Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

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devro
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Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by devro » December 21st, 2012, 9:57 am

Hi everyone, this is my first post and I'm hoping you can help with a question I've struggled with since starting to mess around with amp settings and OD/distortion pedals.

I have recently begun to throw a small pedalboard together and am having a tough time deciding what the best strategy is to achieve all of the sounds I want. I am a hobbyist not a gigging musician, and but for a student band gig twice a year with other students where I take guitar lessons I play in the basement sometimes with buddies.

I have a 15 watt Vox AC15C1, which provides some really nice overdriven sounds, and I have a TS808 that the previous owner modded for true bypass, a better switch and a brighter LED.

My question is what the best strategy is for playing a somewhat broad range of rock and blues tunes, and what equipment is necessary to play a few different styles in one set without making major changes to my amp and pedals throughout the performance.

I can't set my amp too dirty or it will be over the top for more mellow songs, but isn't it a bit of a waste of its natural sweet overdriven sound to run it completely clean and only use pedals for OD/slight Distortion?

Is there a strategy using combination of amp, OD pedals, and maybe a boost to play songs ranging from mellow to fairly overdriven, as well as something to help boost for solos at the appropriate level of gain for each song?

Sorry for the long explanation, want to be clear so you understand what I'm really after.

Thanks for your help!

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Alan Green
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Re: Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by Alan Green » December 21st, 2012, 12:45 pm

I like to run my amp on clean or crunch and then deal with all the OD sounds through my frontline. It avoids having to fiddle with the amp settings during a show and I can twiddle pedal knobs if I need to without turning my back to the audience.
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Moonrider
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Re: Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by Moonrider » December 22nd, 2012, 8:51 am

devro wrote: My question is what the best strategy is for playing a somewhat broad range of rock and blues tunes, and what equipment is necessary to play a few different styles in one set without making major changes to my amp and pedals throughout the performance.
This is something my cover band requires almost every single performance. Here's how I deal with it on my low power (5 and 15 watt) tube amps.

Amp: set to the edge of POWER TUBE saturation (aka slight crunch), so that a 1/4 turn back on the guitar volume knob will clean the sound up with no noticeable drop in volume. For even 5 watt tube amps this is going to be more stage volume than you want in most venues, so an attenuator is a pretty essential piece of equipment. With an attentuator between the amp and the speaker, you get the saturation and tone without a huge amount of stage volume. Low stage volume means that sound techs will love you and work their buns off to make you sound better than the headliners (actually it makes their work incredibly easier) :lol:

Setting your amp this way also makes it very easy to get two essential tones, clean and crunch, with minimal fuss.

Secret weapon: Compressor as first effect in chain. The electric guitar is a very dynamic instrument. You can go from whisper soft to blaringly loud just by varying picking force alone. A volume setting that's TOO loud when you're unconsciously slamming the strings with sledgehammer force, may be too quiet when doing a subtle, soft finger picked phrase. A properly set compressor will let you even out the peaks and valleys so that everything is heard while nothing overwhelms.

Dirt: Overdrive, Distortion, or Fuzz. This will be in addition/adding to the amp crunch. Personally, I prefer Overdrive with a tube amp, and if I'm subbing with a harder rocking group, I add a distortion pedal after the OD. Experiment. See what works for you and the band you're with.

Other effects: MY personal essentials in the chain after these two are Analog Delay, Modulation (I use chorus and Univibe the most) and Tremolo. Yours may vary. Again, experiment and see what works best for you.
Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

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s1120
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Re: Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by s1120 » December 23rd, 2012, 4:18 am

Moonrider wrote:
devro wrote:
Amp: set to the edge of POWER TUBE saturation (aka slight crunch), so that a 1/4 turn back on the guitar volume knob will clean the sound up with no noticeable drop in volume. For even 5 watt tube amps this is going to be more stage volume than you want in most venues, so an attenuator is a pretty essential piece of equipment. With an attentuator between the amp and the speaker, you get the saturation and tone without a huge amount of stage volume. Low stage volume means that sound techs will love you and work their buns off to make you sound better than the headliners (actually it makes their work incredibly easier) :lol:

Setting your amp this way also makes it very easy to get two essential tones, clean and crunch, with minimal fuss.

.

OK so for what its worth being that I have not played out at all yet..or eaven in a band setting.. but just messing around in my celler, this is too a T what I do. Im running a VOX ad30vt what is a hybrid amp. It has a attenuator built in. I use that to control the volume mostly, and as said.. I keep the amp setup so if I turn the volume down just a tick on the LP, it cleans right up. I have a blues driver pedal that I add if I want a little extra rattyness. Granted... I go for the more dirty vintege tone, and not more modern distortion... so what I call dirty might be other peoples clean.
Paul B

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Re: Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by EzraplaysEzra » December 27th, 2012, 6:34 pm

First of all, well done! An Ac15 and a TS808 are about all you need to make some of the best guitar sounds imaginable. The Ac15 has the sweetest overdrive feel ever, I'm envious. People worship the Ts808, not for its overdrive, which is creamy and awesome but for its ability to add "more" to the sound of a hard driven preamp. You put it in front of a Jcm800 and you get more Jcm800, you put it in front of a Twin and you get twinier, In front of a Dumble and you get Dumblemore, a Matchless becomes Matched? I digress... Think of the Screamer as a "More" button for your amp. Keep the gain button lower (counter clockwise) and the bring the level up for the desired effect - the tone is what it is. Its not an effect that's going to change your sound completely or drastically but it will make all the difference in the world when you just need a little bit "more". Use your guitar's volume to go from clean to overdrive. I would also suggest a good comp, I like the Boss Se 2 or 3. You must have a wah - the Vox 845 is as good as any and the cheapest - and much more reliable than the horrible cry baby cb95 of which I own at least 4 non functioning units and the Electro-Harmonics Holy Stain is one of my most used pedels - it has great reverbs and pitch as well as trem. Under $150 used. Actually just buy everything EH makes and you'll be good to go.

ru5ty5p00n
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Re: Overdrive/boost/dirty amp philosophy

Post by ru5ty5p00n » February 11th, 2013, 10:55 pm

Hey man cool setup you have.I used to have the same amp!
What I would try is overdriving you amp's power tubes as much as you can.... well as much as the volume of the gig or jam session allows. Then use your guitar volume knob to dial in different levels of overdrive. You can actually get some pretty clean sounds if you turn the volume down on the guitar without losing to much overall volume from the amp. I would use the tubescreamer with the drive back off and the volume up to boost your signal for solos. you could also set your amp clean and use the tubescreamer for overdrive but you would also want to have a boost pedal of some sort like the mxr micro amp for solos and leads.

The way I use my ac15 handwired heritage is to set the volume up enough so that if you play lightly it is clean but if you play a little harder it gets crunch but i have a treble booster for extra gain and boost which is my only dirt pedal.
Anyway Im not a pro or anything hope some of my ideas help
Happy Tuesday

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