How Many ODs/Dirts?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Being and Bass, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I've had as many as 5 on my board at a time. I can get away with two, one mild, one heavy. And honestly, if I had to, I could get away with just the mild. But I like having fuzz available. My tastes in fuzz change a lot, and I like to change up varieties from time to time. I also like the blends I can get. But I just plain don't need 5 on a regular basis, so I keep them and rotate them in and out occasionally just to shake things up. And then I always come back to my two favorites, Ampeg Scrambler and MXR Bass Distortion. If you can use them, use them, and if not, cut 'em.
    armybass and cataract like this.
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The audience rarely notices, however I occasionally get compliments on my tone from other musicians in the audience.... usually bass players but not always. And even if the audience doesn't notice, I still do, so that's why I always run dirt. I like dirt, even for blues, country, pop. I'm not gonna use Entwistle tone for the genres I just named, but I still like to dial in some hair.

    The reason I like to use three dirt pedals is tonal variety. For hard rock I have one set for clang/sizzle/aggression (metal), another for phat warmth (think ZZ Top), and a third for... something else. The something else varies from gig to gig. Sometimes it's a fuzz, but TBH I prefer to get fuzzy bass tones by stacking multiple dirt pedals together.

    The pic below was taken at a gig with one of my classic rock/R&B bands. All three pedals were set for low-ish gain. From left to right: the Reiner was set for hi-mid presence, the MBD-1 was set for phat warmth, and the ODB was set for a more neutral OD. It was a lot of fun to run them in pairs, and for "All RIght Now" by Free I turned all three on at once. It didn't clone Andy Fraser's tone, but I got vintage tubey phatness that worked great for the tune.


    Stacking doesn't always work, but when it does, you can essentially create a brand new pedal from two (or more) existing pedals. And sometimes the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
  3. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    I just snagged a Fairfield Barbershop Modele B in the classifieds yesterday- essentially a switchless always on Barbershop in 1590a form.. Pretty excited to see how this pairs with my Fifth Gear + everything else on my board.
  4. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    I have 3. A TCE Mojo Mojo is set with a touch of grind, that doubles as a gain stage for a Marshall Guv‘Nor. The two combined gives me the ability to play Slash-like lead line and chords.

    The third is in my Boss ME20B. It’s set for soaring Steve Vai like lines with delay and reverb.
  5. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    The MDB-1 & ODB sound so dang good together! I was seriously close to pulling the trigger on a Gasoline myself but went with a Nuñez Amplification Annex Bass Drive instead.
    I'll have to upgrade to a bigger board if I ever do decide to buy one after all..
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  6. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    How many?

    All of them.
  7. TrevorR


    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Well, here’s a small minority report to throw into the mix. I only bought my first OD 18 months ago having avoided distorted bass tones for 30 odd years of playing. My output to the PA is via a Sansamp VTDI but that is set for a low gain (B-15ish) sound. I deliberately added a low gain OD which I use to add a bit or break up on some tunes but more to add some square wavishness when using the bass Wah for sort of synthy sounds... Can't imagine a situation where I would want more OD or distortion than that... shows it’s horses for courses, I guess?

    tfer likes this.
  8. WaldoNova

    WaldoNova Having fun yet?

    Jun 14, 2009
    Mt Vernon, NY
    Dirt pedals are a slippery slope! I used to be a bass to amp guy. Once I discovered TB I became an effects junkie. At first it was envelope filters then modulation. Once I started hearing fuzz, distortion and overdrive in bands like Chevrolet, Tool and RATM the race was on!

    Currently I'm using a Green Rhino for low gain, a 5th gear for boost, a Volt Thrower for distortion, a Grizzly Bass for both od and distortion(depending on the gig), a TAFM for a low gain fuzz and an Oxide in conjunction with my XeroD. So I have 6 that I use. I seldom bring all 6 but if I have to I Will!!!
  9. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Far be it from me to criticize another player for having too many -- or too few -- dirt pedals! For years I only used one (at a time), but within the past two years I added a second to my pedalboard, and it really opened up my timbral palette in terms of how I think about applying effects. It's no longer "This passage needs some dirt!" and then I step on the fuzzbox and things get dirty; now it's more like "This passage needs some bright buzzing incisive fuzz!" ...or, "This passage needs some gargantuan thick grunt!" and then I choose the appropriate pedal that best serves the music. It's all about having choices, maximizing the variety available, and then applying that appropriately.

    Emphasis on that last part.
    LowActionHero likes this.
  10. RickyWoo


    May 26, 2016
    Just one right now. Solidgoldfx Beta on full time. Thinking about a 2nd to add grind when needed. Not sure what that will be yet...
  11. DriesG


    Feb 27, 2009
    Gent (Belgium)
    2 OD's, 2 fuzzes:

    Darkglass Duality : for some noisy feedback passages in certain songs. The mids in this pedal cut trough everyting.
    Aguilar Fuzzistor : for full-on phat & wooly fuzz lines. Often in combination with Octamizer.
    Darkglass Vintage Ultra : drive on for solo passages or boost when things need to get louder.
    Dakglass AlphaOmicro : 95% on. Nice warm "tuby" OD. Tightens up the subs.
    gregmon79 likes this.
  12. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Man, I had 9 different dirt boxes on my board at one time. For a while too. I actually built a second board just to accommodate me having so many. Then I got an MBD1 and it changed my whole outlook on things. I was like you for the longest, different passages could call for different sounds. It can never hurt to have as many as you need/want at your disposal. But then I got tired of lugging an extra piece of gear to all our shows and practices. I got tired of playing the tippy toe tap dance at shows and being indecisive about what to use and when. I just had too much. So I cut it down to 4. An OD, a muff/fuzz, a rat and a unique dist that is sometimes swapped out for a different and or unique fuzz.

