First Impression: Lovepedal JTM

Backstory :- we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heatwave, and it’s been a little too warm to play much guitar.

It’s much cooler today, and I’ve got half an hour to kill while I’m processing audio for a talk video. Let’s have a play with the Lovepedal JTM.

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I’m using my Tele this morning. Just got it back from a much-needed setup.

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The JTM is aiming for that pre-plexi Marshall sound. There’s a lot of other pedals in that space. As far as I know, the JTM is the only one that’s a one-knob wonder.

It seems to be what I call a foundation pedal. It changes the tone a lot. Very pushed mids, not a lot of low end. Didn’t like it at all into the blackface-style clean amp.

I like it a lot more into the Origin.

I suspect it would work best into a dirty amp as a combined tone shape & boost. I’ll have to get my Synergy rig setup to test that.

I’ve got the pedal almost gunned. Classic on the edge of breakup sound. Clean when lightly picked, a bit of crunch when I dig in. It’s quite a volume boost and, sadly, quite a noise boost too.

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It really suits the Telecaster’s bridge pickup. Definitely got that vintage 60s birth-of-rock tone and vibe about it.

It’s quite a cold sound, and with humbuckers it can be very waspish and brittle when gunned. This setting seems to be a good sweet spot if you’re using a Les Paul.

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Speaker choice seems important with this pedal, more important than most pedals that I’ve tried. If I run it through a G12M Creamback, that sorts out all the harshness I was hearing through the Celestion Blue.

That’s really nice now.

That coldness to the tone seems to suit the neck pickup in a Les Paul really well too. That’s a big bonus. I often struggle to get a nice clear sound with the neck pickup. With this pedal, it’s right there.

In summary: – it seems very locked-in on a single sound from the days of early rock – it seems voiced for classic rock speakers If you’re after that specific era, you’ll probably love this pedal.

Later That Same Day …

I’m messing about with the Lovepedal JTM again this evening. And I’m starting to think that the Xotic EP Boost might just be the perfect boost for the JTM.

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A Few Days Later …

I’ve been having a lot of fun running this pair of pedals – Xotic EP Booster into Lovepedal JTM – into the Marshall Origin. This might be my favourite crunch rock tone to date.

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New Arrival: Lovepedal JTM

Look what’s sheltering from the #heatwaveuk with me today: the Lovepedal JTM drive pedal.

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I’ve plugged it in to check it works. It’s 26C in here, which is too hot for me. Don’t want a valve amp making the room even warmer today.

It’ll have to wait for cooler weather before I spend quality time with it.

#CoffeeAndKlon 10: My Desert Island Guitar

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed.

Good morning! I hope you’re all having a great weekend so far. I’m still buzzing from playing all those PRS Guitars over @astringsuk on Friday night. Or is it just the coffee? #CoffeeAndKlon

Coffee this morning is the very last of the Sumatran that I was drinking last week. I forgot that the machine was almost out of beans. It’s got about half the coffee it should have. I might have second coffee in a bit.

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Last week, I started talking about my Desert Island rig. One thing I didn’t do was establish any rules or constraints on what could be in the rig.

I’ve been thinking that over, and I’m feeling torn about that.

An #AnythingGoesDreamRig, where the only limit is your imagination, has its own appeal for sure. I’d love to learn what kind of gear you’d choose if you could – and why you’d go for that gear in particular.

So that could be a thing.

The rig I’ve been thinking about though is more of a #MySoundMyRig kind of thing … the gear that gives me ‘my’ sound, whatever that is. I don’t know about you, but if I was stuck on a desert island, I’d be happier with that than any other kind of rig.

My rig starts at the guitar. And it’s not a Les Paul. It’s my PRS McCarty 594, in the only colour they should ever be made in.

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I’ve got two stories to share about this guitar, which is affectionately named Deadnote. I’ll save the story behind its name for another time 🙂

When I bought this guitar, I had two 594s to choose between: this, or a Private Stock model. The Private Stock model was an amazing instrument. It rang like a bell, with a clarity that I loved. It very nearly came home with me.

But it was actually this one that I bonded with, right there and then in the shop. This one’s got a bit more bark to it. Stick it in front of some dirt, and it does the growl thing that I love.

