Recording with fuzz pedal

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by averagetim, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. averagetim


    Jul 2, 2017
    Hi guys,

    I'm trying to record a bassline with a fuzz pedal in Pro Tools, but the low frequencies keep getting sucked out. Usually, when I play through my amp, I get a nice thick, warm tone. The clean tone in Pro Tools is also fine. As soon as I turn on the pedal, I get a very buzzy tone with a lot of treble and far less punch.

    I've tried with a ZVEX Mastotron and a Bass Big Muff, and have had a go with Ableton too. My chain looks like this:

    Bass > Pedalboard > Amp input > Amp line out > Audio interface > Laptop

    I realise I could probably just EQ it out, but the clean tone is fine and I don't want to mess that up too. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  2. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    You could split your signal. Record one clean and one fuzz. Run the clean channel through a low-pass filter in your DAW. Your fuzz is your main tone, but you can add the fundamental back in as needed with the clean channel.
  3. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    jaymelewis likes this.
  4. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Yes, I do this all the time. The problem you are having is that going direct with Fuzz is not an optimal tone.

    I would suggest using a bass cab simulator. I personally use a Noble preamp and go into my audio interface then use the 2 note wall of sound VST. It is awesome for cab simulation. You can download it for free and then buy a few cabs that you like. It is not very expensive.

    The virtual mic I use in the software is the Condensor.

    This is a much better option than micing a bass cab. It is a lot quieter, and you need to really know what you are doing to mic a cab. Additionally if you split the signal, you can encounter phasing, which would kill the tone. Simply splitting the signal , and multing will not fix the fact that your fuzz tone is still not going to sound great since it is direct and not going through a cabinet.

    The plugin gives you far more flexibility, plus you can also record direct, mult the track and then blend the direct track with the amped one and not deal with any phasing.
    HolmeBass and Gearhead17 like this.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    To be clear, it is not a better option, nor is it a worse option. It is simply an option. It's 100% contextually dependent.

    Another clarification; It's not that you can or may encounter phasing. You WILL have varying degrees of phase relationship any time you have two signals occurring, particularly if they're of the same sound source. It cannot be avoided. It also will not "kill the tone" as you put it. You might have some reduced low frequency performance in areas where the phase relationship creates a cancellation, but it's not going to be enough to kill the tone. In the example that @Frank Tuesday mentioned above you're low passing the clean and high passing the fuzz, which largely removes the only real problem area for phase, the low end, from the equation.

    Not possible. You can certainly blend them, but having two tracks from one source will ALWAYS result in phasing. It can't be avoided. Phase is a relationship of both time and frequency. Duplicate a bone dry DI track, add a tiny EQ adjustment to one and play them at the same time and you've created a phase discrepancy despite the tracks being identical within the time domain. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, it's not the end of the world.
    Josh Kneisel likes this.
  6. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    If you want to cut hairs, ok. But phasing in general studio terms is the bad kind. The one where the transient is affected in a bad way. That is what I am talking about. I'm not that interested in arguing semantics.

    I just know that most at home guys are going to have a lot more trouble micing up a cab and getting it in phase with a DI than simply using a Cabinet emulator plugin.

    What you are talking about with multing a track and EQing one is not at all what I'm referring to.

    I have no problem with multing a track and layering. It's done all the time. But fuzz with a cab simulator is usually a better sound than a DI with fuzz on it. Multed or not. The good news is the OP can easily try both and see what is best for the song at no cost but his time. The cab emulator I use has free trials.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  7. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    It's not arguing over semantics or splitting hairs, it's simply not throwing out a useful technique (parallel tracks) because of the possibility of some small amount of smearing caused by phase discrepancies, especially when the approach above negates the majority of those phase discrepancies if implemented to do so. Yes, in studio terms phasing is generally to be avoided, but if you consider it in the context of a vacuum you're missing a major part of the equation. Moreover, your last point about blending a dry signal with an amp'd (or amp sim'd) one is in itself an introduction of phase discrepancies, so if your first statement is true, how can you recommend your last statement?

    It's just an example to demonstrate that phase is not relegated to just the time domain, but rather both time AND frequency. Your last statement of blending an amp'd track and a dry one will do precisely this same thing, but will also introduce reverb so that your phase discrepancy is no longer isolated to just the frequency domain, but now also includes the time domain making it more difficult to deal with.

    Agreed, but that's not at all the points I was commenting on. Incidentally I'd reach for a low pass filter long before I grabbed a cab simulator, but in the end all you're really doing is getting rid of some high frequency content, so the tool used to do it becomes inconsequential.

    Agreed, and even the time spent won't be for nothing as there's a lot of valuable experience to be gained.
  8. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Again, the main points I was making (which you are still missing)

    - micing a Cab and then splitting to a DI without the proper gear and mic technique many times introduces serious phasing and timing discrepancy that smears the transient far more than simply layering 2 identical tracks and effecting one differently than the other. When I said splitting the signal I was clearly speaking about that technique and not MULTING, which is not the same at all and what you keep referring to for some reason.

    - Multing the DI signal and effecting one with Fuzz is a viable option, but in my experience Fuzz sounds better through actual cabinets or a cab sim, which is not the same thing as just using a low pass filter by any means.

    That is simply all I am saying. For an easy illustration of this, go split your signal into a DI and into an amp record both tracks and see what kind of timing lag and phase issues you may encounter. It's a PITA to deal with and the phasing you are talking about is not at all what I am speaking to.
  9. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    What YOU seem to be missing is that YOU are going on and on about phase being a problem, but then referring to a solution involving splitting the tracks and then doing something different to one side then the other. That introduces phase discrepancies despite originating from a duplicate track. So are you concerned about phase, or aren't you?

