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!
It has been a busy few months for us here at Baroni Lab, both in and out of the offices. We are proud to introduce a new amplifier to our range: the Baroni Lab 40w head. This is a great amplifier for medium to large venues, with plenty of headroom and the capacity to reach a high level of volume while maintaining a crisp clean sound. Crank up the gain to hear its mean side. Expect a YouTube demo coming up real soon on our YouTube channel.
Outside of the office, our Baroni Lab demo band have been kept very busy, playing a number of shows to spread the word of our boutique stuff in university shows, as well as a spot on TV, where we played a great set in front of a live studio audience and millions of viewers. The 100w stereo power amp and the 20w combo looked cool on TV, and it was a great experience for the band too.
We have also been getting a lot of upcoming artists in to record some original tracks in the studio, which has been great fun. Among them was Riven, a powerful rock band with a light, spaciously airy guitar sound set against low rumbling distortion, with a strong rhythm section and soaring vocals. We are pleased to collaborate with and support the music scene around us, and help to get some of these great musicians into the spotlight! We still have more recordings to go, but a CD’s worth of original music, recorded with Baroni amplifiers and effects is the goal. Expect some updates and studio footage on our website soon!
The three most important things a guitar player wants from an amp are tone, tone and tone. This is why boutique products are always the better choice. There is nothing quite like that moment when you try out a new boutique amp for the first time: you can see that every detail has been meticulously thought out, and that it has been cared for and loved every step of the way from conception to testing. You find a place to set up your new best friend, plug in your favourite guitar – savoring every moment – and flick the switch that starts the magic. The tubes start to glow with a deep red aura, warming up to deliver that rich, deep tone they were born to give, and then when the time is right you strike the strings and the rest of the world ceases to exist for the briefest, sweetest of moments.
Designing and building amplifiers can be a simple manufacturing process, or it can be a kind of alchemy, mixing just the right tasteful amount of wood, plastic, metal and glass into a thing of beauty. This is the main difference between the boutique amplifier builder and the standard amplifier manufacturer. Bigger companies have the wrong idea; they exist for money only and so they deliver products as quick and as cost-effective as possible. Cheaper components, automated manufacturing and thousands of the same product are the result.
The boutique amplifier company is another creature entirely. These companies are smaller, more personal and care more for the quest for the perfect tone than anything else. Components are carefully sourced and chosen purely for their effect on the sound of the amplifier: if the more expensive component is the better one to use to get the desired sound, then the more expensive component is the one that is used. Even if it has to be flown in from the other side of the world.
With so much attention to detail, careful component sourcing, and hand crafting, boutique amplifiers are often more expensive as a result. But to skip over them in favour of a cheaper model from a bigger manufacturer is false economy. When a tube amp is used for extended periods of time, the heat from the tubes and the vibrations from the speakers put the internal components under a huge amount of stress. Cheaper components will not handle this very well and will often break sooner, and with devastating results. The boutique amplifier, however, is ready for this. The quality of the components means that boutique amps not only sound better than their mass-produced counterparts, but they also last much longer and – thanks to the flexibility of the designers – can be custom made to look better too.
The Baroni Custom BL20D is our 20 Watt monster. Light-weight, easy to carry and packing a surprisingly heavy punch, this is the amp of choice to rock the house on any smaller gig.
Available in both head only and combo versions, this amplifier’s pre-amp has three tubes – two AX7s and one AX87 – as well as two EL84s. This, on top of Baroni Lab’s innovative design, means that this amp has a wonderfully deep tone, so rich in harmonics that it would be impossible not to fall in love with it.
The Custom BL20D consists of six controls – Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence and Master Volume – as well as two switches for main power and standby mode. It includes high and low input jacks suitable for any guitar signal, as well as an effects send and return loop on the back, allowing any player to truly customise his/her sound to perfection.
“This amp has been designed from the ground up to provide amazing tone in a light-weight, easy to handle case.”
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.