Star Wars recreated for guitar!

If, like me, you are a massive Star Wars fan (I've been told I've seen each of them on the day they were released, I can vouch for Ep. 1,2,3,5 and 6 because I wasn't quite 4 when Ep 4 came out) you'll love this.

Guitarist Cooper Carter has taken the orchestral score of Star Wars, originally written and conducted by John Williams and the performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and arranged and performed it for guitar. Using a Fractal Audio AX8 and a ton of lovely guitars (mainly Ernie Ball Music Man) he's taken every part and played them flawlessly.... My only thought is that I wish he went on to record the Asteroid Field from The Empire Stirkes Back, which would be nothing short of awesome!

Then, of course, there is this. A truly amazing recreation of the Throne Room end credits from Ep, 4: A New Hope by Magnus Lervik - Unfortunately I cannot find any reliable source to determine his signal chain...

I do hope you are as excited about seeing the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens as I am, although as I am laid up awaiting surgery for chronic Sciatica, it has to be now I miss the first day of a new Star Wars movie... I'm hoping that the world doesn't give it all away on social media, but you know, I'm not holding my breath!

Overview of the Triple Wreck Distortion

The Triple Wreck is intended to be a meeting ground of the famous 5150 amps and those great Mesa-Boogie amps known for their high gain aggressive crunch and tight distortion sound. The goal was to have it versatile enough to cover a lot of tonal ground, but still stay true to the characteristics of what makes those amps special and combine the elements into the ultimate high gain distortion. It had to have a flexible EQ structure, and in typically Brian fashion there had to be a switch to give more options to shaping the tone. Last but not least he added a contained boost that could go from a slight standard gain boost to full on fuzz destruction. The result was the Triple Wreck distortion.

Our favorite part of the Triple Wreck is how the bass reacts to the gain level. Many distortion pedals “flub” out as the gain goes up and lose definition, where the Triple Wreck retains that tight bottom end even with the gain maxed. It sounds fantastic no matter what type of pickups you’re using, but it really comes alive with humbuckers on a detuned guitar especially. It’s just a full on hard rock and metal pedal that will melt faces, and at the current time has the most gain of all of our pedals on tap.

 

Controls:Triple Wreck Distortion

Volume: This knob controls the overall output of the distortion. With the volume fully counter-clockwise, there will be no output whatsoever, no matter how high your gain knob is set. Being a distortion, there’s a lot of volume on tap, but it’s designed more for using it as a distortion and not necessarily a boost. Just like most Wampler pedals, unity on the volume knob is dependent on where the gain is set. Lower gain will require the volume to be set higher, and on the flip side with the gain up you could reduce the volume to reach unity. A good place to start is putting the volume at 11am, and adjust the amount of gain you want and your EQ, then set the volume to a bit above unity.

Treble: The knob controls the amount of high end frequencies that are heard on the distortion signal. The amps that this pedal tries to emulate were known for a biting high end presence and aggressive feel, so that’s what Brian wanted to capture in the range of the knob. Counter-clockwise will reduce the amount of high end content, smoothing out the drive and fattening it up a bit. Clockwise will add in some high end content and give your notes some extra clarity and biting sustain that’s great for lead work. Starting at Noon on this knob and adjusting from there to match your guitar and amp is the best advice. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of highs in there to cut through the mix.

Mids: This knob dictates the amount of midrange that’s present in the distortion signal. There’s a wide range to increase versatility for aggressive scooped metal to more mid-heavy classic metal and rock. Counter-clockwise on the knob will scoop the mids, giving a much more modern and djenty sound that works really well for modern aggressive metal and thrash as well as harder rock. Clockwise on the knob will give you more midrange presence, giving more body and filling out the sound of your distortion tone. Adding mids will help cut through the mix in a live setting. Where you set this will be dependent on where you have the Hard/Brutal switch set. Start at Noon and adjust to match your amp from there.

