Low gain OD/ boost preamp

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Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by i love sharin foo » Sat Feb 24, 2024 9:42 am

As something somewhat new for me, over the last year or two I have been using some low gain stuff as ‘always on’ preamp sorta things. It has made everything sound better. My Jaguar pickups get a little more output, sustain, and girth. The PAFs get some extra definition. There’s a bit of compression. Some grit. Everything sounds more alive and clear. It makes it easier to have more dynamics at my disposal as there’s already a heavier signal headed to the amp. I have a handful of different units on my board(s) to accomplish this with differing levels of dirt, output, tonal shift, etc.

Rangemasters- better with but more boost, but still accomplish this. My main one has is “bass tuned” by Analogman which is really just full range at the fattest setting, which is where I usually keep it.

Zvex Super Duper 2 in 1 and Super Hard On. Sounds most like an ‘effect’ but does something the others don’t. I like the 2nd channel of the 2 in 1 set to more drive but the master low. The frequency response is really wide with these.

EQD Plumes- took a couple years till I tried one and it’s a winner for me. I have the gain at about 9:00 and the tone about 9:00-10:00. Volume a hair over unity. I’m wondering if a Blumes might work out well too.

My no doubt number one, the Lehle Sunday Driver. I use it the most, by far. It’s set to drive mode. There is another more transparent mode also but I don’t use it very much. It’s set a little over unity. It’s super amp like. Has a hard to describe chewiness. There’s a slight bloom to the attack. A nice slight fuzziness. The highs are rounded a bit yet notes feel like they have a better separation. It’s magical being downstream from my Fuzzboxes too. It makes everything sound better. I might buy another just in case something ever happens to this one.

This was a long post. I never set out to do this. It just occurred to me recently that it had happened. I don’t think there’s any going back now.
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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by GreenKnee » Sat Feb 24, 2024 9:54 am

I like to do the same thing. I find with amps that are already driving somewhat that different flavours of boost/low gain OD add much more on terms of feel and subtle changes in amp tone.
I had a few Plumes but sold them all as they sucked out all the bottom end when I was using a Twin as a clean pedal platform. I bet with the amp overdriving a Plumes would make more sense.


My personal favourites are:
Laney TI Boost - Tony Iommi signature treble booster. It's a treble booster but with a lot more tweakability. It has a ridiculous amount of volume in the box.
Jam Boomster MK2 - a very very nice boost with a toggle for different EQ options. I leave this on and move the big red knob ( :-[ ) with my foot. With the knob at zero it is unity gain which is really handy. It's basically a gain control for my amp.
Klon KTR - yup. Mid humpy, smooth, 'feels' lovely as it has just the right amount of compression. I guess I have it set similar to a treble booster just with some mids to it as well. Fuzzes in to a KTR is such a great sound.

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sal paradise
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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by sal paradise » Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:25 am

As a human who’s been into fast, heavy music since the 90s, the TS9 etc has played a long-standing role in my musical life.

I ultimately concur with the original sentiment. I still like running low gain on a Marshall & boosting for mid gain.

I’m currently using a Prince of Tone for that stuff. Completely unnecessary cost for what a TS9 can do. In my defence, I’ve used a lot of boost pedals to shape amp drive, and never have I come across one that was super easy to dial in every time. Until the POT.

Also a recent Klon clone convert. Friedman Golden Eagle is on my board plugged into the Princeton. I love it volume full, gain at 9 o’clock. Boost & a gentle push. Sounds delicious.
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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:35 am

I’ve been moving in this direction for quite a while.

I think many of us being of a certain age started playing in the quiet/loud and shoegaze era and have an aversion to certain gear and sounds.

The classic guitar sounds are classic for a reason, and you can do whatever you want musically with them.

For me dialing back the dirt has helped me focus more on what I play and how I play it.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by fuzzjunkie » Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:50 am

I use single channel amps that don’t have master volume controls, and I like them at the edge of breaking up, so this is something I’ve done for years.

Originally I used a TS-9, but I never liked it and Klons weren’t a thing yet. I used the Super Duper 2-1 for a few years and that worked well enough, but still wasn’t what I wanted.

Finally I discovered the Throbak Overdrive-Boost and it was perfect. I know I’ve said that a few times and it’s not a cheap pedal, but it’s perfect for pushing my single channel amps and making them operate like 2 channels. The main reason it works is like the Lehle mentioned in the OP, it’s very amp like. I use one side as an (almost) always on preamp, and the other as a slightly fuzzy boost. It is more versatile than that if I want to flick a switch and change things around, but that’s the main purpose.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:52 am

Pedal-wise my favorites are Archer Ikon, Creation MK 4.23 clean boost, and Emerson EM-Drive.

