Home (amp tone and effects placement)

 


Controlling guitar EQ, central EQ, and cabinet EQ

 

Too bad almost all multifx preamp/processors, and ampsim software, leave out pre-distortion EQ. They should use this Pro Version of a Guitar Multifx Floor Processor:

        9-band EQ

        Wah (without 128-step zipper noise)

        Compressor

        Phaser

        Preamp distortion

        9-band EQ

        EL84 power tube and dummy load

        Effects loop (external, for miked tube amp)

        9-band EQ

        Time effects

The first module should not be Comp; it should be EQ.

 

>I currently use 2 EQs in my rig (a behringer parametric EQ and a Boss GE-7) and was wondering if my distortion sound can be better if i ran the EQ's before the distortion (a Boss Metal Zone) or with the EQ on either end of the signal chain - sort of sandwiching the distortion inbetween them. can you offer some advice on this? thanks.

The BOSS is designed to give the right input impedance for an electric guitar - it has a true guitar preamp at its input. The Behringer might have wrong input impedance and suck away the guitar's treble.

The chain I wish for:

        perfect preamp buffer for guitar, locks onto all the treble and keeps it

        perfect graphic eq with no noise or clipping

        perfect para eq "

        distortion pedal

        perfect graphic eq with no noise or clipping

        perfect para eq "

Putting aside the ideal, you'll probably get the best most pleasant blend of hiss, hum, and buzz, and some good distortion voicing without immediately discarding the guitar's treble at the first transistor, using this chain:

        BOSS EQ

        Distortion pedal (you really should have a selection of OD, Dist, and Metal pedals here - MZ is quite crusty, no matter how you sandwich it in EQs)

        Behringer EQ

Parametric EQs absolutely would be better if they had what the software EQs have: a display of the current curve. Graphical EQs mean you can see what's going on. Parametric means, flying blind. I find I wish for all the benefits of graphical and parametric, together with a graph of the result. I bought two additional BOSS EQs the other day (silver bottom sticker, not black). I see they re-laid-out the circuit.. I wonder what they improved other than the power-supply jack?

Every guitarist makes a big mistake of overlooking EQs -- the EQ is the first pedal anyone should get.

I cannot conceive of playing without two equalizers around a distortion stage -- people can't control their distortion voicing without this. I am amazed at how crummy the preamp distortion voicing is that many guitarists play seriously through. They are locked into that one distortion sound that the amp happens to provide, which is usually a worse sound than typical distortion pedals. I'm completing my pendulum journey: I now think that power-tube saturation is crucially important and preamp distortion voicing is very important, and the only way to control (bend to your will) the preamp distortion voicing is to bracket it with EQs.

 

 

http://www.harmony-central.com/Guitar/Data/Mesa_Boogie/Subway_Rocket_Reverb-01.html - excerpt: "Sound Quality: 10 - ...Now that I've owned this amp for over three years, I've done plenty of experimenting. At that time, I loved the amp, but I didn't have any use for the lead channel. It is extremely congested in the mids and has no cut or definition. I have since begun using a boss GE-7 equalizer in the effects loop. I suck out the lower mids a little at 200 and a lot at 400. I also boost the treble frequencies a litte bit. The equalizer makes this channel totally usable and it sounds killer. It gets a great Marshall type midrange grin. I'll keep the rating at 10. (My earlier review was probably too high, but the amp was new at the time and so blown away by the contour channel...) The amp is a fantastic value and the eq in the effects loop really makes it incredibly versital. Nothing else for the money will come as close to nailing a good Marshall type distortion (lead channel) and the dual rectifier type tone (contour)."

I find that as much as I like the elegance of having few tone controls, nothing can compete against a 7-band (ideally, 9-band) EQ for control. With power-tube saturation and distortion voicing, the slightest shift of one of the 7 bands makes a huge difference -- for example, the bass slider can throw the amp into a total muddy glop, but back down a touch, and the bass suddenly is completely tight -- it's a discontinuous change, especially when all the frequencies are competing against one another in the distortion bottleneck. To see what I mean, it's easiest to use a looping CD of dry/direct guitar as input while concentrating on changing the EQ curve.


Every guitar rig has 3 virtual EQs (whether explicit or not) that control voicing: -- guitar EQ -> distortion -> EQ -> power tube saturation -> cabinet EQ.

>I found your comments very interesting, about placing a Boss GE-7 equalizer pedal before *and* another one *after* the distortion pedal.

A friend of mine who is shopping for a pickup that sounds like the one on his good guitar, was delighted after taking my advice and dialing-in a pre-distortion eq curve. This curve showed him what response curve to look for in a pickup, in order to make his second guitar sound like his main guitar. To model a pickup's curve, you have to place the eq pedal before distortion, because the pickup's curve is similarly placed, *before* the distortion stage.

If you are using your conventional amp's distortion stage, you can place one eq pedal before the amp, and another one in the amp's effects loop. However, for most amps, that second eq would be redundant with the amp's tone knobs.


>I have an Eric Clapton Strat with 0-12db mid boost. For some time, I have noticed the positive affect that pre-distortion mid boost can have. But I had never thought of trying a GE-7 before distortion. So today I went out and picked up a second one and tried some of your EQ recommendations. I noticed a big difference in the sound quality of my low E and A strings. Thanks a lot!!!

