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Parametric EQ Pedals for Pre-Distortion EQ

I strongly advise adding the standard tone secret of the masters, recommended twice in the Boss fx booklet: you need pre-distortion EQ. You have post-dist eq, in the amp tone knobs, and in the dist-pedal tone controls (Real Tube). However, this secret includes the knowledge that you really need a *quiet* eq here -- a rack eq, to tell the truth. I have the highest respect for putting a *parametric* rack eq before preamp dist. That is true mastery of preamp distortion voicing. We're talking Basic Tone, here, to which all else is mere footnotes. Even if a noisy pedal, priceless tone lessons by experimenting with this. Same as switching pickup response curves. EQ is the least understood "effect". People buy every effect and ignore the only one that really concerns Basic Tone (if used right). They assume that because they have some tone knobs somewhere in their rig, they can afford to avoid this "redundant pedal" -- they could not be more mistaken! EQ is the *first* and most mandatory pedal you can buy, though the lost masses assume EQ is the last and most optional pedal you can buy. I advise new guitarists who have just bought a guitar and amp -- the very first pedal to buy is an EQ pedal. If I could only have one pedal, it would be that. Do:

  1. guitar
  2. eq pedal, frown curve, slight vol boost
  3. amp's preamp distortion
  4. amp's tone controls
  5. power amp, driven to onset of saturation
  6. guitar speakers, driven hard
That is guaranteed to provide impressive tone. *Then* you can buy truly incidental pedals such as flanger. However, to do this *quietly*, only a rack eq will do. Since this curve is usually broad and smooth, not jagged and detailed, a parametric EQ is especially appropriate here. That implies rack unit, since no param eq pedals exist. -- no, just researched harmony central. Research is below.

What would *blow* away the industry is the Frequalizer: a distortion pedal with:

  1. *quiet* parametric eq
  2. distortion stage
  3. hybrid eq (Metal Zone), or other type of eq
Review of ART Tube EQ at Harmony Central

Review of Boss PQ-4 at Harmony Central

"if you'll run the likes of a Boss parametric eq pedal in front of this amp's limited preamp then you'll find a tremendous rig that taks very well to tone coloring and overdrive effects.... you'll enjoy unlocking the spectrum of frequency response the cabs have once you put some tonal range to them via the parametric eq." -- this is misleading; *any* amp will sound far better with a parametric eq in front of its preamp distortion. The guy says nothing about the amp, but rather, general gear principles.

Maestro MPF-1 Parametric Filter - "one wheel controls the frequency you want to cut or boost. The other controls the amount of cut or boost. ... it is a parametric eq but also, the center selector allows you to choose sharp overdrive or med bandwdith overdrive or normal boost broad, med or sharp bandwidth, so you can use it for a parametric eq *or* a fuzz [sic]" -- must check it out. "very nice sound quality and is very versatile, you can pull up several usable good sounds and some usuable ugly sounds. This was a pedal I was always curious about from its name I just assumed it was just a fancy parametric eq, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a top of the line overdrive from the seventies that had fuzz capabilities too and the tone controls are so versatile you can make it sound like 5 different overdrives, i found two of these in a music store brand new with the original battery still in them, i traded one away and keep one, I still think they've got one left" -- sounds like a sleeper killer pedal! but the main question is, is the param eq before, or after, the distortion stage??? Notice this is merely a 1-band semi-parametric. no width (Q) control, only 1 set of controls.

"I've tried the [multifx processor] pedal through normal amps, and frankly, i think it sounds alot like a horse taking a shit and getting shot in the ass at same time, the only way i got good sound with it was with a parametric EQ [probly after the processor]...with that setup, it rocked.....heaviest thing ever known to man, so unless you have an amp with parametric EQ or a rackeffect with para. EQ, it aint gonna sound too good, but mabye it just seems that way because now im used to all tube smooth wonderful creamy high gain, i dunno"

"it has replaced my old standby, the PQ-9 Parametric EQ."

Review of Geoffrey Teese Deluxe Big Quack at Harmony Central - pre-dist eq?

