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Roll call of tube overdrive pedals (with actual tubes)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by christw, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Sorry guys, I did a search and only found a post here or there about this...

    I've been curious about tube OD pedals for a long time and I'm at a point where I'd really like to explore full tube overdrive pedals. Unfortunately, I don't really know what's out there. I'm looking to do a roll call of everyone's favorite tube OD's and why it's your favorite. I'm not quite sure what I'm after but I know I love the overdrive from my Hughes and Kettner BATT, Marshalls, B-15s, SVTs, and 300 Pro/300T's. I usually let my speaker cabinets do most of the coloring. I avoid tweeters to let the sizzle roll off naturally and keep all of the grit. Not sure if that helps.

    Just wondering if you guys would have any suggestions or want to take part in making a semi comprehensive list of bass tube OD or bass friendly tube OD pedals. (I'd prefer to avoid cold tube/starved plate pedals where there's just a 12AX7 in there for show.) Thanks! :D
  2. EskimoBassist


    Nov 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    EBS Valve Drive is a good start to your list.
  3. NoxNoctus

    NoxNoctus The Crushinator

    May 9, 2004
    Annapolis, MD
    Verellen Meatsmoke Preamp
  4. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    the Seymour Duncan SFX-11 works well on bass too.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    A valid concern, but there's a distinction to make. In many (but not all) tube gain stages, the amount of voltage heating it can affect the headroom--so a low-voltage stage may have lower headroom--in turn meaning it may overdrive more easily. Conversely, a high-voltage tube may have high headroom, making it less prone to overdrive. So while it's true that a lot of tubes are just for show, and also true that many people prefer tube stages that happen to run on high voltage, it is not necessarily true that high voltage is needed for OD or distortion.

    Where I personally seek out high voltage is for high-headroom "clean but warm" tube stages.

    None of this should be taken as a generalization across "all" or even "most" tube devices though. In fact my point is to dissuade from generalizations. :)
  6. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
  7. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1 to Bongo's post, and I'll add, in some cases, you can get a great tube o/d without even using a real vacuum tube. Just saying, there are many great choices for a tube o/d sound, and how the circuit is designed should be of less concern than how the pedal actually sounds.That said, +1 again for EBS Valve Drive, but though I;ve owned one for many years, I use a TRex Bass Juice now, which has no tube in the circuit. Both are awesome.
  8. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Thanks guys and thanks for the clarification bongo. I've got a starting point now at least. FWIW the Pickle Pie B is still on my short GAS list of pedals.
  9. EHX English Muff'n. I like it as a mostly clean preamp, especially when run after distortions. It really smooths out otherwise harsh dirts. If you hunt for deep deep lows word is it isn't so good, but I don't hunt for deep, deep, lows so I've never noticed a problem. I did a mod to mine to get deeper lows, but I didn't do a scientific enough pre/post test to verify the difference.

    Either way I'm not interested in selling it, I like it a lot. I haven't messed with anything else listed in this thread.

    Pros: I think it sounds really good, runs at 250-300 volts, nice passive EQ that always sounds natural, if not especially surgical.

    Cons: Big, with a stupid power supply which makes it even bigger than it is by itself. Mods need to be done to power supply AND pedal to make it not stupid.
  10. LongHairFreak

    LongHairFreak Insert cool nickname? Nobody's given me one yet. Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    Twin Cities - MN
    Most anything made by Dave Hall Amps. DHA OD is my absolute favorite for just a bit of dirty fat. If you get a dual channel unit from his VT2 line, you can have that and also be just a stomp away from full on crunch. The Swell B-Peg is a way cool OD too.
  11. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    While it's low voltage my old Tube Works Blue Tube pedal works great with a 12AV7 swapped out for the original 12AX7.
  12. sprag


    Sep 15, 2011
    Melb Australia
    + 1 on the dha vt2. it has pride of place on my board. haven't tried one but the bottle rocket seems to get a lotta love from those who have one.
  13. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Tube Works Tube Driver pedal. My go to for 20+ years. They make a rack mount version too. They are out of production though... Still easy to find.
  14. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    I have various sound clips of real tube overdrive pedals on my page here: http://cgraham.com/chris/music/sound_clips.htm

    EHX English Muff'n
    MESA Bottle Rocket
    Thermionic TE.01
    ADA MB-1 (not a pedal, but can do some awesome tube overdrive via two tubes)
  15. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Thanks for the further suggestions. I've still got a lot of reading and listening ahead. The VT2 looks like it would appeal to me but I'd probably look to buy used if anything.

    Would anyone's suggestions change if I asked about about pedals that an push a driven Hiwatt tone? I'm not necessarily looking for anything Ampeg-like at the moment. :)
  16. andrew


    May 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC/Pacific Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Spector, Regenerate Guitar Works, Tech 21 NYC
    Budda Phatbass
  17. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    I ended up with a deal on a Radial Tonebone classic that I'll give a shot. If it really is Fender-y I'll probably like it a lot.
  18. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 Just got one but my favorite inexpensive tube pedal is the Tube Works Blue Tube Enhancer it reacts so well to different tubes. I also have an older version of the Recovery Effects "Lights On The Way Out" pedal it to is very responsive to different tubes.
  19. +1 for Recovery
  20. andrew


    May 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC/Pacific Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Spector, Regenerate Guitar Works, Tech 21 NYC
    I have an SFX-03 Classic Tube pedal I sometimes use and like on bass as well.