Sunday, August 26, 2012

HOW TO USE GUITAR OVERDRIVE (with Free Vst effects inside)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about Guitar Overdrive Stompboxes!
Overdrive is the sligh distortion effect generated, at the beginning unintentionally, from the tube amplifiers used around the fifties/sixties on a live environment: in order to produce a higher volume, they were driven at maximum, and the musicians started to notice that the sound was changing: it wasn't anymore clean and full of headroom like it used to sound at low volume, it was angrier, with more harmonic overtones, more compressed and the hot rodded tubes were producing a roar-like effect on the lower frequencies.
This effect became more and more sought after through the years, so the producers started manufactoring tools to add Saturation to the amplifiers without driving their volume to the maximum, therefore preserving the life of the Tubes;
these tools consisted basically into adding an Overdrive Channel to the amplifiers, with a higher input level and a sequence of Gain Stages in order to make te signal more and more distorted, and also in creating Overdrive Stompboxes of various kind, in order to push the level before even entering in the amplifier input.

Today Guitar Overdrive stompboxes are used basically for two reasons:

1 - To add sparkle and a little grit to a clean channel, especially by blues, jazz players and anyone who is looking for a vintage sound.

2 - To boost an already overdriven sound, in order to make a guitar solo cut more through the mix, or to play with the interaction between the overdrive and the distorted channel of the amplifier. This last method is mainly used by hard rock and heavy metal players: to get in the amplifier input with an already high level sound, but with no distortion, adds to the distorted channel of the amp a pleasant boost effect on the mid-hight frequencies, helping to achieve the "chugging" sound requested by the most modern and extreme metal genres.

Focusing on a Rock-Metal sound, the boost effect is achieved setting the overdrive with the level at maximum, the gain at zero, or anyway very low (this control is often used when trying to drive a clean channel, not when boosting an already distorted channel), and with the tone control around 12 o'clock. You can anyway cut or boost the tone setting in order to bring out more or less the mid frequencies, especially when using a strongly mid-oriented overdrive like the most famous of all stomp boxes: the Ibanez Tube Screamer.

Click here for a comparison between an Ibanez Ts-808, a Ts-9 and a Ts-9Dx!

There are many Vst simulations of guitar overdrive stomp boxes, reproducing virtually any overdrive pedal on the market, included the legendary Tube Screamer, and among those, we suggest you to try these free ones, which are impressingly good, especially when used for boosting a virtual amp:

Ignite Ts-999, based on a modded version of Ts-9

TSE 808, very realistic, now version 2.0

TS Secret, another good Tube Screamer emulator

Fretted Synth Drive Stomp, a guitar overdrive stompbox emulation

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