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Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive + RBI = WOW

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jufros, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    This is EXACTLY what I needed for an outboard OD with the RBI. It sounds amazing with every single bass I own, doesn't suck the lows AT ALL with the blend, and does everything I want it to do. It's gritty if you crank the gain and warm if you leave it at noon. I found the best setting was with the gain at about 3:00 and everything else at noon. It warms my tone and adds some bite with my flatwound P. It turns my EMG equipped ibanez into an absurdly aggressive but not even remotely harsh monster, even if I dial up the tone on the SD.

    I switched it on after my micro POG, micro Q-tron, Bass Muff, before/after my ODB-3, and found it subtle, organic, and just amazing with everything. I thought about the Keeley mod but honestly, after trying it out with the RBI, I don't want to touch it or change a single thing in my rig. My RBI drive is set to noon and even with the flatwound P, I just don't need more gain for any conceivable reason.

    It's also really easy to get a flat EQ out of the pedal. This is a huge plus with my rig. I use a Rane equalizer and leave the RBI flat. The Sparkle Drive can easily give me more RBI tone without changing my presence in the mix. I feel like that presence and EQ change is precisely what turns a lot of bassists here off when it comes to effects pedals. It just doesn't sound natural for the bass to spontaneously leap into another frequency range, and further, it makes it nearly impossible for a sound guy to mix the band unless he's really familiar with the material.

    I used it at practice yesterday and my guitarists were overcome with envy, demanding that I strip it from my board and let them try it out. It's just as ridiculous and versatile on guitar, and compliments chorus and autowah very well. Tons of attack with the clean blend, no mud, and still really original sounding if you dial in less subtle settings than I'm using. One of them is selling his tube screamer to get one of these now.

    This is my favorite pedal that I've ever purchased for a guitar, bass, or keyboard rig by a long shot. I would feel comfortable using this on a majority of the band's material, and can easily see myself using it for funk, rock, blues, whatever. I am so glad that I didn't get the fulltone or the VT. The Sparkle Drive is perfect with the RBI. For the money, I don't see how you could possibly beat this thing. It may not be as versatile as the VT, but if you don't need amp modeling and you just want a simple overdrive that doesn't detract from your normal bass tone, you can get incredible results from this with the clean blend (by far the best/most defining feature of the Sd). Go buy this right now if you're running an RBI.
  2. Snakeman1066

    Snakeman1066 Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Central Valley
    welcome to the club.....I have been singing the praises of this pedal for well over a year now...
  3. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    Haha yeah I read most of it before purchasing. I'm about to join you in your ceaseless recommending of this pedal in all of those "which overdrive?" threads that pop up all the time.
  4. what would it sound like if i ran this into an already driven amp?

    that way id get the mild drive of my clean signal going through, AND a pushed overdrive signal, right?

    like dirt and dirtier?

    cause i could definitely get into that.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Stacking distortion is cool. Seems to get too heavy for most of my gigs, but it can sound killer if you got the right material for it.
  6. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    That's pretty much exactly how I run this thing and it works beautifully. I have the drive on my RBI preamp set at 12:00 (it's boost only). I can't really rave enough about how well it overdrives the RBI.

    With EMG P/J's, I really don't think I'm going to need more drive for anything. The RBI can do its own version of the SVT grind sound, and with the Sparkle Drive, it sounds way more aggressive AND punchy at the same time than my buddy has ever gotten his SVT to sound. I dig the SVT thing, but I don't have to sacrifice mid range presence to get my sound.

    This is largely because I have complete control over the coloration of my pure bass tone with this setup. I have to mention, however, that the blend on the RBI is, in my opinion, its most underrated advantage over other preamps. You can can get a lot more mid range presence by rolling it back a touch, and you can still maintain the basic sound that we all love the RBI and sansamps for. I dial in a touch of unaffected tone on the RBI, set the blend to noon on the SD, and I have instant, perfect, gritty overdrive tone, no low end loss, and the same presence in the mix. I just have more gain and more grind.

    My favorite thing about the Sparkle Drive is that even with my flatwound P-Bass, I can essentially get the "zing" and sparkly grit (no pun intended) from my roundwound basses, but again, I don't sacrifice the presence and thumping attack that I love a flatwound P for. It's glorious. My P is modded with a 2nd precision in the bridge, and with the neck full on, bridge at 75%, gain cranked on the Sparkle Drive, and the RBI set at noon, I'm getting insane results.

    The pedal works equally well with active and passive basses, and you can use it as a clean boost as well. It doesn't have "Bass" written anywhere on the casing, but trust me, if you're looking for the tube screamer on bass sound, this pedal will do it for you and then some.

    I'm kind of interested in the LTD as well. I've heard great things about it but the Sparkle Drive seems more flexible. Can I justify two overdrives? I might sell the Bass Muff. I feel like I'm about to become a converted outboard OD junkie.
  7. i know its blasphemy, but im talking in terms of guitar. my new band is playing some HEAVY ****, and id like the texture of a cleaner amp sometimes WITH the brootal stuff. like if id recorded it with 2 amps.

    retain a wee bit of clarity whilst bringing tha mutha****in ruckus
  8. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Am I the only one who doesn't know what an RBI is? :eyebrow:
  9. UnDoNe


    Dec 6, 2002
    Kev, it's a rack mounted sansamp I believe
  10. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    The LTD is fairly flexible and it sounds good on bass. Along with the volume, tone, and drive controls, there are two internal trimpots: one for bass, and one for presence. I have the Silver, which falls tonally between the regular and the Special Recipe in regards to mid presence.

