Does this exist: small, 1-knob OD with consistent volume output across gain settings?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Wallow, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Curious if anyone knows of an OD pedal, ideally around 1590a size, with a knob that BOTH increases gain AND reduces volume simultaneously, to keep a consistent volume output as gain is increased? Seems like something that should exist, but I haven't really run across anything just yet.
    vin97 likes this.
  2. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    It sounds like a great idea,'d have to assume some nominal input level so as to clip at the right signal level to make the thing work as you describe. As we play instruments with different amounts of intensity in our playing, and different sensitivities of pickups, you can't quite get what you want.

    But if you try sometime, you might find....
    staurosjohn and Wallower like this.
  3. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Thanks for reply. Not sure I follow logic though. As with any OD pedal, the gain for the pedal I envision would be set by the gain knob. The only difference would be that, instead of then using a separate volume knob to compensate for an increase in the gain knob, that would happen automatically. The VOL knob on many ODs after all is just a passive volume control (i.e., at max volume, there is simply no volume reduction), so I'm looking for a pedal with no volume reduction when gain is set to minimum, and with a mild volume reduction applied as gain knob is cranked. Doesn't have to be an exact science or maintain perfect unity, just looking for something close. I believe the Speaker Cranker for example may have some volume limiting built in along these lines, but from what I've read there is still some boost applied.
  4. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    Distortion needs a volume control to set the level to work with your bypassed signal. The physics of clipping to make dirty signals is not a linear function, so you can't equate a drive gain of, let's say, 40dB with an output level increase of 40dB.

    LSMFT6 and father of fires like this.
  5. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    I believe the reference is to input gain before the dirt/gain the pedal imparts. The level coming into the pedal will greatly affect how much clipping happens at any of the pedal's gain levels. An active bass with aggressive playing will hit the gain stage and distort much more than a passive bass playing softer. That likely wouldn't change your overall wish, as many pedals operate without control of input gain (like the Speaker Cranker), but it does affect perceptions of having the same amount of distortion at any level.
  6. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Maybe I can explain this a better way. Plenty of dirty boost/OD pedals don't have volume control, they just have a single gain control. That control has to be set differently to account for different incoming signals, sure—with the result being that, depending on how much gain is applied, the signal gets boosted some (more gain, more boost). I'm just saying, couldn't such a single-knob pedal also integrate a slight passive volume roll-off into the gain knob, thus rolling off more volume as more gain gets added? Again, doesn't need to be an exact science, but I don't see why the typical boost associated with dirty boost pedals can't be roughly dialed out, producing a single-knob pedal that just gives you more dirt without the boost?

    Of course, even if possible, the next question is does anybody actually make one? As mentioned, I believe Speaker Cranker does it to a degree, but I'm looking for others.

    For practical purposes, I'm looking for this because I like to keep an extra 1590a dirt pedal under my board that I can reach under and engage for early-in-chain light dirt duties. Would be nice to have a single knob I could also fiddle with to add a bit more dirt without any boost, so as to not mess with gain structure of downstream pedals such as envelope filters, etc. But being under my board, I can't easily tweak two knobs (gain and volume) on the fly. Thus my quest...
  7. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    not what you asked for, but could be almost as convenient. Also, taking the broad definition of "distortion"...
    Now having qualified my response, maybe look into a preamp pedal that has an overdrive or some other sort of feature like that included, like MXR M80, Ampeg SCR-DI, Sansamp Bass or Para-DI, etc., etc., etc.
    Could still be decently compact, and while not being single knob, at lest puts all of the relevant knobs in one place.
    Sorry, this wasn't what you asked, but hopefully it helps in some way.
    Wallower likes this.
  8. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Thanks, though I'm pretty happy with my other dirt for now. For this thread, I'm really just wondering if anyone knows of any 1-knob wonders for dirt without the boost.
    Wfrance3 likes this.
  9. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    I think variations in signal output from different basses (and/or pedals that might be placed in front) would make this impossible in an analog format. You could get something digital with presets that maintain consistent volume, but I don't think anyone does a one-knob pedal with those features.
  10. Lammchop93

    Lammchop93 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    This is probably more on the fuzz side of things, but this is a great one knob pedal, with a bass boost footswitch if needed. Never used the pedal, but I have one of their other pedals, and it’s my favorite pedal on my board. All their pedals have excellent low end. Plenty of demos on YouTube.

    Destroyer | Black Arts Toneworks

    Wallower likes this.
  11. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    The exact opposite exists. One wild gain setting, fixed. One knob to control volume.
    Cthulhu Fuzz

    I know this isn't helpful, but I'm curious to see where this thread goes.
    Wallower and Nunovsky like this.
  12. There are plenty of pedals that have a maxed/fixed gain with adjustable Volume or vice-versa, a fixed volume with adjustable gain — pick your poison...

