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Like overdrive and fuzz, but not distortion (?)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by grovest, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    There are many overdrive sounds I love with bass, and several fuzzes, too. But, I've yet to hear a "distortion" bass sound I really dug.

    Does anyone else feel the same way?
  2. I like the Tech 21 XXL Bass Editions distortion. That's one of the only actual "distortion" pedals for bass.
  3. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    RC has one for sale, IIRC.

    There are only a few distortion pedals made solely for bass. Kinda odd, I think.
  4. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    It's gone. :( I miss it already. Might buy one again - great dynamic bass distortion!

    Frankly, I find that many so-called "overdrive" pedals for bass are actually distortion pedals. As a tube guy, to me a "true" overdrive is a dirty boost - something meant to color your tone and PUSH TUBES. Most bass OD pedals are actually distortion pedals: they emulate the tube distortion that would take place in a cranked (or driven) tube amp.

    That doesn't mean that I don't like these pedals. I think many are great distortions, just poorly named
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    A good point. It's very hard to draw the line. Especially when things like the ODB-3, Rust Ride and Blowtorch are labeled as bass overdrives. The idea that any of them is in the same category as say, the DOD 250 is really confusing.

    And with a large percentage (a decent majority I'd say) of bass players using SS amps, it blurs things even more.

    My own classification for bass distortion is pretty simple - if it gives you a "crunchy" sound it's a distortion. Not perfect, but it works for me. The XXLB is a good one. A blended Rust Ride is really nice too. I also like the Landmine. I like the Holy Fire for low gain, but it's distortion tones are pretty good too.

    The Lovetone Big Cheese (and the OLC Chunky Cheese) is interesting in that it is on the border between distortion and fuzz for me. I've tried a number of pedals that were somewhere between OD and distortion, but it is the only one that really fit as distortion/fuzz. The XXLB had a bit of fizz to it, but not nearly as much.
  6. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    I think the big problem is that the line between overdrive (i.e., light to medium breakup) and distortion (i.e., crunchy, high-gain, NOT fuzz) is incredibly blurry. Many people are willing to extend the realm of "overdrive" well into "distortion" territory, while others limit the realm of "overdrive" drastically.

    The two major factors in determining what "overdrive" means around here, and what "distortion" means around here, are tone and gain. Problem is, we can't agree where to draw the line (or if we can, then manufacturers can't)... and often, that makes for some really long threads around here when someone is looking for a pedal in that gray area. :meh:

    EDIT: Damn you, BigO! You beat me to it.
  7. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'll +1 those thoughts. Sometimes I don't even bother to draw a line, until you reach the fuzz realm. Of course, that's easy to define, and from the start, distortion was a term used to describe the sound from an overdriven amp.
  8. gribuski


    Aug 7, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    I never thought about it before, but there is a big gray area between the two, huh? In my experience, if it's not real tube, it ends up sounding like (mild) distortion...but a lot of it depends on the rig and so forth.

    Maybe it's like distinguishing "porn" from "art": you just know it when you see it (in this case, hear it). Given a certain set of gear in the "gray area", I can't tell you which one it would be for sure until I hear it.
  9. lowbass68


    Feb 3, 2008
    OD, Fuzz and Distortion. There is no black and white definition when it comes to how it sounds, it's all shades of gray. I just call it all Dirt, and I love all kinds of dirt. If it sounds good and fits what I play, I get it.
  10. MetroBass


    Mar 26, 2008
    South of LA
    Hatred obscures all distinctions.
  11. As a couple previous posters have already noted, there are SO many different flavors of these pedals out there, and even some that are named inappropriately. Asking someone if they like fuzz/OD/distortion is, to me, akin to asking if they like ice cream. Well, if you like ice cream, does that mean you like Gevalia Peanut Butter Coffee ice cream just as much as you like Mint Chocolate Chip, or any other flavor? Probably not. Your tastes are different from everyone else's, and you have to find what you hear to be "right" to you. You can't let a label decide for you.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, you have to judge pedals on their own merits, and not just because of their classification.
  13. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    Yep, its hard to find a good distortion sound, while there are tons of great overdrive and fuzz sounds.

    i personally also like the Tech 21 XXL Bass for distortion.
  14. I think the line we draw between overdrive and distortion is a similar line to the one we draw for how ripe a banana is. Everybody has their own idea. Having said that, the 3xfx fatman does a nice distortion tone.
  15. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    I am back into digging a Vintage/Vintage Reissue RAT w/ some mods, but only w/ mods.

    Of course, this will proooooobably change next week.

    My muff is still my baby. Fuzz ANY DAY over distortion.
  16. theunknowndude

    theunknowndude Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2007
    Adelaide, Australia
    the only two 'distortions' I have found that actually sounded like distortions to me that ive used are proco turbo rat and the ibanez PD7,... the overdrive setting of the pd7 and the modded ibanez tube screamer I had to me were proper 'overdrives',... they were clean boosts with a bit of clip but subtle (I don't like overdrive on bass though, alot of it just sounded like amplified fret noise and mush to me but I haven't exactly tried boutique OD's... I don't know, I figure if I stomp on dirt pedal it should give me dirty grain not a cleanish boost!)

    the only distortion I like now is the PD7 with high's turned down a bit, cos it retains pretty much the dry 'tone' my bass has but adds dirt, not too much so it sounds on the edge of fuzz, and not too little either,... still can't get it to stop hissing at high volumes though :( pretty much the only pedal on my board that does grrr

    to me fuzz is obvious cos its extreme clip/sawtooth, but as has been previously said the line with OD and distortion on bass is blurry as heck at times,...
  17. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    Thanks for the conversation, guys. I agree, I was taking the label too literally. I have a fuzz and OD on my board and thought I should complete the spectrum with a "distortion" pedal. I listened to the pedals I could find... that were called 'distortion'. One that caught my eye was the Lastgasp for its compact size and three band eq (http://lalweb.com/dv/dv-e.html) but I would probably be happier with two ODs, one that tends towards gritty and one that's more mellow and tubey.
  18. The way you feel is correct.

    OD good, fuzz good, distortion meh!

    This is based only on the 'technical' definitions, of course. I have many dirt pedals, all of which might be called OD, distortion, or fuzz, depending on how you use them.
  19. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Banned

    Nov 8, 2007
    I think fuzz, distortion, and overdrive all sound absolutely awesome, and I've definitely heard a bunch of players use each to great effect (there's puns in them there hills...).

    As far as my fingers on the instrument go, I'd never want a distortion pedal. I don't play well with distortion, as I tend to avoid what you technical types call "note definition," whatever the hell that is :p

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