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Music

The five types of guitar overdrives

I’m kind of a guitar gadget freak, and I’ve bought many guitar pedals over the years. One of the pedals I like to collect the most are overdrives – Overdrives are guitar pedals that cause the amp to breakup – but in a soft clipping way not hard clipping like a distortion or fuzz – soft clipping sounds more natural and pleasant to the ear, which is why I love talking about Overdrives or ODs.

There are a few different types of OD circuit designs over the years – I’m focusing now on the five I consider to be the most popular and common. 90% of the overdrives on the market today are derived from one of these five types.

Tubescreamer type (TS-type)

Image result for ibanez 808
Ibanez TS-808

Arguably the most famous OD type, the Ibanez/Maxon Tubescreamer overdrive circuit is probably the most duplicated and copied circuit. The TS-type OD has a pronounced mid-range and great for stacking with other more transparent OD types, although due to its pronounced nature, will often become the dominant colored OD if you stack it. The Boss OD-1 and its variants are also very similar to the TS circuit.

The original: Ibanez TS-808, Ibanez TS-9, Maxon OD808, Maxon OD9

Copies/variations: Boss OD-3, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, Seymour Duncan 805, BBE Green Screamer, EHX East River Drive, Ibanez Nu Tube Screamer, Keeley Red Dirt Overdrive, JHS Moonshine, Fuchs Cream II, Wampler Clarksdale, Maxon ST9, MXR GT-OD, Maxon TOD9, T-rex Diva Drive, Earthquaker Dunes, Walrus Warhorn, Way Huge Green Rhino

Blues Driver/Full-Range type (BD-type)

Image result for boss bd 2
Boss BD-2

The Boss BD-2 Blues Driver circuit is also known as a ‘full range overdrive’ circuit, and is quite different from a TS-type. The BD-type OD can go from cleans to full on distortion or even fuzz territory in some variations. This type of OD is one of the most versatile types you can get. One of the most famous variations of this circuit is the Chandler/BK Butler Tube Driver which is basically a full-range overdrive with a built in 12AX7 preamp tube, adding tube compression. This variation has itself spawned numerous other pedal clones and variations.

The original: Boss BD-2, Boss-BD2W

Copies/Variations: Keeley Super Phat Mod, Fulltone OCD, Chandler/BK Butler Tube Driver, EHX Crayon, Hermida Dover Drive, MXR FET Driver, Walrus Voyager, Seymour Duncan Forza, Maxon VOP9, Maxon TBO9

Dumble-type (D-type)

Image result for hermida zendrive
Hermida Zendrive

Although this OD type is technically based on an amp (the Dumble amp), the pedal which popularized this type of OD circuit is the Hermida Zendrive which is a pedal that is essentially a ‘Dumble in a box’ that attempts to give you the warm breakup, touch response, and smooth compression of playing a $100k Dumble amp. Although the Analogman King of Tone and Fulltone Fulldrive came before the Zendrive, I put them in the same bucket of extremely touch responsive tube-like overdrives. D-type pedals tend to be more transparent then TS-type or BD-type pedals, but not as transparent as K-type pedals.

The original: Lovepedals/Hermida Zendrive

Copies/Variations: Analogman King/Prince of Tone, Paul Cochrane Timmy, MXR Timmy, Wampler Euphoria, MXR Shinjuku Drive, Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Fuchs Plush Drive, JHS Morning Glory, Earthquaker Westwood, Way Huge Overrated Special, Kingsley Maiden D, Greer Special Request, Ethos TWE-1

Klon Centaur type (K-type)

Image result for klon centaur
Klon Centaur

Ah yes, the K-type OD. This circuit was made popular by the Klon Centaur which was a pedal hand built by a man named Bill Finnegan. This pedal became very rare and sought after after famous artists like John Mayer and Warren Haynes used it and now it fetches high premiums in the used market. The signature tone of the K-type pedal is that its very transparent. It does not have the mid-range hump like a TS-type nor does it break up into distortion/fuzz territory like the BD-type. This transparent feature makes it ideal for stacking with other ODs. The Paul Cochrane Timmy pedal, is a very similar transparent touch-responsive pedal that I would put in the same category.

The original: Klon Centaur, Klon KTR

Copies/Variations: J Rockett Archer, Mythos Mjolnir, Wampler Tumnus/Deluxe, Keeley Oxblood, MXR Sugar Drive, EHX Soul Food, Way Huge Conspiracy Theory, Ceriatone Centura

Marshall Plexi/Bluesbreaker type (M-type)

Image result for marshall bluesbreaker pedal
Marshall Bluesbreaker

The Marshall-type OD is basically a pedal that tries to emulate a Marshall amp in a box, usually a Bluesbreaker amp or Plexi amp. Just like the D-type, the M-type is essentially a pedal in a box type OD, but is common enough for me to include here. The “original” is the Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal by Marshall themselves, but since then have been numerous copies and variations trying to get a Marshall in a box type sound. These pedals usually have a high amount of gain on tap due to it being based on iconic amps that were pushed to high distortion by the famous bands that used them.

