Talking about gear

Talking about gear (107)

Overview of the Dual Fusion Overdrive

Tom Quayle is one of the premier fusion guitarists in the UK, who is well known for his vast knowledge of music theory and is leading the forefront in terms of instructional material to help guitarists develop their technique and hone their fretboard knowledge all over the world. His legato speed and fluidity is nearly unbelievable to watch and his ear for tone is absolutely spectacular. In 2012 Tom was already using our pedals, and he and Jason Wilding struck up a great friendship. The Dual Fusion came about when Tom was discussing with Jason about how much he loved the Euphoria and Paisley drives, and how he enjoyed stacking them in different combinations to create his signature fusion sound. Fast forward about a year and it was decided that they would make a perfect pairing for a dual pedal, but there were a few things Tom wanted modified to suit his fusion playing style better. A few changes included removing some switch positions that he didn’t use, as well as the bass knob from the Euphoria side, but he wanted more transparency and clarity most of all, along with a certain response in the gain structure. The result is the Tom Quayle Signature Dual Fusion.  (Note, there is a video at the very bottom of the blog where Travis Feaster compares the Dual Fusion to the Paisley Drive and Euphoria).

Our favorite part about the Dual Fusion is the ability to setup the switching order exactly how you would want it. 1 into 2, 2 into 1, or each side set independently through different loops and combos of other pedals. This allows for infinite tone shaping options and combinations, limited only by the imagination (and cabling!).  They are made to be fantastic standalone overdrives, but stacked the magic combines into a “fusion” (sorry for the pun) of smooth and sustaining gain, while still remaining transparent and sparkling with the original guitar tone always taking center stage. This video will show you a brief description on how the switching system is setup:

The Dual Fusion is extremely versatile due to this switching option setup, and it works really well paired with humbuckers, singlecoils, P90’s and all things between. The Dual Fusion reacts directly with the guitar at the heart of it’s tone, so if you love the sound of your guitar into the amp but with loads of tweakable tone-shaping options, then this is the pedal that will do it.

Volume(s): These knobs control the overall output of each side of the Dual Fusion. The level of the volume to reach unity depends on the type of guitar and where the gain knob is set on each side. If the gain is higher, then you won’t need the volume as high, where if the gain is low you’ll have to raise the volume to compensate. This pedal overall is not excessively loud, so don’t be afraid to turn it up a bit to reach the level that you want. That being said, there’s still enough volume on tap on both sides to give a boost to the front of your amp for some great amp breakup.

Tone(s): The tone knobs dictate the amount of high end and presence each side of the Dual Fusion has. Counterclockwise will yield a darker, warmer tone with less accentuated highs, which works really well for bright guitars and amps to tune your overdrive precisely to where the sweet spot it. Clockwise it will increase the high end content of the overdrive and give it a much brighter and punchier tone, which is fantastic for humbuckers and inherently darker amps. A good place to start is a Noon, and making small incremental adjustments from there. The tone knobs react differently based on which position the Voicing switches are at on each side of the pedal. Adjusting the voicing switches may require you to adjust the tone up or down to find the sweet spot in that configuration.

Voicing Switches:

  • Side 1 (Vintage): The Smooth setting is based more on the classic *D*-style amplifier (the name rhymes with Rumble ;-) ) . The touch response is much smoother and the EQ is a bit more neutral in terms of any particular frequency being accentuated. It works equally well on any pickup selection, adding a richness to your tone even at the lowest gain settings. In this position the Tone knob may warrant a bit extra high end to cut through the mix, or to make it even smoother you can reduce the tone knob towards the counterclockwise direction. This is the preferred setting of Tom Quayle. The Fat setting has a much more pronounced midrange and more accentuated lows and low mids. This works really well for fattening up single coils or cutting through the band mix. There’s a bit of a volume bump and overall less overdrive than the Smooth setting. In this position you may want to lower the tone knob to compensate for the jump in midrange, or raise it as a boost for your tone on solos and control the output with your guitar's knobs.
  • Side 2 (Modern): The Throaty setting has warm EQ profile, which accentuates the midrange but still allows your tone to shine through like a naturally breaking up amp. This particular setting works great for rhythm chording, and it allows each note to bloom into a beautiful space of tonal bliss. There's very 3-Dimensional character to this voicing that works in all genre's of music. The Natural setting has a much more even EQ profile that lets all of the frequencies work together to give the most transparent feel while still fattening up your tone. This works really well if you love the sound of your amp but want a bit more “oomph” to sound like you’re pushing your amp into sweet sustaining overdrive.

