Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #131537  by Griffyote
 Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:15 am
OK guys ,thanks for sharing all of your knowledge so freely on here. I've been reading up a lot, really wanting to start dialing in and fine tuning my tone.
I'm trying to comprehend this OBEL that I've heard of long ago but did not think would be much benefit to me. I've searched the forum,read many of the 108 pages and 1611 threads on the topic but just don't have the time to read them all. I've read Waldo's web page and about the evolution of the OBEL in Jerry's guitars. Thanks Waldo!
OK I get this OBEL allows you to play with the volume full up which is much better for the effects, especially the EF.
Question #1 . Could I almost accomplish the same thing by turning my PRS volume and tone control up, and going into effects before the volume pedal?
I understand the disadvantage is that I would not be able to truly bypass the tone sucking effect pedals.Did the OBEL actually do this? Did Jerry ever actually bypass all of his effects? Ooops that's 3 questions already.

Question #2. What did the coil tap or switch do? Does this basically change the middle P/U from a humbucker to a single coil? Is this similar to what the wiring does on the PRS?

Question #3. The onboard preamp acts as a buffer right, sort of keeps the signal from dissipating or diminishing through all of the effects,right? I am thinking I will accomplish this with the Steel Guitar Black Box I recently ordered from SMS.

Question #7 Can most of the benefit of the OBEL basically be accomplished without routing out the guitar with the only disadvantage being that the guitar volume is full on all the time and volume is controlled with the VP only?
 #131538  by NorthboundRain
 Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:48 am
1: Yes. you can do this and achieve virtually the same effect depending on your volume pedal. I call it "the poor man's OBEL". I ran this setup for about a year but prefer having the knob right there on the guitar where I can make subtle adjustments.

2: Yes, these "tap" a single coil for that kind of sound. Often the selected coil will be hotter. PRS offers this option on some guitars (McCarty, Grissom, etc). If you have a push/pull that probably what it does. You can also have one installed if you like. Standard PRS 5-way wiring is different sets of coils in series and parallel, no single coils.

3: Yes... but you will have already lost signal as it travels however many feet your cable is before the buffer. Installing it onboard has the maximum effect. On a side note, I love the Black Box.

7: This was answered between 1 and 3. The buffer itself, Waldo's anyway, is quite small and could fit into most guitars with modification. It the 9 Volt battery you usually have to rout for. Strat players can flip the jack plate and install under there for an easy mod. You mentioned a PRS so you might want to take a look at this...

[url] ... k-assembly [url]

it's designed for a second piezo output and preamp battery, everything you need for a nice clean OBEL install on a PRS with a factory look.
 #132480  by Griffyote
 Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:16 pm
Thanks there northbound. I've been chewing on this a little.The current setup will have to do for now.Im thinking the thing for me to do is get the electronics configuration and build a guitar around that, rather than modding the PRS. The tremolo has always been a little frustrating on the PRS only when doing those pedal steel like bends.I have some walnut for a neck through and some pretty redwood.My woodworking skills are stronger than my electronics background. After I finish the acoustic Im so close to finishing.
So I'm still wondering when did Jerry bypass the effect loop? And what was the y cable for? Just the tuner? My volume pedal has an output for a tuner.hmmm....?..
 #132481  by James-T
 Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:18 pm
Hey Griffy,

I started my long slippery road towards an obsession for the perfect tone myself not so long ago.

I started with a PRS CU 22 right out of the gate because it sounded more modern Jerry or at least modern GD like (jerry plus bob) than my American Strat.

It's possible to replace the PRS rotary switch, which is unique in how it organizes the coil splitting and different configurations of split and humbucker modes of the neck and bridge pickups - compared to all other brands - with Strat like switching still in a rotary dial. I did and it allowed me to isolate the neck and bridge pups in single coil mode with the addition of a couple of mini toggles. This is something I could not do with the PRS rotary switch.

That's part of the battle. The next step with a PRS is to add a middle position PU. With the 22 fret model it's easy. Fits just fine with a standard trim. I dropped in a Dual Sound which is gorgeous when paired up with the PRS neck PU.

To go almost all the way you can install a Wald Electromics UGB/ pre-amp. This nails the Garcia tone as it gives the guitar an almost acoustic tone. Simply put it gives it more clarity. As many folks will say on this forum, it is more than a buffer, it's a tone enhancer. Really great investment.

My battery is located within the existing shield housing the controls. Fits just fine.

I only replaced the stock PRS neck pickup - the Dragon II - with a Bare Knukles Stormy Monday and just love it. Many folks ditch the Dragon II bridge pick-up but opt to keep the neck Dragon II. EBay is full of PRS bridge pups but the Dragon II neck pups are hard to come by. I saved my Dragon trebble (bridge) pickup and eventually purchased a PRS Torero in which I swaped our the EMG's and dropped it in there (along with, again........a Dual Sound in the neck postion). I probally could have built a custom build by then, but I have a real affinity for my PRS CU22 so that's just the way it evolved.

What I learned from swapping pickups in the Torero is the PRS gets you most of the way to a decent Jerry tone without the middle pickup. I did a bunch of soundcloup clips for folks interested in this. I picked up my Torero in a trade for some black shadow speakers and a but of cash. I've less than 600 invested in it now including a UGB so it's a true poor mans Jerry rig and was way cheaper than a custom build, and heck, it even came with a battery compartment.

I just linked a vid of my PRS CU22 in action if you are interested, under my Axe FX demo post.

