Anyone have an opinion on the Sherlock V3?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Gudbrand, May 6, 2020.

  1. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    I love preamps, both rackmount and pedal. Somehow this pedal slipped under my radar until today. It's a two channel pedal with three tubes at proper plate voltages. Supposed to be voiced like their Fat Head 100, which I've never played or heard, but I gather it's a modern-sounding high gain amp. Has anyone owned or played one?

     
  2. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    tube pedals are the best. doesn't matter if they are good or bad. support tube pedals. buy them all.
     
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  3. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Yeah I think I might go for it. I've acquired enough crappy distortion pedals over the years that I never use anymore, but i keep them around "just in case". I should sell them and fund this one.
     
  4. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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  5. jco5055

    jco5055 SS.org Regular

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    what other tube preamp pedals are out there? I can only think of Victory amps and the Bluguitar stuff.
     
  6. GoldDragon

    GoldDragon SS.org Regular

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    It sounds great in that video. Sounds like it has a loose bass, sounds like a relaxed rock type of sound with a broad mid. Maybe not great for metal.
     
  7. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    There are others, they aren't that common. A couple that I can think of offhand or find in a quick search: Kingsley pedals, Effectrode Blackbird, AMT SS-20, Blackstar HT, Damage Control, Kartakou Beastbox, H&K Tubefactor, Verellen Meatsmoke and Skyhammer. I'm sure there are a lot of boutique and one-offs out there too.

    Most seem to use only one tube. I like that this one has three, because more is always better, right? For preamps it probably is, since it allows you to have more gain stages, or to voice channels differently without sharing signal paths.

    I don't count the ones that use undervolted tubes, or pedals tuned more to be overdrives than standalone preamps.
     
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  8. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, even for that sound alone I'm interested, but also the written review I linked to suggested it's good for modern metal too. I'm hoping that a good boost will really put it over the edge.
     
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  9. Emperoff

    Emperoff Hasta la vista, Baby Contributor

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    XtoneboX stuff is stellar. And they're also very cool to look at:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    the backstar, damage control, h and k, and mesa tube pedals all have lots of solid state stages before and after the pedals.

    still sounds alright but not quite the same thing.
     
  11. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Never seen them before. Thanks for putting them on my radar! That is one nice looking and sounding pedal. Looks like it's a Soldano GTO clone, which I've been interested in for a long time, but they are rare and expensive.

    If I'm being picky about the design, I do prefer vertical tubes like in the original GTO, since you can take off the cover to change tubes without disassembling the pedal. Not singling out this one, since lots of other pedals with tubes have similar designs.

    Good to know. I actually like plenty of solid state and hybrid gear too, but I also like to know exactly what I'm getting. The marketing around any gear with a tube in it can make that difficult.
     
  12. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    the Laney IRT Pulse is a single tube preamp pedal. I owned one before.

    Looks and sounds good.
     
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  13. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Since we're on the subject, another I just ran across today that I never heard of before: Tubesteader Beekeeper. Looks like it's supposed to be a Dumble, so not at all a high-gain preamp. But it is running two tubes at proper voltages. Not too expensive, either.

    The Sherlock V3 will be here tomorrow. I'll post an update with my impressions.
     
  14. Emperoff

    Emperoff Hasta la vista, Baby Contributor

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    I actually prefer this design. It keeps the tubes protected and you just have to unscrew the back cover, as if you had to change a battery. No big deal!
     
  15. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    The pedal came last week, but today was the first chance I had to really play. I used a PRS SE Holcomb in standard tuning, into the pedal, then into the effects return of a Peavey Bandit. (I do have better power amps and cabs that I will try later, but I use a Bandit as a practice amp, and I've always thought it punches above its weight class as a pedal platform and for plugging preamps into the effects return).

    My first impressions of the Sherlock V3 were lackluster. It seemed really low gain, even compared to the rock tones in the video I posted. Then I realized the dip switches on the bottom were set to low gain mode for both channels. I flipped them all to high gain mode and things were much better.

    The rhythm and lead channels are voiced very differently. Even in high gain mode, the rhythm channel definitely needs a boost, both for gain and for a bit of tightening. Even with a boost, I had the gain control dimed, and I still found myself wishing for a bit more. I tried an SD-1, a Pepers Dirty Tree (Fortin 33 clone), and a Randall Facepunch. The Dirty Tree sounded best, but the SD-1 was surprisingly close.

    The lead channel, on the other hand, almost has too much gain. With the boost on I kept the gain around 10 o'clock. It could get pretty noisy. It also has a lot of low end, but that's not a problem for me for leads.

