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Best tone-enhancer: Graphic EQ vs. 'Tone shaping pedals'?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Raccio14, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. Raccio14


    Mar 3, 2010
    I'm not really happy with my bass's tone, but don't have nearly enough funds to buy a new bass or amp. Besides, it plays rather well and looks good, so I'd rather not ditch it.

    Instead i'm looking to pedals for tone-enhancing options.
    But I'm not sure what would be best for working on a sub-par tone. A graphic EQ, or some sort of specialized 'tone-shaping' pedal such as the Catlinbread SFT?

    What would you suggest? Any specific EQ or tonal 'always on' pedals that you would suggest? Please keep in mind price is important as well :smug:

  2. MK1


    Nov 23, 2009
    Grand Rapids, MI
    What don't you like about your tone? Sometimes something as simple as trying new strings could be all you need or maybe even new pickups. I would try different string before you drop a lot of money on a pedal.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  3. berman3313

    berman3313 Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2009
    Could you possible post a link or two to YouTube vids that have a tone that you like? Also, some indication of everything in your chain including strings, age of strings, amp, cab, pups....

    I found this recently and reminded me how much I love Lawrence P-46 pickups!

    You'll get alot of help here - but need more about the causes first.
  4. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    Every pedal I use is tone shaping due to different mid-ranges and character of distortion* but they all go into a VT bass (much discussed here). That with my compressor in the effect loop of my amp are the essential tone pedals.
    * Xotic BB Pre is a bit scooped but with super lows and upper mids, Devi Ever Ruiner in Xotic blend is a synthetic sound with squelches, DE Dark Boost adds low end and an aggressive attack envelope with a high synthy midrange buzz when put into a later blended distortion, (like the) Brown Dog is a biting or rumbling gated distortion with a blend, DE Karioki Party is an overdrive with a certain mid peak a bit lower than than the BB and acts as a filter if slammed with high level signal, Prunes and Custard is a distorted filter for another midrange peak, last, Wounded Paw Attack Goat at 35% blended fuzz adds another octave up of overtones to any other sound, sounds great by itself too.
  5. Raccio14


    Mar 3, 2010
    It's just a generally bland tone. It's overly bright in the highs, but my 3-band EQ on the bass rolls off too much of the zing and punch if I roll off the highs.
    It's just really clean, and lacks some of the voice and roar that I love to hear from a lot of the more famous bassist's tone. A good idea of what I want is probably Incubus's SCIENCE album.
    If curious, I'm playing an Ibanez SR655 (it's a limited run, so you might have difficulty finding info on it, but it's got the same Bartolini active electronics as the SR505 and a wenge/bubinga neck with mahogany body). My bass does add to the complexity of upgrading electronics though because I doubt many drop-in replacements are made for it, and I'm NOT comfortable with having to do any re-routing.

    I'm all down for the idea of changing strings, but I am quite comfortable with my current set, as far as playability (DR Lo-rider nickel). I'm open to other suggestions of 5-string sets though.
    But yeah, alot of what it takes to find the right set of strings is trial and error, and with each set of strings costing upwards of $30, costs will quickly approach that of a pedal, and for some reason I feel like it won't give me as versatile or fine-tuned results... I dunno :meh:
  6. I think based on your description an EQ pedal is going to be what you want to try. Tone shaping pedals are great, but it can take a while to find the right one for you and your situation. I've been through a SansAmp Bass driver, Acoustic DI, TriAC, Dano Wasabi OD, DOD FX53 before settling on a MXR M80 and EHX English Muff'n (use the M80 for di and Muff'n into amp). That right there is a couple hundred bucks and I got off cheap. I could easily continue shopping for the Holy Grail of Tone, but I had to stop myself since I have no money and there is an endless supply of new tone options (plus my tone isn't really bothering me).

    If you can find something with a parametric or semiparametric eq I would go with that. It really helps to nail down that bad spot in your tone and eliminate or reconstitute it. Graphic EQ isn't a bad way to go, though.
  7. Do you want a "new" tone or change it? A graphic EQ can't produce something that wasn't there before.

