ProGuitarShop

The Dirty Truth

September 20, 2012
By Daniel Brooks
 
Whether you like it sweet and sassy, hot and hairy or warm and fuzzy, chances are you’re using some kind of gain effect to push your sound into that sweet spot. As common and interchangeable as they seem to be, overdrive, distortion and fuzz are not necessarily the same thing, despite the blurry distinctions between them. To truly understand the difference between overdrive, distortion and fuzz, it is necessary to understand how each effect works with your guitar and your amp.
 
As you probably know, a guitar pickup works by inductance, the phenomenon of physics in which a change in a magnetic field creates changes in current in a conductor, and vice versa. It is the actual physical phenomenon by which we transmit and receive radio, television, radar, satellite communications, and wifi, to name a few. In our guitar’s pickups, a coil of fine copper wire is wound carefully around a magnet and placed so that the guitar’s metal strings pass through its magnetic field. Whenever any of these elements changes position, the magnetic field changes, instantaneously inducing a small voltage in the copper wire. Each time a string vibrates back and forth, it creates an alternating current whose frequency and amplitude correspond directly to that string’s frequency and mass. The signal will resemble a sine wave that has been reshaped by the complex array of frequencies from all of the vibrating strings, as well as the natural acoustic properties of the guitar’s wood, hardware and electronics to reinforce some frequencies and dampen some others, creating a tone and timbre that is unique to each guitar.
 
The guitar’s signal is input directly into the first preamp stage in your amp. In any tube, like the ones in your preamp, a white hot emitter radiates electrons into the vacuum where they are absorbed by the negatively charged anode, creating a substantial current. Between the emitter and the anode is a control grid, whose variable electrical charge allows more or less conductivity, allowing more or less current to flow through the tube. When a guitar signal is channeled through the control grid to serve as the variable electrical charge, the output of the tube will recreate the frequencies and amplitudes of the guitar signal, modeled in the actual, much larger current of the tube. This is the amplified signal that is sent to the next preamp stage or to the power amp and then to the speakers. Every tube has a maximum and a minimum amount of current it can conduct. If the peaks and valleys of the guitar’s signal require the tube to exceed its maximum or its minimum, the tube will flatten out at its limit, effectively clipping off the top and/or bottom of its amplified signal. This is the naturally overdriven signal we all love.
 
At a high enough volume, any tube-driven guitar amp will deliver that overdriven sound. When you crank up your amp to get that sound, the high enough volume is often far too high for the enjoyment and well-being of your audience, since both your preamp and power amp are processing a lot more voltage. An overdrive pedal will work with your tube amp by boosting your guitar signal beyond the limits the preamp is designed to process. It will clip the signal naturally, regardless of the level at which your power amp is working, and let you bring that sweet spot down to a much more audience-friendly volume level. Overdrive effects are typically little more than a boost or a preamp with some mild clipping circuits. Most have some self-generated distortion, especially at higher gain levels, but they tend to preserve, or even enhance the natural tone of the guitar and amp. Unfortunately, overdrive pedals often lose their sonic charm when played through a solid state amp. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
 
Distortion pedals simulate the clipped signal of an overdriven tube amp. They can work with solid state or tube amps, and the boost they offer can create some interesting sounds when used to push a tube preamp into overdrive, but they are designed to create a sound-in-a-box rather than a naturally enhanced tube sound. Because it is, essentially, a waveform-altering circuit, relatively free from the inherent design constraints imposed by the performance limits of a tube, there is a much broader range of “distortion” sounds available on the market, and they tend to create a much heavier sound, from a hard-clipped, raspy buzz to the high-gain, sonic apocalypse that is the signature sound of heavy metal.
 
Fuzz pedals were the original dirt boxes, one of the first effects of any kind (along with reverb and vibrato, of course). They were originally designed in the early 1960s to lend texture to an amplified guitar tone, like the reedy rasp of a saxophone. The earliest designs worked maybe a little too well, the excessive clipping of germanium diodes creating a warm, enveloping sound that practically obscured the guitar’s natural tone beyond recognition (Later designs used more reliable, more efficient silicon diodes for their clipping circuits to create a brighter, edgier fuzz effect). Guitarists loved it, of course, since it remained responsive to the feel and dynamics of the player and opened up what many saw as a whole new world of creative possibilities. It was, perhaps, not the sole inspiration for some of the most memorable music yet recorded, but it is difficult to imagine “Satisfaction,” “Purple Haze,” or pretty much any classic 1960s psychedelia without a generous coat of fuzz.
 
