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Thickening up the bass

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by seanm, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I am in a trio and would like to thicken up the bass sound, especially during the guitar solos. I am interested in how other people handle this. The only effect I have right now is a PhatHead that I use for Song 2 by Blur.
  2. Find yourself a good octaver or harmonizer pedal that can double your bass an octave below or above. Boss PS-5 Supershifter is decent, Digitech Bass Synth Wah on the Sub setting does it really well (one octave down) or you can get a Whammy pedal that harmonizes at all sorts of intervals.

    Or you can kick in a subtle reverb or chorus to change the bass character, or maybe even a really quiet delay to add some space.

    Or get an Akai Unibass who's sole purpose is to simulate a rhythm guitar playing over the original bass track.
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I have a Boss ODB-3 distortion. It has a 'blend' control, so you can set up a nasty-ol' disssssttttortion in the 'background' of your normal bass sound. That works well when the only guitarist in a 3-piece drops out of the rhythm part to play a lead (like my band -- it's nice dividing-up the money only three ways, huh? Uh.. in our case that's usually only $100 for each of us, but...).

    BUT! If I were to answer based on your term "thicken up the bass sound", I'd say "compressor". I use a Boss Compression Sustainer FULL time with my 140W rig, and I don't mean 'limiter', so that little thing probably runs at 139W whenever that Peavy bass is making any sound at all! You sure have to mute the strings carefully when you're running that much compression, though - I have two scrunchies waiting up there on the headstock for when I use the distortion AND the compressor!

    Thick, Man!

  4. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    When my guitar player goes into a solo (we're a 3 piece, plus a singer) I'll augment my playing by playing octaves or simple diad chords. This tends to fill in the gap a bit more and won't cost you a dime (it might make you reinvent some of your techniques, but hey that's a good thing right?)
  5. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    +1 on the Unibass, especially when used with a chorus and some extra OD. Deadly combo!
  6. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Great suggestions so far, keep'em comin'!

    About the Unibass: I have been wanting one of these for a while. Very hard to find.

    Mo'Phat: I have never understood why you would want one octave down. :confused: Wouldn't you want an octave up to mimic the missing rhythm guitarist?

    silky smoove: I am still working on the basics, so I am trying to "buy" my way out of the problem :p But I will keep your suggestions in mind since in the long run I do not want to be a slave to any effects pedal.
  7. The title of the thread was Thickening up the Bass, so in addition to the others I suggested, I offered the octave down suggestion because there really is no better effect for thickening bass then a -1 octave harmony...except for a -2 octave harmony, with a fuzz, heavy reverb and chorus on it. :bassist:

    Anyway, a lot of players (including me) will kick on a -1 octave to bass for the specific purpose of filling a room when the other instruments drop out.

    ps. Just my opinion, but a +1 octave on bass has near Zero resemblance to a rhythm guitar strumming chords...it sounds like a bass, 12 frets up.
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the info. I have never tried an octave down or up. I was thinking that an octave down would be muddy .... then I realized that that is the point..... to thicken the sound with the "normal" notes holding the bass line.
  9. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    I'm tempted to try the $20 ARION octave pedal over at Musician's Friend, even though it's a super el cheapo made for piccolo bass...

    What about playing the part 1 octave higher than usual when the -1 octave effect is on?