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What are the "Names" of the effects sounds?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by phlybass, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. phlybass


    Dec 18, 2003
    Hi to all.

    I'm a newbie to this side of the forum. I usually hang out over in the DB side. I've been playing mostly An EUB in small jazz settings but now need to do some slab playing in the local college big band on some funk and Steely Dan stuff.

    I'm an old guy, 65, who still thinks, listens, and feels young. I played slab throughout the 50's in New Orleans doing Dixieland, the beginnings of R&B, and some modern and big band jazz, but I wasn't playing music during the time when all the different effects and sounds were brought out and didn't learn to identify a "Sound" with the name of the effect used. What do "crunch, overdrive, fuzz, etc." actually sound like on a recording or sound sample?

    I could really use sort of a list of the name of a "Sound" and the actual recording or sound sample that goes with it. I've checked out the newbie links and couldn't find what I needed. There may be something out there on a web site somewhere, and definitely in the knowledge bank of the forum members.

    I'll appreciate any help you all can offer.

    Thanks in advance, Alex (aka phlybass)
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Alex - I expect and hope you will find much respect on this side of the board..........you and others in their 60's "lead the way", IMO. If it weren't for people such as you, we'd all be dinking around making nonsense on synthesizers.

    My suggestion is to get out to a local music store an try out a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver. When you turn up the "Drive" control, you will get mucho bass distortion but not like a fuzz unit at all.
    Moreover, it will give you the "soft peaks" of dynamics like a good old tube amp or it can give you the dynamics of "sharp peaks" like a solid state amp, depending on your preference. And guys at the soundboard love them if you choose to go straight into the mains instead of using an onstage amp. In short, it's the the best $190 I ever spent.

    If you want to hear some serious "crunch " and "overdrive", I suggest you listen to some Audioslave and SlipKnot. You may not like the music but the bass is definitely - "over the top."

    And, hell - I ain't no spring rooster either!!!!
  3. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    A lot of the terms "crunch" "fuzz" and "overdrive" are just various levels of "distortion"....to be technical, a Distortion is a square wave....

    Distortion can go from mild overdrive (the sound of some basses on 60's rock albums) which is just a slightly rougher sound then a clean sound. You can get this effect easily by turning up a small bass amp to full blast...

    Overdriving the tubes on an amp will also provide a real warm sounding version of "overdrive"

    "Fuzz" is just a heavier amount of distortion, mostly used by guitarists, but as one poster mentioned, there are bands like audioslave that use a heavy amount of fuzz on the bass..

    Some other effects and what they sound like:

    Chorus: Basically, the tone is split into two signals, and one signal is pitched shifted a tiny bit. This is similar to the effect a mandolin or 12 string guitar makes with the double courses of strings..the slight difference in the two pitches makes a shimmering, warbly type of sound...very good for frettless elec bass..

    Flanger: similar to chorus, but actually named for the old method of running two identical 1/2 tapes reel tapes, playing them both simultaneously, while holding a finger on the "flange" of one on them...this creates a sound like a chorus, but with more of a "jet-like" effect...

    Delay/echo:...exactly like standing on the rim of a canyon and yelling..

    Reverb: Various reflective effects, simulating being in a bathroom, or rooms of various sizes.

    Wah-wah: A pedal that simulates the sound of a trumpet or trombone plunger being used..looks like a gas pedal on a car..

    Envelope filter/follower: an automatic version of the wah-wah, based on your playing dynamics..used on many 70's funk tunes..

    EQ: a tone box with sliders letting you fine-tune bass, midrange and treble frequencies

    Compressor: a unit that allows you to make the loudest notes and the softest notes closer together in volume..eliminates large spikes in volume...

    anyway, those are the main effects being used today, and all other devices are usually offshoots of the main ones I just listed.

    Hope that helps!
  4. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    If you're thinking of acquiring one of these effects, you might want to go with ones that are made for bass. A lot of guitar effects - especially distortion pedals - sound pretty awful on bass.