A word about pedal placement is in order (get it?). You are, of course, free to use your overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals any way you like, but, you’ll probably find they sound better when placed as close to the beginning of your signal chain as possible, the output of the effect(s) going into the input of the amp. You’ll want to place lower gain pedals before those with higher gain, overdrive into distortion into fuzz. And while there is always room for experimentation when it comes to the relationship between overdrive and wah pedals, most people prefer placing their wah pedal before their fuzz pedal for the best effect. What do you think?

Comments

  1. Bill25 says:

    Thanks for the article guys!

    posted on September 22, 2012 at 9:39 am
  2. Nick says:

    I think that’s a cool interesting article about pedals, your specialty.  Thanks for the read.

    posted on September 22, 2012 at 10:27 am
  3. Ken Clive says:

    Being an Orange amp user, I’m not a huge fan of distortion pedals myself.  Sure, most amps do get unmanageable volume-wise when cranked up, but what I’ve found with Orange amps in particular is this:  you can set the gain to a rock distortion, but then back off the guitar volume and get a “clean” sound at a similar volume to the rock distortion.  Sure, it’s not Twin Reverb clean, but it’s a warm yet sparkly clean that sounds really good and cuts very well through a mix.  Most other amps go down significantly in volume if you work them this way.

    It’s much easier for me to get to the volume knob on my Telecaster.  Plus, I can swell in distortion rather than abruptly turning it on, which works great for building into the chorus or bridge of a song.  I do see the practicality of a Fuzz Face or Big Pi, but I don’t see the point of getting different levels of distortion with tons of pedals, when the same can be done in a simpler, better-sounding manner with the guitar’s volume.

    posted on September 22, 2012 at 10:53 am
  4. cw says:

    sucks for you !

    posted on September 22, 2012 at 11:00 pm
  5. Marco says:

    “You’ll want to place lower gain pedals before those with higher gain, overdrive into distortion into fuzz”

    You should consider that many people uses a “fuzz into overdrive” setting to get a fuller sound and a wider sustain, David Gilmour to name one. He inputs the signal from the Big Muff into a Tube Driver.

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 12:41 am
  6. ScottO says:

    Placing a buffered distortion or overdrive such as a boss pedal before a fuzz will inhibit the interaction between the guitar and the fuzz. Best to put the fuzz first.

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 1:40 am
  7. Chamberlain says:

    It should also be said that many fuzz pedals don’t like to be placed after any pedals and need to see direct signal from the guitar.

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 1:42 am
  8. Luxovibe says:

    Totally agree with the article and the thread that follows. I’m a big fan of stacking pedals to get different drive and attack characteristics. Sometimes two lower-gain pedals in series can create some great responses. I encourage everyone to try combinations, including compressors before drive, to see what you can get. Great stuff - thanks, guys!

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 2:47 am
  9. Scott Perry says:

    A very informative, and IMPORTANT bit of imformation. Thanks for the great article…

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 10:14 am
  10. EugenePhils says:

    very informative! well, i’ve just yet to discover the world of “pedal stacking” and “building” (diy builds) and i think this is an a great read to start off that long journey… anyways, thanks PGS!

    posted on September 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm
  11. Lance Fowler says:

    Hey ya - good article & thread.

    I think a lot tcould be said about other important sources of musically useful distortion as well. But the key theme is spot on - it’s usually about a low volume reproduction of the way something sounds when it’s at or beyond full volume, and the clipping of the signal that occurs at that point.

    A sound that’s similar to valve overdrive is a big chunk of what we love to hear from a cliiping device, but there are other important ingredients which you’ll recognise when you hear them - like speaker distortion, or transformer saturation. Other approaches to producing clipping have been to overdrive the microphone, or the preamp on the desk that it’s connected to. Then there’s other approaches that are drawn from synthesiser design, like pulse width modulation.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning the dramatic effect of pre-eq on the way distortion occurs - i.e. the midrange focus of a bridge pickup versus the low range emphasis of a neck pickup, or even the effect of a wah-wah before an overdrive stage (aka Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage).

