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Clarky

Pedal for 60s warm tubey Motown sound

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Posted (edited)

I love the Motown sound, and have gone through a fair whack of pedals trying to get it.

The Aguilar Tonehammer is the holy grail for Motown tones as far as I'm concerned. It has that bouncy rubber band effect on the peak of the note just right, and still sounds rich/tubey/3D/whatever you want to call it. It has battled everything else out there that generally gets recommended and come out way on top. Plus it works via phantom power if you're the type to just grab a DI box for the gig rather than a powered pedalboard! Here's a little clip I did recorded direct ages ago (P with TI flats, tone up full, which should have been rolled off some in hindsight!):

https://1drv.ms/u/s!ApKsVfvGwYkOiqV6Q61pUu3yvWelVg

The TC Mojomojo, One Control Sonic Silver Peg, Bearfoot Blueberry, Catalinbread SFT, VT Bass, and SolidGoldFX Beta all do a good job too (and roughly in that order too, the TC is well worth a bash). I wasn't a fan of the Grizzly at all for Motown, I had high hopes but it was bottom of the list for me. I also had an EBS Valvedrive in the dark and distant past, but I was chasing angry punk tones at the time (which I couldn't get from it) so would have to try it again before passing judgement!

Edited by dannybuoy
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14 hours ago, Clarky said:

Thank you all for the suggestions. I will get watching some YT clips of each. Interestingly noone so far has advised sticking with the Darkglass

Ive had a few DG pedals, never really got on with them. I found them to be good for some stuff but not at the just breaking up stuff. At least, not without sounding a bit dark to my ears.

The Mojomojo seems like a good first port of call, before moving on the more more expensive stuff. You can borrow mine if you want to try it.

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I like the Darkglass Vintage, I have the Ultra version. But it's not a great choice for this sound. The Vintage is great at layering some extra thick midrange on top of your original sound. It needs the clean blend as there's not much low end in the distorted channel. It doesn't make that bouncy rubber band sound if you know what I mean. I'd go for a tubey drive that has no blend but plenty lows without one.

Another option is an alternative amp. The Orange Terror Bass for example can be picked up used for not much over £300 and will give you that sound plugged straight in!

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42 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

I like the Darkglass Vintage, I have the Ultra version. But it's not a great choice for this sound. The Vintage is great at layering some extra thick midrange on top of your original sound. It needs the clean blend as there's not much low end in the distorted channel. It doesn't make that bouncy rubber band sound if you know what I mean. I'd go for a tubey drive that has no blend but plenty lows without one.

Another option is an alternative amp. The Orange Terror Bass for example can be picked up used for not much over £300 and will give you that sound plugged straight in!

It has occurred to me that having two ultra-clean amps is probably not the most sensible arrnagement!

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Considering that the old Motown stuff was probably played through an Ampeg (maybe straight to desk on recordings) I’d look at the VTDI, it’s capable of a lot more than just driven SVT sounds. Additionally it’s the only pedal I’ve used that has that sponginess to the sound that valve amps seem to have.

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1 hour ago, Jazzmaster62 said:

Honestly MojoMojo will get you there. Worth a punt for £40.

OK trigger pulled on mojomojo thanks gents

 

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4 hours ago, Clarky said:

OK trigger pulled on mojomojo thanks gents

Do let us know how you get on with the Mojomojo and whether it hits the mark for Motown! 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Clarky said:

Thanks DB and nice playing  of Bernadette!

+1 ^^

Never really paid too much attention to the Tonehammer before listening to your clip @dannybuoy. The pedal is obviously a LOT more spendy than a Mojomojo, but having looked at the spec it's got a number of features that do make it very appealing:

  • Based on the Aggie OBP-3 preamp, which I've only ever heard positive things about on this forum
  • 3 band EQ with fully sweepable midrange
  • DI out
  • proprietary Adaptive Gain Shaping circuitry (AGS). AGS apparently allows the player to kick in an additional gain structure and EQ
  • can now go from modern slap sounds to vintage or overdriven
  • 18 volt operation for additional headroom - also neat if you have an 18V output on your PSU that you can't otherwise find a home for!

I recall @krispn doing a long detailed thread on the Tonehammer / AGS a while back - will see if I can dig out and have a revisit for personal interest.

