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Affordable Dist. pedals suck
Old 4 days ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Affordable Dist. pedals suck

Been going to stores, checking youtube etc. a while now to find a dist. pedal for clean amp.

I had luck with overdrives, metal/scooped sounding dist. pedals but finding a convincing marshall-ish sounding dist. pedal has become a challenge. I'm trying not to be too picky but nothing under 200-300 bucks don't sound even remotely close to amp distortion.

I don't know much about that side of engineering, but manufacturers should seriously abandon the modded ds1 school and market them as amp-in-a-box. No wonder processors get more attention than ever before these days
Old 3 days ago
  #2
Gear Guru
Sansamp Character British gets into the ballpark. Not sure of the price, but I love my Radial Tonebone Hot British ... it's got a real tube which I see as slightly embarassing novelty, but however they have done it, it works.
Old 3 days ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Get yourself a rockbox boiling point. Best od/distortion I have ever touched and it is very amp like.

They used to be like 350 bucks and each one had a custom finish. I have one of those. They all have the same finish now... they arent all custom and the price has come down a ton. Under 200. Im told the guts havent changed at all though, so its just as good as it ever was. Despite being an overdrive pedal(which it does great at) it really does have a ton of gain on tap too.

another choice that might be up your alley is the wampler sovreign. It will do a very convincing marshall deal. I like the boiling point better mostly because its got a little more output and gain. It can push beyond marshall and into heavier metal tones.

the cheapest decent pedal ive used is the MXR custom badass 78. I scored it for like 40 bucks at the local music store used.

it has an odd character to it if you listen closely. Its got something slightly weird going on like its almost verging on being a fuzz pedal but its not mushy. it still stays pretty tight.

its a nice extreme budget choice for amp like distortion
Old 3 days ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

To show you want it can do... here are some songs. The song "what if" is my old band called Red Light Crisis.

We recorded this ourselves. No fancy studio trickery or anything of the sort. Its all DIY in my bass players converted basement.

This guitars in What If are the boiling point into a fender blues junior nos with the jensen speaker. Its about a 600 dollar combo amp. No other distortion/gain source but the pedal. I used a mahogany fender american strat for the opening and choruses to give it a little more of an airy sound. For the verses and guitar solo I used my mahogany schecter blackjack with seymour duncan JB bridge pickup for a little extra gut. I only did guitars on this track

The song illusion is something I just did with another guy im working with. Im actually in the process of finishing my new studio in my basement and this was the first project done out of there just to get my feelers about me. I played every instrument here.

The guitars were done similarly with the pedal. The boiling point overdrive into a marshall JCM2000 DSL 100 amp on the crunch channel. Very little gain on that channel. Just mild breakup. Almost 100% of the gain and drive is coming from the pedal here.
Attached Files

What if.mp3 (5.27 MB, 735 views)

Illusion - first cut.mp3 (8.86 MB, 705 views)

Old 3 days ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Zoobiedood's Avatar
 

A Dirty Deed (discontinued) might work. It has 3 band active EQ, which cures most of the problems with the Marshall-in-a-box pedals.
Old 3 days ago
  #6
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the replies, quick answers;

Sansamp Character British; I really wanted to like this one, would have solved so many needs at the time. I got to test flyrig, liverpool and blonde too but to me the british was the worst among these for various reasons/solutions. To generalize, tech 21 pedals "attack" is too pedal-like when driven.

Hot british; A friend had one, we got it to sound near identical with a jackhammer (if the jackhammer wasn't too dark) connected to an amp. Would buy it though if can score a good+cheap one used.

Rockbox boiling point; not sold where I live, will look into it though! (and the shared songs are very good! )

Wampler sovreign; A friend had one, ok overall sound but it reacted poorly when boosted with another pedal. Stacking pedals worked so well for me till now, I don't want to abandon that approach.

MXR custom badass 78; My worstcase option as well, maybe along with boss MD2.

While watching the used market, I will also check processors. If it sounds as good on youtube, wait and paying 1000 dolars to a helix-lt is in theory makes more sense to me than paying 300 dolar on a distortion pedal.

Last edited by cooker; 3 days ago at 06:02 PM..
Old 3 days ago
  #7
Gear Guru
Stupid question ... why don't you buy a Marshall amp?

(... I know ...there are no stupid questions ... only stupid people.)

