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Thread: amp overdrive for single coil

  1. #1
    Senior Member chipaudette's Avatar
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    amp overdrive for single coil

    Hi All,

    Recently, I found myself playing my Strat Squier a lot more than my late 80's Les Paul. I've been really grooving on the cleanish funk and rock rhythm grooves that I can lay down with the Strat. It's cool. But, I can't seem to get a crunchy rhythm or sustainy lead tone that lights me up. I'm looking for suggestions on what kind of amp overdrive works well with single coils.

    My Strat is a late 90s Strat Squier Pro Tone with a maple (or whatever is NOT rosewood) fretboard. It's got the standard single-single-single pickup configuration. I just measured the DC resistance of each pickup and they're running about 5.3-5.4 kOhms. My amp is a 2006 Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue that has been my sandbox for heavy modifications. The "clean" sound is pretty much stock (well, I snipped out the "bright" cap). The big change was that I put in a lead channel modeled after that Mesa Boogie Mark IIc to Mark IV. I have no idea if my lead channel sounds like a real Mark II or Mark IV and I don't really care...all I know is that it works great (to me) on my humbucker-equipped Les Paul. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound very good with the Strat.

    So, I'm looking for suggestions on what to do for overdrive with the strat. I prefer my overdrive sound to come from the amp. I'm not picky about pre-amp vs power amp distortion but I am picky about distortion pedals. I've never found a distortion pedal that gives me what I want. To me, the overdrive in the amp just sounds more authentic and has more authority. So, I'd love to find an amp lead channel configuration that works well with single coils.

    I would greatly enjoy suggestions on what overdrive architectures/tweaks you think work well with single coils. I'm happy to completely re-jigger my amp, so the field of possible solutions is wide open. I'm also trying to learn here, so if you suggest an overdrive configuration for me, I'd love to hear your thoughts as to *why* you think it works well for single coils.

    Thanks all!

    Chip
    Last edited by chipaudette; 11-28-2008 at 10:16 PM.

  2. #2
    daz
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    I've used a ton of clean boosts including many that are not necassarily made for that like tube screamers. i never had any problem getting a ton of OD with single coils except that you have to realize you WILL get a ton of noise unless you use noiseless pups. I don't...i deal with the noise because the tone is the best. Plus i have a bucker in all my strat's bridge positions. But i use the singles a lot of the time and as i said i deal with the noise. I also feel like you, that the best OD tone is from the amp, hence the clean boost. Although i must admit some of the more killer OD tones i ever got was with a RAT pedal with a clean boost in front of it into a clean amp !

    Anyways, any good amp that has a somewhat hi gain pre like a JCM 800 and a clean boost (i use a tube screamer with dist all the way down and level all the way up) gets me all the drive i could ever use.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member tubeswell's Avatar
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    Hi Chip

    You said you liked the C30/SLO mod with single coil. I recall thinking that the only way to get a decent overdrive/sustain for lead is focussing on middle freqs throughout the components in the first few stages of the pre-amp, and heaps of (like 4 or more) gain stages, and fiddle with plenty of interstage attentuation, and of course the right speaker. That means sacrificing fender clean. After a couple of years of endless twiddling with that amp I decided I couldn't get a great fender clean tone or a great hi-gain lead gueetar tone out of the same pre-amp setup (without compromises - and then they ain't as great as their respective selves might otherwise be). So maybe setup a lead gueetar amp for playing lead and a fender for playing everything else and have your strat going through a balance pedal to switch between (or experiment with two completely different channels and a balance pedal)
    Building a better world (one tube amp at a time)

  4. #4
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    not exactly what your asking for, but you could wire in a switch to put the bridge pup in series with whatever is selected on the pup switch. having the pups in series will give a tone that tends to be better for distortion. just put it on a push/pull pot switch or a mini switch if you dont mind drilling a hole into the pickguard. it will be a single coil tone but a bit thicker.

  5. #5
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    I've built a bunch of different amps, and a Strat sounds like a Strat through all of them, no matter how much gain you lay on it. The Strat has this kind of crisp, dry tone with much more high end content than a mahogany guitar with humbuckers.

    How about a mid-boost circuit like Clapton had in his Strats? He had it built in, but you could make it as a pedal. Heck, you could even try using a parked wah-wah as a mid-boost.

    The series pickup trick is probably doing a little of the same thing, because the pickups in series will have more inductance, so the resonant frequency will be lower than if they were in parallel.
    Last edited by Steve Conner; 11-29-2008 at 09:08 AM.
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  6. #6
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    I think what you really need is a clean boost pedal to amplify the Strat's weaker signal up to the level that you and your amp like to get the overdrive desired.

  7. #7
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Thread from the dead!

    Did you try your bridge pickup with the tone knob all the way down? I was messing around the other day and I think that's my favourite Strat setting for a high-gain amp.
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  8. #8
    Senior Member chipaudette's Avatar
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    On my strat, I cannot run any overdrive sound with the guitar volume set to "10". The highs are just too brittle. As I back it off, the highs roll off much more quickly than the rest. So, right around 7.5 is where the guitar sounds as good as its going to sound.

