It’s underappreciated and not as sexy as an overdrive or fuzz, but an EQ on your pedalboard can open myriad tonal doors.
Greetings, tone hounds! This column is, of course, called “Tone Tips," and I've been writing it every month for a number of years now. Still, there's an incredibly powerful tone tool I haven't yet covered: the often underappreciated EQ pedal. Most guitarists get excited about drives and delays, but relatively few have an EQ on their boards. I've just recently gotten acquainted with the relatively new Boss EQ-200 Graphic Equalizer, and it's allowed me to rediscover the magic and power of integrating an EQ pedal.
Different ways to use EQ.
Let's talk about a few famous EQ-pedal users and how they've utilized them. Sometime in the early '80s, David Gilmour started using Boss EQ pedals to fine-tune the tone from his drive and fuzz pedals, as in his Tube Driver overdrive and Big Muff fuzz pedals would each have a dedicated EQ pedal. In recent years, Gilmour has been known to use a programmable Source Audio EQ pedal as well, which allows a player to store four EQ presets.
By running an EQ after the drives, Gilmour can easily tailor the tone of each pedal with surgical precision. If you've never tried shaping the tone of a drive or fuzz pedal using a graphic EQ, you're in for a treat. It's super-easy to tame harsh or tubby frequencies, and boost the frequencies you want to stand out. Boosting mids can really make solos and leads sing.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Eddie Van Halen. In the late '70s, he was known to sometimes use a Boss GE-10 or MXR 6-band graphic EQ, mainly to buffer and boost the signal for long cable runs from his pedalboard to his amps. Whether he actually used the EQ sliders to alter his tone significantly is one of those ongoing rock 'n' roll mysteries. It's certainly possible.
Back in the '80s and '90s, hard-rock guitarists such as Warren DeMartini, Doug Aldrich, and Dimebag Darrell used the rackmount Furman PEQ3 for boosting. The PEQ3 was a parametric-style EQ, and the magic mid frequency for boosting was usually somewhere from 800 Hz to 1 kHz. The preamp gain control on the Furman EQ could be run hot as well, which would nail the front end of the amp with level and send it into screaming overdrive! And by mainly targeting and boosting just the mid frequencies—and possibly even cutting some lows—the tone could be kept tight.
By running an EQ after the drives, Gilmour can easily tailor the tone of each pedal to his liking with surgical precision.
Slash was known to sometimes use a Boss GE-7 equalizer in a similar way, but with one key difference. He'd run the EQ in the effects loop of his amp with the mids and level sliders boosted—just for solos. Because the pedal was placed in the loop of his amp, the level slider could provide a powerful volume boost. This is perfect for players with single-channel amps needing a volume bump for solos. Remember: If you run your amp dirty and primarily want a level or volume boost, try an EQ in the effects loop of your amp, because running in front of the amp will just saturate and overload the amplifier's front end more. Experiment! Both approaches are cool.
Radical tone shaping.
I've used EQ pedals in front of amps to shape pickup tones. You can make boom-y, wooly neck pickups "speak" with the clarity and cut of bridge pickups, and you can easily warm and fatten up harsh bridge pickups. I've also run an MXR 10-band graphic EQ in a slaved-style rig—post amp, after a load box, and before a power amp. Running the EQ after the load lets you fine-tune the tone before you hit the power amp, which mitigates the effect the load box may have on your core tone.
Running the Boss EQ-200 in the effects loop of my Suhr PT15 I.R. amp was a real eye-opener. The amp has a classic Marshall-esque drive tone. And by subtly boosting 120 Hz and moderately cutting low and high mids from 200 Hz to 3.2 kHz, I could dial in the distortion for a dry, raw, and brutal modern tone—more akin to a Diezel amp! The entire character of an amp can be shifted, and once you try it, you'll find it's addictive. In the studio—when dialing in individual parts or doubling and hard panning—little EQ tweaks can really make the tones shine and speak with a dimension and clarity that just wouldn't be possible otherwise.
It's incredible how one simple pedal can increase your tonal palette so exponentially. Think about it: What else can you use to boost and overdrive, tailor pickup tones, and morph amp tones in such a dramatic way? And let's not forget that an EQ pedal costs far less than buying more guitars or amps. If you've been less than happy with your sounds, an EQ pedal could be just what the tone doctor ordered. Until next time, keep on rocking, and I wish you great tone!