A lot depends on the amp you are running this into. What can be perfect for one job might be a bad choice for another - that's why I have a massive collection of stomp boxes and could use a few more.

The Sansamp products are really amp replacers - so to use them as a stompbox in front of an amp is a bit wrong, if you ask me. But - they are so versatile that you can do this is you want, and it's another flavour of tone. I use my Sansamps like EQ pedals with benefits. And i'm often surprised which ones work and which don't.

You should also consider an actual eq pedal ... sometmes all you need to do is boost or cut just the right frequencies ... there are so many other factors in the total chain.

A Helix (or even any Pod from XT onwards) will give you a massive choice of distortion tones and amps, cabs, mics, eq ... the main problem with those is User Error. WIth great power comes great responsibility grasshopper.

For live i'm happy with Pods. For recording I think the Sansamps have the edge over anything digital - IF you get lucky. That's why I have many and see what works. The advantage of digital is that you can audition a lot more in a shorter time. But I still like to *finish* the digital sound with some analog of some sort. Less critical for live since the mixer and PA usually have enough analog-ness in them. In my opinion.
Old 3 days ago
  #8
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
...
Hey Kiwi, just to be clear my post was more of a rant than asking gear but I do appreciate everybodys answer

And no its not a stupid question thing is specially cause of the taxes where I live, gear is really expensive and say a plexi + proper cab. sim. device for silent recording is needed I simply can't afford yet.

I'd like to jump from plexi clean to drive from jcm-ish solo dist. and beyond. I actually requested a plexi character from sansamp about a year ago, they told me to get a blondie for clean amp and a hot-rod plexi to drive it.This is actually the flyrig5 but with limited tonal options and added fx.

So instead of this, I programmed my old processors 5 band parametic eq+ cab. emu to a clean amp response and got an ehx glove which I can't say enough good things about for low to mid gain OD.

This is why I skipped the sansamp route, also I extensively tried the liverpool direct to soundcard which was nice. It was a friend of mines (I have many friends with gear ) and I advised him to buy a presonus or art tube preamp as they had so many things right but tube feel wasn't one of them.

Back my distortion problem, even if I bought the sansamp blonde I'd still have this distortion problem as it would be set clean for the hotrodplexi. Probably now you can understand my situation better.

Thankfully I'm not in a rush, just surprised I bumped into such a problem.
Old 3 days ago
  #9
Gear Guru
I think Sansamp's advice was good if you want that Plexi sound. Wampler also have a good Plexi pedal.

I have most of the Sansamp pedals - and if I wanted to switch between Fender clean and Marshall crunch, I would use the Blonde and the British and switch with a looper box like my Boss LS2 or or my Decibel11 Pedal Palette.

If you can't afford Sansamp or Wampler, Joyo make some decent clones of Sansamps.

I think they all require convolution of cab IR's if recording. I'm considering getting the Digitech CabDryVR for my live rig - just to add that speaker cab realism.

As for tube 'feel' - there are a bunch of factors that I personally think have little to do with actual tubes. Tube sag? Sure - but why not use a nice compressor. Speaker distortion? Doesn't do it for me - why not add another pedal if you want to add a hint of edgy breakup ...

There is an element of a cab in a room moving air, flapping trousers, and exciting the strings to sustain ... in my opinion you can get that with a solid state amp ... i'm not a tube purists, although I have some nice tube amps. The more I get interested in modern guitar sounds the less I feel the need for tubes. But that's just me.

Cab impulses capture most of the magic - and you can get them for free.
Old 2 days ago
  #10
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donsolo's Avatar
So let me get this straight:
You want a cheap pedal to sound like an amp you can't afford?

Tell you what, I've got this Bridge in Brooklyn for sale, the perfect pedal is hidden on the lower level...

Also, this notion of wanting the sound of a loud amp but without making the loud is IMO a fool's errand. We all know what the state of modelling is these days and expecting a solid state analog circuit to come close to even that is a fantasy.

I love my Tech 21 stuff for this kind of usage, but I don't hold any delusions that it will sound like the thing it's trying to sound like. Instead, I accept it as its own thing and judge on those merits. Obviously nothing is going to sound like an actual Plexi driving a half or full stack in a large room and second place is obviously modelling for this. That's what modelling is for, to get roughly the same sound as something that already exists. Pedals are often designed to have their own character.

So, even if you were to get one of those speaker simulator load boxes, I can tell you from experience, it's just not the same for a whole host of reasons.

