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How do your pedals affect your tone

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by iriegnome, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I must admit from the get go, I know nothing about pedals. I have spent the last 30+ years working on the tone of my bass, speakers, cables, amps and strings. I would like to add that next dimension to my sound - Pedals. However, I do not want to disrupt the tone I get with my set up. I want effects to be just that. How do you all get your tone Bass-Amp-Speakers to stay that way and add in your pedals? Are there pedals that drop your output? What do you do with that? Are there pedals that increase your output? I mean, if I add an effect, I do not want my volume to change in any way. How can I accomplish that?
    I play a Modulus Quantum (9v Active), SWR Bass 750, Schroeder Speakers and George L's cables.
    I am just really confused.
  2. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Many effects have a LEVEL control to help maintain consistent levels. There are pedals that don't and you run that level imbalance risk.

    But if you experiment and plan well, you can greatly enhance your tonal possibilities with effect pedals. You can do all sorts of interesting and musical things to your tone by modulating the time, phase, pitch, level and filtering. It all comes down to: what is your goal? Then, find the pedals that help you to achieve it.
  3. I'm writing this from the point of view of someone who has been learning about pedals for about a month. I'm no expert. This is just what I have been doing to learn. Research! First, learn the basic pedal functions. Fuzz, chorus, comp... etc. There are plenty of resources on-line to learn the basic stuff. Then learn the more detailed things. Like a boost is a volume increase up to a point. Above a certain point, it may become a volume increase AND distortion. Then learn the names of specific pedals, and what they do. Many pedals have names (Purple Thrashinator?) that don't describe what they do. So, ya gotta find that out. There are forums on-line that have info on that stuff. After that, it becomes opinion. Again, read what folks put on the forums. Finally, ya gotta try stuff out. Listen. Form your own opinion. Nobody else can tell you what you like.

    Watch out for the marketing lingo. Like this I found on-line... "The (pedal name) voice provides two modes of operation – the first is a standard Octavia-style octave fuzz effect while the “Envelope” mode creates a filtering effect that swells into the octave-up tone over time."

    Now, just what the heck does all of that mean? What does it do to my tone?? And will I like it??? Well, you're just not gonna know until you try it out for yourself.

    What I'm looking for now is on-line sources for pedal-swapping. Or maybe try-it-before-you-buy-it kind of sources. I haven't found 'em yet.
  4. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2004
    it all depends on what sounds you want to get... but it is important to remember: what sounds good when you're on your own may not sound so good when you are in a band!

    so, first you should think about what effects do you want - in what way do you want to change your sound? think in terms of function... the easier alternative is testing as much as you can (youtube helps), to get an idea of what each effect does, and figure out what might work for you/your band...

    then, you research specific pedals/brands, to see which solution fits your need best.

    in terms of tone, the last step is important for figuring out the tone you will get with the pedal is ON. no amount of research will get you a definite answer, but it will help you narrow down your choices, and then you have to buy and try (buy used is my advice, easier to sell without losing money).

    what you can do pretty well by online research is determining the effect the pedal will have on your tone while it is OFF. different designs have pros and cons, but here's where you have to do your homework.
  5. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Pedals are just like anything else, a "part" of the overall signal. In my case, there are a couple of pedals in the chain which help define my tone, along with my playing technique, strings, bass, cables, amp and speakers. It's a part of the whole.
  6. bludog

    bludog Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2012
    Brooklyn 11217
    www.tryapedal.net -it's a great concept and inventory keeps growing. Lots of boutique stuff too.
  7. First off your concerns are valid, we are all a bit tone freaky too, we would not use effects if they had a negative effect on our tone. As to what works for you only time and experimentation will tell, that's all a part of the fun.

    Many older effects and some less expensive effects may have an adverse affect on your signal but that can easily be remedied by using a loop selector switch that bypasses them when not in use. You can also add a buffer or line driver that can off set any of those issues. True bypass is one of those buzz phrases but don't get caught up in that conundrum many top makers have gone back to relay bypass systems to avoid the issue of some true bypass circuits aka the dreaded POP.

    Depending on the effects you want to use you may also find putting them in your amp effect loop may work better, depends on the effect.

    Buy used and be prepared to try many things out again that is all a part of the fun. Check out the PYPB [post your pedal board] to see what other folks are using. Ask specific questions about specific units and avoid asking "best" questions. There is no "best" only ZUUL!
  8. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Fantastic responses. Great learning information all the way around. I don't know how to really describe what I want. In general I want flavor. I am thinking flange for that warm fuzzy feeling on a slower tune or some more mellow jam to help fill up the stage. I have a Digitech Synth Wah (only used it once) for the crazy funky drum/bass solo thing and I was thinking about some sort of either delay (very tricky to work with timing and tap tempo) and actually that would be about it. Nothing to crazy or too much.. I want to keep it as simple as possible
  9. Yep. Great concept. But, I'll pass.
  10. Really??? Based on your description, its exactly what you're looking for...
  11. What I have found is that many effects actually need a bit of a boost in volume to sound good on their own. The trouble with this is that when you stack them together then there is too much boost. A volume pedal at the end of the chain, or perhaps a compressor/limiter, can help handle this. Or just careful consideration of which effects will stack together, and an avoidance of the "kitchen sink" approach. It's not a simple issue to resolve, but something many consider. There is a lot of good information in the Effects forum about how to handle this issue. It depends alot on what you want out of each effect, and thus how you set it, so there is really no 'one size fits all' answer to this question.
  12. http://www.pedaltrader.com/category-s/1834.htm

    The JF-02 Ultimate Drive has been compared to the Fulltone OCD, but bassier. Which was the commmon complaint with the original design, not enough bass for bass players.