I had the same experience Friday night, playing some gorgeous Private Stock guitars. As instruments, they were perfect for highly technical players who could make use of that extra clarity. But the tier below had that bark, that attitude that works better for me.

The second story?

I’ve been collaborating musically with Tess on and off since 92. The moment she heard me playing this guitar, she told me that this gives me the sound I’ve been searching for all that time. When others hear it, you know you’ve found it.

The 594 gives me what I love about the Les Paul – the scale length, the control layout and location, the vintage voicing. It also has tuning stability, intonation, and usable coil split sounds that I haven’t found on any Les Paul.

I would gig a 594 over a Les Paul every time.

So yeah, the first piece of #MySoundMyRig for the desert island is the PRS McCarty 594. What guitar would you be shipwrecked with? I’d love to hear how you found the guitar that gives you ‘your’ sound.

Have a great weekend, and next week I’ll talk about the next piece of my signal chain for this rig: the tuner 🙂

First Impression: Little Tweedy Drive and The Pride of Texas

This conversation was first posted to my Twitter feed.

Wasn’t expecting them to arrive together like this. Seeing as they have, I’m sorely tempted to compare them head-to-head 🙂

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Let’s set the scene. My go-to tone is something like a Honey Bee or Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short) into a blackface-sounding clean amp. It’s kind-of a small American amp sound, from the time of chrome and open-top cruising.

I’m hoping that both of these pedals will give me more shades of that same flavour … just like different ‘plexi’-voiced pedals give me choices for the classic British rock tone.

Esp the first pedal – the Little Tweedy Drive by Mad Professor. The name – and their YouTube demos! – say that this should nail that sound.

One important point: I’ve never owned an actual Fender Tweed amp, and I’ve never even played through one. I can’t compare these pedals to the real thing. All I can do is compare them to each other, and to the SHOD or the Honey Bee.

Both the Little Tweedy Drive and the Pride of Texas have the same control layout: volume, gain, bass and treble EQ. Single ‘tone’ EQ controls can be frustrating to work with. So this should be an improvement over the SHOD.

The Little Tweedy Drive

First up – the Little Tweedy Drive, by Mad Professor. First note: it sounds quite similar to the SHOD. I’ll have to A/B them to check that. But there’s an in-your-face difference: the Little Tweedy sounds like a distorting speaker!

Hrm …

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As the gain goes past 12 o’clock, this thing basically turns into a fuzz tone, it’s so overblown. Not what I was after, and something I don’t know how to make good use of.

I’m going to have to take that one away and look into it. I don’t know whether it’s meant to do that, or whether it doesn’t like my amp, or whether it’s just faulty. My guess is that it’s deliberate, that it’s trying to recreate how these small amps act when cranked.

Very quickly, I did A/B it against the SHOD. Even ignoring the distorted speaker sound of the Little Tweedy, they’re quite different. The SHOD is much more mid-focused than the Little Tweedy. The Little Tweedy is a much fuller sound. If only it didn’t distort like that …

The Pride of Texas

Next up, the Danelectro Pride of Texas. This thing looks and feels really good in person. Does the sound live up to the physical experience? No, not for me.

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Unity volume on the pedal is one hair’s width above dead silent. I find that really difficult to work with. Even with the gain cranked, this pedal’s almost clean. This isn’t a drive pedal, it’s a boost, surely?

Let me share the text off the side of the box here.

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This is an SRV-in-a-box thing. Somehow I completely missed that when the pedal first launched. He was a famous TubeScreamer user. So this should actually be a TS-style circuit, just optimised as a crazy boost? That’s novel.

And that’s definitely what I’m hearing. It’s got that ‘where did all the low-end go?’ that happens when you boost an amp with a TS pedal. Okay, let’s try and use it like that. Not a setup I use myself, so don’t hate me if I don’t do it right.

I’ve just grabbed the JRAD Animal, and moved the Pride Of Texas to be a boost into it. A bit like boosting a crunchy Marshall with a TS (I hope). Oh yes, that’s much better! That’s a lot of fun 🙂

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Just for my own ears, let’s A/B it against an actual TubeScreamer. Yeah, I think they’re very similar when used as boosts. Main difference to my cloth ears? The Pride of Texas has more bottom end, thanks to the EQ setup.

