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Do I...or Do I Not Need a Distortion Pedal??

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by LostInSauce, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. A band I recently got hooked up with plays hard rock/metal (Avenged/SOAD/Helmet/Chevelle). I think I'd like to add a little grit and growl to my tone (nothing excessive) while not losing the bottom end and from what I've seen, most bass distortion pedals can be tweaked to allow that kind of mix to happen.

    I've just got my hands on an additional $100.00 so I'm looking into the wide world of new/used bass distortion and my question is this:

    - Since I'm not looking for "Full on Saturation" should I get:
    1. A utilitarian bass distortion pedal (any model will do)?
    2. A specific bass Distortion pedal (BOSS, Digitech, Tech 21)?
    3. Get a decent DI (MXR, SansAmp) and tweak it accordingly?

    I've played for 20+ years and have never been a big effects guy so any/all advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.
  2. lyes4string


    Dec 13, 2010
    Endorsing Artist of Warwick Basses
    if you got $100 imo your best value would be trying to find a used ibanez ts 808, i use it for everything from subtle dirt to full on grit. i also use a source audio bass multiwave distortion, i run a seperate eq for my dirt too. for what your looking for a sansamp bass driver may work well too i dont have a lot of expeirence with them so cant giva any insight sorry.
  3. Darknut

    Darknut Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2009
    I have a Sansamp & love it but not for the dirt sound it produces .... a good Rat clone is the way to go IMHO

    I have a rackmount tube preamp that a run just a little over-driven all the time Then kick in a rat when I need more dirt. :)

    FYI: If you blend the dirt signal with the dry signal almost any dirt pedal can be made to sound pretty good on bass. a boss LS-2 is the cheapest way to do a blend but several other blender options are available.
  4. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 GAS resistance is utterly futile... Supporting Member

    The process I went through in the last year eventually led me to the Digitech BassDriver. I don't use dirt a lot, so I will not spend 200 peanuts on a pedal I don't use much, but I do kick it on (light settings) here and there, just to cut through the 2 guitars/drums/vox. That pedal also offers different settings (from very subtle to all-out grind), so I'm content with that flexibility. I bought it new (around 85 bucks, I believe), but it can be found on the used market for 50 $.

    From another perspective, having a DI around is quite useful. I have a PBDDI and the MXR gets good reviews around here. There's no real unanimity on their dirt tones, but they might be good for you, so searching for sound clips on youtube will probably help you.
  5. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    WI, USA
    I would definitely not recommend option 1 - you may end up with something that really doesn't suit you.
    I'd probably recommended option 3. It's always good to have a DI around, and most have some EQ and other features (e.g., noise gate). Just make sure that it can do the range of distortion you're looking for.
    If you go with option 2, I'd recommend a pedal with a clean blend, just to be safe. I find the Boss good enough for such things.
  6. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ibanez makes a Tube Screamer specifically for bass now.Worth checking out.
  7. willbassyeah


    Oct 9, 2011
    sounds like he is asking for a darkglass b3k imo, another pedal that i use is retrosonic vintage distortion (rat clone) that i got from a trade. sounds awesome too.

    And one thing to take note about tube screamer, tube screamer is used to make the tube work harder, if you are using a solid state amp, your result might not be really desirable.
  8. Darknut

    Darknut Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2009
  9. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    Mxr m80 - nice and simple.

  10. I personally like OD or fuzz more then I like distortion on bass, but that's a product of what I play the most (funk, R+B, etc.). It may work better for you then full on distortion. From what you posted, I think the Sansamp DI might work well for you - the OD isn't very extreme and can be very subtle, and it has that scooped 'metal' sound. Otherwise there's a ton of options, but I'd look at OD, especially tube OD, or fuzz before I'd look at distortion. [/2 cents]
  11. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Here are another two cents: I reeeely like the sound of my bass through my Tubeworks RT-2100 combo (if I every run across a deal on a preamp I'll pick it up). IMO, it produces the best OD/Dist. sound I've heard, especially for bass. But, you did say you wanted to stay under $100 so...

    The VS Jekyll & Hyde works great for guitar but I was not pleased with how my bass sounded through it. YMMV.

    We just covered Avenged Sevenfold's "Afterlife" and I found a MXR DI/Distortion pedal locally that fit the bill for the intro. It's probably not an exact match, but I like the unit for several reasons. The distortion works for what I need - it's probably closer to a fuzz sound; there isn't much tonal difference despite manipulating the settings, but it has a blend and a good limiter that clamps down on the OD signal when you aren't playing.

    It's exceptionally clean; I add a bit of mids and highs but that's it. It has a contour button but I don't use it; I now run it all the time since it is so clean and has the 3-band EQ.

    I think I paid $80 for it; prices vary though. We're planning on doing Otherwise's "Full Circle" and it has a driving, overdriven bass line in the verse.

    Best of luck...

  12. MilkyMcMilkMilk


    Dec 17, 2008
    hit up the talkbass classifieds, you'll get more for your money if you buy used.
  13. +1 to the Bass Driver! I've had one for years, and I still find new settings when I play it. They're all usable, and all pretty good, plus it has a blend knob. If you're not planning on using it often, I wouldn't recommend a boutique pedal, and this should give you whatever you need. It can go from subtle to full out fuzz. Good luck with whatever you decide!
  14. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    Ehx Bass Blogger....it has distortion and fuzz so you can take your pick with a flip of a switch plus you can adjust it however you want. The main thing is being able to blend your dry and wet signal.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    2 or 3. And I think having a distortion pedal is pretty necessary for bassists who want to play rock music these days. Some can get away without it, but there's a lot of songs where it doesn't sound as good without it.
  16. scHism


    Aug 12, 2009
    MXR M80 Bass DI+
  17. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    If I had to play heavier rock music and I didn't have a lot of money, I'd aim for a used VT Bass. Although right now I'm using both a source audio multiwave and an MXR M80, but for somewhat different purposes as you can imagine. The M80 is my rock box, I guess. That would work well for you, too, plus you get a DI out of it.
  18. Marton


    Sep 20, 2005
    I use a Pork Loin for that, and I paid around $100 used for it.
  19. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I've played in bands that are heavier than the bands you mention and I have never needed distortion. I like a bit of ampeg overdrive from my amp but not much really. In fact the bassist in the bands you mention typically are run clean. So my answer is no. None of the above. A little fur from a tube emulator would be all I might recommend. Mostly it just comes to EQ , PUPs, strings, and the amp settings to get a rippin' tone. IMO distortion just gets in the way, or hides the bass guitar in metal.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Some people do feel that way, and that's a legit POV. Me, I feel that they're just not getting good sounds with their dirt pedals ;) Takes some experimenting to really dial in a good heavy dirt tone for live work. Getting a tone you can hear as well as feel gets a little tricky when you're using more than a mild breakup, and different rooms can mess with you. My first attempts at it were just awful.