22 January 2013

Pedals: Testing EH Hum Debugger, Ibanez TS-808 and Line6 Verbzilla


Note: this entry was already published in my old Spanish version of this blog, around January 2010. I am revisiting it here, with corrected comments.

I am every time more and more happy with my Vox Night Train. I am really enjoying that little joy but, this amp has its own limitations. Just one channel, no foot switch and no reverb effect.
So, I wanted some OD to push the tubes harder and, use it as if it was a second channel and, some reverb or delay to add some ambiance to the sound.
Also, I wanted to test the Electro-Harmonix hum debugger to help me to minimize or totally remove the noise.

Yesterday, I had a magical afternoon with my loved Night Train.

Setting the amp

I wanted to dial that typical cleans of Vox, silky, in the border of tube break up.
  • Gain: 4
  • Volume: 7,5
  • Bass: 6
  • Middle: 7,5
  • Treble: 4
  • Channel: Bright
  • Mode: Pentode
This amp continues surprising me. I think it was the best purchase I did in 20 years, without any doubt.

Pedal board

I went for an smaller pedal board this time, with following pedals, and in that order:

  • Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger
  • Vox Wah 847 re-issue
  • Ibanez TS-808 re-issue
  • Fulltone OCD V3, working at 18V (just to compare it against the TS)
  • Korg Pitchblade+, tuner
  • Line6 Verbzilla
The pedalboard is being fed with a Voodoo Labs Power 2 Plus unit.

After discussing with some known tone-chasers, they recommended me the Line6 Tone Core Verbzilla as the best reverb unit to put in front an amp (the NT hasn't a FX Loop).
I was interested also on the TS-808, because it seems that everybody must have one to push his tubes. I've already had the OCD V3 but, they are two very different kind of overdrives. The TS tends to sound warmer and with some roll off in basses and trebles, while the OCD is cooler, aggressiver and sharper.

I bought the Hum Debugger after seen in some videos that it was clearly removing the floor noise without affecting the sound (sure, ha, ha, ha, more about this below!).

Mi first thought was to use the PRS 513 for this test, because it has 5 single-coils but, I had to remove the whole wardrobe to get the guitar and I was so lazy to do it so, I've finally got the Fender American Deluxe HSS. Even that SCN pickups are really quiet, the humbucker is really noisy when split so, I thought it would be enough to test the Hum Debugger.

Comparing two Overdrives: OCD and TS-808

Both are usefull but, both are very different animals.
The TS-808 has a very low output, sounds very middy, with a clear roll off in high and low frequencies. Sound is warm but, small and tends to dark. Note-by-note isn't so defined as the OCD (with higher dynamic range, thanks to its 18V).

To get TS' maximum output, you just need the OCD volume at half. Sound is cristal clear, compared to the TS and, the dynamic range is higher and, with a greater representation of frequencies along the spectrum.

The weird thing is that I previously saw some comparison videos with those two pedals and, I preferred the TS in those videos; the opposite to what I prefer now, after trying both in real life. So, probably, the amp is a great variable of this equation.
Maybe, can be due to the fact that most of people is working with its OCD at 9V, what reduces a lot the dynamic range of this unit.
With the OCD V3 at 18V, I have no doubts: OCD wins hands down.

But, running both pedals stacked worth the try. TS into OCD delivered a wonderful sound..
The amp started to show a sweet, musical and comfortable feedback that made me enjoy a lot, improvising over a backing track around "Machine Gun".
I've enjoyed the feedback during the rest of the session; eternal sustain, controlled feedback... you know... orgasmic!.

EH Hum Debugger

Probably the worst pedal effect I've ever tried in my whole life!.

Does it remove the hum?


So, what's the point?

This pedal is introducing strange artifacts, as some kind of metallic slap echo or some kind of ring modulator sound that totally ruins your sound. As soon as you switch it on and, even in the "normal" position, is generating that kind of metallic or robotic voice, like if your guitar was enclosed inside a tin, with an ugly metallic echo.

I cannot understand how they are able to sell something like this!.
Even a Noise Gate (that I usually hate) works better and affects less to the tone!.

I am serious: forget this pedal!.

Line 6 Verbzilla

I wasn't testing this pedal in depth, because it has a lot of possibilities. I was mainly interested on to just give some ambiance to the sound, without overdoing the effect.

I liked what I heard. I didn't heard the typical "digititis", no digital artifacts affecting the sound, in principle. This pedal added very smoothly the needed ambiance, very transparently and, helped me to "push the amp inside the mix (backing track)".

Sure, it has a lot more of possibilities than I will ever need but, for now, I am happy with how I set up it, it works for what I wanted to.


Absolutely upset with the Hum Debugger (I am even thinking on to burn this pedal!). I never felt myself so ridiculous after buying some gear!.

A bit disappointed with the TS-808, taking into account its high price, against what you get. I've hoped something more for that price, honestly. To have it as the only OD in your board maybe isn't a good idea.
The opposite occurs with the OCD, with a controlled gain, sounds way clearer, defined, fuller and powerfuller than the TS. With excessive gain can go mushy and confusing but, within the gain range of the TS, the OCD wins hands down.
But, the good discover was to stack both pedals, with their respective gains lowered a bit. Sound was awesome, with a musical and controlled feedback that made me to play like a crazy.
For a future, I am thinking in to swap the TS with a Xotic EP Booster and stack both together... we will see.

The Verbzilla did a flawless work. There are still lot of possibilities in this pedal but, I am satisfied with the results enough.

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