A Heavy Sounding Dirt That Smooths Out or Masks Clank Noise? - Not Distorting and Amplifying It!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JohnArnson, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019

    Sorry about the wall of text, but think it is needed to understand what I am looking for and why.

    Hope it won't discourage too many from even bothering trying to help me out.

    Any suggestions that possibly could help me out with this issue will be highly appreciated.


    First let me explain a bit about my setup and bass, which I think is needed to understand exactly what it is I am looking for and why.

    First of all I play a 28,6" scale 5 string Ibanez GSRM25 Mikro bass which I have tuned in F# standard, as in 2 half steps above standard E tuning, which means F#1 to D3, and which I use a bit more like you would a Bass VI type instrument or a baritone guitar than how you more traditionally would play a bass, which means a lot of melodic lines, chord breakups, and a fair share of double stops and simple chords.

    I have it stringed with a set of strings meant for a 29 5/8" scale Bass VI type instrument tuned in E, installing the strings on my bass by looping them through the bass string ball ends cut off some old strings in order for the strings not slip through the mounting holes in the bridge, since these strings got much smaller guitar string ball ends, and it works perfectly.

    The gauge and tuning of the strings on my bass is as follows:

    This gives me a quite bright, snappy and biting tone, really rich on harmonic content, but with less pronounced fundamentals than you would typically have from a traditional bass tone.

    Also I have my signal path split in 2 parallel signal path with separate pedals for each individual path, one path carries my bass signal while the other starts with a Sub'n'Up Mini octaver, right after the split, set to pitch my bass signal 1 octave up, giving me an effect somewhat similar to playing an octave bass, as in a bass with pairs of bass and octave strings, only I this way am able to manipulate the bass and the 1 octave up signal separately.

    Now to my issue:

    I still need a really heavy sounding distortion, preferably with a fuzzy quality to is and some rawness, not really an insanely hard gain, just heavy sounding, to complete my setup though.

    The plan is to find a distortion or eventual fuzz pedal that works well for my bass and got some of the qualities described in the above paragraph and then blend in some clean bass signal using my Boss LS-2, to maintain some more definition, and then have some kind of distortion on the 1 octave up signal as well.

    Note that I am not interested in isolating the distortion to the higher frequency spectrum, I want the lows distorted as well, perhaps even more so than the high end, in order to maintain this dark and heavy sound I have in mind, blending in some cleans will secure some definition is maintained, and the distortion on the octave signal will make sure there is a good amount for distorted top end as well.

    Now the problem is that non of the 3 distortion pedals I have available works for my application, primarily because the main riffs for one of the songs I have composed that I use this bass for utilize an open string harmonized with fretted notes on the string bellow, and while sounding fine with clean tone it really does need to be distorted and heavy sounding, however the 3 dirt pedals I have that could potentially give me this emphasis and amplified the kind of clanky sound this riff has, practically making a distorted very prominent and annoying clank sound overshadow everything else while playing that riff.

    Even with the high frequency control knob turned all the way down on those dirt pedals there is still too much distorted clank noise left, and by then they are getting way too muffled sounding to actually be useful anyway.

    I should note that one pedal I own that did not emphasis and amplify the clank was my Joyo Orange Juice, which unfortunately just is way too crunchy and not quite heavy enough sounding at higher gain setting to be of any use for me, but it could actually have worked if it have had a different kind of distortion character.

    So my question is as the headline says, do anyone have any suggestions for a dirt pedal, distortion or fuzz, that will smooth out or mask the clank instead of distorting, amplifying, and making it much more pronounced, preferably capable of a heavy sounding, but not really insanely high gain, slightly fuzzy tone, and also preferably with a kind of raw quality to it (and remember I actually would want to have my low end distorted as well, perhaps even more so than my high end)?
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    A Low Pass Filter would take care of that. :thumbsup:
    Bassgeer likes this.
  3. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    Well, it might, but I doubt it, as I wrote turning down the high frequency control completely on the distortions I already have tried didn't help sufficiently, it made it less pronounced, but not sufficiently to not still being an issue, and at that point the distortion was useless anyway sounding way too muffled.

