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Bass-Specific Effects - Are we being bamboozled?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by T.O.Bass, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. How necessary are bass-specific effects, REALLY?

    Yesterday, I pulled a Qtron+ out of the closet that hadn't worked in over a year. Opened it up and realized that one of the switches had been impacted and had come loose. I fixed it up but realized I only had one cable at home so I went to get another cable to test it out. In the shop, I saw a Digitech Multi Voice Chorus and gave it a whirl. WOW! It was absolutely GREAT for bass, even though it was the regular chorus, not the bass-specific chorus. So I bought it. And I love it.

    The Bass version is said to be tailored to bass signals, keeps your low end, yadda yadda yadda, but using the regular chorus, I can't see any purpose for a bass-specifc version. If anything, this pedal only adds to my overall signal - there are zero low-end issues.

    So this got me to thinking - how necessary are bass-specifc pedals?

    Okay, don't get me wrong, I know that in many cases regular guitar effects sound not so hot on a bass. But this chorus experience is just another example of a seemingly unnecessary development of a bass-specific pedal. How much of this is a marketing tool? How many more bassists are induced to buy pedals because "Hey, it's not just a fuzz/chorus/flange/phaser! It's a fuzz/chorus/flange/phaser... for BASS!"

    In a nutshell - to what degree do you think the development of bass-specific effects is a marketing tool designed to access a niche market, as opposed to a market generated by a genuine desire from bassists for bass-specific pedals and a genuine concern on the part of manufacturers to respond to that request?
  2. Alot of guitar effects will work well with bass, but there are some which don't work as well. It is better if you can get effects which are bass specific because you know that you won't loose all the low end. That said I use a few non-bass pedals and they are great.
  3. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Probably just depends if you want the Chorus/Flanger effect all frequencies or just higher frequencies. Personally I prefer to leave the lower frequencies pure and just put chorus on the top.
  4. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Rhode Island, USA
    In general, the only effects where I think a bass-specific pedal is helpful is for od/dist/fuzz, because most guitar dirt pedals just lop your signal off below guitar-range. And maybe anything EQ-related, since guitar specific EQs generally don't go lower than 80 or 100 Hz. Most modulation effects do not need any special tailoring for bass, IMHO.
  5. Higgie


    May 31, 2005
    London, England
    Perfect example.

    The Boss BF-2B was the bass flanger they brought out in the 80's (along with the CE-2B) that applied the Flanger effect only to the harmonics and not the fundamental, therefore leaving your low end untouched. It's a great pedal IMO, but lots of bassists prefer the BF-2 (the guitar model of the same flanger at the time).

    At the end of the day, I don't look to see if a pedal is "Bass Specific". I just check if it sounds good. You've got more chance of a bass specific pedal being better for bass than it's guitar oriented brother though! All depends on what sound you're going for.
  6. +1

    The thing about distortion pedals is that (at least in the case of "classic" pearly OD/dist/fuzz) when they are designed for guitar, some low end is generally reduced in order to keep the sound from getting too muddy. On bass, this can be a problem - but not necessarily. In the old days this would be compensated for with blend or EQ. Today, there's a wide variety of bass-preserving distortion effects.

    Modulation effects don't generally require a redesign for bass. They CAN be adapted to bass in various ways, but this isn't always necessary and depends on the preferences of the player. For example, many bass players prefer a chorus with a "deep" setting (myself included) while others prefer a "shallower" setting that only affects the higher end. I personally LOVE phase effects on bass, and for these I prefer effects that allow you to set the frequency center or start/stop points of the sweep. The EBS Tremolo has a "lowpass" mode that makes it much more useful to bass players than many other tremolos.

    Some filters will be better for bass than others, but that's just logical (highpass is more or less useless for us). And has anybody ever seen a "bass delay" effect? Didn't think so...
  7. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    I'm surprised a troll from another region on TB hasn't come on and said, "I don't use effects and you're all stupid for using them. Save your money."

    Anyway, here's my two cents...Do I search for bass-specific pedals? No, but they do catch my eye from time to time. The EHX Bass Big Muff is tailored with a bassist in mind. There's no denying that...The EHX BMS is used by many g****rists, including Stef from Deftones who is tuned to G standard on the latest album for most songs IIRC.

