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No Effects and Why?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by wolffire99, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. wolffire99


    Feb 19, 2013
    St. Louis
    Well first, I certainly don't intend or want this to be a negative thread on using effects at all. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this here either way, I just want to explore this idea a little more.

    I'd love to hear from bass players, especially in the rock genre's who've decided to do without any inline effects to their sound. I.e. pedals, processors, pre-amps, etc...) and how or what they DO rely on to get the tone they want without them. I'd also like to hear some of the thought process begins their decision to go without them. And finally, some of the struggles you've had to overcome without them, like trying to adjust to different sounds at a gig, or learning new techniques in order to adjust.

    Anyway, I hope this is the right forum for this question. Thank you.
  2. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    I think this thread belongs in either "Amps" or "Technique". The "Effects" forum is ALL about "pedals and processors".
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Great question!

    I am a rock (and other genres) player since 1989. I own a bunch of effect pedals, but haven't touched them in years.

    My philosophy of tone is to create the sound I want using the instrument itself. The goal is to be able to plug my bass into a good DI and give the soundman a signal he barely needs to manipulate (maybe a touch of compression, or mild EQ to correct for room acoustics). I consider this a three-part process, in order of importance: the bass (I carefully shopped around to build a collection of basses I like the sound of), the strings (I use different strings on different basses, but primarily TI Jazz Flats are the sound I come back to), and most importantly, my hands.

    I practice bass unplugged, I practice using headphones, I practice through studio monitors, and every once in a while, I'll practice through my amp. My amp rig is super-simple: a preamp with volume control and basic 3-band EQ (which I only touch if necessary for the room, for example to cut the bass if the stage is boomy) into a powerful power amp and an inexpensive speaker cabinet.

    Because I know my basses well, choose my strings carefully, and have practiced touch and technique, I am able to get "my tone" out of a simple, basic rig. If the venue provides backline or lets me plug into the PA, I don't even bring my own amp.

    The most important piece of the puzzle is understanding how to touch the strings to emphasize different frequencies. It's really all about the mids. By listening carefully to the band as a whole, and altering my left- and right-hand technique (for example plucking with my right hand closer to the bridge or closer to the neck), I can find the frequency "holes" in the mix where my bass can be heard articulately. Once I learned to make the bass "speak" I no longer depended on effects and signal processing.

    That's just my experience; curious to hear more about your journey too! :)
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I also play rock (among other things). My "main" tone is zero effects at all. It's a passive J bass, SS rounds, and a GK amp.

    When I need to change it up a little, I'll use my hands. Pick or fingers, where I'm actually plucking the strings, roll off some volume/tone on one of the pickups, etc.

    I use effects for small sections of songs, somewhat sparingly. I have no need to use effects/processors/etc. to get my tone. I love my effects and I use them at every gig, but I don't need them per say.
  5. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    These "no effects" threads in the effects forum just drive the effects guys crazy. And not the good kind of "i just got the most awesome quartzite un-obtainium discombobulator modulator thingy in a totally sick sparkle green!" crazy.

    More of a "dude, you are peeing in the punch bowl!" kind of crazy.

    I do think these kind of discussions belong here. I mean, where else? Amps is amps.

    I play rock and blues for the most part. I use one box, an MXR M80 bass di plus, mostly for it's DI. But also to warm up a GK1001 rb 2 when it's at lower volumes. If I can let the GK off it's leash, turn that volume knob clockwise, and let the big dog run, I don't need anything but a cable to the bass. a good di box can save your night if your amp goes down and you need to finish the night playing through the PA.

    The Genz Benz streamliner 600 likewise needs no help. There's plenty of tonal options on my passive bass between pickups, tone control and the blueqube switch, plus differing attacks.

    I do like my bass wah, but most nights I don't bring it.

