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Choosing overdrive and fuzz pedals


SteveXFR

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Is there any logic to choosing the right distortion pedals? 

I've tried watching videos on YouTube but then half of what you hear is their amp and instrument so when I get a pedal that sounded great in the video,  I try it and can't get close to the sound I heard and liked. It's especially difficult to find the right fuzz.

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Logic I can't comment on but my tactic would be to read reviews, watch the YouTube's with the caveat you've already mentioned, then buy at a price I know I can recover if I need to sell it on. 

 

Or go for the ones with the coolest names.

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I recently looked at getting some sort of fuzzy thing and went down the video review rabbit hole. Went totally distortion deaf and blind after a few days of searching and figured that it would probably take me about 7 purchasing attempts to find one that i liked. Maybe.

 

So I bought a Source Audio Aftershock that has about a squillion of them all built into one pedal. Love it.....

 

I reckon i paid about twice as much (£150) as I originally budgeted for but saved £300 in pedals that I liked for 5 minutes and then sold on.

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Lucky to have stumbled upon the TC Electronic Mojomojo overdrive pedal. A guitar pedal, it was suggested in a few places that it played well with basses. I decided that assertion sounded so preposterous that it might just work.

 

It did and it still does. My approach was not logical, I took a punt and it worked out.

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10 minutes ago, neepheid said:

Lucky to have stumbled upon the TC Electronic Mojomojo overdrive pedal. A guitar pedal, it was suggested in a few places that it played well with basses. I decided that assertion sounded so preposterous that it might just work.

 

It did and it still does. My approach was not logical, I took a punt and it worked out.

I never got on with the mojomojo but I agree guitar pedals are worth a punt I rather like the bad monkey on bass 

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1 hour ago, SteveXFR said:

I've tried watching videos on YouTube but then half of what you hear is their amp and instrument so when I get a pedal that sounded great in the video,  I try it and can't get close to the sound I heard and liked

 

That's likely because the recording was mastered and mixed using some sophisticated and probably expensive kit. Realistically, you aren't likely to be able to duplicate that with a stage rig and a dirt pedal.

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It doesn't help that there's so many different pedals and then half of them seem to have a Russian version (for a good communist drive) and a geranium version (better for use in the garden). Plus they sound different with different basses and different amps. Then there's the satanic themed pedals, are there pedals for all religions? Do they work for atheists?

At the moment I use a Two Notes Le Bass for a nice Ampeg style drive but I want something a bit more nasty for a truly disgusting doom metal sound. 

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Common advice for this is to get a multi player ffects unit and  find one that you like. Then go out and buy the real thing, fall in love with it for about 2 weeks and then rinse and repeat. 😄

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It can be an absolute minefield. What sounds good in demos on the web can sound derrière through your own rig. What sounds great through your rig then can sound derrière in a band mix etc. etc.

 

Purely my opinion but based on your second post I’d say try a Green Russian Big Muff or a Z-Vex Mastotron as a starting point. They’re both great pedals, aren’t stupidly lofty boutique prices and I expect you’ll likely find something filthy you like in at least one of them. But yours, and any and everyone else’s mileage will very much vary!

 

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As @Mudpupsaid, a source audio aftershock will give you loads to try out in one pedal. I'm using a TC Electronic spectradrive and there's a lot of toneprint drive/fuzzes to experiment with, but unlike a multi effects it's v simple to use and has a 4 band eq and comp.

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10 hours ago, SteveXFR said:

It doesn't help that there's so many different pedals and then half of them seem to have a Russian version (for a good communist drive) and a geranium version (better for use in the garden). Plus they sound different with different basses and different amps. 

You make a good point, everything affects the effect: playing dynamics, pick or fingers, which part of the finger, strings, pickups, active EQ or passive, what's in the chain before the pedal, then what's in the chain after the pedal, and the amp... The only way to really know is to try yourself with your own gear. Then even if it sounds good does it sound good with your other pedals and with each different bass you may use??? I hated this pedal lottery so got a "one box" solution in a Helix Stomp.

