Getting a solid overdriven tone out of a strat...

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by gcconspiracy, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    Okay, so I play a strat, an acoustic, and an epiphone LP. I've always used the acoustic for my acoustic purposes (obviously), the strat for my bluesy stuff, and my LP for my overdriven power-chord tones. My question is this, can I get a respectable overdriven sound out of my strat, and how? I mean, I've gotten some decent overdriven sounds out of it, but they always come out sounding thin next to the LP. I know that this is likely just the nature of the two guitars, I was just hoping you guys might have some tricks so I can cut my number of guitars on stage down to two (the acoustic and the strat). Anyways, thanks for any input.

    -gcc
     
  2. Offshore Angler

    Offshore Angler Senior Stratmaster

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    Overdriven sounds come out of the amp, not the guitar.

    But to help you - you should set the amp up to where it's breaking up and then...

    Use your guitar's TONE CONTROL to get the volume under control. Often, when using a Strat with a lot of OD, I'll have the guitar's tone around 3 or 4. If your guitar gets muddy and muffled sounding when you roll the guitar's tone or volume off you don't have the amp set high enough.

    F'rinstance- this in this recording my Strat had the Tone control set to about 3 for the leads.

    I'm using the exact same guitar for the rythym and slide work, so that will show you the diversity of sounds out of a single instrument.

    SoundClick artist: Offshore Angler - Just what I do
     
  3. CandyAppleHead

    CandyAppleHead Strat-O-Master

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    Which pickup do you use? If the bridge, does it have the tone control on it? If not, consider swapping the middle tone control to the bridge (or adding a jumper wire so it works on both). Being able to roll the tone off the bridge thickens the overdriven sound up very nicely.
     
  4. PorkRollExpress

    PorkRollExpress Strat-Talker

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    There are easier ways than playing tone-knob games to work around an inherent flaw,
    that being the Strat's Bridge pickup as originally designed.

    A slightly hotter pickup with a more even frequency response helps.

    I use a Lace Sensor Burgundy for this purpose, though there are many pickups that
    will do the do.
     
  5. Offshore Angler

    Offshore Angler Senior Stratmaster

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    Pork Roll, a hotter pickup will drive the front end of the amp. For overdrive we want to have the power section working. For that reason, some guys I know prefer lower output pickups for heavy overdrive because it maintains dynamics.

    Now if you want distortion, hot pickups all the way. But - the signal will be compressed and you lose dynamics i.e., you get that squishy, swirly fizzy that doesn't cut a mix very well. To overcome it you need to jack up the volume and then the mix goes to heck.

    Everything is a trade-off.
     
  6. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    Wow, that's pretty impressive stuff. Thank you so much for the info, I'm going to have to go and fiddle with my tone knobs (I've always kept them at 10 when trying to get OD... always thought hotter meant more OD)

    Actually, I just did this mod last time I changed strings... I have found it to be a solid improvement!

    I've actually got some relatively hot pickups in my strat now... and I can generally get good distortion tones from it, it was just the OD issue that I'm trying to work around...
     
  7. Eight Ball

    Eight Ball Strat-Talker

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    Amps:
    Firstly what you need is an amp that breaks up well, vintage style fender amps, maybe an orange or vox...

    Pickups:
    My advice would be choose between tex-mex, gold lace sensors, hot or vintage noiseless or SCN.

    Mods:
    25db Mid-boost, this is what Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and another artist I can't remember use, lol. I recommend this highly, I have it on my CS Clapton and I can't go back to anything else now, it gives the Strat such a crisp yet beefy drive, basically replicating various tones that Clapton had on his SG in Cream and his LP in The Bluesbreakers. It generaly needs a routed cavity in the front and back but for that sound it would well be worth it or you could get a body that is pre-routed for it. :)


    With all this stuff going on it'll be a good idea to get ya' guitar well shielded, it isn't as important with the noiseless pickups if you chose them but I think every guitar should have it. I think alder is better for deeper tones personally, ash has more of a bite to it.

    Seeing as you've mentioned you play on stage I guess you're more serious and willing to put into it, so I'd advise you try out a Fender Artist Series Clapton Strat (preferably Custom Shop). And if you like it just swap the neck over if you don't like poly or a soft "v".

    This guitar is perfect for vintage, beefy Les Paul/SG tones, yet you can just roll back the mid-boost and up the TBX Master Tone and you get those lovely, glassy bell tones that strats are known for. It's honestly like 2 guitars in one, yet it keeps the same character in there all the time. :)
     
  8. Sleepy

    Sleepy Strat-O-Master

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    Ya mess with your tone controls. you'll get what your looking for.
    just goof around a bit and have fun seeing what you can come up with.
     
  9. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    thanks guys, I appreciate the help.
     
  10. Axis29

    Axis29 Strat-O-Master

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    Overdrive or Distortion? Two different things really!

    To me, overdrive is that grit or dirt on a note, distortion is that all out grind.

    I enjoy single coil overdrive a lot and I love my strat with some overdrive action. Between a good tube amp and using a fuzz pedal, I get good and dirty but without being thin and weak.

    One thing to try is messing with the height of your pickups. This can make a world of difference!!! Also, sometimes the bridge pickup isn't the pickup for leads... but it can sound really good overdriven for rhythm.

    Also, play with the volume knob as well as the tone knob. I like rolling back the volume to 7.5 or 8 for rhythm work getting a little dirt on the note, then rolling up for leads/solos.

    I actually sold my Gibson because I wasn't enjoying the overdriven sound as much as my strats and teles.
     
  11. Strat-Man-Do

    Strat-Man-Do Senior Stratmaster

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    What do you use for an amplifier? I notice the mention of a Strat but no amps? Certain amps are going to do Clean better than Dirty? Twin Reverbs are difficult if not impossible to Over Drive regardless of what pick-ups and guitar you use. Just the way it is with this baby. Great Sounding clean amp that will need a OD unit like a Tube Screamer in front of it.

