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Blending My Clean With My Distortion... Can I? Should I? Opinions Please.

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by dawgawd, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. dawgawd


    Mar 23, 2000
    before i start, i'd like to note that i'm not a regular on this board and it is possible that i may be repeating a subject that has been recently brought up, but as i did not see such a thread, i took the liberty of creating one. if it has been discussed, please refer me to where i may find solutions to my problems.

    okay, here goes.

    I have a new US made Big Muff pedal that i got for christmas. Jamming with it alone in my room, i like the sound i can get on it. The problem comes when i try to use it with my band. i notice that the moment i turn it on, i lose all ability to hold the bottom with my tone, it seems to cut out all my lows when i set the tone on the pedal to a level that i like. so based on an idea i got from nada surf, i tried playing through two amps simultaniously a few days ago. my set up went from my bass, to my tuner pedal (which has two outputs) from one output i went straight to my bass amp and from the other i went to the big muff, and then out to my guitar amp. i played with this a little and i think it is possible that something similar could solve my problem. I do not have access to two gig-worthy bass amps, so i would need to find a way to blend my clean and distorted channels into one amp. what equipment would i need to do this.

    also, is this a bad idea? had anyone got any experience with this or have any stories to tell me? i know that the guy from nada surf uses two amps, a marshal bass amp and a fender guitar amp. also, i've heard stories of bassists doubling their distorted parts with clean bass on albums. so my idea seems to be practiced at least a little.

    advice on other practical solutions would be helpful.

    in case it's relivant, i play in a pop-rock band. i play a jazz bass with a j retro through a 15" combo amp (or whatever i can borrow from the other bassists at shows) and i tend to boost my highs and lows and cut the mids.

    thank you.
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    You may have already tried what you need. How gig worthy is your guitar amp?

    Does your bass amp have an effects loop? If it's the parallel (wet/dry mix) flavor, try inserting your Big Muff in the loop. You may not like how hard it gets driven by the preamp in your bass amp though.

    I've done the two amp thing lots, and you can often get away with a much smaller second amp. I usually carry a 1-15 and a 1-12 cab, which works great for me. I use a little Mackie mixer, but even the super-cheap Behringer ones will do a clean/distorted mix for you. The sound will be noticeably different if everything goes through one speaker, but you might like it better. For the last few years, I've tended to run everything through both speakers. Lately, I've been playing with splitting clean and dirty signals, and I think I'd do that if I were playing rock.

    I use distortion mostly for slide bass, so there's a lot of delay and ambient stuff going on too. I don't really need the big bottom for that, but two amps and speakers is a good way to achieve it if you need it.


    --Charlie Escher
  3. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    noted users of this technique: timmy C; RATM

    but if you're not fortunate to be able to afford 2 ampeg bass stacks....

    a cheapie behringer mixer will do a wet / dry mix for you, as has already been said, or if you know someone who has partial skill with electronics, it is not unfeasable for them to add a wet / dry pot to your pedal.

    thirdly, do a search on this forum for something like "big muff bass mod" a few people on here have done it (i think davidmwilson, but im not sure) and say it has fantastic results for the pedal.
  4. I used this techniqe for a while and have experimented with making it practicle live. I would use a guitar amp for my top end and distortion, and a bass amp for my clean sound. This had some draw backs, the two signals running in parallel through separate sound systems didn't match up to one another when projecting longer distances. I tried to overcome this by matching speaker independence. It helped, but still was lacking the sound of a whole tone. Finaly I had a brainstorm, instead of competing with amp levels live I'd just use the studio technique. Split em then mix em.

    I did this by using a rocktron distorted guitar preamp and the preamp from my svt. Behringer makes a really cool rack tool called the link pro, which is the most useful tool for this situation. It has six chanels that can either function as a splitter or a mixer, it can also be used as a DI and headphone amp. Split bass signal to the two preamps, send the preamp lines back to the mixer chanels, mix in the levels until output is satisfactory to your taste. Then adjust the master level on the mixers to venue size. Send one DI to the house, and another to a poweramp... then just feed your speakers.

