Most guitar players have that special tone that they love, either from a favorite artist or record, or that they’ve heard performed live. And we all know how important amps are to a guitarists’ tone. Lately, we’ve seen quite a few effect pedals that are described as an “Amp In A Box”. You’ve all seen them—this pedal will make your rig sound just like a ’59 Bassman, etc.
Now I love the sound of a ’59 Bassman, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’ve heard a bonafide ’59 Bassman with 4 10s played with a Strat and it sounded nice indeed. So as pedalmakers create their stompboxes and go after the tones that they are aiming for, you can’t fault them for trying to bottle up that classic tone. But what are they really doing?
Pop open the back of most overdrive pedals and you’ll most likely see a printed circuit board (PCB), resisters, capacitors, transistors, LEDs and more. You might find a pile of goop in some of them. What you won’t see is a ’59 Bassman circuit.
What we do have are pedalmakers doing what they do to get great tone. After listen to iconic gear from the past like Fender or Marshall or Vox, they then work to match the tonal characteristics via their pedal creations. Characteristics like:
- amount of gain
- low, mid and high frequencies
- drop offs
- more and more and more…
There are some fantastic pedals out there that really do a good job of recreating the tones of classic amps, and/or artists. And depending on your current gear and rig, and how you play, chances are you’ll find the right pedal(s) that will get you there. Two things to keep in mind here…
- Your mileage may vary
- The search is the fun part