Bass: This knob controls the overall low-end frequencies that are present in the distortion signal. The bass on the Triple Wreck is what sets it apart from other high gain distortions out there. No matter where the gain is set, the bass retains it’s tightness and doesn’t flub out. Counter-clockwise on the knob will remove some of the bass frequencies, which works really well for bass-heavy amps or to not make the speaker cabinet rumble too hard and add some clarity. Clockwise  on the knob will add more bass frequencies to the distortion signal, adding a depth and a girth to the tone that is a staple of those great amps that it’s trying to emulate. Start the knob off at Noon and adjust from there to achieve the desired amount of thump in your signal.

Gain: This knob controls the amount of clipping and distortion on your signal. Being a high gain distortion, you’ve got a boat load of gain on tap through the entire gain range. It can be run for a slight distortion with some added girth and grit, but we feel that it shines as you crank the gain past Noon. Once you rotate the knob clockwise, the clipping and sustain and overall ballsy crunch will become much more saturated and in your face. The gain range runs from light distortion that lets your guitars natural tone shine through, to full-on saturated shred, punk, modern rock, and djenty. The gain structure changes based on where the Voicing switch is set, so on Hard mode it’ll be more neutral and Brutal will be much more aggressive and cutting. This thing is a behemoth of METAL!

Boost Contour: This knob controls a footswitchable boost. The boost knob only works when the Triple Wreck’s distortion is engaged, and it provides a few extra options for adding gain to you signal. Counter-clockwise will add more standard gain, which can be great for sustaining leads or for all out raw saturation. Rotating the knob clockwise will actually make the gain fuzzier, to the point at fully clockwise it sounds like you’re playing a fuzz. This can add some versatility to solos by introducing something different in the mix with loads of fat sustain that will remind you of a great Big Muff.

Hard/Brutal Voicing Switch: This switch governs the overall tonal character the distortion has. On the Hard selection, it’s much more neutral and even with all frequencies standing together on a unified front of harmonic glory (this side is perfect for classic rock and metal, and even like EVH’s tone on the Live in Tokyo Dome album). The Brutal side puts more emphasis on the high end frequency and makes it much more aggressive and heavy sounding with stinging gain that’s perfect for brutal modern metal and shred. Set this control first then tweak the gain and EQ to match your rig to find your perfect sound.

 

Technical Stuff:

  • 5.0″ x 4.50″ x 1.5″ (88.9mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Soft relay switching and top-mounted jacks.
  • Power draw: 23mA – Runs off of 9v negative center barrel tip plug (Boss style) or an internal connector for a 9v battery. We don’t suggest running the Triple Wreck at 18v because the way the circuit is designed it will sound better at 9v.
  • There have been a few iterations of the Triple Wreck; most notable change is the switch from a massive enclosure to a more manageable sized enclosure, and the latest version has been converted to top jacks and soft switches.

You can check out the Triple Wreck more and purchase direct HERE.

 

 

 

 

My Dream Rig - Alex

Jason and I were discussing rigs, and the topic of dream rigs came up in the conversation. We figured it would be an interesting look at what each one of us would consider our own personal “dream rig.” The idea was if money weren't an issue, what would your ultimate rig look like. This has been a tough one for me, because I'm completely addicted with GAS so my tastes will change by tomorrow. Alas, this is my checkpoint for this day in time.

Guitar:

DISCLAIMER: I’m a telecaster man at heart, have been for about 12 years. I’m very fortunate to have found my favorite teles that fit me perfectly in 2005 that were built by Bill Crook, and they are always my go-to’s for every situation. Looking at what would be great to accompany it though, would be a really nice Strat. I’m completely ashamed to say that I don’t actually own a strat that is in playable condition (I have a 2000 MIM, but it needs serious work that I got for dirt cheap). So, I’ve taken to imagining my perfect strat, because what rig is complete without one?

I would have my strat built by Bill Crook at Crook Custom Guitars, because I’ve had the greatest success in the world with Bill’s work, and I swear he knows what I’m thinking in terms of manifesting my dream into reality. It helps that he’s the coolest and nicest guy in the world too. The neck is easy, I mean super easy. My specs would be the following:

  • Radius: 7 1/4 - 9 1/2 compound
  • Fretwire: 6105
  • Shape: .830 C
  • Nut Width: 1.650
  • Maple neck (unfinished)
  • Indian Rosewood fretboard with pearloid dot inlays
  • Vintage style Gotoh tuners.

