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Flatwounds and fingers: Will it drive?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by greencow, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. greencow


    Feb 7, 2008
    I was asked, if I could use some overdrive at parts of our songs, where the rythm guitarist plays keys/sampler, to fill up some of that sonic space.
    My previous experience with effects is a Boss GT-10B and while I got some ok sounding overdirve and fuzz out of it, it was never really "I love this tone" emotion.

    Any flatwound players out there who dabble with effects, tell me your story.

    I will start steping into the local stores once my new bass gets here next week, give me some hints on what to try.
  2. Full tone OCD, or some other clone, seem to be a popular option. Digitech Bad Monkey if you're looking for something cheap. A way huge pork loin is another commercially available favorite.

    To be honest though, I've switched to using just fuzzes at lower gain settings because I've found all the overdrives I've tried we're too polite and once in a mix I couldn't even tell they were on. I use an EHX bass big muff currently for all my drive needs because I feel between the blend option and it not sounding farty and fizzy at lower gain, it works well for both.

    The grain of salt to take this with though is that I run a Zoom B3, usually with an SVT sim already running fairly gritty.
  3. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Finding the right drive/distortion for bass is very tricky, and many bassists' struggles with finding the right dirt tone are well documented on TB. However, it can be done.

    I too have used Boss' multi-effects (largely the MB-50B), and their drives are serviceable for some uses but not great. Hearing a quality drive pedal will likely completely change your impression of what bass drive can do.

    For specifics on drives that work with flats, you might want to dig around a bit on pedalsandeffects.com and the "pedalsandeffects" YouTube channel, which are run by Juan Alderete of The Mars Vola/Racer X/Big Sir/Vato Negro. He plays mostly flats (a lot of it fretless) and uses tons of effects, including dirt.

    I personally highly recommend getting a moderate overdrive or distortion that contains a "blend" knob or is known for preserving your bass signal. I have used the Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive for the light-overdrive side of this spectrum, and the MXR M80 for the heavy distortion end, to good effect. I'm now trying to find something in between (more gain than the Sparkle Drive but more of a warm overdrive sound than the grittier MXR M80).
  4. omie

    omie Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    I play P styled basses, my main player has flats. For OD I use a Rusty Box into the front of my amp. After trying 8 or so dedicated ODs, this is where I landed but the RB flavor probably isn't for everyone.

    The issue that I had with many ODs was that if I used it as a 'fattener' on/off, I didn't like how many would fundamentally change my tone as if I'd all of a sudden changed amps mid song. For this reason I don't suggest the amp sim/od's (vt, sft).
    I liked the m-80 for this purpose with the blend knob at about 9'oclock(it will do OD), however I used this pedal in a power trio during solos where the mid scoop this pedal gives when the distortion is activated didn't erase me from the mix. Gotta be careful with that.

    Dr scientist the elements was great at maintaining your tone and adding hair. A little... or a giant rainbow afro LOT.

    Because of all the amazing schwag in the TB classfieds, I never really got into some of the more common pedals but I'd love to try a Fulltone OCD in a live situation. Lots of good soundclips and videos and I see them on a lot of pro boards.
  5. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    Skip the Digitech Bad Monkey - the Hardwire CM-2 is a far superior version that needs no modding for bass. It's much sturdier and can be had nearly as cheap.

    That is your best budget option and it beats many much more expensive options, but you should try several different ODs and see what you prefer.
  6. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    You'll never get the cutting edginess of the attack from pick playing using your fingers. It'll always have that rounded attack. But it should still sound plenty good with some saturated overtones vs pure clean.
  7. NeroJazz


    May 2, 2011

    Another option that I've used with success is a Phat Phuk B with the internal bias trimpot almost cranked. I've used a Fender P-bass with Thomastiks through both of these pedals and both sounded great to my ears.
  8. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    HBE Hematoma is cool. And although the true tone hounds will not agree the Mad Professor Blue Berry is one that I sold and regretted.
  9. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    Sure you can! If that's what the OP wants, he should look for a used Ibanez Phat Hed - it has attack settings that will sharpen the attack.

    Another option would be an ehx Steel Leather before an OD. Very affordable and VERY effective at helping you coax a "pick" sound from fingers.

    But I hear ya - a pick is still a lot cheaper ;)
  10. sprag


    Sep 15, 2011
    Melb Australia
    I play a stingray and a P with flats and I get plenty of drive out of my VT2 with just the first stage running I also do something similar to WSHINES with my swollen pickle as I have a couple of other dirt pedals on the board for when I need to nasty it up.
  11. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    I use a lot of effects for my black sabbath and led zeppelin tribute bands. I use an ibanez precision, jazz with rotosound 77s and a precision fretless with d'addario tapewounds.

