Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

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Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by gazman83 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:10 pm

Could someone please explain the difference between a Preamp pedal (eg. Xotic BB Preamp, Victory V4, Mooer Micro Preamps, Two Notes Le Crunch) vs a regular drive pedal (eg. Tubescreamer, DS-1, etc)?

I'm exploring the world of cabinet modelling and Impulse Responses, particularly with Two Notes Captor and their new C.A.B. M they announced at NAAM over the weekend. They state you can use the CABM with your pedalboard, but wodnering how a drive pedal would sound different that an actual preamp it down to how much signal power the respective types of pedals can produce?


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Re: Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by caldurham » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:13 pm

check this out. though his channel is geared more towards metal it may answer your question.

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Re: Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by Rlw59 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:11 pm

"Preamp" vs "boost" is a slippery difference -- like "fuzz" vs "distortion".

A Tubescreamer is a type of preamp. The Xotic BB Preamp is a type of boost pedal.

In your case, the difference is whether the pedal's output can stand alone (plug it straight into a recorder/PA/headphones and get something that sounds like an amp), or whether it needs to interact with a guitar amp to sound good.

Tubescreamers are generally used to push a tube amp into heavier overdrive. Plugged straight into an IR, Tubescreamers would probably sound like a crappy solidstate practice amp. (Maybe not, might sound ok, but that certainly wasn't the design intention.)

Things like Sansamps, Mesa's tube preamps, modelers are preamps designed to emulate guitar amps. You can use them with clean guitar amps, but they were designed for direct recording or FRFR amplification. Straight into an IR should be great.
There are players who get all their tone from their pedalboard, and just use a guitar amp to make it louder. If your board is like that, straight into IR works.

Other players use their boards just to color their guitar amp's tone. Their amps are integral, major contributors to the total tone. If your board is like that, you'd need to tap into the amp's output for the IR. (Or add an amp-emulating preamp as the last pedal on the board.)
Can't hurt to try. Lots of iconic recordings have been electric guitars plugged straight into mixing boards. A Tubescreamer into an IR might be as cool as a close-miced Pignose.

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Re: Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by gazman83 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:21 pm

Thanks Rlw59, thats a very clear explanation! Will do some experimenting!

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Re: Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by beninma » Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:49 pm

At the circuit level most of them are just amplifiers period.

They're little SS amplifiers that amplify your signal and apply different filters to it. Maybe the most meaningful is when the designer mentions which class of amplifier the device is. Orange (Adrian) is pretty good about mentioning which class of amplifier is in each device.

A lot of the rest of it is just marketing.

Boost tends to indicate the circuit isn't doing anything deliberate to create clipping. It might still clip if you twist knobs to their extremes and transistors start saturating, etc.. I think these are generally going to be Class A?

Preamp, Amp in a Box, etc.. (Ade describes the Getaway Driver as "Amp in a Box"). These can mean all kinds of things but it often means they retain dynamics and/or try to compress similarly to an amp.

Non-Preamp/Non-Amp in a Box Drives... these seem to apply more compression all the time regardless of the knob position. E.x. Compare an OCD to a Getaway Driver. The Getaway driver retains much much much more ability to pick light or heavy and control the amount of distortion, just like going directly into an Orange amp with the dirty channel setup on the Edge. But the OCDs compression will allow you to play with a really consistent sound with less care over your picking dynamics.

But in reality tons of it is marketing and it's really hard to understand what the differences are without looking at schematics. There are large groupings of devices which are very very similar at the electronics level and form families of devices. E.x. the tube screamer family of devices, Blues Breaker devices, Muff type devices, Fuzz Face devices, Tone bender family. It goes on an on. A lot of boutique and lesser known devices are very similar to a more mass market & familiar one.

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Re: Preamp pedals vs Regular Drive pedals

Post by Mystic38 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:02 pm

a preamp pedal should at least be emulating some sort of tonal curve of an amp, with at a minimum bass & treble controls.. most classic amps aka Orange, Vox, Fender, Marshall have some dip in the mids somewhere in the region from 540Hz to ~ 900Hz...

a drive pedal, more correctly an over-drive pedal, was designed to boost and shape the pre-amp tonal curve.. these predominantly (TS types) with tone at middle have a parabolic response around 1Khz..falling off dramatically either side.. the tone knob can move the curve on the top end, but does nothing to the low end... ie you cannot boost the lows, or cut the mids.. it works famously because it dominates the amp tonal curve, reduces flub, makes the preamp distort and the tone cut through.

Clean Boost pedals are a misnomer.. some think clean means flat but they typically are not, and as stated earlier, a bunch can also add gain (aka distortion)..

if you are going to use a two notes cab.. it WILL work great with a pedal board as it will emulate a tube power amp section and a cabinet.. provided your pedalboard can emulate the rest of the amp... personally i would go for a pre-amp pedal of choice plus some sort of OD.. an OD alone may simply not allow the mids to be cut to sound like a natural amp.

I have the torpedo cab and have nicely run the Friedman BE-OD pedal into it with very pleasing results, I also have the (quite expensive) Effectrode Blackbird 2 channel pre-amp, and add the TC spark set to mid boost as a third tone

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