1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Cello Invasion

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by WildMidwest, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    Hello from a long time lurker and first-time poster,

    In disclosure, my twelve year old son and I are recreational cellists (not bassists) but we have friends who are bass players. We find the outlook of bassists much closer to our way of thinking than six-string guitarists, plus we share the bass clef with this community.

    Here's our situation: I recently ordered a David Gage The Realist cello pickup for my son's 3/4 size cello. He plays in an electric string quartet that does mostly classic rock (Deep Purple, Led Zep, G&R, Coldplay), some 60's folk and assorted pop. I'd like him to begin learning jazz, blues and Celtic music skills.

    As total newbies to electronic sound spaces, we are considering options to enter the 21st Century with his cello. A multi-effects processor seems the obvious way for us to dip a toe in electronic musical waters, hopefully without risk of electrocution.

    Which processor should we begin with? I read multiple threads about Digitec's BP355, Zoom B2.1u and B3. As I got further into reading and listening to sound samples I began to wonder whether we might be better off with a guitar processor instead of a bass processor. The majority of cello notes center around middle C4 +/- one octave, with the lowest note at C2. As such, we probably wouldn't benefit much from the rich bass tones of a BP355 or B3 and we may be better off with one of the popular guitar processors.

    As a side-question, we are weighing the pros/cons of integrated expression pedals versus adding a separate expression pedal, or modifying a volume pedal as an expression pedal:

    So, what do BassTalk Forum members think we should do? — get a bass processor (Zoom B3, Digitec BP355, etc.) or a guitar processor such as Zoom G3 / G3x? A third option is to save money on an older/used guitar processor like Zoom G2.1Nu until we figure out what our actual needs are.

    Newly arrived electric cellists appreciate the BassTalk community's guidance.
  2. fishdreams

    fishdreams Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification and and Martin Keith Guitars
    Me, and I'd say a lot of bass players with me, populate their pedal boards with a mix of guitar and bass pedals, anyway.

    When thinking cello I'd certainly consider guitar pedals first - especially when bowing with a pickup like the realist (great pickup, btw), you'll want ample delay and reverb options, things a bass pedal typically isn't strong in. Also, you'll have much more choice (and second hand options) of guitar pedals. The key is to try them out. Guitar Center and Musicians Friend have generous return policies.
  3. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Good luck with the adventure. I don't use a lot of pedals, so I cannot offer any concrete answers.

    I would think that a cellist would be interested in creating a soundscape of sorts. I would think a guitar multi-effect would offer this over individual bass pedals.

    Also, keep in mind that feedback can be an issue when changing certain charactoristics of the tone.

    All in all, it seems like a fun time.
  4. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    We're loving the adventure and we've only just begun. DHSierra's video (Zoe Keating, Sun Will Set, Macworld 2011) highlights the possibilities of a looping processor. Here's another of Zoe's wonderful performances:


    Apocalyptica and Two Cellos are others leading us on. Melora Creager is lots of fun too.

    So, we're definitely leaning toward the Zoom G3 or Zoom G3x with its 40 second looping feature. Digitec's 20 second loop doesn't seem sufficient for getting more than just a taste of what's possible.

    What do people think about quality of the G3x's expression pedal? Is it worth the added expense and trouble to hook up a separate expression pedal on a G3 instead? Of course, from the seated position it might be easier for a cellist to control the expression with one foot and G3 switches with another foot? We occasionally play electric cello standing up but it's pretty awkward.
  5. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    Regarding separate expression pedal, there's something to be said for not having to cart around and maintain an extra piece of equipment. Any theoretical advantage of having a separate G3 and expression pedal would be negated at the first concert we forgot to bring either the pedal or the G3. So I'll probably go ahead and purchase the Zoom G3x even if it's expression pedal isn't as great as some stand-alone units.

    I read in CelloFun forums several endorsements of Dunlop's CryBaby Bass Wah-Wah pedal. I am reluctant to buy specialty pedals yet, but I read Zoom B3/G3 wah-wah patch isn't great. Does anybody have thoughts about how to get a good Wah on a cello?
  6. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    What about a looping pedal to create counterpoint?
  7. I play an electric stick bass with a bunch of pedals, some bass specific and some guitar. The stick is much easier to work with than my DB.
  8. Can I tenatively suggest he gets one of these:

  9. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    We may eventually end up with a dedicated electric cello, such as NS Design or a custom built. First we will dabble with amping a traditional cello and digital effects processor.

    The quarter-bass video was great. What kind of strings are those, rawhide?

    Nicky, the Zoom G3 / G3x has a 40 second looper.


    May 4, 2006
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    I don't think you could go wrong with either of the Zoom pedals. I guess which one you choose would depend on whether or not you need the bass specific amp models and eqs. I think most of the effects other than a couple of the distortions and a couple of filters and synths are common to both pedals.
  11. As a newbie, I'd suggest a multi-effects processor until you figure out more specifically how individual effects sound and work. Older ones are probably just fine, although you'll quickly realize their limitations if they're too old and too cheap.

    For their ease of use and most “bang” or quality for the buck, I like Zoom effects. Digitech is right behind them, though.

    I generally agree with this. However, if the OP is using a whole lot of lower notes, or drones, many of the guitar effect pedals may not be well ‘tuned’ for their use. A whole lot of guitar effects either eq out lower frequencies to avoid muddiness, or use filters that may cut off the lower notes on the cello, etc. If you look into guitar effect pedals, be wary of the pedal cutting out lower frequencies.
    Best of luck, and don’t be afraid to get octave pedals or synth pedals! A cello with either of those with some OD or fuzz would probably sound absolutely killer.
  12. FWIW, a flimsy exp pedal can be tricky to work with, especially if/when subtlety is important or critical. I like everything about my old Zoom B2.1u except the pedal; it can stick slightly, ruining a smooth volume swell, etc.
    I'd love to hear what you guys come up with
  13. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Also, you might want to try a looper eventually. Something basic like the TC Electronics Ditto would be awesome. I have a friend who does solo sets with an electric/silent cello, a multieffects unit, and a looper. Great stuff, and a really good way to explore improvisation and composition on your own.
  14. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    Is this a limitation of the multi-effects processor or the patches? I read about people making bass patches for Zoom G3. Perhaps some of those would be worth a try.

    Great tip. We'll consider doing this once we're experienced with multi-effects. One of the G3's biggest shortcomings (I've read) is its crummy octave pedal.
  15. From the U-bass, bass ukulele "Pahohoe" synthetic rubber.
  16. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    This is valuable information. I am still considering picking up a high quality passive volume control pedal and running a TRS insert jack cable out to our multi-effects processor (as per the Strymon Tech Corner link in my first post). We might need to swap a new 25K potentiometer to make it work right. I have the sense nobody really makes a good off-the-rack expression pedal these days.
  17. WildMidwest


    Mar 11, 2013
    Gotta put some of those rubber strings on our cellos. The music teachers will flip out! :hyper:
  18. 20 to 22" scale length, EADG. Pizzicato only, no bow.
  19. It's more of a product of the way that the effects are designed. The most extreme example is probably wahs or envelope filters. Most of them use a band-pass filter, which sounds better on guitar, but bass-specific filters use a low-pass filter, which preserves the low end, and sounds better on bass. Other effects like some choruses split the signal so that only the higher frequencies are affected, or use other techniques so that the low frequencies aren't altered. A cello may sound brittle and thin with the guitar specific effects, but sound great on guitar.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.