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Thread: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    So I have been lurking on the gear page again, which is never good for me, and I get all intrigued by the Chase Tone Secret Preamp. It is a full-on recreation of an Echoplex EP-3 preamp. Tons of testimonials, which don't mean jack to me. Big selling point is that the guitar gods of yore (Page and Van Halen both get mentioned a lot and a host of other names get thrown around) all used one at one time or another.
    Then I watch some YouTube demos. It sounds good, but it sounds like a mild boost.
    Then I do some thinking and I realize these guitar gods don't use these pedals or a real Echoplex anymore and haven't for decades. (Eric Johnson does but he is nuts and I don't care what he uses.)

    So...is there really some voodoo magic in this pedal or is it just a good boost and the Greats used them in the '70s because there were so few other choices at the time? Would an MXR Microamp blow everyone's mind just as much if it cost twice as much and looked more retro cool?

    (Not talking about the delay at all, just the preamp/boost.)

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    Mojo's Minions devastone's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    I think the answer is yes to both questions. Yes, it is what they had at the time, and yes, turns out it makes a great boost.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    But is it the holy grail great boost, or just one of many great boosts currently available?

    I'm trying to decide if it's worth $130 to try one out. (Retail $120 + $10 shipping). No chance of finding one local or cheap used.

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    Super Toneologist VinceT's Avatar
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    Default EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Xotic EP Booster will give you the “mojo”. To my ears, it adds a rounded bottom end (and possibly lower mids) - it just feels like “more” of the guitars natural tone - so that when you’ve been playing through it and kick it off, you’re just left wondering “where did my guitar go?”

    I use the EP as an always on after all my drive pedals, and it just takes everything the earlier pedals can throw at it.

    EDIT TO ADD: I don’t enjoy the EP Booster as a boost pedal - it’s too full-range to my ears, the bass/low-mid frequencies make any boosted signal too flabby/woofy, hence my using it as an “acceptor” of other boosted tones (note: I run it at 18V for increased headroom before compression)


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    Last edited by VinceT; 12-04-2019 at 09:44 PM.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Locher View Post
    But is it the holy grail great boost, or just one of many great boosts currently available?

    I'm trying to decide if it's worth $130 to try one out. (Retail $120 + $10 shipping). No chance of finding one local or cheap used.
    I don't think "magical", or "secret sauce" pedals exist. And most professionals seem to agree when you look how they go through gear.

    $130 EP-preamp may be perfect for your rig, or $30 LPB-1 may turn out to be better. They're pieces in a machine, and when you change one part of equation it's good to re-evaluate the rest and the results. No one part on itself can make it perfect.

    Is it worth $130? Definitely! It is great boost.
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
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    Mojo's Minions eclecticsynergy's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    They did something cool and special, but most of us didn't know it at the time. In 1980 when I switched from an old EP3 to a new DDL, my tone became a little thinner and less lively. Our soundman told me it probably was an impedance thing and I didn't question it. Eventually I sold both my vintage Echoplexes for next to nothing.

    Digital really is better than tape for hard duty on the road since there are no moving parts - no cleaning, no adjustments, no replacing the tapes every couple of months. That MXR System II served me well through several thousand sets with never a hiccup. Of course today I wish I still had those EP3s in the closet.

    Anyway, two decades later I plugged into a Chase Secret Pre and there it was- that same subtle magic. Totally familiar after all those years. I was sold right away. It just makes things sweeter and better. As many say, not an obvious effect: what it does isn't noticeable at all until you turn it off. At which point you immediately want it back on.

    I've heard the Clinch pedal is also very good, though I haven't tried that one myself. There are many cheap EP3 pedals on the market too but the discount ones might just change the EQ. Not sure; haven't tried those either.

    But the real thing does something more than just fatten, it adds life.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by eclecticsynergy View Post
    They did something cool and special, but most of us didn't know it at the time. In 1980 when I switched from an old EP3 to a new DDL, my tone became a little thinner and less lively. Our soundman told me it probably was an impedance thing and I didn't question it. Eventually I sold both my vintage Echoplexes for next to nothing.

