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After a real 'sub-bass' sound - but how?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by disco_troll, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. disco_troll


    Mar 12, 2004
    Hi -

    I'm new to the forum and straight in with what is probably a rather dumb question! :meh:

    What I want to be doing is getting really (really) low notes out of my bass guiter (the sort that kicks in during 'dance' tracks and similar). Is this purely down to the size/type of amp I'm using or is there some kind of processing I can do to drop the notes real low?

    Hope I've explained this okay - all help gratefully received.

    DT. :)
  2. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    There's a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

    Yes, there are things like pitch shifters and Octavers which will drop your bass notes down to whatever pitch they can, and some pitch shifters can harmonize with your original bass note. There are some effects (like the Digitech Bass Synth Wah) which have Sub filters on them. These drop and synthesize your sound ala funk and disco. There are also really complicated processors you could get into via Midi, but then you're talking a whole other game.

    It takes more power to reproduce sub-bass notes as loud as treble notes. (which is why most guitarists can get by with 100 w, and bassists need at least 400 to compete)

    Look at a dance club's PA someday...there'll be a bunch of subs on the floor, and an entire rack of power amps. I've heard of clubs boasting a 100,000w system, or more.

    If you're just looking for the 'sound' of sub bass, and you can depend on a PA to project it, then most amps will do it for you. If you're competing with guitarists or playing gigs with no PA support, you'll need a pretty big amp with pretty big/efficient speakers that can handle the frequencies.

    /edit, forgot one other option...if you're just looking for deep-resonating bass without necessarily looking to pitch shift, you could always get an equalizer and drop the mids and treble, while boosting the bass. There's only so many frequencies the human ear can decipher.
  3. disco_troll


    Mar 12, 2004
    Thanks - the pitch shifter or octaver route sounds like it might well be well worth looking at.

    I'm only talking about getting the 'sound' at the moment - as you say, when it comes to competing with the rest of the band i'm going to have to shift some serious air to make myself heard.

    Thanks for the advice.

  4. Yes, that is what I primarily use mine for...

    As well as the pedal itself...The digitech cuts out at a low G
  5. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    dbx 120xp + 18" EV + POWER = subharmonic bliss!
  6. disco_troll


    Mar 12, 2004
    Hahaha - so I'm not the only one who lives for those deeeep notes! :D

    I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time on here...
  7. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    I use my Tama Analog Drum synth for Sub bass sounds, I just a/b my signal to the trigger input and boooooooooommmmmm....

    here are some samples I just did up...

  8. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I've been trying to find this souns for over a year now and still haven't nailed it. I know it's possible I just haven't got there yet.
    I've spent hours and hours of going through different pedals. Korg g5, Boss gt6, akai deep impact,digitech bass synth. These are just some of the tone demonizers that have found their way on to the floorspace infront of my amp, and they're the one's that have stayed.. These animals are all individual in tonal charecteristic and response and they all have their own uses but...

    I've left store's too many time's certain that I've nailed that dark snarling boom that laces my dreams.
    They all give me sub_bass, of one sort or another. The problem is that too often, at high volume the sound often either fails to have enough punch (to cut through a mix). or it's just too inconsistent and highlights sweet-spot notes (I think ?- big sound swells) that my bass has to an absurd level.

    Nothing is more demoralising to me, than spending all week dialing what you think is that perfect sound that make your track groove than to find that the lo-fi keyboard in the studio does it better.

    I've heard it voiced on here that the dodfx25b does a good job but I just can't find one here- and I can't justify forking out for another envelope filter/ synth.

    Do a search on threads about dub tones and envelope filters. There's some really good info here.
    also try

    Good luck on your quest (You are not alone). Keep us posted on any finds you make.
  9. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    DOD Fx 25 or 25b set so the filter doesn't open. Huge, low, evil and $50.

  10. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    How about a GT-7 with a low f#?
  11. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    That would be thunderous, but I gotta say. I used to play a 5 and I find I actually get MORE low end out of my 4. And even 100hz is quite low to hear without the overtones.

    But there's no doubt a low f# would shake the house.