    This is a really good approach to using multiple signals to get tone. Especially when doing it live because everything is already set up in your rack; just plug, adjust one volume and play. No buying more cabs or equipment than you possibly have to. This is a superb way to get clean sounds too. It allows you to take multiple eq's that bring out a specific charactor in your bass, without interferring with one another.

    Other people that use this technique:
    Geddy Lee
    Chris Squire
    Paulo Pinto (Sepultura)
    John Paul Jones
    John Eitenwhistle (the origionator)
    Chi Cheng (Deftones)
    Christian Olde Wolbers (Fear Factory)
    Doug Pinnick (Kings-X)
    Geezer Butler
    Gene Simmons
    Jason Newsted
    Nikki Sixx (he sucks, but he's technically brilliant)
    Shavo Odadjian
    and many more...
  5. What the fellas above have said is on the money, although the real benefits of double-amping (guitar and bass amps) shows up more in the studio.

    For joe-average gigging player, it's a lot of arse to haul around 2 amps, and even more arse for the sound engineer who has to balance the whole lot (not to mention getting a decent stage sound all can hear).

    The other options (mixers, etc) all work well too, but it's all $$$$$$. Cheapest and simplest option would be to get a sparky to install a blend pot in your Big Muff. Even with mods many disto pedals still lose low end (well, compared to an unaffected bass signal). Another option is to run a couple of Y-cable in your pedal chain with a simple box with a volume pot installed (sorry, don't know what value to use):

                        |---| new blend box
                  /-----| O |-----\
                 /      |---|      \
    from bass ---                   --- to next FX
                 \      |---|      /
         y-cable  \-----|ooo| ----/  y-cable
                        |   |
                        |---| big muff     
    Hope that makes sense!

    At the end of the day, blending in your unaffected tone will restore your low-end.
  6. That's a good point, I use overdrive as a mainstay in my system. And I experiment like a mad scientist when it comes to tone. Things I don't like in my signal, is malfunction, noise and inconsistancies. My method has shown it's self to be tried in true for the best live distortion. If you want a cheap way to do this, just buy a boss ls-2 it has a mixer function.
  7. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    For joe-average gigging player, it's a lot of arse to haul around 2 amps, and even more arse for the sound engineer who has to balance the whole lot (not to mention getting a decent stage sound all can hear).

    Dead on, Nil. I double on guitar and guitar synth, so I have to carry that much gear anyhow. I really do have a tough time mixing myself, and unfortunately no one else who works at the club I mainly play at has a clue, since I'm the go-to sound guy for the more demanding gigs. I used to carry three channels though (one totally dry, plus a stereo EFX rig, the Metheny/Jaco thing). Then I discovered that I could send one of the EFX channels to the board, and really get some ambience going, with ping-ponging from the stage to FOH. Super cool when it works, but a total nightmare to set up properly.
  8. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    Just set to A/B and loop OD/Dist. into A or B.
    Loop will have effect.
    Other channel will provide clean signal.

    Use gain pots A & B to mix.

  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Hey, Bigfeet, any pics of your live rig?

  10. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    or try one of a few drive pedals that will do the blend for you!

    Black Cat Bass-Octave-Fuzz (fuzz)

    Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive (od)

    DredgeTone Angler (od)

    Prescription Electronics Depth Charge (fuzz) - i've ordered one and am hoping it's everything it's cracked up to be, otherwise i'm switchng back to the Sparkle or trying an Angler.

