALWAYS go to your blogs for everything tone related keep up the excellent work and keep replying to posts! So, I have an AC-15C2 with Greenback and an AC-30C2 woth Alnico Blues. Could you please classify these amps based on midrange so I can think through all the drive pedals I have to see what fits best? In other words are these scooped mids? Any other classifying you can do is appreciated. I play in a worship band and mostly rely on my pedals for what I need. I would like the AC15 louder at clean volumes but I know that is not its design. And the AC30 is being shipped today so I have no experience but I know I will get louder clean volume and more headroom. If you feel like elaboration that’d be great! Thanks man!
What I mean was I was just a little confused when you said “fixed” midrange and the described it together with the Fender. Which, to me would mean scooped mids, but fixed could mean “boosted”?
They don’t have a dedicated mid range control so you would have to roll back the treble and bass to make room for the mid range. The more treble and bass you got, the more scooped the mid range will be. Fender amps do have a mid range control, usually, but they are designed to have less mid range than your typical Marshall or Hiwatts. Obvioulsy there are differences within the Fender range.
Hi Bruce! The Vox AC amps are a bit of both. They don’t have a lot of mid range and compression so based on that I don’t recommend them for the typical Gilmour pedals, like Muffs, fuzz etc… However, when you crank these amps and roll back the tone controls you get a lot of mid range and compression but you’d have to play very loud, which is probably not something you’d do in a bedroom setup. Brian May did that and he got those smooth tones. For Vox amps I would go for pedals with mid range.
Hi Bjorn, this is very interesting – I play a tele through a Kelley compressor –> tube screamer –>’66 fender Super Reverb setup, and kind of just assumed that that combination isn’t condusive to fuzz. any rec on equalizer?
Well, my point was that there are no wrong or bad tones. One pedal can sound very different on different gear and some like what they hear. Others don’t. There is no reason why you can’t have a fuzz on your setup but it might not sound as smooth and fat on your Super Reverb as it would on a Marshall or Hiwatt, since Fender amps tend to have less mid range and compression.
I don’t know if i got you right, but are you saying there is no way to play with Fuzz on a fender scooped amp?
No EQ or mid booster can help? i have a Fender Super Champ x2 which i can connect to pc and play around with the level of it’s mid range, could that help me get a better tone of fuzz on fender?
Thanks a lot man and lots of love!
No, you can very well use fuzz and Big Muffs with Fender amps. Lots of well known guitarists has but it’s a different sound. David’s combination of Hiwatts and fuzz pedals produce a smooth compressed tone but on a Fender you will get a brighter tone, less compression and, depending on the amp, often more harmonics. It’s just a different sound but since most people here wants that Gilmour tone, I recommend other pedals than can emulate that mid rangy and compressed sound. You can comensate to some degree with compressors and EQs and some Fenders are more scooped than others.
thanks so much for the information!
do you have any suggestions for pedals of that kind? may i ask you to name a few?
Tube Screamer, OCD or BD2 for overdrive and RAT or OCD for distortion… to name a few…
In my opinion, the closest way to tailor the sound to match certain level of mids while you don’t loose all the sparkle is to split the signal to two different OD in parallel, one mid only like tube screamer and one more transparent like Vick Audio overdriver and balance out the tone. Then merge the signals. You may need a final EQ preferably with a high quality parametric EQ. With this setup you can create a certain response close to what a mid sounding high-mid compressed tone amp like Hiwatt would give. But it’s always hard to emulate the response of the amp since the tube amplification behaviour is different than transistor. You may end up either being happy or finding alternative useful expressions anyway. ðŸ˜€
I’d like to chime in bc I run a Big Muff deluxe through a Deluxe Reverb and it sounds awesome (to me.) first, the deluxe big muff has a 2nd “midrange sweep” channel that lets you add mids back into the pedal, which really helps.
but i also use the tube-screamer as an always-on, essentially 2nd channel, to the amp. i have it set to push or compress the clean a bit. first, it makes the amp itself sound richer. but it —-really—- makes the Big Muff explode. it tightens the bottom, makes the top more searing, makes chords more articulate — i would say that if you’re going to use a big muff through a fender, adding a tube-screamer is, imho, almost essential.
short answer, it’s definitely possible to get top-notch fuzz through a fender, u just have to put a few lego pieces together to make it work :)
Hi there, great article.