    It seem somehow that the clank that these distortion pedals I tried enhance significantly goes well down into the high mids frequency spectrum, actually I am a bit puzzled by this, as it is not present to such an extend that it expose a problem when playing clean, and that my Joyo Orange Juice doesn't enhance the clank either for some reason even at high gain settings, though, as I wrote, the very crunchy character of that distortion tone is not useful for my application.

    It's like the pick attack of the string gets enhanced totally out of proportions, and since 3 of my distortions did this it can't just be a matter of a specific pedal somehow being faulty in some way, but must be a general issue, though oddly enough, as said, the Orange Juice doesn't do this at high gain settings, even if usually being a pedal that is considered great for enhancing clank, even if at higher gain settings it takes on a more and quite pronounced crunchy character.

    It seems to me like this is not your usually high frequency fret clank, but somehow stems from something else that produce a kind of clank that is spread out from the high frequency spectrum way down in the high mids frequency spectrum, though this only becomes an apparent problem with certain distortions pedals for some odd reason.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  4. parametric EQ like the empress. find the offending frequencies and cut them.
    jonlimo, Wasnex, Correlli and 2 others like this.
  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    You can use a LPF before the pedal so the offending frequencies are essentially eliminated.

    A LPF and HPF work differently than amp tone controls.

    See my TB Wiki on the topic for more info.
    Also the Order of Effects thread may shed some light on your situation.
    Bassgeer likes this.
  6. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    An LPF before your distortion will have a VERY different result than turning down the distortion’s treble pot.
    FaithNoMan likes this.
  7. Zanshin_


    Aug 19, 2019
    My baritone guitar is that scale lol. Anyway...

    I play bass 100% pick, and I get what you are talking about - although I love a massive sounding attack.

    What are pick are you using? I find something around .75 mm is best. I’m using .73 mm Dunlop Tortex and feel like that’s a real sweet spot for me. I’ve seen thick picks made of rubber, that might be something for you to try.

    Picking technique... where are you picking? Have you tried different positions? Different pick angle?

    Strings? Maybe try something less likely to clank? I know with the scale you are using is limited... you can get bass vi tape wounds right?

    Just some more ideas for you...
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  8. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    Have you tried turning it off and on again?
  9. sifrancis


    Oct 29, 2012
    Mesa, Darkglass, EQD, Mantic, Source Audio, Yamaha, Delano, Hamstead Soundworks, Jad Freer Audio
    Out of interest, what are the 3 distortion pedals you already have?

    As others have mentioned, some kind of EQ before the distortion/clipping is likely to help achieve what you're wanting. There's a few pedals that may achieve this all in a single package:

    The EHX Battalion (and nano version) has an EQ that can be placed before the distortion circuit (it also has a clean blend, that this EQ would be applied to). Boosting lows and cutting the highs would likely help give you the control you're looking for.

    The Fuzzrocious Cat Tail can achieve something similar with it's Clipping controls (Marked '1' & '2') which allow control of how much the lows and highs distort. The '2' control is what you'd want to focus on - really helpful for adding or taking away clank. Fuzzrocious are also able to add in a clean blend too if you wanted.

    Finally, there is the Hamstead Subspace pedal ( a pedal I played a part in designing) which has an active EQ you can place before or after the distortion circuit (similar to the EHX Battalion, except it doesn't effect the parallel clean blend). Again, as with the EHX you'd be looking at setting EQ to PRE and then cutting treble and boosting bass. Capable of really high gain distortion and even pseudo-fuzz if you really crank the Bass EQ pre distortion.
    remcult likes this.
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    I recommend you try a pedal that uses low pass and high pass filters instead of just a blend. It allows you to adjust the dirty tone more independently like you can with a two amp setup. For example I use the darkglass microtubes X for my dirt. View attachment 3590883

