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Author Topic:  Using Overdrive
Bud Harger


From:
Temple / Belton, Texas
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 5:07 am    
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I play in church Praise Band. Some of the contemporary songs require (seem to) a slightly funky, distorted guitar sound. On advice from the lead guitarist, I bought a BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal to help me achieve this. I’ve never, ever used distortion on pedal steel, preferring the clear sounds of the instrument.

Well, I have no idea how to use it. I just want a little bit of distortion. How do I achieve that?

Any advice will help.
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bUd

1969 Emmons Push-Pull, D-10, 8f/4k; Evans Amps.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 5:13 am    
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My advice would be to use a lot of distortion.
A little bit just sounds like there's something wrong with your amp.
Because of its superior sustain, the pedal steel can out-filth any six-string.
Your friend will wonder what he has unleashed Smile
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 5:33 am    
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One thing that can keep you frustrated -- if you put the SD-1 (a nice pedal) after your volume pedal, it will sound different every time you play it unless you make certain that you always have the vp set exactly the same. And for me, the only way to be sure the vp is exactly the same is to be sure that it is 100% down. Then you can make your tone and volume adjustments to the SD-1. Otherwise, you can go direct from the steel to the SD-1, before the vp.

Things can get difficult because we usually play with the vp cut back. So when you hit the SD-1 with 100% signal, you will need to cut its volume ("level") a lot to match your REAL overall volume with the vp cut back and used traditionally, for sustain.

Also, identify for yourself what you are shooting for. A crunchy chord sound or a singing violin-like lead.
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Rick Abbott

 

From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 5:34 am    
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A lot of folks use distortion these days. I love distortion!! A couple things I've found along the way that work for me:

A fuzz type pedal that has good control of the tone is helpful. I've settled into a Wampler Velvet Fuzz as it has a lot of control and is a high quality device. Fuzz gets you past the thing Ian mentioned about too little distortion sounding like a busted amp.

Fewer notes played, and/or fewer pedal moves sound better to my ear, but that may just be my playing style. Using simplified chords, especially on the thinner strings sounds cleaner (in a Santana sort of clean way). Single note lines rule. Absolute control of unwanted notes is important, too.

To tag onto Jon, he's right about the placement of the pedal and VP. Finding a distortion that plays nicely with the volume pedal is helpful. I like pedals that clean up when the VP is lower and increase distortion as I raise the volume pedal, without a huge increase in volume...if that makes any sense.
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Ken Metcalf


From:
Converse Texas USA
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 5:56 am    
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A distortion pedal works better with a humbucker than a single coil pickup in my opinion.
I put it before the volume pedal.
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Last edited by Ken Metcalf on 7 Jul 2020 12:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Benjamin Davidson

 

Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 12:30 pm    
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Normally sitting behind a steel guitar the volume pedal is our expression pedal. That's how I look at it and its starting to make more sense to me to think of it that way than the way a volume pedal would be used by a Guitarist.

Because of this application, I recommend the distortion pedal being placed in front of your volume pedal. This allows you to tailor the distortion and tone from that effect in isolation with consistent signal strength (exp. full pickup signal). When you swell in with the volume pedal this way you're only controlling overall volume out of that Boss pedal with a constant tone. The downside to doing it this way, is when you back off the pedal to minimize transients from picking, and those may be apparent in the distortion signal depending on how you play. And make sure you play through that Boss pedal a bit in practice and rehearsal, and leave it hooked up when not in use (Boss pedals are all buffered-bypass), and see how it interacts with the volume pedal you use.

Unfortunately running the distortion after the volume pedal for us as steel guitarists doesn't work for a number of reasons. The largest of these, as you swell the volume you change the signal strength going into the distortion pedal and will alter how its clipping and shaping your tone (altering both volume and signal), when you're swelling a lot in each measure it feels choppy. The best way I can discribe it is that you've got a volume pedal with a taper you have come accustomed too, you add this distortion pedal after the volume and its doing what it does - amplify the signal and clip the signal to distort. When the pedal travel is low the signal is going to be less compressed and distorted, and if the pedal is set to be unity gain quite soft, and when the pedal is wide open that signal is giving a larger source to amplify compress and distort - end result smoothing that out becomes a challenge.