If I have a big muff pedal that does not go well with my clean amp, can I correct that with an EQ pedal? In order to bring the mids up I guess is what I mean.
Any thoughts would be appreciated, thank you!
Depends on the amp. What you’re looking for is a combination of a bit of mid range and compression. I usually recommend something a bit more versatile than a Muff for amps lacking mid range.
Great article and info Bjorn!!!
Since you mentioned the POD X3….would you add anything in front of it….or after it…I.e. Would a deluxe Big Muff be useful for gilmourish tone used with the X3?
I sometimes add modulation pedals but rarely gain pedals. For recording I think Big Muffs especially just sound way too aggressive regardless of what amp sim you use. Perhaps it the input impedance… I don’t know.
I have a cuple of Australian made amps, Strauss. Fender Strat, Shecter Fastback PT Special Diamond Series, Les Paul.
Here are the specs for these nice Aussie amps:
I have a MXR Dynacomp, Fulltone OCD, Marshall BB-2, Ibanez Tube Screamer (80’s model I think), Joyo Deluxe Crunch, Crybaby, a Big Muff Pi (NYC re-issue) and a few mods (Mooer E-Lady, CE-2, Phase 90, Modtone Harmonic Tremolo) and delays (DD7, RV-3, Mooer Reecho) and a Mooer Shimverb
Any thoughts on a Booster to get something like David’s tone? If I need to get a new amp, what would you suggest for under $1,000?
SO far, my tone isn’t bad. The EQ needs tweaking, I think, it lacks focus and punch.
I’m not familiar with these amps so I can’t really comment on them. Punch and focus is often the result of amp settings, pedal settings, the right combo of pedals for that specific amp etc. In most cases it’s all about knowing your gear and spedning some time with the controls. As for the booster it depends on the voicing of the amp, as described in this feature but the Boss BD2 is hard to beat for versatility.
Thanks Bjorn. Those amps are made in China, the design is a fairly straight copy of the old Aussie manufactured Strauss, which itself was a fairly decent clone of Fender Tweed Deluxe. SO “Aussie” is not quite right, but Strauss sill always be Australian to me.
It’s fairly scooped, but you can compensate for that with EQ and boosters.
I agree, BD2 is great, my guy offered me a Waza Craft BD2 today. I might take it, they work well with Tube Screamers and are pretty versatile.
Bjorn, Is there a list somewhere, or a resource somewhere, which would tell me, (speaking of Overdrives/Gain/Boost pedals etc.) which ones are set up/designed to be “scooped mid” and which one “ADD mids” to the tone? For instance, I know that a TS-9 circuit is going to give me a nice mid-range boost for when I really need it to cut through the mix right? But that’s all I know it seems. Maybe if I told you what I had you could classify them ad MID BOOST or MID SCOOPED?
Fulltone FullDrive 2?
MXR il Torino
Pigtronics FAT Drive
Nano Big Muff
Blues Driver Waza
Wampler dB+ boost/buffer
When I am not playing super clean, I like to have a 3 stage overdrive section that I can hit a clean boost when I need to no matter if I am using 1, 2 or all three drives at the same time. I try for that Vintage classic rock dirty but not SUPER dirty, Dirty but clean dirty if that makes sense? Can ya help? Thanks, BL
Check out the overdrive and distortion guide. The booster pedals are scooped (little mid range), while the overdrives, starting with the Wampler PlexiDrive on the list, has more mid range and compression. The Tube Screamer is on the far end of the mids boost scale, with lots of cutting mid range and compression. The RAT is similar, while stuff like the Muff, old fuzz pedals etc has very little mid range and compression. I’m not familiar with all your pedals but you should be able to categorize them based on my list and product descriptions.
Hi, Bruce! Don’t forget the Keeley Super Phat Mod Overdrive. It’s around USD 150.00 and its results are awesome in my opinion. Best regards”
Great article Bjorn, a very clear starting point for basic guitar sound. I have followed your advice and playing with a Blues Jr (Fat switch on) + Tele/SG + Ananashead custom silicon FuzzFace (with low end cut at 9) / RAT / Vick Audio Rams Head (Flat position) + TC Sparks Booster (flat with bass at 11 and treble at 1). Since then I have had no issues cutting through a band mix both live and recording. Big thanks!