 

Problem is there's things that just doesn't do. So you end up buying complementary bits... I've just had to buy a bigger pedal board (yes a board, to host my "one box solution" multi effects pedal) a year after trading in three multi FX units to replace with "just one". 

 

In all seriousness it's good to have a number of different drive/ distortion types at the push of a button. I was never an effects guy, always preferring a clean tone, until I joined a band that played a wider variety of music and crucially had two guitarists that actually give me some room to be heard, it made varying my bass sound a lot more important. A good multi effects, or a very flexible single pedal, or a string of pedals to give you fuzz, drive, distortion, would be good to keep mixing up your sound.

 

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Fuzz and overdrive do very different things to your sound and even two fuzz pedals will not only sound different, but will change the way other effects behave.  I have an mxr bass deluxe fuzz and earthquaker devices cloven hoof.  Both completely different.

 

Also, where do you intend to use overdrive, distortion or fuzz?  If you intend to use it a lot, you might consider a bass fuzz that allows you to blend wet and dry signals. 

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I'm looking for more dirt because I've just joined a stoner/doom band. Only one guitarist so the bass is really filling out the sound, especially during guitar solos. I've got my valve preamp gain near max all the time and I've got an Orange fur coat fuzz which sounds filthy with my Thunderbird but weak with my Stingray so I need something to work with the Stingray. 

I searched ebay last night and bought a WayHuge Green Rhino which is a tube screamer type overdrive. I'll look for a Russian big muff later. At least with used pedals I'll only lose the postage cost if I don't like them. 

I'm tempted by the Justin Chancellor fuzz wah but there's no used ones yet and I'd probably lose £50 or more on a new one if I don't like it

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If you’ve only got one guitarist then I’d be wary of any sort of Muff - the mid scoop is an integral part of their sound, meaning there’s a big hole in the bass tone to help you disappear in the mix.

 

the EQD Cloven Hoof or Coloursound Bass Fuzz will do it.

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Some pedals can be really temperamental with high output, active instruments. You really need to experiment to see what works for you and your gear. Everything in your chain, will affect how the pedals react.

I've got a load of drive pedals, and I've found that for overdrive I really like the EQD Plumes, Fuzzrocious Oh See Demon, and HBE Hematoma, while for a Big Muff style fuzz, I like the Greer Tarpit, and the Nine Volt Fishing Is As Fun As Fuzz.

 

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2 hours ago, SteveXFR said:

I'm looking for more dirt because I've just joined a stoner/doom band. Only one guitarist so the bass is really filling out the sound, especially during guitar solos. I've got my valve preamp gain near max all the time and I've got an Orange fur coat fuzz which sounds filthy with my Thunderbird but weak with my Stingray so I need something to work with the Stingray. 

I searched ebay last night and bought a WayHuge Green Rhino which is a tube screamer type overdrive. I'll look for a Russian big muff later. At least with used pedals I'll only lose the postage cost if I don't like them. 

I'm tempted by the Justin Chancellor fuzz wah but there's no used ones yet and I'd probably lose £50 or more on a new one if I don't like it

 

We're a single guitar band too, but more classic metal than Stoner/Doom.  The MXR bass fuzz might be a good fit.  It's a pretty fearsome fuzz circuit that is certainly OTT for me at anything past 12 o clock.  However, with drive/fuzz at around 10-11 o clock, tone at around 12 o clock and dry and wet signals balanced to suit you can lay down a really thick layer underneath the guitar.

 

The Cloven Hoof on the other hand really nails the Geezer Butler NB tone and works very well with an octave pedal but really doesn't play nicely with modulation or filter pedals wherever it is placed in the signal chain (IMHO of course)

 

As for overdrive, I run sansamp with drive at around 12 o cclock pretty much all the time as it really helps bass cut through.  I find pushing overdrive too much just makes my amp sound like I'm pushing it too hard (paarp).  Granted, that sound may work for some people/scenarios, but not for me.

 

I've got a variety of basses - Active Fenders, reissue passive jazz, active fretless, 8 string, dingwall.  The bass that sounds best with any of the effects is a passive bitsa fretless P bass.

