Philosophy on Effects

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by dino_jr_, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. dino_jr_


    Jun 6, 2003
    I don't know if you guys have heard this before, but a session player i had a talk with yesterday came out with this after a friend asked him about effects.

    "get rid of them all, sit with your instrument, and when you feel you can play absolutely anything you like, when you feel that you can speak any given phrase in the language of music, then you'll be ready to give it an accent!".

    I know some may disagree with this, for example when a song needs something, then there's sometimes no easier option but to stomp on your muff, but it's thought provoking nothenless.

  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    For the most part I agree, especially for practice, however gigging and recording it's almost necessary sometimes to have such tools at your fingertips. I usually keep it pretty basic: overdrive/distortion, wah and a flanger anc chorus.

    Just a fair warning. These threads tend to get out of hand, so I'll be watching it closely. The second anyone breaks a rule, the thread is closed. Simple.
  3. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Way overstated IMO, but with a nugget of sense. Nobody ever learns to speak every given phrase in the language of music (whatever that is), so that's kind of a pointless and dumb criterion. If you're waiting for that to happen, you'll be waiting till the end of time.

    But if his basic idea was, as I think, that you should be able to make something happen on your instrument without necessarily needing an effect, and that an effect should be an enhancement of a good musical idea rather than a substitute for one, then that seems sensible to me.
  4. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I agree with that. I see way too many players who rely on effects to sound "good". What the really need to so make their playing sound good, then use effects to kick them into great...

    My personal use of effects is limited to EQ and compression. I'm still working on the great part of the equation.
  5. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I believe effects are just another timbre of sound that you can use for a different idea or feeling being expressed. Similar to playing closer or farther from the bridge. Or playing loud or soft. They all invoke a different emotional response from the audience.
    That being said, I believe that they should be used however anyone sees fit.
  6. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I suppose I agree the original statement, to some degree. I definately believe that effects should be left alone untill you have some decent chops and know your way around your instrument. I'm by no means a great player, been playing about 2 years and engineering for about 5 and I am just now getting to where I am somewhat comfortable using effects. Inexeperianced players tend use effects as crutches at times it seems. It also depends on how familiar I am with a given song. I have yet to create a bass line that I would hesitate to play with out any effects. I have some OD to kick on when I want to step out a bit, by the end of the week I'll have chorus for some lighter parts too. Beyond that don't know that I will get into much else, but that is also a style choice too, I am not one for heavily effected bass.

    The flip side of the statement though is; go and get your self an OD/Distortion pedal, plug in your bass and don't turn it off for the next couple hours. I would not suggest this at band practice, but when you are playing by your self. I am always amazed at how an effect can inspire something completely new.

    So in the end I say use effects when you are ready. No effect is going to save a crappy bass line, but an effect just may inspire the perfect bass line.
  7. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    A big +1

    Music is not what another thinks it should be, but what you think it should be to yourself.

    If using effects inspire you then you should use them. Nobody can say its right or wrong because its all personal opinion.
  8. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    My philosophy is this:

    Its all relevent... If you are a traditional player, holding the groove, keeping it in the pocket, or playing root, root, root, 5th - SURE, the the formetioned aproche would be great!...

    If your a solo ambient player like myself its just not relevent... I make Avant Garde Free Form Soundscapes using just my bass, imagination, and the tools I have - be it I have MANY tools, but each one has its purpose.... The thought of making soundscapes without delay, reverb, and filters is not very apealing to me...

    On the other hand, for my Free Jazz/Electro Acoustic stuff... I usualy just bring a reverb for spacial reasons, as the rooms I play in rarely have nice acoustics...

    I can throw down a 4/4 lick that would make James Jamerson proud, I can throw down a ployrythmic syncopated riff that would make your friends head spin - I can do a lot... But I choose to play with effects when i NEED to use effects...

