AnalogMan King of Tone "High Gain Mode" Signal Chain

  • Ibanez S470
  • GHS Progressives, 9-42
  • Dunlop Manufacturing Tortex 1mm Blue
  • Analog Man King of Tone
  • Analog Man ARDX-20
  • Fender ‘59 Bassman Reissue
  • Royer Labs R-121
  • Shure SM57
  • Avid Digi 002

Analog Man, in collaboration with Jim Weider, have come out with the pedal they have been looking for for many years - the King Of Tone (KoT). There are many overdrive pedals on the market, but none of them have been quite right, preserving the tone of the guitar and adding the right amount of overdrive without compromise. There are some good clean boosts available, but they just don't have enough drive to really give your amp the distortion you often want. There are some newer OD pedals that have a great frequency response, but to Analog Man they sound too DRY, sterile, and cardboardy. That is where the King Of Tone pedal comes in - it has enough warm overdrive but still preserves the tones of your quality guitars and amps.

Jim had been using an original TS-808 for well over 20 years, it's now housed in a 1980s TS9 case after Rick Danko stepped on it at a concert that THE BAND played. Jim likes the tone of his TS-808, but has always found it loses some low end and is a bit too heavy in the mids. Analog Man also loves TS808s and has sold thousands of TS9s with their TS808 mods. But sometimes I have wished for a less compressed, more open and natural sound with more of the guitar's actual tone, or as Jim says "you can hear the note better". A Tube Screamer makes it easier to play and sound good due to the compression and vocal midrange boost, but a master player like Jim would often prefer less coloration to allow his techniques and superb tone to get through.

A good friend of theirs suggested the old Marshall Blues breaker pedal might work for Jim, so they found one on ebay and had it sent to Jim who said it was pretty good. So they got another one on ebay and modified it quickly with some improved parts for a baseline test. Analog Man brought it up to Woodstock and Jim's sounded better, they were surprised! Then they opened Jim's up and saw that it was already modified heavily!! They thought he was playing a joke, but he just laughed, someone sold it on eBay like that. They tried those mods but didn't like them much, so they totally redid the circuit with different diodes, chips, capacitors, treble boost, modes- pretty much everything was changed. And of course the KOT is two pedal circuits in one box. So the KOT pedal is not much like, and does not sound much like a BB pedal anymore. Especially the clean or distortion modes are different, and the higher gain option changes it even more, making it more useful throughout the DRIVE knob range. They used the higher gain KOT circuit as the base for the Prince Of Tone which came out in 2012.

The King Of Tone overdrive was designed to take an amp at reasonable settings, and make it sound like it would sound if it were naturally driven to pure, smooth, tube distortion. It was fine tuned with Jim's 1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb amp to duplicate the sound when his amp is singing, but at lower volume settings - to simulate the natural tube amp distortion of preamp and power tubes. It does the same thing on other amps like Vox, Marshall, etc, making them sing in their own voice. Jim's amp was modified by his good friend the late Cesar Diaz, and is about the best sounding Fender amp they have heard. Later on, Analog Man tested the KoT on their own 1966 Deluxe Reverb amp. The amp is stock, and does not sound that great when it's cranked up. It gets loud but not very warm or singing, a little harsh. It sounds MUCH better using the KoT for overdrive, than it sounds very close to Jim's amp.

Tube Screamer comparison

Everyone seems to know what a Tube Screamer sounds like, so we can use them to describe how the KoT sounds. Even Analog Man's modified Tube Screamers and all the boutique TS clones out there are still basically tube screamers, so this info will still apply.

The KoT is one of the few overdrive pedals available that is NOT based on a Tube Screamer circuit. In OD mode, it has a little less drive available than a Tube Screamer. It has quite a bit more volume available than a Tube Screamer and the TONE control has a similar range. The KoT has less compression than a tube screamer, and also does not boost the mids or cut the low end as much. It does not have a large amount of distortion.

Once they had a prototype that Jim liked and used on stage several times, they emailed the circuit to their collaborator in Japan, Ohbayashi san, and he tried several ideas. CAMTAC Ohbayashi san has a suberb ear for details like capacitor and chip selection and came up with some great ideas for the pedal- a chip and diodes that made it sound even better! The special JRC chip he preferred was designed for audio tone controls, and has a warm yet clear sound. The diodes are more open sounding, for a stronger, clearer, less compressed sound and more volume. All the nuances of your playing and each string of the guitar will come through clearly.

The Version 4 King of Tone was developed in late 2005 due to popular demand for separate controls for each channel of the original 4 knob KoT. The original KoT was one overdrive circuit, with 2 channels, having separate volume controls and internal configurations. Almost all "dual overdrive" pedals available are like this. The Ver4 KoT is actually TWO overdrive pedals in one box, one on each side. Each side has an on/off switch, LED, and three independant knobs. Each side also has configuration DIP switches and a TREBLE trim pot on the inside. Having two actual overdrive circuits allows you to use both pedals at once, in series, for even more possible tones and levels of drive!

