The Blackbird™ ‘Tube Tone Engine’ is a genuine all-tube preamp in a compact pedal. This versatile preamp is designed to give guitarists access to a wide palette of burnished, rich guitar sounds whether recording direct to computer in the studio or when used with a tube amp in a live situation. The tone of the drive channel is best described as, “bourbon & honey” being voiced for a full-bodied, warm, bluesy overdrive and the clean channel has a beautiful, ‘glassy’ character.
As the gain knob is rolled-up the overdrive fattens up beautifully to become a complex, rich distortion full of depth and even harmonic overtones. The gain channel also features a second, entirely different voicing (“Creamy” mode) which hot biases the tube circuitry, adding more odd harmonics to thicken up the soup for some devastating classic rock, crunch and harmonically-saturated guitar sounds. This channel utilises exactly the same dynamic and touch sensitive all-tube clipping circuitry found only 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 effortlessly transition into rhythm or chord playing.
The clean channel has a beautiful, pure, glassy 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 overdrive with higher output pickups or a booster pedal. A huge engineering effort has gone into developing and refining the thermionic circuitry in Blackbird and as a result of this the tone and feel of the pedal is superbly balanced—guitar tone really does not get any better than this. Again, this channel has great depth, clarity and richness—a polished, classy sound that tubes excel at.
The Blackbird preamp can be further ‘tweaked’ (a formal engineering term) to allow players sculpt their own truly unique signature sounds. The character of the overdrive response can be altered by adjusting tube bias points and swapping out tubes giving access to a virtually unlimited range of classic and undiscovered amp voicings. And it’s a tone hound’s dream—discovering bargain tubes, trying them out and seeing what effect they have on the guitar’s sound. In the time it takes to change a light bulb a tube can be swapped out for a NOS (new old stock) vintage type such as Mullard, Sylvania, RCA, etc altering the gain, biting point, response and fundamental tone of the Blackbird.
Bassists! The Blackbird also works superbly with electric bass—its input stage has an excellent low-end response and can effortlessly handle the higher output from bass guitar.
- Two Truly Independent Channels: Add multiple channels to your vintage/boutique guitar amp! 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 an improvement on the “hot-rodded” tube circuitry found in ‘Dumble’ amps and packs a huge degree of flexibility ranging from warm and fat blues drive tones, through classic rock crunch, to harmonically-saturated sounds.
- Classic Tone Stacks: Each channel has it’s own dedicated ‘Bass’, ‘Middle’ and ‘Treble’ controls based on the interactive tonestack found on vintage Fender® ‘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: For superb professional quality direct recording. Triad transformer isolated balanced output (600Ω impedance) 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: Internal bias trim-pot allows bias adjustment of the first gain stage of the drive channel to alter the input sensitivity, biting point and ‘feel’ of the Blackbird. Rotating the trim-pot clockwise increases the bias voltage, ‘hot’ biasing the tube stage and rotating anti-clockwise ‘cold’ biases the tube.
- Tube swapping: 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. The tone and gain characteristics of the Blackbird pedal can be fine-tuned by substituting the stock 12AX7 with other B9A types, such as 12AY7, 12AV7 or 12AU7 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 analogue built with vacuum tubes operating at amp plate voltages. D.C. powered tube heaters ensure absolute quietest possible operation.
- Audiophile Components: Absolutely 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
- ‘Dakaware’ Knobs: Authentic bakelite ‘Dakaware’, Chicago 1510 knobs custom manufactured specially for Effectrode in the U.S.A using the original 1940s moulds.
- 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 minimal 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.
- John Verity – Argent
- Steve Rothery – Marillion
- David Gilmour – Pink Floyd
- Paul Stacey – Black Crowes and Oasis
- Seasick Steve
Special thanks to all these musicians, especially John Verity, Phil Taylor (of Gilmour music) and Paul Stacey, who have helped and advised over the Blackbird’s long two year development period.