Combining two overdrive pedals is a topic that pops up often in guitar forums. I suppose the fact that Stevie Ray Vaughan used that kind of configuration at some stage in his career has a lot to do with it. I did quite some experimentation over the years in that “field”, and I thought I should share with you what I have learned.
I will write here about combining two overdrive pedals and I will leave distortion and fuzz pedals for future posts. As I show in a video below, you can get interesting tones out of two overdrive pedals. Why not use just one pedal but with more gain, you might ask? Well, the answer is that two overdrive pedals don’t sound like one pedal with more gain. In addition, it gives you more tonal options since you can switch one of the two pedals on, or the two together. That makes four different tones in total if you count the clean tone.
But you have to know that some combinations work and some don’t. It is hard to predict how two overdrive pedals will interact. By not working, I mean that it might sound overly squashed or very fizzy. Getting the right settings is also very important. I find that when you use two overdrive pedals together, it is rarely a good idea to have one (or the two) with the gain maxed out. Try with lower values first.
I have recorded a video showing how my Analogman modded Ibanez TS9 plays with a stock Boss SD-1. Both pedals have the drive and level at 12 o’clock. The tone is at 9 o’clock since my Fender Champ amplifier is quite bright. The SD-1 is placed after the TS9.
The resulting tone is quite tight and focused with a good sustain. “Focused” is the important word here, this is where two overdrive pedals put together differ from one higher gain pedal.
Here is a video where I show my clean tone first, then I switch the TS9 on, and then both pedals:
The amplifier was miked with a Rode NT-4 and recorded using a Boss Micro-BR. The recording was then transferred into Cubase 5 to optimize the volume and add a hint of reverb. The guitar used is a Fender American Classics Custom Shop Stratocaster fitted with Kinman AVn blues pickups.