Overdrive is one of the most used effects in musical performance, andevery guitarist has at least two overdrive effects pedals in their rig. They are completely necessary for achieving many popular tones, including rock, metal and dirtier blues. As there are so many different kinds of overdrive pedal around to choose from, and no two stomp boxes have the same sound, the above question is a popular one in the internet musician community. Here’s my take on it.
While some players are famous for using the Ibanez Tubescreamer, and others the TubeDriver, it is impractical – and rather expensive – to buy one of each to put into your rig. Even if you had the money to spend and the space to put the pedals, you’d have to remember that the more pedals you have in a line, the more the sound quality of the guitar is effected. For eample, running your guitar signal through a lot of unnecessary effects pedals which have true bypass will result in the high end of your guitar suffering when it finally reaches the amplifier.
So, we don’t want specific pedals for specific songs in our rig. Instead of choosing pedals based on artists who use them, you just need to find the one that is right for your style, and get to know the best way to use it to achieve the tones which you want. Then, once you have found your dream overdrive and are completely happy with it, get the next best one as well. Two overdrives is the best number to have, any more would just be getting crazy. With two carefully chosen pedals, you can have most of the tones you need covered, and also when one is working, turn down the drive on the other and use it as a boost pedal for the solos!
There are a lot of discussions about ‘great guitar tones’ on the internet. Blogs, forums and comment threads on various video streaming websites are a battleground of opinions, speculations and – quite often – heated debate.
Comments often show a clear divide between those who believe that tone is all in the fingers and the way a specific player approaches the guitar, and those who worship at the altar of guitar gear. Proponents of the former will undoubtedly iterate that there is no way for any guitarist to truly mimic the sounds of their beloved inspirations, insisting that the best way for any player to sound good is to forget about the rigs and setups of others, and really listen to his/her own sound in order to develop a personal tone. Supporters of the latter will counter with the idea that, with the right setup for the situation, no tone is out of reach. They will strive to find the exact gear and settings to allow them to sound like their heroes.
I am going to sit on the fence on this one, as both sides have their own valid points. While I agree that, in order to be a really successful player, one should try to craft a hard-hitting, instantly recognizable personal tone, I also believe that taking inspiration from the greats is an important first step.
You only have to look back to that wonderful moment which is forever ingrained in the mind of every guitarist: the time that you heard a lick, solo, riff or even a single note, which to you sounded so breath-takingly beautiful that you decided there and then to grab an axe and start strumming away. Everyone has a clear memory of the moment they began their musical journey. I would bet that for the majority of us, that moment occurred while listening to a piece of music written by another person: a tone crafted and refined by someone other than yourself.
This is why the soundtrack for every guitar shop the world over consists of ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Enter Sandman’. How often to you hear a player trying out a guitar, amp or effect by playing a piece of original music in such a place? For me personally, the answer is never. Maybe I shop in less creative areas.
The point is that we all need heroes, we all need inspiration. It sets a fire inside of us, pushing us to learn more and play better. Whenever we may feel that something is too hard, it encourages us to keep on trying until we persevere, and when we get there in the end, it provides a reference to show how far we have come and how much our efforts have paid off. With this established, it is much easier for personal creativity to flourish, as we have developed the listening, skills and techniques necessary to allow us to better express our inner thoughts and feelings through the guitar. You cannot write a poem without first learning the alphabet.
It is in this spirit that we at Baroni Lab have introduced a new series of videos about great guitar tones, where we set up the sounds of those legendary rock riffs and solos, with our own equipment. Our aim is to get as close to the original sound as possible, to show the quality of the products we produce, and to show that it is possible, and worthwhile, to study the sounds of great players.
The second video has just been uploaded to youtube, and you can check it out below. In it, I tackle that fantastic, catchy main guitar riff from Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’. This one was truly great fun to record. Mark Knopfler, we salute you!
RELEASED November 30, 1979, The Wall is one of Pink Floyd’s most successful studio albums, selling over ten million copies in the US alone. It is one of a number of concept albums produced by the British progressive rock band, largely influenced by frontman Roger Waters.
The album deals with a range of themes, including – most notably – childhood abuse and ridicule, dealing with the passing of loved ones, the pressures of live performance, marital breakdown and self-imposed social isolation.
With so many complex themes explored in one album, The Wall was an ambitious project from the start. The song-writing and musical performance of the band was equally as ambitious. Waters’ lyrics are so deep and strikingly beautiful at times that the listener cannot help but be moved at some point during a listen to the album; David Gilmour’s wailing guitar work and unmistakable tone complement them perfectly.
From the slow, mellow sounds on Mother, through the soulful bending of Another Brick in the Wall to the driving rhythm of Run Like Hell, Gilmour’s playing on this album was breath-taking.
Baroni Lab has crafted a distortion effect unlike nothing before, in homage to the wonderfully rich guitar tone on this influential rock album. The Wall Era distortion emulates the deep, harmonic feel of Gilmour’s overdriven guitar sound perfectly.
With drive set low, you can give your solos a powerful edge, without over-colouring the original sound. Cranked up, it approaches a deep, incredibly warm distortion which is perfect not only for the heavier moments of The Wall, but for a whole host of other rock songs as well.
The tone control is equally as versatile. Not only does it allow for dark to bright distortion, but it also modifies the kind of distortion applied to the signal. Set the tone all the way to the right and the guitar takes on a bright, scratchy sound. All the way to the left you have a powerful, dark distortion.
For a little extra punch during guitar solos, there is a pedal-mounted switch on the Wall Era, making it possible to switch between ‘flat’ and ‘mid boost’ modes easily. Mid boost does exactly what it says on the tin, bringing out the mid levels of the guitar signal, allowing it to instantly cut through the mix in any live situation, without the need to turn up the volume.
American rock band Sonar Lights dropped by the Baroni Studio on their second China tour to hang out, shoot some video and try out some of our latest products.
Formed in 2010, the Texas rockers deliver a heavy metal tinged hard rock sound, complete with driving rhythm guitar, catchy vocal lines and a tight rhythm section.
They released their own self-produced debut album ‘Here We Are’ in 2012, and since then have been gradually building up popularity among fans and fellow musicians alike. We caught up to them on the Guangzhou leg of their tour, fresh from an outstanding performance at Midi Festival, one of the biggest organised music events in China.
We recorded a great version of their song ‘Oversaturated’ in the Baroni Studio, and frontman George Miadis was so impressed with the sound of our Tubeheart twin tube overdrive stompbox that he wouldn’t leave without it!
George was impressed with the warm depth of tone from Baroni amplifiers and effects, adding a vintage edge to their modern hard rock style.
This is the first official post from Baroni Lab. We are an Italian company which produces vintage-modelled tube amplification for musical instruments, as well as an astonishing range of effects pedals.
Keep your eyes open for regular updates of news of our events, as well as links to some of our product reviews and the occasional review, guitar tech tip and general musings of all things tone!
If you like what you see, please feel free to get in touch through our website or email.