    Stacking ODs or OD with fuzz can be awesome. LTD into Messdrive gives me the hugest, most cutting fuzz sound I've ever heard.

    Good luck with your new addiction.;)
  11. Clicky.
  12. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    +1 on the Sparkle Drives.

    And if you think a stock one is groovy, you should try a Keeley Modded one. All of the same, but more better all around thrown in. More low end retention, smoother, more gain when needed, etc etc etc.

  13. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Ah yeah. I nearly bought one of those last week funnily enough, didn't really pay attention to what it was called though.
  14. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    Yeah I used to play tech death metal on tour every single day. One of our guitarists was running a tube screamer (really similar to SD but without the clean blend) in front of a Randall head with an outboard compressor, and the other played the Line 6 Vetta II and used an external noise gate, eq, and compressor, and was all about some super modern death metal sounds with as much definition and attack on 32nd note speed picking as he could squeeze out of his right hand.

    My observation was that if you're clean tone is legitimately dirty and you're really pushing your amp, the tube screamer is pretty awesome and can really enrich your high gain tone. But if you're feeding a clean tone and trying to get ball-busting gain complete with pissed off harmonics when you mute anything at all, you should look elsewhere if you just want to run one pedal. If we're talking metal distortion tones here, the tube screamer is not particularly versatile in that you can't get THAT many different distortion sounds out of it alone. It's versatile because its transparent and you can use it synergistically with just about any other gain source pretty easily, especially tube amps.

    I was not playing bass in this band and our bassist didn't use any effects at all besides a compressor. That's pretty textbook prog or prog death though. Every night was active basses (Stingray or Warwick) -> Eden -> DBX compressor in loop of Eden -> 8x10.

    So the other day I tried out the ODB-3 -> Sparkle Drive -> Sansamp RBI chain. This is just like any other 3 tiered gain chain except that every thing in it has a clean blend. So I figured that there was no way these pedals had the capacity to actually distinguish between your "clean" tone and the "the tone that it's being fed." If the latter, the pedal would recognize this as the clean tone, and blend it appropriately.

    Sparkle Drive gain cranked, ODB gain at about 9:00, and RBI drive at noon. Clean blend at 12:00 on the ODB and noon as well on the Sparkle Drive, blend on the RBI rolled back to 50% (full on = zero blend and 100% sansamp) for the sake of what I'm trying to show you. Despite the fact that I'm blending a liberal amount of clean signal at each step, this is pretty damn ridiculous sounding. You have to accept that, no, it's not that slick. It's just really really pissed. It's fun though I feel like I'm playing with dragons instead of gain stages, and I have to watch my total volume at each stage. Anyway, The ODB sends you some gnarly snarly frequencies, gain, a clean bas sound, and the Sparkle Drive meets these, and processes the ODB distortion, adding some "sparkle" and..."Clean!??" I seriously doubt it man.

    Instead, I think you get something that works, VERY ROUGHLY, like this:

    ODB-3 -> ----. Grind. Grit. You are in guitar land officially. But wait, aggressively turn the blend clockwise and ah. Ok. That's A distorted bass tone now in that I have a fairly bass that has some attack and definition with the clean blend. So dial the drive down and play with the eq until you get a level you like. Let's say theoretically that blend is at noon.

    The ODB is recognizing and distributing: ODB(Bass) + Bass

    ---->SPARKLE DRIVE. SD is receiving all of this crap from the ODB. But it has the clean switch on so it's continuing to boost the overdrive while leaving the the clean alone. Except it's BOOSTING the clean as well.

    So most likely you have


    SD[ODB(Bass)] + Boost(Bass)
    SD(Bass) + Boost[ODB(Bass)]

    Then, if you run that into the drive on the RBI you're getting something along these lines:

    DIRTY + Clean

    RBI[SD[ODB(Bass)]] + SD[ODB(Bass)]
    RBI[SD(Bass)] + SD(Bass)
    RBI[Boost(Bass)] + Boost(Bass)
    RBI[Boost[ODB(Bass)]] + Boost[ODB(Bass)]

    So yeah how on earth does this work exactly if you're splitting tones at very stage? It seems like you'd have a fair amount of strange phasing and would be much better served with less signal splitting. Buy what do I know? I just thought about this a minute ago and figured someone would enlighten me here.
  15. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    This would be a prime example of a time when it would be sweet to blend clean tone, overdrive, and fuzz to create something that sounded GOOD as opposed to sheerly absurd. The messdrive looks so awesome too.

    I think I'm going to try this basic sketch out at some point in the near future.

    ..................Sparkle Drive--------------------------------------v
    .......................ODB->Looper->Fuzz (in loop)->loop return^
  16. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    I did this in serial, but it'd be fun to mix od and fuzz in parallel loops through the LS-2. For some reason though, LTD into Messdrive is magic.

    If you're into this idea, check out Wounded Paw effects new dual od/fuzz pedal. There's a thread here somewhere...
  17. dannybuoy


    Aug 3, 2005
    Thanks for that LTD gutshot, the silver schematic is available form the Barber site but they don't say which opamp is used, and now I know! 'Tis a very simple circuit, should be an easy build... :p
  18. jufros


    Nov 24, 2008
    That mini board is awesome. I want an LTD pretty bad now haha but I just gigged the Sparkle Drive this afternoon and it was amazing.
  19. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY
    Oh, snap! Don't tell Dave I gave up his secret.

    <smacks hand> Bad Mr. Pickles:bawl:
  20. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Dutchess County, NY

    And I didn't mean to steal your thunder by getting all preachy about the LTD. Rock out with your Sparkle Drive!:bassist:

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