Ghosting Overdrive

By John Dines – OE Product Manager


As we proudly announce the great Tony Iommi as an Origin Effects artist, it’s probably a good time to delve into what’s led him to switch off his 100W amps for a moment and choose the Origin Effects RevivalDRIVE. In addition to the great tones it produces (of course!), the Black Sabbath axe-man was hugely impressed by the RevivalDRIVE’s Ghosting feature. Ghosting is an integral part of his iconic sound and is, quite simply, something you can’t get from any other pedal. But what is it?

Back in the hazier days of Rock’s history, amps really weren’t designed to do anything besides clean tones. This didn’t stop Iommi – and all our other guitar heroes – pushing them way beyond these limits, with some pretty cool side effects!

The most obvious consequence of pushing an amp “over the top” is distortion (and we all know how great that is), but there’s also sag and ghosting. Ghosting occurs when the amp’s less-than-adequate power supply capacitors can’t keep up with the demand that’s being placed on them. Instead of filtering the AC from the main and passing nice, clean DC power to the amp, some of this AC ripple actually makes it into the signal path. This appears as a strange, low-frequency sound (50 or 60Hz, depending which side of the Atlantic you’re on) that mixes with your guitar signal.

Unlike other sub-harmonics, this “ghost tone” is always at the same pitch, often unrelated to the notes you’re playing, meaning that the resulting sound can be weird and rather wonderful. Most obvious when playing high single-note lines, ghosting can fatten up your lead tone in a way that oozes retro character.

This is one feature of vintage amps that is hard to recreate without the real thing, and that’s why we’ve gone to such great lengths to recreate it in the RevivalDRIVE – there’s even a DIP switch on the back that lets you select the mains frequency for truly authentic British or American ghosting. So plug in a RevivalDRIVE, crank the GHOST control and dig out your best ‘70s lead chops! Flared trousers optional…