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Author Topic: Effectrode Blackbird  (Read 7254 times)

Offline Knackereddad

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Effectrode Blackbird
« on: September 02, 2013, 10:08:35 AM »
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  • Probably not a wise decision but I've pulled the trigger on one of these:

    http://www.effectrode.com/blackbird-vacuum-tube-preamp/

    My thinking is.....

    I've got two working amps (Holland and Ceriatone Dumble Clone)

    I have two main guitars....Tele and Strat.

    The Tele sounds good through both amps...the Strat only sounds "Good" through the Holland.

    I'm convinced that the front end "pre amp" section on the Ceriatone doesn't suit the Strat......so if only there were a "Fender Front End" in a box?

    In theory, that's what the Efectrode Blackbird is......well, that and a 2 stage Valve distortion section with separate EQ as well.

    I am thinking that I can use the "Clean Fender" stage and run it into the FX return of my Ceriatone...thus making the Ceriatone sound more like the Holland when using a Strat.

    If it works, I'll have to get a switching unit to switch guitar between Ceriatone "Normal Input" and Ceriatone "FX Return Input" and if it works it will be cool.....but there again it may not and I just might have wasted a load of money :whistling:

    Perhaps the usual mid life crises approach of purchasing oversized motor bikes would be a cheaper option after all....we'll see.
    « Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 10:10:06 AM by Knackereddad »

    Offline LennyEdwards

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 10:22:03 AM »
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  • Best of luck, keep us posted... I managed to avoid these pitfalls, instead of a front-end box my solution was to sell all my electric guitars (bar a couple) and buy a hoard of acoustics... :D
    Three is the magic number. Yes it is. It's the magic number!

    Offline Rob S

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 10:27:35 AM »
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  • Perhaps the usual mid life crises approach of purchasing oversized motor bikes would be a cheaper option after all....we'll see.

    You wait till the next stage hits.... Old Foolittis. There is no known cure, no tablets, no treatment at all, just a downward spiral into trying to remember how to play anything at all!! :redface: :roll:
    "I am not a lunatic. I have the psychiatric report to prove it. A slender majority of the panel decided in my favour."

    If you lend someone ?20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

    Offline Knackereddad

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 10:39:31 PM »
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  • Well I have taken delivery and put myself through the full range of emotions from "its fantastic...only valves can sound like this" to "what's that vile buzzy distortion.....send it back"

    Until this evening I was seriously considering sending it back...claiming that it must be faulty to produce such an unusable range of tones....however, I've changed one of the valves to a much lower gain version and I'm going to have to revise my opinion.

    In its original state, the clean channel was very nice, good range of tonal variation via the 3 tone controls (TM & B). The "dirt channel" was far too buzzy except for the at very lower reaches of the gain control. There is an additional "high gain" switch that can be invoked but this was completely unusable to my ears....all fizz and buzz like an angry wasps nest.

    The valve switch out has lowered the gain of everything (clean, overdrive and "mega drive"). It's also tames some of the harsh "high end" leaving something that is rather more mellow and easy on my middle aged ears.

    I'm some way off being happy enough to record anything with it and I don't think it'll ever go down as being a "best buy" but I can see it replacing many of the overdrive pedals that I have acquired over the past couple of years.
    « Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 10:42:59 PM by Knackereddad »

    Offline Rob S

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 10:53:24 AM »
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  • Gosh that sounds like it is just the ticket then Marc?
    Amazing what some Tube (YuK) changing can do. I well recall, back in the long lost summer of 2004, I had a Vox TonelabSE which had a Preamp Valve in it. The perceived wisdom at that time was to replace with something hotter, me being me, went for something less hot and the results were simply wonderful. But bear in mind, I, like you, am not a Gain Merchant. :thumb:
    "I am not a lunatic. I have the psychiatric report to prove it. A slender majority of the panel decided in my favour."