PS just seen Clarky's VMT in the FS - yup didn't think it would be too long before it found its way there. Well at least the MM is paid for with some change over! :) GLWTS 

Edited by Al Krow
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Posted (edited)

I set my amp up clean and played Tonehammer vs Mojomojo for a bit last night. Struggled to pick a winner, so for £40 it’s a bargain! I’d say I prefer the Tonehammer sound in headphones but the Mojomojo through the amp at this stage.

Oh and forget about treating the AGS like a 2nd channel, it has too much volume boost. They should have made it a toggle switch or added a 2nd master volume control for AGS mode! The Tonehammer is way more versatile though, you can get scooped growly rock tones from it, whereas the Mojomojo is more of a one trick pony.

Edited by dannybuoy
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Posted (edited)

A little off topic, but Is there a loss of low end on the Tonehammer when you're using it fully driven?

That's been a big plus point for me with the Grizzly Bass in the way it maintains a fulsome low end when driven, better than pretty much anything else I've tried. 

Oh...and same point about it's driven tone, is the core tone on the TH mid scooped (which is a feature of a lot of drives) or does it maintain a very decent mid-punch?

Edited by Al Krow

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Clarky, keep us posted on how you get on with the MojoMojo please. I'm really interested in this pedal now and it would be good to hear your thoughts before taking the plunge myself.

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49 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

I set my amp up clean and played Tonehammer vs Mojomojo for a bit last night. Struggled to pick a winner, so for £40 it’s a bargain! I’d say I prefer the Tonehammer sound in headphones but the Mojomojo through the amp at this stage.

Oh and forget about treating the AGS like a 2nd channel, it has too much volume boost. They should have made it a toggle switch or added a 2nd master volume control for AGS mode! The Tonehammer is way more versatile though, you can get scooped growly rock tones from it, whereas the Mojomojo is more of a one trick pony.

This volume jump is what put me off getting the Tonehammer. I ended up going for the COG Kinghtfall 66. Although the two channels share a common tone/EQ section each has its own drive and level knobs. It works really well as an always on warming tone, and then kicking in the other channel with more drive, but without changing the tone or level (unless you want to). 

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How are you mojomojo people setting your amp up first?

 

Just flat or are you doing something else with it?

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It still has two channels - on and off!

With the EQ flat, the AGS rolls off the top end and the deepest sub lows, leaving you with plenty of usable low end and mids. You can be very extreme with the mid scoop if you boost the treble, since the treble control still affects your upper mids. It does tend to lose a bit of low end at high drive settings, but this is not what the pedal is really for, I treat it more like an amp sim.

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6 minutes ago, dave_bass5 said:

This volume jump is what put me off getting the Tonehammer. 

But it has both a gain and master volume, can't you adjust those to equalise the volumes to what it is on clean by-pass?

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

But it has both a gain and master volume, can't you adjust those to equalise the volumes to what it is on clean by-pass?

Yes you can, Dave was referring to fact you can't stomp the AGS switch without boosting volume. You either leave it on or off permanently. On if you know what's good for you!

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1 minute ago, dannybuoy said:

It still has two channels - on and off!

With the EQ flat, the AGS rolls off the top end and the deepest sub lows, leaving you with plenty of usable low end and mids. You can be very extreme with the mid scoop if you boost the treble, since the treble control still affects your upper mids. It does tend to lose a bit of low end at high drive settings, but this is not what the pedal is really for, I treat it more like an amp sim.

Ok cool - I'd want it to double up as a capable drive pedal as I suspect I'm going to have all the amp sims I will ever want (and a ton more besides) in the HX Stomp; so I think for my purposes having a drive that maintains a full low end and mid punch in the form the Grizzly Bass is still going to be the ticket for me. 

I've not really needed to use the Grizzly or other pedals for Motown style tone shaping as I get pretty much there with a Yammy BB 1025 on P setting and the tone dialled right off; obviously that's not delivering a full tubey sound all by itself which @Clarky is after, although there is a hint of tube growl from the Yammy P pups when you dig in.

Just now, dannybuoy said:

Yes you can, Dave was referring to fact you can't stomp the AGS switch without boosting volume. You either leave it on or off permanently. On if you know what's good for you!

Thanks for clarifying that for me.

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5 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

Yes you can, Dave was referring to fact you can't stomp the AGS switch without boosting volume. You either leave it on or off permanently. On if you know what's good for you!

Yes, sorry if i wasnt clear. My idea was to have it on all the time giving a nice warming tone, and then hit the switch and  get dirtier, but without a noticeable jump in volume. 

