teach me about drives

  • Guys, with the liquids coming in ... Now more than ever I guess putting a drive in front of an amp is the way to go ... in the past I looked for profiles with embedded overdrives/distortions ...

    My experience with the drives are not that great because of lack of knowledge about the behavior ...

    I put a drive with nog gain in front of the amp but it sucked the life out of the sound (probably compressing the whole thing)

    Also the list is so long from drives to choose from ... I'd go for the TS because that what everybode seems to do :p

    Anyway is the general rule to choose an amp with less gain and boost it with a distortion ?

    What are the geneal rules? What are the ideal settings ? for the drive and the profile that is ?

    Thanks a lot for the upcoming answers ;)


    Kemper stage with 2 mission pedals (in a Thon line 6 FBV case) and a Zilla 212 (K-100/V30) , SD powerstage 700 poweramp

  • Raf, i’m no expert on drives as I rarely use them but here is my general take on it; I’m sure others will be able to provide much better specific advice.

    There aren’t lots of drives to pick from. There is just the Kemper Drive. The various names are just presets of settings which sound like certain real life pedals at a specific “sweet spot”. The reason the Kemper Drive can cover so many different pedals is simply that all of those real world analog pedals are basically variations on the Tube Screamer circuit. Similar to how all the masses of S-type guitars are each slightly different but basically they are all just tweaked Strats.

    The original Tube Screamer was designed to push an already overdriven amp (or at least an amp on the verge of overdriving) over the edge. A real Tube Screamer into a totally clean amp isn’t necessarily a great sound to most people as the TS type circuit always has some of the clean signal blended in with the overdriven signal.

    As a basic rule of thumb most people would use an Overdrive into a pushed valve amp but a Distortion into a clean or cleaner amp.

    I look forward to hearing other’s input and learning some of their secrets too 🤘

  • I find a different drive might work depending on the profile. Green scream, Kemper drive and OCD are my favourites (well actually these are the only drives on the Kemper, the others are distortion or fuzz) . Sometimes one works on one profile, then a different one works better on a different profile of the same amp. Sometimes none sound right! And as said above, drives are usually used to further boost an amp that has some level of distortion already, without altering the sound of the amp too much. Distortion (e.g. DS1/Rat) tend to more completely take over the distortion character, and IMO work better with low gain or clean amps - tho of course any approach can work - but personally I prefer drives combined with an already distorted amp sound.

    As for gain ranges to add it to - again, it can vary a lot - I've got some low gain profiles where adding a lot of gain with a drive pedal can result in a great lead sound - or high gain profiles where just a bit extra gain from the pedal is what's needed. Tho often, you might end up deciding you like the sound of the amp/profile better as it is, so don't worry if a drive pedal doesn't always sound good!

    A lot of people will suggest (especially on green scream) setting the output level high but keeping the gain low (I think Zakk Wylde does this) - but this will also change the playing dynamics a lot too, could be desirable (even weakly picked notes sounds out clearly for fast playing), but pay attention to whether maybe it ruins the overall feel, e.g. if you want more expression. I prefer to set the gain first, then just add a small amount of volume, just to where it feels more alive and responsive but before it feels too compressed and un-dynamic. You've only got 3 knobs on most pedals tho, so experiment! Save a few different versions and see what approach you like better.

  • If you want to venture out of Kemper for stomps then I put my money (literally) on the BE-OD Deluxe in all it's 2 channel glory!

    I'm using the green channel (hot) into a Marshall JTM profile with a gain of 1.1, and I am nearly in heaven.

    Larry Mar @ Lonegun Studios. Neither one famous yet.

  • Oh, and very carefully set the tone knob on any drive you use! Can sound horrible particularly if it's too high. Of course it all depends, and there are exceptions, but on a tonally well-balanced profile, I always end up reducing the tone somewhat from the default 12-o'clock position - I think somewhere between 35. and 4.5 is generally where I end up.

  • Question is (as always) for what kind of sound?

    Let's start from there..

    Think Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains ...


    Kemper stage with 2 mission pedals (in a Thon line 6 FBV case) and a Zilla 212 (K-100/V30) , SD powerstage 700 poweramp

  • I don't want any external stomps ... all should come from this magic green box :)


    I wish that was true. I spent 2 years to figure out Kemper can't do it all. For me, that BE-OD covered what I was missing! ;)

    Larry Mar @ Lonegun Studios. Neither one famous yet.

  • I just picked up an old Tc electronic Nova Drive pedal. Dual Analog circuit pedal. Basically a tube screamer and a Rat in one. But it’s digitally controlled and can be controlled through midi. I think this should be the perfect drive pedal for the Kemper. Should give me tons of Tonal options as well as control

  • My lesson on drives....stomps are not needed, find the right amp (and therefore) profile and they are not needed...but that's just me.

