What's the Difference - Guitar/Bass Distortion

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by mcdermott.rober, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. Is there a difference between guitar and bass distorion pedals?

    I'm considering trying to add some fuzz to the bass during the solo on "Smooth Criminal" to fill the space, but I don't want to spend the $ on a bass pedal if I can just use one of the guitar ones I have.

    Just curious.
  2. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    there isnt a huge difference. generally speaking, guitar pedals are designed to work with the frequency range of a guitar. this is not to say that you can't use them with your bass. you would be hard pressed to find someone who exclusively uses 'bass pedals.' you can do mods on pedals to make them more suited to the bass. or you can just live with the amount of bass frequency you lose with the pedal. better yet, you can EQ it back up to a good level later in your chain.
    you won't hurt anything by using your guitar pedals. just play around with them until you find a sound you like.
  3. Certain guitar-oriented pedals are fairly bass-friendly. Big Muffs and Tube Screamers and their respective clones are often used by bassists. What distortion pedals do you have?
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    First, read the FAQ.

    Second, you already have "guitar" pedals and you're asking us whether they'll give you the sound you want? How 'bout you play through them and find out? :)

  5. I did. It was a short response, that said what I expected to hear. I was also interested in further comment from the community on personal experience/preference and any tips that could be offered on the use of guitar pedals. I did receive some of that by the way (thank you bassman1185 & paganjack). I asked the question in simple form, assuming people would embellish as they felt they could add value.

    I'm not looking to waste anyone's time, but your point is well taken, next time I'll be more specific in my question that I am looking for information that goes beyond the FAQ.

    Because I'm sitting at my desk on my lunch hour wondering if it is worthwhile exercise to hook up the pedal when I get home. I figured if people didn't want to help me out by entertaining my question now, when I can just test it out later, they just wouldn't respond. I do plan on experimenting with the pedals when I have the chance.

  6. Qvist


    Jul 20, 2007
    Hmm, I use a boss OS-2 distortion/overdrive pedal and I always lose alot of the low-end when it's on, to the point where im inaudible when playing with distortion guitars. Can I EQ low-end into the signal somehow?
  7. Boss SUPER OverDrive SD-1 Pedal
  8. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    The SD-1 sounds pretty solid IMO. I think you'll be fairly pleased with it on your bass. I've got one that I use sometimes, although I did the Monte Allums GT mod on it [makes a nice improvement, and was pretty fun to do]. It definitely sucks a little bass tone out- less when the tone knob is around 8 o'clock, but generally sounds good enough to add some grit to your tone if that is what you're looking for.
    I also use a behringer VT999 that sounds pretty good to my ears even though there's a lot of behringer hate around. It can add either a little tube warmth to my SS setup, to a pretty nice smooth fuzz [plus it was cheap]. and running them together with both gains cranked= chainsaw.
  9. I haven't used the SD-1 personally, but I seem to remember a TBer who did use it. I would guess that it will kill some of your low end, but if you're just using it as a solo piece, you might be ok. It's worth a shot, but keep in mind that what sounds good at home will not sound the same with a band. I would say try to find a tone that you like, and then give it a whirl at practice.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    An EQ can help sometimes, by boosting the low mids. But an EQ can't "put back" the frequencies that have been rolled off too much. If you want true clean lows back in the sound, a blender loop is what you need. Search here on "blender" for examples; Xotic, Barge, and Radial are some popular brands.
  11. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Hamilton Beach is another good blender brand. My mom used to make milkshakes with hers. MMM, tasty.
  12. Yes, bass disto pedals have the word "Bass" in prominent letters on them, and the retail price is 150% of the equivalent guitar-oriented pedal.

    The reality is that there's often very little difference, yet some are significantly different - ultimately there are no "standard" differences.

    If your gui**** pedals sound good to you, then save your money for something else!
  13. Qvist


    Jul 20, 2007
    All right, will do :) thanks bongomania!
  14. iualum


    Apr 9, 2004
    ...I have many distortion & fuzz boxes, only a couple specifically for bass...the bass ones sound excellent, but the non-bass-specific pedals sound great, too, different, but no less good...
  15. I've played my Fender Jazz (through a Fender bassman head and a 15" Trace Elliot) with a guitar fuzz pedal -- it was a cheap Boss overdrive, I think. It worked fine -- it did kind of "color" the tone a bit. Made it brighter, toppy. But it worked in the context of the song ("Christian Says" by Tones on Tail).
  16. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    I use a Boss MetalZone MT-2. It doesn't work perfectly but in some cases it makes a nice sound, if the drive isn't fully turned.
    So I use it as my low-gain effect, when a certain interlude, intro or solo calls for it. It takes away the low end wich sometimes can be fun. Not for long though, after playing around, it's back to non-distorted bass sound.

    So if they don't seem to work at first (your guitar pedals) try to find something interesting to do with it. Like someone said before in this thread: no harm done experimenting with them.

    I used to loan a Ibanez Seventh heaven from a friend. It sounded awesome on bass,.... untill I hitted 2 strings at the same time. Then all went muddy.
  17. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    As Bongo said, you really need to blend the effected and direct signal to retain low end thump. This is where practically all guitar pedals fall over, whereas most decent bass specific distortion pedals will have a blend knob (there are exceptions I know, like the ebs multidrive).

    It also depends on where in the frequency you like your dirt. Personally I like it in the midrange. Not keen on fuzzy lows or fizzy highs. Mid range smooth growl is where it's at for me.

    If it wasn't for the fact I don't like fuzz type distortion I would def look at the MXR Blowtorch and the new Ashdown James LoMenzo pedal. Both over what I would call the essential bass distortion controls (blend, eq, boost etc). I just don't like fuzz, but they may work great for you.

    Curiously as mentioned elsewhere, my favourite bass distortion tones are (orginal) Marshall Guv'nor and RAT type tones. Both guitar pedals. Would be perfect with a blend knob. (Hmmm just looked at Pro Co's website, the Juggernaut Bass RAT is blendable, oh dear, more money!)