Edited by bassbloke
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I only use online reviews/demos as a rough guide, there are too many variables to really know how it'll sound with your setup so I make full use of online shop return policies, and buying/selling from here doesn't usually end up in much of a loss.

 

I found it useful to find out about the general sounds of the main 'parent' groups of the gain family tree (e.g. Rat, Tube Screamer, Tube drive, Muff, Super Fuzz, Octavia, Gated Fuzz) because most pedals are a variation on them.

 

Personally though, my favorites (so far!) are:

  • Tube drive - DHA VT1 EQ
  • Tube Screamer - Way Huge Green Rhino Smalls 
  • Rat - Idiotbox Landphil
  • Muff - MXR Brown Acid

 

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2 hours ago, SteveXFR said:

I'm looking for more dirt because I've just joined a stoner/doom band. Only one guitarist so the bass is really filling out the sound, especially during guitar solos. I've got my valve preamp gain near max all the time and I've got an Orange fur coat fuzz which sounds filthy with my Thunderbird but weak with my Stingray so I need something to work with the Stingray. 

I searched ebay last night and bought a WayHuge Green Rhino which is a tube screamer type overdrive. I'll look for a Russian big muff later. At least with used pedals I'll only lose the postage cost if I don't like them. 

I'm tempted by the Justin Chancellor fuzz wah but there's no used ones yet and I'd probably lose £50 or more on a new one if I don't like it

 

If you've already got a sound that works well with your rig with one bass, I'd stop using the bass that it doesn't work on in this particular band. If you need a second bass as a backup or for alternate tunings get another one of the kind that does work.

Edited by BigRedX
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2 hours ago, SteveXFR said:

I'm looking for more dirt because I've just joined a stoner/doom band. Only one guitarist so the bass is really filling out the sound, especially during guitar solos. I've got my valve preamp gain near max all the time and I've got an Orange fur coat fuzz which sounds filthy with my Thunderbird but weak with my Stingray so I need something to work with the Stingray. 

I searched ebay last night and bought a WayHuge Green Rhino which is a tube screamer type overdrive. I'll look for a Russian big muff later. At least with used pedals I'll only lose the postage cost if I don't like them. 

I'm tempted by the Justin Chancellor fuzz wah but there's no used ones yet and I'd probably lose £50 or more on a new one if I don't like it

 

There's a million threads on this.

 

Basically - I would suggest enjoying the space. Not everything has to be a permanent wall of sound. Dynamics are important and stop audience fatigue.

No FX will ever fix a weak arrangement. Do more with the bass part rather than just turning on a pedal. Jack Bruce (and indeed JS Bach) had the right idea.

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5 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

 

If you've already got a sound that works well with your rig with one bass, I'd stop using the bass that it doesn't work on in this particular band. If you need a second bass as a backup or for alternate tunings get another one of the kind that does work.

 

I know Stingrays can sound pretty good with lots of dirt so it will work when I pair it with the right pedal. The fuzz I've got at the moment is really disgusting and doesn't like any clank from the bass which is why it works with the Thunderbird. 

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I use a combination of a soul food (which is almost permanently on with just a smidge of dirt) and a hot wax which is a twin channel pedal, so I can use either side for different levels/ tone or together for full on fuzz.

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2 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

 

There's a million threads on this.

 

Basically - I would suggest enjoying the space. Not everything has to be a permanent wall of sound. Dynamics are important and stop audience fatigue.

No FX will ever fix a weak arrangement. Do more with the bass part rather than just turning on a pedal. Jack Bruce (and indeed JS Bach) had the right idea.

 

A wall of sound is exactly what we're going for. Where we do leave space, it's generally long, sustained notes with lots of distortion. 

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45 minutes ago, SteveXFR said:

 

I know Stingrays can sound pretty good with lots of dirt so it will work when I pair it with the right pedal. The fuzz I've got at the moment is really disgusting and doesn't like any clank from the bass which is why it works with the Thunderbird. 

 

So why do you want to use the Stingray when you already have a great sound with the Thunderbird?

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