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Author Topic:  Sarno Freeloader
Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 5:45 am    
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I'm looking for an accessible tone control. If anyone is familiar with Buddy Emmons' (I think) tone on ray Price's I'll Br There (When You Get Lonely), this is the tone I'm looking to be able to get only occasionally, without having to go all the way back to the amp. I'd also like to be able to "WOW" like they used to do on the old Fenders - but this is much less important to me. My tone is usually very very bright, which is where I like it for normal playing. I've done a little bit of research on Brad Sarno's Freeloader which, if the tonal sweep is wide enough, may be exactly what I'm looking for, being that it clips onto the leg. My other thought was to have a tone control installed into the guitar itself, but would really like to avoid that. Can anyone give me an idea if I'm barking up the right tree here?
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 7:26 am    
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What you are looking for is the reason I have a Goodrich Matchbox on the leg of my guitar.
You have a volume and tone control right at your fingertips, no reaching for the amp. Very Happy
Erv
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 8:27 am    
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To get that "wow" or "wah" or "boo-wah" you hear on old Fenders, you probably want a traditional tone control involving a potentiometer and a tone capacitor. This typical guitar tone circuit will give that wah, horn-like voicing when the pot is turned nearly all the way left or mellow. The tone capacitor will interact with the pickup and give that unique voicing.

The FreeLoader is a pretty wide ranging tone control, but it does NOT give that "boo-wah" voicing when set to the darkest position. It is more of a neutral tone control that mostly addresses the upper-mid-treble peak that can sometimes be too harsh or biting.

You really could custom build a tiny little clip-on box with a simple 1Meg potentiometer and maybe a .047uF or .02uF capacitor wired exactly how electric guitars wire their tone controls. Find a knob that's ergonomic and easy to quickly turn with the side of your hand, and you'd have a little "boo-wah" effect and a tone control. You could even put a switch on it to fully disengage for when you know you don't want it affecting your tone.

B
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Steven Paris


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 10:19 am    
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Brad Sarno wrote:
To get that "wow" or "wah" or "boo-wah" you hear on old Fenders......... a little "boo-wah" effect (with) a switch on it

How would you go about putting on a "boo-wah" switch on an Emmons GS-10, replacing the tone & volume controls (as those aren't needed)??
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Emmons & Peavey
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Charley Paul


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 10:56 am    
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You could just buy an eq pedal. Here are a few I have used and liked a lot...

Pettyjohn Lift. This is a buffer, eq, and boost all in one. Just by plugging the pedal in the signal gets buffered. The footswitch activates a clean boost that is really nice. There are two eq controls, a high cut and a low cut. Think of these as slightly shaping the tone of you instrument before it hits the amp. You can cut highs or lows. The eq section can be active all the time, or just on the boost.


Bearfoot Sea Blue Eq. This is a very warm sounding eq that allows you to cut/boost bass, treble and volume. It sounds like running your guitar through a good studio preamp, and shapes the sound in a very usable way.


Empress EQ. Full parametric eq with boost. Ultimate control, but I found it to be a bit too much for my needs. Still, a fabulous pedal of the highest quality.....just more than I needed.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 11:27 am    
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Thanks Brad. The Boo-Wah is much less important to me, and not something I would go to any length or do a lot of searching for. I would, however, like to be able to dial in the dark tone on the track I mentioned above without having to reach for the amp - I would be able to use that much more. The Freeloader still intrigues me though - anything that gives better tone is worth a try.

Thanks Erv, I'll look into it.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 12:13 pm    
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I often use a Freeloader as my on-guitar tone control, between the guitar output and volume pedal. As Brad says, it's not like a traditional RC treble-cut tone control, it's a bit more subtle. But it can effectively brighten up or, conversely, warm up my sound significantly. Its buffering action also completely obviates the need for an active volume pedal, as far as I'm concerned.

My baseline is generally in the noon to one o'clock area, but sometimes turn it up if I want cut through more, or turn it down to mellow things out. There is no "mud" setting - it sounds good to me in any of the low settings.

Both a standard tone control and a variable input impedance buffer (like the Freeloader) are useful, depending on what you want. If I had to choose between them for pedal steel, I'd keep the Freeloader. One of my Zums has a standard tone control, which I almost never use. But for jazz guitar, I'd have to have a traditional tone control.
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George Kimery