    For the zeppelind band I use an EBS chorus and ElectroHarmonix Bassballs on our take of no quarter
    (ibanez fretless p, pedalboard and radial JDI mixed with a miced ampeg b15n, focusrite pre, DAW,)

    As far as overdrive goes check out an ibanez tube screamer rocking on this live track when the guitar solo kicks in

    (ibanez jazz, pedalboard, Radial JDI, mixingboard)

    For sabbath I used an mxr carbon copy delay and EBS Chorus for the slow doomy songs to add texture and overall feeling (black sabbath, planet caravan)
    From a live show:
    (ibanez p, pedalboard, mesa boogie 400+ DI, mixingboard)

    I have an EBS valvedrive at the start of my signal chain which helps a lot. It is an excellent pedal preamp and I use it to boost my signal and shape my tone to go to the Front Of House and amp. It can also do fuzz and overdrive well if you boost the gain all the way up but thats not how I use it with these tribute bands.
  12. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Just to clarify my previous statement: it's not that you won't be able to push some driven tones. Just don't expect a drive effect to make it sound like monster pick attack driven tones.

    Check out my page here: http://cgraham.com/chris/music/sound_clips.htm and scroll down to the Thermonic Effects TE.01 Tube Overdrive clip which I did with a P-bass with flats and fingers. Great tube drive sounds, but still with a rounded attack even with me manhandling the strings. Same page has a clip for the ADA MB-1 programmable tube preamp which has some driven patches, also played with flats and fingers.
  13. greencow


    Feb 7, 2008
    Wow, a lot of great information. Big thanks for the sound samples. I guess I'll just have to hit the stores and try some pedals : )
  14. mazdah


    Jan 29, 2010
    Kalisz, Poland
    https://soundcloud.com/mazdahh/ashdowndriven here is Ashdown Little Bastard pushed hard. Thru DI.

    https://soundcloud.com/mazdahh/flaty and clean/driven sound of Labella and Fender flats.
    Xotic Bass BB Preamp was the drive.

    And here's my USV '62 P-bass with Labella 760FL, Fender PRO 400/TBP-1 stack and OC-2.

    For me, Labella flats doesn't mix great with flangers, some chorusses (I loved DC-3, CE-2, hated CEB-3) and othereffects requiring a lots of treble.

    EDIT: And if you use tweeter, STOP doing it ;)Especially with overdriven sound.
  15. dcarwin


    Feb 11, 2013
  16. mazdah


    Jan 29, 2010
    Kalisz, Poland
    Yup, It's Labella first.
    Labella Clean - Fender Clean, then Labella Xotic, Fender Xotic.
    And they are green-silk Fenders (black and green box - the new ones)
  17. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    the previous fender 9050s had green silk too...but not multicolored ball-ends.
  18. I play a P with Labella Jamerson flats and I love effects. I've struggled with drive a bit, but I found that fuzz is a bit easier with the flats because it adds frequencies that didn't exist before. I find my MXR Bass Fuzz with the tone below 10 o'clock sounds almost like Larry Graham. It has dry and wet knobs, so there's another vote for blending in the clean signal. I have a Big Muff Pi in the mail that I hope will add some butt to my rig as a replacement of my current distortion pedal, a Danelectro Daddy-o. I chose this pedal over a few other including a boss obd3 and a bass tubescreamer because i liked how it sounded with power chords and the fact that it had an eq. I always use it with the treble and mids cut, bass cranked. It isnt enough in the mix though, and I have to have the volume much higher than I would expect if I were playing solo. I'll often put a sponge under the strings which I find helps the distortion grab some more bass from the flats.
  19. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I LOVE my Xotic BB---and FWIW, I use it with flats often. It's super responsive, can give you a nice little grit or fairly extreme crunch, and no problem at all keeping (or adding!) lows in your sound. And True Bypass. Xotic stuff is built really well too. I just wish it had a battery door, rather than having to unscrew 4 screws (sometimes it's my only effect and I just run it with a battery when I don't take out my whole board).
  20. brotondo

    brotondo Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    Kimball MI
    how much money you want to spend? if only for a few songs, don't go broke. Flats/fingers actually sound great w/dirt, maybe slightly less sonic than rounds.Boss OBD3, DOD fx91,HBE Hemotoma, TubeScreamer,DX ver. works great on bass , actually can boost the lows, there is a bass ver. also w/a blend but never tried it. Ive owned all these, and sadly they all have the same drive sound w/varying amounts of gain.

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