Monte Allums Mods - Individual Pedal Mods


Effect Pedals and Good Tone

Effect Pedals and Good Tone — Analog Vs Digital

I buy effects pedals like my wife buys shoes. I just can’t seem to get enough of them. Effects pedals are a great way to shape your tone. You can spend hundreds of dollars on one pedal. Vintage Tube Screamers bring top dollar these days and the Boutique Pedal makers also sell effects pedals for hundreds of dollars. You have two types of effects pedals being sold today—analog and digital. It’s tempting to buy an effects pedal that does it all—delay, modulation, overdrive, distortion, compression, tremolo, etc. But buyer beware—these all-in-one effects may sound like a great option for a guitarist but they are usually a match made in tone hell. I have yet to play one of these all-in-one digital boxes that produced decent tone. Most are tone-sucking devices that are lifeless and cold. I have one digital effects unit in my current effects chain and that’s a Line6 DD4 delay. It’s digital, but it’s a very good digital device and doesn’t suck the tone out of my guitar.

Analog effects pedals are way better tone-wise than their digital counterparts. Here’s a list of the analog pedals I am currently using:

Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainor – With my mod kit that I sell for this pedal, this compressor helps squeeze my signal as it hits my other effects pedals and amp. This pedal with my mod kit is simply one of the best compressors available today for the average guitarist. I have played boutique compressors costing 3 to 4 times as much that do not sound any better that a CS-3 with this mod. The settings I generally use for this pedal is:

Volume – 12 O’clock
Tone - 12 O’clock
Attack - 12 O’clock
Sustain - 12 O’clock

I will occasionally push the sustain up to 2 or 3 O’clock if that’s the effect I’m looking for.

MXR M-102 Dyna Comp Compressor – This is another very popular compressor that I offer a mod kit for. If you’re looking for a compressor that will fatten up your tone this is the pedal for you. It’s not as transparent as my modded CS-3 but the added color is what makes the Dyna Comp such a popular choice for many guitarists. With my mod kit I take this pedal to Vintage Ross Specs by replacing the OTA chip and transistors along with several other components. Noise is reduced and bass, mids, highs and clarity are enhanced. All of the annoying pumping is eliminated with my mod kit. With my mod kit the Dyna Comp is as good as any Ross Clone or Boutique Compressor sold today. If you want a compressor with attitude this is the compressor for you. The settings I generally use for this pedal is:

Volume – 12 to 5 O’clock
Attack - 12 O’clock
Sensitivity – 12 to 5 O’clock

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive – This is my main go-to overdrive. The mods I have come up with for this pedal are just awesome. This is truly my secret weapon. And here’s something that only you the readers and purchasers of this eBook will know. Buy my mod for this pedal and instead of placing a 1N34A Diode in D6, place a 1N4002 in D4, D5 and D6. This will substantially fatten up the overdrive and take a bit of zing out of the pedal. I like the pedal with the Germanium 1N34A, but I absolutely love it with the 1N4002s in D4, D5 and D6. Try it, believe me you’ll like it. The SD-1, after my mod, is what a Tube Screamer should sound like. The SD-1 will not have the exaggerated nasally mids a Tube Screamer has. If you don’t own one of these pedals do yourself a favor and buy one and mod it with one of my kits.

At the time of this writing (8/2005) I have just come out with another SD-1 Mod. With this mod I take the SD-1 and mod it to TS-808 specs. This is one awesome mod and so far is my personal favorite. I also use 1N4002 Diodes instead on the Germanium Diode in this mod. I call this my SD-808 Mod Plus. It’s very similar tone-wise to my original SD-1 mod but has increased presence and clarity. Here’s another tidbit for those that were smart enough to purchase this eBook. I love the stock JRC4558DD chip in this pedal. The JRC4558DD is the cheaper version of the famed JRC4558D (note one has two ‘DDs’ and one has one ‘D’. So if have any JRC4558DDs you’d like to get rid of let me know and I’ll buy them. My usual settings for the SD-1 are:

Smooth Overdrive (JRC4558D Chip)

Volume – 10 O’clock
Tone – 9 to 11 O’clock
Drive – 9 to 12 O’clock
Fat Boost (Burr Brown Chip)
Volume – 12 to 3 O’clock
Tone – 9 to 11 O’clock
Drive – 7 O’clock

Boss BD-2 Blues Driver – This is another of my main go-to pedals. With my mod this pedal can go from an edgy crunch to fiery overdrive. For that “American Woman” tone switch your pickup selector to the bridge position and turn the tone all the way down on the guitar. Now turn the tone on the BD-2 to about 9 O’clock and the drive all the way up. Instant Guess Who “American Woman” tone. My usual settings for the BD-2 are:

Volume – 10 O’clock
Tone - 9 O’clock
Drive - 12 O’clock

American Woman Tone
Volume – 10 O’clock
Tone - 9 O’clock
Drive - 5 O’clock

The BD-2 has a very transparent nature with a slight mid hump. It’s also a very dynamic pedal after my mod, giving the guitarist a wide tonal pallet by using the volume and tone controls on their guitar.

Ibanez TS9 – This was my first pedal I designed a mod kit for. I had already performed the TS808 brown mod, but was just never really happy with it. I spent 3 months trying different mods until I settled on the mods I now sell for this pedal. I now use a TS9 modded with my kit as mainly a clean boost. My settings for this pedal in my rig are:

Clean Boost

Volume – 2 to 3 O’clock
Tone – 9 to 10 O’clock
Drive – 7 to 9 O’clock

At these settings I get a very clean transparent boost with just a bit of hair. Great for those SRV wannabes. I rarely use a Tube Screamer for high gain drive. In my opinion the Tube Screamer’s strengths are as a clean boost. At higher gain settings the pedal is a bit too nasal for my tastes. Let me add that with my kits all of the Tube Screamers (TS5, TS7, TS9, TS9DX and TS808) sound alike. A modded TS5 will sound just as good as a modded TS9 or TS808.

