NPD-Blackbird + CabDryVr = blown away

Andy Fortune

Gretschie
Gold Supporting Member
May 24, 2016
420
Corning, NY
So, I run direct and my board has been built around an Ethos Overdrive for some time. The Ethos is incredible and it has a really good built-in speaker sim, so I’ve had no reason to try anything else. The only nagging thing was that I tend to play quite clean, with the gain set pretty low on the Overdrive channel, and the Ethos really excels at touch-sensitive dynamics when the gain is set a bit higher. I set the gain higher and dial my volume knob back to get where I want, and it’s really sweet, but then I have to make quick adjustments when I go back to the clean channel. Also, while the clean channel is stellar, it is all clean headroom so I can’t push it with a boost to get that pushed clean blackface Fender sound.
I decided on a whim to try a used Effectrode Blackbird and I am blown away. It sounded really good out of the box, but it was biased fairly cold, so I adjusted the bias to spec for 12ax7s. That opened up the dynamics considerably and the sound really came alive. It does not have a speaker sim, so I also picked up a Digitech CabDryVr. It took a little tweaking, but I found a few sweet spot combinations and the combo is perfect for me—I am actually blown away. It’s like having a Deluxe Reverb at my feet and the overdrive channel excels at the lower gain, edge of breakup without getting stiff. The bonus surprise was how good the Creamy channel sounds—just full-out creamy Marshall-esque tone. What a blast!
By the way, this latest version with the presence switch has an internal jumper you can set that swaps the functions of the bypass footswitch and the Classic/Creamy toggle switch. I have it set so I use the toggle as a standby switch since the pedal is always on in my setup. Then, the bypass switch gives me Classic or Creamy with the footswitch—super convenient.
Then, of course, I swapped in a couple mid ‘60s Amperex 12ax7s and I am loving it!
The Ethos is phenomenal, and it does the Dumble thing and super clean blackface thing perfectly. But for me, it looks like the Blackbird is the match I have been looking for, even though it doesn’t have the convenience of a great speaker sim built-in. 739CF7B2-6D2A-43EE-ADF2-0B2AFD5CA602.jpeg
 
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Andy Fortune

Gretschie
Gold Supporting Member
May 24, 2016
420
Corning, NY
Very cool. So, as set up, it is effectively a 3-channel pedal amp?
Pretty much. It’s a clean channel with it’s own EQ, and a 4 stage Overdrive channel with 2 different voicings/gain structure with a shared EQ.
The really cool thing is you can swap in 12AY7, 12AV7, 5751, etc. in different combinations to customize it, and the internal bias pot is simple to adjust. I’m still using all 12ax7s.
 

Andy Fortune

Gretschie
Gold Supporting Member
May 24, 2016
420
Corning, NY
Just an update...After experimentation, I am running a 12AV7 in V3 and I love it. I took this through the paces at a gig last weekend and it was fantastic. It feels just like playing a good tube amp and it's the first time I've been able to get that searing, cut through the mix, on the edge of breakup sound running direct that has people looking around for the mic'd up Deluxe Reverb or Bluesbreaker. the Ethos I used previously was wonderful, and it excelled at smooth overdrive tones and glassy cleans. The Blackbird is more raw. Both do what they do exceptionally well, but the Blackbird is definitely the better match for my style.
 

stevo

Friend of Fred
May 1, 2012
7,310
Atlanta
Effectrode is a cool company. Their stuff is expensive and hard to find, so if you want one of something and you see it, buy it right then or you'll miss it.
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 13, 2009
22,767
Monkey Island
Effectrode is a cool company. Their stuff is expensive and hard to find, so if you want one of something and you see it, buy it right then or you'll miss it.

There’s a couple on Reverb right now. Pricing is not that bad.
 

Andy Fortune

Gretschie
Gold Supporting Member
May 24, 2016
420
Corning, NY
Yeah, I got mine for $380 used. Honestly, now that I’ve played it, the $469 new price is absolutely worth it. Right out of the (used) box it was great. After setting the bias and trying tubes to my taste, it’s fantastic.
 


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