    They are just tools, nothing more nothing less... Viewing them as roadblocks, crutches, or anything else of that sort is not only really closed minded and it is even more unintelligent. If so, then amps and cables could be viewed the same also!


  9. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    +1 to Alex.

    I think it's partly a matter of what you think you're doing. If you're mostly interested in the bass, what your friend says makes sense, maybe. If you're interested primarily in sound creation, the bass and the effects are all part of the same system of sound producing things. I expect that could be some of the cool stuff Alex does, but it could also be something as mundane as trying to create a timbre that really causes the song you're supporting to shine (or rawk; whatever). I respond to the sound my instruments make, and it changes how I play them. Some of my favorite moments have been when the gear surprises me.
  10. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    My philosophy: you either suck or you don't. Jamerson didn't need effects. Wimbish uses them to grand effect. Both of them make me want to set my rig on fire and become an accountant. Whether you use effects or not doesn't really matter if you can't play.
  11. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Thanks man... I was not only fearing being flamed, I was also fearing someone attacking the music I make and love...

    many cheers


  12. I dont agree with the prginal statements.... effects are good and make you play better and look more attractive too! =D
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I just made up a survey that states bassists are 36 % sexier when they use effects. In some cases, combined use of an oversized pedalboard and envelope filters brought this rate up to 47 %.
    Sorry but I just can't pass being 47 % sexier.
  14. xan


    Sep 10, 2004
    Perth, Australia
    i think that it takes a certain skill to use effects well. you have to know when to use effects and when not to, you have to be able to create riffs and grooves that sync with the effect you are using. i think that tom morello from ratm is a great example - a guitarist i know - but he took the use of effects to a whole new level. plus guys like the bassists from radiohead and muse who experiment with synth sounds in more of a rock environment. bassist from nine inch nails has done some great work also. if a bassline with effects sounds good to you, then its a good bassline, regardless of whether the bassist has any musical knowledge at all.

    that being said, i sometimes feel like i buy effects to cover up my lack of knowledge of the theory, but in the end, like tec said, im exploring new soundscapes each time i hook up a new one.

    a song without a certain effect would be like your favourite bassist playing with a different bass, it just wouldnt quite be the same.
  15. cabooke


    Jan 26, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    I guess it's Ok if brass players use mutes to change their sound
  16. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Not all ocassions call for traditional bass roles.

    In some songs Im the bassist, in others Im the synth, in others Im the lead on the low end, and in some Im a little of each. My pedals help me lay back and thicken the sound, play synth lines, and step up front with a brutal edge when I need to.

    Im no where near where this guy is talking about though.
  17. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    I actually don't know of any effect that plays the bass for you, so I can't see how you could use effects to cover up an inability play. Isn’t the only goal to make music that sounds good? If someone sounds good with effects what could they possibly be doing wrong?
  18. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I completely agree with your statement. But, consider the source of the original: a studio bassist, one hired to fill in the bass chair on others' arrangements. IME, that leaves less room for the same types of sonic expression you're used to. That, in my mind, makes the studio musician's comments invalid. Those comments ignore other types of expressions that are COMPLETELY valid, such as yours.

    Personally, I have an overdrive and chorus/flange. I wouldn't mind exploring other effects, as I have, at one time, also used compression, phase, and envelope filters. They're seasoning in my arsenal...that's all.
  19. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Now that would make us what, twice as sexy as drumers and 400 times as sexy as guitarists?
  20. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    An interesting philosophy, to say the least.

    I wonder if this session player realizes that 99% of all recording have been compressed (and thus have an "effect"), and that 99.9% of all basssists recorded don't fit into his criteria. There are a few, but they are few and far between.

    Not even players like Jamerson. Ask him to play Mozart, and I wonder what his response would have been, as an example.

    In other words, I completely disagree. Effrects are a tone shaping tool. The volume knob on a Jazz Bass or the bass knob on an amplifier can add the aforementioned "accent" just as much or little as an effects pedal.