Nady TD-1 Tube Distortion

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AdjiAdji Frets: 98
I used to run a website / blog / magazine type thing and did pedal reviews demos etc. I was feeling pretty nostalgic today so decided to use way back machine to go and capture some of the good reviews from the site.

I only heard of the Nady TD-1 for the first time a few months ago when a friend told me that the original TD-1s had been a secret weapon of the late, great, Shawn Lane, who’s tone (and playing) I completely admire. Over the next few weeks I eagerly searched around for an original but could not find one anywhere, so here with us today we have the newer, re-issue version.

At first glance the TD-1 may look a little complex and unorthodox, but don’t worry, inspecting further reveals what is actually a relatively simple and very versatile design. Also at this stage it is important to note that this is about the heaviest pedal I have ever come across, the casing is solid, and I mean SOLID. I guess it has to be to protect the tube inside but this thing is very sturdy and reassuringly protective.

The only thing I really dislike of this pedal in terms of features is the fact that it is somewhat difficult to get inside of. A few screws is not enough with this pedal, you pretty much have to take the whole thing apart which is a total pain if you are wanting to gain access to, and ultimately change, the tube inside.

So then, the controls…
Level – This is the output level of the effect, it has a LOT of boost available which can further take your amp into saturation heaven.

Drive – Pretty standard stuff, this is the gain knob, controlling the amount of distortion / overdrive.

High – This knob controls the high frequencies, adding or removing them. There is a HUGE amount of boost available in the EQ department which can help make the pedal act as a treble booster, taking you into the realm of Brian May tone. Towards the extremer settings this can make your tone very brittle and glassy, which is not something I particularly like, but there may be something to it for certain folk.

Low – Similar to the High knob but affecting the lower frequencies. Again, there is a lot of boost on tap and you can get silly amounts of bass, more bass than you should ever really use, but boosting the bass slightly and rolling off a little treble can give you a super smooth, rich, lead tone.

Presence – This knob can add or remove some of the high end presence in your signal, again ‘glassing’ up your tone if that is what you like.

As well as the knobs there are also three switches…
Drive Gain – This switch contains the overall drive / gain available. The settings are Low, Medium, and High.

High End – This switch decides how the high end is added or removed from the signal. The settings are Low (which rolls off the upper frequencies), Medium (which has a flat response to the upper frequencies), and High (which adds a little extra top end boost).

Mid Boost – This switch decides on the amount of Mid range added to your tone. The settings, again, are Low (which is a flat response to the mid frequencies), Medium (which adds a great TS9 type mid hump), and High (which adds an excessive mid boost).

As always at the beginning of my review I plugged straight into the pedal, set the knobs in a random position, and let rip. I do this because it provides a great first impression of the pedal, the first impressions were good!
The first thing I notice is that the distortion is not ‘tinny’ or harsh in anyway, in fact it is very smooth and warm. At this point I already think I am Shawn Lane and attempt to play some stuff I clearly cannot play, but I feel good! Now, to some more serious playing with my new toy…

First off I have the Drive Gain selector switch set to the Low mode. On this setting the pedal is designed to give a bluesy crunch and a ‘vintage’ British type of sound. I found this to be the case and enjoyed it very much. The pedal is very dynamic at these low gain settings and responds to pick attack very well. Pushing the gain up to almost full on the low setting and your tone starts to get a little smoother and less ‘rough around the edges.’ We’re talking low gain 808 but a little warmer type of sound here.

At these low gain settings the High EQ knob is particularly sensitive and can be pushed up to ear punishing levels. If you use this tone live everyone is going to know you have started solo-ing. At the same time though, I still had a feeling that even this much treble COULD be good in the right situation.

Next I moved the slider up to Medium Gain settings. Ahh this is more like it, this is where I want to be. Immediately I hear smooth, phat, harmonically rich, singing sustain with such an incredible warmth that I almost shed a tear: ‘Have I finally found a single pedal that can give me that ”liquid” tone?’

I reduce the top end a little and push the bass just slightly. It is definitely sounding good now with the gain at about 3 O’clock. Suddenly I remember the mid boost function and put in place a slight mid boost. This is it, this is what I have been looking for for a long time. I actually smiled constantly as I played for the next few minutes. This type of tone just cries for legato playing and upon entering full-blown legato mode I am beginning to hear definite fusion tone. I cannot describe how warm this tone is, there is certainly something magic about it.

I try adding an extra mid boost but this proves to be a little too much for my tastes, after all the mids are quite high on my amp anyway, but I can imagine this being perfect for modern metal bands who have a very scooped mid section. Using this full mid boost will add that much required presence to a modern metal player’s tone when they switch to the pedal for a solo.

On this same setting the treble boost dial is still very sensitive and the amount of bass that can be added is nothing short of insane, you can REALLY feel your bowels rattle. Some of the settings seem a little too extreme and unnecessary, but perhaps that is just my conservative tastes? Anyway, it is certainly there is you need it.

Finally I try out the high gain settings. The first thing I notice is that noise starts to appear in my signal, so far the pedal has been VERY quiet, but this is inherent with high gain settings and nothing a noise gate wouldn’t help solve.
On this high gain setting the dynamics seem to get lost a little and the tone becomes a little harsher, but not too harsh. This is definitely a good setting for heavier metal solos and with the top end pushed a little I also got a very Malmsteen flavour to my tone. Out of all of the gain settings I believe that the pedal functions a lot better at low to mid settings. It can do heavier distortions but in my opinion this is not where the pedal excels.

So far we have been talking lead tones into a clean channel, and the pedal does that very well, but what about boosting already driven tones?

There is not much to say here to be honest. This pedal certainly CAN boost already driven tones but again, this is not where the pedal excels. I found that my tone became almost muddy when boosting my rhythm and lead channels but perhaps I am a little biased as I also own a Butler Tube Driver, which does this job a thousand times better in my opinion. Perhaps if I had not played the Tube Driver before then the Nady would be more impressive in this area?

Fretted Specialist for D'Addario UK
Please feel free to reach out to me with queries about D'Addario.
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