Hi Bjorn, really great article.
I’m thinking to buy Mesa Boogie Lonestar special (or Classic), Mesa Express 5:50 plus, Mesa Rectoverb, Blackstar HT Club 40 or Fender Hot Rod Deluxe iii. I have Seymour Duncan 805 overdrive ( Tube screamer-ish), True tone Jelykk n Hyde overdrive distortion and JHS Muffuletta. Did you have a chance to try 805 and Muffuletta with these amps and for your opinion which amp can be the best for Gilmourish sound? ( I heard the Mesa Boogies are mid scooped amps so it’s not good for Muffuletta but I guess Lonestars has more mid range. Because of this reason I think Lonestar can be good for the job or Hot Rod Deluxe iii or Blackstar. What do you think? )
All of these are pretty mids scooped and closer to a Fender than Marshall although the Lonestar has some channel options for tones coser to an early Marshall JTM/Fender Bassman kind of thing. Eitherway, I think your 805 would go nicely with these amps and I think the Muffuletta would do nicely too, although you might want to consider a slightly more mids oriented distortion, like the Rat or OCD.
Congrats on your new CD!!
Are the BYOC Large Beaver Ramshead and the Throback Overdrive Boost a good match?
Thank you! Yes, given the right amp that’s a killer combo :)
Thank you again for providing such a wonderful resource and for taking the time and trouble to share your experience and knowledge. Although I’ve played the guitar for a lot of years, I’m new to playing electrics and in particular lead/solo and so I’m trying to soak in as much as I can.
I’ve had a early 90s Schecter Strat which I’ve just started trying to play in earnest. I believe it has a Schecter super rock bridge pickup ( humbucker ) and schecter monster tone pickups for the middle and bridge. All 3 pickups are tappable.
I have an old fender champion 110 ( Solid State ) which was not bad for cleans but which I was struggling to get any decent driven sounds out of at my home levels. Based on a lot of what I have read on your site and some youtube reviews etc I am now the proud owner of a Laney L5T and LT112 CAB ( as of yesterday! ) and although I have a lot to learn I can tell that the amp has so many more tone possibilities.
Pedalwise, I have an old Boss DD-3 Delay, a Vick Audio Tree of Life and one of the MXR 74 re-issue Phase 90 Script ( CSP026 ) – the last two are recent purchases…
I’m still trying hard to listen and figure out how to make a good tone.
I really liked your tone on ( and review of ) the Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head but at the moment I’m not getting close to that kind of tone.
Given that you are pretty familiar with most of the gear I am using, do you think that the kind of tone you have on the 73 Ram’s Head should be achievable with what I have?
Or do I need to consider adding Big Muff like the Ram’s Head or Pig Hoof, possibly a compressor and possibly a booster ( or is my TOL fine for that? )
I know that the musician makes the music, not the gear, and for sure I have a big learning curve not just with amps and pedals in general but also with solo/lead as my mostly entirely acoustic experience to this point has taught me decent rhythms/chords/finger picking but lead is a different kettle of fish I’m finding…
Thanks again for sharing your time and knowledge and love of music with us all.
Hi Craig. The Lionheart has less mid range than Hiwatts and the Reeves that I’m using but the Vick has the 3-way mid switch that will compensate. I often use these settings on the amp: bright mode, drive mode, drive 1.5, drive volume as desired, bass 100%, mids 100%, treble off and tone off. This will provide a fairly dark tone but with a lot of mid range and low end. Try these settings on your Ram’s Head: gain 2 o’clock, tone 11 o’clock, volume 1.30 o’clock and the mid switch at either flat or boost. This should give you a start and make the needed adjustments for your room, guitar and taste.
Hi Bjorn, Thanks for your reply – I hope you had a good relaxing holiday!
Sorry I was rambling a bit above there, I don’t have a Ram’s Head – I’m trying to figure out where to go next to get more tone variations and control.