    Keep it coming guys ;-)

    posted on September 24, 2012 at 10:57 am
  12. Scott Perry says:

    In resonse to Lances comment, you bring up some very useful and important imformation, that is very important to anyone setting the algorism, which is in this case, is how you want that algorism to be properly set in sequense, to get the most out of what hits the front of your amp, or effects loop. The other thing that I thought that was good about this article, is explaining the difference between each of these effects, which I think many players haven’t distiguished the differance in say a distortion pedal, and a overdrive pedal, or a fuzz pedal, as apposed to the other two. Very informative, especially to up and coming musicians, who don’t yet realize that say a distortion pedal will color the sound of your guitar, and the actual sound of the amp you are using, where an overdrive pedal is just what it says, it it enhances the actual sound of your guitar and amp, without any coloration that a distortion pedal will in most cases do. Again, very informative article…

    posted on September 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm
  13. Kemal says:

    Does any company market an “Overdrive” pedal that does not contain some (internal to the pedal) distortion causing components?  Usually a pair of opposed diodes in a feedback path…..

    posted on September 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm
  14. Whiteboyguitar says:

    Nice article! It would’ve been great to throw the Booster category in there too, as long as we’re talkin’ gain stages.

    @Kemal - RE: “Does any company market an “Overdrive” pedal that does not contain some (internal to the pedal) distortion causing components?” —What you’re looking for is a boost pedal.Simple level boost (and often times some EQ filtering) with no clipping.

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 1:47 am
  15. Guy says:

    Great Article. Thanks!

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 2:39 am
  16. captainvirk says:

    @Kemal here you go.


    http://proguitarshop.com/way-huge-angry-troll.html

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 3:52 am
  17. Big Willie Johnson says:

    I bought a Carvin V-3. Now all of my gain pedals are dust collectors on a shelf. They don’t even come close to the tone I get from that amp.
    I’ve got Fenders and Marshall’s and even had and Orange once But NOTHING does gain like a Carvin V-3.

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 5:22 am
  18. Scott Perry says:

    The V-3 does provide a huge gain circuit, that is provided mainly in your preamp. How about the overdrive sound, you get from the amp, when you turn down the gain, and turn up the amp? How does the amp sound just from the natural clip you get from the power tube section, does the actual amps overdrive sound just as good?

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 5:48 am
  19. Kevin says:

    treble boosters came out even earlier, those were the real forerunner of the overdrive pedals

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 9:41 am
  20. Big Willie Johnson says:

    Scott,
      The Carvin V-3’s three pre amps have some of the best gain structure and tone circuits I’ve ever encountered. At lower volumes she sounds amazing. And then you add a Global tone circuit and this amp is untouchable.
      However when you turn down the gain a bit and lean on the power tubes she will take you away. The responce, the control and the tone is unsurpassed. No box of diodes and a 9 volt battery are EVER going to sound that good.
      Also the V-3 will run either EL34’s or 6L6’s so you can even custom tailor your sound that way too. (I use the 6L6’s from JJ’s and love how she sounds. I’m also using Celestion Vintage 30 in a half stack.)
      My original point being that when I use a dirt box, it sounds terribly cheap in contrast to what the V-3 will do on it’s own.
      I have a Keeley modded BD-2, a Keeley modded SD-1, an original TS808. a TS9 and a TS808HW. If I use any of these now it’s with lower gain settings for just a booster. (although the V-3 has a better one of those too.) If I use any of them with the amps gain cranked up you can’t hear any difference with them on or off, so they are of no use to me at all with that amp.
      Now with one of my Fenders, my Marshall, or even one of my other Carvins (I have 9 amps)the Keeley modded boxes are pretty good.

    posted on September 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm
  21. Scott Perry says:

    Also, try the ’ Boiling Point ‘, made by Hot Box. A little pricey, but worth it…

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 1:45 am
  22. Keith says:

    @ Kevin and Kemal - Treble boosters were the first but were originally intended to give British EL84 based amps the high end they heard from Fender amps.  But folks figured out that if you turn the output way up it would ‘over drive’ the input stage (aka pre-amp) of the EL84 based amps (like Voxes, etc).  So Boosters and Overdrives are really pretty much the same thing.  If you have an amp that has two volume knobs (pre and master) you reaaaaaly don’t need a booster/overdrive because you can overdrive your preamp easily enough already by setting the master on 1 and the pre on 9.5.  Delicious buttery distortion awaits.  For a more ‘jagged’ feeling distortion we go to the Big Muff Pi and any of the germanium based pedals where a more clipped or buzzing sound awaited.  Well I guess we all know what they say about opinions.. but to me there are two main categories… the overdrive/boost category and ‘everything else’.  The first category is rather small in scope.  The 2nd category is huge as there are a kajillian ways of mangling a signal and I’d classify all of those as ‘distortion/fuzz’.