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Well, that is a very happy accident. This has a real chance of joining the Klon KTR, Brit Blue, Overzoid od1 and Forest Green in my pantheon of go-to boost pedals.

Concluding Thoughts

So to sum up …

The Little Tweedy Drive doesn’t sound like an SHOD, and does sound like a distorting speaker, and the Pride of Texas is a TS / crazy boost hybrid and not a primary drive pedal at all. Well, at least they both give me something I don’t already have!

They turned out to be utterly different from each other, not just in tone, but also in how to use them. I definitely learned something today. I hope I kept you entertained while I did 🙂

#SecondBite: Wampler Sovereign Distortion

This conversation was originally published to my Twitter feed.

Arrived this morning … will the Sovereign from Wampler prove to be the king of drive pedals? Spoiler alert: no. It’s a finicky pedal to dial in. Got some great sweet spots though. Let me walk you through them …

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What makes this pedal finicky? Henning covers it very well in his video review of the Sovereign.

There’s something going on in the low-end of this pedal that you can’t dial out, and that makes it challenging to use with humbuckers.

I had that problem with my first copy of this pedal, which is why I sold it a few years ago now. Just plugged this one in, and yeah, still not a great tone with humbuckers.

Brian makes great pedals. I’m not giving up on it just yet.

I’m a different player than I was when I first had this pedal. My rig is different. My guitar is different. That’s why I’m taking a #SecondBite at this, and other pedals that I’ve had and sold on.

This time, I’m starting with a different premise.

What Gear Did Brian Use?

This is one of Brian’s older circuits. Let’s assume he had limited gear back then. From his videos, looks like he mostly had Teles into Fender amps. Why don’t we start with that, and go from there?

I’m running the Sovereign straight into my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6. It has become my favourite Fender-voiced amp for #HomeTone use. I’ll try it through the Origin another time.

I’m going to use it with the Fender Vintera 60s Modified Tele that I recently got. It’s a monster for fat tones, and it’s a great Tele for a Les Paul player like me.

The Sovereign shines with the Tele’s bridge pickup. Suddenly, all that low-end from the pedal … just works. It fills in the overall sound really nicely. Definitely a sweet spot.

What about P90s? If I dig out my red Special (pun intended – sorry Andrew!) Les Paul w/ P90s, it’s an interesting story. This guitar lacks the mid-range thickness that I associate with P90s.

That’s a good thing in this case.

First thing to point out – have to play on the bridge pickup. Even in the middle position, the pedal’s low-end thickness doesn’t suit. These aren’t hot pickups, but I still had to roll down the volume and tone to tame the harshness.

And there it is – a Tele-ish tone that I suspect would work well in a mix with my Tele. That’s a big win for me. I love being able to pair things up for recording.

You can probably tell that I’m warming to this pedal as I go along. I’ve already got gear that suits my normal Les Paul. Having something that suits other guitars gives me options I may not have had before.

But I Love My Les Paul

So, with everything I’ve learned, let’s throw a Les Paul Standard at it. Again, bridge pickup only, and rolling back volume and tone to tame the pedal a bit. I found that harder to dial in. Too easy for the pedal to sound harsh.

Thing is, I’m not a bridge pickup player. One of the reasons I love Les Pauls is the tone from the middle position. Roll neck volume down to 4, switch to middle position. Bring bridge volume up to get the dirt back, then tone up to find the right bite.

That’s a much nicer sound than where I started from 2+ hours ago 🙂 Can’t see me picking this over other pedals for my Les Paul. When I want to use the Tele though, this might become a go-to for that.

What Else?

I’ve had no success stacking this pedal (so far). It’s dead quiet – stunningly so. That’s not the problem. Everything I’ve tried in front of it has made the pedal sound worse.

So yeah, that my #SecondBite at using the Wampler Sovereign. I hope you found the process interesting. Let me know what you think.

#CoffeeAndKlon 9: Would You Take A Klon To A Desert Island?

This conversation was originally published on my Twitter feed.

