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Fundamental Overdrive - How to: Back To Basics

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MetroBass, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. MetroBass


    Mar 26, 2008
    South of LA
    Hatred obscures all distinctions.
    My basic question is: how do you get overdrive out of your amp? What I'm looking for is the best way to achieve a really strong overdrive tone with just an amp and bass – no effect pedals. I understand the fundamental tech stuff "overdriving the signal to cause the valves to saturate and clip the signal....."

    Think of Silversun Pickups and this demo:

    I currently have a MIA Pbass with Bartolini’s and a GB 9.0 Shuttle into a Ampeg 410HLF. I thought with the tube pre-amp section I’d be able to achieve this but haven’t been that successful. The best I can do is setting the gain at 3 and volume at 11. The master volume is set at 12. My Pbass volume and tone knobs are both set to about mid position. This doesn’t really sound like the tone I want.

    Is this an impossible feat with a hybrid amp? Any setting suggestions or advice would be appreciated
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I assume those are "o'clock"? Turn the gain to max, like 5:00. If that won't do it, then there are two remaining practical possibilities: either the Shuttle preamp will never OD to the degree you want, or you need a boost pedal to kick the level of your signal higher into the preamp.

    I actually would be very surprised if the Shuttle is even capable of the tone you want, by itself.
  3. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Well, to answer your first question, out of my Peavey I get a pretty decent (for solid state) grind just using the built in overdrive. :ninja:


    But anyway, as you said you know the basics and it sounds like your signal isn't hot enough to do what you are looking for without some sort of boost, and that usually means a pedal that would suit your taste.

    As for that Youtube video, if that's what you are going for then I will point out it sounds like there's much more going on there than just a little overdrive. To me I would guess an octave pedal, overdrive pedal, and maybe a flanger or chorus as well.

    And really, books can be written on all the nuances of overdrive, it's not just the input signal.

    For example, on a full tube amp you'll have the tubes in both the preamp and poweramp circuits contributing to the grind, and not to mention the mechanical "breakup" of the speakers when pushed to high volumes also contribute to the sound. Of course to get that sound consistently and reliably (and at sane volumes) with just an amp, or even with a pedal, is sort of a "holy grail" (please let me know if you find it!) :)

    If I were you I would consider either test driving several overdrive pedals (ideally through your exact rig), or if you are serious about reducing to just a bass into an amp, getting a lower wattage all tube rig (100 watts or less).

    The all tube rig will have THE SOUND for sure, but then down the road if you want a clean, hi-fi sound then your limited to turning down the volume or getting another rig.

    By the way, I have several times hooked my son's Ephiphone valve junior head (5 watts ;) ) to my bass cab to enjoy some pretty good low volume all tube goodness. If you are looking for something to just record or experiment with, one of those Epi heads used can often be had for the price of a pedal).

    Good luck.

  4. Start by turning your bass all ther way up... Your signal will be hotter...
  5. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Run with the volumes high at the beginning of the signal chain, starting with the bass, and low at the end, which is your master.
  6. not that I'm aiming for this of course but wasn't it part of the pre amp to not be grindy and could be overdriven by pre amp pedals?

    I find that my hot output gwb35 needs the input gain to be at 3-4 oclock to get the red light on the pre amp stage to light up...

    could just be my equipment but I find my 6.0 very hard to overdrive (I like this though,... but just curious as to the gain stage on the pre amp)
  7. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    The demo video has a distorted octave-up, sort of like an 8-string. That's not something that can be recreated without effects.

    As for the Shuttle... crank up the input gain near maximum to overdrive the tube.
  8. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    I don't think you'll be able to get that sound with a pure hybrid, unless you use a pedal like a VT-Bass.

    Have you tried playing around with different tubes in the Pre-Amp section? It may help some, but I still don't think you'll get that grind.

