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Review - DHA Valvetone Tube Pedal

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by wateroftyne, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. Here's a bit of a ramble regarding my own experiments to introduce a bit of tubey warmth to my Acoustic Image Focus 2, which has a great - if overly clean - preamp.

    I play early 70's P's and J's, all passive and strung with flats, into Ashdown ABM cabs. Essentially, I want to thicken the bottom end up a little, and get add little bit of natural compression to smooth out the clicks and clacks suffered by a relatively heavy-handed player like me.

    What I'm *not* interested in is all-out fuzz.. I'll leave that to other people!

    I get very close to what I want using my trusty SABDDI, but.. not quite. The main problem is that in order to introduce the tube emulation, you need to increase the blend, which sucks out the mids.. which kills the tone of my fretless P.

    I get good results rolling the bass and treble right off on the SABDDI, which in turn has the net effect of boosting the mids, but.. it's not quite there.

    After doing a bit of research on various sites, I pushed the boat out and ordered a ValveTone Purist preamp/stomp box, hand-made in the UK by Dave Hall (DHA). Dave builds a range of boxes, and this is the most basic model. It only cost me about $150 (Non-UK buyers should factor in a little more for shipping).

    At this point I should stress that I'm not too technical, and I sometimes struggle to describe the sound I have in my head. Also, I've never been lucky enough to play full-on through an all-tube head, so I can't compare it to that experience either. Apologies in advance.

    What I do know is... I'm in tone heaven!

    The funky functional-but-tough hand-painted hand-annotated case has two knobs - level and gain. As you increase the gain, you decrease the level to compensate.. Simple enough for me to cope with! It's absolutely quiet at normal operating levels. Crank the gain to levels I would never use, and a little bit of noise sneaks in, but I doubt this would be noticeable in a normal gig evironment.

    The gain is very sensitive - too sensitive, in fact. However, add just a tiny amount and... Holy cr*p!! It's the tone I've been looking for all this time!

    I leave my amp's tone controls flat... and I sit in the mix exactly where I should be. My fretless P mwaaahs exactly like I wanted it to in my head, and my fretted Jazz and P are... creamy.

    The bottom end is subtly but noticeably thickened up, the tone is evened out right across the board. It growls just the right amount when I dig in, and the nasty top-end clicks and clatters I'm plagued with are all but banished. All this is done very organically. The last few gigs have been so much fun, I can't believe it. My bandmates spotted the improvment right away, too.

    As mentioned, the gain is VERY sensitive - anything higher than a touch, and you're into grind territory. For example, my fretted P has a slightly higher output than my others and overdives a little too easy.

    Based on Dave's advice, I plan to overcome this by installing a lower-gain tube. He's constantly acting on feedback from customers and plans to include an input gain pad on future models to give higher-output basses more useable headroom.

    On the minus side, I miss phantom power. I'm lazy and like to keep things simple. That's not an option with this box though, and never will be.. You need to use an external mains adapter. I'm getting used to it though - It's worth the effort!

    I love it... :hyper:

  2. DHA

    DHA Dave Hall Amps

    Oct 20, 2005
    Hi all,

    Just a quick update to let you all know that DHA pedals has just opened a site in Austin, Texas called DHA-Texas.

    They will manufacture, sell and support all of the DHA range of pedals in the US and Canada. The idea is to reduce the cost of the pedals in the US and Canada which is problem due to the exchange rate and postage from the UK.

    DHA-Texas will be selling on ebay, etc. but can contacted direct at dha_texas@yahoo.com

  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Oh hey Dave, how's it going? This is Cyrus, we spoke a bit about US distribution. Now I see why our conversation dried up! It does make sense though to have local manufacture, so that was a smart decision. Good luck with that! :)
  4. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Sounds like a great product! I know that you weren't going for a very overdriven tone, but can you share your thoughts on how well it might do a more aggressive overdriven tone?

    Thanks, Tom.
  5. BigMikeW

    BigMikeW Banned

    May 25, 2005
    Nashville, TN.
    Banned by TB Administration for refusal to account for funds
    I'd be very interested to see how the other models with more controls work for bass. I don't want grind but a fat, warm, TIGHT tone would be great.
  6. DHA

    DHA Dave Hall Amps

    Oct 20, 2005
    Hi Cyrus,

    Sorry, but you where on my list to talk to.

    I see no harm in talking to Sherry at DHA-Texas as she may well be interested in a distribution deal with you, I will put in a good word.


  7. DHA

    DHA Dave Hall Amps

    Oct 20, 2005
    Hi Tom,

    The VT1-Purist-Bass and VT1-MK3-Bass pedals only have one tube giving two stages of gain. So they do distort but really provide fat warm tone that overdrive amps well. I find a lot of bass players leave them switched on all the time. By the way I sell more pedals to bass players than guitarists.

    As a guitarist I use VT1-Purist driving a Valve head into overdrive for most of my work. I use the guitar's volume control to adjust the amount of crunch I want.

    If you want lots of high gain then have a look at my VT2 range, they have 2 tubes so giving 4 stages of gain. Check out my ebay shop. The VT2-Twin and the VT2-Dual have two stages of switchable gain, in fact when in channel 1 only they are VT1s and channel 1+2 is really one VT1 driving the other.

    The VT2-Fatguts-bass is a single channel high gain version.

  8. DHA

    DHA Dave Hall Amps

    Oct 20, 2005

    All the DHA Bass models are designed for bass not guitar. There are cap value changes to provide a better bottem end and an input level control for use with active pickups.

    I would say a VT1 would suit you best and the VT1-MK3 has a nice "Colour" feature that allows you to select 2 types of negative feedback into the circuit. This adds gain and valve compression.