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Could anyone explain all this effect, distortion stuff?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Demon, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Hey guys, not currently planning on getting effects or anything right now, but maybe if it seems cool enough. Can anyone explain what you can do with effects and how it works, also what is distortion? i never really understood:) Do you need to buy something to get a distortion effect? Also, are there any metal bassists that use effects sometimes? OR is it very rare? Ty in adv.
  2. Dash Rantic

    Dash Rantic

    Nov 12, 2005
    Palo Alto, CA
    Lemme first start off saying what many of us here say: If you're not sure you need effects, you probably don't.

    Now, to answer the rest of the questions... There are many types of effects, and if you want to learn what they are, and what sounds you might like, I'd reccommend buying a cheap multi-effects box. I think Digitech makes one for about US $50, it'll give you a nice taste of what's out there. But please note that multi-effects units just about never sound as good as single effect units--sure, multiFX boxes can do a lot, but usually they aren't that good at any of it, while single effects are the other way around, if that makes sense.

    Distortion: Have you ever cranked the gain on your amp waayy up, and then played through it that way? That buzzing, grinding noise is distortion. There's plenty of distortion types, tube distortion gives a "warmer", sound it's not so harsh. At the other end of the spectrum is fuzz-type distortions, which does exactly what it sounds like--just adds a lot of fuzz onto your signal, and it actually sounds pretty good.

    I think a fair number of metal bassists do use some type of fuzz or distortion, but it depends.

    Just try going into a local music shop and run basses through some of the different distortion or other effect units. Keep in mind that some effects that are meant for guitar, especially some types of distortion, will make you lose a lot of your low-end. If the pedal has an onboard EQ, you can add it back that way, but if not you're best off trying something else.

    I hope some of this rambling helps :)

  3. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    Well, Distortion is mearly waveform clipping. The more distortion, the more the sine wave generated by the bass looks square, and not curved. That's pretty much the easiest explenation.

    As for other effect, it depends on the situation if they'll be "cool" or not. My chorus (CEB-3) really adds some mood to my bass, and when pumped into my distortion (English Muff'n) it really gives it some definition and beef. The only other effect I use now (besides noise suppression) is an Aphex Punch Factory which is a very transparent compressor, which BTW is a very popular effect type, even when it's not transparent.

    I know for a fact that the bassist for Devildriver uses a sansamp (an amp modeling effect), and I believe I read that the bassist for Arch Enemy uses distortion (Deisel Dawg?).
  4. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    So what could i get for about 130 dollars? And what you mean by turning up the gain? whats gain? like treble? Also, i dont "need" effects, i dont even know how it sounds, but thought it would be interesting and worth checking it out, would be even more stupid missing out on something that i might love, and would it work well with metal music, could you add cool sound?
  5. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    The cost of all the FX I own is listed here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2887180&postcount=66

    Note that the costs are CAD. If you ever check out distortions you might want to check out

    Gain = How loud you have your signal going into the clipping part of the dist effect. It basically controls how much clipping you get. EQ after dist (usually from amp, or the effect itself) can emphisize the distorted tone in very useful ways.

    Oh, and I agree with the multi-effect direction that Dash suggested. It'll give you some idea as to what each effect generally sounds like. But, that should in no way blind you to the sounds of some high-end individual stuff.
  6. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    well i thought i might try some distortion pedal at around 100dollars. can anyone recomend any metal style songs that use distortion bass?
  7. slip


    Apr 24, 2006
    The best way to understand what different effects do is to start with a little rudimentary research on the nature of sound waves. As a previous poster stated all these effects do in the end is shape the sound waves coming out of your speakers to create a hopefully desirable sound effect. Try punching "sound wave" or "mechanical wave" into your favortie search engine. Or break out your highschool physics book and read through the chapter on sound.

    That being said, 90% of your favorite players tone comes from technique; not the amp, pickups, pedals, speakers, picks, shoes, sports drink, or endorsment deal. Although you can hand the most unskilled player a Line 6 Pod set to "Line 6 Insane" and they can do a pretty convincing Steve Vai, especially if there is a fan around to lean into.

    But since you asked:

    Soft Clipping: This is usually marketed as "overdrive", where the gain is inversely proportional to the input signal level.

    Hard Clipping: Usually marketed as "distortion", where the signal level is restricted within a range.
  8. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Ok, whats the difference in sound between overdrive and distortion? And anyone know some songs that uses some of these effects?
  9. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    try two, if possible: -MXR M-80 bass overdrive
    -BOSS ODB-3 bass overdrive

    the first one's about $130 USD
    the second's about $90 USD

    these will give you a good idea what overdrives sound like.
    it's a good starting point, at least.

    (by the way, robert trujillo of metallica uses the M-80 as far as i know.)
    (and cliff burton's sound was definitely overdriven... how, i don't quite know.)

    point is, metal bassists often use distortion. just make sure you keep the sound big and beefy and bassy. distortions that are made for guitar typically "eat up" all of the lows of the bass sound.

    hope i helped, mang.
  10. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    overdrive is typically "warmer" sounding, while distortion is more "edgy" or "harsh."
  11. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Okay. but i could only spend 100 bucks, cos i need to get a good amplifier too:/ But ill need to hear a sounclip or a song where both are used so i can hear both:p anyone knows?
  12. Best metal fuzztone ever is Blacky from Voivod.

