Touch Sensitive Bass Overdrive (a-la "Sun King")

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by A Trap Onion, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. A Trap Onion

    A Trap Onion Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    Hello again.

    Over a month ago, I posted here for help in finding a fuzz pedal that could cop the fuzz bass tone on "Mean Mr. Mustard". After spending a fair amount of money on different pedals, I ultimately decided that one I already had—the DOD FX52—was the closest match.

    In that process, I came across a video that features the isolated bass for the entire ‘Abbey Road’ medley (presumably from the Beatles Rock Band stems). It's absolutely glorious. It's also revealing in how dirty the tone is, even on the stuff I had always thought was immaculately clean. I would guess it's the natural tube overdrive of either McCartney's amp or the EMI recording console.

    That is to say it's very touch sensitive-sounding. And nowhere is this more prominent than on "Sun King", where the bass goes from slightly gritty to really overdriven (but not quite fuzz) when the chorus kicks in. "You Never Give Me Your Money" also has a nice bite to it.

    So that's the kind of thing I'm looking for in an overdrive pedal: touch sensitivity that, with the pedal engaged, can go from my normal tone to an overdriven sound depending on how hard I dig in.

    I've seen a ton of threads on this, where the Catalinbread SFT and Fairfield Barbershop are both recommended. But I also saw good things about the Pigtronix Fat Drive and Pigtronix Bass Fat Drive, not to mention the Ibanez Bass Tube Screaner. Those three are all considerably cheaper so I'm wondering if anyone can attest to their touch sensitivity as compared to the isolated bass in the ‘Abbey Road’ medley.

    And can anyone speak to the differences between the Fat Drive and the Bass Fat Drive? It seems like people liked the original Fat Drive just fine for bass. It can be purchased for much cheaper than the Bass Fat Drive, so I'm just curious.

    Things to consider if you're going to recommend a different pedal altogether: I'm trying to spend less than $100 and I'm not interested in messing around with any funky adaptors / high current draw (i.e. English Muff'n).

    As always, I'm in debt to you all! Thanks.

    P.S. I'm not in a Beatles tribute band—I'm just a freak.

    ICM likes this.
  2. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Firstly, if you want that bass will need a Hofner bass for his early work or a Rick for Abbey Road and later. Both are hard to emulate as they have their own tone. Either way, you need a set of flats on. Then you can look at the rest of the tone. Personally, I would avoid a Tube Screamer, it's tuned for guitar specifically and has a nasty bass cut and a huge mid bump. It's part of the circuit design so it can't be dialled out without a soldering iron. If you are after a 60's vintage tone, then choose a cab that doesn't have a tweeter or at least turn down the treble somewhat.
    Pedal wise, the Catalinbread SFT is a great Ampeg emulator (I have one myself) but people get mixed results depending on their bass' gain. Again use the treble to roll off the high end and don't push the pedal into fuzz, it gets quite gnarly. Tonally it's quite coloured and changes your tone somewhat. That may or may not work for you.
    The Barbershop is a really nice light and transparent Overdrive. It gets a lot of love for good reason, it's a very good tubey sounding overdrive. But it's best at adding a bit of grit and keeping your tone intact, what goes in comes out but with grit.
    With all dirt, it's very subjective and very dependant on everything from your playing, bass, amp, cab...even your strings! So my advise is to try a few out in a good bass orientated store, otherwise you will be guessing and buying and doing a lot of selling until you get what you are looking for.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    ICM, Aaaarroonn and Jeff O'Connor like this.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    You mentioned some good pedals for sure, but for me, the most touch sensitive OD I've ever used by far is the Ampeg Scrambler. Not just saying that because I endorse them, either. They couldn't care less whether I use their pedals or not.
    ICM, Aaaarroonn and GMC like this.
  4. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Yes, Barbershop is a great pedal once you've figured it out.
    Really touch sensitive. Maybe try the 4 eyes fuzz too, as that too can go light and is touch sensitive as well. It is really quite versatile and a great pedal-once you've figured it out.
    Aaaarroonn likes this.
  5. A Trap Onion

    A Trap Onion Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    Thanks, everyone.