Now, all of that being said, I've also come to understand that becoming a tone hound is really just a procrastination tactic to keep you from doing the thing you should really be doing, which is creating.
Old 2 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
Also, this notion of wanting the sound of a loud amp but without making the loud is IMO a fool's errand. We all know what the state of modelling is these days and expecting a solid state analog circuit to come close to even that is a fantasy.
I think you would be really surprised if you did some blind testing on modelers. Even stuff like the BIAS plugins and the new head they have.
Old 2 days ago
  #12
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

I can only speak for myself, but I don't like distortion pedals. I let my amp handle that. I use a Xotic SP compressor, which has tons of gain, to push the amp a little harder when I need to.
Old 2 days ago
  #13
Two pedals I like for this purpose. The Empress Heavy. It really lets you dial in the midrange and it has 2 channels. This is really great for Marshall late 70's to modern tones. They nailed it! I also like the Catalin Bread Dirty Little Secret. This is more of a JMP or JTM45 vibe. Great pedal.
Old 2 days ago
  #14
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donsolo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosesk25 View Post
I think you would be really surprised if you did some blind testing on modelers. Even stuff like the BIAS plugins and the new head they have.
I don't really want to go into the whole are modellers good enough debate. I'm likely too set in my ways and I own a couple nice tube amps that I enjoy so I'm not out chasing something like a modeller because my needs are more than met. I think if you like the sound of a modeller, use it. If you don't, don't. You know?

My point is that even if modelling is 90% of the way there, trying to get that sound with an analog circuit isn't going to come even close to that 90%, dig?
Old 2 days ago
  #15
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RicTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Sansamp Character British; I really wanted to like this one, would have solved so many needs at the time. I got to test flyrig, liverpool and blonde too but to me the british was the worst among these for various reasons/solutions.
Do you recall if the British was a version 1 or version 2? The version 1 (without the sim option) is terrible as a distortion pedal in front of an amp for primarily one reason: The design of the circuit makes the "Level" pot extremely touchy because it ends up having to be set so close to being turned all the way down. I had an email conversation with Tech 21 about replacing the pot with a pot of a different value, but they told me it wouldn't matter, the problem is inherent in the circuit. Tech 21 told me the Version 2 does not have this issue.

I did however use a British live for a year or so; I used it for songs requiring high gain distortion. In order to tame the touchy Level pot issue I had to dial the Level knob to a mid type position (where it would have been turned up way to high) and then next to the British also run an EQ pedal with a volume control (to lower and tame the Level pot) I finally sold the British because the companion EQ/volume pedal was taking up pedalboard real estate space.
Old 2 days ago
  #16
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
So let me get this straight:
You want a cheap pedal to sound like an amp you can't afford?
Hey donsolo, actually its more about how bad the affordable ones are. The surprise factor is I didn't have such experience with od or metal type pedals.

It started by looking around to find anything nicer than a 70-80 dollar boss/mxr distortion pedal and finding myself at 250-300 bucks only to think they're not great but decent.

This lead to a similar discussion to your solidstate example but thinking if people are making albums with 1000$ helix type products these days (and everyone seems to like them), paying 300 for a "decent" distortion pedal simply starts to not make any sense.

--Anyway, thanks again everyone for the suggestions . Aside the ones I can find to test where I live, I also noticed the blackstar tube pedals and try them too when I can.
Old 2 days ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
I don't really want to go into the whole are modellers good enough debate. I'm likely too set in my ways and I own a couple nice tube amps that I enjoy so I'm not out chasing something like a modeller because my needs are more than met. I think if you like the sound of a modeller, use it. If you don't, don't. You know?

My point is that even if modelling is 90% of the way there, trying to get that sound with an analog circuit isn't going to come even close to that 90%, dig?
Even as much as I love the versatility of modelers I still love plugging into my Randall 4x12 and letting her rip haha So I totally understand.
Old 2 days ago
  #18
Jtt
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A plain ol' Rat has never let me down for this task.