    There’s also the other pedals from the darkglass x line the x7 and the X ultra if you want even more control. There’s the Tech 21 Dug pedal and a few others when it comes to this type of dirt pedal also. To my ears those those pedals sound much more similar to a two amp clean/dirty rig than traditional dirt pedals.
    FaithNoMan likes this.
  11. I agree with the high pass/low pass thing.
    I've been running the YYZ into an Oxford. While it is possible to get very clanky tones like this

    It is also very easy to dial in a heavy warmer tone with great presence like this(I'm leaning more into the Oxford's overdrive here than the YYZ's, and have way more bass in the YYZ's high/overdriven channel side)

    And it's easier to go far darker than that. I play a Ric and wasn't specifically going for a dark tone, just one that fit with the track. (My strings are also older on track2, That helps make it easier but it would be easy to do with a pedal adjustment as well)
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  12. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    Wellington, NZ
    I found this article in the BP Mag helpful in sorting out issues with my sound. I alway cut the treble to get rid fretboard noise. As mentioned by @bassboysam, a parametric EQ will be a good investment.

    Bass Player Magazine October 94

    Four Main Frequency Bands

    Lows (30hz - 100hz)
    + Power, Depth
    - Boomy, Muddy

    Low Mids (100hz - 600hz)
    + Presense, Fattness, Note Definition
    - Honk, Boxy Sounding

    High Mids (600hz - 3kHz)
    + Growl, Edge
    - Harsh, Intense

    Highs (3kHz - 20kHz)
    + Transparency, Brillance
    - Noise, Finger Squeak

    (+) = Positive Effect
    (-) = Negative Effect
    FaithNoMan likes this.
  13. Robertron


    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    Damnation MBD-1.

    Can indeed sound heavy, has a fuzzy quality and sounds amazing at low gain/mid gain levels.

    Low end is all intact even without the low passed clean blend.

    Tone knob will allow you to smooth out high frequencies without turning the Lows muddy/boring thanks to the Depth control.

    Because you're running a split signal I will also recommend you look into the Source Audio Aftershock.
    I split my highs and lows and use the Aftershock to process them independently then sum them back together for the rest of my chain.
    It takes tinkering, patience and programming but you would benefit from this guaranteed.
    JohnArnson likes this.
  14. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    Thanks for the suggestion of the Aftershock, think that might be the perfect answer to what I am looking for, not least because it will save me having to activate 2 distortion pedals, both for the bass and 1 octave up signal, and having to use an extra pedal for clean blen of the bass distortion too.

    As far as I understood you can edit both pre and post EQ of the distortion(s) used, and EQ the clean signal you blend in as well, right?
    sifrancis likes this.
  15. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    The PLBR Narwhal is a great Muff clone with diode selection on both clipping stages, as well as tone bypass options. It's a great sounding fuzz that, thanks to being able to go for a no-diodes selection, can also sound like a killer distortion that's fat and with more definition than a standard fuzz, but without added clankiness.
  16. Robertron


    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    The Aftershock has Parametric EQ but it doesn't effect your clean blended signal only the effected signal. There is an engine called "Clean (No Distortion)" that I use when I want to use the EQ on my clean signal, ie the input signal, but your clean blended tone will never pass through the EQ settings or drive.

    The only two settings in the Aftershock that effect your clean signal are used as Low Pass and High Pass filters on your clean signal.

    The 4 frequency points for the 4 bands and the Q settings for the two Mids frequencies are shared between the two channels, however each channel has individual gain controls for each band. This means if you wanted to set your mids frequency points for your Octave Up signal as 250 and 1.5k these would also be the mids frequency points of your bass signal.

    Each engine has a parameter called "Drive Pre/Post" which allows you to have the EQ settings before the drive/clipping, after, or blended to both. Again you can only set your EQ settings once per preset so you can't for example cut at 3k pre drive and then boost at 1k post drive.

    I split my signal at about 200hz, so 200hz and below go through channel 2 and then 200hz and above go through channel 1, using channel 2 to shape and tighten up the lows and using channel 1 to really shape the voice of the drive.
    N4860, JohnArnson and Stumbo like this.