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Some questions about the book 'Bass Guitar For Dummies' by Patrick Pfeiffer

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by RiseOfTheWooten, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. Hi everyone,

    Just wondering - in the Bass Guitar For Dummies book, author Patrick Pfeiffer suggests as "Definite Maybes" (p. 273):

    Some items make your life as a bass player easier, but you can function without them. Bassists generally prefer a clean sound, so they aren't as likely as guitar players to use all kinds of effects (gadgets that alter the sound). Two useful items, however, are:

    A chorus unit - a chorus unit makes your bass sound like two basses being played together.

    A volume pedal - a volume pedal lets you adjust the volume with your foot, even in the middle of a tune.

    I don't believe he's mentioned any other effects units in the book so far, out of all the possible effects for the bass why are the chorus and the volume pedals the first ones he mentions as 'definite maybes'? How many of you use the chorus and volume pedal? He doesn't explain in what context to these pedals fit into the picture or why he classifies them as definite maybes over the other effects.

    A couple of pages later the author mentions other effects:


    As a bass player, your job is to hold down the groove and keep the sound of the band tight, and that's best accomplished with a clean sound from the bass. But for a little special effect during a bass groove or solo, you may want to audition some other pedals besides the chorus unit and the volume pedal (both are described in the previous section). Here are some examples of other effects pedals you may want to use:

    He then goes on to mention the following effects, each accompanied with a small blurb about what they do:

    - flanger/phase shifter,
    - digital delay,
    - distortion,
    - envelope filter,
    - octave pedal,
    - multi-effects unit.

    So yeah, why the chorus and volume pedal above the rest?
  2. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Blah Blah Woof Woof

    It's all kinda crap, I use quite a few effects but they are what is needed for the song, I leave overdrive on all the time as it suits the type of music I'm playing and then there is compression and my eq/di box. So my sound it kinda clean bass, but clean bass going through a tube amp without me having to carry a tube amp :D

    It just begs the question of you turning up for a jam, sessions or gig and doing a cover song where you need an effect to nail the vibe of the song, like Metallica - Pulling Teeth, doesn't quite sound right with out fuzz and wah does it now

    Here are some words to live by
    Buy what you want
    Use what you need
  3. That's what I figured TaySte, I agree with you. But I was curious why, in a beginner/introduction instructional, did the author bring up the chorus and volume pedals over the rest?
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The volume pedal thing may betray a Double Bass background - I've seen many DB players use them on amplified DB as they don't have volume controls themself and it's difficult to get to your amp controls without putting the DB down!

    Also - DBs have a tendency to feedback loudly, (even when not played) in loud acoustics , which causes blind panic in beginners - stepping on a pedal that cuts volume instantly, is an easy way to deal with this situation!! :)
  5. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND

    Good point, Bruce.
  6. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    Yeah, I have done this myself....

    I also agree with the idea of sometimes needing an effect to make a song sound right-- imagine Curtis Mayfield's "Hell Below" without the fuzz, or For the Love of Money without the phaser?
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    1. Patrick is a very nice guy. I've chatted with him many times. He does come from a more old-school train of thought.

    2. Chorus and volume pedals are probably listed first because of his old school train of thought whereas the bassist plays clean and holds down the bottom. Chorus will thicken that up, and the volume pedal lets you change the volume without changing your tone. Both of these are relatively "clean" sounding effects.

    Chorus is a staple on my board, depending on the gig or song, it's usually on. Playing in some other genres, my Big Muff is always on, or a Flanger. It just depends on the song.

    Keep in mind that even though it's an "instructional" text, there's still a LOT of opinion behind it. His opinion. IIRC, he believes that a bassist has a simple role to hold down the bottom end. I believe in a more modern version of that, obviously.

    Lo and behold, don't use effects because someone tells you too. Try the units out and see if they work FOR YOU.
  8. I also think probably some of it has to do with the fact the book is aimed at beginners. Another part of the reason it says not buy a bunch of effects pedals at first is probably because it's more important for a beginner to have good sound and technique, then worry about that stuff. And it's all too easy to cover up bad playing with a bunch of effects pedals.
  9. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    What does one mean by "it's all too easy to cover up bad playing with a bunch of effects pedals." I agree that they can hinder learning for a player, especially a beginner. But it stops there. It’s false to somehow imply that effects do some of the playing for the musician. Especially since that would be disrespectful to all players who use effects. Bad playing sounds bad, and effects will only make bad playing sound worse. If that weren’t true, then we would all hope that every beginning player use effects to cover up their playing and improve music as a whole.
  10. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.

    Distortion, delay, and reverb will cover up several hundred milliseconds worth of sloppy timing by making attack and release times "blurry", and excessive EQ can turn a clean bass with horrible timing and tone into a boomy bass that just sounds like a typical rock club mix. Someone who starts playing with effects right away may develop poor playing habits that they would have been able to hear and correct without effects.

    I still don't see why the author recommended chorus and volume above, say, compression or EQ, though. I don't hear a lot of chorusing on basses on the radio these days, and haven't used one personally in years.
  11. IcedEarthWOM


    Oct 2, 2005
    To be compleatly honest I wouldn't personally suggest compression either, as it kills attack and release as well. As for EQ, thats the first "effect" all of use have used - it's on all amps!!! (or at least, should be...)

    For the most part I'd sugest no effects, including volume. Play bass with just the amp set with a "flat" EQ, even if it's only to become familliar with the sound and texture of the bass you have.

    Even though I use fuzz and wah to color when I'm "jamming", I always practice with no FX. Just me and the amp....