I only have one booster / overdrive which is the TOL and so I was thinking about either getting something like the Ram’s Head or Pig Hoof to use in tandem with the TOL, or if I might be better off looking to a compression pedal.
Your CDs arrived today thankyou. I’ve only had a chance for a quick listen though Lullabies so far but some great tones and soundscapes on it.
Thank you, Craig! I would definitely consider the ’73 Ram’s Head. It will go nicely with your current set up.
As always there is some great stuff here….I can get lost for days on your website. My question is have you ever tried the Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal? I had heard it would work well with my bedroom setup of an Orange Crush cr60 with the black strat setup, and it is a great pedal on any amp. The amp is a solid state, but it has very tube like qualities such as it is very sensitive to volume. I do have a POD HD500, and it has many overdrive and distortion models, but I am curious if I should go down the rabbit hole of pursuing actual pedals, or if it would be redundant. I also can’t demo the pedal in question because guitar center does not carry it. I would look to pair it up with a Vick Audio 73 Rams Head. Thanks.
Thanks for your kind words, Frank! Yes, the OCD is one of my favourites and I use it all the time. It’s very versatile and I often recommend it as an allround overdrive/distortion and as a pedal that sond great on pretty much any amp and setup. Well worth checking out and in any case, a fine adition to your Pod.
Welcome, Bjorn. I am also looking at the skreddy p19 based on your review. It seems like a kind of “all in one” pedal minus the mistress and delay. My favorite tones of all are the 1977 Animals live tones. Even though I can only hear it on bootleg, there is just something about that guitar tone on Dogs, and Pigs especially that the Tele just cuts through your soul and there is nothing like it, or ever will be. So like you, I think the late 70s was some of Gilmour’s best lead work ever. Thanks again for bringing all this great info to the world, and saving us Gilmour-heads alot of time and money!
Man- this article was an AMAZING conclusion to a lot the crap I’ve been learning about recently. It also made me look up Pedal Genie which seems both genius and dangerously addictive-
I’m really out of luck here. I honestly can’t tell which pedal is better for my amp and I don’t have the money to buy 2 pedals and try both. It is a Peavey Envoy solid state amp but I can’t tell where it stands mids wise.
I think the amp offer a bit of both, with some mids scoop on the higher gain settings and a fairly mid rangy crunch and clean tone. Anyway, for a solid state amp I would go for something versatile like a Boss BD2, Fulltone OCD, Rat distortion etc. They always sound great and there are lots of clones out there and cheaper copies that are worth checking out, like the Mooers. You could also try some of the more demanding pedals like fuzz, Muff and vintage style overdrives but I don’t think will fit the amp as good as the others I’ve suggested.
Thank you! I will try those
This website is really helpful. I’m currently playing with a Kemper and going through tons of profiles of amps in order to find tones I really like. Some amps stand well on their own, but I’d like to join the pedal game just for fun. I recently profiled my dad’s ’69 Fender Super Reverb with a e609 and it turned out great for clean, jangly, Strat playing. The tubescreamer really works well with it too. From this website, I understand why now so I really appreciate that, Bjorn.
One amp sound that has caught my attention over the years is Warren Haynes Soldano sound. How would you classify that? I know he uses a Klon and I’m trying to figure out why those pair well.
The Soldano SLO100 is based on the Fender Bassman and early Mesa/Boogie cirquits. That’s probably why it goes so well with the Klon, which compensates for some of the mid range and compression these amps lack in comparison with the more modern Marshalls.
Nice post! Very useful insights. Thanks.
I run a large beaver (triangle) into a mesa .50 caliber (EL84’s) with a Fender Strat Standard. If I understand it correctly, the amp should be characterised as scooped, correct? Theoretically I should boost the (higher?) mids to get more useful tone out of the beaver and preferably additional compression? Or should I back off a bit with the compression due to the gainy character of the amp? Reason I am asking, is that I have a hard time taming and shaping the beaver pedal. It is very smooth, but lacks bite and definition. It sounds too much like an all open fuzz. Should I take the time and convert the pedal to the Rams Head version? I have got a parametric eq pedal, I wonder if that could help? Thanks in advance for any advise you have. Kind regards, Joshua
I haven’t tried a Muff with the .50 caliber but yes, it’s a Fender-ish scooped amp. I would be careful using compression with a Muff because although fairly open sounding (square wave), that much gain will sound choked if it’s compressed too much. You could try to boost the 400Hz and the 7k area to compensate some.