The original: Marshall Bluesbreaker

Copies/Variations: Lovepedals Purple Plexi, Wampler Plexi-Drive, RambleFX Marvel Drive, Keeley El Rey Dorado, Keeley 1962X, JHS Angry Charlie, JHS Charlie Brown, Xotic SL Drive, Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret, Way Huge Supa Lead, Alexander Silver Jubilee

Categories
Music

Let’s talk about guitar pedals

I’m a gadget freak, everyone knows that. And my love of gadgets extends to guitar pedals.

I go over my setup here, although now my rig has changed slightly. To the non-guitar person, a pedalboard probably looks pretty alien to them: a bunch of contraptions made to set off bombs maybe? All those switches and dials and knobs. But every pedal has a function. Here’s my current setup.

The Boss TU3W tuner is the first pedal in my chain, because 1) I need a good stable tuner and 2) I need a buffered pedal as the first pedal, because if you have a long pedal chain, having ALL true bypass will suck out some of the highs. That’s why the first pedal needs to be buffered. The rest of my pedalboard is true bypass to retain the signal clarity.

My Wah pedal is the BBE Wah. It is a nice simple vintage style wah with a simple Q control, that is it. I didn’t need anything too fancy. I also considered the Vox V847 and the Dunlop Crybaby Clyde McCoy and the Teese Picture Wah.

The Dunlop Echoplex EP101 is my main preamp/booster pedal. I previously had an Xotic EP Booster here, but I stuck with the EP101 because the coloring was not as strong.

I love overdrives. There’s so many overdrives types out there. The Ibanez Tubescreamer style, the Klon Centaur style, the Chandler Tube Driver style, the Fulltone OCD Style, the “Dumble” / Hermida Zendrive style, the Boss Blues Driver style, the Marshall Bluesbreaker style, the Boss SD-1 style, the Marshall Plexi style etc the list goes on and on.

I needed a versatile OD pedal that can do many of these styles. I chose the Keeley Oxblood Germanium for getting the TubeScreamer / Klon Centaur type tones. I also considered the Seymour Duncan 805, Wampler Clarksdale, MXR Sugar Drive, the Fender Santa Ana Overdrive and the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe as they all had 3 band EQ shaping but found that I was keen on just using the pedal’s built in EQ anyways and chose the Keeley.

The second OD pedal I have is the Wampler Euphoria for getting the Dumble / OCD / Tube Driver type of tones. I also considered the Maxon TBO9, MXR Shin-juku Drive, MXR IL Diavolo Drive, MXR FET Driver, Hermida Zendrive, Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Analogman King of Tone and LovePedals Dover Drive but the Euphoria proved the most versatile for my setup.

I have a distortion / OD pedal as well, the RambleFX Marvel Drive which serves me my Marshall Plexi Tones. I also considered the Wampler Plexi Drive, Keeley El Ray Dorado, LovePedals Purple Plexi and Xotic SL Drive but liked the RambleFX the best.

I don’t use any Fuzz (Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Sola Tone Bender are the main fuzz types) as my OD/Dist can often hit Fuzz territory.

I use an analog delay as my main modulation effect. I don’t use any phasers, flangers or chorus effects. The Boss DM2W serves me well here. I also considered the Keeley Magnetic Echo, Maxon AD9, Way Huge Aqua Puss, Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail, Fender Mirror Image Delay, MXR Carbon Copy Bright, Dunlop Echoplex EP103 and Catalinbread BelleEpoch but the Boss won here.

For compressors, I have the nice and compact Xotic SP Compressor. I also considered the Keeley Compressor but I found the Xotic doing just fine.

For reverbs, I have the Keeley Omni Reverb. I like Spring Reverbs the most and I tried the Hermida Reverb and the Catalinbread Topanga before, which are much better spring reverbs, but stuck with the Omni because of the additional versatility, great room + plate settings.

The Boss RC30 rounds out my pedals as a dual track looper pedal. I also considered the Electro Harmonix Memory Man and Digitech Jamman but stuck with the Boss.

And that’s all my pedals I’m using now! I’m running them all into this amp:

The Milkman Amps 1W+. Previously I used a Swart Atomic Jr. I also looked into the Dr Z Mini, Tone King Falcon, VVT Amps Night Owl, Matchless SC Mini, Fender Eric Clapton Signature Vibro Champ, Vox AC4 Handwired and Victoria Amps 518 but I like the Milkman just fine.

Categories
Music

My guitar gear

I’ve played guitar for over 10 years.

Edit: In fact, I’ve also been recording guitar videos for over 8 years! Here’s a compilation of those videos since 2006 all the way up to the current year 2014.

httpv://youtu.be/VJAg6cacWOQ

I’ve played Stratocasters, Les Pauls, Flying Vs, even 12 string and double-necked guitars, but here’s what I have right now (Jul 2014):

The big news is that I got a Gretsch White Penguin a few weeks ago in immaculate condition. I love this guitar.