I built my own; I'm rather fond of it.
Attached Thumbnails
Affordable Dist. pedals suck-img_0891.jpg  
Old 2 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_moreira View Post
This guitars in What If are the boiling point into a fender blues junior nos with the jensen speaker. Its about a 600 dollar combo amp. No other distortion/gain source but the pedal. I used a mahogany fender american strat for the opening and choruses to give it a little more of an airy sound. For the verses and guitar solo I used my mahogany schecter blackjack with seymour duncan JB bridge pickup for a little extra gut. I only did guitars on this track
WTF? That is a Fender with Jensens? I really *need* to look that pedal up because these sounds are just in-f***ing-credibly nice! Ok, the solo sound is a little harsh for my taste, but the rhythm sounds are absolutely up my alley.
Old 2 days ago
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sascha Franck View Post
WTF? That is a Fender with Jensens? I really *need* to look that pedal up because these sounds are just in-f***ing-credibly nice! Ok, the solo sound is a little harsh for my taste, but the rhythm sounds are absolutely up my alley.
yep. little 15 watt blues junior with the single 12 inch jensen speaker. All the drive there is just from the pedal. I simply havent found an amp that I dont like it in front of. It is great as a transparent clean boost also. It doesnt necessarily have the mid hump of a tube screamer or od808 unless you play with the switches and tone control. Otherwise it simply just adds a lot of boost if you want.

About the solo... you could probably just move the mic half inch over and tame it up a a good bit. I either used an SM57 or a sennheiser MD421 to mic. I cant remember because I was using both for the sessions. And no matter what mic im using(or even if Im using more than one) at least one mic is usually positioned 50% on the center cap and 50% on the cone. So.. real close to center.

I was also using a wah for just a bit of flavor and it definitely added some bite.

I think the wah is the biggest contributor to the bite in the sound. Without it, it probably woulda been a little smoother but I dont mind it.

I dont think I mentioned it but illusion was recorded with a 2X12 avatar cab loaded with vintage 30's through that DSL. Still though the pedal is adding most of the drive and distortion. That one is in drop B too. It doesnt have issue with the low low stuff either.

What if is E flat.
Old 2 days ago
  #21
Gear Nut
 

heres a good demo of the pedal in action(boiling point).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=154jLOu3bOw

jump to about the 6:50 mark to see the boiling point(they audition a few).

while you are watching pay close attention from like 8:55 to 9:05. Good before and after.

Also see the top left knob on the pedal? Thats the volume knob and you'll note its very low during the demo.

You turn this up and its going to hit the front end of the amp hard and really tighten things up and can bring it into metal territory with the right tube amp if you want. Its already got a good classic metal tone as you can hear from this demo but yeah.... push that volume and it really can get to the next level.
Old 2 days ago
  #22
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REGGAE's Avatar
You could always just get a cheap used Marshall from Craigslist, or even a JMP-1 preamp.
Old 2 days ago
  #23
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bgood's Avatar
Joyo!

Or if this is a recording deal, get something cheap with full plate tube voltage as a front end... Art mpa ii with some tasty nos tubes

I agree with previous poster... In this day and age with all the options available you gotta ask yourself if all you're really accomplishing is to hit pause on actual creation...
Old 2 days ago
  #24
Gear Guru
I do see the point about spending $300 on a pedal when you can get amazing digital multifx units like Helix for only 3 times the price or thereabouts.

For me, if it is about live recall of various patches for different songs - maybe using midi - then it is really hard to beat digital units. But - they will never be as cool as classic stompbox pedals. There is an aesthetic appeal in colorful box - and some theatrics in stomping on them in anger. There is is also the immediate advantage of twisting a knob in the heat of battle - the digital boxs are more clinical and precise and ideal for some applications, but less suitable for the more seat-of-yer-pants conflict situations.

I think if you are lucky to find the perfect combination of guitar/pedal/amp you can get amazing tones that still have the edge of the best digital FX. It's starting to become quite a small difference - but there is still the latency and conversion and I find even the best Strymon distortion etc still has a different flavour to the raw sound of disturbed electrons fighting to get out of a tiny box.

The Helix will probably be forgotten in 5 years ... but a great distortion pedal will still be creating magic in 20 years time ...
Old 2 days ago
  #25
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I was all ITB for my gtr/bass and keyboard amplification... Then I started to pick up real pedals... Then some combos... Then heads and cabs lol

Whatever you can use that doesn't impact feeding your family you should pick up and experiment.

I find that I'm mixing worlds quite often... ITB plus real amps... Real tube frontend into robot box... Pedals sprinkled in, too.

