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Why do people put distortion pedals in front of tube amps?

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  • Why do people put distortion pedals in front of tube amps?

    I'm thinking about a blues jr.  I'm wondering how I can go from clean to dirty quickly.  Someone told me to turn the volume down on my guitar for clean so I will try that.  Others say to put a pedal in front of it.   But isn't one of the advantages of tubes the sound they can make driven to breakup?  If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?


  • #2

    " If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?"

    No. The purpose of the tubes is to amplify the sound.

    Distortion occurs when the tubes are overdriven.

    Since on most amps this involves turning them up over halfway it could get loud.

    So, pedal.

     

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    • PurpleTrails
      PurpleTrails commented
      Editing a comment

      jimash wrote:

      " If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?"

      No. The purpose of the tubes is to amplify the sound.

      Distortion occurs when the tubes are overdriven.

      Since on most amps this involves turning them up over halfway it could get loud.

      So, pedal.

       


      This, especially on Fender amps, where most models run clean until you get to the top of the power band.  A blues jr. breaks up relatively early, but it will still be loud when it does.  My twin, on the other hand, will be at peeling the paint off the walls volume before it starts breaking up.


    • OMG WTF LOLZ
      OMG WTF LOLZ commented
      Editing a comment

      jimash wrote:

      " If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?"

      No. The purpose of the tubes is to amplify the sound.

      Distortion occurs when the tubes are overdriven.

      Since on most amps this involves turning them up over halfway it could get loud.

      So, pedal.

       



      Most amps have master volumes, I'd say.


  • #3
    there are tons of answeDepends on what you are trying to accomplish.rs to this.
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    • #4

      tycobb73 wrote:

      I'm thinking about a blues jr.  I'm wondering how I can go from clean to dirty quickly.  Someone told me to turn the volume down on my guitar for clean so I will try that.  Others say to put a pedal in front of it.   But isn't one of the advantages of tubes the sound they can make driven to breakup?  If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?


      The purpose of most vacuum tubes in an amp is to amplify a signal.  Putting anything in the signal chain won't change that purpose...  Seriously though, I know what you meant.  

      I would suggest experimenting with different pedals.  Find one that adds some dirt without coloring the amps tone too much.  

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      • #5

        Some distortion pedals, notably the ever popular Tube Screamer circuit, distort and clip very differently from tube amps. The layering can be a very good sound. They can also be used as level boosters to push the tubes to distort more than they otherwise would.

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        • #6
          Some times the amp's overdrive channel sucks, or just doesn't compare to the pedal. I used a fulltone OCD in front of a peavey valve king and got a killer overdrive sound. Personally I thought It was better than the amps channel. But I suppose a valveking is more entry level. But I also knew a guy who used one in front of a fender twin reverb and it also sounded great.
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          • #7

            OP is partly right. Pedals are there to either imitate the nice sound tubes make when they are overdriven, or the pedal increases the signal enough that it causes the first section of the amp (it's preamp tube) to overdrive before it normally would.


            In either case, this is happening at a lower volume than it normally would.

            A good pedal that really sounds great will still sound great into a solid-state amp, provided you don't accidentally cause the solid-state amp to distort (which often sounds pretty bad). Some solid state amps (like those using FET circuits) are fairly good sounding when overdriven, others are heinous.

            Don't be afraid to break rules, OP. Many of the 'tone secrets' guitarists have are obsessive voodoo nonsense .png" alt=":smileyhappy:" title="Smiley Happy" /> We're suckers for stuff nobody in the audience pays attention to.

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            • #8

              I believe it is just a personal choice--I use the distortion form the head myself.  But some songs may require that extra--extra fuzziness.  It's all good

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              • #9

                People use distortion pedals to get more sounds than the amp is able to produce on its own.  the blues junior will overdrive but, to me, doesn't sound good for metal.  a distortion pedal in front of the amp allows you to switch between two different sounds by stomping on the pedal.

                 

                to get the blues junior to overdrive you need to turn the preamp up.  this means you need to turn your guitar volume down to get a clean sound.  a clean amp with a distortion pedal may sound better or worse for your needs than a distorted amp where you turn your guitar volume down for cleans.  it depends on what sort of music you want to play and, more importantly, what sounds best to you.

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                • #10

                  tycobb73 wrote:

                  [...] isn't one of the advantages of tubes the sound they can make driven to breakup?  If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?


                  no, because you're not actually "layering" the gain, you're pushing the tubes themselves further into distortion. plenty of tube amps, usually higher gain tube amps, will have numerous gain stages which drive subsequent ones further into distortion... which is effectively the same thing as using an overdrive pedal in front of your amp.

                  distortion pedals model the entire gain stage and are typically used with a clean amp. overdrive pedals boost the signal and add grit to drive a distorted amp... but that's just convention. you can do what you want and you'll probably get good results, just give it a shot. you can get lots of different textures this way.

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                  • GREC
                    GREC commented
                    Editing a comment

                    I dig a fuzz pedal into an actual tube overdrive pedal (slightly overdriven) and then into a tube amp -only slightly overdriven. The complexities of multiple tubes is sweet -not so buzzy.


                • #11

                  "I'm thinking about a blues jr.  I'm wondering how I can go from clean to dirty quickly.  Someone told me to turn the volume down on my guitar for clean so I will try that.  Others say to put a pedal in front of it.   But isn't one of the advantages of tubes the sound they can make driven to breakup?  If you're not doing this but rather using a pedal aren't you defeating the purpose of the tubes?"

                   

                   

                  ....................................... o0o ......................................

                   

                   

                  The 1st reason that some to mind . . . is because no amp on earth sounds like this :

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                  With the exception of the all-mighty ELECTRIC AMP MVU 120, i know of no other amp that gives a Fuzz-dist tone.

                  I too use several dirt boxes (EHX Hot Tubes / Fulltone Catalyst / Cornell 1st Fuzz / EXH Ger. OD / Throbak Stone Bender, and, and, and...) infront of my 50W Bassman !

                  Obviously, only one at a time ;-)

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                  • SirJackdeFuzz
                    SirJackdeFuzz commented
                    Editing a comment

                    "Most amps have master volumes, I'd say."

                     

                    Most current made ones yes !

                    But, if you are the owner of a 1966 Bassman, 1970 Laney Super Group, 1972 Marshall JMP 50W, and a 1970's HiWatt . . . with NO Master Vol knob . . . and you want classic R A W crunchy goodness in a club made for 200 people, you will most deff turn to pedals.

                     

                     

                     

                    PS : guys, HOW THE F*CK TO I DO A "reply with qoute", on this sh*t nu-Harmony Forum ?

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