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Does this sound like Bass Guitar problem??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Discount Saint, Feb 25, 2008.


  1. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Lately I've been getting really frustrated with my bass setup basically up to my amp. In specific I am having a lot of trouble with my effects pedals, and their seemingly erratic behavior.

    My issues are mostly with individual pedals, namely:

    EHX Little Big Muff (recently traded)
    Ibanez SB-7 Synth
    Ibanez PD-7 Phat Hed
    Boss OC-3
    MXR Blowtorch

    I've never been able to get, what I would call, an ideal sound out of them, and they certainly have never sounded like they did in the store, which I didn't think too much of due to the fact that I was using a different bass in the store, etc. But, for the most part, they have been at least usable, if not fantastic.

    Recently, I got a PD-7 Phat Hed, which has been the bane of my existence .. I have found it absolutely impossible to coax any meaningful volume out of it, even with my bass and the level knob on the pedal cranked. It produces a hell of a lot of ugly noise and feedback, but no useful volume. This struck me as odd, and prompted me to do some trouble shooting on my setup.

    What I have come up with the possibility that my bass may be to blame.. it seems odd, but perhaps somebody out there can help me to confirm my suspicion that my bass's output is really low.

    I haven't noticed it until now, because I have always had my Zoom B2.1u as the first thing in my chain, and I think it may be adding enough heat to my signal to sufficiently power my other pedals, but not in an ideal fashion. I decided to take it out of the chain altogether and test each pedal on it's own, directly from my bass and into the amp, and here is what happened.

    PD-7: Surprisingly, I was able to get a more normal volume response out of it, but very little distortion, until the drive knob is almost all the way up. With the B2 before it, it becomes overwhelmingly noisy, with very little meaningful volume.. all just noise.

    OC-3: Because there is a Line level knob, this pedal seems to work okay, but it still sounds weak unless I have the direct level knob cranked up, and there is a noticeable drop in volume that was not as noticeable with the B2 first.

    MXR Blowtorch: This pedal has a ton of gain, with very little noise, even at the worst of times, but just straight from my bass, it was extremely difficult to coax any distortion out of it, even with the gain cranked and the Torch button on. When I turn the blend all the way down (i.e. All Pedal) THEN I get some distortion.. but it sounds very thin, as if the clean signal is just not coming through. Otherwise, at most normal settings, where I should be getting a lot of distortion, all I get is a lot of clean, kind of hollow sounding volume.

    SB-7: Completely unusable without the B2 before it. This pedal, being a synth, uses the signal from the bass to trigger whatever sound it is supposed to be making. What I get out of it is basically nothing, unless I REALLY crank on my strings, in which case I will get little blips and pops, as if it only JUST recognized that I was playing something. And this is with the sensitivity knob cranked. This, more than anything else indicated to me that there is some kind of signal issue from my bass.

    My bass is a 1991 Fender Jazz Bass Plus 5er, with the active Lace Sensor pickups. And before you ask, yes, I did change the battery, and it made no difference whatsoever.

    I know this was long.. but any help??!?!?!
     
  2. Earwigger

    Earwigger I'm a Roland man now.

    Aug 23, 2005
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Sounds like your pedals have weak batteries or aren't getting the right amount of power. I have a PD-7 as well and I find it to be one of the better bass distortion boxes. I use passive (bart equipped J) and incredibly hot active (G&L 2500) basses through it with no problems. It DOES require settings to be adjusted but it always sounds pretty awesome.

    I find that when my pedal batteries are dying they do very weird things.

    Keep in mind that if you're using an AC adaptor for your pedals, that if you still have a battery inside of them that they'll use the battery and not the AC signal, which could be what you're experiencing.
     
  3. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Not so, at least with the pedals I have. On all of them, the connector that accepts the plug from the AC adaptor (OneSpot, in my case) has a lockout that disconnects the battery when something is plugged into it. This is easily checked; with a fresh battery in the device, plug the AC adaptor into it, but don't plug the adaptor into power, and see if it still works.

    For my bass rig, I've got a Fulltone Bass Drive that I power from a OneSpot, and in my studio, it stays plugged in to both the signal chain and the OneSpot all the time. It has a battery in it as well, and for gigs, I usually leave the OneSpot at home. The battery lasts for months; if it were as you say, the battery would be dead after a day or so in my studio.
     
  4. droskobass

    droskobass

    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    I agree with earwigger that you probably aren't getting the correct power to each pedal. Also, check your cables, try using your amps' effects loop. also try the different inputs on your amp, try different gain and volume settings.

    also If you have an active EQ on your bass be sure not to “crank” all the knobs since you may be clipping the preamp on your bass, and hence sending a distorted tone to the effects.

    also NEW STRINGS will help your tone dramatically.

    And finally, maybe some of your pedals just aren't your cup of tea. Why do you need all these pedals to begin with? Good tone starts in you technique. Get that together and the pedals will just be gravy that you add as needed.

    Finally not to knock your current bass but Lase sensors from the early 90's probably aren't the best pickups. I had a 1993 P plus deluxe and the lase Sensors were difficult to describe. I knew there was something thinning–out the bass’ tone but I could never put my finger on it. Since I sold that bass I’ve had much better luck with EMG’s bartolini’s seymore duncan’s etc.

    just my 2cents.
     
  5. how does the bass sound direct to amp???is it loud enough at low gain settings?...maybe your pups are not close enough to the strings?
     
