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distortion pedals for DB

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by unobasso, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. unobasso


    Apr 16, 2006
    k/w, ontario
    I'm finding the distortion pedals I have lacking.

    The general issue is that they're noisy - I now have a Radial Bigshot EFX pedal to remove them from the general chain - and generally unable to produce a workable sound (to my ears).

    I have a Boss HM-2 and MZ-2 and an Ibanez TS-7 and DS-7. I'm happiest with the HM-2, which is on the floor, while the others on the shelf.

    They are guitar-oriented, so not sure if a tonal recalibration and get a bass-specific pedal will make the sound better or if that's just snake-oil.

    The further complication is that I'm playing upright bass, which might be a factor in my general dis-satisfaction with the distortion I'm getting.

    Being of limited-budget, I'm not really able to afford boutique pedals. Brands I can secure from my LMS: Boss, MXR, Line 6, EH, Digitech, Behringer (I know: ugh. but they seem to have a few decent products), and Rat.

    I will also, at this time, fess up to being generally unwise in the ways to differentiate between fuzz, overdrive, distortion, etc.

    Am I looking at two different pedals?

    What kind of sound am I looking for - part of me wants totally urban-renewal house-levelling wailing, part of me wants the grit of John Wetton on King Crimson's Red or the Pixies' Kim Deal.

  2. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    You are a brave man...posting on the DB side about using a distortion box.

    Having said that, I double on BG and DB and have a pedalboard with a number of effects. I mostly use a VT Bass for a bit of grind. I generally don't use this unit on DB but have done it every so often. It will give you the John Wetton sound.

    The folks in BG effects forum are quite helpful...there is a lot of love for the VT Bass over there. It won't give you super duper fuzz, but it does fine for a little "dirt". I also have a Fulltone Bass Drive that I use for BG and sometimes DB. This gets a little more fuzzy.

    Using guitar effects on bass is usually problematic. Generally there can be "bass suck" whereby you just can't get any low end out of the effect. Sometimes it can be helpful to mix unprocessed bass with the distorted bass. The Boss LS-2 is used quite a bit for that. You might see if you can do that with your existing effects units.

    Remember however that if you put your DB piezo pickup directly into an effect unit it will seriously load down the pickup. Try using FDeck's HPF pre before your effects. Really a night and day difference.. at least with my gear. Good luck...
  3. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I use the Fulltone Bassdrive on my electric bass sometimes and that is a very good pedal. The best overdrive for bass IMHO.
    Never felt the need to try it on my DB though.
    Don't think a piezo and a distortion/overdrive pedal is a very good combination. You might be better of with a magnetic pickup if you go that route.
  4. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    PM sent.
  5. Have you tried out the Bass Big Muff Pi by Electro-Harmonix? Not super expensive at all, and has three modes: normal distortion, bass-boosted heavier distortion, or mixed (my favorite)—that mode mixes your dry bass signal with the distortion effect, so you get the clear bottom AND the grind.

    Good luck with your search.
  6. I'm new to effects too, and I don't play BG, just DB. Just toying with FX at home, I haven't found a use for them in a live setting, yet. I've been hangin' in the effects forum on the other side of TB and they're a wacky lot there.

    To the point — Whittling your sound. It's my understanding that in order of magnitude the sonic salsa goes like this:

    1) Overdrive - Basico
    (warms up the sound a little with some grit, like sandpaper smooths wood)

    2) Distortion - medio
    (further breaks up the signal, like taking a rasp to your sound)

    3) Fuzz - Picante
    (OTT, Buzzsaw action with virtual woodchips of sound flying everywhere and chunks falling on the floor)

    As someone else mentioned, mixing back in some clean signal is a popular method of retaining low end.

    Add to taste!
  7. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    ? I didn't get any PM's
  8. kmanley_29649


    Jan 25, 2008
    Taylors SC
    A friend of mine uses this one, and I think it sounds great, though it may not be what you are looking for.
  9. Silly question but are going to use this Arco or Pizz? or both?
  10. I use a Muff Fuzz/Overdrive type deal
    It's one of the little boxed EHX pedals with only 1 knob, I think they still make them? I'm a little out of the loop
  11. Wild Rice Chris

    Wild Rice Chris Commercial User

    May 7, 2005
    Palatine, IL
    Rice Custom Guitars, Inc
    When I use distortion, I have the fdeck HPF-Pre first in line and a mic feed to keep some clean sound mixed in. I've had good luck with the Barber LTD SR for a mild breakup (can be found used online in the $80-$100 range usually). For heavier stuff, I like the Big Muff Pi (mine's one of the green Russian reissues from the 90s), but it runs into feedback problems with any sort of volume. I've really liked the Suhr Shiba Drive with EB, but have not tried it with DB yet.
  12. Your bow is your distortion pedal.
  13. So that's how Miles Mosley gets that sound! I thought he was using one/some of those pedals on the floor in front of him.
    james condino likes this.
  14. i'll pretend i never listened to that ...
  15. kmanley_29649


    Jan 25, 2008
    Taylors SC
    What's wrong with that? Mosley is an amazing player, and honestly, I think I prefer his version to Hendrix's.
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    no way! Hendrix is God :)
  17. kmanley_29649


    Jan 25, 2008
    Taylors SC
    Don't get me wrong, I love Hendrix, and the original still blows me away, but there's something about Mosley's arrangement, with the horns and bowed solo, that I find incredible. I only wish Jimi had survived long enough to see the two of them perform it together!
  18. unobasso


    Apr 16, 2006
    k/w, ontario
    Hey, everybody - thanks for replies.

    While you can get some distortion from the bow, it comes from putting too much weight on the bow and playing close to the bridge (or at least that's how I do it. I'm sure there's a proper term for it but I call it over-bowing) but I think Miles Mosley definitely is getting his from his effect pedals...

    As for me and my quest, I have three words: Big Muff Pi.

    Went to my LMS, spoke of my ills to my good buddy Jeff and he said "try this:", handing me an oversized shiny box... ;)

    Still need to get a handle on it to find a happy place without it self-oscillating, but it's very close to what I'm looking for. Sounds very cool with my vibrato pedal after it - a very nice whomp whomp whomp sound... ;-)

    However, this has whet my appetite and will see about the Bass Big Muff Pi, as VTHacker suggested.

  19. SubliminalKid


    Feb 23, 2016
    I know it's been a while; but: How did it go?

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