Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp
The Blackbird™ is a genuine all-tube preamp in a compact pedal. It’s designed to add multiple channels to vintage/boutique guitar amps or use as a professional quality direct recording tube preamplifier. The tonal palette of this machine is immense – the drive channel ranges from fat, warm, bluesy drive sounds, through to rich, full-bodied classic rock distortion and even heavy, harmonically-saturated metal sounds. This channel utlilses the same dynamic and touch sensitive 4 stage all-tube clipping circuitry only found in an elite few hi-end guitar amps. By simply digging in or easing off with the guitar pick the tube circuitry responds musically and works with you to create soaring expressive solos and its natural tube compression means you can effortlessy transition into rhythm or chord playing – the tone is superbly balanced. The clean channel has a beautiful and glassy musical tone that lends itself to country and jazz playing, however because it’s a replica of the ‘Blackface’ tube circuit it too can be pushed into breakup and warm overdrive with higher output pickups or a booster pedal. Again, this channel has great depth, clarity and richness – tones that only that only tubes can produce.
The tone of the Blackbird can be further ‘tweaked’ (an engineering term) to allow players sculpt their own truely unique signature sounds. The fundamental character of the overdrive response can be altered by adjusting tube bias points and swapping out tubes. This gives access to a virtually infinite array of classic and undiscovered tones and it’s a lot of fun – finding bargain tubes and experimenting. In the time it takes to change a light bulb tubes can be swapped out for N.O.S.(new old stock) vintage types such as Mullard, RCA, Tung-Sol, etc. Guitar tone really does not get any better than this.
Special thanks to all these musicians and Phil Taylor of Gilmour music, who have helped and advised over the Blackbird’s two year development period. They made it possible to take the Blackbird design beyond the horizons I could have reached myself.
- Two Truely Independent Channels: The clean channel is a replica of the classic ‘Blackface’ circuit Leo Fender created from the RCA Receiving Tube Manual and is beautifully warm and glassy sounding. The overdrive channel is a variation on the hot-rodded 4-stage Dumble/Soldano circuit and packs a huge degree of flexibility ranging from warm and fat blues drive tones, through classic rock distortion, to harmonically-saturated, savage metal tones.
- Classic Tone Stacks: Each channel has it’s own dedicated Bass, Mid and Treble controls based on the interactive tonestacks found on the ‘Blackface’ amps.
- Tube Buffered Output: For connection to guitar amplifier. This output is a low impedance tube cathode follower stage with +10dBu of gain and is capable of driving long cable runs with lowest possible tone loss.
- Transformer Balanced Out: Triad transformer isolated balanced output (600Ω imepdance) with +6dBu gain allowing direct connection to mixing desk, PC sound capture card or power amplifier. The transformer is driven by audiophile discrete class AB transistor circuitry (the only solid-state components in the entire signal path) and imparts some additional sweetness to the guitar signal – in fact, speaker emulation often isn’t even necessary when recording direct, just a some eq and a little reverb can create incredible, full-bodied tones.
- Adjustable Bias: External switch allows biasing to be selected for 12AX7, 12AU7 or 12AY7 tubes installed in the overdrive channel. Internal bias trim pot allows further adjustment for other types of dual stage miniature B9A tube such as 12AV7, 12AT7, etc. Swapping tubes allows the fundamental character of the drive channel to be altered to replicate a wide range of vintage guitar amps and create new sounds too.
- Tube swapping: The tone and gain characteristics of the Blackbird pedal can be fine-tuned by interchanging tubes – the pedal is designed for easy access to the tubes for this purpose. In the time it takes to change a light-bulb the core tone of the overdrive channel can be tailored to your exact requirements – from subtle break-up, to mellow blues and vintage or saturated modern rock distortion, this pedal has wide versatility and all by simply removing a tube and replacing it with a different type.
- All Tube: The Blackbird is an entire tube preamp section in a pedal format. The signal path is 100% pure analog built with vacuum tubes operating at amp plate voltages. D.C. powered tube heaters ensure absolute quietest possible operation.
- Audiophile Components: Absoutely no skimping on the quality of the components – polyester capacitors and instrumentation grade metal-film resistors are used throughout the audio signal path. Find out more about the Effectrode engineering ethos on component quality here!
- Extremely compact: The Blackbird is small enough to carry in a gig bag with your cables, tuner and other tools of the trade. You’ll be sure of unparalleled tone wherever you roam and it makes a great backup as a spare rig. No guitarist should leave home (or be at home!) without it!
- Housed in a real metal box: The Blackbird is built to last and for rigorous touring – each preamp pedal is housed in an aluminium alloy enclosure which powder-coated with a stoved epoxy silkscreen.
- True Bypass Switching: With Effectrode’s unique ‘anti-pop’ or ‘thump’ footswitching circuitry utilising sealed, gold-contact relay to eliminate the possibility of dirty contacts degrading the sound and minimial internal audio path.
- Includes 12V Wall-wart Power Supply: High quality low-noise switched mode 12VDC at 1.5A wall-wart compatible with all our pedals. Accepts 100V to 240VAC mains input and comes with different mains outlet adaptor plugs, so there is always a plug that fits the country that you are playing in.
- Named after the coolest plane ever built!: The Blackbird SR-71 operated at Mach3+ to allow the pilot to outrun ground-to-air missiles! Like it’s counterpart the Blackbird vacuum tube preamp puts you in control of your core drive sound.