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A way to thicken the bass during guitar solos

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I play guitar in a power trio Christian rock band, and my bassist has been complaining about our volume drop when I stop chording and start soloing. Often, the guitar solo should be the loudest part of the tune, but this is hard to do when all the rhythm guitar sound goes away.

    I've tried a lot of things on my end to fix this- I've added a compressor to my rig to smooth out volume changes between rhythm and lead, I've stacked distortions to thicken my tone, I've used delays, I've even flat boosted my volume on solos... but all it does it make the solos louder- it doesn't fill that void.

    I tried having the drummer help to fill it with cymbals, but that gets loud and obnoxious pretty quickly. It's worked on some of the songs, but others can't be fixed with percussion.

    ...Which leaves the bass. I'm looking for a good effect that can thicken the bass tone to fill some of the space left from switching from rhythm to lead guitar. I've been playing around with some effects on bass, but I still haven't found the sound I'm looking for. I bought a Danelectro Transparent Overdrive which was really neat, but not quite thick enough. Distortion seems to be too fizzy for bass.

    Thoughts? Recommendations? Solutions?
  2. Hans Gruber

    Hans Gruber

    Jun 18, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Octave pedal is a nice popular solution.
  3. listen to similar music, and see what other musician do during guitar solos... i also suggest listening to RATM, the police, john mayer trio.....

    what the drummer and bassist play make a difference more then any pedal. imo.
  4. also, you could try doubling the amount of notes you play in your solo :bag: lol
  5. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    That sounds like *work* for me. :)
  6. bassist plays chords with some overdrive.
  7. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Would this be a octave UP pedal? I've never messed with octave effects, outside of a few multi-fx boxes over the years.
  8. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    You shouldn't need an effect to 'thicken' the sound. By all means, if your bass player wants to do that he can, but it's not the only way. There are different techniques of playing he can try, from making his part more complex or rhythmic, to plucking differently. Let him experiment, and certainly listen to bands you like to see what happens when they solo. Oh, I almost forgot EQ. Have him try filling in some of his mids.

    Maybe he just needs to turn up. :)
  9. You could always adjust your tone knob to suit.

    Sounds overly simple, but, the most simple solutions are often the most overlooked.
  10. Couldn't the bass player just play a little louder and turn down his tone knob a smidge?
  11. babebambi


    Jan 7, 2008
    vocal backing?
  12. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I like octaver. It's a no brainer that always works in this situation.
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Honestly, if you go to a solo and everything sounds thin or low in volume, then your bass player needs to work on his tone. Period. The lack of rhythm guitar playing is just exposing it.

    But if you are looking for a pedal solution, octave down isn't a bad one (EBS Octabass, Boss OC-2, MXR Deluxe Octave) and overdrive can usually help too (tons of options there as long as they don't rob low end.).

    The best single pedal (IMO) for filling space is the Akai Unibass. Out of production and a can be pricy, but you can usually find a good deal if you are patient.
  14. Yeah but don't play a chord on that thing you might blow up the venue...or just shovel out mountains of suck on your bass..
  15. Wespe


    Feb 21, 2006
    I would explore the no-effects solutions as much as you can. There are three piece bands (as dan.ablett) mentioned that make it work without the use of tone changing effects.

    Have you also considered that your guitar may be too quiet when you solo? It's pretty common for guitars to sound quieter playing individual notes as opposed to chords. If that's possibly the case, entertain the idea of a boost pedal. You could also turn your amp up to good solo volume, then turn your guitar down to play rhythm.
  16. I play in rock trios a lot and the best thing I've found for filling in the sound when the guitarist solos is for me to dig in a little harder and leave absolutely no gaps between my notes. This keeps the bass sound constant instead of having little breaks between notes.
    Obviously in some situations, it may not suit the bass line to play everything legato and smoothly connected, but I've found in 90% of the situations this can drastically help to fill out the sound.
  17. bobunit

    bobunit I'm here. Now what? Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    Is this a gravy or a creme sauce? :smug: I would look at eq settings and adjust as needed for solos.
  18. jtrow


    Mar 1, 2009
    Mid America
    Have the bass player play a little louder. Not just during the solos but all the time, there should be no reason the sound changes that much when you stop playing rhythm guitar. And I doubt the bass player will mind turning up.:)
  19. crayzee


    Feb 12, 2009
    Mississauga, ON
    When I played in a trio, I did what Stereo Joe mentioned. I also used some overdrive (Fulltone Bassdrive) which helped a fair bit.

    But as others have said, it's up to your bassist to step up and fill it himself. Gotta play bigger and badder when it's just two strings in the mix.
  20. Hmmm... IMO, whether your power trio band is similar to the great power trio rock bands of the late '60s / early '70s, such as Grand Funk Railroad, Cream, etc. or later bands such as Rush, the bassist seemed to always punch it up a notch during guitar solos. It was done with volume, added mild distortion, or a combination of the two. Does your bassist play through a tube head? That could certainly give him more grit and depth. Real tube overdrive is tough to beat.

    Of course in a power trio, it's also critical for the bass and drums to be laying down a hard, tight groove all the time, too. I'd love to hear you guys' work. Do you have a link?

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