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Official website for EarthQuaker Devices. We build guitar effects by hand in the quaint landlocked city of Akron, Ohio.

New Monthly Feature! Aaron's Bass Hole - Overdrive

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New Monthly Feature! Aaron's Bass Hole - Overdrive

Aaron Rogers

What's up, nerds? Welcome to Aaron's Bass Hole! This is a new monthly feature on where I'll answer the question, "So what does it sound like on bass?"

Here at EQD, we don't really think of pedals as just "guitar pedals" or "bass pedals." In fact, we actually prefer to call them "Devices" that you can use with whatever you'd like! Bass, guitar, keys, live sound, car stereo, singing bowls, accordion, whatever. So, for that reason, there is no "bass-specific" line of Devices; we encourage you to try them all! But, before we get too deep into plugging all forty-some-odd devices in at the same time and blow up some amps, let's start with the basics: fuzz / distortion / overdrive.

The question most frequently asked by bass players is probably, "Why don't your Devices have a clean blend?" Well, here's why: in most cases, they don't need them. Unlike those of more guitar-specific manufacturers, our Devices are typically designed with a wider frequency response to preserve low-end information and wide-sweeping tone controls to accommodate drop-tuning hesher types, keyboardists, and yes, even bass players. Also, in most live performance and recording scenarios, the FOH or studio engineer will use a bass DI signal (taken pre-effects) in conjunction with a mic'd speaker cabinet or other effected signal, to create the ideal clean/dirty mix both onstage and in the audience. That being said, I know that very few of us, myself included, have the luxury of working with an experienced FOH engineer at every gig, which is why I'm going to show you how to get the most out of your fuzz/distortion/overdrive Devices both with and without a clean blend.

In Example 1, I'll dial in a doom-y stoner rock sound using the Acapulco Gold power-amp distortion and the Tone Job EQ/boost. My signal chain is Jazz Bass -> Acapulco Gold -> Tone Job -> Sansamp RBI -> laptop. I'm using the Tone Job after the Acapulco Gold to push the low-end going into the Sansamp's preamp section for a thick, fuzzy, saturated bottom end, like you'd hear coming out of a cranked tube amp. I start with a melodic figure (that I ripped off from a guitar solo in an EYE tune) high on the neck, then play the riff in different octaves to give you an idea of the full frequency response of the Acapulco Gold.

Next, for Example 2, I'll bring up a growly rock tone using a clean DI track and a distorted track. In this case, I want to place the Tone Job before the Acapulco Gold to cut out some low-end information on the distorted channel and make room for the clean DI and the low-mid punch it provides. Here, I'm using the Acapulco Gold for some high-mid growl and upper harmonic content that makes the bass guitar sit tight in a heavy mix. For my clean signal, I'm using a Tronographic Rusty Box into a Radial DI recorded to its own track, then blending to taste in my DAW. I'll also let you hear the isolated clean DI and overdrive tracks for comparison.

"So all this is cool, but how am I gonna do it in my band, or whatever?" That's a great question! To get the most from your dirt pedals in a live context, I recommend using a line switcher/effects looper with a clean mix, like the Boss LS-2 Line Selector. The LS-2's "A+B Mix" mode, with its two effects loops, allows you to mix your distorted signal in parallel with your clean thru-tone, and is great for blending fuzz/OD pedals in parallel, rather than stacking them in series, and makes for some gnarly triple-tracked tones. It's also great for turning on multiple stacked pedals with one switch, allowing you to experiment with different ready-made effects chains at your feet.

In Example 3, I'll use the Boss LS-2 to run the EQD Monarch and Cloven Hoof parallel with my clean sound for maximum destruction. This way, you have complete control over your clean/dirty blend in any situation, guaranteeing that the sound in your head matches the sound coming from your speakers.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? Have an idea for a topic for the next edition of "Aaron's Bass Hole?" Need relationship advice? Post it in the comments, or send me an email!

Want your own Acapulco Gold? Click Here!
How about a Cloven Hoof? Click Here!
Gotta have a Tone Job? We have those, too!
Check out our full line of Fuzz and Overdrive Devices!

Aaron Rogers is a circuit builder and trade show rep at EarthQuaker Devices. He has a BA in English from the University of Akron, works as a freelance live sound engineer, and plays the bass guitar in  Ultrasphinx .

Aaron Rogers is a circuit builder and trade show rep at EarthQuaker Devices. He has a BA in English from the University of Akron, works as a freelance live sound engineer, and plays the bass guitar in Ultrasphinx.