Amps distortion vs pedal distortion...

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JetfireJetfire Frets: 514
I've wondered about building a second set up to see what I prefer because I genuinely don't know which I prefer. Paul Gilbert gets a great sound from pedals which makes me think as long as you have a decent clean sound (which is pretty much just the amp), your pedal selection is dependant on your tastes.  


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  • TTBZTTBZ Frets: 428
    I've always preferred amp gain - started out with pedals into a HRDx but I hardly ever play clean and the pedals were just emulating amp gain anyway so whats the point? It just sounds more complex and better to me. That said I've not tried many of the high-end Marshall In A Boxes these days like the Marvel Drive which I really want to! I liked my v1 Crunch Box for what it was but still didn't beat the "real" gain in my Laney!
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  • JetfireJetfire Frets: 514
    I pondered about a Fender amp with a bunch of dirt boxes and a delay out front as i do alot of clean stuff in our set. I'd prob stick with what I have an get a back up amp which I can mess about with.
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  • SlimbertSlimbert Frets: 54
    I've had sooooo many drive pedals it's a little worrying to be honest. They've turned out to be a complete waste of money as I've never used a single one at rehearsal or live.

    Aside from a low volume quick play when I first buy a drive pedal, they never get a look in since the drive channels on my amps have been "my sound" for over 20 years.
    www.facebook.com/DjingoBand
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 299
    Iv always used amp gain cos it sounds better to me ...i know some use an edge of distortion amp sound and boost it with a tube screamer as well and that sounds good ...
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  • 4114Effects4114Effects Frets: 2593
    Clean amp and pedals usually for me. Means I know I can get a good drive sound regardless of the amp volume - I play a fair few quieter stages. 
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 10936
    Pedals for me.
    More variety of flavours of drive.
    Easier control and if like me you've had to use a lot of borrowed amps, a more predictable, consistent sound. I also find amp drive is very often too compressed.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3000

    For classic rock, big dirty "All Right Now" type chords and Van Halen type chords with major, minor thirds pure valve amp dirt is generally the winner, you can hear the notes in the chords where as diode clipping pedal dirt tends to mush up with anything other than a root with a  fifth

    For blues, indie rock and a lot of other stuff pedal dirt is fine and for single note solo's pedals can give some epic tones 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26820
    I prefer valve amp dirt up to moderate crunch levels, and pedals above that either into a clean channel or into a crunch channel - but to add dirt, not to push the amp harder with extra level.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Depends on the sound you are after. I prefer amps natural distortion but there are so many pedals that can mimic it at lower volumes than you can get away with on a Valle amp in most venues. 
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  • antifashantifash Frets: 340
    Amp. 
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  • RandallFlaggRandallFlagg Frets: 4198
    I like both mixed together. Set amp quite loud, at just breaking up and used a good drive with the volume wound up  to push it even harder and then blend in some of the drive pedals own gain to fatten and add mids to taste. That's where it's at for me.

    By Jove!

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  • siraxemansiraxeman Frets: 1679

    I are mostly use pedals, my AC30 is clean or at best on a louder than usual gig just gritting up slightly. A good clean valve amp plus your preferred flavour of pedal is just so good sounding an so easy. I tend to use a Dano TOD (mk1 so basically a Timmy clone) or occasionally a Boss OD-3...and I cascade that with another OD pedal for solos....which at the moment is the Caline Pure Sky (another Timmy clone). Or i'll kick in my Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe on top of the 1st OD pedal. I have great feedback on tap, I use the guitars volume a lot to control the sound and it always makes me smile the sounds I get out of my rig during gigs.

    Now, that all said....the other guitarist in my band uses a TSL601 for all his dirt needs, and whilst I'm fully aware this isn't considered a great amp - it still sounds good to me from the opposite side of the stage when I hear his guitar in the bands mix. And same with my DSL50 when I use that for its drive sound (occasionally but as I said usually pedals > clean amp) I always notice the drive you get from a valve amp is thicker than any pedal. There also seems there's a rawness to it that sounds great in a band mix And I mean 100% of the time....it seems valve preamp dirt just adds some thickness/harmonics that no transistor pedal ever does. Just it seems less fluid than a pedal unless your really cooking at high volume. So ideally I'd want both at the same time...that's where the old OD in front of a dirty amp comes in. One thing I notice is with pedals stacked getting nice controllable feedback is a really easy thing to do....the other guitarist in my band - well, I've never heard him get any feedback at all yet.....I don't think he can do it quite as easily without something hitting the front of his amp a bit more than just his guitars signal. Course its definitely possible with enough volume and perhaps facing towards the amp but with stacked pedals you don't need to do any of that at all its just always there when you want it wherever onstage you are..

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  • FezFez Frets: 166
    While I prefer amp gain for practical purposes I use pedals.
    Don't touch that dial.
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  • clarkefanclarkefan Frets: 203
    edited October 29
    I've always felt dirt pedals produce a "small" sound,  for want of a better word.  A pushed amp already distorting just sounds better to me.

    I also freely admit I seem to have cloth ears and probably could not tell the difference in a blind test. 
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 4388
    edited October 29
    Think Amplifier being like dark matter in the universe and a Drive Pedal like a laser beam cutting right through
    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
    __________________________________
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26820
    clarkefan said:
    I've always felt dirt pedals produce a "small" sound,  for want of a better word.  A pushed amp already distorting just sounds better to me.

    I also freely admit I seem to have cloth ears and probably could not tell the difference in a blind test.
    I'll take the liberty of reposting this which Voxman posted in another thread, if you haven't seen it - it's worth listening, even if this is not the sort of sound you normally use.

