Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal - Jemsite
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-20-2005, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
 
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Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Hi guys,
I haven't been playing guitar that long, but I play in a band now and i need to upgrade my gear. I've been looking at what everyone says they have for gear, but I'm confused about distortion.
I was looking at a MESA/Boogie Rectifier 1x12 combo.
It has really good distortion (as you all probably know), but other people have MESAs and still use pedals to get distortion. Why?
If you can get better distortion with pedals, then why even get a tube amp?
I'm just confused about that; if someone could clear this up for me, that'd be great. Thanks.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-20-2005, 03:12 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

A pedal in front of a tube amp will sound very different from a pedal in front of a solid state amp. (Notice I didn't say better, or worse) You will still get that nice tubey feel from the tube amp, though.

For many people, the clean sound if alot more important to them, than the distortion channel. They'll buy an amp that has that perfect(for them) clean sound, and use a pedal, if the dirty side of the amp isn't really what they where looking for.

Also, a pedal gives more options. You have you clean sound, your dirty sound, and then you clould kick on the pedal over each channel, for even ore variety.

Also, most tube amps don't really give it all up, until they're pushed, or turned up louder. Many time, you don't get to reach that sweet spot, so, the pedal gives it that extra kick.

Last edited by whatshisname; 04-20-2005 at 03:20 PM.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-20-2005, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Alright, thank you.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-21-2005, 10:33 AM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

With many amps (Mesas being one of them), you can use a distortion pedal, or the distortion pedal of the manufacturer's choice built into the amp.

With a d-pedal you get that tube compression sounds with a tube amp when you turn it up and distortion from the pedal. However I do find that I prefer to OD my amps for distortion much better, but that can cause hearing loss!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-21-2005, 11:35 AM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Quote:
Originally Posted by red5
With many amps (Mesas being one of them), you can use a distortion pedal, or the distortion pedal of the manufacturer's choice built into the amp.
HUH?

There's no distortion "pedal" built into the amp . . . in fact a 'distortion' channel in an amp is simply (on most) (an) added gain stage(s) that can be pushed into distortion (actually, clipping which causes what we refer to as "distortion.")

The idea behind this was to do two things for the player . . . give him clipping at lower volumes (you clip the pre-amp before it gets sent to the power amp, this is also referred to as a "master volume" amp) and/or to give you more variety in your distorted sounds since anyone that really knows tube amps will know that really sweet clipping comes from the power tubes.

Again, there's no distortion "pedal" in a two or three (or four) channel amp, simply more or different gain stages.

I just wanted to carify this since that statement, read by a "newbie" would be very mis-leading.

Mic
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 02:29 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Quote:
Originally Posted by MicJustMic
HUH?

There's no distortion "pedal" built into the amp . . . in fact a 'distortion' channel in an amp is simply (on most) (an) added gain stage(s) that can be pushed into distortion (actually, clipping which causes what we refer to as "distortion.")
Not all of them. But many of them have solid state circutry which is basically a distortion pedal of the manufacturer's choosing. Ever heard of clipping diodes? Check it out.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 02:55 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Yeah, and I'm 99.9% sure that mesas are all tube with no solid state assist - they're kinda purists about that stuff, and they didn't exactly invented cascading gain stages, but they sure as hell popularized it, and god knows there's enough preamp tubes in one of those things...

A distortion pedal doesn't mimic the sound of a compressed poweramp - rather, it adds preamp distortion and a bit of added compresson. I have yet to run into ANYTHING that mimics the sound and feel of a compressed poweramp.

Myself, I'm a big fan of amp distortion - my Nomad's response is more organic than any distortion pedal I've ever played, even at lower volumes.

-D
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 03:18 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

That said, there are some really damn good distortions out there. I continue to be impressed with the tonebone stuff. Very dynamic and responsive, but like Drew said...crank a good tube amp and you're forever ruined. Everything else just tries to keep up, with different degrees of success. Pedals do give lots of tone shaping options which is why I love them over rack based effects units...not that they don't offer tons of stuff, but you have to know what you want ahead of time and program all that stuff in. I like to mash on stuff and twist knobs on the fly...
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 04:36 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Quote:
Originally Posted by red5
Not all of them. But many of them have solid state circutry which is basically a distortion pedal of the manufacturer's choosing. Ever heard of clipping diodes? Check it out.
I'm an electronics tech, so do me the favour of dropping the condescending tone, "Ever heard of clipping diodes? Check it out."

I'm talking about the idea that there's a "pedal" in the amp. This would indicate that, say, Fender is dropping the electronics of a Boss DS-1 in their amps.

And even though you may think I'm splitting hairs here, even if they did just that, it's not a "pedal", it's now a part of the amp.

That's what I'm referring to. Not that the pre-amp stage may or may not have a similar circuit to a distortion pedal, but that there isn't a, "pedal of the manufacturer's choosing."

But that actually wasn't his question . . . he was asking why one would use a distortion pedal in front of a tube amp, and really the simple answer is this . . .

Added gain. Many people will use the distortion pedal just as a volume boost for lead or heavy distortion, though some distortion pedals do have nice tone all by themselves (Tube-screamer) and they don't want to give up that sound even if they love the sound of their tube amp as well.

Mic
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 07:42 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

I use just what are termed "overdrives" rather than distortion pedals to push already distorted amps . Such as the Ibanez TS9 and Zoom PD-01. Only for solos though. Just gives it that extra saturation that feels good under the fingers and accentuates the mids which helps the solos to stand out more. I heard the Fulltone OCD clips & it sounds like it's pretty good at this and a lot of people are hyping up the Digitech "Bad Monkey" for this also. There are many, many small pedal makers doing the TS9-TS808 thing too.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-25-2005, 10:09 AM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Quote:
Originally Posted by MicJustMic
I'm an electronics tech, so do me the favour of dropping the condescending tone, "Ever heard of clipping diodes? Check it out."