    Most cab sims are a low pass filter, some gentle EQ, and a TINY TINY TINY amount of reverb, the most predominant effect of all being the low pass filter. So while you're technically correct, in practice the difference is shockingly minor.

    Phase is phase.
  10. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I'm not missing anything. My suggestions are very easy to understand and will work for the OP.

    The sidetrack argument about semantics is your issue. It seems you need to prove a lot about your recording knowledge. Good luck with that, I never asked for you to break apart my posts and argue for no reason.

    Anyone with experience micing cabs, reamping and blending DIs will know exactly what I am talking about.

    Anyway OP, you should have the info you need. I put the #Iamverysmart guy on ignore and will derail the thread no more.
  11. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Agreed. You had some points that needed clarification for the benefit of the OP, which is all I did. I still suspect you have a misunderstanding of phase relationships, or maybe just aren't explaining your position clearly enough.

    Erroneous data is erroneous data, nothing more.

    Not at all, just trying to clarify things for the benefit of the OP.

    This is a discussion forum. We're discussing a question posited by a member of said forum. If discussing things on a discussion forum isn't what's to be expected, then what are we all doing here?

    Indeed, and anyone with enough experience will understand the inaccuracies about phase you were describing (e.g. killing the tone). No worries though. It's a good learning experience, and hopefully the OP will benefit from it.

    I suppose that's me. Thanks for saying I'm very smart. I try. Not that you'll read this anyway since I'm on your ignore list.

    @averagetim you should try any and everything suggested here. For simplicity's sake I would do as described initially and just split the signal prior to entering your fuzz pedal so that you can record a clean track and a fuzz track. Low pass the clean until it's just providing bottom end, and high pass the fuzz until it doesn't conflict with the clean. From there you can add additional EQ to make each split signal sound how you want it in the mix, and as long as you keep your initial high/low pass filtering in place to avoid conflicts you won't have anything like your transients disappearing, your tone getting killed, or other such nonsense.
  12. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Washington DC
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    This is always my answer when recording bass with effects. Clean signal and effects signal and then mix them later to keep the fundamental. I don't always run it through a low pass filter.

    Another thing about recording fuzz directly is that through your cab you don't often hear the full high end because your cab will roll off a fair amount of the nastiness. Then when you hear it directly, you are getting the whole spectrum and it just doesn't sound as good. It can often make it seem like it's sucking your low end out as well as the top end is so aggressive that you miss the lows. A low pass filter can be really helpful for this as well.
  13. Josh Kneisel

    Josh Kneisel

    Jun 17, 2016
    I usually record the whole song clean direct then I re-amp through the effect pedal to a separate track and blend the 2 as needed (which I think someone already hit on so I may be repeating similar advice) that way I can control it more since I have 2 tracks to work form with EQ/blending the clean in.
  14. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    how we do the demos with the insanely thick punishing doom od tone
    put your cell phone face down on the wood floor in my music room to record ;)
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
    Tom Bomb likes this.
  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Then you get people complaining that their Android's fuzz tone is different than their drummer's iPhone's fuzz tone :p

    ...What's the best phone for metal? :smug:
  16. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
  17. I was thinking mic the cab, but the cab sim idea is slick.

    I would do "all of the above" and record a clean and fuzz track and use the cab sim on the fuzz track.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Pfft to the clean track. Show some moxy, dude. Clean tracks are for wussies!


    But seriously, some sort of cab sim should clean up your fuzz and keep that treble from being overbearing in a DI line. The general frequency range you need to eliminate starts at between 3 and 5k, depending on your tastes. However, unless you have to record silently or you don't have a mic that adequately picks up lows that the bass needs, I see no reason not to mic. As long as the cab is good, has enough highs for your tastes with the tweeter off, and the mic is good for bass, distorted bass always sounds better to me out of a mic'ed cab. And really, save for some really nice tube driven DI's, I prefer clean sounds out of a mic'ed cab, too.
    NKBassman likes this.
  19. Michael Schreiber

    Michael Schreiber Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Kassel / Germany
    Another alternative: Get a blender/mixer pedal, blend fuzz and dry bass signal together so that it sounds good.

    - You still only need to record one signal; so, only one input / mono interface is needed.
    - Also useful for playing live, and for other effect pedals that lack a blend/mix knob

    Possible con: Some blender pedals are sensitive; I have to place mine before the tuner, since the tuner has a buffered output, and my blender pedal doesn't like these, the signal is too hot, and the impedance too low.

    Anyway, IMHO, a blender pedal is a useful utility which doesn't cost much.
    I use mine for the whole effects loop with a volume pedal at the end; allows me to blend in as much fuzz as needed during a song. So, it's can be useful for live playing, as well.

    Much success and have fun recording! \m/
    monsterthompson likes this.
  20. averagetim


    Jul 2, 2017
    Thanks for all the suggestions! There's enough there for me to try out and see what works best. Micing up my cab isn't really an option for me at the moment, since I don't actually own a mic, but that might be a sound (excuse the pun) investment.

    Just to clarify: when you say record a clean and a fuzz signal, do you mean actually record the whole bassline with a clean tone, then turn on the fuzz pedal and do the same again? The only thing I'd be worried about there is having to make sure that both basslines are exactly in line with each other in terms of things like timing and dynamics (which I think was what someone mentioned earlier?).

    I have a Boss LS-2 - would that work?
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
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