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Can you get a Tube Screamer sound using the right level settings of clean and distorted signals in a mixer?

>I've used mixers for clean + od (in phase) sometimes. They sound fine as long as you pay attention to drive levels.


Does the Ibanez Tube Screamer TS-9 overdrive pedal mix clean and distorted sound?

keen at austin.ibm.com () wrote:
>No, the entire signal goes through the clipper.

Keen's description of TS-9 clipping

The Boss Line Selector pedal can easily mix clean signal and distortion.

Favorable user comments about Matchless HotBox overdrive - (2 12AX7 tubes) - includes description of a mod done by Matchless to mix clean signal with overdriven signal.

mgarvin at panix.com (Mark Garvin) wrote:
>There are no *external* mixing networks, but the signal goes into the
>non-inverting input of the opamp with the diodes around it.
>The non-inverting input yields a gain of 1 + (atten around the
>feedback loop). The feedback loop is essentially the two diodes,
>so if you short them out, you'll still have unity gain clean
>signal coming from that opamp (IN phase).

You two seem to disagree. "The entire signal goes through the clipper" yet "you'll still have unity gain clean signal from the opamp".

It sounds like perfectly clean guitar coming out of the Tube Screamer, with a fainter standard full-distortion sound mixed in. This approach makes sense, to get natural attack tone combined with distortion-type sustain. This could be an example of an effect that produces a mediocre tone on its own, but sounds great when used before a hard-driven tube amp. There is a great difference between raw preamp tone and the finished Tone after the speaker. Vintage effects were *made* to go before a tube amp, rather than being listened to directly. You're not hearing the full potential of the effect unless you drive a tube amp into the warp zone with it.

Mixing a clean and distorted signal in an overdrive pedal
makes so much sense, to get natural attack tone
combined with distortion-type sustain.

>Actually, no, that would be a problem if it were true. There was a
>commercial effect that did exactly this that I traced out. It did, indeed
>out-and-out mix the dry and wet signals together. The dry signal decayed
>away as the tone tailed off, and the distortion sound, being compressed
>by the clipping, did not. It produced an odd
>clean-trailing-off-to-distorted note. Very clear to hear. The dynamics of
>clean an clipped signals are very different, and this stood out like a
>sore thumb. I quickly put this one in the bin of "Things to be used for
>odd special purposes". It sounded nothing like a TS9.

[I'm not sure who wrote the above.]

The Tube Screamer had a better mix than that unit. The fact that that unit poorly implemented the approach doesn't prove the approach to be bad.

Can't you tap the signal in the Tube Screamer to hear a clean and distorted signal simply being mixed?

This would be just the sort of weird, terrible-sounding preamp device that tube amps love.

Someone, maybe Keen, replied:

>Is the amp supposed to work better if it has a weird terrible sounding preamp in front of it? Do the amps run cooler or sound sweeter?

A loud tube amp and speaker transforms the input signal in a complex way. You have to do a mental transformation when listening directly to an effect, imagining what it would sound like through a loud tube amp. Beginners might well dismiss overdrive pedals in general, because they sound wimpy and staticky when listened to directly. Overdrive pedals are not designed to produce an overdrive tone in themselves. The sound coming out of the overdrive pedal is not itself the overdriven sound. It's a misunderstanding thinking that the sound of an effects pedal in isolation is the final sound that the designer intended. Effects pedals, particularly 70s vintage pedals, are meant to be heard as part of a tube amp rig. The purpose of the overdrive pedal is not to sound great in itself, but to drive a tube amp harder than the amp can be driven by its internal preamp.

When I listen to an effect by itself, I don't think "this sounds great", but "this *would* sound great when combined with a loud tube amp". This applies to the overdrive pedal especially. The Tube Screamer sounds bad by itself -- but it was not designed to be used as an isolated piece of gear between the guitar and mixer. Overdrives are specifically meant to be combined with a loud tube amp, and if a buyer wants to understand how to get the tone the designer intended, they must understand that the designer intended the pedal to be put before an amp. If the buyer doesn't realize this, and is surprised by how bad an isolated overdrive pedal sounds, the buyer's limited knowledge about the intended configuration will probably prevent them from getting the best, most musical and flowing tone using the overdrive pedal. The buyer will probably conclude that all the enthusiasm over the overdrive pedal is unwarranted. You will certainly not soud like SRV by running your guitar through a Tube Screamer and into the mixer. If that's what you are trying to accomplish, you would be very confused and disappointed. Some guidance about the intended and recommended setup would be very helpful.

To get the most out of your equipment, you must both understand its intended purpose, as well as knowing alternative, innovative applications of the equipment. I've done some very successful misusing of guitar equipment, such as putting a tube amp, speaker, and mic in the "effects loop" of a guitar multieffects processor.

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