a question about overdriven tone being lost in the mix

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by panazza, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. panazza


    Nov 23, 2003
    I was wondering...

    do overdriven bass tones often get lost in the mix because overdrive pedals "suck" low frequencies or it's because of something else?

    I mean... overdriven tone have less attack than clean tones...

    what do you think about it?

    this question came to my mind when reading about some pedal mods that made a bass overdrive out of a guitar pedal by just removing the high pass filter that cuts the lows away...
  2. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Yeah, I have had issues with this. However in my experiance it has been because I did not have the right settings, or the pedal it self just was not apporopriate for the passage. I have found that I really don't use much distortion through out most of the song, I'll kick it in under a guitar solo, or if I solo or need to step out a bit. I nice grind to the tone is another deal completely, but I don't really consider that as distortion per se, more like tone in general, and that has to fit in the mix. I would say if you are hell bent on having distortion throughout a tune, get a quality distortion, save your pennies and drop a few hundred bucks.
  3. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Mids mids mids mids mids.

    Use lots of them.

    Also, a lot of overdrives compress your signal so you have to adjust your playing style and levels to match that.
  4. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    I think a lot of it has to do with the tone of your bass. I've used a P bass for years and have found the same problem with OD pedals but I've just got an Ibanez semi accoustic bass and because it's a more "middley" type tone the OD really cuts through. This is not why I got the bass but I'm well impressed.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    it's too general a question. If you use a guitar overdrive pedal on a bass, it's your responsibility to make sure it doesn't lose low end before using it live.

    I've never had a problem with overdriven bass getting lost in the mix - I've used ebs, fulltone, dredgetone, barber, voodoo labs and bjf overdrive pedals with no issues.
  6. panazza


    Nov 23, 2003
    I tried using guitar overdrive pedals but the only way not to get lost in the mix is to add a line selector with the clean sound.

    but I was considering one of these pedals (such as jacques tube blower or stinkfoot modded boss pedals) that claim not to cut bass frequencies...

    anyway I can't try them in a rehearsal situation before buying, so I am not sure if I should spend money on a pedal just to discover that it needs to be mixed with the clean signal to be heard.

    when played alone, most pedal sound good... the problem is when you play with the band.

    anyway, I am searching for a meshuggah kind of tone... but with less drive and a bit more bassy.... but that's the place in the mix I want to stay in.
  7. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    I had similar issues with certain pedals. I think it depends largely on the effect, and how it handles the low end. Guitar OD pedas generally don't handle the lows as well. I would suggest one made for bass. I use a Fulltone bass-drive an I love it. It preserves the low-end really well and I dont have any problem getting lost in a band setting. It might be worth checking out.
  8. With fuzzbass, it's not so much about the low end.

    Mids are your friend in this case...give them a bump and you'll cut thru all day long. Subtlety is NOT key here.

  9. Secondhandloser


    Mar 28, 2005
    I find it is easy to get lost in the mix, its crucial to emphasize the range the guitarist isn't using ( I.E., if they have a lot of mids but not much lo end, boost your lows and cut your mids)
  10. speak_onion


    Jun 22, 2007
    Queens, NY
    I know this thread is ancient, but I think the OP was having the same trouble I am, so rather than start a new thread. . .

    First off, I am very happy with my always-on OD sound in the mix of the band that I play in (grind/hardcore band with one guitar) when we practice or play shows. The relevent pieces are an Ibanez roadgear active 4-string (tuned DGCF) an Ashdown Bass Drive Plus, a Hartke 350 Watt Head and a Peavy Cab with 2 10" and an 18" speaker.

    We're doing a demo now, and I recorded direct with just bass-->pedal-->DI and I liked the sound of the bass by itself (I was like, "hey, that's what my bass sounds like!"), but now that I'm mixing the full band I'm not so happy. You can hear the bass pretty clearly and hear what I'm playing, but you can really hear that it's overdriven. And my OD isn't that subtle. Especially when I do slap stuff.

    Maybe I have to rerecord with more gain? I'm afraid that would overcompress the bass and lose a lot of the rythm.

    Does anyone have experience with finding that their OD is less 'gritty' or 'harsh' or 'heavy' on record when compared to live?

    Maybe this is a question more about mixing than effects though.

    I'll try to get some clips together sometime soon. That might help.
  11. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    To the OP: The other guys are right about the challenges of mixing. Boosting the mids helps greatly, unless your guitarists are boosting mids instead of scooping mids.

    Basically... as a rule of thumb, cutting through the mix requires that you boost and cut frequencies as needed to get around overlap between one instrument and another. You can pretty much cut through the mix with any good overdrive/distortion/fuzz pedal provided that you have sonic space and you adjust your EQ to cut through. The problem is that not everyone is happy with the tonal results you get when not using the pedal... which is why so many differently voiced overdrive/distortion/fuzz pedals exist to better fit your sound and your needs.

    To speak_onion: IMO, it's a mixing problem, primarily. You say you're recording through a DI, right? You're automatically missing out on anything your amp and speakers provide for your tone. That's why many bassists prefer to record miked tones or with a blend of DI and miked outputs.