    If you lend someone ?20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

    Offline Knackereddad

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 11:54:58 AM »
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  • In this instance I think the old "Tube Rolling" did the trick. The unit has 3 x 12AX7 valves (standard stuff), I replaced the 1st valve that handles the input stage with a 12AV7 which has only 40% as much gain as the 12AX7. I can probably mess around with the remaining 2 valves as well to reign it in a bit more but for now I think I've got something that is usable. To be fair to Effectrode, they have designed the unit to accept different preamp valves to the extend that there is a toggle switch and internal trim pot to set the bias for different valves / different response (hot bias / cold bias etc).....I just struggle with who would want to use the unit in it's default condition...in my view once you reach a certain amount of distortion, you might as well move into high gain drive pedals not valves.

    Offline Rob S

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 11:57:55 AM »
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  • AGREED!!! Once that point is reached, there isn't much point in worrying about what Guitar, Pickups, strings etc..... It's a a noise!! :D
    "I am not a lunatic. I have the psychiatric report to prove it. A slender majority of the panel decided in my favour."

    If you lend someone ?20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

    Offline ourmaninthenorth

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #7 on: October 22, 2013, 11:54:51 AM »
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  • You wait till the next stage hits.... Old Foolittis. There is no known cure, no tablets, no treatment at all, just a downward spiral into trying to remember how to play anything at all!! :redface: :roll:

    Can directly relate to this at the moment  :laugh:

    Marc, now you've had this pedal for a while I wonder if your initial opinion has changed?   ;)

    Offline Knackereddad

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #8 on: October 24, 2013, 11:31:36 AM »
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  • I think that the Jury is still out on this one at the moment.

    The main issue is that I haven't had a great deal to time to test it properly at "gig levels". I had an opportunity a week ago when I played a couple of gigs but I decided to stick with the "Tried and tested" Love Pedal Kalamazoo and my Joyo Sweet Baby. The gigs were in Wales, I knew that space would be tight so taking a fully loaded pedal board was out of the question - I was right and ended up with the pedals pearched up on a bench and activating them by hand!

    My instincts tell me that the Blackbird "High Gain" mode is too buzzy - not my bag at all but to be honest, I don't normally play high gain and as a result I don't have the skill set to control things properly.

    The standard overdrive is pretty good...but as I say, I really want to test at gig levels because everything is oh so different then.....I  found out that my 50 watt Holland used with a 4 x 10 is too damned loud...even with the amp dialled down below breakup volume.

    The clean channel is pretty good but a bit too clean - I would have liked a bit more chime.

    The "big" issue I think is that it has a TMB tone stack and feeding this into the front end of an amp will give you 2 x TMB tonestacks in series - I'm sure you know about TMB frequency response...there's always a "Mid scoop" going on and I think with 2 x TMB in series, the mid scoops have a cumulative effect. This means that you need to dial in the amp differently or the pedal and I haven't worked out which works best. If I do the EQ on the amp, it would mean haing to do a lot of fiddling around when changing guitars or mandating that the effectrode is always in circuit. Something that I haven't thought about before..

    I'll try and get some clips recorded but don't hold your breath...things don't move too quickly in my house.

    Marc

    Offline ourmaninthenorth

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    Re: Effectrode Blackbird
    « Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 05:04:04 PM »
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  • Thanks a lot Marc...I've been fascinated to hear a review of this pedal since it surfaced.

    FWIW once I hit the sweet spot on any amps tone stack, I rarely touch it again. Getting an immediate decent tone out of some amps I've had has been particularly difficult, I know they're there, but I've had trouble finding the buggers. Not really user error, just impatience on my part. I don't gig, but I can appreciate factoring in the tone stack of a complex pedal like yours must be a nightmare.

    That's probably why I only use one pedal too..as simple as I could find..mine's only got 4 knobs on it, and I'm still confused as to what at least two of them do!!  :-[

    Love to hear a demo when you get around to it.  ;)

    Paul



    « Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 05:11:37 PM by ourmaninthenorth »

     

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