    By using the tone knob, yes, I can back it off to zero and get a usable tone. But, its frequency response sounds very different than the volume knob trick above. So, when I dial back the tone knob all the way, it sounds like a guitar with the tone knob set to zero. It's not exactly the most engaging tone. It's just too flat sounding. Plus, you can't do any harmonics (pinch or natural). On the neck pickup, setting it to "4" is pretty decent. Of course, I have no tone control on the bridge.

    So, I appreciate the suggestion and it warrents more exploration. What kind of amp or pedal do you use with your strat? Your ninja toaster? Did you tweak it in any way for use with single coils?

    Thanks,

    Chip
    Last edited by chipaudette; 12-06-2008 at 01:29 PM.

  9. #9
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Hi Chip

    My Strat is one of the reissues, and it has one volume knob and two tone knobs, one of which works on the bridge pickup I never thought about it, but I guess the originals had two volumes and one tone?

    I attached a MP3 clip of what I think is about the best high-gain tone I can get. It uses a slight lower-mid scoop, but after messing around some more, I think boosting the upper mids works better. It just needs that bit of shaping to stop it sounding like a kazoo. The volume is up full on the guitar and the tone turned down to about 4. I also turned the bass to 9 and treble to 1 on the preamp section.

    The amp is my Ninja toaster, it's lurking in the shadows waiting for gain to become cool again. The master volume is down pretty low, since I recorded this at home. It gets better as I turn it up though

    I just used a stereo mic sitting in the middle of the room about 10ft from the amp, so you're hearing more or less what I'm hearing.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Steve Conner; 12-06-2008 at 11:26 AM.
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  10. #10
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    I've never really thought of a strat as a "high gain" type of guitar, though Yngve is in that catagory I guess. He pushes the amp with a clean boost pedal. I use a Zvex SHO to push a Marshall 2204, Fender Bassman, or AC30, depending on the song (Lace Gold pickups) - always works nicely. A graphic EQ pedal can work great too, as you can fiddle with the tone. The cheap-ass Boss eq works well but is a little noisy.

    here's an example (also a fixed wha in there for the solo):

    http://www.scottgreiner.com/mp4/bud.mp4

    And another with the neck pickup (solo is a Les Paul though):

    http://www.scottgreiner.com/mp4/hyundai.mp4
    Last edited by tboy; 12-31-2008 at 10:26 PM.

  11. #11
    ETR
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipaudette View Post
    Hi All,

    Recently, I found myself playing my Strat Squier a lot more than my late 80's Les Paul. I've been really grooving on the cleanish funk and rock rhythm grooves that I can lay down with the Strat. It's cool. But, I can't seem to get a crunchy rhythm or sustainy lead tone that lights me up. I'm looking for suggestions on what kind of amp overdrive works well with single coils.

    My Strat is a late 90s Strat Squier Pro Tone with a maple (or whatever is NOT rosewood) fretboard. It's got the standard single-single-single pickup configuration. I just measured the DC resistance of each pickup and they're running about 5.3-5.4 kOhms. My amp is a 2006 Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue that has been my sandbox for heavy modifications. The "clean" sound is pretty much stock (well, I snipped out the "bright" cap). The big change was that I put in a lead channel modeled after that Mesa Boogie Mark IIc to Mark IV. I have no idea if my lead channel sounds like a real Mark II or Mark IV and I don't really care...all I know is that it works great (to me) on my humbucker-equipped Les Paul. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound very good with the Strat.

    So, I'm looking for suggestions on what to do for overdrive with the strat. I prefer my overdrive sound to come from the amp. I'm not picky about pre-amp vs power amp distortion but I am picky about distortion pedals. I've never found a distortion pedal that gives me what I want. To me, the overdrive in the amp just sounds more authentic and has more authority. So, I'd love to find an amp lead channel configuration that works well with single coils.

    I would greatly enjoy suggestions on what overdrive architectures/tweaks you think work well with single coils. I'm happy to completely re-jigger my amp, so the field of possible solutions is wide open. I'm also trying to learn here, so if you suggest an overdrive configuration for me, I'd love to hear your thoughts as to *why* you think it works well for single coils.

    Thanks all!

    Chip
    I'm with you on not liking any pedals as much as what you can get from a properly tweaked amp. It sounds like you have enough gain in your amp if it's a Mesa front end. I have a EJ strat that has the tone control for the bridge pickup and I usually set it to about 5 to get a fairly good humbucker impersonation with less gain. You just need to bring up the gain on the amp then to compensate. Maybe you could try either changing your tone control wring and/or swapping the pickup out for a stacked humbucker and adding a pull pot to get you back to single when needed. I do like the series idea as well but it can get too woofy since youre adding in one of the bassier pickups.

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