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Real Sounding Bass Overdrive

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by BassDHunter, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. BassDHunter


    Oct 12, 2010
    Can anyone recommend an affordable bass overdrive pedal that sounds like a slightly overdriven amp? I've tried various bass and guitar distortion pedals and they all sound artificial and on the fuzz side of things. So far the best driven tube sound I've found is from using an ART MP but its not much use as its not a footswitchable pedal.

    I use a Lakland 4401 into a Trace Elliot SMX series amp with 1 aux valve in the input stage.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Tech21 VT Bass or Catalinbread SFT. There are several others, but try those first.
  3. animvl


    Feb 25, 2007
    I have had the same trouble as you, I have been using guitar overdrive pedals into a second amp but that's not very practical. I did come across the Digitech bass driver though, that has the 'morph' knob which blends from what they claim to be an overdriven tube amp to distortion which I might look into. In the long run though, I'd like to build my own though.
  4. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    The Digitech Bass Driver sounds nothing like an overdriven amp. It seem to just be able to add a layer of different voiced digital sounding clipping to the signal. It's usable, but not great at all.

    Their Bad Monkey however when set subtly, is able to get a much more natural overdrive.
  5. flyingfinbar

    flyingfinbar Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Long Island, New York
    A friend of mine had a Budda bass overdrive pedal with a 12ax7 in it. The thing could go from mildly overdriven SVT sound to full on firebreathing...it was a great pedal, if you can find one.
  6. +1

    I have it. I love it.


    I'm not too affluent, and my bass $ usually goes to basses, amps, and cabs.

    So, if you have the money to spend on a good OD, def look into Bongo's reccomendations of the VT bass and Catalinbread!

    I also have had fun with Ibanez Tube Screamers and DOD250's... but they WERE a tad thin sounding...
  7. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    The Xotic Bass BB pre is a great overdrive... it's a transparent overdrive that retains bass and allows your amp's tone through. The VT/SFT pedals, while very good sounding, do color your tone in ampeg.
  8. "digital sounding"? it's sure as heck not a digital pedal. that's a pretty poor way to describe distortion. It's totally misleading.
  9. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
  10. totalimmortal08


    Jan 21, 2008
    DHA VT-1. The Tech 21 stuff sounds great too.
  11. phmike


    Oct 25, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    My pedal board has a tuner (TU-2), ART tube preamp (the $30 one) and an EHX WORM (I use it for mild phaser, tremelo, vibrato or wah). The ART tube preamp may not be a traditional 'pedal' but I've tried other preamps and none sounded as good to me as the ART.
  12. mysteryclock

    mysteryclock Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    Ooooo...the Darkglass stuff sounds very nice! Pricey, but sweet.

    I've got my eye on an Amptweaker Bass TightDrive as I'm refreshing my gear... seems to have the sounds I want w/o costing an arm and a leg.
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I've had that Amptweaker on my GAS list for a long time. I especially wanted one when I had a Chunk Brown Dog AND 00Funk because they all had a similar aesthetic.

    As for the Darkglass ODs, the B3K sounds fantastic. I love mine.
  14. Steveaux

    Steveaux Safe-Guardian of the Stoopid Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2008
    The Wilds of NW Pa.
    OK ... run the MP through an LS-2. Problem solved.
  15. Dark Barn

    Dark Barn

    Aug 3, 2010
    What other pedals achieve this in your opinion Bongo? I know I've seen you quick to point out when OD soundclips are recorded through an all tube amp and how it does a disservice to those of us who play through SS heads. Also, can you push these pedals to "break-up" like a tube amp by running another OD in front of them? If so it would make a ton of other pedals designed to overdrive a tube head useful for everyone else. Just curious.
  16. I love these overdrive threads....... lol

    Apologies in advance for the long post, but maybe it'll help someone. :ninja:

    BassD, in my continuing search for "The Perfect Overdrive," I've been hunting for warm, low- to mid-gain overdrives which is what it sounds like you're after. Here are the ones I've tried so far (in no particular order) and I'd be happy to further elaborate on any of them:

