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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #114158  by claytushaywood
 Sun May 20, 2012 8:16 pm
Basically i've been chasing the mxr sound all over the world since I built my first dist + clone about 5 months ago. At first I had all modern parts in it- all the metal film resistors and low noise metallized poly film panasonic caps... silver mica... all that jazz. It sounded TERRIBLE! I mean horrid- just way too bright and tinny (and i know its a bright pedal) it was just disgusting though. as I did more and more research I found a few keys to the sound of the dist +- tanatulum caps, ceramic caps, poly film green caps, carbon film resistors... All sorts of stuff. Anyways I finally built the perfect mxrr dist +- it is as close to possible as you can get to the original version (as far as I know... and I've done some research) I have bought a lot of NOS RCA 741 opamps- these are the old school opamps that are packaged in a big metal can- they look like an old germanium transistor with 8 legs! I even bought vintage ceramic caps, just for the heck of it.... I think theymake a difference too, slight, but its there
They were expnesive- so I bought a lot of em- and some NOS germanium diodes - the 1n270's (a lot of people use 1n34a's and 1n4148's in these pedals today- and they are not right, IMO)

I've got so many extra parts that I decided I could offer some all natural Dist+ builds to people on the forum. These are gonna be just as close to any grey box dist + as your gonna get (in fact probably a lot closesr to the intended sound- as I measure my components for tolerance) So if you're interested in getting the real deal dist +- just send me a message. I dont have a ton of parts so I'm not gonna build a ton of em or anything. thought some people may be interested

I'll be posting some pics and video demo's soon!
 #114174  by Tony6Strings
 Mon May 21, 2012 11:36 am
I built a BYOC Dist+ circuit, and while I was happy with the tone (after I left it on for a week) the output left something to be desired. Had to dime it for it to be usable in my rig. How is the output on your vintage spec clones? Just curious. Moot point for me, as I recently acquired an OCD which is by far the most usable and transparent of the Dist+, DS-1, RAT etc. type effects that I've worked with.
 #114179  by claytushaywood
 Mon May 21, 2012 2:52 pm
Tony6Strings wrote:I built a BYOC Dist+ circuit, and while I was happy with the tone (after I left it on for a week) the output left something to be desired. Had to dime it for it to be usable in my rig. How is the output on your vintage spec clones? Just curious. Moot point for me, as I recently acquired an OCD which is by far the most usable and transparent of the Dist+, DS-1, RAT etc. type effects that I've worked with.
Well... the dist + doesnt have that much output compared to a lot of different OD pedals- thats part of the design. and I definitely wouldnt put ANY of those pedals you mentioned in the same category with each other... none of them are similar except maybe the rat and the dist +, but that rat adds a transistor that adds a whole lot more gain, so they sound nothing alike. the OCD aint nothing like these pedals either... to be fair all the pedals you mentioned are completely different... I mean, right now my setup includes a dist +, a rat, a timmy, a zen drive, an ampeg amp in a box and a hiwatt amp in a box pedal. that's not even including fuzz there.

the mxr dist + is for jerry tones. not for transparent overdrive. jerry didnt use the dist + as a transparent booster or a transparent OD- he used it as a full on distortion. the transparent od thing doesnt seem like it would be the best thing to cut through the grateful dead wall of sound with...the dist + is right in line with his style of clean tones- cutting, but thick, definitely lacking bass. The byoc dist + doesnt have nothin on this version either, IMO. If you want a true to vintage dist +, i can build it...

Using all ceramic caps and either all carbon comps or carbon films (they used both back in the day) I actually settled on a 'better' opamp in my version, the old metal can 741's found that are popular for rat builds. I liked these more than the lm741cm's... I'll see if I can record sound c

lips of the differences here soon, it's minor, but I think they just made the big metal can opamps better.

