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which bass synth?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by swankfrank6, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. swankfrank6


    Feb 5, 2008
    Electro-Harmonix XO Bass Microsynth


    Boss SYB-5 ?

    all i really want out of these pedals is a square wave that i can mess with.
    or is there something else out there that is even better?
  2. brandau


    Jan 30, 2008
    The korg g5 has some nice square waves and a lot of other useful sounds. If you can find one get it.
  3. swankfrank6


    Feb 5, 2008
    but turns out i have $200 free dollars at musiciansfriend, so it'd have to be from there.
  4. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    I have a SYB-5, and I'd say go for the EHX. Tracking in the SYB, in my experience at least, is rather poor.

    That said, I wouldn't buy the EHX BMS for myself, either. Don't like the bunch of easy-to-move sliders and whatnot.
  5. Let me start by saying that I own and absolutely love the BMS. However, its "square wave" slider is not what you think it is. It's basically just a distortion, not a true square wave signal. It pains me to say this, but if you just want a pure square wave signal output, the boss may be the better way to go here. The BMS's strong points really are tbe attack delay and the filter section.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The Behringer knockoff sounds and tracks better than the true SYB-5.
    If you can deal with the flimsy construction, give it a try.
  7. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    If you want a square wave don't get the BMS, but the BMS is a great unit.

    There aren't a lot of choices out there for a square wave. The Boss pedal is about your only choice, really, or the Moog MF-107 but that's weird. The sawtooth on the Korg G5 is brilliant, if you can cope with spending that much money for one good (but very good, and with flawless tracking) sound.
  8. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    I found the trick with the SYB-3 was to roll your tone off & favour the neck pickup if you have one - this cuts down string noise & emphasises the fundamental. Run a compressor before the synth to get the optimum input level & enhance the sustain. The SYB-5 supposedly tracks a little better.

    I've been thinking a little bit about octavers & synths lately (been reading one of Craig Anderton's books from the early 80s) and it occurs to me that you could maybe mod an analogue octave down to make the filtering variable. This is done to some extent with the Guyatone Micro octaver, but there's only 3 settings.

    If you can take the low-pass filtering out of something like a Boss OC-2, then bam: there's your square wave synthesis with the full range of harmonic content. Add a variable resonant filter after that, and you'd definitely have something to play with.

    Anyhow - just thinking out aloud here, I've only just started getting into this stuff.

  9. swankfrank6


    Feb 5, 2008
    hmm all good info. thanks guys.

    i played on the boss unit and it was as close as i've heard to what im looking for.
    i guess to get the ultimate synth pedal is to buy an actual synth. but oh well.
    im also looking for one that isn't too expensive.
  10. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    yea, the one thing I don't like on the SYB-5, apart from the wacky tracking (I still have to try it with the tone rolled off... just might work better :) ) is the fact that every mode has a sort-of-auto-wah sound that goes off on every attack. I'd love the ability to disable that and just use the synth-ed fundamental, which does sound quite nice. Do you guys know/think that this functionality could even be modded into the pedal?
  11. If you set the decay knob to max in any mode other than 3 or 6, the filter will not sweep. Then just turn the freq knob all the way to max and res all the way down, and it should not filter out any frequencies (assuming the filter is a low-pass; I could be wrong about that). That is as close to a pure waveform as you're gonna get on the syb
  12. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but here's my experience:

    While it will not sweep with the decay on max, the sound gets very distorted (actually, it sounds like it's sweeping extremely fast instead of not sweeping)... on mode 10, which has no problem tracking anything, it actually amounts to an extremely noisy fuzz-type distortion.

    On mode 11, the decay on max will pretty much mute the sound (on the other hand, mode 11 with the decay at 3 o'clock is probably my favorite setting... almost, but not quite, like a delayed attack.)
  13. Ah, I think that's because modes 10 and 11 are not synth modes at all, they are up and down envelope filters. That is why they're not working like you want. Try that on modes 1,2,4,5,7 and 8.
  14. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    Actually, I've just tried your suggestions. I had already tested the synth modes with decay at max, didn't like the results much. Hadn't tried them with res on min and freq on max, tho, and the results this time were actually nice. Thanks for the tips!