The body would be light Ash and would look basically just like this with the sienna sunburst (disregard the tele neck):

Alex's Dream Rig

 It would have a Callaham bridge locked to the body like a hardtail (I never use trem, but like to have the option should I change my mind).

Bareckuckle Irish Tour pickups in cream with a matching pickguard, Bill's custom wiring and full setup. My cousin has nearly identical this setup (with Emerson custom wiring, which I can't recommend enough), and it's by far one of the best sounding strats I've ever played in my life (it actually gave me strat GAS for the first time in many years). The one thing that I would do to the change up the wiring would be to make the bottom tone control a master tone control for all of the pickups (like a tele), then move the volume down to the middle position and not have a 3rd knob near the strings. That's one reason I've never bonded with strats is because every time I get into playing hard my hand ends up bumping the volume down or up. That would completely eliminate that issue.

 

Pedals:

This is a tough one. My board would essentially be filled with Wampler gear (like it already is), and loads of delays like the Faux Tape Echo, Wheelhouse Lo-Fi delay, a special prototype Brian sent for us to see, a Gurus Echosex 2 and some other expensive boutique delays. There would be loads of dirt....overdrive, fuzz, distortion, alll of it. I would definitely have my modded tall font green russian big muff, and a few prototypes from Brian that I have cooking up in my head. By the time it was said and done I'd likely need two huge boards and someone to carry my rig around for me because of the sheer amount of pedals that I love. I'm a bit obsessed with pedals and switch up often, so it would be cool to have a huge board or multiple boards to have access to my entire pedal collection.

Dream Rig

 

Amps:

I run a stereo rig now and absolutely love it, so I would probably keep with that idea. My dream setup? A Dr. Z Z-Wreck head with matching 2x12 cab loaded with Celestion blue and gold, and the second I’m torn between a Marshall Bluesbreaker and a Marshall 2203 JCM800 Reissue with a 4x12 filled with greenbacks....so I suppose all 3 would work in addition to my Wampler Coyote 20 for the brownface stuff. I’d have an amp switcher to run each independently or together in stereo (eat your heart out Joe Bonamassa, haha). There’s a considerable amount of volume difference between the two, but that’s what makes it exciting is trying to get them to work together into a cohesive sounding rig.

Dr_Z_ZWreck-Black MARSHA0977_1962BB_1926Friedman_Dirty_Shirley

 

Klon v. Klone - the shootout!

So, the Dan and Mick at That Pedal Show have been at it again, this time taking a couple of original Klon Centaur (Silver and Gold) and putting them side by side next to "The Klone Pedal" the "Archer", "Archer Ikon", the "Soul Food" and our very own Tumnus. They both played through each of the pedals extensively and seemed to appreciate the minimal floor noise of the Tumnus as well as the full and balanced low end.

Once again, not only is the pedal show a great place to listen to pedals, but the guitars and amps on display are always worth looking out for, the usual Mitchell rehoused JTM-45 is here but this time we have some Two Rock Action and one of the most gorgeous Nik Huber guitars you'll hear! Also a lovely '57 reissue Les Paul, USA Vintage '62 Strat and Collings SoCo.

You can check out the shootout and see for yourself, which one do you think sounds best? Can a klone ever sound as good as a Klon?

Overview of the cataPulp Distortion

The concept and eventual creation of the cataPulp was something that Brian had wanted to do for a long time. The conversation came up between Brian and a friend of his that wanted the tones and feel of one of their favorite 50 watt tangerine-colored amps, but in stompbox form. This lead to Brian digging into the characteristics of that amp and how the gain and EQ react to each other and the guitar,  and  eventually created a pedal that can achieve those tones at a much friendlier size and budget. Typically Brian is the master of switches and extra knobs, but the cataPulp doesn’t need them at all. The tone of what it is trying to emulate is there in full force, simply laid out with ready to rock.