    The only 'made for bass' pedal I own is the EHX BMS. If I want to make a pedal more friendly to the bass, I'll just swap out some caps and/or change some diodes.

    Really, it's all about what you want to do w/ the effect or what you want the effect to do for you...
  8. excane

    excane Banned

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I don't use effects and you're all stupid for using them. Save your money.

  9. excane

    excane Banned

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I agree that fuzz/overdrive/distortion are where most of the bass frequencies get lost when using guitar pedals.

    I've never had a real issue with modulation cutting off the bass, it just becomes a personal preference as to WHAT TYPE of modulation sounds better for your particular application.
  10. Well, yeah OK, but you don't really know, do you? Had you been able to try the bass specific one you might have preferred it, right?
    So, who knows.
  11. gm jack

    gm jack

    Oct 5, 2008
    Reading UK
    Wah is also far better with bass specific pedals, as the range of the sweep is able to effect the lower notes properly.
  12. That's kind of my point though.

    I used the chorus and I loved it, so I bought it. The thought of having it tailored specifically to bass never came to mind because I didn't find anything lacking. Which then leads me to wonder how much of this "made for bass" hooplah is really justified. Hence why I ask what others think.

    As I said before, I don't deny the need for some effects to be designed with bass specifcally in mind - the od/fuzz point has been made several times and is, (I think) justified. However I question the need for so many effects being bass-specific if only because it

    a) seems like a marketing scheme designed (in many cases) simply to make money off of a niche market (us - bassists)
    b) devalues the applicability of more generic pedals in favor of pedals tailored to bass use.

    Is applicability even a word?
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California

    Also, +1 to RCCollins' comments.

    While even some bass specific dirt pedals lose low end (the HAO Rust Ride sounds fantastic but I find I need to blend or bi-amp it) the vast majority of guitar ODs/distortions/fuzzes do. The Blueberry to me is the best example of a bass specific pedal that outshines any overdrive marketed for guitar.

    There are some other effects that can benefit from being tailored to bass as well, including some wahs, filters and synths and pitch shifters (bass whammy). And as RC pointed out, I like a phaser that lets you adjust it for bass frequencies.

    Outside of that, I'd say I don't see much benefit.

    Bamboozled! Suckered! Hoodwinked! Okie Doked! Hornswoggled!

    I call shenanigans! SHENANIGANS!
  14. Captain_Arrrg


    Jan 23, 2008
    Mountains of Colorado
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I'm also a big fan of the EHX BBM. It's nice that the dry mode will preserve you tone, but you can also set the fuzz way lower than regular BM.

    Oh and it's B string compatable- My Qtron+ barely does anything to an open B.
  15. excane

    excane Banned

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    You forgot tomfoolery and monkeyshines :smug:
  16. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I think effects have to be dealt with on an individual basis. You don't see very many people claiming that the SansAmp GT2 is much better than the BDDI for bass ;)

    Look at Boss. The basic building blocks for Boss pedals are full frequency, although this doesn't mean the pedal doesn't cut the bass somewhere else. Most Boss bass specific pedals just add a blend of some sort. These are gross generalization but generally true.
  17. Jim C

    Jim C Spector#496:More curves than Sophia + better sound Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    I think it's a function of the manufacturer and the type of effect; no blanket staements work for me on this one.
    I would prefer that a designer would take the specific intrument into account during the initial stages for the optimal result assuming the manufacturer has enough demand to warrant building both types.
    Also, does anyone here trust the marketing departments of large corporations that are having major losses to do the right thing? i.e. just because it says bass specific is that just lettering, and if there is a compnonent change, was it in in the budget to do it right?
  18. there are some effects which need to be bass specific like wah, od/distortion/fuzz, etc and others which needs not be like phasers, flangers and other modulation effects?
  19. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Yes and no.

    There are a number of "guitar" dirt pedals that work fine with bass. And for that matter there are some "bass" dirt pedals that drop low end or don't work with actives etc. But in general I'd say that I see more reason behind developing a bass version of a wah or overdrive than I do say a reverb.
  20. i actually meant that like as in most dirt pedals have some tone control and if its a guitar pedal them the freq centers dont work well for bass mostly. anyway yep you put it right so