Gain: The gain structure is really where the two sides differentiate the most. Side 1 (Vintage) has a much more open and natural gain profile, which lends itself to sound like your amp breaking up instead of a pedal doing the work. This side is the brighter of the two, and sounds great paired with humbuckers and singlecoils alike. At 9am there is a slight bit of hair added to the notes, but the guitar’s natural tone takes front and center stage. At Noon, there’s a bit more edge but with the clarity of an amp starting to breakup. Around 3pm there’s loads of added sustain and crunch, but it remains transparent and lets the natural tone of the guitar shine through. The gain is very reactive to picking dynamics, so picking lightly will give a sweet clean tone with light grit and smooth sustain. Digging in and picking more aggressively will give much more grit and sustain and really sounds like an amp overdriving, but at manageable volumes. This is imperative for fusion playing as well as most any other style of music because it allows the player to adjust their gain on the fly just by altering their touch. Side 2 (Modern) has a different feel overall and is the perfect companion to side 1. Side 2 has a more aggressive feel, with the gain structure being overall fatter, with a thicker sound, as well as being the darker of the two channels. At 9am, there’s a nice punch to your tone with some added grit that fattens up your lead playing and lets the notes bloom. At Noon, there’s more sustain and grit, and it also fattens up and has more edge on your natural tone that works great for blues and rock. At 3pm there’s a considerable amount of gain and sustain, and it covers everything from smooth fusion playing to even modern rock music.

Stacked together the two sides create a layered overdrive that fills out the sonic space tonally, but still retains your guitars natural character. Depending on which way you stack the overdrives, it will give different results. 1 into 2 will yield a fatter sustain and overdrive that’s pushed by the clarity of the vintage side into a rich, creamy overdrive with some sparkle. 2 into 1 will yield a more open, transparent gain with sparkly highs and a tight, sustaining bottom end.

Technical Stuff:

  • 5” x 4.5” x 1.5″ (88.9mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • All Analog, True Bypass
  • Power draw: 16mA – Powered via negative center tip barrel-type power (Boss style) or an internal 9v battery connector.
  • Switchable stacking order (1 into 2, 2 into 1 or you can completely separate them).

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

 

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:

 

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.

 

Overview of the Euphoria Overdrive

For many years now, there has been a single brand of amp that is known for it’s unbelievably natural and full sounding harmonic content with loads of sustain and depth, but also for the fact that they’re so expensive that the average person would have to sell their home or a vital organ to afford one (it rhymes with Rumble). The Euphoria is Brian’s way of making those great tonal characteristics available using any amp and still achieving those natural amp-breakup tones.

Our favorite part of the Euphoria is the 3-way switch that dictates the clipping characteristics and how it reacts to the EQ controls. It allows the player to sculpt the amount of overdrive and harmonic content to suit any amp, but still remaining transparent. You’ve got clarity with the treble and the pregain bass helps smooth it out and make it fat and wooly with an added depth to your tone. We also like how it cleans up really well with the volume knob, and works well with any guitar you pair it with (single coils or humbuckers).

 

Controls:

Volume: This control dictates the overall output of the pedal. There’s plenty of volume on tap, and it works really well set to unity like your amp is naturally breaking up, or even as a clean boost. Counter-clockwise there is no output. Unity on the volume knob will be directly correlated to where the gain knob is set. At higher gain levels the volume can be reduced to reach unity. It sounds really good with the volume boosted, the lightest amount of gain, a slight extra touch of treble and bass to taste for solos.

Treble: This knob controls how much high end content is added to the overdrive signal. This is post gain, so it actually adds some highs and clarity to your signal. It works great for adding an extra punch and presence when using it for lead boosts, or to add clarity when switching to your neck pickup. Counterclockwise the overdrive will be mellow with less cut. At Noon, there’s a depth and presence, but it is still very transparent and close to your original tone. As the treble knob goes up, your guitar’s natural tone will jump out front with a harmonic richness and clarity. There’s plenty of treble on board, so start at Noon and add or subtract to suit your tastes the best.

Bass: The bass control on the Euphoria dictates how much added bass there is before the gain. This means that with the gain up, as you raise the bass up, the gain will actually get woollier and fuzzier (because bass frequencies add a fuzziness too the gain ran before, where it adds the thump after). Fully counter-clockwise there’s no added bass; it’s just the Euphoria’s natural sounding overdrive. At noon there will be a bit of smooth fuzziness and wooliness to your overdrive tone that fattens chords and lead lines up, where fully clockwise it will be thick with loads of sustain. It’s inherently very sensitive to adding bass, so just add a bit at a time. Start off fully counterclockwise and dial in the exact amount of smoothness and wooliness you want for your overdrive tone.

