First Impressions: Hudson Broadcast Preamp / Overdrive / Fuzz Pedal

I recently picked up one of my bucket-list pieces of gear: the Hudson Electronics Broadcast.

This … is a bit different to my usual overdrive pedals, to say the least. But, by changing my approach a bit, I got a tone out of it that I really like.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a Hudson Electronics Broadcast pedal. This is the standard one, with a single on/off footswitch, that can be run at anything between 9V and 24V. (I’m running it at 9V.)

I got mine from the second-hand market. This pedal holds its value well, and there’s a lot of competition from buyers whenever one comes up for sale. It took me about 6 months to get one at a really good price.

What Is It?

My understanding is that it is a recreation of the preamp circuitry from an old RCA broadcast console from the 1960’s (hence the name).

Hudson Electronics have taken that design and popped it into a pedalboard-friendly format.

The Broadcast pedal uses transistors for its gain staging. I’m assuming that the old RCA broadcast consoles used valves, but I couldn’t find anything definitive on that. If you know, leave a comment below.

Why Is It On Your Bucket List?

Regular readers might be surprised to see that I’ve picked one of these up. It’s very different to the kind of pedals that I’m normally interested in. After all, this isn’t an overdrive pedal made for guitar: it’s a console preamp put into a guitar-friendly pedal.

It’s that very difference that I wanted to explore.

How Does It Sound?

It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever tried.

If I had to sum it up in a single word, I’d say that the overdrive / distortion tone is ‘primitive’. It sounds nothing like a guitar amplifier. It’s rough, and scratchy, and very full-range, which leads to piercing highs when used through a completely clean amp:

Telecaster bridge > Hudson Broadcast > Axe-FX 3 (HTB Pedal Platform v2.0 preset)

I don’t know how to make use of that sound. It’s not just fatiguing to listen to; I find it literally hurts my ears by the time I’m halfway through that audio demo.

I can’t find a way to do anything about it on the pedal itself. There’s no tone control on the pedal to tame those highs at all.

There is a low-end cut, which (to my ears) seems to be placed before the overdrive / distortion section of the circuit (like the Timmy and like Mesa-Boogie amps).

That gives me an idea. I think I’m going about this all wrong.

Feed It, And Then Feed The Output Into A Cranked Amp For Great Results

If I grab a fatter / more bass-heavy guitar (like my PRS Paul’s Guitar) and feed that into the Hudson Broadcast, suddenly I’m getting a wonderful thick, saturated tone out of the pedal. And if I feed that into a cranked amp model on my Axe-FX 3 to force the treble to compress, I get this:

Paul’s Guitar > Hudson Broadcast > Axe-FX 3 (HTB Cranked Pedal v2.0 preset)

Now that’s more like it!

I promise: I didn’t change a thing on the Hudson Broadcast itself between those two audio demos. All I did was take my regular pedal platform preset on the Axe-FX 3, crank the amp’s gain and dial back the amp’s bass a bit.

I love the end result.

Final Thoughts

Since it went on my practice board in early September, it hasn’t come off the board once. While it definitely isn’t the sound of my 5e3 Tweed Deluxe amplifier, that thick saturation evokes the same emotion from me.

This has become another go-to pedal to pair with my PRS Paul’s Guitar. It’s definitely a keeper.

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