Good morning! I hope you’re having a great weekend so far. This week, I’ve been thinking about my Desert Island rig … and whether or not a Klon / klone would be part of it. #CoffeeAndKlon

Coffee this morning is my absolute favourite: Sumatran. It has a stronger flavour, and tastes quite bitter, compared to most coffees that I have tried.

It would be my Desert Island coffee choice 🙂

The whole Desert Island rig concept always amuses me. It’s such a contradictory premise. You’re stranded alone on an uninhabited island, presumably with only your wits to sustain you. And yet somehow there’s electricity to run your guitar rig of choice *shrugs*

Even ignoring the logical fallacy for a moment … who, in their right mind, would bring the gear they love the most to an environment that it won’t survive in?

Oh, the joys of hypotheticals 😀

That brings up an important point. For many many people, the gear they use is simply a tool. It’s a commodity, and ultimately a consumable for them. They use it, and when it’s worn out, they replace it.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked there …

Why have I been thinking about my Desert Island rig this week?

Normally, I’ve got a new (to me) pedal on my little pedal board, and I’m trying it with different stuff to work out what I think of it. No new pedals this week, so instead I’m using the guitar, pedals, and amp that together give me “my” sound.

I’ll break down all the different parts of my Desert Island rig – the what, and the why – over the next few #CoffeeAndKlon threads / posts. There’s a lot to discuss, and discussing it will help me understand it for myself. I wonder if I’ll change my mind as a result?

Will a Klon / klone be part of it? Let’s deal with the klone question first.

I’ve tried a number of klones – not all, by any means – and I always come back to my Klon KTR. I’m not even sure I can say why, or that I could pick it out in a blind test. (That could be fun to try!)

I know there’s a lot of folks out there who don’t rate the KTR. If there’s a klone that you prefer, I think “good on you.” If we all liked the same thing, and all sounded the same, the world would be a very dull place.

The whole Klon thing isn’t so much about making my guitar sound better, it’s about making my guitar standout in a band / mix setting. If it’s just me, on my own, on a Desert Island, is the Klon thing going to matter?

And I think that’s one reason why so many #HomeTone players either don’t get the Klon thing, or are disappointed with it. If it’s just you noodling alone, you don’t get to hear what (IMHO) the Klon does like no other.

The Klon isn’t the only kind of boost pedal in town. Regular readers will have seen me use the Brit Blue, the OverZoid od1, and the Forest Green Compressor as boost pedals too. They all have their sweet spot.

Will the KTR make it into my Desert Island rig? I’ll tell you soon, as I work through the signal chain of my choice of Desert Island rig. Follow me here, or come and read the http://hometoneblog.com  if you prefer 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Would you take a Klon or klone with you to a desert island? Tell me why – or why not. And have a great weekend!

First Impressions: Mad Professor Big Tweedy Drive Pedal

This conversation was originally published on my Twitter feed.

This evening, I’m enjoying something a little bit different – a Mad Professor Big Tweedy Drive pedal. Boosting it with a Klon, and running it into a Blackstar Studio 10 6L6.

With the right guitar (a @raghguitar RPJ), this setup gives a good approximation of the guitar tone from A Star Is Born. Such a great film. And Lady Gaga should have won the Oscar for her acting performance. Anyway …

(I need to talk a lot more about the RPJ soon. It is such an utter tone monster, and a delight to play. I have – and have tried – other P90 guitars, inc a very Special (pun intended) Custom Shop model. The RPJ slays them all for tone.)

The pedal sounds pretty good with a Tele or a Les Paul, but a nice, fat P90 seems to bring the best out of it. Haven’t found a tone with a Strat that I like (yet).

I’m finding it a bit of a one-trick pony, and it’s a bit prickly. Dig in too sharply, and it’ll turn that action into an instant attack of the ice pick. To mitigate, I’m rolling the guitar tone off completely, then gradually back up to find min setting that isn’t dull.

On the one hand, I feel that it’s something that should be addressed in a rev2 of the circuit. It’s that annoying. On the other … it certainly gives the pedal a bit of character and dynamics that stops it being dull and lifeless.

It’s what they call a foundation pedal. Which mostly means it needs a bit of help to get the most from it 🙂 So far, Klon-style pedals seem to get the best from it. The Brit Blue also works really well, esp with that Tele I recently got.