WHAT OVERDRIVE PEDAL FOR A FENDER VIBRO KING?
For David’s tones I would suggest something with boosted mids and some compression.
Fantastic article – summarizes nicely what one needs to know about guitar tone
Thanks for such a great article! This is my #1 go to site for help understanding my guitar, amp, and pedals (I’m new at the guitar and just learning).
I have the chance to buy a Laney Cub 15 head or a Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18 but unsure of which one I should pull the trigger on…I am new to all this and get a bit confused with Mids Scooped/Boosted, Compressed/Uncompressed with the amps and pedals…Can you classify which is which for these amps? I would like to use my pedals that I have but willing to make adjustments if needed. I have a new bk butler, pro co Rat, and a nano big muff, and can use an Boss EQ as well. I seem to like the Laney Cub head sound the best…Any direction would be helpful – Thanks
Hi Thomas! I would say that both amps are fairly compressed and mid rangy. The Cub has a more vintage flavour, close to the early Marshalls with a hint of Vox and Hiwatt. Typically British. The H&K has a much more modern and pristine tone. The clean channel can get you close to a scooped uncompressed Fender and Vox but the drive channel sounds very much like a compressed mid rangy Marshall. For David’s stuff I would probably go for the Cub but the H&K is perhaps a more verstaile amp and definitely more relieable.
I just starter looking at Laney Lionheart amps. They look amazing and sound great on some of the you tube clips on the internet. You talked a little about them in your article. Do you mind expanding a little about these amps. Are they basically a combination of compressed amps and mid boosted amps with their clean tone and overdrive? (Fender clean and Marshall overdrive). I mainly play blues and a little of blues rock. I would love you to discuss them a little further if you don’t mind. what pedals would work with these amps best?Thanks for the great article! I learned a lot from it.
I’m planning a bigger review and I’ve talked a lot about the amp on the site, so do a quick search. The clean channel is close to a Voc AC, although you got much more low end and a bit more mids. The gain channel is very close to the JTM/Bassman circuit. You can hear some of all of these amps but I would say that it’s a unique circuit and the fact that you go two channels, bright and normal and a 3-band EQ makes it much more versatile.
God, this is a really nice article u have made! Great!
Hi BjÃ¸rn! Love this site with all your reviews, and a big fan of your music too.
I have a question though. How do you think the Mojo Hand Colossus will match a Laney IRT Studio? I think the clean channel on the IRT Studio is pretty close to the Lionheart. I use it with a Laney 2×12 V30 cab, and only for home recording. :)
Thanks! See my previous reply :)
Very enlightening article. I recently purchased a 68 Custom Princeton Reverb. It has a Celestion speaker and I read it has a little more mids than typical Fenders. So I’m wondering how a Big Muff would sound paired with this particular amp. Have you by chance tried this amp? I also have a min Tube Screamer that I can use to bump the mids even more if you think that would give me more of that smooth and creamy Big Muff sound.
It won’t sound as smooth and creamy as with a Hiwatt or Marshall but certainly more than a Twin. With the right amp settings and maybe a booster placed after the Muff for a bit of tone shaping, you should be able to get some nice tones. I’d go for a Sovtek-style Muff for the warmest and smoothest tones, like the Vick 1861 or Buffalo Patriot.
I just received my buffalo evolution (Nice pedal !) but…
I also have the Effectrode PC-2A just behind, and the tube driver after. My amp is a laney cub head.
I have set my amp like in your article “What is tone” (presence / tone 7.5, master volume 5, bass 4, middle 4, treble 2.5, gain / pre-volume 2)
I find that the buffalo lacks “balls” and bass (even by increasing the bass of the amp).
I would like to get most sounds from Rattle that lock live / In any tongue live.
How do you set the amp with this pedal? For the front effectrode, I set Reduction and gain at noon. THANKS !
Hi! The settings I’ve listed are meant as a starting point, so if needed, you should always make adjustments to match your room, guitar and pedals. If you lack low end, then turn up the bass and mids and perhaps lower the tone a bit. The Evolution does have less low end that a Muff, which is waht you want in a band setup but it might sound thin in a bedroom.
