Drive pedals are an important part of an electric guitar's sound in many genres, particularly for rock, hard rock, and metal. A drive pedal takes a guitar signal and distorts the signal waveform by “clipping” the signal.
Most drive pedals use solid-state circuitry in creating the drive effect. However, there are some “tube distortion” pedals that are designed with preamplifier vacuum tubes to create drive sounds similar to that of a tube amplifier breaking up.
Each type of drive effect has its own distinct sonic characteristics. Let me elaborate.
In the world of guitar music and guitar amplification, distortion is actively sought, evaluated, and appreciatively discussed in its endless flavors. In many types of music, distortion is applied to guitar and other instruments, particularly within rock, punk and heavy metal. Guitar distortion can provide a sustaining tone for playing solos or leads, or a rough, fuzzy tone suitable for rhythm guitar.
Examples of distortion pedals are:
1) Boss DS1 -
2) Marshall Guv’nor -
3) Line 6 Dr Distorto -
4) Proco RAT 2
Some drive effects provide an "overdrive" effect. Either by using a vacuum tube, or by using simulated tube modeling techniques, the top of the wave form is compressed, thus giving a smoother distorted signal than distortion effects. When an overdrive effect is used at a high setting, the sound's waveform can become clipped, which imparts a gritty or "dirty" tone, which sounds like a tube amplifier "driven" to its limit.
Examples of overdrive pedals are:
1) Ibanez Tubescreamer -
2) Boss SD-1 -
Fuzz is intended to recreate the classic 1960's tone of an overdriven tube amp combined with torn speaker cones (such as You Really Got Me by The Kinks). Some famous fuzz users include Jimi Hendrix, Smashing Pumpkins & Colin
Examples of fuzz pedals are:
2) Zvex Fuzz Factory -
3) Electro-Harmonix Big Muff -
Modulation Effects (Part 1)
Modulation effects create different atmospheres with the various sounds that are able to be created. Some examples of modulation effects are chorus, flanger and tremolo. I will be expanding on those 3 modulation effects in this post.
Chorus uses a cycling, variable delay time that is short so that individual repetitions are not heard. The result is a thick, "swirling" sound that suggests multiple instruments playing in unison (chorus) that are slightly out of tune. The chorus effect was popular in the 1980s. It can be used with reverb to create an “airy fairy” effect. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was a well-known user of the chorus effect.
Examples of chorus pedals are:
1) Boss CH-1 -
2) Electro-Harmonix Small Clone -
3) Line 6 Space Chorus -
4) MXR Stereo Chorus -
A Flanger simulates the sound effect originally created by momentarily slowing the tape during recording by holding something against the flange, or edge of the tape reel, and then allowing it to speed up again. This effect was used to simulate passing into "warp speed," in sci-fi films, and also in psychedelic rock music of the 1960s. Flangers are closely related to chorus.
Examples of flanger pedals are:
1) Boss BF-3 -
2) Line 6 Liqua-Flange -
Tremolo is a regular and repetitive variation in gain for the duration of a single note, which works like an auto-volume knob. This is a volume-related effects pedal. This effect is based on one of the earliest effects that were built into guitar amplifiers. Common users of the tremolo effect are U2’s The Edge, United Live’s Mikey Guy Chislett and Stu G of Delirious?
Examples of tremolo pedals are:
1) Boss TR-2 -
2) Line 6 Tap Tremolo -
3) Voodoo Labs Tremolo -
That’s all for this post. In the next post- Modulation Effects Part 2, and the prelude to delay effects. Till next time!