Glamour Years – a surprisingly accurate version of the subminiature tube distortion/filter unit

The creation of this patch got me back into making patches. And the impetus for that was the arrival of the SSBS Pretty Years, a rare distortion/filter unit that uses sub mini tubes and some wild routing.

Basic idea: overdrive/distortion/fuzz pedal on the surface with 4 gain stages and passive EQ. Underneath is this complex routing that comes about when you introduce the voltage-controlled filter section. There are 4 insert points for the VCF (between each gain stage). Here’s a quick guide on what a single activated insert looks like at each separate stage:

INPUT – PREGAIN – VCF – T1 – T2 – T3 – EQ – OUTPUT (1)
INPUT – PREGAIN – T1 – VCF – T2 – T3 – EQ – OUTPUT (2)
INPUT – PREGAIN – T1 – T2 – VCF – T3 – EQ – OUTPUT (3)
INPUT – PREGAIN – T1 – T2 – T3 – VCF – EQ – OUTPUT (4)

VCF has 3 options: LP, BP, HP. Depending on where the VCF is insert, you get very different output based on the VCF settings, gain levels, EQ, and output volume.

Okay, now that you have a very rapid rundown on the PY, here’s the controls and patch explanation.

All controls apply to both ZOIA and Zebu versions, unless otherwise noted. Audio routing is mono in (L) to stereo out.

VCF Type (UI button) – VCF type. Green=LP, Red=BP, Yellow=HP.
FM Behavior (UI button) – FM toggle. Cyan=None, Magenta=inverted, White=non-inverted.

I, II, III, IV (UI buttons) – placement of VCF. Can only select one at a time to avoid feedback loop. Will turn off other inserts when selecting a new one, or you can toggle the same one over and over again.

Frequency (value) – VCF frequency. CW is higher, CCW is lower.
Resonance (value) – VCF resonance. CW is more.
FM (value) – FM multiplier/amount. CW is more, CCW is less.

Gain 1/Pre-EQ differs between the versions:
– ZOIA includes two controls for an EQ/Tone module
Low (value) – Gain 1/EQ low shelf. CW is boost, CCW is cut.
Mid (value) – Gain 1/EQ mid gain (880Hz). CW is boost, CCW is cut.
– Zebu instead has a single control for a SV Filter module
Pre-EQ (value) – HPF frequency.

Gain 2 (value) – Gain 2 input gain. CW is more.
Gain 3 (value) – Gain 3 input gain. CW is more.
Bias (value) – Gain 4 input gain/output gain (ZOIA only). Sag amount (> 50% starts to really kick in) CCW is more sag, CW is less sag.

Post-EQ differs between the versions:
– ZOIA includes two controls for an EQ/Tone module
Bass (value) – EQ low shelf. CW is boost, CCW is cut.
Treble (value) – EQ high shelf. CW is boost, CCW is cut.
– Zebu instead has a single control for a SV Filter:
Pre-EQ (value) – LPF frequency.

Volume (value) – Output volume. CW is more, CW is less.

Stompswitches (ZOIA only):
– Left stomp cycles between VCF types.
– Middle stomp cycles between FM behavior.
– Right stomp steps through the filter insert points (starting with none).

Pushbuttons (Zebu only):
– Left cycles between VCF types.
– Right cycles between FM behavior.

CV inputs and outputs (Zebu only):
– In 1: Bias, use control knob as bias point for incoming CV.
– In 2: VCF Frequency, use control knob + FM insert as bias point for incoming CV.
– In 3: Gain 2 input gain, use control knob as bias point for incoming CV.
– In 4: Gain 3 input gain, use control knob as bias point for incoming CV.

– Out 1: Envelope follower (sources from input 1)
– Out 2: Inverted envelope follower
– Out 3: Trigger, sends a 10v pulse whenever a filter insert is toggled

IO page – main routing for dirt
In left, EQ for gain 1, OD (pushed) for both gain 2 and 3, OD (classic, ZOIA-only) into Sag circuit (bit crush and bit modulator) for gain 4, EQ for passive tone, stereo output with gain control.

VCF page – VCF routing and mixer logic
CV in for VCF frequency. Filter selection via Left stomp and sequencer. Each of the 4 inputs has its own VCA, with level for each determined by the insert points on page 0. All of the VCA’s go to the VCF with 3 outs (lp/bp/hp), sent to audio in switch (channel determined by Left stomp).

FM page – FM logic
Input travels to Envelope follower for CV, then into Slew Limiter with separate attack/decay. FM behavior switch takes either 0, slew output inverted, or slew output non-inverted (determined by Middle stomp and sequencer). Switch outputs to multiplier tied to page 0’s FM knob for amount of frequency modulation. Only works if insert point is active.