From:
Limestone, TN, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 12:28 pm     Sarno Freeloader
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Just sent through a very similar issue with Brad last month concerning how to take the highs off my Evans. A Black Box contains the Freeloader plus a tube buffer.
The variable Z control on the Black Box acts as a tone control. So this was the route I took and it has worked out perfectly.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 12:31 pm    
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George, Do you think the black box is needed with twin? Aren't those used more often with solid state amps?
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 1:05 pm    
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I like the musicality of the Freeloader control a lot. It ranges from dark to bright without going from muddy to spiky. With a well-set amp, it pretty well covers my eq tweaking for a couple of sets' worth of music.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 1:16 pm    
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OK, what's the difference between the Black Box, and the Freeloader? I picked up a Goodrich Matchbox a little while ago for a very good price as it seems like what I was looking for in my original post. I've never been much of a techy or used many (if any) off board devices. That being said, the Black Box/freeloader have got me very interested as they are said to provide killer sound and signal - and I'm always in search of better/purer tone. I'm going to be running everything into a silver Twin w/JBLs and, if I can pick one up eventually, a silver Vibrosonic w/a JBL. Does anyone have some ideas on which of the two I should be interested in? Also, would they work well with the Matchbox, and where should any of them be put - before, or after a Hilton vol pedal?
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 1:21 pm    
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The Matchbox works well with any amp.
Place it immediately after your guitar and before the foot volume.
Erv
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 1:32 pm    
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Thanks for your help Erv.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 1:43 pm    
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Bobby,
I've used a Matchbox for many, many years. Very Happy
Erv
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Mathew Peluso


From:
Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 6:42 pm     Black Box
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I use a Black Box with a Nashville 112 at my band's practice space. My Milkman Half & Half is at home. I normally keep the BB at the practice space at all times but I recently brought it home to test whether or not using it with the tube pre in my Half & Half would be redundant. Turns out it isn't. It's now on my pedal board so I can use it with any amp. The Half & Half is a really great amp as is, but the BB really adds another dimension. What I notice most are the subtleties of feel and dynamics when it's in the chain. I plug my steel directly into it and then go back to the volume pedal. I haven't used a Matchbox or Freeloader but I suspect the BB is the best way to go.
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George Kimery


From:
Limestone, TN, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 6:56 pm     Sarno Black Box
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Bobby, the Black Box is two things combined into one box: A Freeloader and a tube powered buffer. Although with a tube amp, you would think a tube powered buffer would be redundant,which is generally true. But, a lot of guys like the Black Box with a tube amp. I guess you can't have too many tubes. It all depends on the amp and your ears. I think a Freeloader would be a good choice, but a Black Box a great choice.
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Barry Coker


From:
Bagley Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2019 6:59 pm     Freeloader/Blackbox
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I have used the Matchbox, Freeloader. Izzy and Black Box.
As Irv says the machbox works great for volume and basic tone controll at your finger tips the Izzy and Freeloader just controll tone but seem to give you a richer warmer sound (Freloader is adjustable Izzy is not).

The Blackbox on the other hand to my ear is a diffrent animal. It will make any guitar any amp or any player sound better. If I had to choose the Blackbox would be my first choice.

Barry
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Mark Hepler


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 7:56 am     Re: Sarno Freeloader
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Bobby Nelson wrote:
I'm looking for an accessible tone control.


Bobby, I have the tone pot Brad recommends: it comes standard on Emmons steels. It gives you a different tonality than the Freeloader does.

The Freeloader--which I love--rounds my highs, while the tone pot chops 'em, giving high mids more apparent bite (think Eric Clapton).

I'm one of the few guys on the forum that uses his stock Emmons tone pot, but I like it when I need to muscle my way over the top of loud guitar players (aren't they all?) or use distortion for a George Thorogood slide feel.

Try both if you can budget it.


Last edited by Mark Hepler on 17 Jan 2019 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 8:09 am    
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I've got a Matchbox on the way Mark. I think it'll do what I need. But, I'm still interested in the Freeloader/Blackbox. I'm interested in seeing how they tweak (or, fine tune, if that's a better description) the tone - just need to come up with some $$.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 8:40 am    
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Bobby,
I think you will be happy with the MatchBox. Very Happy
Erv
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2019 3:20 pm    
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Bobby, I always use the tone knob on my P/P Emmons, although I have it almost all the way up. I have been playing other steels lately and I miss the tone knob. Please let us know how you like the Matchbox when you get familiar with it. I too have thought about using a Freeloader or a Black Box for the same reasons that you've mentioned, but the Matchbox sounds interesting too.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2019 2:37 am    
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Bob, The fellas here kind of straightened it out for me - what I'm actually looking for is the Matchbox - on-board tone/volume.

The Freeloader, is a tone control, but in a different way than what I was originally talking about - a variable load impedance matcher or something, not a typical sweeping tone control.

Th Black box, is a Freeloader, and a tube buffer.

I gather that the black Box would be a better choice if I can afford it. I'm intrigued by the "tone/signal sweetening effect the Freeloader/Black Box are supposed to do, so I will probably get one to try out for myself before it's all over - when when I can afford it.
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Harold Dye


From:
Cullman, Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2019 9:00 am    
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Which Match box is best? I have found the older one, the Match Box 6, and the 7.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2019 9:05 am    
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The only difference between the 6A and 7A is that the 7A has an on/off switch.
On the 6A you have to pull the plug going to the amp to disconnect the battery.
However, I installed a switch on my 6A to do the same thing. Very Happy
Erv
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Harold Dye


From:
Cullman, Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2019 9:06 am    
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Thanks Erv, who sells them?
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