Gain: This controls the overall level of overdrive that is put out. Fully counterclockwise there is no overdrive happening, and you can use it as a clean boost to hit the front end of your amp. At around 9am, it’s adding a touch of natural overdrive to your signal, like your amp is starting to break up. At Noon, there’s more sustain and harmonic content, making your notes bloom while still retaining your guitars characteristics. At 3pm, you’re getting loads of sustain and overdrive, which works well for rock tones. The gain knob reacts differently to where the switch is set.

Smooth/Open/Crunch Switch: This switch controls what kind of clipping happens on the overdrive in the pedal. In the smooth setting, the overdrive is exactly that…smooth. It’s got a very even tonal characteristic, and it works well for classic Clapton stuff and John Mayer tones (among many others) and is the closest feel to those old D-style amplifiers. In the Open position, it raises the headroom on the overdrive, and there’s more harmonic content happening, giving it an almost “airy” tone (NOTE: There's a volume boost when switching to the Open setting). On the Crunch setting, it’s much higher gain. It’s similar to the Open setting, but with more overdrive on tap. There’s loads of sustain and clipping happening, but still retaining the original tonal characteristics of your guitar’s signal.

 

Technical stuff:

  • 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Power draw: 8mA – Requires a negative center tip barrel connector or an internal 9v battery. It can be run at 18v to add headroom
  • There have been a few iterations, starting with the Ecstasy with two switch positions, then with 3 switch positions, and finally the name change to Euphoria for reasons beyond our control. There is no difference circuit-wise between the later Ecstasy pedals with 3 switch positions and the Euphoria.

You can check out the Euphoria more here

Overview of the Tumnus Boost / OD

The Tumnus is probably one of the most requested pedals that Brian has ever been asked to build. It’s designed be an accurate recreation of a famous mythical boost and overdrive, but without the unbelievably high price tag (it rhymes with Schmlon). Those big box behemoths of tone were known for adding a certain low-mid character and sweetness to your tone, which works perfectly to boost the front of an already cooking amp to get into overdrive territory.

Our favorite part of the Tumnus is the sweetness it adds to your tone. Even if it’s not set as a boost or an overdrive, it works really well to add just a bit of sweetness as an always-on pedal. It makes the notes bloom a little fuller and with added depth, along with adding a touch of clarity with the treble knob. It’s a very simple setup with the knob:, Volume, Treble and Gain, and just loads of great tone. The other thing we like is the fact that it sounds great whether going through a cooking amp that’s already overdriving a bit, or into a clean amp to add a touch of grit for the boost. The Tumnus works well with both single coils and humbucker equipped guitars. With single coils it helps fatten up the attack and the notes to add sweetness, where with humbuckers it adds a great depth and clarity for lead lines.

 

Controls:Tumnus Settings

Level: This knob dictates the overall output of the pedal. The primary two things it’s know for are boost and overdrive but often the boost is what people love about those legendary pedals it’s modeled after. There’s loads of volume on tap, so you can nail the front end of your amp and push your amp to sweet breakup. Counter-clockwise there’s no output from the pedal. Unity depends on where the gain knob is set, so unity with the gain at 3pm would be 10am, where unity with the gain at 9am would be around 11am on the volume knob. Fully clockwise this thing gets LOUD. It works really well run into another pedal to boost the gain and clipping on your favorite overdrive too.

Gain: This knob dictates how much clipping is happening on the circuit. As with those legendary boosts, this isn’t an excessively high gain pedal. It’s capable of getting some great overdrive tones, but it’s used more to boost and add some depth and cut to your tone more so than a searing, face-melting distortion would be. Fully counter-clockwise, there is no gain happening and it’s just a transparent boost. At 9am, it’s starting to add a bit of sweetness and bloom to the notes. At Noon, the notes are fatter and have more sustain and punch. At 3pm, there’s grit on the notes and great rock and roll overdrive tones. Fully clockwise it’s sustain city with a considerable amount of grit. The great part about it is that no matter where the gain is set, the guitars character and tone still shines through. When using the boost on those older pedals, many people would set the gain just above off, then boost with a touch of clarity to punch the amp in the face in the sweetest way possible.