    If you search for 12AX7 types (on web, not TB) you'll find reviews of people decribing types with higher gain and different sound properties.
  9. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    IMO, if an overdriven amp sound is the goal, a VT Bass will be much more effective than swapping tubes in the GB; lately, I've been finding new tones with mine. I'm not sure I understand the OP's aversion to using outboard effects, nor why he runs the volume and tone controls on his bass so low because generating an overdriven signal with most amps requires a healthy output from your bass.
  10. Darryl@SA


    Apr 9, 2010
    Technician, Seismic Audio
    Hey there. I have to say that I'm not really fond of the idea of these tube preamp/SS power amp setups for achieving "classic tube tone." IMO, a lot of the "tone" of classic rigs came out of the power tube saturation. Not that there aren't a lot of great sounding amps with tube pre amps. Don't forget that a lot of bass players will use a sansamp from time to time for a little "hair"
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    get the a vt bass.... no shame in using pedals. and yea, why's your bass' volume at midway?
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    As joker said you should crank volume to full. I'll add that you should also crank tone to full for starters... you can always back off the resulting sound is too harsh.

    There's been plenty of great advice above. I'll just add that you shouldn't worry if the clip light comes on when you crank Gain, even if it stays on full when you play. Clipping is overdrive.
  13. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Banned

    Mar 19, 2008
    My impression of the GB gear is that you've got the totally wrong amp for trying to achieve what you are. There's a very big fat reason so many people still use all tube amps. The sound you're looking for isn't even preamp tube saturation, it's power amp tube saturation, which obviously, you can't get without power tubes!
  14. MetroBass


    Mar 26, 2008
    South of LA
    Hatred obscures all distinctions.
    Thanks for all the responses - none of which went unread.:)
    1. I'm not opposed to using effects. Just wanted to see if it was possible with just the bass and amp (more specific a hybrid amp). Maybe you all new this from the beginning - but I'm beginning to think hybrid amps (tube pre's) with one stage are just for hype and nothing else!

    2. Makes a lot of sense about max. signal strength to the pre. I've cranked my volume and tone knobs and GB pre-gain all the way up (fiddled a little with the tone) and it still just doesn't cut it. I know that a majority of the bassists i admire use full tube rigs so that's probably my problem. I have to say this amp is pretty clean with these settings - not much hiss or noise (guess that a good thang:eyebrow:)

    3. Since overdrive was originated with old (classic) tube amps this probably speaks highly to my demise, hence MO's response.

    4. Pedal search :rollno: not what I really wanted to do. I have the VT and haven't been able to get the overdriven tone like the SSPU's, Bloc Party, Simple Minds, etc.

    Unfortunately the way i look at it (which I don't really want to confess) the GB Shtl 9.0 + VT + a couple of others and I could have had a nice full tube head!!:bawl:
  15. My Bassman 135 makes good fuzz OD with the channel volume at 8 & the master at 7.... Chained, of course. I also recently got a 70s Kasino 125W solid state and that thing is in constant overdrive. It's a fun little amp but it won't do clean tones... At all.
  16. IMO, there are no pedals that can reproduce a good tube OD.

    The Ampeg V4B is another amp that has super tasty OD tone.
  17. Most solid state amps emphasize headroom and are designed around a clean sound. I find that thse kind of amps (Eden and SWR come to mind) sound awful when you push the input into overdrive. Even with that tube in there if they have one.
    Some solid-state amps like the GK 400RB/800RB sound alright with some input hammering. If I was you and I was sticking with that amp I would get a Proco Juggernaut or Rat. those do good bass drivey tones. I have used rat boxes for decades. Lots of other bassists do as well.
    One trick some guys do is to split the bass signal and run one input clean, one dirty. So you get edge but retain a solid bottom.

    But if you really want some thundery overdrive get a nice tube head. Ampeg, Traynor, Mesa the fewer eq controls the better!
  18. recreate.me


    Apr 2, 2010
    Just watched the video you linked to, and it says underneath that that bass is going through an octave up, chorus, and lots of compression along with more. So that will never come out of a bass amp without pedals haha

    I have a YBA-3 custome special, and it gets a great OD tone with the volume cranked even at lower volumes since it has a volume and a master volume.

    For bands like Bloc party you might need a fuzz pedal like a Big Muff, instead of or in additional to the OD pedal.
  19. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    While the VT Bass can cover a lot of light to heavily overdriven tones, I've found that it can take a fair amount of careful adjustment to get there. I'd suggest some more time working with the knobs before writing it off. If a full fuzztone is desired, it's not the best choice, and I agree that some sort of Muff or Rat is preferable. I've found that the VT can really fatten up the tone of the Big Muff Pi. I use both with my Eden to give a choice between very clean and a variety of dirty sounds.

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