    I should have mentioned that I'm fully aware of Macca's equipment / style / unattainable EMI consoles, all that. I get extremely close with my short scale basses strung up with flats. So I go into these quests with what I think is a good tone to build off of. The only thing I'm missing is the tube overdrive that's crucial to his sound, as I play solid state.

    @GMC just to be clear, it's the bass tube screamer that's on my short list, not the regular one.

    @JimmyM are you referring to the original Scrambler or the reissue? Because the reissue is very affordable and if that can do the touch sensitive thing, I'm definitely going to go for it.

    @cnltb I was unaware of the Four Eyes. Interesting. Unfortunately, so far I've yet to come across a YouTube video of a Fairfield pedal used with bass that has been appealing to me. And the Barbershop is so expensive, I don't want to take the gamble. I'd rather get the SFT if I was going to spend over $100.

    Still looking for some testimonials of the Fat Drive / Bass Fat Drive / Bass Tube Screamer / any other touch sensitive overdrive pedals under $100. Thanks!
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I promise I'm not trying to poo poo what you're looking for. But when the grit really kicks in at around 5:45 I think there are other factors involved. I don't think they kept all settings exactly the same and that amount of increase in dirt is just from hitting it harder. They increased gain or something. I am not familiar with the switches and whatnot on the Hofner. He may have even switched pickups or made some other sort of adjustment. But that's not just "touch sensitivity" in my view. (By the way, I'm with you. I didn't realize how dirty his tone got on these recording. That's some good dirt.)

    That being said, I'll throw you a curve ball. You need some glass to get that tone. I own an EHX BlackFinger. It is designed as a compressor. But if you crank up the gain on the front end, it will get dirty. Tube rolling makes a huge difference. You can find them relatively cheap.

    What really makes this work is that you can compress it a little on the back end, AND adjust the output, so that you get that grit without a huge jump in volume.

    The only downside is the AC power it requires. I had to get the CIOKS AC10 to make it work with the rest of my board.
    Aaaarroonn likes this.
  7. dlb1001


    Jan 30, 2007
    Just as a side note, from what I found on the Web, Abbey Road was one of the first recordings done on a solid state board. According to Guitar World, Studio Two had just been upgraded with a solid state board; the article said that the new board was TG12345 but I'm not sure if EMI, itself, built it or contracted another company to do the work, per EMI's spec.
    Aaaarroonn likes this.
  8. dlb1001


    Jan 30, 2007
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  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    New one. The old one is more of a fuzz.
    Aaaarroonn likes this.
  10. danielfbl


    Jan 2, 2006
    Look for an used hudson electronics broadcast. It will be over your initial budget, but it should get you there.
    A Trap Onion likes this.
  11. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Perfect candidate for a Smallsound/bigsound mini. The voltage starve can get you that type of farty OD.
    A Trap Onion likes this.
  12. Coughdrops

    Coughdrops Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    South Florida
    I know I mentioned both the Mini and Broadcast in your other thread and agree that they also apply here in a lower gain setting. The other I'd add is the Wren and Cuff Suppa Phat Phuk. Sort of reminds me of the lower gain side of the Broadcast, though it it isn't modeled on a console per se.
    A Trap Onion likes this.
  13. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    There's a bunch that fit your needs...

    The SFT and barbershop didn't do it for me. The Bearfoot Blueberry Bass OD was better, but I still wanted less gain. If you just turn down the volume on your bass to manage the gain, that works too, but still not what i ultimately was lolling for.

    I've been super happy with my BJFE blueberry clone that i made. I made some changes to lower the gain so that I have essentially no drive when it's at minimum, but it gets nice and very overdriven when drive is set higher. I love it.
    A Trap Onion likes this.
  14. spufman


    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The old HAO Sole Pressure is perfect for that kind of stuff, at least to my ears. Long out of production but reasonably priced. Its intent was to mimic an old Bassman and I think it succeeds.
    A Trap Onion likes this.
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