Gretsch White Penguin
Gretsch White Penguin

Gretsch White Penguin
Gretsch White Penguin

I’ve been wanting to have this guitar ever since I saw a Gretsch White Falcon being used in the anime Beck, and the White Penguin combines a smaller body with the amazing gold finish of the Falcon. How does it sound? I did a review here:

httpv://youtu.be/pj0Ote5_cs8

Here are my other musical instruments:

Guitars

Fender American Relic Stratocaster (custom)

Fender American Relic Stratocaster
Fender American Relic Stratocaster

I’ve been playing this guitar for about 5 years now. It’s a reliced Fender Stratocaster body with an American standard neck (not a vintage neck), with custom handwound Alnico V/III pickups from Rumpelstiltskin. Great guitar, nitro finish, I’ll probably keep this one forever.

Martin OMJM

Martin OMJM
Martin OMJM

The Martin OMJM is my primary acoustic guitar, and being a big fan of John Mayer, I had to have his acoustic sounds. It’s great. Electric Acoustic and with Englemann Spruce top – you can see it in action in many of my youtube recordings.

Amps

Traynor YCV40

Traynor YCV40
Traynor YCV40

Had this one for about 5 years too. All tube, 40 watt amp. I custom installed a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker in it, which makes the tone very very sweet with lots of highs.

Swart Atomic Jr

Swart Atomic Jr
Swart Atomic Jr

This is my main amp, it’s a class A 5 watt all tube amp including the rectifiers. It’s got an amazing amount of reverb for such a small thing, and a hot/cool switch to toggle between more highs and more mids. A great small studio amp that I can use for years to come.

Vox Mini5

Vox Mini5
Vox Mini5

I like Vox, my first amp ever was a Vox Valvetronic 30 watter, so when I needed a busking amp to go to Korea with, I chose the 5 watt Vox, which is pretty decent for a battery powered amp.

Pedals

My preference in pedals have varied greatly over the years. I’ve had Electro Harmonix, Voxes, Danelectros, Digitechs, Bosses, MXRs, Behringers, Dunlops, Visual Sounds, etc but here are my current pedals:

BBE Two Timer

BBE Two Timer
BBE Two Timer

This is a pretty good analog delay. It has two different delays which are both adjustable, and BBE makes some good quality, good value pedals. I’ll probably keep this as my main delay pedal.

BBE Ben Wah

BBE Ben Wah
BBE Ben Wah

While I’ve played Dunlop Crybabys and Vox Wahs, the BBE Wah is the best value for the money. A great sounding vintage style wah, at about half the price of a vintage Vox or Crybaby wah. Great pedal.

Digitech Hendrix Pedal

Digitech Hendrix Pedal
Digitech Hendrix Pedal

I’ve had this pedal on and off for a long time, since my high school days. Since I grew up idolizing Jimi Hendrix, it makes sense why I had this pedal so early on. It’s been discontinued now, but I still keep it as a pedal that does a pretty darn good job of recreating classic Jimi sounds like the Univibe, Octavia and Fuzz Face.

Maxon TBO9

Maxon TBO9
Maxon TBO9

This pedal is very interesting as I don’t use it strictly as an overdrive. It’s both a booster and an overdrive, powered by a miniature tube, and is best in combination with other overdrives and distortions. I use it mainly to beef up my tone, but by itself it doesn’t get a lot of distortion. But man, what a great tone.

MXR Modified OD

MXR Modified OD
MXR Modified OD

This is my main overdrive, and in combination with the Maxon, pushes the amp to breakup very easily. This overdrive is incredibly versatile, it has a 15db boost on it, and you can choose the 100Hz cutoff to shape the frequencies, which makes the sound totally different. Very versatile pedal.

MXR Custom Comp

MXR Custom Comp
MXR Custom Comp

You know, I’ve gone many years without using a compressor, and now that I have one, I can’t go back. The compressor keeps the same sound you have, but makes it more consistent, you just feel like someone just mastered your guitar sound in a studio. It can also increase or decrease your total playing volume yet keeping the overdrive constant, so I use it to play rock songs at a low volume. Great pedal, should have bought it earlier.

Boss RC3 Looper

Boss RC3 Looper
Boss RC3 Looper

I also had the Boss RC2 Looper pedal, and I kind of preferred the drum beats on that pedal to this one. But the RC3’s advantage is that it has 99 slots for storing your music, and you can hook it up to your computer to transfer .WAV files for looping, which is a great feature. It also records from AUX input.

Hardwire Chromatic Tuner

Hardwire Chromatic Tuner
Hardwire Chromatic Tuner

What can I say? It’s a tuner, it does its job, its a basic requirement for guitarists.

And lastly…

Casio Celviano Digital Piano

 Casio Celviano Digital Piano
Casio Celviano Digital Piano

This is my piano whenever I need a piano recording, and it does a pretty good job for the price, which was $800 when I bought it.