    ... but if it were easy to increase gain and reduce volume with one knob, it would be already on the market.

    Doable, but done well?

    Hail hail the gang's all here
    Hell Hell the gains all here

    A digitally controlled system could work or having a dual-ganged pot with one gang for the gain wired normally, and the volume control reverse wired so that as you turned up the gain the volume would come down.

    The problem, whether digital or analogue, is getting the right amount of volume attenuation as the Gain is turned up — maybe you want a bit more gain, but the Vol is being attenuated too fast so as you turn up that last smidge of extra gain, the volume drops too much. Sure you could add extra resisters to tweak the levels of the volume "control" for when the gain's wide open and when it's completely shut-off, but again, getting the taper of volume attenuation to gain increase is still going to be a LOT of fiddling about.

    Distortion pedals that are digitally controlled could give you presets, such as Source Audio's offerings or you could hunt down a used TC Electronic Nova Drive (discontinued, digitally controlled all-analog signal) ... still a lot of tweaking to even get the presets to where you want for your rig, your ears...

    Oh, and 1590A with all that?
    Wallower likes this.
  13. dannybuoy


    Aug 3, 2005
    What might sound like unity volume at low volume might not when it comes to gigging volume. Or using a different bass, e.g. going from a Jazz to a Thunderbird. One knob bad. Two knobs good. Three knobs better!
  14. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I think that one is based on a Fuzz Face circuit, and I've built something similar. One knob Fuzz Face with dimed gain and just a volume knob. The FFs react to changes in input volume really well, so to reduce gain you roll back some volume on your instrument and there you go.

    Still not a one-knob solution, but the closest I could think of.
    Wallower and monsterthompson like this.
  15. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Nottingham, MD
    I see what you did there... :smug:
  16. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Thanks much all, 'preciate the input. This indeed describes, more succinctly than I did, what I'm seeking:

    I guess the answer to "does it exist" may very well be "no". C'est la vie.

    Though if I may beat a dead horse, I'm still not understanding the sentiment that this would be difficult/impossible to pull off in an analog 1590a. Maybe there's just little interest in such a thing? Again, I'm not talking about maintaining perfect unity at the output... just lessening the boost in order to roughly even the levels between clean and dirty. For example, take a V1 Fifth Gear, an Always-On Barbershop, a Hooker's Green Bassmachine, an SFX Red Dragon, or a Rodenberg GAS-808B-XS... integrate a slight passive volume filter into the gain knob to approximately counteract the inherent boost of increasing gain, and remove any/all other knobs. Sure, maybe the result will be slightly different with different signals, and of course everything sounds different on stage than it does in the bedroom. But regardless of the incoming signal (active, passive, what-have-you), increasing gain without decreasing volume on any of the aforementioned pedals boosts the signal. So I don't see why it would be impossible to integrate a slight volume filter into the gain knob to counteract that boost to some degree. Course, I'm no builder and may indeed be dead wrong!
    vin97 likes this.
  17. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I'll leave the technical aspects of it to people who know more about that sort of thing, but from a marketing perspective most consumers don't want what you're talking about.
    Because most consumers of drive pedals are guitar players. And they want increased output when their drive pedal is engaged in order to push the front end of their amp harder. Or they want to have the option of increased signal when they engage the pedal for solos, etc.

    That said, it's easy enough to achieve the end goal of unity or near-unity gain by either turning two knobs or placing a compressor after the pedal in your chain.
    There may even be drive pedals with a built-in compressor that would do what you're looking for.
    Wallower likes this.
  18. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    Agreed... and this gets at perhaps my underlying curiosity in this topic. While of course more control is better in most situations for guitarists and bassists alike, it does seem that a lot of bassists (including myself) like to have a first-in-chain, almost-always-on light dirt pedal. I have to be careful tweaking it so as not to mess with sensitivity of downstream pedals (and I put compressor closer to end of chain, so that doesn't help). Perhaps I'm just in the extreme minority, or perhaps there could be a market for a pedal oriented for early-in-chain use that could be tweaked on the fly with a single knob to add dirt without (much) boost. Maybe I'll look into a custom build.
  19. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Why is one knob so important? You will always have more control with two knobs.
  20. Wallow


    Aug 1, 2016
    I wouldn't say it's so important... I mean, I'll survive with my current dirt pedals (alternating between Red Dragon and Rodenberg 808 in the aforementioned first-in-chain, light-dirt spot). But for gigging purposes, I'd sure be interested in a single knob solution for dialing in a bit more dirt. I had imagined others might be as well... Bueller?
    vin97 likes this.
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