Some of our favorite parts of the cataPulp are how well the distortion reacts to adjustments on the guitars volume knob. A slight movement on the volume knob can go from searing crunchy leads to a smoother overdrive tone, and all things in between. The tone and feel of the distortion can go from country rock rhythms to full on metal , and the cataPulp sounds great with any style of guitar, whether it’s single coils, humbuckers, P90’s, etc.

One common question that arises is whether the cataPulp is a v2 of the Crush or Crush the Button. NO, it' a completely different circuit. The Crush was a very limited edition pedal that is a modified version of the old SuperPlex with the EQ and gain clipping to make it more in the realm of that amp line. The cataPulp is a brand new circuit that's different from all of the others, and the gain and EQ are completely different altogether from the Crush :-)

 

Controls:cataPulp Distortion

Volume: This knob controls the overall output of the distortion. When the knob is fully counter-clockwise there will be no output, even with the gain maxed. Unity on this knob is completely dependent on where the gain knob is set, so with a lower gain the volume will have to be raised to match, or with higher gain it can be lowered. Unlike a lot of distortions which are just great at high gain, the cataPulp works really well to boost an amp in the front with just a bit of grit for solos.

Bass: This controls the amount of low-end frequencies that are present in the distortion. This is an active control, which means it is capable of adding or subtracting bass from your tone. At Noon, the bass is unaffected and the distortion signal will be closest to your original tone. Counter-clockwise will remove bass frequencies from your original tone. This can be really helpful for very dark amps to keep from flubbing out on the bottom end. Clockwise on the knob will add low-end frequencies into your signal. This can be very helpful for inherently bright amps, as well as adding a bit of thump when playing at low volumes to give your tone the feel of really pushing a speaker cabinet at high volumes. You would typically want to start with the bass at Noon (neutral) and adjust from there depending on the amp and guitar. You might not even need to move it at all.

Mids: This controls the midrange behavior on your distortion signal. Being an active control, Noon is neutral and has no real difference on your tone. Counter-clockwise will scoop the mids out of your signal and give it a more modern, edgier and heavier sound, which works great for newer rock tones as well as metal. Clockwise on the knob will add mid-range to the distortion signal, allowing you to standout in a band mix more. Regardless of where the knob is set, your original tone shines through. Again, start a Noon with your bass tone and adjust from there. As the gain goes up you may want to adjust the mids to get the proper cut in your distortion tone to sit just right where you want in a live mix.

Treble: This knob controls how much high-end frequency is in your distortion signal. Being an active control as well, Noon is neutral with no high-end frequencies being added or removed from your signal. Counter-clockwise will remove some of your high end, which can be really helpful with inherently bright amps (I’m looking at you, AC30). Clockwise on the knob will yield more high end into your distortion tone, which works really well for cutting through the mix or brightening up darker guitars and amps. Just like the other active controls, I suggest starting it at Noon and adjusting from there. If you add more mid-range, you may want to adjust the highs to find the proper balance for your distortion tone.

Gain: This knob controls how much distortion is occurring on the signal. There is a tremendous amount of gain on tap on the cataPulp, but it’s quite different than a lot of distortions because it sounds equally as good with the gain set extremely low. Counter-clockwise will have less distortion on the signal, and rotating it clockwise will add more gain to your signal, but still allowing your guitars natural voicing to shine through (like running straight into a cranked amp). Counter-clockwise there will be only a slight breakup on your tone, just some added grit and drive that works really well to boost your amp. At around Noon there’s loads of distortion occurring and your tone gets fat and crunchy with great sustain. At 3pm, it’s becoming fully saturated with boat loads of fat sustain and a fuzzy crunch indicative of the tones those tangerine-ish amps are known for. The cataPulp is very responsive to rolling back the volume on your guitar, so you can go from searing leads with distortion to crunchy rhythm overdrive with the turn of your guitars knob. The main thing Brian wanted to do was preserve the guitars natural voicing and allowing it to shine through (like running straight into a cranked amp).

 

Technical Stuff:

  • Great for tones spanning from Weezer to Black Sabbath, Blackberry Smoke, and even Prince.
  • 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ in size (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Top-Mounted input and power jacks, soft relay switching. Active 3-band EQ
  • Power draw: 21mA at 9v, 22mA at 18v – Can be powered via negative center tip barrel plug (Boss style) internal 9v battery jack which can be accessed via removing the bottom plate.
  • Only one version of the cataPulp has been released to date.

