I’ve been wanting to do this shootout for so long. Now understand, I started doing these demos because my head was about to explode. Let me explain. The internet was a wonderful concept. I mean, information that we could get directly from each other? We didn’t have to rely on people with money? It’s fantastic. However, what they (everyone in power you just refer to as ‘they’) forgot to consider was that it appears the culture has been exposed to television for so long, that now if information comes off of a glowing screen, it is considered fact. So, I could write ‘Starbucks uses little slave children underground in all their suburban stores to manually grind the coffee beans’, and now that will turn up in search engines. And google will show a little snippet of that statement, and people will be too lazy to actually click on the site link, and then find out what I’m talking about, and hence…a new ‘fact’ is born: Starbucks harbors little slave children to make their coffee taste good.
(Right before one of the many shootouts in Three Amigos. You simply cannot tell me that you don’t like this movie…just a little bit. ‘We ride, we fight, we love.’ Classic.)
And that’s when your head explodes. When you can no longer distinguish fact from ‘some guy wants hits on his website.’ Like me. Now anyone who thinks Starbucks is the reinstated Roman Empire will go to back up their opinion with the internet, search ‘Starbucks is bad’, find my site, and I’ll get tons of hits and a ravenous following. However, I used ‘Starbucks’ as my example, so as not to get hits, and to not become the very essence of what I’m talking about. Because no one in America will ever search ‘Starbucks is bad.’ It’d be considered heresy, and I honestly think you can be burned at the stake for distrusting Starbucks. See? I just proved they are the Roman Empire. How? The internet.’
And (sweet mercy, where am I going with this?) it’s the exact same with guitar pedals. You don’t want to have to spend money on an expensive Tim pedal to get great tone? Search the internet. You’ll find sources to back you up. You don’t want to own a Fulldrive because everyone and their guitar-playing second cousin has one? Search the internet. You’ll find sources telling you it’s a terrible pedal. But I warn you…do not search any deeper. Head explosion. As soon as you ask, ‘So how long did you have the Tim pedal for, to find out it wasn’t very good?’ You’ll get these answers: ‘Oh. Own one? Well, I’ve never actually owned one.’ Or, ‘Oh. I’ve never played one, if that’s what you mean.’ Or, ‘Ya, I’m just not a big fan of Paul Cochrane stuff.’ And how about my favorite, ‘I’ve been playing guitar for x amount of years. I don’t need to hear the pedals. They all sound the same.’ And suddenly you realize that in order to keep your head in the place on your body where you prefer it to be (i.e. not in tiny pieces scattered around your pedalboard…might help the tone, though…something to think about), you’re going to actually have to try the pedals out for yourself.
Which is why I do these shootouts. I’m trying to give an at least objective view on some of the incredible opinions out there. So then someone can ask, ‘Which is better? The Fulldrive or the Tim?’ And then I can not only give my answer, but say, ‘Here. Here’s a video. This is where my conclusions came from. Now listen to it. And draw your own conclusions.’ It’s a little thing I like to call ‘science.’ ‘Science’, as it refers to guitar gear, is a big word for, ‘Believing something because you heard it from your amp, rather than hearing it from the guy who wants to sell you the Fulldrive.’ Or the guy who bought it, hates it, but it didn’t sell, and now has to justify having it on his board, even though it’s not cool anymore because it no longer has a waiting list, and you can buy it at Guitar Center.
(My favorite scene from Three Amigos: ‘It’s a sweater!’ Okay, I’ll stop now.)
Now are my videos the definitive answer? Absolutely not! Maybe if I didn’t play the same riff over and over, and could stop talking for a little bit. But no, they are not. They’re a reference to use as a tool to help you decide which pedal might help make your tone the stuff tears are made out of. But it’s always a good idea to try these things out for yourself.
So anyway, here we go. We’ve got the Fulltone Fulldrive 2, and the Paul Cochrane Tim. Two pedals that are constantly being compared, put down, lifted up, glorified, and trodden upon. I’ve seen literal fights break out over these pedals. (Of course, they were fights over the internet, which means that the climactic ending without fail is always the picking apart of each other’s grammar. Yes. I know.) And so it’s just been a matter of time before I was able to get them both in my hands, and hear things for myself.
