Benefits of an overdrive.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by LMSBASS, Jul 15, 2013.



    Jul 11, 2013
    I am just wondering how beneficial overdrive pedals really are. I use the ashdown equivilent. I want it to just give me some extra body in some choruses. but i find it to just be muddy and unclear. any idea's? am I not using it to its actual potential?


    Jul 11, 2013
    Sorry. I realise I should have posted this in effects not amps
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm sure a mod will move it. IN the meantime, for me, the benefits are:

    #1: Tone! I rarely go for outright fuzz, unless I'm doing vintage Cream or Grand Funk tunes. I just don't like clean-and-flat bass tone... I love adding some tube-style warmth on top for any kind of music, and aggressive grit for rock.

    #2: The more overdrive you add, the more compression you get... it's the nature of the beast. That's not really a factor for me, I mostly use subtle overdrive, but some players use overdrive compression as much as for tone.

    Tweetered cabs don't always play well with overdrive, if you use bright tones then you can get the infamous "buzzy bees" effect. The answer is to roll off treble on your bass or amp, turn the tweeter down on the cab (if it has an attenuator), or use a cab that doesn't have a tweeter -- the latter is my choice. :)
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    A little overdrive adds a nice fuzzy warm sound to the bass.
  5. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012

    I love me some overdrive. A lot. So much so that the tweeters on my SVT210HEs have never been turned on, and when it recently came time to drink the Greenboy Kool-aid, I went with one of his tweeterless models.

    There are definitely occasions to play clean, but if I'm playing anything remotely punk/hardcore, the overdrive is always on to some degree.

    I suggest one that has a wet/dry control if you're looking to get a new one. 9/10 times, I just set the overdrive tone that I like and use that blend control to add as much/little to my clean signal as is appropriate.
  6. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    The problem might be less the type of pedal than the make. My experience of Ashdown's amps is a distinct lack of treble, and while shopping around for a good overdrive I did try an Ashdown pedal which seemed to be a sort of preamp/overdrive hybrid. It was quite a nice tone, but very warm - the kind of sound I could imagine becoming woolly in some settings. You might do better to try some other models and see whether they give you what you're looking for.

    I'm usually the first to sing the praises of the Ibanez Bass Tubescreamer in these threads, but I use that for soloing rather than simply thickening my tone in the mix (though I expect it can do that comfortably as well!)
  7. In my rock alt cover band I really like to use my Fulltone Bass Drive to fill in the mix when the gui**** rips off solos. Often on the original recordings the solo was overdubbed over the rhythm guitar and when my guitarist goes for the solo, the Bass Drive really tricks the audience to thinking the band has a rhythm guitar still.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Distortion takes some practice in a band setting to get a good sound.
  9. Actually Jimmy makes a good point. For me, the key was to use the Fulltone Bass Drive because it has a real solid mid presence. I also have a Russian Big Muff that sounds so fat but totally gets lost in the mix when used live. I still use it for some Black Keys tunes with slow bluesy lines and I have it set rather loud compared to my clean signal so it can be heard. It really swells the whole bands volume. With that pedal the song is usually based on the bass line and cutting isn't an issue. Without a natural mid present sound in the overdrive or at least a mid control you can boost it's hard to achieve the "guitar fill" sound I do on solos.
  10. I started using a fuzz (Ross Distortion to be exact) because my littel 60 watt Peavey wasn't near loud enough to play with a drummer. With a fuzz/distortion pedal I coudl get a bit louder.
    I eventually grew to like the distortion sound over the clean sound.
    It get louder, it sustains more, harmonics are more prominent.
    Not suitable for many styles of music, many pedals will make the low end disappear, it's very difficult to get a consistent volume between clean and overdrive tones. It is also hard to settle on an EQ curve that works for both clean and overdrive.
    It's often easy to spot a bassist who is new to using drive pedals because they sound spitty and harsh when the pedal is on!
  11. BassinCT

    BassinCT …still tuning…

    Jun 17, 2006
    Connecticut, USA
    Robert Sledge w/BFF is a good example of how you can add density to a small-group mix with some dirt or full-on distortion.
  12. PotsdamBass8

    PotsdamBass8 Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    I suggest you try to zero in on some bass sounds from other artists that you like that use overdrive/distortion, and then try to emulate that sound on your own. It took me 12 years of playing before I actually started liking some overdriven sounds in my own playing. If you don't actually like any of the sounds that you hear, don't incorporate them!
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member


    Heavy fuzz can work great even with pop music:
  14. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    Absolutely. This may be blasphemy, but for Ben's writing, I actually grew to prefer Jared Reynolds tone/style after Songs For Silverman. Not to detract at all from Mr. Sledge (still one of my all-time favorites).

    And while we're on the subject of distorted bass in a trio, IMHO, no one has done it better than Oh My God. Granted, you're mostly hearing the organ most of the time, but the role the bass takes on as both rhythm and lead instrument in that band is just plain awesome.

    (Check out the solo at 2:00)

    Billy got that tone from just a plain ol' Rat pedal.
  15. theory028

    theory028 Really Loud Hamburger.

    Jul 4, 2007
    Cedar Falls, IA
    @PotsdamBass8 Good point. I am still at the point where I can only tolerate mild overdrive but I prefer it over it being too clean. A little bit goes a long way and too much can be a turnoff for some people.

    The Digitech Bad Monkey was a good budget choice because it could do subtle and more aggressive overdriven tones. For as cheap as they come, it truly was a great starter overdrive.
  16. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Overdrive is a key part of a good bass tone in most genres. Even subtle drive will bring out the harmonics in your notes so you will be heard clearer in a mix. In a rock band, I have some type of drive on at all times. It just should add some grind to the tone, and does not have to be so much that it alters the tone drastically.

    Basically, using overdrive properly should allow you to be hear clearer in a dense mix, without you having to boost your volume or EQ.

    It is almost a give your bass tone will have some distortion on it if you are in a rock band and are recording with a producer who knows what he is doing.
  17. johnpbass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Glen Mills, PA
    Excellent point AngelCrusher. A technique that I learned and like to use when recording my bass is to record one track with my regular bass tone, then add a second track with a super-overdriven distortion. You then blend in the distortion track to the desired level in the mix of the two.
  18. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Yes..that is called parallel distortion, and is a great technique.

    The main thing to make sure there is that the 2 tracks are properly aligned, or you will have phase issues.

    I really like the blend pedals out there now. You can feed some of your tone into a RAT and get that grind without losing any low end. It is a similar concept.
  19. johnpbass


    Feb 18, 2008
    Glen Mills, PA
    Absolutely true. Pretty straightforward with a DAW setup. Amazing how much that technique adds to how the bass sits in the mix.