    I came to the conclusion that in a live setting, at loud volumes, not many can hear a difference if I'm playing a DG A/O or a Rat. I can of course. But when its loud, a lot of dirts sound the same in ways. So I try to keep it to 4 that were different enough from each other that you could hear it. But I had 9 before. When I would go from a swollen pickle to a muff, unless you're in a studio, the way I was running them, it got abundant and repetitive in tone. I feel like 4 to maybe 5 is the magic number for me today. I played that "half my board is dirt" game for a long time. And having all that at my disposal never inspired me to used different dirts in tons of different spots. I seemed to have gone back to the same ones all the time anyway! ;)

    In the end we can Use what we want. There are no rules. I know for me though, cutting back was liberating. It made so much less stressful. Keeps it fresh.
    Being and Bass likes this.
  13. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Rats= grind :D
  14. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    I'm struggling with this as well. I need a big distortion, boosted OD, clean boost, up front synth fuzz, and a lower volume background fuzz to achieve everything I'm tying to do. That's a lot of real estate on my board. Add to that an oc-2, envelope filter, delay, chorus, tremolo, tuner, mute (I have two parallel channels, so I need a tuner AND a dedicated mute) and my board is jam packed. There's more that I want, but my pedal board is already obnoxiously huge. I'm still ruminating as to what to sacrifice.
  15. Being and Bass

    Being and Bass

    Apr 9, 2017
    How much of your use (or not) of OD is affected by the group you are playing with? The most common comment against the OD pedal onslaught is that you cannot hear it in a mix anyways, so stick with the few noticeable pedals. But I don't find I get lost in the mix at all, but I play in a duo with me on bass on vocals with the guitarist running our drum kit by midi switches--given how and what I play, I find the small OD changes make a difference, especially in ambient washes. But this is a VERY specific playing style that doesn't translate well, so maybe I am just spoiled right now?

    (And for every OD I have, I have one non-OD pedal as well. My board is a damn mess until I get a Pedaltrain: right now it is plywood, velcro, and prayers.)

    Sounds quite close to my board, actually. You end up playing tetris with the pedals (I personally hate upside down pedals or ones you can't easily step/modify), getting a massive pedalboard (my current option: 13 pedals and 4 expressions!), using multi-effects units whenever possible (can be set-up between tunes), and using two pedalboards (one for pre-amp and the other for the effects loop) to keep everything clean.

    OR, you could just be my guitarist who said screw it, stopped paying rent, bought an Axe FX run into three different amps. He rarely complains about his pedalboard (which is three controllers and three pedals) but has to make two trips to gigs in his car for the amps and cab. Suffice to say, I will not take his lead on this one. (I think he likes my board, which he calls my spaceship control panel and threatens that I have a "punish audience" button on my tremolo.)
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  16. slobake

    slobake resident ... something

    I go back and forth with pedals. Where I used to play it seemed like I could hear the tonal differences coming from my amp on stage. Things seemed to disappear in the house mix. Could have been a lot of different reasons for that. Eventually I just plugged into my amp and tried to work with dynamics and where I hit the strings for my tone.
    Still have a Zoom B3 if I need it. Probably not the same quality pedal others use.
  17. It's a suck knob..... If I'm having a bad night and really just stinking up the stage, I can turn down the suck knob and/or blow knobs to try and remedy the problem...

    Actually it's a chorus-y /flanger-y type pedal that our guitar player built while bored during a large snowstorm about 10 yrs ago. He just found it in a box in a closet - tried it out on bass and it gives a little modulation but with very little low end it's mine now.
    non likes this.
  18. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    The tone i loved from it was exactly my clean tone with a bit more hair.
    I didn’t want too much more dirt from it, so i kept the gain low.
    And i didn’t need the EQ or different modes, but there’s SO MUCH this pedal does!
    I’m just at my ideal tone without it, so i used it less and less as i realized more and more how much i love my clean tone.
    Get one. Twiddle all the knobs. Love it. Thank me later.
  19. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I’d looked at those. They look great, but i don’t need an always-on.
    I’ve been looking at the SolidgoldFX BC239 or the Henretta Engineering Pinkman. I like the sizes and quirkiness.
    cataract likes this.
  20. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    I'm at three right now. Broughton Audio Terraformer is my milder, more transparent OD, Dunwich ODB is my heavier OD, and I currently have an Earthbound Audio Pale Mare for fuzz, though the Swollen Pickle that held that spot before may find its way back in (and I also want to try the newer Pork & Pickle).

    I may add a fourth dirt pedal down the line, but I have no idea yet what might go there.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 26, 2021

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