    Please give more specific information about how your tone is (complete linsting of your equipement) and what you would like to get.
    Some things are limited, e.g. the Ibanez will never sound like a P-bass. Some things might be changed...
    I would start with the height of the pickups. Ever tested something there? Half a millimeter (about 0.04") can really make a difference. When you play over headphones you can hear the effect much better.
    Then there are the things already mentioned like strings etc.

    Remember: the perfect setup with a great amp but with a crappy cab won't sound good at all. That takes effect for every link in the signalchain. It's easy to ruin a sound!
  8. First of all, I'm a big beleiver in strings as a major detrminant of tone. However, I understand that at $30 a set, plus the time to install them and possibly tweak the bridge and truss rod, it's expensive to do a lot of experimentation.

    OTOH, if you buy a used pedal and don't like it, you can probably sell it again for the price you paid. Some of the online stores may even let you return a new one (check ther policy first). The Sansamp VT and BDDI get a lot of love around here; you might want to check them out.
  9. Well, Dirk was using Eden amplifiers and a Sansamp pre during the "SCIENCE" era, but that is not to say that is the set-up he recorded with. An EQ pedal is going to be a waste of time and money. The sound you are looking for comes from overdrive, be it from the amplifier gain stages or a pedal. I suggest you try several overdrive pedals and go that route. For $$ and reliability it's hard to beat the Boss ODB-3.

  10. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I would maybe suggest going into the realm of the preamp/DI area - for example the Aguilar Tone Hammer. I use it as an EQ at the end of my signal chain. I use it to accomodate for slight tone discrepancies of my basses before they hit the amp, and for a little added oomph. It's a great functioning EQ (with sweepable mids), has some tube-like breakup I can dial into the tone - and it's a great DI for stage or recording.

    If not the Aggie, as mentioned earlier I know the Xotic BB Pre gets some love on here. I would also maybe look in the Sansamp BDDI or Para Driver, the Hartke Valve Drive, or the MXR M80 (as I often see these tossed about as well). If you are looking for Ampeg tones specifically, look in to the VT Bass or VT Bass Deluxe.
  11. Kromwarp


    Sep 16, 2008
    Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Master Luthier: Ironclad Bass Guitars
    This is very good advice...except EBS makes the Valve Drive, Hartke makes the Bass Attack ;)

    I use the Hartke myself and I won't play without it
  12. tomhanzo


    Apr 20, 2008
    West Virginia
    I agree all around except the ODB-3 part. I have one and it is scooped bad.

    I'd suggest a sansamp VT. I've never tried one, but it gets good reviews around here. It is made to sound like a great amp, so it should be what your looking for. It has dirt too :D
  13. Raccio14


    Mar 3, 2010
    On the topic of the EBS valve drive; it's far from within my price range. How do some of the other offerings that are cheaper by EBS stack up against the aforementioned competition?

    EDIT: did a quick search and found that the valve drive actually is pretty reasonable, even for me. I'd still like to know more though :p
  14. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Unless you want to replace the stock MK pickups, your best bet is the VT. I just got mine. The VT can give me tones that I usually don't expect from my basses.
  15. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ummm... Right! That's exactly what I meant to say. :bag:
    Thanks for the correction.
  16. Listen to this guy. The ODB-3 isn't bad, but IMO it's kind of a one trick pony; it can do an okay heavy distortion, but it's not much good for anything other than that. VT is definitely gonna suit you a lot better.
  17. tomhanzo


    Apr 20, 2008
    West Virginia
    I should have been clearer.

    I didn't mean it was bad. It has a great distortion tone. Its just not what this guy is looking for. I don't imagine anyway.
  18. If price is an issue what about the behringer BDI 21. New or used they're cheap.
    Not my cup of tea (I got the BDDI) but gets raves on here for a budget buyer.
  19. jcerio

    jcerio Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    Or try the Joyo American Tone preamp. They seem to get really good reviews and can be had for not a lot of money. I won a Joyo Ultimate Drive and find it to be a really good pedal. I will be trying the American Tone next.
  20. The Tech 21 Oxford gave my Ric a nice grunt that didn't sound distorted. I like it ten times more than the VT Bass or BDDI, which have a waterlogged overdrive sound.

    Also, I love Darkglass. But it may be out of your range. I have a clip of the Oxford if you'd like to hear it. I can post it next to my unaffected tone

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