Newb Question: "overdriven" vs "clean" tone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by spooner2112, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. spooner2112


    May 24, 2004
    Arlington, Va

    I've been contemplating upgrading my SVT-3Pro head, possibly to a preamp/poweramp set-up, and have been reading various amp threads here. One question I have is what does an "overdriven" tone from a tube preamp versus a "clean" tone "sound" like? (For example, a thread which describes the True Voice preamp indicates it's great for a clean tone but it's not designed to provide overdrive.)

    Are there any typical examples from popular recordings that demonstrate an overdriven or clean bass tone? Would the Mowtown/Jamerson P-bass tone, for instance, be considered overdriven or clean? I haven't found a thread which discusses this via the search function.
  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Overdrive from tube preamps is generally pretty buzzy & can be harsh sounding, it takes a tube power section to get a really good overdrive sound.
  3. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    It's a lightly overdriven tone that fools people into thinking it's clean. But more importantly, it's great!

  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Overdriven/distorted tones: early Yes (Chris Squire), Rush (Geddy Lee), Primus (Les Claypool), any live tracks by The Who (John Entwistle). The bass break in "Seven Nation Army" by White Stripes is overdriven, and so is the bass break in that radio hit by The Hives (forget the name of the tune).

    Outrageous examples would be live tracks by Grand Funk Railroad (Mel Schacher), Mountain (Felix Pappalardi), Cream (Jack Bruce), Jimi Hendrix (Noel Redding), King Crimson (John Wetton). This is mostly old stuff, but maybe you can find online sound snippets at or elsewhere.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I agree with Ox that the best overdrive comes from all-tube amps. However you touch on an excellent point: power tube distortion has to come at a certain output level. I loved my old SVT's, but couldn't get that nice warmth in small rooms/low volume situations, because warmth/overdrive came when they were run loud. Lower wattage tube amps would sound nice and warm in smaller venues, but would probably be too distorted in big rooms.

    The advantage to getting overdrive/distortion from a preamp or effect pedal and not the power amp is that you can get the same distortion at any volume the power amp can deliver cleanly.
  6. Doesn't your SVT3-PRO have a tube preamp in it - thus you already know what tube preamp overdrive sounds like?!?
  7. spooner2112


    May 24, 2004
    Arlington, Va
    Good point, but I don't know whether the SVT3 tube preamp is actually being overdriven. (I do set the tube gain at maximum, as per Ampeg's suggested rock EQ setting.) I gather from reading various threads not all tube preamps are designed to be capable of being overdriven.