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Something I struggle with. Pedals and tube amps

Discussion in 'The Effect effect' started by frankdoorhof, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. frankdoorhof

    frankdoorhof Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 8, 2018
    I'm trying to figure something out and would love some input.

    I own a Marshall 9001 tube preamp going into a 8008 valvestate, and a line 6 valve 212 which I actually use most of the time.

    Loads of people claim that you need to use pedals in front of the amp for overdrive and distortion. However seeing I use tube amps I actually prefer the amps own breakup on certain presets instead of the pedals. The pedals somehow sound "artificial"

    I do have to add that I use a Marshall se100 which takes away app 12db so I'm playing at relatively higher volumes than in a livingroom setting.

    I have a distortion pedal that I don't like at all (bought it very cheap) and the ice9 from vox. The ice9 I do like in front of my chain for certain sounds but in all honesty I wouldn't buy it full price seeing what my amps give me.

    Would love to hear your opinions.
    I know tubescreamers were used to push amps with only a master volume or not so good dirty channel. But I'm doubting myself for the use on amps with really good lead and dirty channels. So looking for input.
    circles likes this.
  2. SachaPlusDeluxe

    SachaPlusDeluxe Strat-O-Master

    Go with what sounds good to you :) and be prepared for that to change ;)

    I only ever used to use a tri-rec Marshall TSL100 which I loved, hardly any pedals BUT it was extremely temperamental and was PITA if I needed to adjust the volume during gigs as I had to adjust three channels and invariably ost my balances!

    Now although I still love my valve amps I run a clean Bugera V22 with pedals to push, should the worst happen and my amp dies, I just use whatever amp is in the backline or my trusty Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170 and I still have 90% of my sound.

    Also bear in mind that a lot of the pro's (Slash, Joe Bonamassa etc) use the driven side of amps as a their base sound and add pedals for flavour or to push the amp for leads.

    Be happy with what you're comfortable with BUT keep trying different things :) If you don't like one pedal which you bought cheap, sell it and try something else.
    Namelyguitar and JustABluesGuy like this.
  3. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    I prefer real tube preamp AND output section distortion for the times when I'm not playing clean.
    If I want 'more' I use an FET clean boost in front. (EchoPlex Preamp or similar of my own design)

    Don't second guess yourself.
    If it sounds good to you, it is good.
    Unless you are trying to nail a specific recorded tone *, create your own signature sound.

    Are both channels of the 9001 useful for what you want ?
    Does the switching work seamlessly to your ears when going from rhythm to leads ?
    I think I could be happy with it. :thumb:
    I'm a pedal minimalist, so take my opinion with a grain of NaCl.
    <said while plugging in my Corona chorus, EchoPlex and Razorbox> :whistling:

    * - all bets are off if you go down that rabbit hole
    RPKennedy likes this.
  4. Birdsong

    Birdsong Strat-Talker

    Jul 24, 2018
    Now days I usually just set my clean channel and second channel gained up and dirty and use my foot switch. Used to use a ts and distortion when I use to use an amp I couldn’t crank loud enough to distort
  5. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 3, 2016
    Houston, TX
    I’m not familiar with the specific amps you mentioned, but since you mentioned “models” I assume at least one is a modeling amp.

    I’ve never tried running pedals into a modeling amp, but I have found that it’s a lot easier (for me) to get good tones running OD pedals into a tube amp that is already on the verge of breakup. I find it harder to get natural sounding OD when starting with a clean amp.

    Your models are designed to sound good. With pedals you are on your own, and do have a learning curve. If you like your amp without pedals, congrats! Dirt pedals can be a very deep rabbit hole!
  6. Kerry Brown

    Kerry Brown Strat-O-Master

    Mar 5, 2014
    BC, Canada
    I've pretty much settled on a 15 to 20 watt tube amp with both preamp and power tube breakup dialled in. I use my guitar pickup volume to go between somewhat clean and dirty sounds. If I have to play really quiet at home I use a 1 watt tube amp with headphones or sometimes my Pro Junior with a Boss BD-2. The BD-2 at low volumes can get close to my live sound but the dynamic response to my pick attack with a tube amp cranked up is just not there. For amps I've tried many, Vox AC15, various Fenders, a couple of vintage Garnets, an old 60's military PA amp which is very sweet and still sees some use, Mesa, Peavey, Fryette, and more. I settled on the Pro Junior because it's light, has minimal controls to fuss with, and gets the tone I hear in my head. Congrats on finding a setup that you like. It took me years to find mine.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  7. frankdoorhof

    frankdoorhof Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 8, 2018
    I see it as colors on my pallet indeed

    The bizarre thing is that in the past I used my lead channel almost exclusively and now I actually think that sounds "thinner" and I love to use the dirty channel on the 9001 on that I can control almost anything with the volume knob.