    Voxman said:
    And this is an interesting vid - blind test between amp and pedal distortion

    I got two out of six...

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • siraxemansiraxeman Frets: 1679

    I got 4 out of 6. I thought it was :-

    #1 pedal

    #2 amp

    #3 pedal

     #4 amp

    #5 amp

    #6 pedal

     

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  • ICBM said:
    clarkefan said:
    I've always felt dirt pedals produce a "small" sound,  for want of a better word.  A pushed amp already distorting just sounds better to me.

    I also freely admit I seem to have cloth ears and probably could not tell the difference in a blind test.
    I'll take the liberty of reposting this which Voxman posted in another thread, if you haven't seen it - it's worth listening, even if this is not the sort of sound you normally use.

    Voxman said:
    And this is an interesting vid - blind test between amp and pedal distortion

    I got two out of six...

    I got 6 out of 6, I listened on laptop speakers and the harshness was very clear on the pedals, guessing around the 3.5kHz - 4kHz mark, but saying that he could have eq'd the amps to be brighter in the top end to make it less obvious, Will listen tomorrow on my full range speakers to see the difference.

    I almost never use my drive pedals these days, only really for playing in the house quietly at night, If I can play loud the the amps just sound much better
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  • polotskapolotska Frets: 39
    6 out of 6 for me, too.

    In general I find dirt pedals sound fine on recordings and can be difficult to distinguish from amp dirt—whereas playing through them, there’s usually a clear difference versus amps.

    There are very few pedals I can tolerate.
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3309
    I don't think that vid really sheds much light on anything. I mean, it would if all guitars were the same, everyone played the same, and both pedals and amps were totally devoid of any tone controls. Then it'd be an accurate demonstration of the sound of those pedals and those amps.

    But there are far too many moving targets. The amps can all be set in different ways, they all react differently to input signals, same with the pedals, and as guitarists it's a dereliction of duty if we don't react to the sound we're hearing and modulate out playing to adjust the sound coming out the speaker in real time.

    I think in general amp distortion feels more dynamic and reactive to how you play, and as such a single good setting on an amp will cover more ground through different songs, with different guitars and with different playing styles. A pedal will typically be more fussy - it might be great for one song or one guitar but then you end up fighting it for a different song.

    Part of it is just where the distortion is occuring in the signal chain. If you think of an amp as a half dozen or so seperate stages which shape the tone, compress or remove certain frequencies and generate harmonics, a pedal generating the distortion that then has to feed through all those stages in the amp is going to give a different result than if you feed a clean signal in and then gradually generate distortion across those amp stages. For one thing, if your amp filters out low end in the early stages then you'll never get a tone as big as if you crank the amp up and get your distortion *after* those early stages.

    Likewise, if your amp has a bright cap on the first gain knob, whether you're generating your distortion before or after the bright cap will have a fundamental effect on the range of sounds you can achieve.

    So a lot of the difference between amps and pedals are just down to the practicalities of where they sit in the chain - it's impossible to compare them like-for-like.

    Personally, I like pedals. They're more compressed, generally have more focused midrange, and they can kick the amp they're plugged into in fun ways. But that's just for the kind of music I play, and where I want the guitar to sit in the mix. It's also through an AC30, which has relatively few gain stages and quite an open tone, and I mod them so the bright cap works for me rather than against me in terms of not generating fizzies. The periods where I've used more modern amps with more gain stages or more tone shaping, I've preferred amp gain because the pedal tone gets squashed and mangled by the amp too much by the time it's coming out the speakers.
    Captain Horizon (my band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • BeexterBeexter Frets: 251
    I surprised myself with correctly identifying which were amps and which were pedals. I didn't attempt to be any more specific than that, apart from one sample which I correctly identified as the Orange (maybe because I own an Orange amp?)

    I listened through headphones and all the pedals sound much more fizzy which could perhaps be sorted with a bit of EQ.

    When I have tried fuzz pedals into an amp, I have personally found them to sound better (less fizz) with a hint of dirt dialled in on the amp, rather than setting the amp squeaky clean. 
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  • tone1tone1 Frets: 1177
    Surprisingly I got 6/6...I like a bit of treble so didn’t mind some of the pedal harshness  :)
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  • GadgetGadget Frets: 318
    I think it's funny how right now, so many dirt PEDALS are trying to sound like amps, whilst AMPS are increasingly incorporating pedal type preamp circuits.
    I think, therefore.... I... ummmm........
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  • Totally situational imho. Sticking your guitar straight into a Plexi and cranking it sounds wonderful but not very helpful if you're playing in a function band. If you've got a strat with single coils into a Hot Rod Deluxe, no pedal will ever make you sound metal.

    I do think though, in this glorious age for pedals and amps, you can compromise a tiny bit and get 95% of both worlds and everything in-between with a carefully selected amp, guitar and pedals that complement both.

    I've always flitted between the two but find I just seem to edge towards the control and the range of palette you can get with a small(ish) pedal board and a good amp. It just seems to me that if I go pedals for the night I can get the exact same tone in any room at any volume.

    I also try and be 'glass half full' - there are tones I can get from pedals that I simply cannot get from one amp alone and I'm way to lazy to go multi-amp rig.
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  • Dan_HalenDan_Halen Frets: 8
    edited October 31
    Just to add, I've always found that good pedals, like amps, always shine with some proper volume. If your amp is turned down to 1 in your bedroom, a pedal will sound just like what it is - a pedal. If your amp is really working.. not necessarily breaking up but at least pushing some air and coming alive... a decent pedal can sound really great. However, they're not magic boxes - you have to have your base tone in a good place first otherwise no £300 box of handwired, true-bypass, boutique whateveryoucallit can save you.
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