I Don't Get Bass Distortion/OD

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Sub-Frequency, Jun 25, 2022.

  1. Sub-Frequency


    Sep 19, 2017
    Every time I've tried adding some distortion or overdrive to my bass it just sounds terrible.

    Obviously it's user error....

    Please enlighten me with some links to songs that use bass distortion/OD.

  2. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Terrible on it's own?
    Or in a mix?

    Check out some isolated bass tracks on YouTube.

    Basslines that sounds fairly clean in the mix, can often be much dirtier when isolated.

    Here's a good example,
    Saint70, stevieg, Doug P and 69 others like this.
  3. Sub-Frequency


    Sep 19, 2017

    OK, but if I can't hear the OD in the mix, what good it is? Is it just defining the top end a little better? Is it a sustain thing?
    2pods, pbass2 and J_Bass like this.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    In a lot of cases it’s a slotting into the mix thing, like above with Robert Deleo.

    I’m a big fan of running a relatively low gain OD all the time with my Barbershop. It’s essentially used as a clean boost, tightening things up. If I dig in it gets dirtier. In any case, it makes my bass sit a little forward in the mix. I’m in a power trio so that’s a good thing to my ears.
  5. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Dave pretty much sums it up.

    Al Kraft, Zbysek, Bolsyo and 4 others like this.
  6. AceOfBassFace


    Jun 23, 2019
    A little bit of dirt adds some excitement and compresses the sound. It's a bit more obvious if you're recording or mixing the band IMO. It really depends on the rest of the mix though - you won't hear it as much behind distorted guitars like the STP example, and with cleaner instrumentation it may not sound right.
  7. RJ

    RJ Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2000
    San Francisco
    Loads of grit can be heard on Motown recordings.
  8. Here is a good article on odd vs. even order harmonic distortion. There are a couple short videos imbedded in the article that help illustrate concept and expand on the application. The trick is finding the right kind of distortion(s) for your needs, if you need it at all. The extra harmonic content can help the bass to be better heard on smaller speakers like phones and tablets.
  9. My favourite distortion is the growl of a two channel 4001, with the bridge pickup being distorted. 70’s prog rock was a good example of this tone, and perhaps my favourite application is in the beginning of Rush’s Cygnus X-1 from A Farewell to Kings (around the 2:10 mark)

    if you don’t get it, that’s cool though. I play a lot of jazz, hip-hop, and funk by myself and I never use it for that stuff, but a touch of grit doesn’t hurt in the mix (in fact, it’s often really helpful).
  10. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Listen to some isolated bass tracks of famous songs that have what might be considered "clean" bass. It can be surprising how much grunt is actually in the tone. From Motown to Reggae to Soul......it can really help the bass speak in the mix, but not so much as to sound "distorted". Here's one example: Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”: Bill Wyman’s Isolated Bass
    Saint70, wbrownrr, pilmat and 18 others like this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    If it doesn’t sound good to you that’s ok. There’s no good/bad bass tone. I’m saying this as a fanatical pedal collector. Not everyone wants hair in their tone.
  12. truand85

    truand85 Zig Zag Wanderer Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2021
    Phoenix, AZ

    There ya go
  13. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    I love my bass with od, and these iso tracks were very enlightening. Never knew the STP tune had that level of drive. And I've been listening to Gimme Shelter for years, but have never fully heard what Wyman did.

    All to say - thanks for posting these!
  14. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    My favorite example.
    I had. No. Idea.

  15. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    As noted above, it’s a way to get some compression and EQ/voicing. If it works in your context, then great, if it doesn’t then it doesn’t.

    Many “heavy” recordings probably have less distortion than most people think they do. Many “clean” sounds are dirtier than you might think.

    Perhaps the “problem” for the OP is an amp/EQ/cab setting that doesn’t play well together with distortion. For me, I like having a cab/sim/filter that starts rolling off around 4kHz. If I send a dirty signal to a FRFR output then I generally don’t like the treble response with lots of gain.
  16. AceOfBassFace


    Jun 23, 2019
    Here's a great example of some light OD.


  17. Isaac_James


    May 20, 2021
    Eugene, OR
    My feelings exactly. It's not exactly dirty but rather "dusty". Sounds pretty good on its own but with a guitar and drums, it absolutely kills.
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Tweeter always off for me. If that wasn't an option, then I'd roll back passive tone... and sometimes I do both. Nearly all my active basses have passive tone.
  19. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    John Taylor is so next level. I never knew his tone had that dirt to it. As an aside, Mrs. Rich67 just walked by and said "That's Duran Duran!" Even isolated...
  20. opivy3056

    opivy3056 stardust in a light beam Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2004
    San Diego


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