 

15 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

How are you mojomojo people setting your amp up first?

 

Just flat or are you doing something else with it?

Just flat, or at least to my liking. Just using the Mojomojo for certain songs rather than always on. I don’t find a huge jump in tone when engaging it.

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I find my BB1025 sounds nothing like my Fender P though. I'd reach for the P every time for this music. Not sure how much of that is down to the strings vs the pickup, probably 50/50!

Spark Boost just arrived btw, and just gave it a quick 2 minutes. The clipping sounds extremely similar to the Mojomojo, just brighter and not as fat, more transparent. I like em both!

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15 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

I find my BB1025 sounds nothing like my Fender P though. I'd reach for the P every time for this music.

Makes sense. Fender P & Motown = hand & glove, right?

I'm not getting another bass! 😂

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1 hour ago, dannybuoy said:

I find my BB1025 sounds nothing like my Fender P though. I'd reach for the P every time for this music. Not sure how much of that is down to the strings vs the pickup, probably 50/50!

Spark Boost just arrived btw, and just gave it a quick 2 minutes. The clipping sounds extremely similar to the Mojomojo, just brighter and not as fat, more transparent. I like em both!

I also find neither of my Yamahas sound as P bass as my Fender, but for me that seems to be a good thing. The Yamaha’s  have a bit more clarity to them. Then again  the P34 doesn’t sound like the 425 either. The 425 has a fuller tone to my ears, but I still prefer the P34 and I don’t really depend on a certain bass for anything, so it’s P34 all the way. As I play with a pick im never going to get too close to authentic Motown anyway  

Good to hear the Spark isnt too far off the mojomojo  I’m hoping it will fix the small niggles I have with the MM  

 

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@Al Krow You really should get your hands on the TH and give it a go - it has some really useful tones and while it might not replace your current options for live dirt you may find some very usable tones lurking within!

How are you finding the Grizzly out in the wild with the bands? Do you notice the low end as remaining quite big and is it over powering on stage? I've edited your comments (added below) to be more in line with how the pedal operates and apologies if this was lifted directly from the marketing/sales dept./advert - it is why Aguilar got grief for the TH as much as praise!

4 hours ago, Al Krow said:
  • proprietary Adaptive Gain Shaping circuitry (AGS). AGS apparently allows the player to kick in an additional gain structure with an enhanced EQ
  • can now go from the pedal offers a wide range of tones from modern slap sounds to vintage or overdriven

Aguilar got a lot of stick that the TH pedal had such a notable volume boost between the two modes but in reality I think they designed the pedal to be 'one of two things' not 'all things to all players'. It has a clean eq and could be used as a tone enhancer or it could be used in AGS mode as an entirely different beast but not for both applications to be foot-switched between mid song which is how many folks initially approached it and they weren't wrong to think that from the marketing of the TH.

Our natural reaction to a pedal with the feature set of the TH is that it should do X,

Y and Z because of our initial impression of it but in reality it can do X, Y or Z which maybe wasn't entirely clear upon first impressions and again Aguilar have only themselves to blame!

The TH has three states so to speak:

'Off' - duh!

'On without AGS engaged'  - works as the standard on-board OBP-3 pre-amp with mid freq control.

'On with AGS engaged' - the inherent character of the pedal changes as does the interactivity of all the controls and it is a very different sounding pedal with the AGS engaged. The whole unit becomes more of a tube amp emulator akin to a BDDI for example but possibly more versatile.

The post I put up way back, originally created by Eubert on Talk bass, identifies how the TH eq reacts in AGS mode and is incredibly useful in understanding how the pedal can be used to get the best from it.

I suppose in the same way any standard pedal which lack's presets can be set up to have different sounds so can the TH it's just that because it can do such a wide variation of sounds from pristine slap tones to old school B-15 ish tones people naturally lament not having them instantly available at the tap of a foot-switch!

 

2 hours ago, Al Krow said:

I've not really needed to use the Grizzly or other pedals for Motown style tone shaping as I get pretty much there with a Yammy BB 1025 on P setting and the tone dialled right off; obviously that's not delivering a full tubey sound all by itself which @Clarky is after, although there is a hint of tube growl from the Yammy P pups when you dig in.

I'd be keen to hear this first hand in a demo as I'm struggling to understand how the P pick up clean into an amp is doing tube growl unless excessive low end is causing some overloading on the lows? As you know I'm not overly familiar with the Yamaha pick ups in the 10XX models.

 

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