    You could argue Lemmy's is better, I spose, but he doesn't even sound like a bass.
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    My favorite metal bass fuzz/distortion tones:
    Electric Wizard (scroll down and listen to the clips "Barbarian" and "Witchfinder").
  14. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA

    click on the "audio demo" option on the left hand side... that ought to give you a good idea about the ODB3. that's the overdrive i'd recommend if you want to spend less than 100$.


    there's some sound bytes there, too.

    for a fuzzier sound, look into the electro-harmonix big muff.
    their site, http://www.ehx.com , has some awesome demos, too.

    hope i helped a little more.

    as far as specific songs.... i don't really know any off the top of my head. sorry, mang.
  15. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Can effects be used in metal? Yep!

    I play pretty much only metal and I use wah, distortion, and chorus. I will probably add a phaser at some point as well. Check out The Big TB Sample Thread for samples of a lot of different effects.

    Anyways, for some distorted bass songs to check out:
    For Whom the Bell Tolls: Metallica -the intro is distorted bass
    (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth: Metallica -other than the drums, it is all bass with distortion and a wah pedal
    N.I.B.: Black Sabbath - Geezer used distortion on this tune
    Spacegrass: Clutch - Not really heavy metal but you can get another idea of distortion use.
  16. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Thanks guys, that boss odb demo was cool, that sounded awesome:) thing is, my first priority is a nice amp.
  17. jsbach1982


    Feb 11, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    +1 to K Lee's list of distorted bass tracks.

    For overdrive, I would check out some stuff by The Who (anything from the album Live at Leeds). John Entwhistle was a pioneer of overdriven bass sounds, along with Jack Bruce of Cream.

    edit: Forgot, there's also a sweet demo of the English Muff'n at ehx.com, another great example of overdriven bass.

  18. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    That's the lighter side of the Muff'n!

    Demo of Chorus -> Muff'n -> Compressor: http://rapidshare.de/files/19095352/New_Rig_Tone_Off.mp3.html

    Note that the tone on the bass is off, though I usually play with it on. The file is basically a demo of bass with chorus+comp then with chorus+muff'n+comp.

    Demo #2: http://rapidshare.de/files/19094906/Chorus_to_Distortion_Demo.mp3.html

    Same rig as before but with tone on this time. This is a demo of what chorus before the muff'n does.

    As for settings, everything except the master volume (set for unity) on the muff'n is maxxxxed. The chorus is the Boss CEB-3 and the settings L->R, in clock positions, are: 5, 3, 9, 3. This sets up a really slow but deep chorus. I usually have the E.Level (1st knob) set to 3 o'clock, not 5, for a subtler effect. The comp, an Aphex Punch Factory, has the drive at level #8 and the volume at 9. The only reason the volume is at 9 is so that there's enough volume to record. The PF is actually only a replacement for the comp on my amp, just so that I can record and such. Because of this there is no EQing other than the Muff'n, and only when it's on (it's True Bypass :D ).

    The cost of my entire board (in CAD) =
    Boss TU-2 = $125.00
    Boss CEB-3 = $110.00
    Boss NS-2 = $110.00
    EHX English Muff'n = $235.00
    Aphex Punch Factory = $145.00

    Grand Total = $725

    I've actually tried, and demo'd, the Boss MD-2 ($110) here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2928872&postcount=126

    Just figured that I might as well give you some Idea about what effects can do, even with only a few of them.
  19. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    Basically, distortion for bass is most often used in a one guitar one bass situation to fill out the tone of the bands mix, if you are playing heavier stuff.

    If find with distortion on bass it's only really usefull during a solo, because when the guitar player goes back to his distorted cords the bass distortion gets tottally lost to my ear.

    I had a bass player once that didn't know how to set distortion for bass, or what it was used for. He tried using it when the guitar player was doing distorted cords and it sounded like crap. Also, was set so the bass tone was tottally gone, you have to be careful about that.

    I use a boss bass distortion, ($90) others hear probably have nicer, but this does it for me. You can adjust the amount of distortion and the amount of clean signal. It sounds good.

    I used it on "five to one," by the Doors, OMG it sounded awesome. but again thats a song where the guitar pretty much solo's through the whole song and dosn't mask your distortion with it's own.

    Just my opinion, but if you have a good bass you shouldn't NEED any effects, not even an eq. Some guys get all nutty with effects looking for the "it," sound. In my experience if you can't find it with your bass a good amp and your hands, no amount of effects is going to change that.
  20. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    I actually mostly agree with you... After all my FX experimentation it pretty much came down to 3: chorus, dist, and comp. And the comp is pretty much to replace my amps when I record. Some people might not want/need FX, but that doesn't make them any less fun.

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