    The tracking, however, is another thing... even with the tone on minimum, the pedal tends to give me wobbly sounds (when using synth modes) on anything lower than an F (on E string), or higher than a D (on G string). I tried setting the onboard preamp on active and on passive, cranking only the bass or only the treble, playing with only the bridge or only the neck preamp, and everything in between... It just insists on crapping out, or worse yet, playing out the wrong octave. Trying to play alternating octaves is especially futile... The best I can do on these synth modes is to play very firm, long, notes - which don't quite fit in my band's style much.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate the SYB (well, I go through phases of love/hate with it). I can actually get some *very* nice trippy ambient sounds for song intros, especially combined with my other pedals (wah, od and fuzz). By kneeling down and messing with the controls, I can get anything from synth-helicopter to synth-sandstorm. I just haven't been able to find a more musical use for it, basically due to its poor tracking. In fact, I've been more successful playing synthy bass on songs by using the Bass Big Muff at a low sustain rate than with the SYB itself.

    [edit] you know what... I just experimented with something I hadn't tried before, and it seems to have helped tracking a fair bit. I rolled off the tone, as suggested, and tried playing with a pick. Now, with the pick, and playing < ve.-ry.-sta.-ca.-tto. > the tracking hasn't failed as much. Now I still don't see how that would be useful in a live music situation, but it's helping me understand the pedal better. I just may have pulled out from a hate-phase back to a love-phase with this pedal, hahah... [edit]
  15. If it were my money, I would go for the boss.
  16. Kipaste


    Jun 27, 2006
    Helsinki, Finland
    If it were my money, I'd save up a bit more and try to find a used akai deep impact. Sure it's a lot more expensive, but it's definately worth the money. Of course none of this is helpful if you have to buy from musiciansfriend. Find someone who wants something from mf and and order it for him in exchange for cash?

    I'm a big synth bass fan, and the boss pedal just makes me angry for what it could be but just isn't. I've never actually used it for anything else than just noodling aroud, I've never found a sound so good I'd wan't to use it for recording, I get better synth sounds from a combination of big muff and autowah, which isn't that great either. A friend of mine has a deep impact and it's from a completely differend planet.
  17. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Takfar: most of what you described is the reason I now have a Novation A-Station, a DX21 and/or M-Audio Oxygen 8 to drive it & some DIY MIDI pedals for when I want to play bass at the same time.

    That being said, I'm still keen to try what I described with an octave pedal generating a full-spectrum square wave. Run something like a Moog MF-101 after that and you've pretty much got a mono synth.

    Which reminds me: at least one person on the web is using a basic sine-wave generating synth to feed an SYB-3 or -5 pedal. In his case, it was from a cheap Taurus wannabe. I hooked up a cheap Casio keyboard to my SYB-3 when I still had it, and found tracking of basic synth tones was excellent. Just a shame there's no portamento!

  18. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    Well. Yea... Given that my band plays heavy contemporary rock (along the lines of Muse and Placebo, up to Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes), with maybe a few dance-rock undertones, full-on synth sound is far from my first priority, and it really makes no sense spending too much on synth equipment.

    For the time being, I'll stick to using my Bass Big Muff plus an Ibanez WD7 Wah (maybe add a micro pog down the line) to simulate synthy tones.

    Meanwhile, the SYB-5 remains in use for trippy show intros and whatever prog-rock tirades I can manage to insert in our own songs, once we start recording them. I believe the SYB excels in that regard: you use the hold function, kneel down, mess around with controls in the SYB and in other connected pedals, and you can get some very unique sounds out of it.
  19. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    It's been mentioned before, but this clip shows off the SYB-5 quite nicely, particularly the 3rd section.

    I found it again today while trying to find clips of the Behringer copy.

  20. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    Keep in mind he's using an expression pedal on section #3. You can't get those results off the SYB alone.

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