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Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing. 
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Magnitogorsk
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Post Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Kind of mainly related to recording guitars. It is real easy to get what i want if i can run a nonmaster tube amp into breakup, but i really do most of my recording later at night these days and it often isn't an option.

Tried a lot a lot a lot of different circuits and concepts but have had a lot of trouble getting something working properly that sounds right, FEELS right, and records right. Eventually wound up working my way through a lot of ODs and was quite happy to come across the Paul C Timmy circuit.

Anyhow, been relying pretty heavily on the Timmy for a few years now, actually built two different ones for myself. It is basically a really great EQ attached to a powerful clean boost, with an additional nicely designed overdrive element. So far, probably the best OD i have found.

Image

Weirdly, my two timmy builds sound kind of a lot different from each other. The first one(on the left, in a box with a Zvex Box Of Rock copy) is pure gold, the second one has most of the elements in place, but the clipping/distortion is much more pronounced with some uglier types of artifacts audible. More like a tubescreamer or some other type of distortion, and less like my first timmy build which i am starting to think always had something wrong with it maybe the IC or something, which caused it to sound so much better. Unfortunately, Timmy Build #1 was done a long long time ago, on vero, and with an amusing variety of shitty parts, and now it is starting to fall apart a bit, like doesn't always turn on(not switch related) and sometimes makes some pretty special "my caps all need replacing" sorts of sounds. That is actually what got me to build #2, but after finding that it didn't sound the same, and then spending a lot of time trying to change things out to get it to sound the same, i sort of now have given up and decided that there must have been something always a bit wrong with #1, just, in a very useful way.

So anyhow, while i try to trace what the mystery of Timmy Build #1 might be so that i can do it again on purpose, i need a new low gainer solution. Timmy Build #2 is okay, and i have been using it for pretty much everything for the last few months since #1 started to shit out, but it definitely isn't 100% what i am looking for.

Basically, i spend way too many hours watching pedal demos on youtube looking for starting points. Favorite almost-rights so far have been: the Timmy, the Box Of Rock set low, the Crowther Hotcake, the Nobels ODR-1 set low, and that is kind of about it.

The hotcake sounds a lot better into a loud amp too which kind of rules it out here(as an aside, it is maybe the nicest boost i have found into a voxy amp, and it has the additional feature of suddenly and unexpectedly turning into a silly and masssive dark fuzz with the gain maxxed.).

The Box of rock is more suited to mid gainy types of things, and even with the gain low has a bit too much crunch. Very natural about how it does it, just a bit too much dirt for my porpoise. I ended up deciding that i just don't like how FETs clip at low volume. I think that he Box Of Rock is one of those that kind of gets away with it a bit more just because it is kind of voiced pretty dark, which can hide some nastiness in clipping stages.

The ODR-1 is kind of similar in that it is really best suited as a mid- to heavier- gainer. A little too dark as a low gainer for me, though the clipping sound is exxxxcellent. Again though, probably a lot of that with this pedal though is the same filtering that makes it dark, is what is removing the bright and crusties from the breakup element. OD pedals at lower volumes are such a balancing act.

The Timmy is still the closest to what i want though. I breadboarded it and fucked around with it a lot of different ways though to try other things, and still haven't been able to get it all the way there.

Decided to look a little harder for something different.

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Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:23 pm
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Magnitogorsk
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Which led me to these fellows:

Image

On the right, a Klon klone, on the left, a BJFE/Bearfoot Honey Bee copy.

Always wanted to try the Klon, and finally got around to getting enough of the oddball bits that go in one, to be able to actually get one together. It helped a lot to find that AION had a nice PCB for it that is a really easy fit in a 1590B box. Made the build stupidly easy and quick.

As soon as i fired it up though i realized that it wasn't going to do the trick for me for my low volume solution. Now that i have gotten more time with it i can say for sure that this is the case. This is kind of a great unique design with some interesting controls, but it becomes clear quite quickly that it is designed to hammer the shit out of a already loud amp firstest and foremostest. At low volume levels, it does kind of a weird squawky thin to the mids, kind of like a fuzzface with the guitar volume rolled way off, but not quite as pronounced. Sounds a bit like a rangemaster or a treble booster down there, but without the harsh top end, just the cut lows, and the middsy stuff pumped up.

Gets a lot nicer if you can bring the pedal's volume control up more like 12:00 and above though. Must be some sort of interaction with the ICs and tone control that lets it flatten out and sound right. Sounds great as a mostly clean boost with the amp just barely breaking up, which it quickly dawned on me was basically what i had heard but tuned out, about this pedal from just about everybody who ever talked/wrote about it. Definitely an interesting/cool pedal. Not what this search is about though.

