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Why so much re distortion?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by blipndub, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. I know there are times when a little growl is what the song calls for but it seems to be something everyone is consumed with . I seem spend lots of time and money trying to avoid distortion in my sound.

    I was just wondering if I was missing something - Why all the talk about overdrive and distortion pedals? Can someone enlighten me?

    When do you use distortion/overdrive, like what kind of musical settings/songs?

    Good distorted bass IMO
    Geddy Lee (I think that's his secret)
    Jason Lowenstien (Sebedoh)
    Yo La Tango guy
  2. I usually use it to contrast something, IE soft guitars, soft drums. or i use it when the song is REALLY hard, IE like industrial

    edit: i'm gonna be keeping an eye on this thread...
  3. rockbassist1087

    rockbassist1087 Guest

    Nov 29, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    Yea I'm blipndub on this one. I too spend money and lots of time tweaking my amp and EQ to avoid distortion and unwanted noise. But, then again I do see a use for some growl or a slight edge.
  4. some funk players use a lot of envelope filter
    some rock players use a lot of distortion
    no big deal. it comes up a lot, because there are many different distortion tones, and it can be hard to find the one you're looking for. long story short, you get your tone, i'll get mine, everyone's happy.
  5. oh yeah totally, i'm not saying it's a bad thing, just curious
  6. NioeZero


    Sep 2, 2001
    Personally, I use distortion to fill space, as I play bass in a 3-piece. We just came up with a song where the guitarist detunes his low E until its laying on the fretboard, then he bends it slowly back and forth while picking and shifting the tone with his wah pedal. I'm kind of called upon to provide the low end and the "rhythm" guitar, so to speak, and distortion helps.

    Of course, there are times when distorting your bass can make your tone disappear in the mix, so its not always the best choice in creating a tone for a part. Being part of a 3-piece, it's pretty easy for us to make room for each other.

    I use a Crowther Audio Prunes and Custard, with the level at noon, the mix at about 1, and the drive at about 2. I can vary my tone greatly with my plucking dynamics, and I can get awesome, surging feedback when necessary. It's a badass distortion, very unique, and I find I can apply it to a lot of different musical situations.

  7. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada

    Well first off...

    Diode / transistor Distortion (fuzz, actual "distortion")... This usues ither a diode to achive saturation....

    Tube Overdrive (tube saturation)... This is "true overdrive" Completly diferent than distortion, the term was coined by "overdriving" your preamp tubes, which means you are saturating them... So non tube overdrives are actualy by definition distortion... True overdrive uses a tube, or is made to drive the preamp tubes in your amp (aka clean boost) such as the DOD 250...

    Now that said... There is also Digital Distortion (but that is nasty and mean, we don't want to talk about that...)

    I have the folowing units to achive several diferent types of "drive" and or "distortion"...

    Peavey Rockmaster - it has 3 chanels... clean, crunch, and ultra...
    I run it through my Tech 21 RBI's send and return, so it is always on (gives me a nice tube sound when on clean)... So The crunch chanal is set so I have that nice "tubes being pushed a liittle bit too much" - thus it matches my dynamics, play soft almost no distortion, play hard nice bite and snarl. This setting sounds great for "post punk / garage".....
    I use the ultra chanel for MASIVE gain, I have the pre at 10 and the post at 3.... I get a crazy metaltastic assault, sounds great for doing metal and or evil funk ala masacer, dying earth...

    Now also!.. I use the tech21 rbi for clean tone, becase all though the drive on that thing is AWSOME!... it is distortion made to mimic tube drive...

    I also have a bunch of pedals, I have a Shin Ei Fuzz (gernamium fuzz), DOD Death Metal, Guyatone Real Tube Overdrive... But I use distortion to achive diferent moods / textures... I like you like my clean tone CLEAN!... And it is, very its clean enought to eat off of... But I also like to get dirty...


    ps. there is also alanoge tape saturation... That sounds GREAT on bass!!! But thats another story for another time...
  8. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada

    I just read your profile... All 3 of the bands you list use distortion quite often on the bass... Especialy Radiohead and Sebedoh...

    Just listen to Colin's playing on "national anthem"...

  9. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    I think overdrive/distortion is talked about so much because it's one of the harder effects to nail for bass. In my experience it's tricky to get the right OD/Dist tone and to get it to cut through the mix.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Exactly, it's one of the most commonly used effects and tricky to get right. There haven't been too many bass friendly distortion pedals until recently.
  11. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    I use distortion to distort my tone.

    that was easy.
  12. plus, not a lot of effects go great with bass. if you're playing guitar, you can often use a delay, chorus, phaser, whatever to make a song sound great. if you try those effects on bass, a lot of times it just doesn't work. so when you're talking bass effects, you're talking envelope filters, distortion, and not too much else...
  13. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    I use alot of delay on the songs in my band.

    Guess it depends on the song, or band, though.
  14. downstairs


    May 13, 2001
    Pasadena, MD
    When do you use distortion/overdrive, like what kind of musical settings/songs?

    I use distortion on my bass for when the songs are really really heavy, and i just wanna make stuff fall off the walls and people go like "OH MY GOD!"

    Actually, I use it in my bands harder stuff so that I can get feedback when the guitars go clean for a little bit and I'm rockin the keyboards.
  15. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    There's that, I use overdrive quite a lot for extra grind on pick stuff.
  16. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Good question(s) and here are my answers:

    1) Yes, you are missing something, and so was I until fairly recently. I can't say whether you need distortion, but it's definitely another valid tool.

    2) I use it when I think I need a little "crunch" or sometimes (as others have said) in a slow or soft song that I think needs a little edge. For instance, at church, when we play "Above All", I like to use it and play legato. Sounds almost synth-ish.

    3) Sometimes, IMO, a little distortion actually adds definition to the low notes. Think Chris Squire and Geddy Lee. I don't have a Rickenbacker, but when I want to add some clank and grind to my sound like the above mentioned gents, adding a little distortion helps.

    And finally, check out my hero, Billy Sheehan.

  17. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Chris Squire is THE MAN... :D


    that is all...