 

You can read more about the cataPulp Distortion and purchase direct HERE,

Demos:

 

My dream rig - Jason...

So, Alex asked the question on the Wampler Pedals Tone Group page this week about your dream rig. I didn't answer there as I'm not sure I could articulate it that quickly, so I've thought about it, slept on it, drifted off when my wife has been speaking to me about BLAAHHHH and generally thrown it backwards and forwards in my mind and I think I've got it, so - here it is, my dream rig (please note, this expires roughly 5 minutes after I've written it).

Guitar.

 

I am the master of no genre but thoroughly enjoy attempting to hack my way through rock, metal, blues, country and if I'm being totally honest here, I really really want to be Steve Vai when I grow up (yes, I know, I'm 42 - age is just a number!). So, I need a guitar that can be versatile. I currently am the proud owner of a PRS Brent Mason signature, it's a great guitar and an excellent start to where I want my perfect guitar to be. My guitar needs to be powerful, both in pickups in and construction. I would probably go with something that has a fast, bright yet ballsy attack, it would be a 7 string with a whammy bar (I'd like to go up about a minor 3rd at the minimum so might need to be dug out), so the wood would be swamp ash. I'd need 24 frets, big stainless steel ones, probably with a Gibson scale sitting (smallish hands) on a thru neck (sustain baby!) or maybe a glued in because I am stupidly attracted to Birdseye maple. I don't know, not sure on that yet. I would get either Seth Baccus or Fibenare to build it - purely because I know them and trust them and they both produce guitars of such beauty and quality you'd be hard not to salivate when looking at them. Most of you already know about Fibenare because of Tom Quayle, but may have not heard about Seth. He's from my hometown, has now moved to Portugal and builds his guitars alongside his mentor, Andy Manson. The quality of work coming out their workshop is enough to make the hardest tone chaser weep! The pickups would from the brain of Tim Mills at BKP, the man is a tonal genius and I am certain he could take the concept of my current guitar and improve it radically. H/S/H config (independently tapable like the Brent PRS) with no signal level loss between HB and SC - I'd need it to sound like a Strat, a Les Paul, a Telecaster, a PRS... it'll need to sound awesome in all positions, maybe Brian would have to put an EQ and gain circuit in there some where to make it do this, now there is an idea. Can Brian make a circuit to go in a strat to make it sound like a telecaster and vice versa? Oh yeah, it'll need a JEM monkey grip, just because!

Effects board.

Quite simple, I want a Wampler and TC Electronics board for my rig. In it would be an Ego Compressor, the Plexi Drive Deluxe (I'd want this mod'd so that the pre gain boost can be separately switchable from a looper), a Tumnus for boosting, a Pinnacle and a Velvet Fuzz. Then there would be a Faux Tape Echo and a Flashback for delay, a Faux Spring ReverbHall of Fame, oh yeah, there'd be a PolyTune 2 in the front and a Ditto at the back. I'd also like a slimmed down Sonuus Wahoo pedal (I have some awesome ideas for that thing) in there somewhere as well... I'd like it all to be controlled by the sublime GigRig G2 - quite simply, there is no better looper on the market than that thing. Dan and team knocked it so far out the park with that the competition has been left stranded ever since. With this rig I can now be Vai, Gilmour, Edge, Brent, Brad, Dave and Adrian, Satch and every 70's, 80's and 90's rock player that I was bought up listening too and loving!

Amps.

This part of the rig is quite easy, loud and clean. Probably the Port City Pearl because it just eats pedals and sounds beautiful. But... I'd also love one of those Friedman BE100 that sound what a Marshall should sound like. I had the pleasure of playing through Dave's a couple of years back and it's stuck with me ever since, best rock sounding amp I've ever heard!

 

So, that's my dream rig. Most of it is easy, so if you want to donate y'all can send it to me. This is the first time I've thought about "my perfect guitar" so I'm kinda clouded by the concept but the more I think about it the more stupidly excited I get so who knows, maybe one day. So, if you could all buy 500 pedals each and tell Brian that you did after reading this pointless blog piece so he'll buy it for me :D

Brown Sound shoot out?

So, those fine guys over at Gig Rig - Mick Taylor and of course Dan recently did a shoot out with the new MXR 5150 up against some old favourites in order to find which does the best Brown Sound... The JHS Angry Charlie, the new JHS Andy Timmons @ signature, the Xotic SL Drive, the Boss SD-1 and our very own Pinnacle Deluxe. They all sounded great, Mick leaned towards the crispness of the @ and Dan loved the top end clarity of the Pinnacle... For me, there was only one winner - the Pinnacle. It has been "my" sound every since I first plugged it in - brown sound or not, it just has that touch and feel that makes me go all funny inside - the mid contour control just gives you so much versatility and as Dan rightly says, there is no fizz in the pedal at all!! For more information about the Pinnacle you can see Alex's excellent overview of it, along with 4 suggested settings!

All in all another completely enjoyable show from Dan and Mick, to be honest, it just leaves me GAS'ing more and more for a G2, which is still the best switcher on the planet, others may come close but the G2 still has it! If only they'd put one in a box and send one to me... I'd even br prepared to let the Aussie's have the ashes back!

So, watch the show and let us know which one you think sounds the more EVH than the EVH does!

Overview of the Sovereign Distortion

When Brian was designing this pedal, he wanted to create a distortion that was capable of working with any amp, he wanted it to have a varying gain range that could cover lots of ground, and he wanted the player to be able to tweak the tone to however they wanted it. The final product yielded a do-all distortion that a player could take to a gig that is adaptable to most any distortion scenario that would arise. In order to do that, the player needed to be able to shape the tonal characteristics of the distortion, making it flexible for bright or dark amps, and also for low or high gain situations. Thus the Sovereign was born.

Our favorite part of the Sovereign is the tonal shaping capabilities. All of the tone controls interact with each other, so adjusting one knob will alter how the other knobs and switches react. This allows loads of flexibility to tweak your distortion sound exactly how you want it to any amp you play through. The Sovereign also cleans up exceptionally well with the guitar’s volume knob. Rolling the volume back for rhythm sections, then rolling it back up for added sustain and crunch during solos. The Sovereign sounds great with any type of pickup, from single coils to humbuckers and P-90’s. It sounds especially fat and sustaining with humbuckers!

 

Controls:Distortion Settings

Volume: This controls the overall output of the pedal. There’s a considerable amount of volume available, and unity correlates directly to where the gain knob is set. Higher gain settings will require you to lower the volume to reach unity, with the gain lower the volume will have to be raised to reach unity. Fully counter-clockwise there will be no output whatsoever. Being a distortion, the Sovereign can be used as a boost, but it really shines as a “Second Channel” of sorts with a slight volume boost.

Gain: This knob controls the overall distortion that is applied on the signal. The goal was to be able to make something that could go from a lighter overdrive into mild distortion on the standard setting, to full on harder rock and even metal on the boost switch setting, and all things in between. There’s loads of gain on tap, I’m talking LOADS. Counter-clockwise will yield a smoother, creamy distortion that still lets your guitars natural tone shine through. The fun parts of the pedals lie in the higher gain settings.  As you get closer to Noon, there’s more clipping happening and the harmonic bloom of the notes starts to really cut and saturate with loads of sustain. Around 2pm you’re really cooking with loads of distortion happening on the circuit, great for rock and metal riffs from the 70’s all the way up through modern artists of today. 3pm and up is full on shed territory. The way that the gain reacts is completely dictated on how the switches are set. With the Boost on and the switch on Bright, you’re looking at full on modern metal, with the boost off and the switch on even, it works great for classic rock. Half of the fun is experimenting :-)

Mid-Contour: This knob controls the mid characteristics of the distortion signal. Counter-clockwise will scoop the mids and give it a much more brutal sound (great for metal and harder rock), where turning it clockwise will accentuate the mid frequencies to cut through the mix. The great part about the mid-contour is that there are useable tones throughout the entire knob range. Fully counter-clockwise is brutal and cuts like a knife and extremely modern, where fully- clockwise offers a cool mid-heavy tone that works great for rhythm and lead (think Randy Rhodes tones on Crazy Train). Adjusting this control will directly affect how the Tone control reacts to adjusting the distortion. I suggest setting your switches first, then adjusting the mid-contour, then roll in some tone to taste.

Tone: The tone knob controls the high end frequencies of the distortion signal. Where this knob needs to be set is dictated by where the rest of the tone controls are set. Fully counter-clockwise your distortion tone gets very creamy and a bit mellower, where rolling it clockwise will introduce that extra bite and high end harmonic content to sit exactly where you want it in the mix. There’s loads of tone on tap, so I suggest starting it at 9am and going up from there. With the mid-contour higher up, you may want to roll off a bit of tone to even it out. With the mid-contour clockwise and scooping, you may want to roll the tone up the cut more in the mix. Again, half of the fun is experimenting :-)

Even/Bright switch: This switch controls the overall tonal flavor of the distortion. The Even position is very neutral with full harmonic content being present in the signal, and is great for classic distortion flavors that would cover any genre.  The Bright position accentuates the higher and lower harmonic frequencies, which lends itself more to modern-style distortion tones. It also works really well to cut better with a really dark amp. This switch will directly affect how the Mid-Contour and Tone knobs react, so switching between Even and Bright will likely warrant adjusting those knobs to fine tune your tone.

Boost/Standard switch: This switch is a gain boost switch. This doesn’t affect the volume, but it adds more distortion to the circuit. The standard section gives you an overdrive into mild distortion tonal palette to work with, where the boost setting turns it into full on shred modewith loads of sustaining distortion. This switch really takes it from classic rock jammer to full on metal shredder with the flick of a switch.

 

Technical Stuff:

  • 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Power draw: 9mA – Runs off of 9v center negative tip barrel plug (Boss style) or internal 9v battery connector. The Sovereign can be run at 18v, at which point it will have higher headroom before clipping. Note: This sounds great with some pedals, but some just prefer 9v.
  • There has been only one version of the Sovereign to date.

You can read more about the Sovereign Distortion or purchase direct HERE

Overview of the Clarksdale Overdrive

When discussing pedals, there’s one standard that most everyone refers to regularly when talking about overdrives. I’ll give you a couple of hints, it’s usually in a green enclosure, and it is known for making your tubes scream ;-) . That classic circuit has been used by nearly everyone at some point, finding a home on the pedalboards of famous musicians in practically every genre. It's known for adding some mid-range grit and overdrive to an amp on the edge of breakup, or cranking it and hitting the front end of a heavily cooking amp for a solo boost. Many 80’s metal and rock guitarists (too many users to count) used that pedal as their secret weapon for solo boosts to cut through the mix. Country artists have used them to add a slight touch of grit and punch for their lead and rhythm tones (Brad Paisley is a major fan of those circuits). It’s often considered a staple for blues guitarists, made famous by the legendary SRV for his searing lead tones. Our resident bluesman Max Jeffrey has had up to 3 on his board at one time, and typically leaving one as an always-on tone sweetener. Despite being so overwhelmingly popular, there are still a few things that people have requested to be modified from the original designs over the years (builders have modified versions of that circuit for many years, since the roots of the boutique pedal market). The Clarksdale is Brian’s idea of what he feels could be changed and added to make that circuit as flexible and harmonically rich as it possibly can be. Those circuits are known for having a fizziness on the overdrive when the gain is up high, and the tonal shaping possibilities were limited with only a tone knob. The solution was to tighten up the gain on the higher range so it retains the bottom end, and add an active 3-band EQ and clipping switch for tone shaping purposes.

Our favorite part of the Clarksdale is the 3-band EQ. It takes all of the things people love from that great classic circuit and allows you to tailor the tonality of the overdrive to whatever amp and guitar you are using. The clipping switch helps to tailor the clipping of the overdrive as well, so you have a much wider variety of overdrive tones at your disposal. The overdrive on the Clarksdale works great with single coils or humbuckers, and cleans up very well using the volume knob on your guitar.