And we’ve also got the newcomer, the Damage Control Liquid Blues. I haven’t heard much about how it compares to the other two. But Damage Control makes good pedals, it’s blue, it’s got two switches, I figured it was close enough.
–Fulltone Fulldrive 2, blue version, non-mosfet, with the three-way toggle switch. (There’s a ton of versions of this pedal.) Running at 12 volts.
–Paul Cochrane Tim. Running at 12 volts.
–Damage Control Liquid Blues.
The Base Tone
Prairiewood Les Paul (Woldetone Dr. V pickups)–>
Matchless HC30 (EF86 channel)–>
65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and G12H30 speakers)
Possible Tonal Biases
–I’ve had the Tim the longest, so it’s more set to my rig. As you can see, I never even have to touch a knob on it. (And also, I’ve demo’d it before, and didn’t want people to get bored by me going through all the knobs again.)
–The Liquid Blues has tubes. Sometimes that sways me. I love tubes.
–The Liquid Blues also has interesting tonal options with its knobs. So it’s quite possible I’ve yet to tap into its full sound yet.
Possible Personal Biases
–Everyone has a Fulldrive. And I want to be cool by not having one.
–It sounds stupid, but the Tim fits really well on my board.
–The Liquid Blues is huge, and runs on 2 Amps of power. So, if it ends up sounding the best, I’d have to get a bigger power conditioner or sell a Timeline. (And I’m not selling a Timeline.) So I kind of didn’t want it to sound the best.
And the Shootout:
And the addendum, with more rhythmic playing, after some comments that I was face-melting too much in the first video. And by the way, ‘face-melting’ for me, is warm-up scales for most other guitarists. hehe
–Okay, whoa. The Liquid Blues not only sounded way better than I expected, but is also extremely versatile. If Damage Control was able to put their pedals in smaller packages, they’d be all over everyone’s boards. Wow. It can do compressed, searing lead tones, bluesy tones, but also just a warm pushing of your amp into it’s natural overdrive. Only one tone knob; but at least in my rig, it still was able to not change the tone of my amp, quite nicely. No control over the boost switch, though. It didn’t seem to matter, as it boosted the first channel audibly, but not over-the-top, but I could see that perhaps being a problem in some rigs. But just an incredible sound that really, really surprised me.
–And of course, the Tim never disappoints. It’s hard for me with the Tim, because it always sounds so good that sometimes I’m not excited by it anymore. It’s like, ‘Oh ya, the Tim sounds good no matter what. Whatever.’ But hearing it against the other pedals, it sounds good no matter what you throw at it in terms of your rig. Pushes your amp. Can’t say enough good about this pedal.
–And the Fulldrive. I was disappointed at first, because it did not bring out the natural overdrive in my amp like the other two did. However, once I found and started using its strong points, which seemed to be just by being a distortion on its own, it sounded very good. A little boxy, and it could have done with a better tone circuit. The one tone knob makes it very selective as to what amp it sounds good with. I would have liked to be able to dial it in to match the amp’s sound a little more. But overall, a very good pedal when used as a distortion sound on its own, and with a really clear and transparent boost section.
As I like pushing my amp into its own natural overdrive, I’m going with either the Tim or the Liquid Blues. Sorry Fulldrive. And I’m going to be honest here. As much as I rave about the Tim, that Liquid Blues might actually be a touch warmer. But my rig already runs at about 11.5 Amps, and my power conditioner only handles 12. So the 2 Amps from the Liquid Blues would push me over the edge. So, we’ll have to see if I can come up with the money to get a Furman IT20. (And that’s probably a ‘no.’) But it did sound incredible. As did the Tim. It’s a tough choice. But as for the Tim versus the Fulldrive? In my hopefully extremely humble opinion, it’s the Tim, by a definite margin.
So there ya go. It’s on the internet. It must be true.