Review of George Dennis Parametric Wah/Volume at Harmony Central - pre-dist eq?

Review of Boss PQ3-B at Harmony Central - "Well I like my old PQ3-B parametric EQ by Boss better (wider range, more versatile), but this one is easier to use, cause it's visual. gets a 10, cuz I got no complaints." I like my parametric EQ pedal more, but they don't make them anymore... I'd say this is pretty much the only product out there in stomp-box format to get." ... "3 double knobs (outside shifts frequency, inside cuts or boosts level) and a level knob. it changes your tonality. It can instantly turn your passive bass into an active. I use Fender Jazz Bass Fretless and a cheap P-style Yamaha (good bass too). not noisy [what if put before guitar dist?] I play rock and I'm trying to master slap'n'pop bass techniques and this pedal really enhances the sound. I'll also be using this as a preamp for our cello player for a while. It worked good as an acoustic guitar preamp, too. I also have the newer GEB-7 Bass Graphic EQ pedal by Boss. Some people think that Graphic is better, that the parametric only gives you "3 bands". Yeah, but they are shiftable. Find the range that really affects your sound and then cut or boost, this is more versatile. It's like if you had a virtual graphic EQ on screen of a PC and you could move the actual faders across the range! This model should not have been discontinued. If you see it used, ask for price tag, I got mine for $20, that's a steal! If it's lost, I probably won't be able to find another one, so I'd have to settle with the new Graphic (which I also have). By the way the Parametric can go lower and higher than the graphic! This unit really helps me shape my sound and for 20 bucks it's a great preamp for lots of stuff. It gets a 10 cuz I got it so cheap! Nice. P.S. I'm getting a board full of Boss guitar pedals today (over $600, ouch!) so feel free to ask me about them. I've been researching and asking about Boss pedals for a while now and it looks like for most of em there's just no equal match." ... "basic semi-parametric eq: 3 bands, freq and boost/cut. I set the low band all the way down to 25 hz, with the boost at about 1 o'clock. I sweep the mid between 1 and 3 o'clock, depending on the room. Same for the boost for this band. The high and overall gain I leave alone. With a 5 string fretless, this setting gives the ultra low the same dB as the the rest of the bass, and the mid settings give that elusive "growl" factor. Too bad Boss stopped making this puppy, it's a very good tone band-aid, and fits in my gig bag for jams. You never know when you're going to have sound good through a TNT 300. Negligible noise at the settings I use. I suppose at extreme settings there would have to be some hiss. I'd buy one again, in fact, I'm keeping my eyes open for another for backup. Murphy's law hasn't been repealed."

Ibanez PQL Parametric EQ - "$85 used. 3 sliders, two knobs. Sound Quality: 8. in the effects loop of my `82 Fender Concert [mistake, try before dist]. noise level is negligible [what if pre-dist?]. Overall sound quality is very good. This is a great pedal to tweak the sound of your amp [esp. in front of amp], or to generate a psecific boost for rhythm/solo parts. One of the best built series of pedals that Ibanez put out. I like this one better than it's predecessor, the PQ-9. The PQL has a Q-width knob in addition to the three sliders with the mid-frequncy adjustment knob (ranging from 70Hz to 5.5KHz). A great little unit that can have a big effect on your tone, especially if the amp it's being run into has an effects loop [I'd say, esp if put before amp's preamp dist]."

Ibanez PQ9 Parametric EQ - "just three sliders and a knob to adjust the mid frequency. Adjusting the middle frequency can lead to alot of different tones. very quiet for a pedal. I'm using it in the effects loop of a Fender Concert [mistake! put in front, first]. I loved the sound of this amp but since putting this pedal into the loop [sic] it's like a completely different beast - wouldn't want to be without it. I use the PQ9 primarily to boost the low end and mids.... I've been using graphic eq's for the past 9 years; this is the first parametric eq for me. I've tried this pedal with single coil and humbucker guitars; it made a big difference for each one. By adjusting the mid frequency, tone can be altered from metalish scooped mids to full strength low-end to an ugly nasaly sound. If it was stolen, I'd get another one immediately - it helps alot more than I thought it would. Truly a great older pedal for the price; these are currently in the $50 - $65 range."

