Drive Quest pt 4

It’s funny. In looking at my past Drive Quest entries, I keep listing sounds or tones that are often an amp turned all the way up that is driven even more by a fuzz or overdrive pedal. For example, I mentioned the modern dirty blues.  The White Stripes and Black Keys are using old tube amps with fuzz pedals in front of them.  But I’m not liking what I hear in my fuzz pedals.  I’m hearing way too much fart sound and not enough singing fuzz. It just sounds too broken up and cheesy.  Too in your face.  And often too muddy.

I’m sure a big part of this is just  my inability to play.  It is also impacted by the fact that I am rarely pushing my amp.  It could also be the fact that I have an EL34 tube in my amp right now instead of the more American “fender-esque” sounding 6L6 tube.  That is one nice thing about  my amp, I can swap out a bunch of different tubes to get the “feel” that I want.  The base palette is very open depending on what power tube I put in there.

My experience with the Vox Valve-tone V810, which is really just an Ibanez TS808 clone, really made me realize that I’m not a big fuzz guy. I like the low end chug of the Russian Big Muff Pi, but not for very long. I like the buzzing power chords played on the bridge pickup through the American Big Muff Pi, but not the single string fart noise.  It doesn’t sing and sustain a la David Gilmour. It sounds too choppy or broken up.

I like the smoother drive of the Vox. Perhaps I’ll prefer the Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808 more than my noisy Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive.  Perhaps I’ll like it more than my “good for classic rock power chords” Marshall Guv-Nor Plus GV-2.

I also read in my September 2011 copy of Guitar Player all about fuzz that in the old days, each guitarist used one dirty pedal to get their sound.  James Santiago said,

For a long time, if you were a Hendrix guy, you had just a fuzz. For blues it was the Tube Screamer, for modern rock it was a Boss DS-1, and so on.  Now we see players that want to create with all those colors and more in the same rig.

I guess I’m turning into more of a “blues” guy, less of a Hendrix guy, and less of a modern rock guy.  But I certainly want to create with all those colors and more in the same rig.  How do you create your colors with your rig?

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8 thoughts on “Drive Quest pt 4

  1. Whilst I still love playing about with my old analogue pedals, there is nothing that I’ve found that comes close to matching the flexibility, quality of tone, reliability and ease of use of my Line 6 Pod XT. You can turn off the amp and speaker emulation and just use it as a really well stocked pedal board, with all of the classic fuzzboxes, ODs and distortions on tap.

    • I helped a friend buy his son an intro squire strat that came with a POD. I didn’t get a chance to play with it too much, but it seemed like there are a lot of possibilities! Does it take a while to dial in the sounds you want when you have so many options?

  2. I play electric in a worship band fairly regularly, which means I have to cover a lot of territory with my pedalboard. I’ve got it posted somewhere on my blog. But definitely, I’ve got a lot of different boxes that do different things and give me different tones. I haven’t played nearly enough to be master of all of them, which is also partly why I haven’t bought anything new in a long time. I think you need to know what you can do with what you have before you start buying lots of other stuff. But I’m happy with what I have right now.

    • I completely agree! Knowing what you can do with what you have will make changes better. You will be more sensitive to the differences and hopefully more open to what changes those differences can facilitate. I think we as guitar players (and that ever growing G.A.S.) tend to forget the value of knowing your gear inside and out. We just keep looking for the next thing to buy or get, but it isn’t that easy. The quest will always continue, and that isn’t bad. But we need something to ground us so we aren’t following any trend. We need to know who we are and explore from there. A big part of that is learning what you like AND what you dislike about the gear you have.
      Sometimes, I think we also need to be satisfied with where we are so we can actually enjoy playing the guitar instead of just focusing on the “perfect” tone we’ll have with that next piece of gear. We should not get distracted from the joy of making music with what we have. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Pingback: Pedalboard Changes | Confessions of a Wanna Be Guitar Player

  4. Pingback: Pedalboard | Confessions of a Wanna Be Guitar Player

  5. Well, not every effect is for everyone or every song but, particularly fuzzes are the worst and the best of any pedal effect.
    Despite the fact that a fuzz is one of the easier pedal designs, to tweak a set of good transistors to voice the fuzz is a real art. It’s the difference between having an organic sound or a synthetic and quite-well computer sound.
    Best fuzzes load best Germainum transistors ever: Mullards but, not all transistor Mullards are good for the task. Carefully set matching should be performed and, every one has to be biased to the right point.
    To go even worst, those kind of transistors are very sensible to environmental changes so, they often need to be re-biased, as you need to review the setup of your guitar when changing station to Winter or Summer.
    Weirdest, even. Fuzzes don’t want to see a high impedance on his input (in fact, they were designed for organs, not for guitars) so, they can work as the very first pedal on your chain (but, maybe ruining the rest of your chain) but, often they go synthetic and nasty when they are after a good modern pedal or a buffered pedal. If you want to run a wah before, this one should be fuzz-friendly (giving at its output the input impedance that a vintage fuzz needs).
    Muffs aren’t the same. To hear a good fuzz, you should hear some original Sola Sound (MKI, MKII, MKIIb…) one but, also, your amp should have a “vintage” signal path and your guitar should load “vintage output” pickups.
    Unfortunatelly, the pedal effect easier to build is the one that more headaches brings to any guitarist. You will never love a fuzz that isn’t correctly tweaked and that cannot naturaly work whitin your rig!.

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