But I'm recording not playing out... Oh, and I'm not a gtr player and you dudes are crazy about tone.
Old 2 days ago
  #26
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Joe Porto's Avatar
 

Just a side note on the Wampler Sovreirgn...It's a great pedal....I use it in front of a clean Marshall Super Bass....but I agree....doesn't do well being pushed by another pedal....it wants to see a passive pickup....give it that and it will respond like an amp....cleans up amazingly well. I use it first in the chain, with a Wampler Ecstasy after to kick in for lead boost.

But you can't write off any distortion pedal if you only try it with one amp....you need to find the right combo of amp and pedal. I love the JHS Charlie Brown in front of a BF Fender, but it's an ice pick in front of my Marshall. Z. Vex BOR sounds great in front of my Marshall, but too flabby in front of my Fender.
Old 2 days ago
  #27
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M.S.P.'s Avatar
Mooer have some preamp pedals they just released and one is a Marshall I believe. Not sure how they stack up, but they claim they are on par with Kemper quality (not holding my breath on that one, but they might be ok in their own right).
Old 2 days ago
  #28
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Have you considered germanium based pedals? I recently bought a nice one from a company called JDM, The Chandler is a bit more expensive, but illustrates the basic germ sound.

Old 1 day ago
  #29
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I do see the point about spending $300 on a pedal when you can get amazing digital multifx units like Helix for only 3 times the price or thereabouts.

For me, if it is about live recall of various patches for different songs - maybe using midi - then it is really hard to beat digital units. But - they will never be as cool as classic stompbox pedals. There is an aesthetic appeal in colorful box - and some theatrics in stomping on them in anger. There is is also the immediate advantage of twisting a knob in the heat of battle - the digital boxs are more clinical and precise and ideal for some applications, but less suitable for the more seat-of-yer-pants conflict situations.

I think if you are lucky to find the perfect combination of guitar/pedal/amp you can get amazing tones that still have the edge of the best digital FX. It's starting to become quite a small difference - but there is still the latency and conversion and I find even the best Strymon distortion etc still has a different flavour to the raw sound of disturbed electrons fighting to get out of a tiny box.

The Helix will probably be forgotten in 5 years ... but a great distortion pedal will still be creating magic in 20 years time ...
I have no qualms against digital in the right application but it will never match the 'feel' of a real analog circuit even if the sound is comparable.

for the longest time I was only into the digital stuff. The latest and greatest multi FX box. I was a guy that used to advocate for the stuff til I was doing a show where for whatever reason I couldnt use my digital rig. I forget what but one of the other guitar players from another act let me borrow his amp.

nothing fancy. it was just a 100 watt randall tube head with a 4X12 cab but it changed my mind a lot on digital. The type of gain structures I used to have to slave over the digital equipment to get just right were there within seconds just by twisting a couple knobs. Not to mention the more natural feel.

anymore I only use real amps live. I record real amps too. Now I do capture a clean signal and I will either reamp or use a software amp if needed but I want the performance played through legit gear. I dont like the immediate nature of digital equipment even when it sounds great.

I like that bit of sag you get with a tube amp and cab/speakers pushed hard. Sure its just a mental thing, but It makes me feel like I have to dig into the chords and notes more to get the sound to come out.

"software" of any kind tends to make me perform in a little more controlled manner and it ultimately lacks some life. Not the sound. The performance.
Old 1 day ago
  #30
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_moreira View Post
I like that bit of sag you get with a tube amp and cab/speakers pushed hard. Sure its just a mental thing, but It makes me feel like I have to dig into the chords and notes more to get the sound to come out.

"software" of any kind tends to make me perform in a little more controlled manner and it ultimately lacks some life. Not the sound. The performance.
Yes- as you say "it's just a mental thing".

Which means - in a blind test, if we told you you were playing through a tube amp you would probably play better, and if we told you you were playing through software you would probably play worse to support your belief system. Even if we swapped them around and decieved you.

There are a lot of great players rocking out through Pods, Pogs, Whammys, old-school Eventide and everything else. Over the last 40 years there have been some amazing legendary guitar tones that fully passed through A/D/A during the sound creation process - not to mention the recording and distribution process.

A lot of this is about the mantras that are repeated in our heads (and compounded by serious conditioning via guitar player magazines and music videos which substitute the better looking tube amps).

If you have programmed your head to believe that tubes are better - then that becomes your reality. But I think the players that really make a serious contribution to music on this planet have much more open minds than than.
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