    Sansamp BDDI: thick tubey sound + DI = always on my board. It can be very grindy/clanky, but doesn't have to be.
    Way Huge Pork Loin: very dialable, pretty transparent. You can adjust the curve of the waveform and it has three trimpots inside for further dialing. Not as warm as others I've tried but quite good.
    Keeley Modded Sparkle Drive: Like the Pork Loin, sounds awesome and is pretty transparent, but not the warmest. Keeley mod is fantastic, makes a great sounding pedal even better.
    Hartke VXL Bass Attack: A VERY pleasant surprise, wouldn't really have looked twice at it, but won it from Larry Hartke himself on Facebook. Pretty versatile tool... 3 band EQ, Shape circuit, DI and "Harmonics" (tube emulation) all in one. You can get a light tube-style overdrive or a crunchier sound with absolutely HUGE low end out of it. Only qualm I have is that the EQ is always active, whether you have the pedal on or not.
    HAO Rust Ride Bass Driver: Had this one for a while, but it was too much for my taste, quite crunchy and didn't like the controls... only one knob, dials up the crunch with no control on volume. More crunch, more volume too. Gone.
    Catalinbread SFT: Second in warmth only to the Blue Tube. Cleans up well with a light touch. 2-band EQ is nice for dialing in different tones. VERY nice subtle overdrive or plenty of gain available for almost fuzz-like tones.
    Subdecay Liquid Sunshine: a good all-around overdrive. Can do light and subtle, but crank the Drive 2 knob to accent mids/highs and get a lot more bite. Internal bass switch is key for beefing/warming up the sound. Not as warm as the Catalinbread, but more so than the Pork Loin/Keeley.
    Toneworks Blue Tube: Discontinued (mine's from Sept '95) so you'll have to hunt for one, but I just found this last week for $100 on Craig's List out in LA. 3-band EQ is awesome and it's got a real tube inside. After reading the little info out there, I followed what it sounds like many did and swapped the 12AX7 that it came with for a 12AU7 and it's even better... even more warmth, less bite and "fizz," AWESOME tube tone (duh :D lol). Warmest overdrive of the bunch, fairly clear but not the most transparent. Doesn't clean up quite as well as the Catalinbread when playing lightly.

    As to which one I like best, I still own all of them except for the HAO, which should say something. They're all great overdrives. That said, the Catalinbread and Tubeworks are neck and neck for first place. I think the Blue Tube is going to win, but I've only been able to play it once through a live rig. Those two are closely followed by the Liquid Sunshine and BDDI for second. Your mileage may vary. ;)

    Stupid G.A.S... more overdrives to come, too. Like Kalle and Jared mentioned, the Darkglass B3k sounds pretty hot and I've always wanted a BJFE Blueberry... have my name on "The List" for both and am crossing my fingers. I've also got a combo drive on order from John Fromel, a Death Is Gain / Shape EQ with a flippy switch that will let me swap the order of the two. :cool: I hope to end up with all three eventually and then I'll have to decide which overdrives to sell off. Man, it's going to be a TOUGH decision.

    Like I said, I hope at least some of the info helped someone. :D

    ToS and Basspaolo like this.
  17. UnityGain


    Oct 12, 2010
    I really like the Catalinbread SFT.

    As mentioned above, it can be clean with a light touch, and you can really "play" the overdrive. Play light and its softer and clean, play hard and its loud and grindy. Play in the middle and you have grind on your attack and then it smooths out as note sustains. Surprisingly dynamic. I dont ever use it as a full on distortion.

    2 band eq works but be prepared to use it more as a cut than a boost if you like mids and dont want a lot of distortion.

    Only downside to me is that the distortion is more pronounced on my low strings, but I have volume issues on the G and D on my bass anyway so I think its somewhat unrelated. Doesn't kill the low end.
  18. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I absolutely LOVE the EBS ValveDrive. I was lucky enough to pick up a mint ValveDrive and VT bass for $150 on CL. So now I have both on my pedal board.

    The VT bass is very nice, but it tends to be scooped in the Ampeg style. I currently use that for my cleaner/brighter/tighter sounds.

    The ValveDrive is an amazing warmth-generator without a signature sound like the VT. It's not as versatile, but the feel is awesome. In the "modern" mode it leaves the eq fairly flat, and just makes the sound BIGGER until I dig in, then it gets a wonderful saturated sound without any fuzziness. In 30 years of bass playing I've never had an always-on box, until now. :bassist:
  19. dokazaado


    Mar 25, 2009
    Empty Hills
    Red Llama clones are good. GGG, whatever.
  20. Eric!

    Eric! Commercial User

    Jan 22, 2009
    America's High-Five
    Mojo Hand FX
    Tronographic Rusty Box
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