Now, The Honey Bee, is a lot LOT closer to what i am on about though. Stock, it is a bit of a weirdbeard pedal. VERY low gain, VERY odd-dark, very different sort of OD. Odd tone control, even the gain control is tapered oddly.

BUT. The clipping sounds fucking great for its very limited range, AND, the volume control is basically designed to be completely separate from the main shit of the pedal so that unlike a lot/most dirtboxes, the sound of the dirt doesn't alter basically at ALL, regardless of whether it is set high or low. It is like a master volume, if master volumes ever could do what they are supposed to do(like if they could scale your speakers down so that they reacted the same way at super low volumes that they do at medium-to-high ones).

Anyhow, i think that i will probably get this thing breadboarded out at some point and see what i can see with it. The clipping engine of it is very very nice. I want to see what it sounds like if it had a different sort of filtering to it though.

Already, i have swapped out a bigger gain pot for more upward range while retaining the low low, and also have done a couple simple cap swaps in the filtering sections just to let them be a little more open.

A lot more to look into though. I am done fucking with this build though. The breadboard is where the next experiments will go.

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Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:44 pm
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Pendulous
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Cool. Is your LED mounted on one of those 3pdt boards for the 2nd Timmy?

It's interesting how different your pedal diddling is when you don't have a master volume. Like, "I can't turn up the level knob on my pedal up or I'll wake the neighbours", I mean what even is that. :lol:

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Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:02 pm
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Magnitogorsk
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Nah, i just put the LED there on Timmy#2 because it is wired straight onto the switch.

Master volumes are funny things on amps. Two out of three of the amps that i use all the time have them, but aside from the JCA50 which is a soldano circuit, they all sound so much better with the master on full that i have taken to trying to avoid using the masters at all whenever possible.

I may just in the end, wind up throwing some form of MV into the Princeton Reverb i just built, because honestly it is pretty close to not even needing one, so i think that it could work well just to take a little off the top.

But then i wouldn't have any reason to build any more pedals. :lol:

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Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:27 pm
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Michael Anthony Fanclub President
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Hmm so would you rate the Timmy as a good "always on at the end of the chain" type pedal to make everything sound better? I had a spark Boost full size that I wanted to use for that but I found the gain it added was a bit harsh sounding or something.


Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:40 pm
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Magnitogorsk
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
Yeah, i have been using mine for that for a few years now. It is an interesting pedal. I also use it at the end of the chain to get control of unruly fuzzes. A lot of time hitting an amp with a full blast bassy fuzz will just overload it and lose any definition and guitar sound audibility.

An OD at the end allows you to adjust the output to the amp to reign it in enough to actually be able to hear and sound properly massive. The Timmy is nice because its EQ allows you to independently adjust the low for punchballs and the high(which is a well chosen frequency band) for bringing in definition and cut more. Awesome with fuzzes.

With the JCA clean channel i leave the timmy on all the time, because the clean channel is kind of odd and a little dull on its own, when the (shared)EQ is set to make the OD channel sound best. The timmy brings some brights and interesting elements back in. I can actually leave the timmy on for the dirt channel too, as it works a bit like a TS the way i have it set. But if i do that i usually just wind up playing thrash riffs all the time. :red:

With my voxy 20w homebrew i like the timmy as more of a angry boost, almost like a bit of a treble boost. Though honestly, in that amp, i actually prefer the Hotcake for that, especially loud.

With my princeton, the timmy is nice to actually bring more low end in. The dirtyclean sound of the princeton is already pretty much perfect as is when set medium loud, but at lower volumes the 10" speaker innit tends to thin out, so i use the timmy to extra bump the low end going in.

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Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:07 pm
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Winston Wolf
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Post Re: Kind of developing a bit of a low gain obsession thing.
the timmy is probably my favorite pedal of all time.

I use it a lot on all the time.

Saturday I was sitting in with these guys I play with now and again, brought the '52 tele (that guitar came from BELT) so I was asked to do Honky Tonk Women, so I was going for the more live Keef tone... so for the first time I actually used the Timmy to get some real dirt.. usually I just use it for color with a touch of gain, this time I used much more gain.. FANTASTICHE. I really have yet to find a bad setting with this little motherfuck....

There is video somewhere of the performance so let me see if I can find it and example it for you.

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Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:50 pm
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