It’s no secret Dan & Mick are fans of bypassing an amplifier’s preamp section and tailoring tone by hitting the power amp section with pedals designed for the job. This week, however, they wade deeper into this territory by gauging the quality and caliber of preamp pedals of three varieties: tube, solid state, and digital. To enliven the experiment further, these are paired up with both tube and solid state power amplifiers. In short, on TPS this week traditional amps are essentially taken out of the equation and the tone is largely created out of what’s found on the floor.
As always, the hour with Dan & Mick is full of gear insights and solid sounds. In all of this, there were two sets of pedals that deserve honorable mention and just might have you running a preamp through the effects loop.
Good Things in Small Packages: Mooer’s Digital Preamp Pedals
The Mooer lineup of digital modelled micro preamp pedals first hit the floor at NAMM 2017. As Dan described them, “These are little preamps, but in pedals. Instead of having one box that does a thousand different amplifiers, they’ve gone ‘We’ll make a little pedal for each one.’” To date, Mooer have delivered a whopping ten pedals encapsulating the sounds of classic and contemporary amps. Packed inside these remarkably tiny packages are several features including, cabinet simulation, two-channel operations, and the ingenious ability to dial in different EQs for each channel. The best part, they come in at a two-digit price tag!
Dan & Mick sampled three Mooer micro preamp pedals: the Mooer 005 Fifty Fifty (based on the EVH 5150), the Mooer 004 Day Tripper (a la Vox AC30), and the Mooer 006 Classic Deluxe (think Fender Blues Deluxe). The full range of pedals and summaries of the amps they’re modelled after can be found over at Riff City.
So what impressions did the new additions to the Mooer family make on the TPS anchormen? While Dan & Mick noticed the Mooer micro preamps didn’t push the amp as hard as some other tube-based counterparts, the character provided by the pedals played well with other effects, like a splash of reverb from the MXR M300 or hit of drive from the Fulltone OCD. As Mick noted after putting the Mooer 006 Classic Deluxe through its paces, “It’s got quite a pleasing tone, it’s kind of easy to play and it’s quite friendly to play.” At the helm of the Vox-esque Mooer 004 Day Tripper, Dan remarked that, the pint-sized Mooer certainly was reminiscent of that famed shelved bottom end and higher frequency chime characteristic of the AC30. To close off the segment, Dan & Mick do their best Van Halen renditions through the Mooer 005 Fifty Fifty. After tag-teaming 80s tap-riffs, Mick gladly remarked, “It’s one of those high-gain sounds that’s just fun.”
Reflecting on the merits of the Mooer preamp line, Dan commented, “I love the concept of having just all different amplifiers instead of having just one amp-in-a-box controlled by Midi and stuff. No, have them all at your feet and kick em’ in!” If you are yet to experiment with building new sounds by bypassing your amp’s preamp section, the Mooer micro amp pedals are an economical and accessible way of venturing into new levels of tonal and sonic creativity.
Great Things in Big Packages: The Orange Amps Bax Bangeetar Pre-EQ Pedal
On a recent episode of TPS, Dan & Mick toyed around with the Orange Two-Stroke Boost and were taken back by both its performance and versatility. This time around, they found an equally impactful item in the Orange Amps pedal arsenal: the Bax Bangeetar, the first pedal designed and launched by Orange since the 1960s.
The Bax Bangeetar requires a bit of pedalboard real estate due to its extensive features and unique functions. In terms of its attainable tones, expect to find a wide range of overdrive and distortion with an added nudge of boost when necessary. Akin to the Two-Stroke, an important element of the Bax Bangeetar is its parametric EQ functionality. As Mick summarized, “for anyone not familiar with a parametric EQ, you select the mid-frequency that you want to boost or cut, and then you boost it or cut it, plus you’ve got the EQ control, which decides whether it’s a little frequency band or a wider one. And, of course, that’s really important with overdrive sounds because it’s all about how vocal your notes are.” Added to this, the Bax Bangeetar comes equipped with a cab simulator direct out, meaning it can be run into a desk or console without comprising its essential character.
Arguably what makes the unit so innovative and signals it as Orange’s worthy return to the pedal game is how the Bax Bangeetar is perfectly at home when run into the front end of an amp or set in the effects loop to commandeer the overall tonal structure of the amp. As Mick described, “It’s designed to be used as a normal guitar pedal if you want or it’s perfectly capable of being the preamp to hit the effects return of an amplifier…it is massively powerful.”
For players looking for a creative way of exploring new tonal terrain, the Bax Bangeetar not only gives a dual shot to either the pre or power amp sections of your existing amp, it’s versatile EQ and ever-articulate spectrum of overdrive on tap is unlike anything else in the expanding universe of guitar pedals.
If the concept of using pedals in the position of a preamp is entirely new, the options outlined here are ideal for making the most of an under-utilized aspect of your amp. For another take on this topic, check out Dan & Mick’s recent discussion of strategies for running stompboxes into your amp’s preamp section (https://youtu.be/h9j2TVBlMNI).
TPS Episode Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Dan: 1963 Closet Classic Fender Telecaster (ca. 2000); 1958 Gibson Custom Les Paul Standard (ca. 2002). Mick: 1962 American Vintage Fender Stratocaster (ca. 2000); Paul Reed Smith DGT (ca. 2008); Collings 290 DC S.
Amps: Power Amplifiers: Solid State Fryette Power Station; Palmer Macht 402 Power Amplifier. Cabs: Marshall 2061 style 2x12; Victory 2x12 VH.Effects Pedals: Orange Amps Bax Bangeetar; Mooer 005 Fifty Fifty; Mooer 004 Day Tripper; Mooer 006 Classic Deluxe; Kingsley Constable; MXR Reverb M300; Providence Chrono Delay; Fulltone OCD.