How To Use A Bass Distortion Pedal To Get The Right Sound From Your Instrument

If you are a guitar enthusiast, you probably want to get a perfect tone. You may even spend time scrutinizing the details of each tone because getting great pedal effects is the dream of any guitarist. But getting the right…


Music Mayhem


Posted on April 14, 2020

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If you are a guitar enthusiast, you probably want to get a perfect tone. You may even spend time scrutinizing the details of each tone because getting great pedal effects is the dream of any guitarist. But getting the right sound can seem far fetched and it may feel like only guitar heroes can achieve it.

The truth is – with patience and dedication, any guitarist can learn how to get that right sound using a bass distortion pedal. For starters, you need to realize that getting the right sound is not just about stomping a distortion pedal. Bass dwells in low frequencies, which means it does not play very well with distortion.

What is a Bass Distortion Pedal?

Bass distortion is mostly used in indie or rock music. It works well in the studio as well as in live performance settings. A distortion pedal is simply an effect unit that is used to alter or manipulate the sound in an inserted signal.

Because of the way bass distortion pedals distort signals, you need to be strategic about its position on the signal chain. The best place to have it is in a place where the noise floor is less likely to be heightened by the pedals along the signal path.

Though there is no single formula for balancing low frequencies with distortion in bass distortion, here are two ideas that can help you nail a great sound from your guitar with a bass distortion pedal:

1. Run a Clean Signal and a Dirty Signal

The best way to get the right sound from a distorted bass is to run these two signals. If you have low frequencies that are also distorted, you will not be able to get any tightness on your attack. Also, the precision you need to lock will not be available. This is why the best thing you need to do is to split the signal into two then use every signal to do something different.

You will need two amps to do the split. If you don’t have amps available, use a pedal or a signal splitter that has stereo outs along with a small mixer to combine the two sounds. For low frequencies, focus on getting a clean sound. You can do this by rolling off high ends, dipping your mids and eliminating the treble. This should leave you with a big, but clean bassy tone. The sound would be similar to what you get from a home theatre subwoofer.

To make the sound even better, include some compression or alternatively, limit it with a slight attack time. The idea is to put a sonic foundation that performs that rhythmic role a bass is meant to do – so this signal is likely not to carry a lot of pitch information.

2. Make Use of Plugins

Another simple trick that will give you a great sound using a bass distortion pedal is to utilize plugins. This means you go directly to your mixing desk or recording interface through a DI. Once there, proceed to create some two audio tracks. Send a signal to the two tracks from the bass then set-up a plugins suite for each track – one suite for the low-end, clean stuff and the other for the dirty highs and mids.

Feel free to use your creativity to boost your track count here. You can try a compressed overdrive, a single subwoofer-y bass, and an envelope filter. Alternatively, you can apply a stereo and tremolo ping pong delay – this should give you a synth-like texture – as you continue to hold the low end down to form.

To unlock great sound, add some plugins to the equation. You may use a floor multi-effect unit to add two-octave harmonies and see what you get. Smother these effects with delay and distortion to bring your power chords to track. This may sound a bit artificial when you hear it by yourself, it easily gets masked when it is combined with vocals, guitar, and drums.

Final Thoughts

Distortion pedals play a critical role in altering or manipulating sound in an inserted signal. However, for most guitarists, using a bass distortion pedal to nail the right sound from their instrument can be a challenge.

If you have been struggling to do this, following the two methods discussed above can help you achieve this with this. Even as you do so, ensure that your instrument and its accessories are all in good shape. Give your amplifier, guitar, and all accessories proper care – this is half the formula for getting a great sound.

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