    In the "old" days, drives were often needed because of the lack of a master volume or just not enough gain in an amp. Most people used cheap boss type solid state pedals, so I never understood why someone would have a glorious valve amp with a cheap ss pedal in front. However people got more creative in balancing their drives with the amp or just became used to a certain sound and hence drives became part of their sound. Pedals got more expensive and sophisticated as well and sometimes cost more than the amp!

    Now its a whole cottage industry full of myths as well as magic...the TS has become the go to drive, used by so many famous people, but I've never liked them. The Klon has reached "legend" status amongst pedal nuts, commanding stupid money. I have even seen the increase in price of the old Marshall Gov'nor pedals which IMO they were awful.

    The point is, its so subjective that there is no right or wrong answer, but I do think much of it is psychological and law of diminishing returns - Nuno recently said he has a ProCo Rat plugged in but with no drive engaged which just adds something...but few people who try his rig can hear the difference..

    Personally, start with decent amps and see if anything is missing. I recently added the Klon 4 from the presets in the KPA on a couple of profiles, but I really can't hear much difference, just another tone shaper/add's slight compression etc...

  • The mix control on the drives can be useful. I found an 85% mix on the Green Scream to sound pretty much identical to my Ibanez TS Mini. That might depend on the profile you use it with; I'm not really fanatical about drive stuff.

  • Think Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains ...


    Maiden is marshall tones. I really would try to find a nice beefy,chunky aggressive marshall profile (think JCM800 or JVM/DSL kinda thing..not plexi..) with not to much gain.

    I know in the past maiden used mxr drives/booster for their lead sounds. There are really enough profiles to go for this. My recommendation would be steavens poundcake profiles.

    Alice in chains...dual rectifier revision G. This was the sound back then.

    Pearl Jam.. yes definitely TS. they used a lot of tweed amps.

    In general I use pedals only for "certain special tasks" like 60s psychedelic sounds (jimi!!...fuzz!) or a nice throaty fusion sound with a TS into a '65 champ..

    Other than that.. I am no "cheap-transistor-boost my tube boutique amp" kind of guy..🙃😉

  • The whole SLO-/5150-/Rectifier-/Bogner etc hype grew out of the hate and the desperation for the boss and ibanez OD/DIST-pedals..

    I don't remember a single '80 shredder who did not ran with his jcm800 to a local tube amp guru for "some modification "..

    This is ofcourse something that nobody wants to hear about today.

  • One specifice advantage of the Kemper is that you can morph the amp. This is essentially what Neil Young implemented with The Whizzer.

    I don't need drive when I have the ability to morph gain, TMB, and volume. Plus I can morph things like reverb, delay, compression etc.... in addition. I just need the right amp profile for the tones I am after. Otherwise everything is there.

    As stated, fuzz is a different effect.

    Edited once, last by lbieber ().

  • Other than that.. I am no "cheap-transistor-boost my tube boutique amp" kind of guy..🙃😉

    Except most Marshalls and many other "tube amp" legends use Solid State Clipping Diodes in the pre-amps anyway. I'm not an amp tech but from what I hear the JCM 800 is pretty much a distortion pedal with a valve power section I think :D

  • Except most Marshalls and many other "tube amp" legends use Solid State Clipping Diodes in the pre-amps anyway. I'm not an amp tech but from what I hear the JCM 800 is pretty much a distortion pedal with a valve power section I think :D

    So what went wrong and thousands and thousands of guitar players all over the world ditched their pedals and either went for "modifications" of their 800s or bought SLOs/5150s or Rectifiers??

  • The answer is ofcourse that all the tube amp technicians put an extra preamp tube (12ax7 I believe I don't remember anymore ) into the circuit. People wanted "tube gain" and were obsessed by it.

    Btw we talk only about the single channel JCM800s.. 2204/50w..

  • There were lot's of 'traditional' amps modded with cascaded gain staging, diode clippers(silicon, germanium, LEDs), different types of master volume, PAB, biasing, etc... Most were looking for more, like goes to '11'. ;) Also, music was changing and super high gain became a thing guitarists desired.

    Boutique became a thing, but mods came first simply because so many amps already existed and it is easier to mod an existing amp rather than build a full amp from scratch.

    Judging by the effect pedal market, it seems not that many ditched pedals for very long if at all. Guitarists seem to be on an endless, outward search for some 'magic'. IME, most never look inside of themselves.

    The Kemper viewed as a Whizzer is a powerful concept, but I don't play metal and don't need that heavy buzzsaw drive. With a good rig the Kemper provides the ability to get all the gain I need without a drive pedal. As a side note, I find it easier to morph an amp and get the volume set correctly. When using a drive, I often find the volume level isn't really what I intended. Anyone else have the same experience?