I’d say a JFET based clean boost running at higher voltage for extra headroom is the most essential to me. That and an amp that’s cooking a bit of course.

I found a layout online for the Creation boost. The original is not built in an easily serviceable way and has *way* too much gain, so I might eventually have someone build me a clone that addresses that.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by OffYourFace » Sat Feb 24, 2024 11:12 am

i've been into low gain OD pedals to push other pedals like my Big Muff, Fuzz Face, RAT. The Boss pedals work best for me there. BD-2, OD-1, DS-1

In my band I just use the BD-2 thru my Deluxe Reverb and the amp is only set to 3. But what I do use as an always on pedal is my Seymour Duncan Vice Grip compressor. Thanks to the mix knob, it gives me that amp compression at lower volumes without the squish of typical pedal compressors.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by zhivago » Sat Feb 24, 2024 1:38 pm

I do this too by stacking or alternating different gain stages...I find that an amp at the edge of break up is the perfect canvas, and then a guitar with not the hottest pickups in the world + boosts/ODs ontop works well. :)
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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by Chippertheripper » Sat Feb 24, 2024 4:38 pm

sd1, rat, klon(e), even the lpb1 all have worked for me as boosts. I mostly ride my volume knob for gain control, but at home where I play around with such things, the centura does all that for me.
I haven t dusted off a TS style pedal in a decade or so, I reckon. I may have to bust it out. I don't really enjoy most of those as actual drives, but for straight boosting, they all work alright for me.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by MechaBulletBill » Sun Feb 25, 2024 3:22 am

OffYourFace wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2024 11:12 am
i've been into low gain OD pedals to push other pedals like my Big Muff, Fuzz Face, RAT. The Boss pedals work best for me there. BD-2, OD-1, DS-1

In my band I just use the BD-2 thru my Deluxe Reverb and the amp is only set to 3.
usually a vibrolux but this is what i've done for ages now. i've tried loads of different ODs for the job but bd2 through the vibrolux is my favourite combo for now.

my traynor ygm3 is in for repairs at the moment but i've found that is much fussier about what kinds of OD sounds good through it. some make this unpleasant low fuzzy background sound. red llama is the current fav on that amp

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by Jonesie » Sun Feb 25, 2024 8:34 am

I just added a Super Hard On to the end of my board a few months ago, and I don't see it leaving. It definitely adds something to the tone, and I'm not 100% sure what it is, but when it's on it just sounds better.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by B.T. » Sun Feb 25, 2024 8:53 am

Been digging the Wampler Tumnus mini lately. It’s a Klon clone. I put it right before the amp to push the amp for more amp breakup. It also takes up hardly any on the pedal board. I’ve replaced most of my favorite dirt pedals with mini’s lately.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by eilrahc » Sun Feb 25, 2024 9:17 am

Generally I'm not into low gain overdrives, but I've always loved the dirt I get from a cranked Super Hard On. A little while ago I picked up a Zvex Channel 2 (a SHO with a master volume) so I can crank the gain without getting too many noise complaints, it's a really good little bang for your buck pedal.

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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by hulakatt » Sun Mar 03, 2024 10:11 am

Been doing this for a while now too. What boost depends on the amp, the guitar and my mood so I'm kinda a boost whore :whistle:

When I gigged a 5e3, I used my KoT as a boost with the treble trim pot slightly boosted up for a hint of treble boost but not quite as much as an actual treble booster.

One I slept on for way too long and I feel is somehow overlooked is the MXR Micro Amp. It's not really clean, it's a fat n dirty boost and it's marvelous!

I have a Colorsound Overdriver that's a swiss army knife that's a pretty tweakable clean boost with bass and treble controls with a gain knob that takes into an underrated fuzz.

Similar to the Micro Amp, I like to use a Fuzz Face with the Fuzz rolled off all the way and the Vol turned up for a dirty but kinda clean boost. Works best with bigger amps.

I have and love a few Treble boosters but let's bet honest, they're really just one transistor fuzzes, esp in front of small amps.
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Re: Low gain OD/ boost preamp

Post by Dr Tony Balls » Mon Mar 04, 2024 7:42 am

I make one called the Professor that is in this wheelhouse. A friend of mine basically asked for a specific flavor of overdrive but with MUCH less gain on tap. So the ground it covers is basically from clean boost to slightly dirty drive. Came out cool and he loves it.

https://ballseffects.com/distortion/professor/
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