Ibanez PQ401 3-Band Parametric EQ - $80 used. 3-band slider EQ, with additional rotary knob for dialing in the frequency range. more flexibile than a straight slider graphic EQ like the GE-601. Pretty slick. One of those pedals that you didn't know you needed until you used it, and then tried to go without it. It's a great boost pedal, and a nice addition to tweak an overdrive or distortion box in the chain [what - before, or after?]. I have used it in conjunction with the TS-808 (same pedal series), and they seem to work well together. One great application is with a guitar that has fairly lo-fi or weak pickups (like my Broncos, Musicmasters, etc.). Boost the areas they are weak, or drop where they are too trebly, and away you go. Trouble is, when you get them sounding the way you like them, you will end up being tied to the pedal. (I have also used it to tweak the sound of my P-90's which is interesting.) Dead quiet pedal, which is not what I expected [even before dist?]. Great sound quality. I have every pedal from the TS-808 series (with the exception of the OD-855), and have never had a problem with any. A terrific pedal series. I had never really used EQ's until I started collecting this series. [see? eq is last effect people try, yet most important] The GE-601 Graphic EQ is a great pedal too, but I am more fond of this one. They are quite effective at what they are designed to do. I am surprised I had not looked into them before. For folks that are unhappy with their pickup sound, the shape of their distortion's output, looking for a certain frequency range boost, a 'scooped' sound, or a midrange hump, I would check one of these out. Instead of expecting you overdrive to be exactly where you need it, or your outputs to be spot on while switching between guitars, something like this may be an option." ... "$20.00 canada used. This 3 band parametric eq get the sound you want in a snap. You get sound quality using it. Everybody that tried this pedal want it because it does the job well and it`s simple to use. [before, or after dist?]"

Pearl TH20 Thriller - "High quality Japanese stompbox from the mid 1980s... Parametric EQ/notch filter with controls for: Frequency (400hz-7khz), Color, Balance (direct/filter), and Multipeak. The 4 controls are very interdependent. Sound Quality: 9. Great device for conjuring up strange 'fixed wah' tones on guitar. Faux acoustic guitar tones are also possible. Cool when used either before OR after a distortion pedal. In each scenario it sounds very different. The tonal curves available are NOT subtle."

Review of Way Huge Tone Leper TL-2 at Harmony Central - cocked-wah effect - presumably pre-dist eq?

Review of Way Huge Tone Leper at Harmony Central - "The tone leper basically boosts the middle frequency range of your pickup signal, and, with the volume (gain) knob, also overdrives the preamp stage of the amp. The result is that your tone gets a mid boost, an overdriven sound (if you want it), and has increased note sustain. The boost pot allows you to dial in how much of the middle frequency "ooommph" you'd like. The pedal is not noisy unless you crank the pedal volume knob up, and then there is some grainy sound (not static, but noise) coming out of the pedal -- not a real bad problem, but one that I have heard with a number of overdrive pedals. This pedal does a superb job of midfrequency boost -- the tone is very good and if you are into rock music with either an aggressive edge or even a pop/rock flavor this pedal offers some interesting alternatives for your tone. I was really suprised with how much you can shape the mids with this unit (not as versatile as a "mid" pot on your amp, understand, or, mid-frequency equalization from a mixing board) [yeah, but the point is, it's pre-dist eq, I gather] and I would recommend that if you come across one of these that you demo it and see if this is what you like. [but it would help if you understand how predist eq voicing works]"