I have tried it into the Marshall Origin, didn’t really enjoy the results. Seems to suit the Blackstar very very well though. (And the more I use it, the more I’m glad I have this amp!)

I’m not familiar with actual twin tweed amps; I couldn’t tell you how close this gets to the real thing. If you want this kind of vintage American tone, it’s one for you to check out. But only if.

[Later in the evening – Ed] I dug out the Special to try it through the Big Tweedy. It does sound good. It’s just a delicate kind of sound compared to the kaiju that’s the RPJ.

I forgot to mention. The pedal’s Drive control is also its bass control. Turn the drive down, and ALL the low-end frequencies disappear. Just be aware of that if you decide to try one for yourself.

Changing Pickups Part 2: A Nice Surprise

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed. You can find Part 1 here.

Well, the green Strat is back, and the result has been quite the surprise.

Quick recap: Fender Player series Strat, which I’ve really taken a shine to. Dropped it off @astringsuk yesterday to replace the stock pickups with a (mismatched) set of 63 Veneers from Bare Knuckle. Wanted a more vintage Strat tone.

First off – these pickups definitely deliver that vintage Strat tone. There’s a much bigger difference between the stock Fender pickups and these 63 Veneers than I expected. Might be too big a change? Still getting used to it.

The bridge pickup is really nice. The stock one was very usable, this is even better. It’s got more low end than I’m used to from a Strat bridge pickup, and I really like it.

IIRC, one of the things John Mayer wanted from the Silver Sky was a bridge pickup that wasn’t all treble. This bridge pickup delivers that.

I’m still experimenting with the right height for the neck pickup. Struggling to put my finger on why it’s not quite right for me atm.

However, I don’t really care … because position 4 (neck + middle pickups together) has turned out to be a fantastic surprise. It’s basically the clean tone I had decades ago, before I swapped the stock pickups out of my Charvel. Wasn’t expecting that.

Kristi can tell you better than me how deeply I’ve regretted losing that particular sound, and how I’ve been searching for it ever since. And now I have it again … or at least close enough to fool my memory 🙂

So yeah, these pickups are a keeper 🙂

#CoffeeAndKlon 8: As The Main Drive Pedal?

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed.

Good morning! For this week’s #CoffeeAndKlon, I’m going to talk about using a Klone as your main drive pedal. It’s something that comes up regularly on Wampler’s Facebook group.

Why does it come up there?

  • it’s a group that’s very friendly to new players
  • Wampler’s Tumnus is popular as a main drive pedal

I’m sure that there are folks out there using Klon Centaurs and KTRs as their main overdrive pedal. Maybe it is more popular than using it as a clean boost in front of pedals or a dirty amp? I wouldn’t know.

I think there’s a specific reason why the Tumnus has found an audience as a main overdrive pedal. It puts out a lot more low-end than my KTR.

To test this, I’m running it into the Boss Katana. Turns out the Katana’s clean channel is very useful for testing pedals. It doesn’t give the pedal any extra help, and any loss of bass or presence comes across very obviously.

And I’m playing the new Tele I bought yesterday. Partly because I’m still really enjoying it. Mostly because it puts out quite a bit of low-end too. Will the Tumnus turn that tone into mud?

No … not at all 🙂

For playing at home, the extra low-end actually sounds really nice. It makes the middle position on this Tele a lot of fun to play with.

That extra low-end doesn’t suit everything though.

If I switch over to a Strat (which has a lot less mid-range output than the Tele), it doesn’t work for me. The Strat sounds a little muffled, and borderline muddy. The mids aren’t strong enough to dominate the tone.

It also highlights a big difference between the kind of tone we love for #HomeTone, compared to what a professional musician would go for.

For #HomeTone, we like signals that have plenty of lows and highs – because it’s just us, and we’re right next to the speaker cab.

In a recording or a live band, those wider frequencies cause a guitar to get lost in the mix. I wonder how the Tumnus would fare in a full band?

If you’ve tried that, I’d love to know what happened, and how you got on. I’d love to learn from you 🙂

Can other klones be used as main drive pedals? If you’ve done that, let me know 🙂

Have a great day, and head on over to the http://hometoneblog.com  for more #HomeTone discussion!