Keeping Overdrive Alive!

Discussion in 'Effects & Stompboxes' started by SAguitar, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. SAguitar

    SAguitar Active Member

    Hi, I'm Stan and I am addicted to Overdrive pedals. I don't even know how many I own, but I generally have at least four on my pedalboard. And I swap them out occasionally, and go through the usual rearranging them in an order where they might work best together. You see, I often start songs with one of them on, and that will be my "base" tone. Then as the song progresses, I'll kick one on, and then another, and then here comes the solo and suddenly they all have their little LEDs lit up and rockin'. Then the crescendo usually comes down and I turn a few off (or not).

    Anyway, for years my base tone has been just using a Boss Blues Driver BD-2 (Keeley modified) as my go-to lead off hitter. For several years, I have been comfortable there, using just a bit of crunch on it and playing through an amp set very clean, with a lot of head room. And all of my other drive/distortion pedals have fallen after the BD-2. Well, last week, I decided to put the BD-2 near the end of the chain and crank it up for more of a distorted lead sound. The result was something I have been seeking for a long time. One of the BD-2's nicest qualities is its dynamics and how it cleans up when you roll the guitar's volume down a little. Plus, it lets the character of your guitar shine through quite nicely even when pushed near its limits.

    With the Blues Driver further down the line, I decided to use my Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive (also Keeley modified) for the first position. It is a stompbox that can also go from a light crunch to a good distortion, but it has an extra control that can dial back in the clean signal to balance the two. I have it now set up so it is most often "on" all the time.

    The next stompbox in the chain is a Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive v2, and it is set up for a moderately heavy overdriven tone, since it likes to roar. And the last OD in my setup is a Boss FDR-1 '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb pedal. It has a bit of sentimental value since I got it from Jim, a friend who used to be on this board and went by the handle Rockwannabe. He has since passed on, so I keep that one on my floorboard in his memory. I have it set up to add just a bit of overdrive, and a good dose of Fender Reverb to add some depth to things when I need it. Thanks Jim, you're still with us.

    At any rate, this last weekend I was happier with my various overdrive tones and how they worked together than I have been in a long time. And you know how guitarists can be frustrated with chasing tones through the jungle. I don't know how long this sense of satisfaction will last, but for right now it's feeling pretty good.

    Stay tuned, Stan
  2. johnreardon

    johnreardon Active Member


    what amp are you using? Only asking as I wondered whether you just tried using the amp for overdrive, assuming it's a valve amp.

    I never use pedals, just plug in and I sometimes wonder if guitarists, using them, realise that often the audience just hear a blurred distorted noise. The guitarist on stage thinks it's a great sound and often it's really not. :D

    The other guitarist in my band suffers from this. I just wish he would plug straight into his amp as he plays some great stuff that's ruined by overuse of his pedals.

    Still, I could never use pedals as I wouldn't be able to work out which thing to press when I'm playing :biggrin:
  3. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    John I think it all depends on which pedals you use and how much gain you've got on them. I have a modified tube screamer that I use to give the amp some kick at lower volumes. I set it up to give the amp a bit of hair and if I turn up the guitar a dig in, I can make it sing. Now that I have my Katana SS amp I have to play around with it as I'm using the built in Blues Driver setting on it and so far, I'm liking it.

    Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk
  4. johnreardon

    johnreardon Active Member

    You are probably right Rob.

    I have just got back from a first rehearsal with some guys and the singer/guitarist was using a tube screamer and a reverb pedal, going into his valve amp. It was a Bugera 50w head driving 2x12s. The sound he was getting was to be honest awful.

    Anyway at the end he asked me if I wanted a go of his guitar, which he had made. I tried it first going through my Orange Dual Terror driving a Marshall 4x12 (which was the studios). It sounded a ton better than when he played through his pedal.

    I then plugged straight into his amp, not into the pedals which were supposedly on bypass, with the amp controls exactly the same and this sounded way better than what he was getting. Even he couldn't believe the sustain and overdrive with no pedals.

    It must be my old ears. I like to hear a Les Paul playing essentially clean until you whop up the guitar volumes
  5. SAguitar

    SAguitar Active Member

    I totally agree with you, John. At home, when I play I generally go through a little 5 watt Epiphone Valve Junior amp and it is small enough that I can set it up to be just on the edge of crunch and let my guitar's volume control the overdrive. And that's what I do, just enjoying that direct connection with the amplifier.

    In my band situation though, which is at church, I have to be able to instantly switch between several very different tones for each song, and often between sections of songs. So when I am there, I use a fairly substantial pedal board, and that gives me lots of options.

    The amp I am using at church is one you guys are probably not familiar with, a Visual Sound Workhorse. It is all-tube, and can be run on 6L6GC valves, or a pair of EL34s. It is designed for maximum headroom and to react well with pedals. By itself it gets a pristine clean tone that is close to an old Fender amp tone, close to a Twin Reverb, but not that loud. It is only rated at 35 watts.

    It is not an ideal situation, but this is where I'm at right now, and I likely will be changing stuff up as time goes on.

    Stay tuned, Stan
  6. Infant

    Infant Active Member

    Stan, you need a little 12-15 watt anp,,,Princeton or Blues Jr. as soon as I read 6L6 or EL34 I automatically thought 40watts...too much for church.
  7. BGreene

    BGreene New Member

    I have a Barber Direct Drive (the newer version) and it actually replaced a couple others that I had, including a Tube Screamer. Great drive. Gets the blues, the creamy and the hairy too. Wow, I just realized how stupid that sounds. But it is a good overdrive.
  8. SAguitar

    SAguitar Active Member

    Yeah Rob, my little amp is a bit of overkill, but it is working well because my speaker cab is actually in a room behind the stage. The drumkit is inside a plexiglass cage so not much noise comes out of it either. We all use in-ear monitors to dial up our own personal mix, and after years of using them, I am finally comfortable with using them. Not satisfied, because nothing is like standing in front of amps and enjoying that, but I am comfortable.

    @BGreene - Barber should pay you money for that advertising line, man!
  9. SAguitar

    SAguitar Active Member

    This is what I've got going right now. The Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive and the Boss Blues Driver BD-2 are modified by Keeley. The extra Boss switch is set up as a tap tempo for the Boss Digital Delay DD-7. Everything is currently running at 9v, except the Fulltone OCD which is using 18 volts and loving it.


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