    Fire tomatoes when ready!!

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:01 am
  23. Keith says:

    Meant to say “..buttery OVERDRIVE awaits” 

    The problem of having fingers faster than the brain.  Sometimes affects accelerator pedal foot too.  D’oh!!  (No sir I didn’t know the speed limit through here was only ____!!)

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:03 am
  24. Kevin says:

    @Keith, Wrong, treble boosters were invented to give general vintage british amps more bite and more gain as they push power valves into distortion, as they were well known to be dark and low gain, not only EL84 amps, they were used in marshall plexi as well as they were also dark and low gain.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:16 am
  25. Keith says:

    @Kevin - EL84, KT66, whatever… they weren’t using a lot of 6L6’s (most common Fender power tube) so you seem to be arguing that I’m correct, which I’ll agree with.  British amps were dark and needed a treble boost (ala Clapton’s JTM45) but the Rangemaster’s designers never intended their products to be used to cause ‘overdrive’ distortion but that’s what guys like Clapton and many others did with it..  If you’re saying there is some difference between a boost pedal and an overdrive pedal, this is a common misconception.  I’ll stand my ground.  The result of a dimed boost pedal into a pre-amp input is what’s called ‘overdrive’.  I don’t see the difference but if you or others want to buy extra pedals, knock yourself out.  Peace… cool?

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:40 am
  26. Lance Fowler says:

    A treble booster is doing a couple of things simultaneously - but @ Kevin firstly, it’s a bit of a generalisation to label the old british amps as being dark and low gain. It’s possible to dial in a nice bright sound from an old AC30 or JTM45, and these amps can produce a fairly decent amount of overdrive without the assistance of a treble booster.

    But if you feed a boosted signal into these amps, with no treble emphasis, you will just get more of what was already happening - the trick with a treble booster is the ‘pre-eq’ emphasis it places on the midrange frequencies, and the zingy clipping produced by it’s germanium transistors - it creates a cocktail of gain, clipping and EQ that not only pushes the amp harder, but creates a very nice layer of fuzziness & exaggerates the sensitivity of the amp in a musically useful frequency range, particularly for lead guitar.

    I think the association with British amps is important, but mainly because they were being used by important British artists like Brian May and Eric Clapton. On the other hand you have Toni Iommi, who modified his treble booster to accentuate lower mid-range frequencies, which you’ll recognise when you listen to old Black Sabbath records.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:46 am
  27. Keith says:

    @Lance -  All good points.  Your point about the wonders of ‘germanium’  (zingy… can I borrow that?!) is spot on.  True that beyond just pushing the pre into saturation it also brought it’s own distinct tonal spice.  Personally, nothing is more fun than a germanium dirt box with a weak battery for the ultimate in ratty broken-speaker-cone tone.  “Satisfaction” indeed!

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 8:27 am
  28. Scott Perry says:

    To Keith: I’m going to respond to your comment, then I’m out, cause this is like a dog chasing his tail. A boost pedal is normally used, to increase the volume of the signal of the output of the signal coming out of your cabnet, mainly used to increase your output that your amp is already putting out, mainly to increase the volume during a lead pass, then it’s generally shut off, to bring your volume back down to you original rhythm volume. Now, however your getting the sound of your rhythm tone , is caused by a clean signal you’re using, as your rhthym sound, or how much gain your amp is in use by the gain stage of your amp, or a pedal, that increases the gain, or effect you’re using , to get your rhythm sound, be it overdrive, distortion, or an algorism of whatever you’re using. One great boost pedal, is the Fat Boost, made by Fulltone. All it does is increase the volume of whatever your tone already is. If you think that using a boost pedal, will change your tone, like a distortion, overdrive pedal, or whatever, you are absolutely is wrong, unless like the Fulltone pedal, it has EQ controls in the pedal, and you may hear a difference, if you’re Eric Johnson, or have dog’s ears! So, if that what you write, is what you believe, more power to ya. Live and learn…

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:52 am
  29. Lance Fowler says:

    @ Scott - I use an EQ pedal in the FX loop as a volume ‘boost’ for leads, but some people might place an EQ or clean boost before a source of clipping (amp/overdrive, distortion or fuzz). Bigger input signal = more clipping.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 10:51 am
  30. Scott Perry says:

