Posted by: kubiakl | February 15, 2012

New Additions

My pedalboard became more crowded in the last week.  The first addition came from a Catalinbread Formula No. 5, an overdrive based around the Fender Tweed sounds (like the 5E3 amp).  It’s a warm overdrive that has some snarl to it – it will clean up moderately with the volume rolled back but it likes to growl.  It’s not as hairy as the MJM London Fuzz but it’s good for that dirty, greasy blues sound.  In fact it’s my favorite pedal now and almost always on when I play.  I like having that tweed tone but with some reverb from the Blues Junior.

The other addition was an Ibanez TS9 30th Anniversary edition.  My Guyatone Micro OD developed an issue where it would scream when touched and make all kinds of horrible sounds, so it had to go.  But since it made my fuzz work so much better just by being placed before it I needed something similar to replace it.  I figured another non-true bypass overdrive would be the ticket.  It is.

Now it’s kind of strange that I’ve been playing guitar for over a decade and never owned a version of the (arguably) most popular overdrive pedal around.  A good majority of the overdrives you see are clones and mods of the Tube Screamer circuit.  Just about every guitar player has owned one at some point.  But I’m ornery – that was exactly the reason I avoided the Ibanez.  That and the Stevie Ray connection.  It was his favored overdrive and I’ve consciously avoided his tone for two reasons.  One is that I don’t have the ability to sound like him.  And two, so many guitarists (especially Texans) try to cop that tone.  Some succeed better than others but all fall short.  So I steered clear.

Which was stupid – the Tube Screamer doesn’t make you sound like SRV.  It’s just a smooth overdrive with a nice musical range.  Whenever I need to clean up the sound and the Formula No. 5 is too much I use the TS9.  I’m sure someone more able and willing could get a facsimile of the Stevie Ray sound out of it but I like it for what it is – a nice way to color the sound without too much gain.

The 30th Anniversary edition has the same circuitry as a standard TS9 but instead of the seasick green paint job they gave it a nice shiny electroplated green exterior.  The other difference (and honestly, major selling point for me) is the LED.  TS9 and TS 808 models come with an extremely dim red LED and it’s hard to tell when they’re engaged.  Analog Mike (www.analogman.com) offers modded Tube Screamers with brighter LEDs, but the 30th Anniversary Edition comes with a nice bright green light.

So now my signal path goes:  Fulltone Mini Deja Vibe -> Visual Sound Route 66 OD/comp -> Ibanez TS9 -> MJM London Fuzz -> Catalinbread Formula No. 5 -> CAE Wah -> Danelectro Cool Cat Tremolo -> Fender Blues Junior.  It’s crowded, but gives me a nice range of sounds that are all beautiful.  I can go from clean and shimmery (rarely used) to slight overdrive to greasy blues and all the way to full blown fuzz.  Each pedal reacts well with the others and can stack easily for even more tonal variety.

For now I’m pretty happy.  At some point you should see a video review of the Rene Martinez pickups on here, but time has been tight lately.  Now I’m going to go enjoy my new sounds.

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