    Hey - you're just looking at stuff like this to fool around with for 'special effects', right? I mean we might remind you that plenty of bass guitarist don't use any 'effects'. I'd say if there was one that you might want - especially considering that you're predominantly a DB'er - it would be a chorus - these can sound rich and dreamy, but doesn't appreciable change the character of your bass sound. Else if you're thinking of doing some classic-sounding funk, those auto-wahs (envelope follower) sound pretty cool, and I believe some of them you can turn way down for a subtle 'talking' effect (it'll sound like it's saying bow-bow-wow-ba or something).

    Fuzzes and distortions are generally pretty radical-sounding, and often rather harsh and dissonant. Generally 'overdrive' is a lighter kind of distortion; it'll tend to not sound 'buzzy', and can be so light that it's really just sort of a bit of a mushy-ish warmth. The term 'crunch' I believe is usually used for a clipping-type of distortion (as opposed to more of a 'harmonic distortion', like light overdrive) that doesn't appreciably increase sustain - it's sort of mainly appearent on the attack part of a note, then it quickly turns into more of a warmer, cleaner 'overdrive'. A 'distortion' usually refers to a definately clipped sound, but usually there's filtering and shaping circuitry to make it sound more like 'tube distortion' (vacuum tubes are recognized as being able to create a more musical-sounding distortion). Fuzz is usually characterized by not having this smoother filtering, and is generally pretty-much a very harsh, buzzy square wave.

    Hey -- didn't anyone mention a phaser? They're not used so much now days, but they're like a light flange - they're not as 'Jet plane' sounding as a flanger, and are more vowely; a little like a light wah.

  5. phlybass


    Dec 18, 2003
    Thanks to all of you who responded to my post. Each answer approached the questions from a slightly different angle, which was very helpful.

    I'll try to find a SansAmp device to try out... probably have to drive to Albuquerque since there's only one very poor music store here in Farmington now.

    The links will be very helpful also, and if anyone has info on the effect chains used on specific commercial recordings, that would also help imprint it on my mind.

    Thanks again for all of your replies. The Forum is a fantastic resource and you guys are great!!!

    Regards, Alex (aka phlybass)
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Depending on the price of gas these days, Alex, it might be cheaper to order one from Bass Northwest in Seattle and ship it back for a full refund if it's not what floats your boat.

    I have no idea of how far it is from where you live to Albuquerque.

    But the unit is something I can't leave at home..........it makes all the difference in the world for my tone.
  7. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    I agree that the sansamp is a wonderful sounding box, but would love to have the option of being able to turn off the drive (distortion) with a foot button. The MXR has a similar unit that does it.

    With the sansamp, you can expect to really have to use the volume and balance controls when switching it on or off, and with it on, you get a very scooped (midrange cut)midrange.

    The sansamp is a great overdrive sound, that's for sure, but it is mostly a direct box and amp simulator, with overdrive thrown in.

    Something you might want to look at would be the line 6 bass podxt or bass pod rack mount pro.....lots of great effects, but you do need to get the footswitch with it, or you will need a free hand to switch sounds during a song!

    If I was going to get another sansamp, I would try and get the sansamp rackmount, because it has the midrange frequency knob that the regular sansamp Bass driver does not.
  8. suicas


    Mar 12, 2004
    Another suggestion on something to help you get a feel for what sound is what, either:
    1) Buy the cheapest bass/guitar multi-effects unit you can find. It will probably cost the same as one decent quality single effect, but should let you get a good feel of how each effect sounds, how each responds to your playing, and how each sounds on bass.

    2) If you've got a PC handy at home, have a look around for some cheap software that lets you apply effects to sound. I've got Cubase installed at home, and it will happily apply its built-in effects to my sound as I play bass through it. Useful for playing around with things like ring modulators which I could never justify spending money on a pedal for :)

    Once you've done this and worked out what sound you're after, you can then look into getting a unit that actually sounds good!