Blind Overdrive Shootout–the Reveal: Gainster, Tim & Fatboost

(Don’t watch this one first! You gotta watch the test first, and then write down your predictions, to see if you’re right. :) Blind Overdrive Shootout–the Test )

No intro. Hopefully the world doesn’t end.

The Reveal:


The Verdict

Very, very surprising how close they all were. The Gainster was definitely the most transparent. Fabulously transparent, actually. Unfortunately, I didn’t like its decay. Its drive tended to choke out a bit on the sustain. The Tim, while perhaps actually the least transparent, also had the most amp-like sag, and really influenced your playing the most. The Fatboost was actually a lot like Tim, but a little bassier and with a little less give.

If there were a way to change the clipping characteristics of the Gainster, that might be the one. As it is now, the Tim still might have had the best, most colorful, and most amp-like sound. However, I am giving serious thought to selling the Tim and getting two $60 Fatboost’s to take its place. Really surprising results, at least for me personally. I guess it’s good to hear with our ears every once in a while; because they can’t see blue led’s. ;)

So did you win? I didn’t, actually. With my own blind tests (meaning, hitting random buttons with my eyes closed until I forget which is which…and that doesn’t work very well on video, hehe), I kept switching the Tim and the Fatboost. And with all that you read everywhere (including on this blog, lol) about the transparency of the Tim, had I never played these pedals, I would have switched the Tim and the Gainster. Actually, I’d love to hear a Gainster where you can change the clipping section a little bit. As it is, I was wrong. Wow, those words are almost as hard to type as ‘I like Line Si–’…nope. That’s still harder.

Splendid.
Karl.

38 thoughts on “Blind Overdrive Shootout–the Reveal: Gainster, Tim & Fatboost

  1. Line 6 (see you actually typed more than what is in the name, so it isn’t so hard )…I know you love your boutique gear and it is nice to see that the $60 Fatboost measures up. For those of us without unlimited resources it is good to see a “cheap” pedal stand up to the big boys.

  2. So the TIM had the most gain sound out of all of them? That’s crazy… Oh well… I am purchasing the Tim as my low gain stage anyways so it’ll be perfect :D

  3. Matt–right, but I couldn’t figure out how to type only half of a ’6′, in order to make the joke work. Which is what it’s all about. ;) hehehe

    And ya, I was stoked how well the Fatboost stood up as well. Supply and demand is kind of weird, because at original retail cost, the Tim is actually a better value because it’s two pedals in one, and costs $169, whereas the Fatboost when it first came out, was around $149. But now, the Tim used is upwards of $230, and the Fatboost used has dropped to $60. So, good for us!! haha And it’s not about unlimited funds, it’s just about how much you’re willing to carry on credit cards. ;)

    Sal–me too, actually!

    Cam–ya, that’s one of the reasons I like the version 1 the best. Has much more of ‘its own’ sound, to my humble ears. And we’ll see…I still dig how the Tim sounds…I’ll probably do a couple live tests with just the Fatboost as my drive instead of my boost, and see how that goes.

    Rhoy–lol Well, so did I. hehe And the Gainster is on Ebay…not sure if that’s what you meant by sending me your mailing address… hehe ;)

    Ben G–ya, that was surprising. The Tim can actually get pretty gainy, especially with the boost side engaged. I still think it’s one of the best pedals out there. :)

  4. Nice work Carl.

    Where are you guys finding Fat Boost’s for $60? Everywhere I’ve looked they’re still selling for well over $100.

  5. Gear Page, mostly. Or on ebay. Anywhere used they’re around $60-$80, at least the version 1′s, which are my favorite version. The new ones are more, but the only thing I’ve bought new in the last 4 years is strings. hehe

  6. Hey Karl, can I ask you a question, somewhat related to this video?
    i have been reading your wordpress site for over a year now, and I have seen next to nothing about Lovepedal. I am a proud parent of a Lovepedal Kanji Eternity and I think its just about the greatest thing ever. What is your take on these pedals? O more specifically, why are they never included in your pedal shoot outs?

  7. Ya, I don’t play them that often, as my experiences with them have not been great. I did use the Karl in a fuzz shootout post. And I really didn’t dig it. Sounded like a ring modulator. And then I had been all stoked to buy a COT50, plugged it in, and put it right back up for sale. A lot of times, if I buy a pedal to demo on this site, and it ends up sounding so bad (granted, maybe just in my specific rig or with my specific playing style) that I would feel like a jerk for even posting on it, I just sell it and never post that I had it.

    However, I have heard wonderful things about the Eternity, and it is one that I am hoping to acquire for another overdrive shootout. :)

    • well thats a shame, The current Eternity is the Fuse and seems to be a little more tweakable than the Kanji. A bit of a warning though, they aren’t pedals that are designed to give you a broad range of sounds. Which is my personal taste, i’d rather have three pedals that do there individual jobs extremely well, rather than one pedal that does three jobs mediocre-ly. The eternity is fairly transparent but has a pretty unique sound. its extremely warm and “woody” with no mid hump whatsoever. The dials give you varying degrees of “That sound,” the tone knob merely adds clarity to the distinct clipping. anyway, I have fan-boyed it enough. They are fairly inexpensive and readily available. They are also the cliche worship guitarist pedal, so everyone needs one. i’ll be praying that your next experience with one is as magical as mine was.

