Hi there.

I've been playing for several years, but mostly bedroom recording and I've never really developed what I'd call a tone of my own. I'm looking to be playing live in the near future and would really like to develop a nice useable tone, along the lines of a classic British Blues sound. I'm playing a 80's jap strat copy into a 70's 30watt Vox transistor amp and have a Dunlop Cry Baby I ocasionally use for solos. For all my other effects I've always used some old cheap Zoom multi-effects boards (1010 + 509) to provide distortion/overdrive and modultion, which have suited my needs up until now. The problem with these is that the sound quality isn't great and there's such an array of things to play with that I forget what it was I was trying to achieve in the first place, so I end up with a lot of useable tones but none that I'd call a keeper.

I've realized I need to SIMPLIFY, get rid of the multi-effects and concentrate on a few stomp boxes that I can tweak until I find a sound I really like. I'm unemployed at the moment, so upgrading the guitar and amp is out of the question, as is buying high end stomp boxes. I'm not looking for a massive selection of sounds just nice clean and overdriven blues tones (Clapton, Bluesbreakers, Bluesy Beatles), perhaps a tube overdrive and some delay and compression. I'm on a pretty tight budget (maybe £40-£50 per pedal with some flexibility for good sounding stuff) so I was wondering if someone can recommend some good budget pedal options, as it is years since I've touched anything but my multi's.

Any advice on achieving a good live sound would be appreciated.

I'd start with a tube amp, probably something along the lines of a Vox AC15 or AC30. If you really can't purchase a new amp at the moment then maybe look into the Tech 21 Liverpool pedal. For blues you don't really need delay but a little reverb goes a long way.
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If your on a budget, a tight one. I'd look into a BD-2. The Kelley Mod's are the best, but they run you a bit. I have a BD-2 and it does great.

PS - If you ask UG what to get, ever, the answer will always be "Tube Amp".
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1980 Marshall JMP 2204
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PS - If you ask UG what to get, ever, the answer will always be "Tube Amp".

Maybe because a good amp goes a long way. Alot further than boutique stompboxes into a vox transistor amp anyway.

If you want a classic, British blues sound check out these amps:




Granted 2 of them are Traynors, but they're still quality amps that will give you what you want if you were to buy one of them.
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^ True. But If I sprained my ankle and mentioned it here, I'd be scolded for not buying a VOX AC4TV to ease the pain.

They do go a long way. It was a terrible joke, I suppose. I dont know how to convey humor on a forum yet.
1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom (Black Beauty)
1980 Marshall JMP 2204
Get a Vox AC15 or a Fender Blues Jr, and throw a Fulltone OCD in front of it. You'll have a LOT of room to tweak out a killer blues tone. I've crafted a handful of original and distinctly different blues tones with my Blues Jr/OCD combo. If you need to keep things quieter, I'd get a Fender Champ 600 or a Vox AC4. I have the Champ, but I'd recommend the Vox over it any day.
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Check out the Behringer VT911 Vintage Tube Overdrive Pedal. It will allow you to shape the amount of overdrive and the tone from the box while playing through a clean channel on your amp. And it's only about US $45.00. Great for shaping Blues and Soft Rock Tones and you can string it with other boxes.
For the most bang for the least pound at this point, I think an EQ pedal might help...

The EQ can boost your signal to push that little amp a little harder, it will allow the single coil tone knobs to be turned down lower and not lose so much volume to get more toward a Clapton "woman" type tone but again, no tube no mojo.

And an EQ pedal might stay on your board longer than a low cost buzz box... I should know, I have a collection of cheap boxes that I play through a solid state amp (on a occasion with a Strat knockoff.)
Last edited by irnmadn88 at Aug 10, 2009,
look at a treble booster and a mi audio blues pro/blue boy deluxe/or the blues driver. They'll all add some overdrive and compression.

Although you'll get beter results from simply buying a new amp, it's not always an option, and you'll be able to use stompboxes if you get the new amp at a later date.