Great article as usual and this echoes what That Pedal Show guys Mick and Dan’s been saying. Two thumbs up.
Yep, love that show!
Amplifierss, most of them, are expensive for many of us “just to make experiences”. That’s why, I think, electronic emulations (of amps, all sort of pedals and so on) are becoming more and more popular. Maybe some hardware like Kemper’s and Line 6’s Helix are expensive, they provide a wide variaty of resources if we compare to “physical” hardware (expensive amps, pedals etc.) when connected to a “clean input” of a non-valved amp (or even personal computer with a good sound card and good speakers).I know that what is mentioned here is “not for purists”, but most of us use some kind of “emulation gadged” (like Line 6’s Pods etc.) and software emulated effects… For me, the great advantage of a good pedalboard is the possibility of creating and saving patches for each of our favorite songs. Some like Helix also have 04 send-return entries for our favorite “physical pedals” (or pedal’s chains…). Best regards!
I was wondering what your thoughts are on the effectrode blackbird preamp.I was considering getting their tube drive,but for a small increase in price I could get the blackbird,which actually seems like it could could do pretty much the same thing and more.
I’m using a custom shop 60s strat through a fender super champ xd.
I haven’t tried it so I can’t really tell. It does look like, as you say, that it can cover the Tube Driver and more but again, I’m not the one to ask. I’d send a mail to Phil to get some insights.
This article gives me direction in search of tone. Recently I joined a band and noticed that my setup didn’t cut through the mix. (Sold my gear 5 yeas ago except guitar, started from scratch for this band again).
For auditioning I used a recently acquired 100w solid state preamp/tube power amp, a Carlton high gain series II combo, with my Japanese strat/humbucker Bill Lawrence xl500.
The clean channel was ok but the gain channel sounded thin in the band with another guitar player playing a EVH Wolfgang guitar, a Marshall JVM top/cabinet and a few boutique pedals, most noticeable an MXR modified overdrive with a bump/mid boost.
I got the gig and had the combo retubed/bias fixed. While waiting at few weeks I needed an amp and stumbled upon a VOX AC100CPH head, I also acquired a TC electronics NOVA system. ( I needed some guitar gear)
At second rehearsal I ran the VOX head through a londoncity 4×12 greenbacks cab (cab belongs to rehearsal room) and again I noticed a thin sounding gain channel. More noticeable is that the TC electronics nova drive cuts through the band in combination with the clean channel. The nova system overdrive emulates an tubescreamer I think.
Recently I read that the VOX amp will behave differently when the master is set low and the channel volumes are set high, I gonna try that. The amp is damn loud but the rehearsal space is damn big so that’s a nice setting.
Questions about the thin sound gain channel:
– will a tubescreamer (mid boost) do the trick in combination with the lead channel (low gain setting tube screamer)?
– is an eq more suitable between guitar and amp?
– what are your thoughts in this case, can the guitar pickup be the culprit for a thin sound?
After reading this article I am definitely gonna experiment with tube screamer tones. I opted for an alternative kind of sound because of the standard Marshall midrange honk but that just doesn’t seem practical. I’ m always open for an experiment or alternative sound though.
Thanks in advance and best regards,
(your Gilmourish site rocks, keep it up!)
Hi Gurbz, sorry for my very late reply. This one got caught in the spam filter for some reason. You’ve probably figured it out by now but yes, the VOX will behave differently depending on how you’ve set the volume and EQ controls. Volume is also a key factor. The amp doesn’t have that much mid range and compression, so you need a bit of volume to get the tubes and speakers to create compression and by rolling off the treble, you’ll also get more mids. A Tube Screamer doesn’t have all that much low end but the mid range hump should make the amp sound bigger. In a band setup you don’t want that much low end anyway. You might also want to try the Folltone OCD, which has more gain and low end compared to the Tube Screamer.
Thanks for your reply Bjorn.
I figured a few things out after using an OCD klone and a tubescreamer klone. The AC-30 channel works best with the tubescreamer midhump. The gain channel works best with the OCD distortion, both channels are very usable now. The gain from the amp stays fizzy so it’s pedals for me.