    Both channels are really dark. Maybe that's a consequence of trying to design it to sound good into the front of an amp or as a standalone preamp. The EQ seems relatively powerful, though, and I was able to dial in a really nice tone straight into the effects return.

    I compared the Sherlock with a Randall RGOD, just to have a point of reference. The RGOD has an insane amount of gain available in comparison. It also has a more biting tone, and it feels a bit more responsive for fast, tight riffing. It could definitely do death metal, whereas I don't think the Sherlock could, even with a boost.

    On the other hand, the Sherlock has a low-end grunt that made it really satisfying to play. The best riffs I got out of it reminded me of Tool: not super high gain, but really beefy.

    A couple other minor issues I noticed: the pedal gets really hot after playing a long time. Probably not much they can do with three tubes. It's also surprisingly light for such a big pedal. The top seems like it is some kind of plastic, not metal. Overall the pedal feels solid and very well made, but that was a surprise. I wonder if a metal top would help it cool off faster, too. Finally, knob placement is not quite ideal. The top row of knobs is just a bit harder to adjust than I'd like, since they sit so close to the tubes. The bottom row is also just a bit too close to the footswitches. It probably would not be a problem for most people, including me, but I could see someone in the middle of a high-energy show stomping on a knob.

    Overall, the pedal produces some of the best hard rock to classic metal tones I've heard from any pedal. Even with a boost, though, I can't see it quite getting to modern or death metal territory.

    That's my opinion so far, for what it's worth. Keep in mind this is all at bedroom volumes. Obviously the tones that sound great while practicing at home fall apart in the mix, both live and recording. Also you don't need much gain when layering tracks in a mix, so this may end up producing some killer tracks.

    There's still a lot I'd like to do before I decide for sure if I'm going to keep it. I'd like record some comparisons with my other preamps to see how they compare in a mix. I need to try with a seven string and lower tunings. I also want to hear it into my Peavey 120/120 power amp and Avatar cabinet with V30s, which always sounds better than my Peavey practice amp.

    Actually, maybe the most important thing to try next is seeing how the Sherlock performs as a distortion into a clean amp. It seems like it was primarily designed for that and I bet it would excel in that role. I'll have to compare it against my Empress Heavy, which is my absolute favorite for that. Maybe I should have done that first, but I'm usually more of a fan of standalone preamp into a power amp.

    Sometimes it takes a while to really figure out the best uses of a piece of gear. I'll give this one a couple months to be sure. Honestly, even though it sounds great, my guess right now is that I won't end up using it as a preamp, since I already have so many others, including tube rack preamps for recording. Now I'm looking forward to seeing if it will knock my Empress Heavy off my pedalboard as an amp-like distortion pedal.
     
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  16. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    You know, maybe the lead channel would get into modern metal territory if I switch it back to low-gain mode and hit it with a major mid-hump boost like the Dirty Tree, or just turn the level of the boost down. It was too noisy with the boost, but I don't know why I didn't think to try tweaking it like that.

    More to come!
     
  17. GoldDragon

    GoldDragon SS.org Regular

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    Have fun experimenting, but to me it sounds like you are trying to convince yourself.

    I'm not convinced a preamp needs three tubes. I believe an ax7 has two sides or two gain stages.

    Three tubes packed in a pedal is a cool ideal, but doesn't mean it's the holy grail.
     
  18. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, maybe. I do enjoy experimenting with gear. I admit it can be hard to balance that pastime with actually practicing and playing sometimes. I'm not a lawyer and I don't play blues, but I probably fit into that stereotype compared to a lot of the much better players on here.

    I don't know for sure, but I doubt either channel uses all six gain stages from the three tubes. They probably share the first few, then the rest are split between the two circuits. The alternative would be to use fewer tubes and share all the gain stages, but then switching channels requires swapping the rest of the circuitry in and out around them.
     
  19. GoldDragon

    GoldDragon SS.org Regular

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    What I meant were that there might be some pedals with only one tube (or without any) that might suit your playing better. AFAICT, the major selling points of that pedal are that it has three prominent tubes (and the lighting looks cool).

    Im not sure if they still make them, but Blackstar had a series of pedals with one tube that were apparently quite good. And there is the Tightmetal pro that everyone loves. Lots of options.
     
  20. Gudbrand

    Gudbrand SS.org Regular

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    Oh yeah, definitely. I have a Tightmetal Pro and I do love it. I'd probably keep using it even if it didn't sound as good as it does because the side loops make switching so easy. I just like having other colors in the palette for playing at home and recording, which is why I've got a couple other preamps, and why I wanted to check this one out.
     

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