Catalinbread SFT Foundation Overdrive
The Catalinbread SFT is an Ampeg voiced foundation overdrive that bridges the “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” (Stones) and the Desert Sound (Stoner) eras.
Early on, Ampeg was a Jazz purist company which completely overlooked (possibly looked down on) more popular genres like Country & Western and Rock that Fender and Marshall openly embraced. From a design standpoint, they took more queues from the hifi world than they did from guitarists as evidenced by their tube complements, gain stages without cathode capacitors, and implementation of the Baxandall tone controls. And they were no slouches to innovation either, “Flip-top” combos is a great example. Not to mention there is at least one model of amplifier that had a torsion bar to adjust the tightness of the speaker baffle!
The most important Ampeg innovation was their 180 degree turn in regard to musical genre that took place in 1969 after the Rolling Stones had their entire HiWatt backline confiscated at the Canadian/US boarder on their American Tour in 1969. Ampeg stepped up to the plate providing an entire back line of 8 (and one as a backup) prototype SVT amplifiers and a tech to support them on the tour. Anybody who has listened to “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” knows that big, bouncy, full sound of the guitars and basses. A sound that defined the Stones sound until the mid to late 70s, when they started using VT40s and VT22s.
The SVT continued to be the standard bass amp for rock an roll, while their guitar amps fell into relative obscurity. That was until some dude in California named Josh Homme started using them playing shows out in the Palm Desert to a bunch of stoners. His tone and band, Queens of the Stone Age arguably defined the sound of rock guitar throughout the time period.
Thus the inspiration for the Catalinbread SFT!
The SFT is one of Catalinbread's Foundation Overdrives – pedals can give you big, cranked up amp response at non-cranked volumes. To use it as intended, you’ll want your amp set to a relatively clean, flat response. The SFT is designed to respond particularly well to fuzzes, boosts, and overdrives.
Stones / Stoner mode - This switch completely reconfigures the SFT and makes it become a completely new beast. Think Jekyll and Hyde! Two pedals in one! Stones Mode is super-refined and Stoner Mode is raw and unleashed! If you want the most authentic big Ampeg tube amp response, use Stones. If you want a rippin’ high gain distortion sound that can achieve huge fuzz tones, use Stoner mode.
Controls in Stones mode:
Treble / Bass knobs - Set to noon for a relatively flat response. Below noon to cut and above noon to boost. These are treble and bass shelving controls and have been carefully voiced for the SFT. To get more of a mid-hump response, try starting with Bass at 9:00 and Treble at noon. The Treble control is voiced to boost not only the highs but the upper mids as well, so you can turn the Treble control up a bit to get more mids to crunch through. Turning the Gain control up will provide more push in the midrange as well. If you want to scoop the mids, just turn the Treble and Bass controls up. This is most effective when you run with lower Gain settings.
Gain - In Stones mode, the range of the gain knob is tuned to be very similar to that of the volume control on a big non-master volume tube amp. So, from minimum Gain to about 10:00, the response will be clean and bright. From 10:00 to noon, you’ll get edge-of-breakup response that is very sensitive to pick attack. From noon to 2:00, you’ll hit the overdrive sweet spot, just like that of most tube amps. And from 2:00 on, you’ll get increasing crunch and saturation.
Volume - The SFT was designed to give a huge amount of output even with clean low gain settings. So, if you’re running the Gain control really low, you’ll find that there is plenty of output on the Volume knob to boost that clean sound quite loud! But if you’re running higher gain sounds, especially in Stoner mode, you’ll find that you won’t have to turn the Volume control up much at all.
Controls in Stoner Mode:
When you’re in Stoner mode, the controls still work basically the same way, but you’ll find that you will run the Treble, Bass and gain knobs lower than you would in Stones mode, due to all the extra gain and frequency content.
Centaur Guitar is an authorized Catalinbread dealer!