    That hasn't stopped me from buying and selling lots of boxes, oh no. I look at it like renting a toy. Get all excited about it, find it, buy it, (always used) and get it home. Spend some time messing with it, get over it, sell it back into the void. All that fun and I'm only out shipping to send it to it's new home. (In most cases)

    Then you've got all the guys who never used effects because they just weren't something bassists used much back in the day. There's nothing wrong with a super simple rig.
  6. Went for over two decades with no effects playing heavy music. I relied on creativity to get the sounds I wanted.... picking, tapping, chording, etc... Now I use effects and enjoy them.
    dtripoli likes this.
  7. All depends on the music I'm playing. I've played everything from latin jazz, to blues to progressive metal. Sometimes I like to add a certain texture or tone to what I'm playing that I can't do with just my hands alone. And that varies song to song sometimes. I've played in bands where one song I'm using multiple effects and in the next I'm using just my bass and my amp. It also depends on what the other musicians are playing and the tones they're using.

    It kind of reminds me of the "pick vs fingers" argument. There's no right answer and everyone has their own preference. I try to do what sounds good to me in each setting.
  8. Maybe this should be in the Technique sub-forum.
  9. Effects are every bit the instrument that our basses are. And like some bass players suck at playing bass, some people suck at using effects.

    Simple as that...
  10. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    It looks like I have a lot of effects, but it's mostly pre-amps, EQs, compressor. Take away the tuner, and that's what most (pre)amps are....
    The 'effects' I do have are used only when needed, and one of them isn't featured in our set. Most of the time it's the same signal into a power amp.
  11. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    I used to use effects continuously, mild overdrive always on, sometimes with a chorus or a phaser, sometimes with a distortion. Hell even sometimes with a wah. When I joined the band I am in now I was determined to focus exclusively on three/four fingerstyle as fast as I could manage. We do heavy metal covers of dance songs (think 80s progressive) so timing/technique is more important than ambiance and creativity.
    With effects (mainly dirt) it was easier to stand out in the mix, but alot of practice time was spent doing so. Working on my pedals, their order, etc. I use that time now working on speed/technique. As my technique has improved I've found new ways to jump out of the mix or ride the bottom just with subtle hand movements. The dirt I used in the part kinda masked this little stuff. I'm sure when I get back in a project where I write again I'll use effects more, but I'm little more than a hired gun now so I do what is needed.
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I love effects. But after setting up my bass rig, tuning up, setting up the PA, and getting everything working... I don't have the time (or energy to be honest) to hook up effects :( In fact, I make it a rule to setup the bass rig before turning on the PA or the band will start without me :rollno:

    When I was playing rock and didn't do the PA I used to use at least two overdrive or distortion pedals. One mild to medium (varied but a modded Sparkle Drive was one of my favorites) and one extreme (Torn's Peaker).
  13. LSMFT6

    LSMFT6 We brake for nobody Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    I'm an effects guy and i have no problem with non-effects guys. Everyone's got to do their own thing, right?
  14. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    I played for a long period without effects. I was primarily supporting singers and working with standard formats in music.
    Now I write and perform my own music and there is plenty of room to go nuts with all the options, so I do.
  15. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    What I am curious about – is why no-effects players think that the people who hang out in the Effects Forum predominantly play without effects?

    I agree that the OP would probably have a better discussion in the Technique Form.
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Honestly I didn't know this thread was in Effects forum, I saw it under New Posts. :)
    Old Blastard likes this.
  17. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Well, a lot of electric bass in early popular music in the modern sense (mid 20th century onwards) was just a bass plugged into the desk, so there's part of your answer.

    And some effects are really just like an extension of the amp's job - eq, compression, to some extent overdrive. So if your amp does its job to your satisfaction, and you don't need any crazy fuzz/flying saucer sounds, chances are you'll be happy without effects...
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Most of the time I play without effects but I have a pretty well stocked pedalboard to give me the spice to jazz things up should I need it for a particular song.
  19. oldprussians


    Jan 7, 2008
    United Republic of Europe
    IT Professional!
    It's funny I got crucified for this type thread when I started one!
  20. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    yes but your thread was called "what's the point?" and was based on the fact that your Behringer pedal got buried in the mix...

    can you see the difference? :p

    EDIT i am just ragging you, by the way. these types of threads often become a bit heated ;)

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