    I knew I wrote I wouldn’t write anymore, but that’s an excellant way to boost your signal! Sorry I left one of many other ways to boost your signal. I also used to use a EQ on my pedalboard, but just to boost certain freq., that I didn’t think I was getting out of my rig properly. There’s many more, but I appologize for leaving one of many out.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 11:28 am
  31. Kevin says:

    @Keith, no extra pedal needed here, my only point is that the real pioneer of dirty boxes were the treble boosters, even before fuzz pedals, treble boosters later evolved into overdrive pedals such as the tubescreamer which we can easily call it a mids booster, but yet the 2 things work differently, while the first pushes the valves into distortion keeping a sinusoidal signal, the second generates a clipping with diodes creating more of a square signal, coloring the overall sound (for the better or for the worse), try to plug a treble booster into a modern mid or high gain amp, it would sound like crap, even with a peavey classic series which is a moderate gain amp, in a nutshell treble boosters are designed to overdrive old british like amp, even modern vox amps can be overdriven very good with treble boosters, sure we can’t call it high gain amps yet.

    @Lance, the very first AC30s had no brilliant channel, just the normal one, which has always been known as DULL sounding and was indeed dark, even in modern AC30s, that’s where the treble booster idea came out, the top boost at those times was an optional and you had to take it back to JMI if you wanted the added channel, ad what is the top boost channel by the way? a simulation of a inbuilt treble booster, but people like rory gallagher never played into the top boost channel, he prefered the dull normal channel corrected with a dallas rangemaster, and brian may followed his example.

    Also blackmore used the rangemaster into his plexis for the same reason gallagher used it on the AC30, those were dark amps, also because they were non master volume easily cranked at those days, and you know, the more you crank them the fatter they get

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm
  32. Lance Fowler says:

    @ Kevin - Yup, good point RE the origins of the top boost channel on the AC30. I guess I was thinking about bright tones at lower volumes, but I think you’ve got a point about how you’ll tend to lose fidelity as you crank these older style amps up to their limits, particularly with the older style speakers they came with. Modern amps and speakers can stay bright at high gain and volumes without the aid of a treble booster. Having said that, there’s a certain mojo to the old school approach… nothing quite like a treble booster hiting a cranked non-master volume amplifier hard…

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
  33. Keith says:

    Scott - Enjoy the conversation first off.

    You’re a special case I hadn’t even considered.  The article was about boost pedals in context of overdrive, fuzz, distortion pedals.  For what you’re doing I don’t know why you don’t just use your guitars volume knob and set the amp at the volume you want for solos, then back off the guitar volume knob until it’s time for a solo.  Of course, if the Fulltone is being used to add EQ (and probably some compression they’re not telling you about) then that’s all good.  Can’t argue with good tone.  That said, Clapton and others used their boosters to hit their amps preamp HARD in the nads to get some pre-amp clipping.  I’d dare say most boost pedal users have them on their board for that purpose, but as you point out… not everyone uses boost pedals for the distortion/overdrive.  Fair enough.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm
  34. Scott Perry says:

    Sometimes, I do roll-off the volume on the guitar, turn it up during the solo, then roll off to go back to rhythym volume. But that depends on which of my amps I’m using. As for Blackmore, He used Marshall Majors, which is a 200 watt Amp; I have one. Either he used something to get overdrive in his amp, to keep it at a usable stage volume, or dimed it, and used an attenuator, to get a suitable stage volume. I know this, because I own one, and haven’t used it in years, and the only way I could use it at a sane level, I used an old ,(new at the time), Scholz Sustainer . Like I said before, this conversation could go on endlessly, and everone writing in this discussion has a valid point, to a cer
    tain degree. We could argue this forever…

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm
  35. Kevin says:

    @Scott, Blackmore doesn’t need attenuators, considering the venues he plays, a cranked 200 watts amp is not a lot in his case, don’t think 200W is twice louder than a 100W, it’s only 5db louder circa or a little bit more, he dimed the amp and used a dallas rangemaster treble booster to further overdrive the amp in his prime.