VCA page – audio routing
4 separate mixers for each gain stage. Channel A’s are the output of gain 1, 2, 3, and 4. Channel B’s are the VCF, with channel selection via insert points on page 0. Outputs to the next gain/EQ along the main routing.

I-IV page – radio button logic
Logic for determining where the filter insert is placed, responds to the UI buttons on the control page.

Step page – step logic (ZOIA only)
Step sequencer for the filter insert, works with the UI buttons as well (for instance, selecting II and stepping the right stomp will advance to III, IV, none, I, and II).

1.8 Added Zebu version. Updated patch notes.

1.7: Adjusted the routing so that the Sag circuit is included before the final insert point (this differentiates the sound between the VCF at III and IV a lot more). Volume compensation removed and levels set to appropriate amounts. Changed the pushbuttons on the UI page to radio buttons and replaced the Right stomp bypass with a step sequence for the insert points, which work in tandem for choosing where the VCF is placed. VCF type and FM Behavior UI buttons are also combined with L/M stomp logic so that either can be used. Switched the order of the filter types (LP – BP – HP). Removed the possibility of making feedback loops. Slight adjustment to control placement.

1.6: Moved around some controls on the UI page. Slight adjustments to defaults. Renamed the patch to “Glamour Years”.

1.5: (Requires ZOIA fw 2.0 from here on). Added Sag circuit as gain 4, replacing the bit crusher. Removed 6dB boost on right stomp and replaced with patch bypass for clean tone. Adjusted connection strength for FM +/- amounts. Replaced filter-insert mixer with individual VCA’s for better gain staging.

1.4: Added a 6dB boost on the right stompswitch (normally on/one). Adjusted the I-IV pushbutton volume compensation amounts. Changed the default values. Removed Cport functionality for both MIDI and CV. Applied starred params to the control page value modules for use with CC’s 1-9 (MIDI channel 1).

1.3: Fixed issue where middle switch triggered the FM toggle CV in switch, causing the filter to temporarily ping between presses (now goes in order from None > Inverted > Non-inverted). Added some volume compensation to the insert points (these route to the Volume value for a bit of boost whenever an insert is added).

1.2: Fixed mixer issue where II caused excess gain and unwanted feedback when combining with other insert points. Adjusted biasing for Gain 4 control and added expression-via-MIDI (CC 10). Set a better default value for all controls upon patch load. Removed need for DELETE ME module, as v1.09 and above seem to allow for a bit more CPU usage.

1.1: Changed bias point on Output gain. If you downloaded this early, change the bias on output gain to -11.18dB (while Volume is set to -1). Added SoundCloud upload as sound demo.

1.0: Initial upload.

9 comments on “Glamour Years – a surprisingly accurate version of the subminiature tube distortion/filter unit
  • Christopher H. M. Jacques on said:

    Marvelous! I was just wondering the other day if this sort of design could be done (prompted by your Pretty Years demo), and I thought, oh no, the CPU for the gain staging and switching would be good much, but I see you’ve thought of some very clever approaches to that. Can’t wait to try it out :)

  • meanmedianmoge on said:

    Thanks a lot! There were some cuts that had to be made: one of the gain modules became a simpler EQ (which saved like 12%) and I sacrificed the 4 multi-filters (which has bell/notch) in favor of a single SV filter with 3 outputs. I also had some help from Brian himself with the internal routing and understanding how the VCF responds to the gain levels, so that info was very useful to get some of the more wild-and-crazy settings. Overall I’m happy with the results!

    Btw, I made a ninja edit for the output volume bias point + added the SC upload of me going through some settings.

  • jdjk7 on said:


    When I load this patch, no sound comes out of the ZOIA and the control buttons turn yellow. Doesn’t this normally mean the ZOIA is overloaded?

  • jdjk7 on said:

    Nevermind… Just noticed the “Delete” button on the interface and in the instructions.

  • meanmedianmoge on said:

    @jdjk7 Glad you were able to figure it out! Which firmware are you using? On 1.09 there don’t seem to be any issues. On 1.08, I was getting CPU overload which made the DELETE ME module necessary.

  • hawkfuzz on said:

    I’ve switched from guitar to modular and when this came out I didn’t really look into it much to avoid any hype machine making my decisions.

    If the really Pretty Years sounds a 1/10th of what this sounds like, I am sad I don’t own one.

  • rhabdo X on said:

    That is simply amazing man, thank you. Sound and playing remind me of my favorite…Polvo.

  • meanmedianmoge on said:

    1.04 will be the last update to this for a while. Thanks for all of the interest in this patch – glad you’re enjoying it!!

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    • Platform:
    • Category: Effect
    • Revision: 1.8
    • License: GNU General Public License family
    • Modified: 2 years ago
    • Views: 2307
      Likes: 68
      Downloads: 4823