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Using a preamp block as an overdrive block

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I couldn't find anything on this by searching the forum, but has anyone tried using a preamp block as if it were an overdrive/distortion block. I got the idea from seeing the number of overdrive pedals being marketed as being a "Marshall in a box," and I expect they are modeled on the preamps of Marshall amps. If that makes a good overdrive, then maybe a model of an actual preamp would work similarly.

An obvious downside is how much more DSP a preamp block requires over an overdrive block. But assume we have DSP to spare for this preset.

I tried this using the Brit 2204 preamp into the WhoWatt amp/cab. My thinking was, the 2204 gives a lot of gain, and the WhoWatt seems to have a lot of headroom to accomodate a strong signal, but still accepts overdriven signals well. The result was acceptable, but I had to turn the treble on the 2204 preamp all the way down, and the bass most of the way up to get something like the sound I was expecting. I should have tried it with less gain-heavy preamps, but I don't have my Helix with me at the moment.

I have a couple questions:

1. Does anyone know whether the preamp blocks actually send a "louder" signal than an overdrive block? (For that matter, do physical preamps send higher amplitude signals than physical overdrive pedals?)

2. Do the "amp in a box" pedals attempt to model just the preamp stage, or do they attempt to also model the power amp, just at a low amplitude?

3. Has anyone else tried this and, if so, what combinations worked?

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I haven't tried it but it sounds like a good idea. I will try it when I have time.

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It can even be an amp. As long as you keep the elements down that add distortion (drive,master) and rely more on the elements that add volume (channel volume) you can make anything work. There are no rules.

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The beauty of the Helix (or digital modelers), the endless possibilities.

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I've done this before, and it was a decent result.

I forget what the combination was at the moment.

However, as I recall, I don't think it was groundbreaking for me enough to change to doing that all the time.

 

But... this makes me want to revisit this again.

 

I think I've gotten HUGE mileage out of the Minotaur drive block... that is a highly nuanced model (I've never tried one of the 'real' pedals) which can do a wide range of drive textures.

I have this feeling that the existing drive effects on hand probably made me decide not to worry about the more 'expensive' DPS requirements of the full-on preamp...

But, I'm going to revisit anyway; you have piqued my curiousity.

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I tried it recently on a patch for an incubus song. I used to run my Helix through amps and I had more DSP to work with. When I made my patches to go front of house comma I experimented with that and got a pretty cool sound instead of a dual amp. So far it's the only patch I have done it on but I will play with it some more

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The beauty of the Helix (or digital modelers), the endless possibilities.

...and you won't break anything in the modeled world. The worst that can happen is that it sounds like crap. 

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And using the Helix, we don't need to futz with extraneous cables or a patch bay!

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I've done that, nice to have all the tone and overdrive controls of a preamp available.

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It can even be an amp. As long as you keep the elements down that add distortion (drive,master) and rely more on the elements that add volume (channel volume) you can make anything work. There are no rules.

I know what you mean about keeping the distortion elements down. My approach may have been the wrong way around, then. Instead of the highest gain Marshall preamp into a high headroom Hiwatt, maybe I should try a lower gain Marshall (or non-Marshall) preamp and whatever amp sounds best?

 

...and you won't break anything in the modeled world. The worst that can happen is that it sounds like crap. 

Right...or electrocute yourself. I did however have to suppress an irrational fear that I was going to see smoke coming from under the Helix because I somehow managed to fry a completely digital amplifier. But that's my own issue.

 

I've done this before, and it was a decent result.

I forget what the combination was at the moment.

However, as I recall, I don't think it was groundbreaking for me enough to change to doing that all the time.

 

But... this makes me want to revisit this again.

 

I think I've gotten HUGE mileage out of the Minotaur drive block... that is a highly nuanced model (I've never tried one of the 'real' pedals) which can do a wide range of drive textures.

I have this feeling that the existing drive effects on hand probably made me decide not to worry about the more 'expensive' DPS requirements of the full-on preamp...

But, I'm going to revisit anyway; you have piqued my curiousity.

Agreed, it's completely unnecessary except maybe when trying to emulate a hard to find sound, as in the thread to which Rocco_Crocco linked up at #5. But it's nice to know I'm not the only one who spends otherwise indefensible amounts of time going, "what if I put this over here...?"

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I like that; indefensible amounts of time...

 

That's the very heart of creativity; pushing the boundaries to some degree, both small and large - gateway to innovation.

 

... or some horrendous but well-earned noise =]

 

I re-examined my 'super-patch' for my small live performance purposes; it's the product of the very first thing I worked toward once I got my Helix Rack/Control.

I did this because I was finally ready to sit down and make a Snapshot version of that super preset.

 

... and for the life of me, I can't recall exactly how/why I went about adding in some of the little elements into it, and /where/ in the path... but darned if they don't ruin the sound if I remove them =]

(Notable exceptions; I was running into the 8-elements per control stomp switch assignments before getting every single thing I wanted to accomplish done... so I 'compromised' on a couple of details. Now that I've got a Snapshots version or three (!), that ceiling was /MASSIVELY/ elevated, so I was able to make those little niggling changes.)

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park preamp to a supro. nice grit.

ac 30 or 15 (cant remember now ) to a 45. great blues amp

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Thanks for the input, all. Arislaf, I can't wait to get my Helix back to try those combinations out. Didn't think about using the Vox preamp models or the Supro amp for this. I'd love to hear from anyone else who thinks of past combos they've mentioned or experiments with new ones. 

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Yes I have used a pre-amp block as a mild overdrive more for using the tone controls to shape and saturate the mids.  I setup a patch awhile ago that I shared with another member during the 1.xx firmware days for an autowah preset and he asked why I used the pre-amp in the signal chain.

 

In the early 70s many of my friends and I used old Champ amps running into the late 60s Marshall heads to get good tone at lower them pegged at 10 volume.  At least the best we could when we needed to play dirt floor clubs and not get told to "turn it down" which would not work for UFO and Nazareth songs.

 

To quote my message to the other member when he asked me how I figured to put a pre-amp block before a amp block I said;

 

"Oops.  I forgot to answer the other question.  Back in the day we would use an old Champ amp to feed signal into our double stack Marshalls.  Then when Mesa started using cascading pre-amps signals it was moot.  I just figured what works in the real world can work better in the virtual :-)"

 

Dennis

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Right...or electrocute yourself. I did however have to suppress an irrational fear that I was going to see smoke coming from under the Helix because I somehow managed to fry a completely digital amplifier. But that's my own issue.

 

 

 

Make sure your tube amp block is connected to the cab block or you might blow your virtual transformer ;)

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hi, i had nice luck with the plexi jump into a supro into a dual cab. sounds really up front and present and crunchy 😉👠i posted the settings recently

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hi, i had nice luck with the plexi jump into a supro into a dual cab. sounds really up front and present and crunchy i posted the settings recently

That sounds interesting. I saw your posted preset and I'm going to give it a try next time I can. I was going to ask what cabs, but I guess I see in the preset.

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Quick follow-up, try using the vocal tube preamp. I love the Minotaur pedal myself, but a few of my patches we're still lacking. So I switched the Minotaur with the vocal preamp and got amazing results! I ended up switching out distortion pedals for the preamp on a number of my patches.

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I am using the vocal preamp a LOT now. I have also started using the Obsidian 7000 bass preamp/overdrive model in some presets. You have to tweak the EQ points in it and take the bass down a lot for guitar, but it sounds fantastic. 

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 The worst that can happen is that it sounds like crap. 

 

Statement of the month! 

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Wish the vocal preamp had some basic tone controls, just for simplicity and to save a slot.

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