  6. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    I'm not sure if you said in that post or not, but do you have an effects loop on your head, or is your whole chain going between your bass and your amp's input? If the latter, try the former - in which case your amp's pre-amp should provide sufficient power for the signal. If the former, try the latter, in which case maybe there's a problem with your amp's pre-amp.
     
  7. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    To clarify, I have been testing this stuff all through my Amp's DI and into a mixer / headphones, as I use at home, not through my cab. In a live jam environment the PD-7 just gives me a wall of high-pitched squeal when it is turned up past about half way on the level knob.

    Bypassed, and even directly from my bass to the amp, the volume seems anemic - I don't really have anything to compare it against, unfortunately, but again, with my bass volume cranked, and the DI level up to about 80%, along with the level on the mixer at about 80% and gain on that channel at about 50% as well, the level LEDs on the mixer weren't even hitting the top, which seems strange. With that much signal pumping through the mixer, I would expect it to have long past started clipping, but it didn't, and again, the volume just seemed anemic.

    To address some of the suggestions from droskobass - my strings don't need changing as they are fairly new as it is, and are flat-wound in any case, so I don't think that is really an issue at this point. They still sound plenty bright (for flats). But the issue really is less about my tone and more about the fact that these pedals don't seem to be getting a good signal. Without the B2 in the chain, they all sound like what you would expect if they were not getting a hot enough signal, i.e. very little distortion coming out of my distortion pedals, with extremely high noise ceiling, and out of the triggered pedals they are just not getting enough volume to trigger, period.

    I was wondering if it had something to do with the Lace pickups, as well, or just this bass guitar in general. I am replacing it in the next couple of weeks with an ATK 305, which is currently on order, and then this bass is going back to it's owner.. but these effects are mostly new purchases and I am wanting to figure out whether they are in fact defective or whatever, or if there is a genuine issue happening that isn't their fault.. that way I can return them if I need to.

    As far as power is concerned, I'm using a Godlyke Power-All to power all of my pedals (except the Blowtorch, which is 18V) .. not sure if these pedals are cutting off power from the batteries or not, but the OC-3 doesn't have any batteries in it, nor does the Blowtorch, and the SB7 and PD7 are both basically brand new (the SB-7 I've had for maybe 2 or 3 weeks, and the PD-7 I just got last wednesday), so even if it was feeding from the batteries still, I would expect the batteries to be full anyway. I will try yanking out the batteries tonight and see if it makes a difference.

    I also did try different cables (my pedal cabling, in particular, is questionable), but the problem still occurred even when I was plugging directly from my bass into the pedal and out to the amp, and both of the cables used for that are good quality, solid, and tested well from what I could tell. I plugged directly into my amp and switched out those two cables and they both performed pretty well the same, so I don't think they are at fault. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that my pedal cables are crapping out, but the problem is happening without them.

    Is there any way to definitively tell what kind of a signal my bass is putting out?
     
  8. Earwigger

    Earwigger I'm a Roland man now.

    Aug 23, 2005
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Plug it directly into your sound board or computer and crank the volume.
     
  9. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Might want to post this in the Effects forum if you haven't done so already. There are many things in your effects chain, so troubleshooting it will be a challenge, but you basically have to try removing one thing at a time from your chain to see what makes a difference.
     
  10. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    I've done that already - as I stated up above, I tested each pedal individually and they are all having issues without anything else in the chain. The only thing that seems to solve the issue, however imperfectly, is having the B2 at the beginning of the chain, which seems to bump up the signal somewhat. My suspicion is that it is a bass issue, not an effect issue.
     
  11. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Can you try it all with a different active bass?

    I expect some kind of voltmeter touching your bass' output jack can tell you what your output is. I wouldn't have a clue how to read it though.
     
  12. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    That was going to be my next step in the troubleshooting process .. because I have to give this bass back this week, I'll be renting something until my ATK comes in .. so hopefully that will yield some answers for me. . .
     
  13. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Aside from sounding horrible, I'm not sure what that would do for me.. the issue really seems to be pre-amp / board / etc anyway. I guess I could see if there is some kind of volume issue at the amp, but that would be a whole different issue at this point. Oh, I am going direct from my bass into my effects chain and into the amp, not through the effects loop, as many on TB have pointed out that effects loops are really optimal for pedal effects.

    In my usual setup, I use an LS-2 to separate my f/x into two different loops, but as I said, the issue is happening even with each pedal alone.
     
  14. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    All of this does sound really weird to me.

    I've got a question, though: that Fender you've got... you say it belongs to someone else. I'm guessing those pickups aren't stock... did he/she install those Lace Sensor pickups himself?

    I suspect there could be something wrong with the wiring. Maybe even the wrong pot values.
     
  15. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Standard trouble shooting practice, give it a try.

    Then try having the SB-7 in the effects loop, with everything else between your bass and your amp's input.
     
  16. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    They are stock pickups actually - the "Plus" line from the early 90's came stock with them. You know.. I just really hope the new bass solves all of this .. going to have to get a rental in the next couple of days I think...
     
  17. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    Rent a P-bass. NOTHING can possibly go wrong with a passive P. :D
     
  18. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Correct answer!!! :)
     
  19. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Haha.. well, I'm buying an ATK 305, so I think I'll stick with something active for the time being. That and I don't think Fender makes a Passive P with 5 strings .. otherwise I'd probably buy that instead...
     
  20. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Actually they do, now that I think about it.. brand new model.. but I don't know if I can get it up here in Canada yet.. and it may be a little outside my current price range too :(
     

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