    112 lower output Fenders break up faster and much easier. But you also compromise Clean Tone at high volumes?

    Your amp is the MOST important ingrediant in your signal path. Its also easier to take a GREAT Clean and make it Dirty than it is to take a Great Dirty and make it Clean. Thats been my experience over the years.
     
  12. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    I play through a VOX AD30VT... not a true tube amp (which may be my problem). It has a number of overdriven models, but none of them sound like a real "Fender" overdrive... Maybe I'll have to save up for a real tube amp if I want authentic tube OD...
     
  13. Sprocket

    Sprocket Senior Stratmaster

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    I really liked the information Angler gave you...I used to leave my tone knob at bout 5, but have since found 'round 2 gives me a nice bluesy break up, warm and middy, not as "thin".
    I like to put the neck and middle pups on the same tone pot as Ive usually got them somewhat equally anyways, I use those 2 pups most so it also makes tone adjustments simple and easy...and then put the bridge on its own tone pot, although Id really like to try a TBX for a lil more range and variety.

    With the Vox ad30vt...on the Fender and Vox models, turn the master and volume (almost or)all the way up and then turn down your attenuator on the back to a level your comfy with.
    I dunno how youre playing a Les Paul through that though...I never found a tone that agreed with me through that amp, and I loathed the Marshall models...just sounded too processed and fake to me.
    The Fender models drove me to Fender amps though, and I found the Vox to be a valuable stepping stone.
     
  14. sha4096

    sha4096 Strat-Talk Member

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    I have been playing around with a Fetzer valve simulation, it's a simple circuit to build and it has a very nice Fender sound. For the moment I have it on a breadboard and as I have no Strat under my hands (still under build..), I can only test on a Telecaster but you get the typical Fenderish OD. I don't know if there are some commercial pedals that simulate that sound but you may try to build it as it's the perfect effect for beginners. It wouldn't be expensive either, I don't know about electronics shops in Canada, but I guess as a DIY pedal, you could get one for less than 15-20$.

    A closer look at the Fetzer Valve
     
  15. Strat-Man-Do

    Strat-Man-Do Senior Stratmaster

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    I have a Vox AD50Vt here also. They have a great Marshall Overdriven Tone them with the JCM-800 model. You could get a Good OD Tone out of the 410 Fender Bassman model on that amp also. Turn you master volume and Gain all the way up, then adjust you treb, bass and mids to your liking.

    You have a foot switch with your amp? You could easily dial in a very good clean tone with the Twin Reverb model then use another model like the JCM-800 for you Over Driven Tone, if thats Too much Gain use the 410 Fender with the TR.

    IMO the VOX AD50VT and 30 are very good sounding little combos that have a lot of versitility. Play with the EQ on the amp. If your use to a Treble all the way up or higher than your mid and bass, then drop it below the mid and bass. The Vox ADVT series are fairly Bright amps. You won't need alot of treble. Also were a real Twin Reverb isn't going to sound right with the bass and mid maxed, the Vox TR model sounds great with the bass and mid maxed along with your Gain and Master. Just drop back the Treble [to your liking] and add the reverb just below the 1/2 way mark. See how you like that for Clean.

    The Vox act just like a Tube amp with their Tone. The difference will be in your EQ settings. Hold onto that amp. Its a GOOD amp. Down the road a bit when you really know exactly what you want for a Tube Amp? Then go for it. The Vox is a very cool amp though.
     
  16. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    wow... you guys have been awesome! I'm still tinkering, but am finding that the tone knobs have a lot to do with nailing the tone I want... also, I have yet to play around with these last few suggestions, but thank so much!
     
  17. Strat-Man-Do

    Strat-Man-Do Senior Stratmaster

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    With my 67 Twin Reverb I play my Clean with the Treble on 8 the Mid on 5 and the Bass not above 3 with my reverb on 3-1/2.

    I could a/b my Twin with my VOX Twin Model, and get the EXACT same tone. BUT on the VOX I do exactly as I mentioned above. Bass Maxed. Mid around 8-Max, Treble around 1/2 way or just below. Reverb just below 1/2. Gain and Master Volume maxed.

    I have a very close friend who plays a JCM-800 live and also has a AD50VT that he use's to double for the JCM-800. He tweaks in a identicle Tone with the Vox also.

    Don't sell that amp short. I'm very impressed with it and I could not stand modeling amps for the longest time.

    [BTW....The EQ on your 30 and my 50 MAYBE SLIGHTLY different. But I would bet not much?
     
  18. Sprocket

    Sprocket Senior Stratmaster

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    Youve obviously got more and better amp models than the ad30vt offers...there isnt even a dedicated "Marshall" model, its called "NuMetal" and the other one next to it(dont remember) wasnt much better on the ad30...the ad50 has got to be different, especially with the amount of amp models you referred to vs. ten.
     
  19. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Senior Stratmaster

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    Still waiting for a strat, but getting crunch from my tele took a different mindset than my humbucking guitars. As others have mentioned, the key seems to be judicious use of the tone control - something I never bothered with on humbuckers.

    I have a Vox AD50VT and find the marshall emulations work well for me to give the overdriven sounds, especially the 70s and 80s (Plexi and JCM800), sometimes using a Rat pedal as well.
     
  20. Strat-Man-Do

    Strat-Man-Do Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm not sure about the difference in the two amp's. I know the 50 use's a Celestion speaker where the 30 doesn't. But I've spoke to many 30 players who seem equally impressed with the amp.. I assumed they were fairly close?

    I could look at it rather quickly though.

    But ya the 50 has a couple Marshall settings and many like the 70 Plexi better than the 800.