Review of Nady 3-band Parametric EQ at Harmony Central Nady 3-Band Parametric EQ - "$50 used. 3-band [semi-]parametric eq. -- 3 bands with fixed Q, 20-2k, 50-5k and 200-20k. Each band has +/- 12 db of gain via 3 small sliders. The bands are set with great little silver knobs, as is the level. the sliders are small and can be difficult to set. Sound Quality: 9. I use this with many other pedal and rack effects. Everything is run thru a Mackie board and monitored on headphones. Mostly electronic noises, sound design and feedback systems. The unit did not add any noise to the system [what about before dist?]. The wide range of the bands allow for a great many settings.listen to Lustmord, Kent Sparling and eno for similar sounds. I play expermental, slow-fi, noise much and sound design. This unit allow for a wide range of tone modification. works well on anything. with a rich source of sound like a guitar, the tone is limitless. the parametric eq is cvery powerful. Can even be used to remove tape hiss, with out effecting the sound. The band width of the eq is broad, which without making the unit more complex is good. The wide band preserves the musical usefulness, but a tighter Q could be fun."

Review of TC Electronic Sustain Parametric Equalizer at Harmony Central TC Electronic Sustain+Parametric Equalizer - dist->eq, or reverse?

Review of PAiA Four-Band EQ at Harmony Central - PAiA 4-band semi-parametric eq

"...and a Korg parametric eq pedal... What I love about this feedbacker pedal again is the distortion shape that I achieved to get with it (and the Eq of course) [but that's true of any decent dist pedal], the feedback option is very cool to use too in my opinion. I have compared this distortion to my main amp's distortion, my Proco Rat, a Zoom 505, a BOSS Overdrive, and a BOSS Metal Zone. I definitely pick this one to my taste [but don't you like them all, when using pre-dist eq if I assume correctly your placement?]. I don't like thick distortions. . . i like fatter tones. I wish I could have more control of the feedback feature, I mean. . . more versatility. Like for example: the feedback remains on THAT LAST note u played. It would be awesome if I could change the note in which it rings without having to let go of the pedal, play the note, then step on it again. As u can see, this is a bit of a problem"... "the DF-2 [feedbacker pedal] is basically a DS-1 distortion with the added feature of a built-in tracking oscillator circuit which is engaged when you hold the pedal down.... trick is to run it through a nicer sounding distortion pedal so that the feedback doesn't sound so "keyboard-ish"."

"I agree with some of the earlier reviews, that it [fab tone dist] is very helpful to use a compressor in front of this unit. I also use a parametric EQ with it [in front of it?] to scoop mids."

"I run it [big muff fuzz] through a Boss Parametric EQ, which really beefs it up a lot. [yeah but try eq->fuzz] I would strongly recommend an EQ to anyone who gets this pedal (the thing's so cheap, why not?). Although it sounds huge and evil, it has a weird way of sounding cheap and thin sometimes, that's where the EQ comes in, a little boost in the bass, and a cut around 2khz, and you're in business! This thing is kind of noisy, and I'm sure it's a pretty far throw from true bypass, but that's Electro-Harmonix for ya, cheap and powerful.

I found Tubester info while researching pre-distortion eq products. Designers should consider putting quiet tone controls *before* the distortion stage, to enable control of the distortion voicing. You would also need to explain the concepts of inter-stage distortion voicing and the difference between post-distortion eq and pre-distortion eq.

My popular amp tone site has a lot about pre-distortion eq and distortion voicing concepts (distortion voicing). The following email reply also covers some related products. I was startled with an insight of just how poorly the guitar industry understands the need for putting eq before distortion. The few who try it are rushed into heaven -- but most people assume that an eq is a stupid idea for a pedal, since they already have tone controls... and most people put the eq pedal (if they do have one) after the distortion, without even considering putting it before distortion to control the voicing.

People ask me for settings all the time. I have found that lately, I really only have one main piece of advice: pre-dist eq -- it is the answer, the secret of the masters. People try "everything" to dial in good distortion tone, even with a cranked tube amp, and then finally ask me for the magic settings -- turns out, they never tried pre-dist eq. I'm especially interested in semi-parametric -- must be ergonomic (simple), but must also enable some sideways sweeping across the frequency spectrum. As I mention below, the pre-distortion eq circuit must be absolutely as quiet as possible. Some Boogie amps have pre-distortion eq as well as post-distortion eq; I'm simply suggesting the same in a pedal configuration -- *almost* no one makes such a custom-voiceable distortion pedal.

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