      • you will definitely out grow it. I did. I have almost 7 years under my belt, and i am a rising senior in high school. But it was by using one that i discovered that i really dug the el84 tone, as well as the cranked marshal Plexi type tones.

        • Wow i take back the above comment. I just checked out your recordings and i was taken aback. and novice????? sounded pretty good to me. quite tasty.

  8. That is definitely not what I expected, and it’s going to make me take a good, long look at acquiring a Fatboost, particularly if it could be had in the $60 range…

  9. Dan–right on, brother! Glad you dig it so much. I’ve heard they do a great glassy drive. I’ll try to nab one soon, and I’m praying that magic happens as well! ;)

    Charlie–lol Comment of the day.

    Rhoy–well, except that your recordings actually sound really good. Gotta be the player, then! :)

    Ben–hehe Same here, over the next couple weeks playing out. :)

  10. Hey Karl,

    I watched both the original vid and the reveal back to back just now. When I watched the first time I thought that #3 (turns out to be the Fatboost) was the most colored of these pedals. Watching again, I don’t know if that’s true. It’s difficult with YouTube and all, but I’m thinking now that the fatboost is slightly less scooped then the other two and has less bass response. It came across as being more “colored” to me. It’s a good sound with your rig.

    I have to say I’m surprised you’re ditching the Gainster. After listening again, it’s the best sounding of the three pedals with your rig (at least in these vids and to my ears). I knew nothing about the Gainster so read up on it, and turns out they were trying to capture the “tweed” sound with it. I have a narrow panel Tweed Deluxe, and though it’s famous for it’s Neil Young Grind, its true magic is in its clean and in between tone. I’ve just discovered it actually after many years of diming it and grinding away.

    The first time I plugged a delay into it, and played it clean, I realized that much of the Edge’s clean tone comes from his Tweeds and not necessarily his AC30′s. The Tweed amps have an almost magical upper mid and high end. Not glassy like later Fenders, and different then the Vox high end. After watching again, it’s hard to say, but I can kind of hear some of that in the Gainster. It has a beautiful high end and I think it would sound terrific with some delay…..or in your case…….LOTS of delay

    Keep on Rockin…….

  11. I definitely agree on the Gainster. Unfortunately, it’s decay is the problem. It decays kind of unnaturally and chokes out too early. So I’m left with my guitar still sustaining, but no more drive; and this is for almost any position on the gain knob. But the drive sound is brilliant, and the transparency is some of the best I’ve heard. I know the second version of the Gainster is on hold, so perhaps a third version may come out that will let us have control over the kind of clipping it gives? I think that would help the ‘choking sustain’ thing. Anyway, I’m hoping, because you’re totally right…great sounding pedal! :)

    Oh ya, and…mmmm….delay. :)

  12. If your handy with a soldering iron open it up and look for clipping diodes, unsolder them and replace them with sockets and experiment away with different diodes!

    If you don’t want to modify the pedal the you could get someone to build you a replica from a schematic of the thing but with different clipping options. It wouldn’t be hard to fit clipping options like the way that the tim has in a replica.

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  14. I checked out your Ebay auction and looked at the Pics you posted. Quality stuff in this pedal. The carbon comp resistors are about 10x more expensive then films and they’ve got a paper in oil capacitor in there, maybe a Jensen. That single cap probably goes for about $12 to $18 by itself. There are two other caps I couldn’t identify. At first they looked like AuriCaps or Hovlands, but they’re not. They are likely high end Audiophile caps, though, in the $10 to $20 each range. Interestingly, those three capacitors likely cost more then all of the electrical components combined for the Tim or the Fatboost. $$ doesn’t necessarily mean good tone, but they didn’t scrimp with this pedal.

  15. No, they hardly make any difference in a pedal like this lol.

    If they were in an amp it would be a different story. The most expensive one in there is the Jensen.

  16. rhoy,
    i saw on your site that you have a zendrive, how do you like it? I have been wanting to get one, but i am too cheap to buy new, and NOBODY wants to sell one.

  17. James–I really, really need to get some cheapo pedals and experiment with this type of stuff. I’ve modded before, so I can’t imagine it being something I couldn’t get with practice. I need to take your advice one of these days and just try it! :)

    DeeB–very, very true. Definitely a well-made pedal. And who says price doesn’t equal tone?! hehe ;)

    Charlie–ya, Rhoy’s a great player with a great sense of melody. And he has a Brigadier! :) hehe

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  19. Karl, I’m surprised you haven’t tried the Danelectro Transparent Overdrive version 1. It’s a timmy clone circuit for circuit. Best 35 bucks i’ve ever spent.

    Also, I think you guys need to check out barber’s half gainer. http://barberelectronics.com/ Two LTD gain stages in one pedal..

  20. Charlie–sorry I missed this comment! But yes…Brig and a Memory Lane…lovely. :)

    Matt S.–I actually haven’t bought one because since they didn’t get Paul’s permission to clone the Tim, I’m worried that buying one might cost him a little business. That’s all. But I’m sure it’s a fine pedal! :)

    And I think there was a discussion somewhere on here a while back on the Half Gainer. Can’t remember which post, though. But Barber does make good stuff for good prices! :)

  21. I liked loop 6 the least until you dug in with your attack on this vid I believe, loop 1 sounded the best, and loop 5 was next. To be honest the Tim sounded like it had a little bit of a mid-thing going on–but I guess with that pedal, everyone’s going to have a different experience depending on their amp. Does the boost side really heat things up with both switches on?

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