    I am aiming for the Octave Fuzz pedal currently. These may be cheaper copies of more well know stuff (someone said direct copy of BBE), but you wouldn't be out a ton of money and could then turn it in if you don't like it.

    OP, tone will be manipulated everytime something goes between the instrument and the amp. You just have to figure out if you want anything between your instrument and your amp. I was an effects newb at one point too. You just have to play around with different things. I would suggest one of those cheaper multi effect pedals. DOD, Zoom, etc. If you are thinking of experimenting with stuff, a multi pedal on the used could be had for around $20. Then you decided if there is anything you want. After you decide, ditch the multi (should get all your money back) and go for a decent stand alone pedal. Just remember as you add stuff, you need more cables. Nothing sucks more than getting a new pedal home and realizing you don't have a spare cable to try it with. Good Luck!
  13. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    You know the other type of pedal I was looking at is the Line 6 MM4 which would give me the flange and chorus I am looking for... Thoughts?
  14. I'm looking for something more reasonably priced.
  15. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I played for a lot of years without using a single pedal effect of any kind. I took a decade off of music. When I picked it up again, about a year and a half ago, I decided to take the plunge.

    I'm so happy I did.

    I'm enjoying a lot of different styles of music as a listener and I want to be able to make a more diverse set of sounds when I play, too.

    Things that seem important to me right now include distortion, envelope filtering and synth-like sounds. In the case of distortion, I've realized that I need two different approaches: one crazy digital and one retro-sounding analog. Envelope filters are just so fun. I loved the sound of the MXR one I had. But when I started listening to the insane things you can do with the Source Audio units, including reverse sweeps and tons more, well... I now have their pro distortion and envelope filter units. And together they also pretty much satisfy my need for synth-type sounds. At least for now. I also have their Hot Hand wireless controller: In. Sane.

    I do also use a compressor, but not in an obvious "effect" way. More to just even out volume spikes when I go from slap to fingerstyle and back again.

    Things I'd like to check out... Either a VT Bass for the retro analog grit sound I mentioned earlier, or possibly the MXR M-80 DI+. Tried the SansAmp units...close but I could never stop struggling with them. I like the MXR octave deluxe. And if someone made a nice synth pedal that worked well and didn't cost a fortune, I might be interested. I'd take an Electro-Harmonix micro synth if someone gave me one, but I don't like anything out there enough to buy right now.

    Most good pedal effects will have output level controls. I run just about everything so that it's about even with my non-effected signal. Things can get a little crazier when you combine two or more sounds, but it's really not that bad. I use my compressor in the beginning of my chain so that stomping a pedal doesn't suddenly make it go crazy.

    Anyway, sorry for the novel. I strongly encourage you to take the plunge like I did. Get out your good headphones and spend some time at youtube listening to demos and reviews. Its an invaluable resource for this kind of thing.

    Good luck!
  16. aprod

    aprod Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2008
    Try this site; http://www.pedaltrader.com/Default.asp
  17. If this is what you want, you should get a Line6 M5 instead. The M5 has all the models of the MM4, plus all the models of the DM4, DL4, and FM4, and the Reverberator, plus a few more they've tacked on for fun, in a tiny package with a standard power supply that has a newer more powerful processor, all for less than what the MM4 costs new.

    EDIT::: Another option in this vein is the Zoom B3. I don't know that it has the modulation options of the m5, but it has tons of sounds in it and has been pretty well received here, especially for a multi-effect. It is much more versatile than an m5, at about the same price, but is larger and in the end the best choice will be determined by your needs. There is a gigantic thread on the B3 somewhere around the effects forum that will give a pretty good idea where the B3 strengths and weaknesses lie. I can tell you from experience that the M5's strengths are in the delays and some of the modulation. I like the chorus and flanger options, but I'm not in love with the phasers. The rest of the modulations are fine, but I don't use them very often because they just aren't for me in most of my applications.
  18. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Do you want effects or do you want pure bass tone? The nature of the beast, being what it is, won't allow you both. If you still want to hear your bass poking through the affected sound, maybe try some more subtle effects like chorus, flange, phaser or delay. If you feel like your sound needs a little hair on its chest, swing for an overdrive and if you need some real balls, try out some sort of fuzz. And if you just want to make noise, there's all sorts of filters and ring mods and so on, out there.
  19. Considering pedals and don't know what to get? Get a multi effects pedal! Line 6, Zoom, Boss Digitech, all make good units that give decent sounds for different price points. I've been a big fan of the Zoom B3 for experimenting with sounds, but I also considered the Lne 6 M9 unit before that. You have amp modeling, pre-amp pedals, modulation, fuzz, overdrives, everything in one box. Is it going to sound spot on to the originals? No, but it gives you the flavor of it.
  20. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    One thing to consider with those though is how much work do you have to do to get a useable sound? What might seem like a few twists of a knob and pushes of a button to some just to set up presets could be an insurmountable obstacle to others.