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What's a good bass distortion pedal?


prowla

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I can't seem to quite get the right bass distortion pedal.

I'd like something which has little bit of tube-like grit, as opposed to sounding like toilet paper and a comb.

  • I keep thinking I should like Darkglass, but I tried a Vintage Microtubes a while back and took it back to the shop (not sure I've ever done that before); I just listened to some YT demos and their pedals just sound too clinical.
  • I've got a Boss Bass OD and it's not great (the guitar SD-1 is an essential guitar pedal).
  • I've got a Bass Tube Screamer and I can't remember what it sounds like (the guitar TS is great).
  • I have a Bass Soul Food which I liked in the shop, but the controls are too sensitive and it's impossible to get it adjusted to the exact micron to sound right.
  • I've just got an EBS Microbass 3 and the clean channel is absolutely brilliant, but the distortion one has no life to it.
  • I've just taken my SansAmp BDDIs off my board for the Microbass 3; the problem with them is that they affect the clean sound too, so they're never off. (I suppose I could use a bypass pedal.)
  • I tried a SansAmp YYZ and it was quite good, but it's physically too big.
  • Tech 21 VT Bass is OK, but a bit too big.

So, what are my options?

Ideally, I'd like something which fits into an MXR-sized space...

 

Edited by prowla
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I've also gone through a big list of od/preamp pedals looking for the same thing (including sansamp, darkglass, ebs).

The tc electronic spark is quite cheap and small and good for some mild tube type overdrive. But the best I've used is the DHA VT1 EQ, that's where my search ended. It's massive though. But if you want genuine tube like grit you still probably need something with a genuine tube - so that's usually quite a big pedal. 

Edited by SumOne
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7 hours ago, SumOne said:

I've also gone through a big list of od/preamp pedals looking for the same thing (including sansamp, darkglass, ebs).

The tc electronic spark is quite cheap and small and good for some mild tube type overdrive. But the best I've used is the DHA VT1 EQ, that's where my search ended. It's massive though. But if you want genuine tube like grit you still probably need something with a genuine tube - so that's usually quite a big pedal. 

This. 

Others have reported very good things about the TC Electronics MojoMojo pedal on bass, so that might be a good place to start.

Up at the other end of the budget spectrum the BJFE Blueberry is a wonderful piece of kit too.

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My go to distortion is an old 80s Vesta Fire DST. 
I had one in 1988 but PX'd it against my Aria SB Elite in 1989.
I then got a mint condition, inc box and stuff, about 10 years ago.

The EQ is massively powerful and really versatile, gives a lovely crisp distortion on both bass and guitar.

IMG_7883.jpg

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For just a bit of drive I often use the HBE Heamatoma, although I've been using the Earthquaker Devices Plumes quite a bit lately. I also really like the Ashdown NM2, and the Fuzzrocious Oh See Demon and Broke Richard Peanut Gallery.

The EMMA Onomatopoeia is pretty cool too. It's a boost pedal, but you can push it to a nice, slightly overdrive sound.

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I spent a couple of years looking for this. Although I almost always use a BDDI always on, it was never my got to for drive. 

The two that really clicked for me were the GOG 66 Knightfall, especially for its two channels sharing the same EQ, and the TC Electronics Spark booster. 

The SB isn’t particularly high gain, but is quite neutral sounding but with Dort on top. Worked very well with my BDDI in front of it, but i also rehearsed a few times just using the SB and loved how simple it was to use and got great drive. 

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I'd say give a Source Audio Aftershock a go - so many brilliant sounds in there you'd be hard pushed to find at least a few that didn't work for you. As with all SA pedals the library of community patches is fantastic so there's absolutely no need to do any detailed pc editing if that's not your thing; if it is, you can tweak away until you achieve perfection.

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Well, I've put the Bass Tube Screamer back on the board to give it another shot.

I've also got an Aguilar Agro due in the post; I watched a couple of YT demos and coincidentally one appeared on ebay, so I put an offer on it. Aguilar pedals do seem to have a naturalness to them, space, air to breathe, so no harm in giving it a go... It'll sit nicely next to the Octamizer I've got on the board just now (lovely sounding pedal, but can't track below C).

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1 hour ago, prowla said:

Well, I've put the Bass Tube Screamer back on the board to give it another shot.

I've also got an Aguilar Agro due in the post; I watched a couple of YT demos and coincidentally one appeared on ebay, so I put an offer on it. Aguilar pedals do seem to have a naturalness to them, space, air to breathe, so no harm in giving it a go... It'll sit nicely next to the Octamizer I've got on the board just now (lovely sounding pedal, but can't track below C).

Yeah, I'd be tempted with the Agro for the same reasons, I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.  

I tried a lot of Ocatave pedals and the Octamizer was my favourite for it's natural sound and feel/responsiveness so I'd like to try other Aguilar pedals (but you're right- it can't track low notes, and I found it couldn't track sustained notes as well as the MXR BOD, or track low notes as well as the digital things like Pog or Sub n Up). And Aguilar pedals will sit neatly together, top mounted jacks are a definite plus point. 

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Posted (edited)

The Argo arrived today (was expecting it on the weekend). 

I’ve plugged it in and it sounds pretty good - not too in-your-face. 
It takes a bit to figure out the interplay between the controls. 
I set the controls to:

  • Level 4 o’clock 
  • Presence 9 o’clock 
  • Saturation 9 o’clock 
  • Contour 12 o’clock. 
Edited by prowla
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2 hours ago, thebassist said:

I know you talked about the Darkglass Vintage Microtubes... but I use an Alpha Omega and its the only distortion pedal I've ever kept - bought and sold probably 20 over the years.

 

I know I should like them, but I just can't make myself.

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How about the EBS Billy Sheehan Ultimate Drive? I haven't had a chance to try one myself, but from what I have seen on YT it seems to have been designed to offer enormous control over the final tone.

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1 hour ago, Misdee said:

How about the EBS Billy Sheehan Ultimate Drive? I haven't had a chance to try one myself, but from what I have seen on YT it seems to have been designed to offer enormous control over the final tone.

I used to use the orange version (deluxe?). Loved it, although it worked better with some basses than others. My favourite setting had the gain low, about 9 o'clock, and the freq knob quite high as I prefer the distortion around the upper mids and treble.

This blended equally with the clean gave me that 70s Proggy sound I love. 

The compressor was always on for me as well as it really helps to knit the two tones together.

On top of this you have the option of running other pedals in a loop on either the clean or distorted side. Or both.

I only sold mine when I bought my Tech 21 dug. A very expensive pedal require the sale of another sadly! But I'm thinking of buying another and running an EQ pedal on the clean side to roll off the highs to increase the feel of an old school bi-amp setup.

There are lots of demos on Youtube, but Billy's own ones for EBS are probably the best.

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If looking at the Billy Sheehan one, avoid the original version and go straight for the Deluxe. The dirt channel is out of phase with the clean so it sounds weird and drops low end when blended unless you put another phase inverting pedal in the fx loop. The Deluxe version fixes this with a phase switch.

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8 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

If looking at the Billy Sheehan one, avoid the original version and go straight for the Deluxe. The dirt channel is out of phase with the clean so it sounds weird and drops low end when blended unless you put another phase inverting pedal in the fx loop. The Deluxe version fixes this with a phase switch.

Agee.  I have the Deluxe version and it's a great pedal.  Loads of different tone available.

 

50691161457_187935fda1_k.jpg

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