Posts Tagged ‘BB Preamp’

Live ::

My streaming plans have so far been a non-show – so in order to get things kick-started, I’ve actually set up a Ustream channel (here). To start with, I’ll be broadcasting my laptop, pointed at my amp. I will be recording these for my own amusement, and personal improvement (is my timing really that bad), and in the spirit of the Internet, all are welcome to join.

Guitar :: Cable Myths, Cable Facts

This is a post I would have been very interested in reading 18 months ago when I was putting together my current rig, and is a lesson in why ‘better’ is not always ‘best’.

The rig in question is built around a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, with a Keeley TS808+, xotic BB Preamp, Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Cry Baby, and a fancy RJM switching system, because coming from 10 years of Mesa/Boogie Mark IV I just couldn’t deal with learning to tap dance. One of the big treats that I gave myself (other than a whole new rig) was an Evidence Audio Lyric HG cable, a solid-core, very high end, and very expensive cable. Buying a high end cable is an effort to maximise the tonal bandwidth between the guitar and the amplifier by minimising the loss of signal at this crucial stage in the chain. The Lyric HG is an incredible cable, and performs this task absolutely flawlessly. The difference between the Lyric and the merely very good Van Damme that it replaced is dramatic – and if that’s what you’re after then I cannot recommend the product highly enough.

In addition to the Lyric, the RJM Effect Gizmo has a buffered input, which means that anything past that jack isn’t going to lose any signal no matter how long the cable run – what goes in the front stays true into the front end of your amp, which is nice when you’ve got pedals racked up and not necessarily right next to the amplifier. So where’s the beef? A perfect reproduction of your guitar’s tone through the Lyric, and preserved into the front end by the buffer on the RJM…can’t complain, right?

This is where too good comes into the equation. There’s so much top coming off the Telecaster, and through the Lyric it isn’t going anywhere but into the front end of the pedalboard. With so much tonal bandwidth coming from the guitar, super-high-order overtones don’t get lost like they do with a merely mortal cable, and with some distortion chucked in the mix it adds a distinct metallic ‘squink’ on the top end. Yuck.

So this week I decided so mix some stuff up, and learned a very important lesson about ‘the best’, and how doing it ‘wrong’ is sometimes the right way to go. I stuck the Cry Baby out front, and used the standard input instead of the buffer. The tone – rounded out on the top, still really pronounced in the middle…a touch less bottom, but a serious step in a very tasty direction.

Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan had the same idea, using Radio Shack guitar cables with his mega-bucks Dumbles, vintage Vibroverbs, and Marshalls. Of course, with a dark rig and humbuckers it might be a very different story, but if you’re in the Telecaster business, you might be well advised to save your cash – and improve your tone.

Gear :: New Rig Build

And so, the result of many weeks of research and furious eBay selling has arrived in the form of my new rig. Having played master volume Mesa/Boogie amps for the past decade, I’ve never really explored the world of pedals and single-channel amps. Well, that all began to change a little earlier this year, when I purchased the Xotic Effects BB Preamp. Hooking the BB between a Telecaster and my (recently departed) silverface Princeton was a simple, dynamic, and totally badass little rig; pure rock n roll. After a couple of months with that rig, it dawned on me that single-channel + pedals might just be the ticket. I set about designing such a setup, and selling my collection of amps, pedals, and guitars to raise some funds.

Well, five amps, four pedals, two guitars and a drum kit later, my new rig is here. And yes, it rocks.

My aim for this rig has been to get away from the more hi-fi, boutique-y tones I’ve had in the past, and to capture some rock ‘n’ roll grit – AC/DC, Led Zep, Neil Young, SRV – ‘authentic’ guitar tones. The Boogie amps I’ve used in the past are really, really amazing sounding if you play a Strat, or something with humbuckers…with the Telecaster, though, there’s always been something missing. This rig is totally designed for the Tele, switching hi-fi sterility for something a bit more loose and rocking, much more suited to my axe of choice.

Of course, I took a ton of pictures during the build, and there’s a big gallery below. There’s room for another couple of pedals in the rack, and I look forward to experimenting further (the excellent Rothwell Love Squeeze compressor has already taken a turn in front, and is headed for eBay).

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Tone :: xotic BB Preamp + Telecaster + Silverface Princeton

Even though I’ve had the xotic BB Preamp for a couple of months now, I’m pretty sure I haven’t played it with my white Telecaster before yesterday afternoon. The tone was, I think, pretty tight, and even with a relatively lo-fi audio recording I think you can still hear how just how clear and transparent the BB is, with the full tone of the guitar shining through. I’d love to get a TS808 set with a super thick, lower gain tone, and stack it with the BB in this rig for a big lead tone.

 

Tone :: Mark I MESA/Boogie 15″ + xotic BB Preamp

This afternoon I plugged the xotic BB Preamp pedal into my 1977 15″ MESA/Boogie Mark I amplifier for the first time.

Although the audio quality isn’t perfect, having an iPhone handy makes it way easy to take snapshots like this (no surprise that there isn’t anyone buying point-and-shoots, camcorders, Flip cams etc… any more), so here’s a minute with the Mark I.

You can hear the Mark I on its own before I click on the BB, which has its EQ set totally flat, a small boost in volume, and drive at about 10:30.

With so much gain in the tone already, I liked using the BB to just push it into saturation, and it seems to naturally raise the upper-mid range a little, too. In the room, it starts to get into Mark II territory — maybe with a slightly British twist? — although the effect is not as pronounced on video.

I’d love to try out the xotic AC Booster with this rig: the BB’s lower drive cousin is even more transparent, although in my A/B test the BB was quite a bit more versatile.

 

New Pedal :: xotic BB Preamp

I visited Regent Sounds Studio in Denmark Street earlier this week to test out a few pedals and was totally blown away by the BB Preamp by xotic effects, USA.

Testing with a Telecaster, and straight into the front of a Fender Princeton reissue, I was originally comparing the xotic AC Booster and Wampler Paisley Drive. I loved the tone of the Paisley in a YouTube clip I’d watched the night before, and was particularly excited because that clip had been recorded with a Tele and a ’70s SF Princeton (just like mine). When it came to testing it out ‘in the flesh’, however, the xotic pedals came up trumps. One of my highest priorities in choosing this stompbox was transparency, and it’s perfectly possible to set the AC and the BB where you just won’t notice they’re on. The Wampler, on the other hand, had a bit of an EQ agenda. I’m sure it’s a really, really clear pedal, and it definitely has a great drive sound…but man, next to the xotic boxes it was way, way too colourful.

When it came to deciding between the AC and the BB it was a pretty tough choice, but the BB, with more drive on tap, just seems a bit more flexible. So far I’ve been enjoying it into the front of my Princeton, but the rig in the picture above is waiting to be experimented with. This thing is a total chameleon, so if I get some time I’d love to do a video of it with a few different amps. For now, it’ll be rocking in conjunction with my 1981 Mark IIB and ’09 Deluxe Telecaster.