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
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Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The Badlander 25 is designed to carry the tradition of high performance, high gain forward with tight low end, an aggressive midrange character, and enhanced harmonic content.
Badlander 25 Head
Mesa/Boogie’s Badlander Series of amplifiers draw inspiration from Mesa’s legendary Dual Rectifiers, paying homage to rock and heavy sounds in their own distinctive and percussive way, with a focus on today’s musical genres. Its tight low end, refined top end, and defined mids combine with Mesa gain for huge tones that will appeal to rock leaning guitarists who like a bit of Brit influence with their American-voiced gain. The Badlander 25 Head uses the same straightforward channel format as its 50 and 100 Watt siblings, with 2 identical, footswitchable channels each containing Clean, Crunch, and Crush modes that feed an EL84 power section to deliver an unprecedented fierceness and harmonic complexity. The Badlander 25 Head combines these ingredients in a small package and power range that adds a raw character all its own, offering the essential voice, performance, and features of the Badlander 100 and 50 in a fiery-sounding, ultra-portable low-power format that’ll gratify those not seeking big horsepower.
Badlander 25s employ a pair of EL84 power tubes operating in MESA’s proprietary Dyna-Watt Class A/B Pentode for maximum power, punch, and clarity, producing 25 Watts or switched to its 10 Watt Class A/B Triode setting for lush harmonics and a sweet, liquid feel at lower volumes.
The Badlander 25 Head packs a built in CabClone IR Direct Interface making recording and cab-less live capture consistent and easy. Players can choose from a preloaded collection of eight Rectifier Closed-Back and Boogie Open-Back Cabinets IRs from MESA’s standalone CabClone IR for a wide array of sounds and responses.
A Tube-Driven, Series Effects Loop acts as a circuit bridge, permitting players to patch their favorite outboard effects between the preamp’s end to just before the Driver tube feeding the power section.
For guitarists seeking the tone and feel of an all-tube amplifier with huge sounding gain that is voiced to handle the demands of today’s musical genres, the Badlander 25 Head delivers from a package that fits in an overnight bag.
Badlander 25 1x25 Combo
Mesa/Boogie’s Badlander Series of amplifiers draw inspiration from MESA’s legendary Dual Rectifiers, paying homage to rock and heavy sounds in their own distinctive and percussive way, with a focus on today’s musical genres. Its tight low end, refined top end, and defined mids combine with MESA gain for huge tones that will appeal to rock leaning guitarists who like a bit of Brit influence with their American-voiced gain. The new Badlander 25 1x12 Combo uses the same straightforward channel format as its 50 and 100 Watt siblings, with 2 identical, footswitchable channels each containing Clean, Crunch, and Crush modes that feed an EL84 power section to deliver an unprecedented fierceness and harmonic complexity. The Badlander 25 Combo combines these ingredients in a small package and power range that adds a raw character all its own, offering the essential voice, performance, and features of the Badlander 100 and 50 in a fiery-sounding, ultra-portable low-power format that’ll gratify those not seeking big horsepower.
A UK-made Celestion Creamback 65 Watt speaker is MESA’s driver of choice for this 1x12 Combo amp. G12M-65 Creamback is ideally suited for the Badlander 25 as its power handling permits added low-end grunt complementing the warm and vocal mids, crunchy upper-mids and sweet, refined highs.
The Badlander 25 Combo packs a built in CabClone IR Direct Interface making recording and cab-less live capture consistent and easy. Players can choose from a preloaded collection of eight Rectifier Closed-Back and Boogie Open-Back Cabinets IRs from MESA’s standalone CabClone IR for a wide array of sounds and responses.
For guitarists seeking the tone and feel of an all-tube amplifier with huge sounding gain that is voiced to handle the demands of today’s musical genres while being incredibly portable, the Badlander 25 1x12 Combo delivers.
BADLANDER™ 25 Head & 1x12 Combo | MESA/Boogie
Explore and shop the Badlanders on www.mesaboogie.comand at all authorized Mesa/Boogie dealers.