I'm talking about the idea that there's a "pedal" in the amp. This would indicate that, say, Fender is dropping the electronics of a Boss DS-1 in their amps.

And even though you may think I'm splitting hairs here, even if they did just that, it's not a "pedal", it's now a part of the amp.

That's what I'm referring to. Not that the pre-amp stage may or may not have a similar circuit to a distortion pedal, but that there isn't a, "pedal of the manufacturer's choosing."

But that actually wasn't his question . . . he was asking why one would use a distortion pedal in front of a tube amp, and really the simple answer is this . . .

Added gain. Many people will use the distortion pedal just as a volume boost for lead or heavy distortion, though some distortion pedals do have nice tone all by themselves (Tube-screamer) and they don't want to give up that sound even if they love the sound of their tube amp as well.

Mic
It seems you know very well what I was talking about so spare me the proper termology lecture.

I think he is refering to using a pedal for most the gain, not in front of a gain stage. Some amps run pedals really well. A lot of people like amps with a clean power section such as Fender Twins with pedals for really heavy stuff. I have not used one with a pedal, but I love the clean tone of those alone. If they run pedals well too then I can kick the pedal off and have the clean of a Fender Twin, how awesome would that be?

There are pedals made to push the amp into overdrive, and pedals made to provide distortion (and you can dime your MV to still get tube compression if you're a tube user!). I find my Marshall Major does not run the latter type of pedals too well, but sounds great with a treble booster in front of it!

Last edited by red5; 04-25-2005 at 10:19 AM.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-30-2005, 09:13 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Correct, *I* knew exactly what you were talking about, I simply wanted to clarify for those that would have read your statement and thought you meant that they actually took the 'guts' of a distortion pedal and put it inside an amplifier . . . sadly I've run into many that take what they hear/read at face value and later will be totally confused because of it. I actually wanted to save us the headache of dealing with someone like that later. :P

At least we're on the same page . . . though it took me a while to get back to you on this, I had to drive to New Jersey, my grandfather died.

Mic
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-01-2005, 03:21 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

Quote:
Originally Posted by MicJustMic
Correct, *I* knew exactly what you were talking about, I simply wanted to clarify for those that would have read your statement and thought you meant that they actually took the 'guts' of a distortion pedal and put it inside an amplifier . . . sadly I've run into many that take what they hear/read at face value and later will be totally confused because of it. I actually wanted to save us the headache of dealing with someone like that later. :P

At least we're on the same page . . . though it took me a while to get back to you on this, I had to drive to New Jersey, my grandfather died.

Mic
Awww okay I apologize I thought you were trying to be a prick because I didnt use the proper terms...

What would an amp with a pedal built in (literally) look like anyway? The top of the pedal comes through the top of the amp so you put the amp on the ground and step on the top to turn it on and off?

It would be cool if they had a "clipping diode bypass" button on amps though!
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-02-2005, 09:34 AM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

I think Yngwie has a signature amp with an OD built in... Forgot the amp maker, but I think he mostly uses marhshalls anyway.

Sorry to hear about your grandmother, Mic...
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-02-2005, 12:26 PM
 
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Re: Amp Overdrive vs. Distortion Pedal

One good point that should be drawn from this banter is that all tube amps are not providing "real" tube overdrive. Many makers use the same kind of circuits used in distortion pedals to produce their lead channel's distortion. For the sake of that point, the phrase distortion and overdrive are kind of interchangeable because the lines have blurred. That still makes for a good sounding amp by the way, it's just a different way of achieving clipping.

One disappointing side effect to that type of lead channel is that a tube screamer style OD in front of the amp will not respond the same way it does with a true tube preamp. If you have a preamp stage with true tube OD, then the TS/OD pedal can just add grit, or with the output boosted too, it can push the tubes harder. That's a great sound. But if there's a solid state distortion circuit inside the amp that's just "flavored" by the preamp tubes, then the OD pedal in front of the amp can sound more flat and lifeless, because it's not pushing the preamp tubes, but rather stacking (cascading is an okay word I guess) two solid state OD/Dist circuits.

I feel like that's something you need to know before you buy a certain famous brand tube amp. Sound and feel are the ultimate judge, so if you like the amp, it matters not what preamp they're using. But if you're hoping to do the SRV-style setup with half grit on the amp and half drive on the Tube Screamer, you may get less dynamics from the solid state amp distortion. The Marshall JCM900 is a perfect example of this. But even that kind of amp can be great, because then your ideal setup could be running a tube OD pedal (V-twin, etc) in front of the amp. That way you can "cascade" that into the clean channel for the most organic sound, and still use the amp's lead channel for total saturation. In other words, it puts the tube OD on the floor, and the "SS distortion pedal" in the amp.

I like to think of everything in a modular way. I mean some amps are just built perfectly and you can't attribute the magic to the preamp, the OD, the power amp, tube rectifier, etc. It's a total sum of the parts. Everything is in harmony. But most of the time, if you know what you've got "under the hood" you can assemble a great rig out of anything. If you want classic high quality tube tone, it's kind of like this:

Got a JCM900? You need a V-twin or a H&K tubeman, etc.
Got a Recto? You need a TS9 or Boss Super Overdrive, etc.
Got a vintage Fender? You need a couple boutique OD's, one that totally saturates. Maybe even the Boss Metal Zone for full on metal.
Got a Crate/Peavey/etc. SS amp? You need a tube preamp. (then see "Got a recto?")
Got a POD? You need...well...therapy.
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amp distortion , boss metal zone , clean tone , distortion pedal , fender twin , playing guitar , power amp , preamp tube , solid state amp , super overdrive , tube amp , tube amps , tube preamp , tube tone

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