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm
  36. Kevin says:

    wikipedia also mentiones the Hornby Skewes treble booster used with the marshall major

    posted on September 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm
  37. Keith says:

    Scott - Agreed… but it is fun to discuss and heck, I’m learning stuff about Blackmore/Gallagher/May from reading some of these posts!  It’s a pretty well-read and ‘hands-on’ group posting here usually so I love reading the posts as much or more than the articles.  BTW, I have a Scholz Power Soak collecting dust too.  ;-)  (I assume you meant that not the Sustainor?)  Played with it for a while and need to put it back on eBay for someone else’s dust collection shelf.  Since BWJ was plugging Carvin amps, I feel compelled to show Laney some love for their Lionheart series.  Wonderful stuff but not as loud as similarly powered Fenders and Marshalls due to their being Class A amps.  A tradeoff I don’t mind.

    I would point out that I don’t view the Tube Screamers as ‘boost’ pedals because although they do have a volume knob which can provide boost.. they are famous for their grit/dirt characteristics.  FET based dirt boxes like the TS have a great sound and I used one for ages with a Bassman 50 because it was a clean amp and the TS was able to give it not just some boost but also that wonderful Field Effect Transistor (FET) dirt.  A TS pedal will even sound good with a solid state amp. 

    Kevin -  Agreed with your comment re using boosts with high gain amps.  I bought a treble boost clone from Diceworks (HS-1) and I’m sure it was the best of the best (Erich made good stuff) but all it ever did for my amps was give me nasty noise floor (hum/buzz) that was only tolerable while soloing.  Stop soloing and you were awash with noise.  I’m so glad technology has progressed to where dirt pedals like those from Wampler and others are far more well behaved than past stomps.

    posted on September 27, 2012 at 12:45 am
  38. kevin says:

    with modern moderate or high gain amps a simple overdrive pedal would work fine as a boost, I use the good old TS808 to boost modern already overdriven amps and works just great, treble boosters just don’t, I tried to use the pete cornish TB83 with my peavey C50 and it overcompressed it too much, it got so dull and compressed that I had a significant volumke drop, couldn’t really cut through the mix anymore, much better the TS with it, and the treble booster with my AC15.

    posted on September 27, 2012 at 2:37 am
  39. Keith says:

    @Kevin - Interesting.  Thanks for sharing.  Without turning this into a commercial (too late!!) give the T-Rex Mohler a try.  2-in-1 boost + TS-style dirt pedal with a (really cool) mix/blend knob.  Can operate the TS side alone, the boost alone, or both together.  Used various Ibanez TS’s for >15 years and the Mohler is the one that de-throned the TS on my board.  Rock On!

    PS: I think Burg’s has a really good demo on Youtube.

    posted on September 27, 2012 at 4:38 am
  40. Lance says:

    I’ve previously used TS9s and treble boosters to hit the amp’s front end in various setups, but over the last few years I’ve become a big fan of using octavia-style fuzz my lead work. My current favourite ‘booster’ is based on the Ampeg Scrambler, which I asked a mate to build for me. The Scrambler circuit lets you blend in some clean with your fuzz, or some fuzz with your clean - I’m finding that this feature can really help tighten up the sound, and give you control over some of the soupiness that can happen when you cascade a fuzz into an overdrive. Plus my mate added a volume boost stage to the pedal’s output, which can really hammer the front end of the amp! There’s a very similar design available from Creepy Fingers effects called the Pink Elephant:
    http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2010/Nov/Creepy_Fingers_Effects_Pink_Elephant_Pedal_Review.aspx

    posted on September 27, 2012 at 6:04 am
  41. Scott Perry says:

    Keith, I’ve owned a Scholz Sustainer, And A Power Soak. The Sustainer was a distortion module, that actually didn’t sound too bad, and that is what I was using with the Major. A Power Soak, is a attenuator, which you know what that’s all about. The Scholz Power soak, for some reason, because of it’s design, had a problem with smoking Power tubes, which is par for the course, and I think the Marshall Power Soak is better in design, and doesn’t cause you to go through so many power tubes.
      Be it 100 watts or 200 watts, in this day and time, aren’t as popular as they once were, because of close-miking cabs, that run through the mix, which they didn’t do in the old days. One head I use, is the Dr. Z Maz !8, Which if you dime it out, surprisingly sounds awesome, and has a great clip. But the Boiling point , which I meantioned before, has a switch, which will give you the sound of a Plexi, a JCM800, or a distortion that’s insane! With that pedal turned off, or on, with any of the three modes on the pedal, I think anyone would be happy with the results…

    posted on September 29, 2012 at 3:30 am
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