Boss DS-1 Distortion – The Boss DS-1 with my mod is what I like to call a ‘Marshall in a box’. My mod for this pedal takes a very bland ice-pick-in-the-ear pedal and shapes it into a smooth well-balanced distortion that just sings. Here is my favorite setting for the DS-1:

Volume – 2 to 3 O’clock
Tone – 9 to 10 O’clock
Drive – 9 to 3 O’clock

I’d like to make note of a very important point. The order in which you run you effects pedals has a profound affect on your tone. Generally I like to run my pedals in this order:


Boss MT-2 Metal Zone – This was one of those pedals that I had my doubts about before attempting to create a mod for it. I’m just not into the metal thing as a guitarist. When I first received the stock pedal and plugged it in I was actually surprised at just how decent the pedal sounded. But it was way too nasal sounding. The mod I created really transforms this pedal into a great sounding distortion. In fact, it’s one of my favorite pedals now. The pedal has several drive and clipping sections and as a result the distortion and gain this pedal produces is huge. Thick and smooth gain is the ticket here. The extra EQ makes this one versatile pedal. With the gain turned down the MT-2 can even do an excellent overdrive-type gain.

Boss OD-3 Over Drive – Once I discovered that Luther Dickinson (Guitarist with The North Mississippi Allstars) used a Boss OD-3 I knew I had to have one. I’m a huge NMA fan. The tone Luther Dickinson achieves is unbelievable. And it’s not because I live in Northern Mississippi either. The raw tone and vibe these guys produce is top notch. The mod I developed for this pedal produces a full-range over drive. All frequencies are reproduced. If you’re looking for an over drive that has great bottom and biting top end, this is the pedal mod for you. Here is my favorite setting for the modded OD-3:

Volume – 10 to 11 O’clock
Tone – 9 to 10 O’clock
Drive – 10 to 2 O’clock

Boss GE-7 Equalizer – This is a great off-the-shelf pedal EQ. Seven bands focused in the frequency range of guitar. Stock the GE-7 is really noisy because of the cheap op-amps and components Boss uses. NOTE: There are two PCB versions of this pedal. As a result I supply two different sets of mod installation instructions based on which version you have. The newer GE-7s have 3 dual 8-pin op-amp chips where the older GE-7s have 4 dual 8-pin op-amp chips. I have both versions and after the mod I can hear no advantage of one version over the other. They both sound fantastic after the mod.

After the mod this pedal will become less noisy and the EQ bands are much smoother and musical. This is an excellent tone-shaping tool and I also find it great to use as a clean boost. I place this pedal last in my chain right before my Line 6 DL4 delay.

You can run the wah after the overdrive, but generally I like the wah before the overdrive. Also try running the compressor after the overdrive or distortion. You can experiment with everything but the delay. The delay should always be last, Try running it before other pedals and you’ll see exactly why. You won’t like the effect. If your amp has an effects loop I suggest running the modulation and delay effects through the effects loop.

Digital effects do have their place. And like I have already stated, some digital effects are actually very good. I use a Line6 DL4 delay and have been extremely happy with it. Digital overdrive and distortion don’t fare as well. I’ve not played a digital effects device that did overdrive or distortion well. There may be one available but I have not personally seen or heard one.

JRC4558D, RC4558P—Is the Myth True or Just MOJO?

I get asked all the time about these two op-amp chips—which one is better? Are the NOS (New Old Stock) better than the reissues? Here’s my opinion along with a few facts. But first, a little history about each chip. Japan Radio Corporation (JRC) originally made the JRC4558D. The RC4558P was originally made in Malaysia for Texas Instruments. Both of these chips were used in the original Ibanez TS-808. To make a long story short, the RC4558P is still in production at the same factory, and with the same equipment that was used in the 1980s. They sound exactly like the originals. The JRC4558D's history is a little more complex—during the second half of the '80s, the company (Japan Radio Company) changed its name to New Japan Radio, and at the same time moved their production to a cheaper part of Asia. The JRC4558D was dropped at that time, and the new and improved version was called NJM4558 (today, that chip is called NJM4558).

Eventually they noticed the JRC4558D hype, and started reissuing it. That chip has the original specs, but isn't produced in the same factory as in the '80s. Whether the change of venue and machinery means anything, sound-wise, is still up for discussion. For instance, Analog Man recommends the "new" JRC4558D—it is also used in the Fulltone Fulldrive 2 (which is a faithful TS-808 clone with an added gain boost mode). On the other hand, Robert Keeley sees and hears it differently, and uses the RC4558P instead. I have tried all the above chips and this is my opinion. The reissue RC4558P sounds exactly the same as the NOS version. This is why I offer the RC4558P chip in my Tube Screamer Mod Kits.  As for the JRC4558D—I actually think the newer JRC4558D sounds a little better than the NOS version.

To my ears the newer JRC4558D has bit more smoothness and gain. But, here’s the really surprising part—I like the JRC4558DD better than either the NOS or newer production JRC4558D or RC4558P in a Boss SD-1. The JRC4558DD just sounds smoother, creamier and more harmonic than the others in this pedal. But, that’s me and you’ll have to come to your own conclusions. In my opinion, most of what is spread about on the Internet is just pure conjecture, opinion and hype. I learned to trust my ears a long time ago. They rarely lie to me. Sadly, this can’t be said about most of what you hear on the Internet by the so-called pedal gurus. I don’t claim to be a guru. I’m just a player that has good ears for tone. The bottom line is—you’ll have to draw your own conclusions.

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