Best option for guitar simulation
Hi all - longtime reader, first time poster. I have a question that I would really love to hear the thoughts of any TalkBass members in-the-know.
I am the bass player in a hard rock/metal band. We play lots of power chords but also a lot of riffs (in drop C#, drop C and drop B), which are often difficult. Mostly though, the bass line follows exactly what the rhythm guitars play.
We are a 3-piece at the moment, but definitely have 2-guitar music - there are lots of guitar layers and in the professional world of $, we would not be a 3 piece on stage.
So my gear / FX question is: how do I simulate a really good heavy rhythm guitar sound on stage while playing bass? I would need to get a signal splitter and run one output to my usual bass rig, but the other would have to go through a pedal or two and then to a guitar rig? I would really appreciate everyone's thoughts on how to achieve this and pull it off really well.
Is there a pedal that already does this, all-in-one? Or would I need to get an octave pedal, a harmonizer (to harmonize 5ths when needed, with presets based on the keys of the riffs) and a distortion pedal - and play it all though a guitar amp? Or would this also require the installation of additional pickups (guitar pickups) on my bass? Or is there other technology I should know about?
I need it to sound as much like a genuine heavy guitar sound as possible, not just one of these 3 pieces that just play bass with a bit of overdrive and chorus in in-between sections like solos. This needs to feel like someone is playing rhythm guitar as well, for example like Metallica, Rammstein, Breaking Benjamin, Deftones, Filter etc.
I know it won't be perfect - but surely there's a highly professional solution that will do the job very well. I would appreciate any advice relating to setup, gear or issues regarding this. Thanks. BD.
Best option for guitar simulation
The EH Hog2 is by far the best option I've found for doing this, but pricey. Ultimately splitting it into a guitar amp with dirt would be huge I bet. Some other options like a Pog or Digitech Whammy are more organ sounding. Especially the Pog, but it is a killer organ sound!
There are two 'all-in-one' pedals for this purpose - the Fishman Fission Bass Powerchord and the Akai Unibass.
They both take your bass signal, pitch shift it and apply distortion. I've heard that the pitch shifting on the Fission is not as good as the Unibass, but the Unibass has been out of production for a long time and is not cheap second-hand.
Both of them seem to have individual outputs for sending to two amps.
But I think you will have more control if you use separate pitch shifting and distortion pedals - you can swap them individually or use additional distortion/fuzz to get the tone you want.
Best option for guitar simulation
I did this for a short while using a line6 m9 and a blender pedal. I used the three effect banks for pitch glide +1 or 2 octaves 100% wet, then another pitch glide down a 4th, then whatever dirt or other effect was desired. I sent the signal to a guitar amp rather than back into the blender.
The advantage of this is that you can pick between individual notes or power chords with one stomp, and have different flavors of dirt on deck. If you add an expression pedal the possibilities double because you can sweep the octaves or the gain. You also get a slew of other effects to go with it!
Edit: I forgot to mention the tracking for my playing got a little iffy below B on the E string, so I would play riffs an octave higher and use an octave down on the bass signal. Actually made it much fatter sounding.
If you want to start experimenting without getting into too much expenditure, find a used EHX Micropog, with perhaps a bass-friendly compressor before it to assist with tracking. While not a perfect pedal, it will give you all the basics, blendable octave up and down, and it will handle multiple notes, so you can do root/fifth or root/fifth/octave powerchords and it will sound massive, like a 8 or 12 string bass ala Tom Petersson, dUg Pinnick, or Jeff Ament. If you dig it, you can move up through the other more involved Pog/Hog models. The EQD Organizer is somewhat similar, but I wouldn't bother with it as it takes the organ simulation thing and runs with it off to a different direction. Stay away from the Fishman Fission; even with the 4ths/5ths option, I found the pedal to be a major dissapointment, and way overpriced. Go to the store and play around with a Whammy Pedal too. Unfortunely, you're more likely to encounter a unicorn before you come across a Bass Whammy pedal(especially at a price that won't cause a jaw dropping, eye popping double-take). Don't be pennywise/pound foolish and get a Mooer Pure Octave(a Micropog knock-off). Absolute fail.
Maybe I'm lazy or cheap but I would just look for another guitarist.:D
I too am in a three piece Progressive Stoner/Doom type band....
I use the Micropog octave up distorted for some passages......but have also found that simply running a fuzzy or overdriven bass signal works almost as well!!! for filling holes during solo's
I have also found that a variety of "dirt" options also helps
For dropping down that low you could try the billy Sheehan thing and wire your bass up for stereo signals. Send one pickup to a guitar amp or amp sim into the PA then the other pickup to your bass rig. Octave
Up pedals will never sound exactly like a guitar. One of the main things I have noticed is that palm muted guitar sounds way different than palm muted bass and that affects a lot of riffs in heavy music. You might have good luck running a dual bass rig with a clean and seperate distorted sound. I went and saw Cancer Bats awhile ago and their bassist was running a rig similar to this. Two 8x10's with one clean and one dirty. He sounded HUGE. Like at least two musicians if not more. Between him and the guitar player there wouldn't have been room for any more guitars. It would have gotten muddy.
In short, I would either find another guitarist or make the most of what you have and keep the fact that you are a three piece in mind when writing.
I tried this extensively for years.
I think the idea of compressing first to help tracking is a good one.
That being said, I never found a harmonizer that sounded useable. After spending a few hundred on an EHX HOG and trying my damnedest to get good sounds out of it, I had to admit it sounded like a toy- chirpy and glitchy as hell. For me, a line6 m9 was even worse. The hog2 sounds like a minor improvement at best based on th demoes I've heard. I wish I had better news! At least it sounds like other people are having better experiences with these. I'm happy for them at least!
I would look into maybe stringing a 5 or 6 string bass with one or two extra high strings (not guitar strings, but high C for example).
Now, the good news- the Zoom MultiStomp Bluetooth is capable of amazing guitar amp simulation. I don't think many have discovered this yet, but the trick is to put one dirty 'amp' with no cab sim in front of a clean 'amp' with cab sim. I find the hiwatt simulatior with mesa412 sim to be the ideal combo for the last half of that equation. So the basic idea is you're using one amp as though it's an overdrive and front-ending it into a clean amp. Probably would not work in real life, but the results on the ms100bt are amazing.
PS- my situation is different, but I ended up getting a double neck bass/guitar.
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