    Plus, how you EQ will affect the result as well. There might be a lot of overlap between your bass and the guitars on frequencies where your particular pedal has the most overdriven impact.
  12. assboglin

    assboglin Banned

    Jul 13, 2007
    Cutting through a mix depends entirely on what else is in that mix. The more of the frequency spectrum your guitarist is hogging, the harder it's going to be to cut through. I play in a rock band with two guitarists but I have no trouble having my clean or overdriven sounds cut through because our sounds fit together.

    But the real key to making distortion stand out is to have it as something that's added to the signal. Most overdrive/distortion/fuzz effects are going to cut certain frequencies, and the purpose of overdrive on bass to me is to have a bigger sound. This is why bi-amping helps. That means having a second amp for your distorted sounds that you kick on when you want distortion so your clean sound is still there and just as loud as before. You're adding something to the sound without taking anything away, ie a bigger sound.
  13. neuromancer


    Apr 28, 2005
    CT, USA
    I've found that I get the best results with my Overdriven and Distorted sounds by having 2 signals.

    Live: If you have a pedal or M/E that has a "blend" knob (blends the clean signal with the O/D), start at the halfway point and adjust to taste. I've found this to be quite lethal with the right pedal.

    Studio: I like to use 2 tracks (more if I can get away with it when the gui****s aren't looking..). You run a direct line and an amp simultaneously, re-amp a DI'd track through an amp w/OD, or play your parts twice. Or, use the "Live" method above. :)

    Regardless of your preferred method, I have found that a clean and Overdriven track (with minimal mixing, at the most) helps me maintain a better presence in the mix.
  14. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ..And remember that with a twin-amp setup for distortion like that, the second distortion amp need NOT be all-that huge!

    You already have all your lows in your main rig. The distortion amp only needs to be.. like.. well, heck: I got super results with a buddy's Fender Champ amp - what's that, like five or ten Watts or something?? I set the champ up to mainly put-out the searing 'distortion components' - mostly mids (not-even low-mids to speak-of, really) and highs.

    I also got great results with a.. I think it was a "Blue Cube" by Roland - like thirty Watts - and the distortion that was built-in to it sounded great, without a seperate distortion pedal!

    This low power requirement thing is assuming that you're cutting lows OUT of the auxilliary amp. I've found that the absolute BEST way to do this is with a Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus, because if you plug a dummy-plug into the second output, the main output becomes a slightly delayed, pitch-shifted and user-adjustable low-cut version of the original -- this REALLY ends-up sounding like two instruments!

    I guess the only thing is that now you need another mic and cable and console channel and whatever to get it all into the mains.

  15. JonathanD


    Dec 13, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    IMO its the comnpresson of a distortion pedal that gets you lost in the mix. There is no attack to let you know when the sound starts. Everything becomes the same.
    When you are live try using less distortion, or just distorting the higher freqs. I have found that I don't use distrotion on "hard" parts of the song. I just play harder and with a pick. This creates fret noise which sounds really good with the right setting and I cut through easily. I use distorion mainly for sustaining long notes for slow but "dark" songs. I can't believe I just said I play dark songs. Someone please make fun of me.

  16. Lionaudio


    Jul 26, 2007
    Owensboro, Ky.
    i've been using distortion on bass for my entire bass playing life.. when i first taught myself how to play, i didn't know that there was a "bass part" and a "guitar part".. so i learned all of the guitar parts on Metallica's Ride the Lightning with distortion on my bass.. i have used literally at least 100 different distortions on my bass, and the conclusion i've come to is that two channels are what you really need to retain your "bassiness", and also be able to fully have crushing distortion at the same time.. if you're just looking for overdriven tone like meshuggah, all you need is a SansAmp.. use an active 5 string with that pedal into your amp, and you should be on your way. Live, if you want more than just overdrive and grit, you can use any guitar distortion pedal going into your amp, and also use a di that is clean and you're good to go
  17. speak_onion


    Jun 22, 2007
    Queens, NY
    Thanks Boo; I think you're the only one who read what I wrote, but that's ok since I wasn't the OP. The point is that I'm not lost in the mix, but my overdrive is.

    I think that the EQ is the thing. I carved out a large swath of frequencies for myself (HAHA! that's what they get for letting me mix it!), but it was mostly the low stuff, and that's why I guess my fundamentals are nice and audible, but the higher distortion harmonics are not. I'll have to sweep through the bass to find where those harmonics are most pronounced and then cut it a little on the guitar.
  18. Notice how guitars always jump out of the mix when they hit the distortion? Probably because of two factors, one is that they're always set to boost the signal, the other is just like what Nick man here is saying.

    Plug your bass into a guitar stack and what do you sound like? A duck with a sinus infection! ALL nasty mid to upper midrange and virtually nothing else. That's why they cut so much, and it's also why Vox AC30's kick so much ass!
  19. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician. Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    awesome. and true.

    you suck.
    :D:Dhttp://[malware url removed].net/vicious-smiley-1815.gif:D:D
  20. Uh huh huh, uh huh huh, he said "dark", get it, "dark"?! Uh huh huh, uh huh huh, huh huh huh... bunghole...