Two other things that I would address with Praise Band. 1) What is the distortion added to the steel doing in the context of the song? This will help ensure that you are utilizing an effect your not very familiar with in a method that is meeting the expectations of the Praise Band, and work with the guitarist that recommended the SD-1 in how best to use it. 2) How this pedal affects your position in the context of the final mix during the worship service? Its easy for a steel guitar pickup to completely overwhelm a distortion pedal and you end up lost in the mix of everything.
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Bud Harger


From:
Temple / Belton, Texas
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 2:05 pm     Thanks everybody !
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Wow! You guys know some stuff. I have my hands full with all of these tips.

Just a touch of distortion is what I’m after. The “Nashville E9th” sound just isn’t quite right sometimes. I’ve struggled all of my life getting it right (IMO). And this is new to me.

With your help, I’ll get it done.

SD-1 here I come!

Thanks, again.

bUd
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bUd

1969 Emmons Push-Pull, D-10, 8f/4k; Evans Amps.
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Kevin Fix

 

From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 6:43 pm    
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I used to use one back in the 90's when I was doing clubs. We were playing top 10 top 40 country. Had a lot of fun with it. I used to set it on the heavy side. I will tell you one thing and that is that you will set a song on fire with it!!! Some lead players will get a little jealous of you and some will smile ear to ear!!!! I remember a 18 year kid came up to me when we finished one night and told me that, I was bad to the bone. He never heard anything like it.
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Franklin

 

Post  Posted 7 Jul 2020 7:02 pm    
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I love the Benado pedal. It has a delay, reverb, and Overdrive. All pedals are noise free and its hardwired so no more pesky short cords to deal with...In this snippet listen for how the Benado OD unit breathes with my attack...If I want a lot I pick harder...Its so responsive and controllable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06AsHu7HWC8
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Bud Harger


From:
Temple / Belton, Texas
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2020 4:53 am     Isn’t this Forum great!
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A note from “the man”...

Thanks, Paul for taking the time to give us this insight.

Placing the Overdrive effect AFTER the volume pedal adds another dimension.
I’ll try it both ways and see how it works.

Thanks everybody for your thoughts. Maybe somebody will think this boring old man is getting “wild and crazy!”
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bUd

1969 Emmons Push-Pull, D-10, 8f/4k; Evans Amps.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2020 7:09 am    
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I use the Sarno Earth Drive for just a touch of overdrive, works great. Very Happy
Erv
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 8 Jul 2020 7:55 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I use the Sarno Earth Drive for just a touch of overdrive, works great. Very Happy
Same here, and preceded by a Boss LMB-3 to even out the peak-levels a bit it works perfect to add a controlled amount of "grit"/distortion pre VP.
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Jacek Jakubek


From:
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 9 Jul 2020 7:40 pm    
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I have a BOSS OD-1 that I've used on and off for short periods and then always got sick of it. Has been a few years since I used it and now prefer only clean tones.

If you play sessions or sit in with bands that specifically request that over-driven singing rock slide-guitar stuff then OK, give them what they want. But, when it comes to pedal steel for my own personal enjoyment, I'd rather hear beautifully clean licks masterfully placed to suit any kind of rock stuff or anything else. It's more challenging this way as it forces you to rely on the steel's inherent beautiful tone and not on an electronic gizmo, which is the easy way out.

Even though Paul sounds amazing with the searing distorted steel tones in the Benado video, I bet he would sound even better if he played some of the amazing clean and original stuff he normally does.

I don't mean to condemn distortion use or anything, but if you ever feel the music is getting really funky or heavy and calls for a distortion solo...Consider that it may also call for the opposite, super clean tone to balance out the dirt. That is what I want to hear when I'm in the audience and through my own steel playing.

Some of my bias against distorted tones comes from the feeling that hearing distortion has a negative physical impact on our nervous systems regardless of whether you personally like or dislike the tone; alternatively, pure clean harmonies have a positive nervous system effect, even if you find them boring.

Next time I get the distortion bug to play some Allman Skynyrd I will get the Sarno Earth drive, or a Benado like Paul's would be awesome, probably more expensive though which makes sense 'cause it's really 3 pedals.
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 9 Jul 2020 9:15 pm    
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I’m anxiously awaiting my Earth Drive to be delivered. FWIW they are currently on sale at Sarno Music Solutions
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 7:19 am    
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I think you'll like it. Very Happy
Erv
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2020 10:59 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I think you'll like it. Very Happy
Erv

Thanks Erv...So, I’ve heard.
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