Need lead tone help – suggestions?

Need lead tone help – suggestions?
So I play an ESP HRF-NTII with SD Blackouts thru a Mesa Dual Rec. The only pedals I use is a wah and ISP decimator – I use the 3rd channel on the amp for distortion. What I’m looking for is a pedal recommendation to sweeten up my lead tone. I love the rhythm tone I get from my amp, and want something that helps my leads cut though the mix a little better. I currently just hit the solo button on the amp foot controller for leads. What should I look at – compression pedal? Overdrive? Some sort of boost? I would run this right before the amp in the chain. I play heavy rock and metal, so I’m looking for something that would fit those genres. Suggestions?

Howdy, try this, a lot of metal players with 3 channel rectos use channel 1 for cleans...obviously, channel 2 use modern for your rhythm tone, and on 3 use vintage for your leads, as the vintage mode is raved about for its vocal type qualities for sweet singing leads. Have you ever put a maxon 808 in front of your recto? They have reached holy grail status in terms of tone with a recto, they just blend right in with the amp, use as a clean boost ie; gain off, level dimed, tone at noon, rectos beg to be boosted, it really tightens up the low end, also, get an mxr 10 band eq in your fx loop, great for tone shaping and pulling that "wet blanket" off the amp! cheers;)


Thank you! I will have to check it out. Anyone have any experience with the MXR GT-OD? I've read positive things about that as well.

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Once I tried boosting for leads I ended up using the boost 100% all the time, even clean. :lol I've been using the MXR GT-OD for the last 4 or 5 years and I love it.

I prefer to have the same rhythm and lead tone, and only adding volume and some effects for lead, not actually using a different channel/tone.


This is great information guys. Thanks mucho! I never really thought about the EQ, so I will definitely look into that. Does that go thru the loop or directly in the chain? As far as the OD pedals go, I'll look at both suggestions and see what works best. I've never been a big pedal guy, I guess I've been of the mindset that the amp and guitar will do the talking, so to speak. But I'd like to experiment with some of these pedals and see what it can do for my tone.

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Perhaps I'm a bit strange, but my lead tone is actually less gainy and more mid heavy than my rhythm tone.


Just another quick note about the suggested Maxon 808. I did not realize so many players use it. Found this on the Maxon site.

deus ex machina

Perhaps I'm a bit strange, but my lead tone is actually less gainy and more mid heavy than my rhythm tone.
+1 on the mids.

I use around the same amount of gain.

The Vintage mode on Rectos sounds great for leads, IMO.

A lot more mids, a lot less bass, and just a touch less treble than rythm tone is what I usually go for.


I love how the OCD sounds with the Roadster.. I really don't use it as a boost very much but more as a different flavor over my clean channel for a mid gain bluesy tone.. It is heavenly ;)


Thanks again for all the feedback! I will try out these suggestions and report back.


I was actually going to comment on mids and I see the esteemed Pushead already touched on that. It's been my experience that for the last 20+ years, metal heads instinctively get all scoopy with EQing. And while it might sound OK for bedroom jamming, in real world applications it isn't as practical. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's important to have the right amount of mids, and the right kind of mids (the right frequency target range) but they can do good things for tone. Of course, you have to be careful you don't do it wrong or you end up with a hokey sounding cross between a quack and a honk. But in moderation it helps you cut through in a mix and have fuller tone. On the one hand, I'd suggest EQing one channel for rhythm and the other for lead, but really, anymore, I find I use the same EQ for both. Maybe just set one with a decibel boost for solo. Most good amps have a switch that does exactly that.

On the subject of pedals, I put a Zakk OD in front of my Carvin V3, which is a beastly faux-Brit amp for metal. I do like the EL34 character, but I did find that the two together were almost "too much" Marshall, so I eased off the treble and presence on the amp to compensate, and I have a wonderfully cutting tone now. But the ZW pedal isn't for everyone, and needs to be used with care, or it can do bad things to your tone or your noise threshold.


Have you looked at the ProCo Rat distortion pedal?

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