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Overdrive builtin to the bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Rockin Mike, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    What are some good ways to get an overdrive or distortion or fuzz builtin to a bass?

    It occurs to me that installing the guts of something like a Sansamp for use as an internal preamp might do the trick. The Sansamp Para Driver DI has all the familiar controls:
    Mid w/sweepable frequency
    and the all-important "drive"
    It would also be cool to put the output level control (line/inst) on the bass so with a flip of a switch you could be ready to go into a regular amp or straight into a mixing board.

    The pickup blend control could be an internal trimpot and send that right into the sansamp's input.

    It would be a heck of a lot lighter weight than carrying around an SVT and 8x10 cab...

    Good idea? Bad idea?
  2. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    It would require a HUGE cavity.
  3. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    It wouldn't have to be that deep to accommodate just the circuit board. Wires would lead to the knobs mounted in the control cavity. I'd probably put the cavity behind the lower bout to preserve the balance. Rout the back of the bass and slap some pickguard material on there as a cover.
  4. Not any bigger than a regular preamp.
  5. TwinBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    Spokane, WA
    I've never tried this on bass (never felt the need), but when I noodle on a g****r I dime the volume on the guitar, set the gain on the amp for some nice crunch, and then dial back the volume on the g****r to clean it up. If I want some crunch I just turn the volume on the g****r up. I get my OD without having to worry about stepping on a pedal. With the right amp I can have quite a range of [clean --> overdrive --> distortion] just using my ear and one simple knob.

    YMMV et al...
  6. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    I don't know how big the circuit board is in a Sansamp Para DI, but I'll wager it's bigger than an EMG BQC...
  7. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    You know the knob arrangement on that Sansamp Para Driver DI is not an unreasonable layout for a bass guitar. Stack the bass/treble, stack the mid/sweep, stack the level/drive and put in 1 switch for the line/instr output level. 3 knob solution.

    Somebody talk me out of this before I get out my router.
  8. Well, you can try to disassemble existing gear, but it's better to just build your own distortion unit on a small PCB.
  9. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    I don't have the skills to design or assemble such a thing.
    Existing DIY kits don't sound as good as the Sansamp based on online clips I've found.
  10. Get the schematic of the pedal you like, and have someone assemble it for you.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Jack Bruce used to put a distortion diode in his SG basses.

    There is something like that being made today for guitars.
  12. It's very common for players to replace the capacitor on their tone control with a diode or two, to get a distortion effect. The quality of the distortion is questionable, however, depending on tonal preference.

    Use a diode with a fast switching speed and low forward voltage drop, such as a Schottky. One diode in either direction, or two diodes in inverse-parallel. Some people even do three diodes for asymmetrical clipping.
  13. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Very interesting; however people are picky about their OD/distortion/fuzz.
    I like the sound of the Sansamp OD very much, and the EQ section is also great.
    I can find one for somewhere between $150 and $200, so I doubt I could have one custom-built for less.
    Would Tech 21 make the schematic available in any case?
    Seems like they wouldn't want people making clones.
  14. Honestly, excluding the cost of pots, on a budget of $200, you could have a company manufacture custom etched PCBs, buy all the components, and have a friend with soldering skills solder them in to make onboard distortion units for three to six basses.:hyper:
  15. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    I wouldn't know where to begin with a project like that.
  16. those old 80's american handmade BC Riches,that had a billion switches, had an overdrive built into the preamp. and it was a small enough cavity. you can still buy those preamps from Neal Mosers' website. i bet if you combined one of those preamps with a new set of the semour duncan Quarterpounder pickups, you would have one hell of a signal. those pickups are so hot they tend to overdrive the input of amps anyway. i bet the combination of the two would be insane.
  17. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    I seem to remember somebody installing a Nano Muff or something similar in the upper part of a either a guitar or bass body (by the upper horn). Even included the stomp switch. I'd assume they made a new route.
  18. mr.black


    Mar 4, 2008
    this is totally doable. i was planning on something like this this summer. i was hesitant to by a 150-200 pedal to tear apart, i was thinking like 50, but if you do it and it works well i may up my budget. - post progress pic's!

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