I need some input on creating a nice, sortof universal distortion tone.

If anyone can pass along what they are using for a pre-amp, and distortion/overdrive pedal during worship it would be great. I'll try to model it in my processor.

My problem is everything I come up with seems way to aggressive from my pre-Christian musical roots.

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Hi Jeremiah - did you ever settle on something?

If not, try a Hermida Zendrive. It's one of the most consistent pedals for producing that nice jazzy soft overdrive that's not so hard rock sounding. It's meant to model the famous Dumble sound.

I think that what you are looking for is not distortion, but overdrive. For some these terms are interchangeable, however there is an important difference in the way these effects change your signal. Overdrive is more of a bluesy/classic rock sound (more grit and dirt), where distortion is more of a hard rock/metal sound (more fuzz and crunch). While both have their place, I've found that overdrive fits worship a little better. It may be my person preference, but if you listen to a lot of live worship stuff (not CCM, but actual worship musicians, no offense intended just didn't know what else to call them), you'll hear the difference.

I use the Transparent Overdrive from Danelectro (the one that's a blatant rip off of the Tim/Timmy Cochran pedal). It's nice because it's true bypass and it doesn't distort your signal, it overdrives it, leaving the character of your tone unmolested. If you have the money you could buy and Tim or Timmy from Paul Cochran.

Also check out the OCD from Fulltone.

For a distortion pedal I use the Sparkle Drive from Voodoo Labs. I like this one because you can bring in the clean signal on top of distortion, allowing you to sculpt the tone to more organic and less...hair metal.

There are a lot of great options on the market, the fun part is finding the one (or ones) that give you your own voicing. One thing that I would caution you on is to make sure that whatever pedal you get (overdrive or distortion), it doesn't rob your sound of articulation. Too much fuzz will turn your chops into mushy noise.
I also like overdrive better for worship. In reality, if you have a good two channel valve amp, you don't really need it. But I still like a pedal at times. That OCD is fabulous, it doesn't flub out or get fizzy. It stays smooth and transparent all the way up to 11.
The tube screamer is a good choice although the sound of the tube screamer for worship was over-used and is becoming dated. Many worship guitarists are switching over to transparent over-drives without the "mid-hump" found in tube screamers. The desired overdrive for church settings is now overdrives that will not mess eith the amp amd guitar's natural tone as well as EQ. I recommend a good 2 channel overdrive pedal that can be run at 18v, this will allow for most dynamic and headroom. Great places to start: Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet, CmatMods Super Signa Drive, Paul's Tim pedal, Lovepedal Amp 11. Those are great 9-18v Super Transparent pedals but remember you have to be happy with your clean tone to be happy with these types of overdrive. Check those out and see what you think :)

The Diamond J-Drive is pretty nice as well.

I really appreciate your insightful comments.  Thanks.

I have similar problems.  In the past I was in a metal band.  My style really likes saturated overdrive.  This does not go over well in worship.  I settled on a Bethel sort of sound.  Sort of a fender twin with a tube screamer or overdrive, but not too much and some delay and reverb to give it a bigger sound.  Very simple.  Keep your mids you need them with lower gain tones.  I don't know what modeler you have but I would be happy to send you my settings.

check out these pedals. I've been playing around with a lot of different distortions, and finally found a coupe that have really been the ticket for me.



I have found I need a variety on my current board as our church has a real varied musical taste.  i find my best tone comes when I set the AC-15 just on the clean side of break up on the normal channel.  Then I can goose it just a little with the Tubescreamer or the SD-1 (also used to drive the way at times).  If I want real grit the BD-2 is kicked and then for true distrotion I use the DS-1 or the muff pi.  I really think the key is the low wattage amp and push it a little.  

I soemtimes use the top boost channel and really bring overdirve.



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