 

Controls

Volume: This knob controls the overall output of the pedal. When it is fully counter-clockwise there is no output whatsoever. The amount of volume to achieve unity is directly correlated to where the gain is set. When the gain is higher, the volume can be decreased to unity. There is plenty of volume on tap, because these type circuits work extremely well as boosts to make the amp overdrive. One suggestion is to start the volume at 10am and work your way up from there. With the gain lower, you’ll need to raise the volume up to accommodate. One great way to use the Clarksdale is to slam the front end of your amp with a load of volume and just a touch of gain. At that point you essentially have a fully EQ-adjustable boost.

Bass: This knob dictates how much lower end harmonic content is present in the overdrive signal. Being that it’s an active control, at Noon there is no change to the overdrive tone. Counterclockwise it will actually remove the bass frequencies out of your tone. This works really well when playing a very bass-heavy amp such as some old Fenders. Clockwise it will add bass to your overdrive signal, fattening up the overall tone and giving it more girth. This works really well with inherently bright amps (Vox amps or Fenders with the Bright switch on). When setting this control, start at noon and tweak to match the amp. Sometimes it’s nice to have an extra boom to your tone (especially playing at lower volumes).

Mids: This knob controls the overall mid-range of the pedal. TS’s are famous for their mid-range punch, but Brian wanted to take it a step further. Being an active control, Noon is the standard tone you would get without any frequency changes. Counter-clockwise will remove or “scoop” the mids, giving it a much more aggressive feel overall. This works really well when setting up a rhythm tone, then kicking in another mid-boost overdrive or boost to stack for solos. Clockwise will add harmonic mid-range, ranging from a slight bump all the way to where the mids are standing way out front. One of my absolute favorite things about the Clarksdale is the fact that with the mids control completely clockwise, it gives your tone a “cocked-wah” sound. As you increase the gain from boost into overdrive, the cocked-wah sound becomes more apparent. (You can see it in action on the last demo video at the bottom of this blog). It’s extremely fun :-)

Treble: The treble knob controls the overall high end content that’s present in your overdrive tone. Also being an active control, this control at Noon is not changing your signal at all. Counter-clockwise will remove high-end frequencies, which in turn will make it much less punchy and more of a mellow tone (works really well for some jazz tones). Reducing it will also help tame some of brittleness that can come from running a high treble content pedal into a bright amp. Clockwise will add high end frequencies to your overdrive tone. Again, this works well to add some punch and clarity to you tone when using a bass-heavy amp.

Gain: This knob controls how much overdrive is being produced from the circuit. There’s actually a surprising amount of gain on tap for being an overdrive. Counter-clockwise will give you an edge-of-breakup tone that adds some depth and sustain to the bloom of your notes. By Noon there’s more clipping happening and the cut of the pedal is great for soloing. 3pm and up is for full on saturation and thick overdrive tones. At this point, those classic overdrives would get fizzy and the bottom end would be less defined on the gain. With the gain up, the Clarksdale still retains it’s bottom end and doesn’t fizz out at all. 3pm and above work exceptionally well for rock and blues tones. The main thing Brian wanted to do with the gain is to ensure that it was very transparent sounding, so your guitars natural tone will always shine through, even at the highest gain settings.

Smooth/Lift Switch: This switch dictates the characteristic of how the gain clips. Smooth will have a very smooth and even tone without any major fluctuations on the frequencies, and is closest to the original circuit. The Lift position gives your overdrive tone an extra depth and punch, with more emphasis on low and high-mids. All of the frequencies stand out front a bit more, and it works great for a distinct way to jump out of the mix for solos.

 

Technical Stuff:

  • 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ in size (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Soft Relay Switching and Top Mount Jacks
  • Power draw: 17mA – Requires negative center tip barrel plug (Boss style). Can be run at 18v to increase the headroom. Internal 9v battery connector accessible by removing screws on bottom plate.
  • There’s only been one version of the Clarksdale to date.

 

 

 

You can find out more about the Clarksdale and purchase direct here.