  11. How does that Sparkle Drive sound? Subtle or more crunchy? Anything to compare it with?

  12. Ah, but the bass Angler does NOT blend your signal, it fries it all up full range for a different and IMO, the best approach I have heard to date. I blended for decades with varying results then stumbled upon this gem last year. The sound is MASSIVE, not discombobulated as some circuits can seem (or at least, disconnected.) THe bottom is fat and synthy, which i dig. SO...another option to consider.
    Oh yeah, the Sparkle drive sounds terrific on bass, I like that one.
  13. I wish! My svt blew up after I electrocuted myself trying to rebias it... Right now I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of it because I killed the transistor. I'm thinking I may invest in a peavy maxx preamp and a qsc power amp. I also need more speakers, my SWR 2x10 isn't cutting the mustard anymore.
  14. My 2 cents: I have a Big Muff and don't need to blend the signal to get good low-end, provided I don't turn up the tone control any further than 9 o'clock. In fact I think the Big Muff is one of the best pedals to keep low-end. I tried the Boss Line-selector to blend the signal, and I really don't like the sound of a totally clean bass next to a totally distorted. The same goes for any pedal with and built-in blend knob, like the Boss OB-3. It just doesn't sound good when you can hear the treble of the clean bass, along with he distorted signal (I don't think Fleas dist sound is very good, because of that). The best way to keep your low-end, is to let some of the lower freq's pass unaffected of the effect. Enter EBS Multidrive! In fact I just got one the other day, and I must say it's very versatile, good sounding and most of all, it keeps the low end. And if it isn't brutal enough, I still got my Big Muff.
    Actually I've had a Boss Metal Zone for years, and although it's not the best dist, it's good at keeping low-end, thanks to the rather detailed eq section.
    Well, that's my opinion. I've tried a few things, and found out what I like. Good luck (and give the Big Muff another chance!)

    BTW I don't think all the artist mentioned as blending their signal, actually blends it. I think some use double stacks to SWITCH between clean and distorted sound, not to blend them.
  15. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Well, it does the whole range of what any tube screamer style OD does. That said, I never think OD on bass sounds too good at the bottom end of the drive range - to get it to be smooth you've gotta hit at least 50% drive, in my experience. The Sparkle Drive is one of the best OD's I've heard, and I loved it on my bass and my geetar. Only got rid of it because what I hear in my head is more just-a-hair-o-fuzz than OD, but I may get another anyways to have both. Best setting I heard on the Sparkle was with the drive and blend both at about 1:00, tone to taste. Too much drive and/or tone and the blend starts to sound like 2 separate instruments.

    And to the other poster about the bass Angler, sorry, my mistake, I thought it was blendable. I'd still love to try one =0)
  16. i second getting a sparkle drive or an angler.. both are amazing pedals :D... you will be happy with either of them and they are cheap. (about 100-130$ tops)
  17. BTW...a Sparkle Drive IS a Tube Screamer. A techie=pal told me so after gutting his, why I'll never know.
  18. i modified my big muff.

    Basicly i embedded a small 2-channel mixer circuit in it. It has 2 inputs and each channel has it's own 2-band EQ. If i cut the highs from the clean signal it gives a real nice wooly overdrive, almost oberheim-synth like.

    i could post a schematic of it here, but if you cannot use SMD's you can forget it, because the PCB will become too big.

    I'l thinking of making another one that i can use as a preamp in a bass ( each pickup has it's own volume and 2-band EQ.. how cool is that ? ;) )
  19. atoni


    Jan 23, 2004
    Helsinki, Finland
    Endorsing Artist: Salo Guitars
    Hey Bigfoot,

    Could you post the detailed setup with guitar preamp, MX882 and SVT?

    I have SVT-2pro so should I use preamp out or slave out into mixer? After that I run the final mix into poweramp in?

  20. dawgawd

    I got a Loooper just two months ago for a similar purpose. I had intended on blending my entire signal path (eleven pedals) with my original signal. For my situation, though, it didn't work so well...there were just too many units in the chain.

    The Loooper works amazingly well for one or two pedals. The one I have has one loop with a blend potentiometer to have any mix of wet/dry signal. I paid $66 for it, and it took a month to get it. I'll sell it to you for $50, pay the shipping myself, and you could have it next week.

    Take a look at the attachment, do some research at the loooper website, and I think you'll find it's exactly what you're searching for. As you can see, it's a "one Loooper with blend pot option in gold metal flake". It's literally brand new.

    EDIT: And I'm an idiot because this thread is 6 months old and this guy probably doesn't come around here anymore. Anybody else interested in my Loooper?