It’s quite a rig now: using an old BOSS ME-X (the one with three effect loops, filled with a treble booster, TS and distortion), a NUX midi switcher for switching channel VOX in the preset, run through a TC Nova system (midi switched and in pedal mode) to the VOX AC100CPH.
Your article was spot on and gave the right direction, thanks again!
Hey BjÃ¶rn, amazing post. What pedals would you recommend to use on a JCM 900 clean channel as main overdrive/distortion box? Cheers!
Thanks! Sorry for the veeeeery late reply. This one ended up in the spam filter for some reason. You can go with pretty much anything but you might find taht mid rangy pedals like the TS, Rat, OCD etc might sound a bit too dark or “boxy”. It all depends on what tones you prefer but I’d probably go with something like a Boss BD or similar, which has a fairly transparent tone but a nice compression and a slight mids hump.
Hey Bjorn! I Have spent many a quiet hour at work trawling through your website and you have definitely played a major role in helping me to find my tone, so thank you! I can tell you that without articles such as this one I would have made many a mistake in gear purchases. I was lucky enough to receive a Vick 1861 civil war clone this Christmas and the thing is killer, if you haven’t already I would definitely recommend giving it a play. Maybe not as thick and creamy as the patriot but still pretty incredible.
Hi Jimmy! Thanks for the kind words! The 1861 is awesome! I’ll have a review up very soon :)
Hi Bjorn ! play a Fender standard strat into a Vox ac4tv. Usually play in my bedroom. What do you think would be the best choice on drive pedal and a high gain pedal ? I’ve got a Boss blues driver and a Carl Martin fuzz but after reading your recommendations on amps-pedal relations article, maybe is not the best sound that I can get. I was thinking on a Ibanez ts9 or od808, Boss Sd1, ehx soul food, ocd, rat. Something like that. What d’you think ? Thanks a lot !.
How does your current setup sound to your ears? My feature is not meant to cause doubt but to explain any issues you might have :) Fuzz pedals might not be the best choice for that amp although I think the BD2 would do a good job for overdrives. An OCD will cover much of what you want, I’m sure.
Hello there, I just came across this article and I found it very helpful. In terms of your suggested amp/pedal pairings and specifically your suggestion not to use a Big Muff with a Fender amp, can’t the mids-scooped issue with this pairing be compensated for with the use of other pedals? I use a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue and on my pedal board I have (in order): MXR Dyna Comp > EHX Crayon > RAT > Nano Big Muff > EarthQuaker Tone Job. I generally leave the comp on all the time as a low compression/high volume boost and the Tone Job stays on as a mid boost. With the MXR and Tone Job can’t I compensate for any pairing issue with the Big Muff and the Fender? I haven’t noticed a problem with this setup yet but I’m also using the Big Muff as the “nastiest” of my 3 pedals on purpose. Now that I think of it though, when I set the MXR after the Big Muff I get an incredibly loud and powerful sound from my Big Muff. I pretty much a newbie at this so any suggestions are very much appreciated. Thanks!
Well, the important thing is always that you’re comfortable and happy with the tone you get. My point wasn’t that it’s not possible but some amps goes better with some pedals for certain tones. You are describing exactly waht you can do to compensate and the Deluxe is not the most scooped Fender either. To get that super smooth Muff tone you need a bit of compression and mids and you can either get that from the amp or from other pedals.
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.
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.
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.
Oh Jesse, this is so true. I have plenty of gear (too much?) that weren’t instant hits with me. In nearly every case I’ve gone through moments of sheer frustration and disappointment but with diligence and perseverance have found sweet spots for most things.
It is so tempting to rush to mod something because you can always convince yourself that through the investment of your own time and money that there simply MUST be an improvement. It’s a fun hobby but usually you’re on a hiding to nothing.
My Boss CS3 is an exception. I simply couldn’t live with the high noise level combined with a rather unusable sweep of sustain. I found a modding kit on ebay that saved the day and actually taught me a lot about those little sweet coloured components at the same time. Good post.
please what overdrive i need to my fender strat vg and mesa dc5 with eq .i play just in my room. Thanks
It should be answered in this feature but what sort of tones are you looking for?