D.F. wrote:

>1. batteries-really do make a difference. Strange that that was the first
>thing you dismissed. Weird. Higher output in distortion pedals makes
>things go crazy, low output dying batteries in delay pedals means-no
>delay. i know you use a 2101 but those of us who swear by pedals know
>there is a downside to low output batteries.


This is not true for all pedals. You can partly test this with a universal power supply. I moved the switch from 3 to 12 volts on a couple pedals and heard no difference at all, though the LED on the effect was barely visible. The current from the power supply might have been strong the whole time.


>2. power tube distortion is not possible in an apartment.


That's not true. I have posted 8 approaches to getting power tube saturation at low room noise levels. Currently, the only reason it's so hard and complicated is due to lack of well-designed, imaginative products trying hard to make this happen. You can put a Marshall Power Brake on a hundred watt amp -- problem solved.




>Maybe it could
>happen but my neighbors are anal and running my shitbox stereo makes them
>nuts and running even a 15 watt soldano would probably send them into
>hysterics which means-direct.


15 watts is 14 watts too loud. It's crazy that 15 watts is considered a "small amp". *Small* would be 1-5 watts. Some more imaginative designers are working on such *truly* small amps.

You could probably use a THD Hot Plate or Marshall Power Brake between the Soldano's head and speaker.


>you take what you can, y'know. there is a
>need and we grab it. artificial tones are valid,



If people *want* to get something in addition to preamp-type tones, there are becoming easier ways to do it. I agree that there are valid direct tones, but practically all of the classic definitive guitar tones use power tubes and a guitar speaker.


>just not stevie-rayish
>but can be cool. you're name is Michael, don't fear the different.
>

>3. don't be trapped by tradition. new sounds are valid and power tubes
>are great and i love them but i've been just as impressed running my
>steinberger into a rat into a compression pedal into a maxed out 4 track.
>stereos sound like they will explode which is a rad thing for rhythm
>sounds. that is a valid pursuit.


However good a preamp tone is, I think it can always be greater by going through power tubes and a guitar speaker.



>4. i've owned and love my vortex and digitech multifx but the fuckers are
>unreliable and i know i can't depend on them.


I know what you mean. And backup units would be very expensive.


>my boogie, 2 delay
>stompboxes and 2 distortion boxes have never failed on me into a boogie
>and all your eq upward downward slants are brilliant and useful to
>homerecording or diddling about but aren't reliable. maybe you don't
>drink beer and knock things over but i know what works for me so
>generalities are as arrogant as all hell but only for your personal use.

>say what you think, it's useful and means i don't have to explain fuzz
>textures to others but don't pretend to speak for all of us.



I'm speaking as a radio listener as well as a guitarist. Generally, direct-into-the-board sounds incomplete and amateurish. However good a rock preamp tone is, it fails to achieve its full potential, which would require power tube saturation and a guitar speaker.

_________________

>I am a fairly new guitarist. I have an old Ibanez rg550 and a cheap 25 watt Fender [solid-state] amp. I hate the tone of my setup, because it has a terrible distortion sound. I have contemplated changing my bridge pickup to a Dimarzio Tone Zone but now I'm am being told that that probably won't help much. My friend has the same guitar as mine, with a Screamin Deamon in it. I love his sound, but I don't know if it's because of the pickup he has, or the Randall amp he uses, which is much better than my amp. I am now thinking about using a cheap multieffects unit, or perhaps a Metal Zone pedal. I like to play at low volumes, because I live in a dorm, so I'm looking for something that sounds good and distorts at much lower volumes.

>I don't have that much money; a $500 amp is out of the question. For reasonable cost, what can I do to improve my tone?

A quick, cheap fix is to buy an equalizer, which every guitarist should have. It's even more important and basic than buying a distortion pedal (assuming your amp already has a preamp distortion stage). You could also search the used-equipment sites for an Ampulator or Blues Master, which effectively amount to power-tube-based distortion pedals (but I have not examined these myself, and consider an equalizer to be the most appropriate starting point).

A distortion pedal and equalization before distortion should help. Also get a pickup with more mids, or with whatever curve you tend to select with the equalizer. A pickup with an inherent eq curve E will be far quieter than dialing in that same eq curve via an eq stompbox and then running that through a preamp distortion stage.

I recommend that every guitarist have this setup available, at least for the purpose of learning about the relationship of alternating eq and saturation stages:

o Eq pedal
o Distortion pedal
o Eq pedal

Or, at least, place an eq pedal before the amp's input, so that you have:

o Eq pedal
o Amp's distortion stage
o Amp's eq section (the "tone knobs", such as bass and treble)

The separate, 3-pedals approach gives you immense control over the preamp distortion tone, with *any* amplifier, and it's fascinating and insightful to see how the two eq curves affect the sound in distinct ways.

Note that an eq pedal before heavy distortion generates excessive hiss, due to the eq's self-noise being amplified tenfold, behind your desired guitar signal. A professional eq should be significantly quieter. But the quietest approach is to get a pickup with the desired eq curve inherent in it.

Pickups are part of pre-distortion EQ. For pickup information, see Harmony Central: the pickup database and Other Topics: Guitar Wiring.

http://electrosound.co.nz/articles/guitar.html - Matt's Speaker Facts - Guitar Tone Tips From: NZ Musician Vol.6 No.8 April/May l997 Matt Hennessy. Good article.


Amptone.com ultra gear-search page


Home (amp tone and effects placement)

Contact