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Hyper Music - Experimenting with Distortion and Attack Styles

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by bchim, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. bchim


    Dec 9, 2013
    Richmond, VA
    Hello Talkbass! I wasn't sure if this post should've gone in the Recordings, Techniques or Effects section, since I'm using a recording to demonstrate techniques that are used in conjunction with an effect lol .. but uhh here it is :ninja:

    This here is my cover of Muse's Hyper Music - a relatively simple, straight-ahead rock song with a fun and easy bassline.


    Thanks for reading, listening, watching and for any suggestions you might have! :)
  2. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    Compression by its very nature limits dynamic range (hence the name). 'Tis the nature of the beast.
  3. bchim


    Dec 9, 2013
    Richmond, VA
    Yeah, that's true. I realize compression can "choke" the notes, stifling the attack, especially when set to a fast attack time. I used attack time of 20 ms and ratio of 2.5:1 on the rack compressor in Amplitube, which typically would allow most transients to come through (I think, maybe not?).

    I don't know too much about the concept itself, but I've read that there is some compression that is innate to overdrive/distortion circuitry. I do notice some compression of the notes even when I use distortion on its own.

    I guess my inquiry is focused on the nature of this "background" compression that comes with the use of distortion effects, which part of my signal chain it comes from and how it can be better controlled? (aside from simply turning down the gain or blending in more clean signal, of course!) :confused:

    I am no expert on this topic so, again, any thoughts on this subject are appreciated! Thanks! :)
  4. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    Distortion is a form of compression, though. The difference is that the intentional clipping of the signal generates additional harmonic overtones.
  5. Vlad5

    Vlad5 Chronic Knob Twiddling Tone Chaser

    Feb 17, 2011
    New England
    I use drive/distortion a lot.
    And I like my clean tone a lot.
    So to compromise, I usually have my distortion gain set fairly low, but it's volume turned a bit up.
    This way I can better control the dynamics of the distortion with playing technique.

    I tend to hit the crap out of my strings with my finger tips and pads.
    So I just calm down my playing to clean things up, and increase the attack to get things dirty.

    Lately I've been messing around with a new distortion pedal, trying to find the sweet spot between a little drive and full on distortion when I change my playing style. Almost have it.

    But yeah, mostly, drive and distortion will flatten out a signal's dynamics if gained up too much.
    So balancing the gain with the volume is key to controlling dynamics, I find.

    It took me a while to realize (even though I read it online, like everywhere) that a little gain and a lot of volume yield better results (usually) than the other way around.
  6. bchim


    Dec 9, 2013
    Richmond, VA
    That's a good, succinct way to put it, Andy. So, when we turn up the gain, I guess that's essentially controlling how much or how hard the signal is clipped? (higher ratio? lower threshold? more distortion/fuzz than overdrive?) Then I wonder about how to control the attack and release of distortion, like we can with most compressors, or if that is all integrated into the typical drive/gain pot? Probably depends on the pedal or amp I suppose.

    And I agree with you there Vlad. I also tend towards using lower gain and higher volume. It lends itself to more controlled dynamics and that warmer, tubier kind of overdrive that I like :)

    In rare cases where I use higher gain, I always find myself blending in more clean tone, once again, to get more tonal variety out of the attack. Could never get into the whole, wall-of-sound, outrageous fuzz bass tone that some of us are crazy about :p

    I'll be installing Monte Allum's ODB-3 Tri Gain Mod on my pedal soon - might report back in a few weeks with some clips :bassist: