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Noob question on preamps / overdrive pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by noobiebro, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. noobiebro


    Jan 16, 2013
    I recently switched from guitar to bass. Even though I have played for years and years, I'm a complete bass noob. So I am kinda baffled by all the new options I have at my disposal.

    I am looking for a sound that cracks up just a bit, just like a slightly overdriven tube amp would. I researched around a bit and noticed and many of the popular pedals that provide that kind of sound are called preamps instead of overdrive pedals.

    What is the big difference between a normal overdrive/distortion pedal and the one they are calling a preamp? For example, what I gather from the specs of Sansamp VT bass (a distortion pedal, I assume) vs Sansamp Bass Driver DI (preamp, right?) is that the latter has more EQ control and a cab simulator.

    Is there actually a categorical difference between a preamp and an overdrive/distortion pedal, or are the distortion pedals just preamps without DI and lesser tone shaping settings?

    For example, apart from the DI, $30 price difference and a slightly different tone, what would I be losing/getting if I chose to get a VT Bass rather than the Bass Driver DI?
  2. G3Mitch


    Feb 8, 2011
    New Zealand
    the VT Bass and BDDI are fairly close tonally. I've owned both and ended up sticking with the BDDI purely for its XLR out and blend function. I would say the VT is a little more versatile though. Both are cool pedals, and I use(d) them both for shaping my clean tone and bought seperate pedals for overdriven tones. Often the VT and BDDI will make other overdrive pedals sound better also.
  3. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Technically, ANY device that has a gain knob, and is capable of increasing your signal stregnth- is a preamp. Some are called that, and those will usually also include tone controls, and some will be called overdrives, distortions, etc. But the reality is, they are all a sort of preamp. One thing that sets them apart, is the ability for them to drive a poweramp. Re: pedals, some can, some can't, but they're still technically preamps.
  4. noobiebro


    Jan 16, 2013
    OK, so basically I won't be screwing up if I get a BDDI for purely EQ & overdrive reasons, plug it in the normal bass amp input and treat the DI option as a nice bonus in case the need comes up sometime. Right?
  5. I would suggest taking it up 1 notch and looking for a Tech21 Paradriver. Its essentially a BDDI but it has a knobs for your mid levels and frequencies, very useful for bass in band settings.
  6. noobiebro


    Jan 16, 2013
    Here's an update on the distortion pedal front: After extensive research, I decided to scale down my budget and bought a Hartke VXL Bass Attack. When I tried it alone without the band, I was a bit disappointed by the overdrive sound. I felt that either there was almost no distortion or it went overboard.

    Then I tried it in a proper band setting. Worked like a charm and the adjustments enabled me to cut through in the mix way better than I used to and it sounded noticeably different. I'm pretty happy with my purchase.
  7. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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