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Classic gear: Paul Cochrane Timmy

Paul Cochrane Timmy overdrive pedal
(Image credit: Paul Cochrane)

Paul Cochrane’s Tim overdrive was one of the original boutique overdrive pedals, generating a dedicated following based on its open, un-compressed drive tone and good EQ options.

The larger enclosure size put some off, however, and the boost wasn’t necessary for those who were using other pedals to stack with the Tim - one of its main strengths. As a result, Paul also offered the smaller, four-knob Timmy, which became possibly the first ‘transparent’ boutique overdrive.

The Timmy is squarely in the Tube Screamer family tree, but lacks the pronounced ‘mid-hump’ bump of the Tube Screamer, and is less compressed, particularly at lower gain levels. With the clipping options set to minimum, it’s a very potent boost, useful for driving tube amps into valve saturation.

Any time you see a boutique transparent overdrive layout with volume, gain, bass and treble, there’s a good chance it’s either based on a Timmy, or a straight-up clone

Even after it exploded in popularity, the Timmy stayed at a reasonable price point, with the units still produced by Paul himself. Although it’s relatively easy to get hold of a Timmy either used or via a US stockist, it’s become much more common for players to build their own, or purchase a clone.

As many companies aren’t exactly transparent about what they’re basing their designs on, any time you see a boutique transparent overdrive layout with volume, gain, bass and treble, there’s a good chance it’s either based on a Timmy, or a straight-up clone of one.

Moreover, Paul has continued interacting with the DIY pedal community helping them with designs that are Timmy-like. This year, he collaborated with MXR to release a widely available, mini pedal-sized Timmy.

Three great alternatives to the Paul Cochrane Timmy

Classic tones

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Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.