Each side has it's own Volume, Drive, and Tone control and LED. They use SUPER BRIGHT Yellow and Red LEDs so you can easily tell which channel is selected. In addition, there is a TREBLE BOOST knob on the inside of the pedal. This is a small knob or trimpot which can be turned by hand or with a pick or small screwdriver. Jim does not need more treble for his Tele, but they found it allowed some superb tones with a '59 reissue Les Paul through a '69 Marshall amp, similar to the sweet yet biting tones of Michael Bloomfield (I believe he used a Fender Twin amp with his famous 1959 sunburst).

DIP switch settings

There is also a four position configuration DIP switch on the inside of the KoT which you can use to choose between Clean, OD, and DISTORTION modes for each side. Analog Man designed this switch to allow almost anyone to be able to find the exact sounds they want. It is two pairs of two switches, the left two switches are for the red side and the right two for the yellow side. You can set either side to normal OD mode or CLEAN mode by moving it's OD/CLEAN dip switch (switch 1 or 3). You can set either side for additional distortion, with the DIST dip switches (2 and 4). When you turn one of these DIST switches ON you get significantly more and harder distortion, and a little less volume. When the DIST switch is on you can't get the normal OD or CLEAN modes on that side. See the manual for specific information on setting the DIP switches.

The modes are:

1) Normal Overdrive mode (OD mode): This is the standard King Of Tone sound, which Jim likes best- a little less drive available than a tube screamer. Factory DIP switch setting has this mode on the right (red) channel. This mode can get about 4 times louder than a tube screamer if desired.

2) CLEAN mode : This mode has less drive, can be used for clean boosts or clearer, louder sounds. It's like a clean boost with an overdrive knob. CLEAN MODE is even less compressed than the standard OD mode. The factory DIP switch setting uses this mode on the left (yellow) channel. This mode can get twice as loud as the OD mode. You can think of the clean mode as the OD mode with the overdrive removed, allowing louder, clearer tone. But the drive knob still functions and can add some drive to the sound, and volume as it's turned up. It's a cool sound with the drive knob cranked!

3) DISTORTION mode : This mode has more drive than the standard OD mode- a touch of hard distortion. The sound is more compressed, yet retains the King Of Tone character. This mode can get about twice as loud as a tube screamer. Think of this mode as a cross between a Boss DS-1 distortion and OD-1 overdrive, with more clarity. It's recommended most players use the OD and CLEAN modes. While the DIST mode sounds great,  it does not allow the pedal to get it's absolute BEST tones. You can put an aged single malt Scotch whisky on ice, but it would be a shame to dilute it! The DIST mode is awesome with the HIGHER GAIN option. It's best to turn the OD dip switch down when using the DIST mode, especially with the higher gain option to avoid duplicate clipping.

Either side can be set to any of the three modes, with the DIP switches. Analog Man recommends setting the right side for most distorted sounds and the left for cleaner, then when used together you get more of a volume boost. But if you want more distortion and compression, you can try it the other way around too.

At low DRIVE settings, or when playing softly, there is not much difference between the three modes- they all clean up very nicely. This pedal cleans up a lot better than a Tube Screamer type pedal, if you play softly or turn your guitar down they will not have the underlying fuzziness that most pedals have.

Starting with the Ultimate Speaker Demo, an ever-increasing number of the GearTunes audio  clips are being tracked using the Radial JCR Reamp. The Reamp was invented by my good friend and colleague John Cuniberti who engineered/co-produced many of Joe Satriani's most infamous recordings.

For GearTunes, reamping allows me to record a track where the guitar "hears" the amp in the room, but initially only the guitar or guitar and effects signal is recorded. This allows me to spend additional time perfecting amp tones and mic placement once I have the performance I'm looking for. One of the byproducts of this process is the creation of GearTunes DI Clips which enable you to play select guitars and effects through your amp by using your mobile device or computer as a reamp device.

For GearTunes DI Clips - and Gear Tune DI Clips ONLY (always found under the DI clips tab for gear that has one), you can play our guitar and effects through your amp. Simply use an unbalanced cable that terminates with an 1/8th inch jack on one end and a 1/4 inch jack on the other. Connect the 1/8th jack to the output of your mobile device or computer and the 1/4 inch jack into the front of your amp. Start off with your amp volume at zero and your mobile device (or computer) volume all the way up to ensure you hit the front end of the amp with enough signal, and then gradually increase the volume of the clean channel on your amp until you reach a level that is not capable of causing damage to your ears or equipment. GearTunes accepts no liability for the use, abuse or misuse of these clips, and playing them into your amp is done exclusively at your own risk.

I am tremendously excited about being able to share GearTunes DI Clips with you as you journey on your quest to find right gear for the music you play! Cheers ~ Doug:)

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