    Digital really is better than tape for hard duty on the road since there are no moving parts - no cleaning, no adjustments, no replacing the tapes every couple of months. That MXR System II served me well through several thousand sets with never a hiccup. Of course today I wish I still had those EP3s in the closet.

    Anyway, two decades later I plugged into a Chase Secret Pre and there it was- that same subtle magic. Totally familiar after all those years. I was sold right away. It just makes things sweeter and better. As many say, not an obvious effect: what it does isn't noticeable at all until you turn it off. At which point you immediately want it back on.

    I've heard the Clinch pedal is also very good, though I haven't tried that one myself. There are many cheap EP3 pedals on the market too but the discount ones might just change the EQ. Not sure; haven't tried those either.

    But the real thing does something more than just fatten, it adds life.
    Now THIS is the kind of experience I was hoping to hear.
    I'm starting to get gas...

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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by eclecticsynergy View Post
    They did something cool and special, but most of us didn't know it at the time. In 1980 when I switched from an old EP3 to a new DDL, my tone became a little thinner and less lively. Our soundman told me it probably was an impedance thing and I didn't question it. Eventually I sold both my vintage Echoplexes for next to nothing.

    Digital really is better than tape for hard duty on the road since there are no moving parts - no cleaning, no adjustments, no replacing the tapes every couple of months. That MXR System II served me well through several thousand sets with never a hiccup. Of course today I wish I still had those EP3s in the closet.

    Anyway, two decades later I plugged into a Chase Secret Pre and there it was- that same subtle magic. Totally familiar after all those years. I was sold right away. It just makes things sweeter and better. As many say, not an obvious effect: what it does isn't noticeable at all until you turn it off. At which point you immediately want it back on.

    I've heard the Clinch pedal is also very good, though I haven't tried that one myself. There are many cheap EP3 pedals on the market too but the discount ones might just change the EQ. Not sure; haven't tried those either.

    But the real thing does something more than just fatten, it adds life.
    Rocktron Hush X2 I mentioned in other thread does similar effect in loop of my amp without the boost. It's hard to explain exactly how it changes, but your explanation seems to hit close. Turning it off makes my tone thinner, less lively, and reduces clarity. It's most noticeable how differences switching between pickups seems much less noticeable with the gate turned off.

    I do use separate boost in front too.
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    Mojo's Minions LLL's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Speaking as someone one has known about these EP3 preamps, saw the formation of the ClinchFX (forum) and discussed on various forums for almost a decade... and owns a Badgerplex Trilogy...

    There are fake EP3 preamps (xotic EP Booster, ClinchFX, Dunlop Echoplex, etc) that "sorta" do the trick (I owned an xotic EP Booster; sold it after I got the Trilogy), but the key factors you need to look for if you want authenticity (authentic to the original EP-3 circuit that is) is:

    1) a NOS TIS-58 transistor Texas Instruments TIS58 Datasheet
    2) running at ~22-25V

    The Badgerplex Trilogy (and formerly known as Badgerplex "PRE") and this Chase's Tone Secret possess these factors.

    The xotic EP Booster, ClinchFX, Dunlop Echoplex, etc do not possess these factors.

    The authentic ones - they do something to your tone. As best I can describe, there is an EQ change component; slightly scooped mids with a nice chimey sheen on top. Slightly extended low end. Maybe best way to say is it gives a slightly more "hi-fi" EQ to your tone. Add to that just a hair of grit.

    It is an "always on" preamp.

    For the record, last I heard, Badgerplex's owner is on hiatus and not sure when, if ever, he will get back into the business. He may come back.

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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    I can say that one of the best sounding guitar tones I've ever heard was a buddy demonstrating his EP3.

    It's real.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    LLL, you use yours all the time? I don't remember you mentioning it.

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    Mojo's Minions LLL's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Locher View Post
    LLL, you use yours all the time? I don't remember you mentioning it.
    I've talked about it before here a handful of times; more specifically warning people of the fake EP3 preamps that had been saturating the market.

    I don't have just one rig, obviously with all of my tone tweaking I use a bunch of different rigs (including some VSTs - "computer amps") and combinations thereof depending on what I'm doing.

