Paul Cochrane Tim Pedal Review & Demo
The hallowed Tim pedal. Used to be the shangri-la of unobtainable tone, and is now bordering dangerously on the precipice of too many people having it on their boards. And of course, if too many people have it on their boards, the tone automatically dies. It’s a weird phenomenon…probably something to do with having too many of the same circuit in too close proximity to each other…and the tone of the pedal in question literally gets worse. I call it the ‘Fulltone Fulldrive 2 syndrome’, which the Paul Cochrane Tim pedal is like, two pedalboards away from contracting. However, the Tim pedal is one of the few pedals that I believe can actually back up its hype with tone and originality. And in this way, I hope that people will still dig this pedal, even if it starts to show up on every board of every indie band in existence. (I guess it doesn’t have to be just ‘indie’ bands…but it sounds cooler…at least for another two weeks. ‘Indie’ is also on a dangerous precipice. If three more bands call themselves ‘indie’, the term will officially have absolutely zero meaning. So I’m using it while I can.)
But the Tim pedal, handbuilt to order by gear genius Paul Cochrane, is what I think to be a very original idea. Or at least the first pedal to put it into practice this well. It’s a low to mid gain overdrive pedal, but it’s unique in that it pushes each amp into its own natural overdrive. It sounds like your amp. It sounds like your guitar. It’s your clean tone, just overdriven. The circuit is such that it integrates with your tone. You turn it on, and it overdrives the clean tone of your guitar and your amp that you’ve worked so hard on. And it pushes your amp into its own gain, almost like you turned up the gain knob. Not quite, and it is still an overdrive pedal which lends its own flavor. There’s no getting away from that. But for the most part, it sounds like your amp’s overdrive, and sounds quite different on each individual amp.
However, before you buy it, make sure you like your clean tone and your amp’s natural overdrive. The Tim will do its job incredibly of overdriving your clean tone…it still sounds like your tone. So you better like your clean tone. And the Tim will push the amp to its own overdrive. So you better like your amp’s drive. This isn’t really a ‘fix it’ overdrive pedal for tone you don’t like, like say maybe a Matchless Hotbox or even a Zendrive 2 might be, or can be used as. It works with the sound you have. Which is fantastic for those of us guitarists who have spent countles hours trying to perfect our clean tone, only to never be able to find an overdrive that integrates with that clean tone rather than destroying it.
Now, this is the like, fifth, Tim demo. The first one suffered from suckiness. The second one rumbled the camera off the piano bench I had it sitting on at about 2 minutes through. The third one was 1 minute long, because the camera shut itself off…which would have been nice to know about earlier than when I actually finished playing. And the fourth…something else happened…oh ya…I hit like, the worst note in the history of man playing music, and decided that I wasn’t ready to be that humble yet.
So I give you this one. In which the lighting looks like a ’70′s B-movie horror flick (Piranha, anyone?), and for some reason, I decided to not actually focus on the Tim pedal itself. But by the time I finished this one, I was done. I simply could not say ‘transparent overdrive’ and ‘pushes your amps’ one more time. Apologies. But the fifth take saying the exact same things gets boring quick…even if you’re talking about tone. Now, if it was a delay pedal……
(This is Piranha. It’s basically Ron Burgundy running through the ’70′s from paper mache fish. Oh, and a girl is helping him, of course.)
(Yep. Those are the piranhas. And the lighting and picture quality does look eerily like my Tim demo video.)
(Guess what’s gonna happen to this guy.)
Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. V pickups)–>
Paul Cochrane Tim overdrive–>
Divided by 13 RSA23–>65 Amps cab (Blue and G12H30)
Holland AC30–>Heritage cab (Jensen P12N)
I specifically used two different amps in this demo to show how the Tim pushes each one into their own unique overdriven tones. Neither are ever played at the same time, and no a/b box is used. I simply just grab the chord and switch amps. But you can really hear how the Tim drives each amp differently. Here’s the demo:
My camera skills rock. But you can hear how the Holland sounds like its natural EL84 drive. And the RSA23 sounds like its natural KT88, Hiwatt-type drive. With the same settings on the Tim. I do think this is one of the best overdrive pedals out there right now. I’ve yet to hear another do what this one does so well. I’ve heard some great overdrives excel in other places, but as far as pushing your amp and maintaining your clean tone, Tim. It can do the low gain sounds beautifully, and then kick on the boost switch for mid gain sounds. Or, it can even do the mid gain sounds quite well on the first channel if you wish.
Now, I run the Tim at 12 volts, which I do with every overdrive and boost I have that can handle it. Increases the headroom quite noticeably, and I like that sound. The Tim can be run safely up to 18 volts, so if you have the means to try that, might be really cool. Also, I have to mention this again, even though I did in the video, too: the bass and treble knobs are cut knobs. They work opposite of normal eq conrols. So all the way counter-clockwise is all the way open or ‘on’ and all the way clockwise is completely cut or ‘off’. Sorry if that’s old news to everybody, but it has to be said, as it has caused a lot of confusion over the years and people have actually sold their ‘broken’ Tim pedals because of this. In reality, it’s pretty cool because it’s more like you’re cutting out the frequencies you don’t want, rather than adding in. For whatever reason, that starting point seems cleaner to me.
And I have to mention this, too. The Tim also has an effects loop, which allows you to put any pedal or combination of pedals you like, after its preamp stage and before its post-amp stage. I don’t use it because I use the Tim as my main overdrive for my amps. But if you want some crazy sounds, stick a phaser in there, or a fuzz or a something. Can be really fun.
And lastly, Paul Cochrane also makes the Timmy overdrive pedal. Now, this is the source of much debate, but the Timmy ‘should’ be just the Tim pedal without the footswitchable boost section. Technically. And that’s exactly what it sounds like to me. But there has been many a heated debate that the circuits are actually different. So have fun. But to me, it sounds like the Tim just has a boost switch.
So go buy one. It’s myspace.com/paulcaudio to order. Put it on your board, and then give terrible reviews of it so that nobody else goes and buys one, and the tone starts to die. ‘Unobtainable’ equals ‘tone’…this is one of the few universal truths of gear. But I must warn you…it will be very, very, very difficult to give this pedal a bad review. It sounds amazing…or, at least, I personally love the tone of it. But that is the sacrifice we have been called upon to make. We have to keep tone out of the hands of the masses. Otherwise, we will no longer be the cool, boutique, indie, bourgeois, tone-by-association-with-pedals-nobody-else-can-have-no-matter-how-we-actually-sound guitarists. And that is unacceptable.