as for the volume- every time i've seen a dist + on someones board its been volume max out- gain at 50% or more. There's nothing wrong with running a pedal full bore... in fact I'd say it's more natural than limiting the output with a potentiometer if you get down to brass tacks!
 #114180  by claytushaywood
 Mon May 21, 2012 3:00 pm
oh and I definitely agree with you about plugging in pedals for a long time! tanatulum caps and other electrolytics need some time plugged in before they start sounding they're best. I never thought I would be able to hear the difference, but it totally is true!
 #114218  by bdhact1
 Tue May 22, 2012 11:50 am
Not only do tantalum caps make a difference but the voltage makes a difference on the sound as well. I achieved the best closest authenic results using 25v on the 1uf tantalum caps.
 #114221  by JonnyBoy
 Tue May 22, 2012 12:55 pm
I have discovered a graphic EQ before or after the or pedal can change the tone of a good pedal into anything you want without all the soldering work. Since using one with my rig before the OD and Dist I wont leave home without it. I can overcome any signal hump or drop/boost. I have been able to make my boss pedals so much more transparent by adjusting the signal through an EQ.
 #114225  by Tony6Strings
 Tue May 22, 2012 7:02 pm
claytushaywood wrote:
Tony6Strings wrote:I built a BYOC Dist+ circuit, and while I was happy with the tone (after I left it on for a week) the output left something to be desired. Had to dime it for it to be usable in my rig. How is the output on your vintage spec clones? Just curious. Moot point for me, as I recently acquired an OCD which is by far the most usable and transparent of the Dist+, DS-1, RAT etc. type effects that I've worked with.
Well... the dist + doesnt have that much output compared to a lot of different OD pedals- thats part of the design. and I definitely wouldnt put ANY of those pedals you mentioned in the same category with each other... none of them are similar except maybe the rat and the dist +, but that rat adds a transistor that adds a whole lot more gain, so they sound nothing alike. the OCD aint nothing like these pedals either... to be fair all the pedals you mentioned are completely different... I mean, right now my setup includes a dist +, a rat, a timmy, a zen drive, an ampeg amp in a box and a hiwatt amp in a box pedal. that's not even including fuzz there.

the mxr dist + is for jerry tones. not for transparent overdrive. jerry didnt use the dist + as a transparent booster or a transparent OD- he used it as a full on distortion. the transparent od thing doesnt seem like it would be the best thing to cut through the grateful dead wall of sound with...the dist + is right in line with his style of clean tones- cutting, but thick, definitely lacking bass. The byoc dist + doesnt have nothin on this version either, IMO. If you want a true to vintage dist +, i can build it...

Using all ceramic caps and either all carbon comps or carbon films (they used both back in the day) I actually settled on a 'better' opamp in my version, the old metal can 741's found that are popular for rat builds. I liked these more than the lm741cm's... I'll see if I can record sound c

lips of the differences here soon, it's minor, but I think they just made the big metal can opamps better.

as for the volume- every time i've seen a dist + on someones board its been volume max out- gain at 50% or more. There's nothing wrong with running a pedal full bore... in fact I'd say it's more natural than limiting the output with a potentiometer if you get down to brass tacks!
Yeah, they are each a bit different. I'm lumping them up in the general "distortion" category, as opposed to a tube screamer type OD, or a fuzz type dirt pedal. Although, the dist+ is one of those that technically can be used as a mild OD, albeit maybe not the most common usage of the effect. Kind of like the OCD, which can do both. The DS-1/RAT types are kind of funny in that they have enough gain on tap to be used as a Big Muff type effect in a pinch. So yeah, you're right. They're all very different. But, can all be made to sound pretty similar to each other with the twiddling of a couple knobs. Close enough to where I feel comfortable lumping them into a category. Anyways, I'd be really interested to hear what your dist+ sounds like. Perhaps a shootout is in order? Maybe an audio clip of one of yours, a script logo, and one of the more common clone kits...
 #114246  by Jerry1996x
 Wed May 23, 2012 2:33 pm
IMHO, if you want a great dist pedal, that can go anywhere from just adding a little fatness to your tone, to adding a full on Hell In A Bucket dist, go for a vintage DOD 250 Preamp Overdrive. It was the first pedal I ever got, my uncle gave it to me. They are cheaper than a vintage Dist+, and in my opinion, just do the job better all around. Im actually surprised that Jerry never used it. It really nails that early Jerry light distorted tone. Just my 2 cents :smile:
 #114284  by Tony6Strings
 Fri May 25, 2012 6:49 am
Jerry1996x wrote:IMHO, if you want a great dist pedal, that can go anywhere from just adding a little fatness to your tone, to adding a full on Hell In A Bucket dist, go for a vintage DOD 250 Preamp Overdrive. It was the first pedal I ever got, my uncle gave it to me. They are cheaper than a vintage Dist+, and in my opinion, just do the job better all around. Im actually surprised that Jerry never used it. It really nails that early Jerry light distorted tone. Just my 2 cents :smile:
The DOD 250 and the Dist+ are very similar circuits. Actually, the BYOC kit is called a 250+, the PCB is the same for both, they send you the guts to build either one, plus a few extra diodes to mess around with. Regarding what Jerry may or may not have used... Seems to me like a lot of his gear was modded extensively by his people. Who the hell knows what the inside of his dirt boxes looked like... :-)