Treble: This knob dictates how much high end content is coming through the circuit. The big thing that many people want in a boost pedal is the ability to cut through in a band situation. The treble knob lets you do that by adding the high end harmonic content to the overdrive signal, so you still get the same fat, sustaining overdrive and boost, but you also get the punch and clarity to get out front for solos. Fully counter-clockwise to 9am works really well for jazzy passages with the gain low. Around Noon the high end is matching your original tone. At 3pm, there’s added clarity and bite, and fully clockwise will let it jump to the front of the mix. I often like it around 1-2pm with my neck pickup to get a little extra clarity to it.

 

Technical Stuff:

  • Power Draw: 20mA~ (9v ONLY)
  • 9v Negative Center Tip barrel plug only. Being a mini, a battery will not fit in the enclosure. There is a voltage doubler on the inside to boost it to 18v, and powering it with anything more than 9v might well set it on fire. Please don’t do that, haha.
  • Size: 3.5” x 1.5” (88.9mm x 38.1mm)

  

 

Overview of the Tweed '57

The Tweed ’57 was created because Brian loves the tones of those old tweed amps from the late 50’s. The main problem with those old amps are the fact that they cost an inexplicable amount, and you have to blast them (which is often deafening at close range) to get those great old overdrive tones. The solution was to create a pedal that could get those cranked tweed tones from any amp without having to spend thousands of dollars, while also allowing flexibility to tailor the tone exactly how the player wanted it.

Our favorite part of the Tweed '57 is the channel switch and how it reacts with the EQ knobs. This opens up the spectrum of tonal frequencies while retaining the original tweed characteristics. These things combined allow the player to use any amp and still get those cranked tweed tones at manageable volumes.

Controls:

Volume: This controls the overall output of the pedal. It's interactive with the gain control, so as the gain is lowered the volume can be brought up to match unity (or boost an amp). This allows you to use it as an always on pedal, or to add a tweed feel to your lead lines. Fully counter-clockwise the pedal will have no output. Where unity is achieved is based on where the gain knob is set. With the gain at 9am, unity will be closer to 11-11:30am on the volume. With the gain above noon, unity can be achieved earlier in the knob range. There’s lots of volume on tap, so with it fully clockwise it will be slamming the front end of the amp and producing amp breakup.

Bass: This affects how prominent the lower frequencies are in the gain range. The big thing that Brian wanted to do was make the whole knob range useable. Fully counter-clockwise makes the lows much less pronounced, which is great paired with an already bassy amp. At Noon it's at unity with your original signal, so there's very little harmonic content being changed, more so just adding the gain and tweed clipping characteristics. Around 3pm there’s added bass, which is great for pairing with inherently brighter amps. At the max level it’s quite bassy, but still retains that great tweed clipping characteristic.

Middle: This controls the mid frequencies that are present in the output signal. Counter-clockwise will lessen the mids and have a more modern take on that sound. At Noon the mids are a similar frequency to your original signal, and around 3pm will give an added bit of mids to cut through the mix. Tweed amps were typically not scooped in the mids department, so the lower the mid output still retains that fatness that’s inherent in those old tweed amps.

Treble: This control affects the amount of high end frequency is present in the signal. Tweed amps are often known for their significant low end, and this allows the player to adjust the high end to match the amp. Fully counter-clockwise will have a much more bassy, mellow sound (works really well for jazzy stuff actually). At noon the highs are consistent with your original signal. At 3pm the highs have much more snap and the overdrive has more clarity to it. Completely maxed out it’s still useable, but with added punch and edge to all of the notes.

Drive: This knob dictates the level of gain that’s applied to the signal. It has a considerable amount of gain on tap, so it’s highly tweakable to get any level of tweed tones you’d want from any era. Fully counter-clockwise there will still be a slight bit of breakup on the notes. Not a lot, but similar to the sound of digging in harder on an edge-of-breakup amp. At 9am, there’s a bit more grit happening, but the signal still stays articulate to where you can hear the overtones of the notes blooming very well. At noon, it’s similar to having an amp cooking pretty good. Lots of breakup and sustain, and it’s even more into that great tweed grind. It sounds great for covering early Joe Walsh. At 3pm, (at which point a real tweed amp would be deafeningly loud), it’s sustaining and saturated in full on rock and roll glory (sounds great for some Black Crowes jamming). Despite having that much gain, it’s still very touch sensitive and reacts really well to adjusting the volume knob on your guitar.

Normal/Bright/Linked Switch: This switch is used to similar to how players used tweed amps years ago, where the inputs would change the EQ characteristics and their relationship with the gain. On normal mode, the tone is very even across the board, no particular frequencies emphasized (like plugging into the normal channel of the amp. The bright mode adds presence and high-end frequencies, which are great for bassy amps to have some extra cut and reduce any *flub*. The Linked mode is similar to how people would use a jumper to run into both the Normal and Bright channels on the amp. This gives the great tweed growl from the normal channel, but with an added presence and upper-frequency harmonic content.

