pedals or amp for dirty tone?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JES, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    Hi All,

    I'm curious how many people JUST rely on their pedalboards for dirty tone, or if you switched from a dirty head to a clean head with pedals for dirty tone (or went the other way).

    My story:

    In the 1990s I bought an Eden WT-400 as my amp. It is a very clean and modern sounding amp. I was playing 5-string and wanted something that would reproduce the low B well.

    These days I prefer a dirtier tone and 4-strings. I've been using overdrive pedals to get it--Fulltone Bassdrive and after that broke, an [sfx] micro red dragon.

    Lately I've been lusting for an Orange Terror Bass head. Every time I play through one, I love it. It's close to tube amp tone in a very light package (even lighter than my Eden). But of course that's just a tube pre and a clean power section. So then I ask myself if it's really worth it.


  2. IMO, tube clean still has a mojo that SS clean can't cop. The tube pre would get me there. I currently only own SS amps for weight and transport reasons but will be picking up a tube head before the end of the year. In the meantime, of course I use pedals. I have 4 dirt pedals and a line6 m9 on my board and use any combination of those for warmth, distortion, fuzz, etc. I'll still use them once I have a tube amp also.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Love cranking a tube amp up to distortion, could never do it on my gigs in a million years. So pedals.
  4. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    I prefer pedals for practical reasons.

    Main reason:
    On most shows I go DI.
    Therefore, I want to get my sound from my bass and pedals, which is sent to the board. I use a clean but warm amp for my own stage sound. I don't want the amp to colour too much, so I get a decent feel of what I'm sending FOH.

    - If I would like to try a new flavour of dirt, getting a new pedal is cheaper and has no effect on my other sounds I do like, as opposed to getting a new amp.
    - I can have different kinds of dirt with multiple pedals, and ...
    - ... all of it is footswicheable

    That said, I mostly play with a pretty clean sound (but certainly not uber-modern) and use dirt only as an effect.
    If you want your main and only sound to be dirty, I can understand getting it from your amp. But good lucking getting your amp miked! :)
  5. Right_Butterscotch64


    Oct 18, 2012
    The terror bass heads don't really appeal to me, for what those cost there are way cheaper options for bass heads that are ALL tube. Most with separate clean and dirty channels.
  6. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    Thanks for the replies and please keep them coming.

    Just to be clear, I don't think I want an all tube head simply because of the weight Yes, they sound amazing -- I like the Orange, and old Traynors a lot. But I like the light weight of the Eden (and I am about to load my old Flite cabs with neos or just switch to Bergantinos).
  7. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    My Dog Sam Eats Purple Flowers
    I want my amp to provide a good clean tone with some overhead. By clean I don't mean sterile. Then I run 4 parallel signals on my pedalboard to get my signature tone.
  8. In my country band, I use the TB500 as my "clean" fingerstyle sound, then add some extra grind with transparent overdrive pedal when switching to a pick. The DI is hot, but after about a dozen shows with it, I have yet to have a soundman complain. It gives a killer tone through my cabs and the board.

    The Orange IS a one trick pony though. It always adds some (wonderful, awesome) wool to your sound, and has very limited tone controls. Even with with the gain set at 1, it wont get you clean like a modern type amp. If you you need that kind of clean, or if you need precise control of your eq, it's not for you. If you like the Orange sound, and want it all the time, you'll be happy.
  9. I play clean and use pedals because we rehearse at by-the-hour studios and the amps are always different. So pedals make everything easier. My primary dirt is a Mojo Hand Mule.

  10. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    My amp doesn't do dirt, it does have a tube preamp but it's designed for transparent tone rather than for overdrive.

    So, pedals. Which also makes it possible to have different dirt characters, just add more pedals. :)
  11. seedokebass


    Mar 21, 2009
    Word. I get a warm tubey tone (with some grit) from my Aguilar TH500, but it's more clean than anything, so pedals for me as well.
    I like having different flavors a toe tap away :D
  12. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Get a Bassman 100T flip it to the OD channel and crank it, want clean flip it to the vintage channel.
  13. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    look into a proco rat its super grindy and can be found cheap used.50$ or so another option is go boutique but 200$ is a bit high for a pedal. I do have 2 of those though.
  14. BassMonstrum


    Mar 7, 2008
    Pedals for me.

    I always bring a pedalboard to gigs. I don't always bring an amp.
  15. I use an Empress Multidrive on both upright and electric. It's an extremely configurable, parallel Overdrive/Fuzz/Distortion switch/mixer, and gives you two, foot-switchable settings. Having said that, it's not at all complicated to get usable tones, and there are tonnes of usable tone settings, unlike some pedals that only sound good with the knobs in specific positions.

    If you just want a bit of boost or hair, the overdrive channel is good. If you want wooly, the Distortion and Fuzz channels simultaneous give you thick goo without sacrificing any bass frequencies. Extremely low noise floor, too.

  16. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Pedals for me. VMT always on for a dirtyish tone through pushed growly GK 700RB II and TFR for blown out dirt grind.
  17. DiMarco

    DiMarco Guest

    Feb 4, 2010
    Pedals without a doubt.

    I got "some grit", "fullblown OD" and "buttery thick fuzz" that I can kick in at will.
    Using MXR el grande, MXR M80 and Tech21 VTbass pedals to accomplish this.
  18. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    If you want a pedal that emulates a dirty amp sound, check out the darkglass vintage microtubes. that pedal can give you awesome overdrive sounds without obliterating lows.

  19. danielfnj96


    Jan 29, 2012
    NJ, USA
    I only use pedals since in another thread it was pointed out that ODing my ss rig was a bad idea. Also i am pretty against tubes since IMO, solid states can give me a crystal clear clean tone you can't get from tubes, their virtually 0 maintenance, their lighter, and they can come cheaper. Also it's easier to switch back and forth with a pedal since it's just the flip of a switch at your foot.
  20. Pedals for me my amp is either very clean to a warmer sound for loud rock gigs. I use a GK MB500 these days, the GIVE circuit is not bad and I do use it on occasion to add some grind when playing thru the 2x15 and can crank it up a bit.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    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.

    Sep 19, 2021

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