    I use the Badgerplex Trilogy mainly with my plexi... and I've had it since 2013. It's a keeper.

    Here's a google search for posts showing "Badgeplex" on the subject; you'll see mine:

    https://www.google.com/search?source...4dUDCAc&uact=5
    Last edited by LLL; 12-06-2019 at 10:47 AM.

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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Never having used the original, can you explain what it does to the sound?
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    I bought a PCB from Aion and parts to build one and find out. I hope it's magical. Then it can become another awesome clone pedal like my Centaur knockoff. One by one, all the brand-name pedals seem to be moving off my board. Except the TU-2. I'm pretty sure the apocalypse won't take that down.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    I use the Badgerplex Trilogy mainly with my plexi... and I've had it since 2013. It's a keeper.

    Here's a google search for posts showing "Badgeplex" on the subject; you'll see mine:

    https://www.google.com/search?source...4dUDCAc&uact=5
    Yeah, I later realized that you could have posted "Badgerplex" a million times and I wouldn't have known what it was.

    Is it safe to say this circuit pays off the most with the low/mid-gain amps?

    I am still intrigued and hope to try one out eventually but the realization that I don't like Page's tone and don't want to sound more like early EVH has kind of pushed it from "gotta try one NOW!" to "really gotta try one of those someday." Now it's second in line behind the Catalinbread Talisman I keep hoping to score cheap. Missed one a month or so ago...

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterwhizzy View Post
    I bought a PCB from Aion and parts to build one and find out. I hope it's magical. Then it can become another awesome clone pedal like my Centaur knockoff. One by one, all the brand-name pedals seem to be moving off my board. Except the TU-2. I'm pretty sure the apocalypse won't take that down.
    Let me know how that goes! I see it has the charge pump to get the voltage up. DIY intrigues me...

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    Mojo's Minions eclecticsynergy's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    They definitely change the EQ but I think there's more to it than just that. I remember reading somewhere that the original circuit does something special in terms of frequency-dependent phase alignment, something that wasn't anticipated when the preamp section was designed. A happy accident.

    Of course that might just have been marketing BS; I don't know enough about electronics theory say for sure.

    Still, I don't think the enhancement it gives is limited solely to EQ. There's something different and special going on.
    At least that's my impression.
    .
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Yeah, I saw mention of the phase shift. That's actually what got me so curious because I don't understand it.

    If anyone understands the "phase shift of certain frequencies" and can explain it to me in simple terms I would love to understand what the heck that means?

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    I've talked about it before here a handful of times; more specifically warning people of the fake EP3 preamps that had been saturating the market.

    I don't have just one rig, obviously with all of my tone tweaking I use a bunch of different rigs (including some VSTs - "computer amps") and combinations thereof depending on what I'm doing.

    I use the Badgerplex Trilogy mainly with my plexi... and I've had it since 2013. It's a keeper.

    Here's a google search for posts showing "Badgeplex" on the subject; you'll see mine:

    https://www.google.com/search?source...4dUDCAc&uact=5
    Dunlop Echoplex doesn't have preamp. It's just emulating echoplex tape delay.

    Dunlop EP-101 is their version of the echoplex type preamp.

    I think calling them fakes is a bit overstatement. Their merely pedals aiming to that smilar sound.
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
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    Default Re: EP-3 preamp magical or just what they had at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacew View Post
    I think calling them fakes is a bit overstatement. Their merely pedals aiming to that smilar sound.
    I'll quote myself here:

    "From my understanding, the Xotic EP Booster and pedals such as the EP-Pre by ClinchFX, the Baderplex by Badger Effects, or the Secret Preamp by Chase Tone are different beasts entirely. Kind of like the difference between 'inspired by' (EP Booster) and 'based on' (EP-Pre, Badgerplex, and Secret Preamp)."

    By fake, LLL maybe meaning those pedals 'inspired by' and as you said, merely aiming to recreate a similar sounds/tone of the EP3 preamp rather than the pedals using the identical electronic topology and parts like the Badgerplex.

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