  12. disco_troll


    Mar 12, 2004
    Hey guys -

    wow - so much info, so little realisation on my part of how ignorant on the subject of bass I really am! :( Still - bear with this newbie and I'll begin my quest for those perfect low notes and keep everyone informed.

    Thanks for all the links as well - gonna keep me going for days!


  13. The quick fix: Boss OC-3. I love what this octaver does in polyphonic mode. Then again, I have an extended-range cab and play gigs with PA help, so YMMV. Only the EBS Octaver can compete with the Boss, IMO, and both of these units surpass the performance of some on-board "sub" effects that some manufacturers are putting on their amps these days. High degree of subjectivity here. I suppose that I should define my tastes just a tad: I use octaver (and Hipshot Xtenders on some axes) to eliminate the need for a 5-string. Therefore, I am very dependent on an octaver tracking well down to A. Both of the aforementioned units would do it nicely for me, but I only own the Boss.
    Good luck.
  14. NioeZero


    Sep 2, 2001
    How's the tracking on the OC-3? Does it handle the full range of the bass, or cut out at a certain note?
  15. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    check out knucklehead basses if you want TRUE low frequency extension. Their basses have a 39" scale length that offers really low notes without using an octaver.
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Oh Gawd. :)

    Well, I hope you're ready to invest a lot of money into replacement speakers. Seriously, when I was into the ultra low frequencies in a big way, I used to replace about a speaker a day. Several times I blew cones clear across the stage (we're talking maybe twenty or thirty feet). Don't even try running through 10" speakers, that's asking for trouble.

    In addition to jondog's equation, I would recommend adding a limiter to the system. (Use a "peak limiter" instead of a compressor, although both might be helpful). The trouble is, that today's amps and speakers are generally pretty precise, and they try to reproduce whatever's fed into them. The low frequency transients for live bass can be pretty extreme, even the "ordinary" stuff like pick noises can cause speaker damage, and if you like to slap that low B string, well, ...

    Whenever I need to get lots of low frequencies "out there", I've found there's no other option besides dragging out the big subs and the mondo power amps.

    If you're in the studio, it's a different equation, but still you'll need big speakers to monitor your sound effectively, those NS-10's won't cut it.
  17. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I second nonsqtr.
    I forgot to mention this.
    I alway use some sort of limiter/compressor to keep the sound under control. If I didn't I would be destroying speakers left right and centre.
    Engaging most of my effects affects the overall volume to some extend and subharmonics almost always involve a massive swell in volume.
    get some kind of limiter or there'll be tears before bedtime. :bawl:
  18. I also do electronic music on synths and sequencers and what not and I'll let you in on a little secret...when I record deep sub-bass for a dance track, it's very tempting to put the bass high in the mix, but when you mix it down, it turns very muddy and it drowns out everything else.

    The trick is to add a TINY bit of distortion, like some overdrive fuzz, just a little, so it "fools" your ears into sensing the fundamental, and you don't have to put out your signal too loud.

    My recipe for sub bass on a bass guitar would be as follows:
    PLay your bass into an envelope filter with low sensitivity (so the filter doesn't open, put that signal into some sort of overdrive unit and then have that feed into a compressor.
  19. Pöl


    May 31, 2003
    IMHO: Forget about octaver pedals

    I've thought about this thing to, and I came to the following (affordable) conclusion:

    Check out Ashdown's ABM 500 EVO-series: they have a sub-harmonizer wich boost the low end quite a bit, but isn't at all the same as an octave pedal. This amp has a seperate 'sub out'-jack that can be connected to a sub-woofer (it must be active) that can give you the extra kick.

    So, what i was saying:
    Do not look for good effects, a nice sub-layer is all about the sub-woofer/speaker and the amp

    IMO Ashdown comes closest to doing this
  20. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Are you sure the Ashdown 'subharmoniser' is just a low end boost? The manual clearly says that it produces a note an octave below the fundamental. On my Mag-250 head, it definitely sounds more like the effect of playing a root and octave at the same time rather than boosting the bass.

    BTW, if you want to thicken up a few notes without spending on gadgetry, playing root and octave simaltaneously is a great way of doing that - you get a 'phat' sound although you do sacrifice some speed and dexterity to achieve this.


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