    So my taste has changed almost 100%.

    It's fun playing with sounds.
    The line6 valve has a modelling section indeed. I bought it because it's a 100% tube amp and it was very cheap (150.00)

    Thanks for all the input
  8. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    I agree wholeheartedly. I have tube amps because I like the way they sound, and they don't need help from pedals.
  9. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

    I use pedals for drive when I cant pump my amp up to the level I want it at.

    when jamming in a live setting. my drive almost always comes from the amp.
    Tone Guru and JustABluesGuy like this.
  10. sam_in_cali

    sam_in_cali Scream for me Strat-Talk! Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 21, 2014
    Santa Maria, CA
    I guess it all depends on what amp you are starting with and what tone you are trying to get. For example, with my JCM800, I needed a OD in front to get a classic 80's metal tone. With my EVH 5150iii, no OD is needed and I still have gain to spare.

    IMO, your amp alone should be getting you in the neighborhood; your pedals/pickups/strings/etc should take you all the way home.
  11. space

    space Strat-Talker

    May 17, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  12. guitarface

    guitarface Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 11, 2012
    New York
    You have good taste.
  13. frankdoorhof

    frankdoorhof Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 8, 2018
    In all honesty I'm blown away with the options now a days

    I bought the vg88 and at that point combined with preamp it was all I needed and I was just stunned with it's option.

    Now I have modelling in my amp, can connect straight to my computer or even smartphone and or use a variax.

    When I was 20 the choices were already hard. Now it's almost impossible. But..... Now we have 30 days return policy ;)
  14. JeffBlue

    JeffBlue Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2012
    Southern California
    I have several rigs including a rack system. I am a tube snob. One of the most important things for me is the clean tone on a tube amp and I run those into overdrive/distortion with tube based pedals. For me, the absolute best clean tone is a blackface clean. There are pedals that will shape your tone in the front end of your amp for whatever tones you are looking for.

    I have 3 Fender amps (2 are vintage Silverface) a Trace Elliot 50 watt, a Stromberg-Carlson PA/guitar amp conversion, Mesa Boogie M190 mono block and a Vox MV50 Clean. All of them I use clean and drive them with pedals or my Peavey Rockmaster preamps.
  15. frankdoorhof

    frankdoorhof Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 8, 2018
    And not using the drive from the amp itself?
    JeffBlue likes this.
  16. Nasser

    Nasser Strat-Talk Member

    May 10, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    Trust yourself and your ears. If you're digging your amp sound then that's great. In this case I would advise some sort of a "transparent" boost if you want to put a little more hair on for solos or just to get a little heavier.

    The notion that your'e somehow compromising your amp tone by using pedals just isn't true if you're using a well designed great sounding pedal. Hit your front end with something like and Xotic AC or RC booster and you'll still retain your amp and guitar tone but give it a little lift.

    I'm running a killer sounding Dr. Z 18 watt cathode biased combo with the master at about 3/4 full. It's incredibly responsive and articulate. My front end is pretty clean but when I hit it with a boost or with a good quality OD/Distortion, I'm not losing that great amp tone or the guitar tone for that matter... I'm just expanding my tonal palette.

    Pedal quality and design has really come a long way!

    It's simply a question of dialing everything in so you get a nice synergy with your amp, guitar, and anything else in between... and if you add something that just doesn't jive with what you're after, then get rid of it.

    Trust your ears!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    JeffBlue and JustABluesGuy like this.
  17. JeffBlue

    JeffBlue Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2012
    Southern California
    I realize that using the amp to drive tone sounds good, but most of my amps are not switchable 2 channels. When I bypass the OD pedal I get an excellent clean tone. I have more control over the tone of the drive depending on the pedal I am using. There are pedals for tweed tone, plexi, etc. that give your amp a more controlled drive.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  18. frankdoorhof

    frankdoorhof Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 8, 2018
    Got it Jeff
    My amps indeed have 3 channels
  19. Stark

    Stark Ghost of Johnny Thunders Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 16, 2011
    Richmond Annex, CA
    I’ve come home to tube amps for guitars—been using a refurbished (JJ EL34/PS 2075, Mercury trans & choke, Celestion green back) Marshall MHZ-40 in the dirty channel since last August and I just love the sweet & crunchy tones. I have a couple dirt pedals if I need the splatter tone or whatever but Marshall gain works best for me.
    Namelyguitar likes this.
  20. EC Strat-boy

    EC Strat-boy Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 16, 2018
    Louisville Kentucky
    I agree with everyone that’s saying try out either a low gain OD pedal run the gain from 9 to 12 o clock to push the tubes with your drive set just at the. Edge of breakup.

    Shape the sound with a nice analog delay or a chorus / univibe.