19 - 04 - 2019
Preamp pedals, why you need them in your pedalboard.
A guitar amp has 3 parts: the preamp, the power amp, the speaker. The speaker is fed by the power amp and converts the electrical signal it receives from the power amp to sound you can hear.The power amp has no tone shaping ability and used by itself it has a dark and dull sound. And to have a proper signal to noise ratio, it needs a high incoming level (close to a line level). This is where the preamp kicks in: it raises the level with the gain setting (also adding distortion) of the instrument to the desired level for the power amp, and it shapes the instrument’s tone through the tone-stack. Its main characteristics will be to add brightness and scoop out some mids, with each preamp having their own sonic characteristics.There are many pedals on the market which are labeled as preamps. Basically, a preamp pedal will do as described previously adding brightness and scooping some of the mids out. This is the main difference between preamp pedals and distortion pedals: a distortion pedal is voiced to go into a preamp and will tend to rub off part of the high ends to give the mellow tone a guitar player wants. Its eq will not have enough gain range (sculpting power) to give life to the power amp. Also, a distortion pedal has little or none ability to create a clean tone.A preamp on its side if used as a regular pedal, will add brightness on the amp’s preamp, thus leading to a very fizzy trebly sound. A preamp pedal is best used to go into the power amp section by being plugged in the return of the FX loop. There, the eq of the preamp will make sense (* see bottom of article for an explanation of the B channel of the Le Preamp series when used as a regular distortion pedal).If you wish to build a pedalboard-only rig to go straight into a PA, you will need a preamp pedal somewhere in your pedalboard to vivify your tone. And to complete the setup you will need a speaker simulation pedal so that you recreate the tonal aspects of a guitar amp (which like described in a previous article has no real high ends). This preamp pedal will be your clean tone, where all the drive pedals will be stacked to create your variety of tones.Your pedalboard-only rig can be fully analog with preamps as our Le Preamp series which will give you the clean tone you need (A channel) and the analog speaker simulation. Or you can have a smart-pedalboard with a Torpedo C.A.B M, being the speaker simulator.(* The B channel of the Le Preamp series: if you wish to use it as a normal distortion pedal you need to take the gain settings of the treble and bass all the way down. The Mid control then acts a tone control with the added sweep control to decide where to modify the sound.)