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Unable to achieve decent distortion

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by lemmenkainen, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. My current rig: Warwick Thumb 4 string - Ampeg 410-SVT HE- Peavey 410 Tour- GK 1001RB2

    My current setup comes from kind of being a musical mercenary and trying a bunch of things I could get my hands on. I can't seem to achieve a decent level of distortion and growl without my cabinets farting out. Mind you the peavey is rated for 1600 watts and the ampeg for 800 and yet as I begin to add distortion it seems I can never get to an aggressive low-mid range growl without killing something.
    It could be the head room in my amp (which also has the 14db pad on at all times to compensate for the preamp in my thumb)
    It could be certain frequencies kill my amps
    It could also be that passive basses seem to just distort better through all types of amplification. No matter what pedals I use (tech 21 rackmount, digitech bass driver, fulltone, etc) it farts out with my thumb.
    ... and yes my battery is fine in my bass before you ask.

    Any suggestions on how to achieve a distortion in the vein of Chevelle This Type of Thinking or Tool 10,000 days without killing my cabinets?
    Should I go for a tube/different head? Different Bass? Better cabinets (I've heard mesa boogie's are fantastic... but also are fantastically expensive)
  2. Bish42


    Dec 26, 2001
    I'm sure there was another thread here in the last day or so stating that you can't fry a speaker from clipping alone. So unless there's something I'm missing, you must be putting too much power through it in one way or another.
  3. gillento


    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    I had the same experience with my Thumb 5BO many moons ago.

    IMO it hasn't got anything to do with active vs. passive basses. My active Sadowskys (and before that Sandberg, Laklands, etc) sound fine with overdrive/distortion pedals.

    I think AlNiCo loaded PUs (simplified: Vintage style) sound better (warmer, fuller, more dynamic) with all kinds of OD and distortion.
    They just react better to playing dynamics as opposed to ceramic loaded PUs (which are stock in many "modern" basses, incl. your W)
  4. Essen

    Essen Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Gain up = turn volume down.
    Also, are you using tweeters while using distorion?
  5. Gasman

    Gasman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    South Carolina
    I guess I'm confused as to what exactly you mean by "farting out". Is it loss of low end? Loss of volume? Also, as for JC's tone, you should be able to get close to that with a thumb, but realize that he uses multiple heads- clean and dirty, as well as a GEB-7 to keep his low end. If you are experiencing loss of low end, try adding a blend pedal. I recently bought an Xotic blender pedal and it's incredible- I can dial in the amount of grit I want and keep most of my low end.
  6. +1 Pulling back the volume will soften the clipping at the pedal/ head.

    It is possible that your thumb is outputting too much voltage for some of your pedals and your rack stuff just doesn't have the right distortion for you.

    A lot of distortion in normal operation can sound like farting. Some will like what others call farting. I've had a BDDI and an Acoustic DI from Tech 21 and both sounded kinda like farting to me at different settings, but other people love those things.
  7. Gasman

    Gasman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    South Carolina
    Increasing the gain alone will produce an overdrive sound, but he is playing a GK- the sound of SS overdrive is not the same as tube OD, and is very harsh IMO. If you are saying to just turn the volume down, I agree with that, though. Also agree with trimming tweeters
  8. jpTron


    Apr 19, 2010
    I get good distortion with my Thumb 5 through a VT bass so I don't see why you couldn't. So it's prob something else in your chain
  9. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Inactive

    Nov 8, 2007
    A lot of people use GK (and warwicks, for that matter) for their grind and growl. Usually its the 800RB/700RB used for that, though, and not the 1001.

    In fact, I'm pretty sure there's close to a thousand posts in the amps forum about the GK growl and how to get it. Might want to do a search.
  10. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    I blew out a Peavey 2/10 Tour cab. Thought it was 700 w, but they list Peak, not RMS, so it was actually 350 w. I put Celestion standard Deltas in it and now it Really Is 700 w and so far no problems. It's much louder too. Just out of balance with the extra weight inside...
  11. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    I don't like the sound of active basses or solid state heads with overdrive. You might not like that sound either.

    But, your problem is more than likely that you're using tweeters. It is MANDATORY to turn tweeters off when using overdrive. Not everyone who's tried overdrive with tweeters has experienced the nasty fart tone that will result from that combination, but it has been the case with every single tweeter loaded cab that I've played that the problem manifests with time.
  12. Of all my basses, passive jazz included, I like how my Thumb works with distortion the most. I'm a big fan of the Tech 21 BDDI and recently the Tech 21 GT-2 as well. Perhaps it's how you've EQ'd the distortion or your clean sound?
  13. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Are you using both 410's at the same time? Two different brand 410's put together usually spell "disaster" in the tone department. You are better off picking the one you like more and getting an identical one. It very well could be that the cabs are canceling certain frequencies out - which is why is sounds so weird to your ears.

    Are you trying to get distortion out of the GK setup only? Or are you referencing that you have tried many different effect pedals and are not satisfied?

    What are your GK EQ settings?
  14. Podgorny


    May 1, 2009
    Nashville, TN

    Those sorts of sounds do NOT come from passive basses. And some active basses (such as Stingrays) distort really well.

    I suggest you start with trying another bass. Thumbs are great playing basses, but sound-wise are more along the lines of 311 and Mudvayne. A Spector or the aforementioned Stingray will be better suited to the kind of clarity and grind you seem to be looking for.
  15. My active Ibanez ATK sounds rockin' with distortion
  16. tomhanzo


    Apr 20, 2008
    West Virginia
    That's what I'm thinking.

    I have a Squire VM Precision that has the big humbucker in it. If i have the volume all the way up and the tone rolled off, it will make some dirt pedals just fart and blur my notes together.

    I suggest cutting some low mids out before your dirt pedals. If your just using your heads for dirt i would say turn the pregain down and the volume up.
  17. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    AZ, USA
    My Thumb BO gave me an OD/distortion tone to die for. Is yours NT? Then, I guess you can adjust the preamp gain via a small screw or two in the back compartment. I'd cut the Thumb's output.
  18. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
  19. sanfordandsonny


    Nov 15, 2006
    El Presidente of Sanford and Sonny Audio Weapons (Bluebeard Fuzz)
    +1 on the sansamp GT2 there is a wide variety of tones there.
  20. What are your settings on the GK first?

    I run a Thumb NT5 into mine without the 14db pad on and its fine. Just make sure the Input gain is at around 9 oclock, any higher and you start getting distortion. Use the Woofer then to get the volume you need...I get a great tone clean like that, and then add an Xotic BB preamp for Tool style grit, and a T-Rex Bass Juice for distortion and fuzz.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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