 

Technical Stuff:

  • 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ in size (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
  • Power draw: 3mA – Runs off of negative center barrel tip power supplies (Boss style) or on an internal 9v battery connection). Note: Make sure to unplug the input if you’re using batteries when you are done to keep from draining the battery.
  • Only one version of the Tweed ’57 has been released to date.

Modelling units - instrument SkyNet?

I've been thinking again and as usual that means I'm getting philosophical and a little grumpy... all this thinking has led me to the question - "Once digital modelling has won and there a no longer any amps/effects to model, what happens then?"

So, right now you are probably thinking "Another blog from a guy who works in the analogue pedals markets slamming digital modelling... *yawn*... here we go again" but hopefully after reading this you'll see that I'm not here to whinge and moan, just to maybe shed a little light on to what could happen, once SkyNet goes live.

Before I get going I need to tell that I absolutely love modelling gear. I've spent countless hours playing with them and always had a truly majestic time. I owned what was possibly the first full featured modelling unit, the Roland GP-100 (check out this old video manual from Nick Cooper, the guy who demo'd it to me back in the '90's, which lead to me instantly buying it) and it was without a doubt absolutely perfect for what I needed at the time. I don't expect it will sound as good as I remember, but in my head it was, and still is, awesome. At the time I was playing in a "The Police" tribute plan and that unit, powered by a Marshall 9100 all valve power amp into a Marshall 1960 4x12" was devastatingly effective. Some of my happiest memories of playing live were with that band... Moving forward 20 years I'm lucky enough to be able to play with some of the more contemporary units as well, everything from the Boss GT-100 to the Kemper Profiler (or as I like to call it, the Haunted Toaster) and have a passing knowledge of the Fractual AxeFx. I think they are all amazing units and if I was a richer man, I'd have and use them all with pride. And yes, if anyone from Yamaha is reading this, please send me a Line 6 Helix, that thing is amazing - if I had a hat on right now I'd tip it in your general direction.

However, as much as I love them, I have to also admit that the whole modelling thing really really annoys me. It's not so much that they exist, it's when they are called "the future of guitar tone" I start to see red. How many times have you heard "Man, I bought an AxeFX, I sold everything I had, I don't need anything else, everything else is pointless". If you are anything like me, you'd have heard that hundreds of times. But, you see, the thing is and the question I always ask is this, if the modelling devices become so cheap and so good that they then force the analogue guys out of business, who the hell are the modellers going to model?

The 'conventional' musical instrument industry is currently amazing... I'm going to avoid the obvious route to talk about effects, but instead I'm going to bring amps into the conversation. There are companies out there that are slaying the market with new and exciting products... From Mike Fortin who not only makes amps under his own name but also at Randall; to Daniel Klein at Port City and everyone in between (I could list them here but I'm certain you get the idea). New and exciting definitions in tone are being forged everyday, new standards of hi gain, medium gain, rock amps, clean amps and every other kind are here, right now in 2015 and it's really exciting... Imagine what it will be like in 2, 5 or 10 years time. I literally cannot wait to hear them.

Bringing it back to the subject matter, from what I can see the modellers are not creating anything new, their entire sales pitch is to recreate everything and put it in one place. For the touring/gigging musician this is fantastic, but what about in terms of the future of tone, where does it leave it? In an ideal world people will see that the modelling stuff has purpose, real purpose and has an extremely valuable place in our industry but; should it be classed as the future? Yes it should, and rightly so BUT ONLY PART OF IT! Everything has a purpose and everything has a job, let's not get things confused here. If you like, you can look at it this way - If modelling had existed in the 70's and all future instrumentation development had stopped, we'd not have the JCM800. We'd not have the modd'd JCM800 and so on... It's all very well having an app of ten different 70's Marshall's in it, but personally I'd take the modd'd JCM800 one! Now, apply that to amps of today and what they will lead to in the future.

I guess what I am saying is that modelling stuff is fantastic, buy it, love it and use it. But please, if you have any sense of excitement for what may be happening in 5, 10 or 20 years time, also keep buying amps and pedals from your favourite builders. Because if you do, they can then produce new and exciting instruments, new aspects of tone that you'd not yet thought of that can then go into the future modelling units... Modelling is a tool, not a total solution and we should work really hard to keep it in check a little. They aren't the future, they are a convenient stroll down memory lane with zero concept of the future. As you may have guessed, I really don't want to see the day that instrument SkyNet goes live.

 

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