I can't speak to the OBEL as I don't have that feature and have avoided that road as I play with two or three different guitars at gigs and jams and am pretty happy with that part of my set up (my effects sound just fine). I can speak to the PRS trems. Just lock em down or at least tighten them up. My Torero has a Floyd rose which I had blocked in one direction and tightened up and I can do decent country bends all day long,....and drop the odd dive bomb.

I think PRS is a great platform for clean bright Garcia like tones. Good luck with it! :smile:


 #132488  by James-T
 Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:40 am
Sorry, I posted with my iPhone and its beyond me to cut and paste with such a tiny keyboard!

A link to clips of the Dual Sound in both the neck (PRS Torero) and middle position (PRS CU22). Keep in mind the Torero is a 25.5" thru neck (maple) with an ebony fret board and the CU22 is a 25" set neck with a mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard. Its not an apples to apples comparison, but I concluded that a Dual Sound in the neck works just fine for those on a budget or not willing to put a PRS under the knife! - I think CU22 has a softer sound - reminds me more of the Wolf 1.0. The Torero sounds more modern if there is such a thing.

If you want to hear the Bare Knuckles in action check out the Bird Song jam just before the second chorus here: ... -bird-song

It really screams. I know a lot of players anguish over getting the right bridge pick-up. This was a simple experiment in an attempt to make this guitar more versatile. I was told by many that the Dragon II treble was to ice picky, but here it is on a recording I made a few years before modding this guitar:

I work both pick-ups in this recording and move to the bridge pick-up half way through.

If you want to hear the CU22 in action with effects and no OBEL listen to this clip (jam out of scarlet):

Finally, the Axe FX demo can be found here: ...
 #132489  by Pete B.
 Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:16 am
You could also use a True-Bypass Loop pedal that has a bypass switch (I have one made by "Loop-Master"), with a Volume pedal at the end.
This allows you to bypass all effects and turn one or more on off as needed.
 #132495  by Griffyote
 Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:28 pm
JamesT, the soundclip w the PRS cu22 in the middle position makes my ears happy! It's great to be able to compare. It sounds to me like the EF is a little more responsive to your playing in the bridge position? Qtron?

Pete, you lead me to my next solution , the loop bypass . I see the 6 function strip is on sale ,what a deal. I'm back to building a 2 or 3 tier pedal rack that I can use with my pedal steel also from a sitting position. I started one and scrapped The design aWhile back after refining the effects chain.thanks for the input guys!
 #132496  by James-T
 Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:44 am
Hey Griffy,

Glad you like the sound clip. It's a great tone. That clip was recorded in garage band with a Line 6 Gearbox modern jazz amp simulation. My fav tone with the PRSCU22 is a setting with the middle position in HB mode blended with the neck in SC mode, still sounds like a single coil, but with a bit of complexity , more depth perhaps. That's been my fail safe and go to setting when I'm not in the mood to experiment. Most of that you tube video was recorded in that setting, and the various tone changes come from effects and different amp settings I set up in the Axe FX.

I can't recall on that jam into eyes where my pickup selector was at. I only used the bridge pick up at that show a few times, mostly during Bird Song, blending it with the dual sound at first and then kicking it in only on the bridge in HB mode for the D/E chord triplets with a boss OD2. I played half that gig with a strat and half with the PRS.

That recording was done through the board and I played through my 73 twin and 2 12" Jbl D120F's, mic'd with an 421 or 441.

Yes it's a qtron. Believe it or not my best results with that pedal are with a les paul which has a vintage 65 PAF in the neck. It's about 7.1k and really takes the Qtron well. The lower the output the better the effect. But to be honest, I'm still dialing in the Qtron and rarely use it.

Pete's suggestion for the bypass pedal is an excellent one. I purchased a boss line selector a year ago. It's a really useful effect. I bypass most of my rig for clean tones, and it gets rid of a whole lot of noise, plus it's got a great buffer in it so it acts as a tone enhancer as well. Gives some great clarity, like a Wald Electronics UGB.
 #135259  by Tbrogit
 Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:42 pm
Im real interested in the True-Bypass Loop-Master as well. My questions is I would want to use it not on a pedal board but outside the rack and I feel like all of the patch cables going to the Loop-Master might have an effect on signal. If I use 6ft long patch cables with say 5 pedals thats a lot of line impedance. At the moment I do not have a Guitar with a buffer or an OBEL. My initial goal is to get the pedals off the floor and out of the tone sucking chain when dis engaged. A buffer needs to be somewhere in the chain I presume.
 #135261  by waldo041
 Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:14 pm
Tbrogit wrote:Im real interested in the True-Bypass Loop-Master as well. My questions is I would want to use it not on a pedal board but outside the rack and I feel like all of the patch cables going to the Loop-Master might have an effect on signal. If I use 6ft long patch cables with say 5 pedals thats a lot of line impedance. At the moment I do not have a Guitar with a buffer or an OBEL. My initial goal is to get the pedals off the floor and out of the tone sucking chain when dis engaged. A buffer needs to be somewhere in the chain I presume.
It is actually the cable capacitance that will rob you of your high end. A buffer is definitely in order and can be any of your buffered bypassed pedals ran in-between the guitar and the Loop-Masters input, out of the loop, once there it will buffer the rest of the chain. You could also insert a buffer at the inside the Loop-Master just after it's, which can also power it. This would give you a True Bypass Buffered Loop-Master. Does not have to be mine either, any buffer should be able to do the job.