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Username: mpisanek

Post Number: 5
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

I hope that this does not open up a real can of worms, but I just have to ask.

If I have a very expensive, great sounding instrument (like an Alembic) What kind of effects will enhance the sound rather than change it completely? Many musicians go out and purchase a very expensive instrument that has a beautiful tone and the first thing they do is to run it through a bog standard effects unit. Doesn't this essentially destroy the tonal intrgrity of the instrument?

I have also been looking and listening to amplifiers and speakers. When I listen I would rather hear the true tone of the Instrument not the particular trademark sound of an amplifier or speaker.

I am a bit of a purist. My home stereo which cost more than my Alembic has no bass, mid, or treble controls of any kind. My belief is that as a listener one should expect to hear exactly what was recorded. As a listener to an instrument, shouldn't it be exactly the same?

Any recommendations ideas and comments would be greatly appreciated.
Username: karl

Post Number: 27
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 10:02 am:   Edit Post

I'm with you on this one, Michael. I bought the Alembic for its tone, so I don't want to be hiding that underneath layers of effects. I just run it straight into an amp. My amp head (Hartke 3500) has onboard EQ which I tweak if necessary to suit the room (certain rooms reverberate at a certain frequency, so it's useful to find and remove that with the EQ) and compression which I use just a touch to protect the speakers (I play very percussively - I once had an SWR speaker jump out of the front of the cab at me during a particularly bruising bass solo - and it wasn't my cab . . .), but once that's all set, all other tone changes are done with the bass controls and playing technique.

So, a touch of EQ and a touch of compression, only because I have to - anything else just detracts from the Alembic tone. And if anyone really wants a distort-o-grind/fuzz tone from me, I use my Stingray and the cheapest effects box I can find . . .

Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1213
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 10:22 am:   Edit Post

Given what you have stated above, the only "effect" I would suggest is reverb; and even that, for a "purist", is a matter of personal taste. I think there are a number of players here in this forum that don't use any effects at all. And I think there are a number that just use reverb. And I think there are those who do use effects because it's appropriate for the music they are playing.

Personally, I just use reverb. The style of music I prefer to play is basically bass, guitar, drums trio instumental. The bass is out front with a lot of melodic stuff up high on the neck. I think the reverb adds a significant compliment to my tone in such a setting.

I do have a compressor/limiter in my rack; but its function is to limit spikes and protect my speakers. I don't use it as an effect.

Many of us in this forum use an SF-2 to further shape our tone. But that's a tone control, not an effect.

One other note about reverb. Different rooms have widely different characteristics. Some rooms are quite "live" and provide a lot of natural reverb. Others are quite "dead" and provide no natural reverb. Having a reverb unit in your rack can help even out this difference.

But again, it's a matter of personal taste. For instance, if you are playing in a two guitar blues band, and primarily playing walking blues lines down low on the neck, you may find that you really don't need to add reverb, that it detracts from the natural tone you would otherwise be getting.

But that's just one opinion; I'm sure there are other very reasonable opinions about effects and bass.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 683
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 10:58 am:   Edit Post

The effects for me depend on what I am trying to do. If I'm playing blues, then straight up bass plugged into a tube preamp works great. If I am doing covers and trying to match a feel from someone else's tone, then I add some effect and amp simulation from a Pod XT. The two things I tend to use most are envelope and octave effects. Chorus is a popular effect, and I think I still have a TC chorus lying around from when that was the only thing I would add. Some years ago, I would use chorus the way that Dave uses reverb.

Another thing to consider is to have a blendable amp where you can add in the processed signal while keeping some amount of the pure thing. Being able to do that really helps find the right mix.

In any case, it's not about burying the tone of the Alembic, it's about getting the tone you're looking for. Even with effects blended in, the dynamics and touch sensitivity of the Alembic bass comes through. Sure, if you compress the heck out of the signal, intentionally or otherwise, then you may lose some of that advantage, so don't do it unless that's the sound you're after.

Senior Member
Username: hollis

Post Number: 591
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 12:29 pm:   Edit Post

I'm assuming that we're not talking about tone controls. When we're speaking of effects we're talking chorus, flangers, delays, envelopes, wah's, etc...

I use effects less with my Alembics than with any electric instruments I own. I have started using reverb on the bass thanks to the opinions of some of the fine folks in this group. Quite frankly, I just never considered it as a bassí effect, now I do. I donít really consider reverb as much an effect as a means of adding a sense of room depth to an otherwise flat signal.

As for guitar, I spent the first 6 months with my Skylark sans added effects. Not because I have anything against effects, but more as a means of discovery. Once I got a handle on the Skylarkís voice, I have been delighted by itís ability to get very musical sounds out of my effects. I guess itís as Alembic states:

When you start with clean tone, adding distortion or other effects has a more musical and predictable result. Distorting an already distorted sound is like making a copy of a copy - it's never as good as the original.

I whole-heatedly agree.

As has been stated before, it depends on what sound Iím after. The beauty of Alembic electronics is that with them I am able to dial in the sounds that pre-Alembic had eluded me. And for that Iím very grateful.
Intermediate Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 171
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 1:57 pm:   Edit Post

I pretty much use effects as a "condiment" or "side dish," as it were. I only have four effects (a Morley Power Wah, an Ibanez Bass Chorus I've had for years, a Boss Tremelo, and a seldom used Carl Martin compressor), so they don't overpower what I'm doing in any event.

On my SVT, I pretty much have all the tone controls maxed out anyway, and I use the SF-2 to further shape things. The EQ on the SVT is used to account for room anomalies, and it works well for me. I find that the natural tone of the Alembic comes through quite nicely, as does the sound of my other basses from other manufacturers.

The SF-2 has a filter volume and a direct input volume (hope I got that right!). Basically, the direct input is the unfiltered sound of the instrument, so if one is using an SF-2 (and I don't know why one wouldn't be!), you can enhance the "natural" sound of the bass, while still providing a filtered aspect to the sound. It works great for me and others on the forum.

Username: wideload

Post Number: 76
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 2:02 pm:   Edit Post

You mean you can PLAY on the upper 15 frets? I thought they were just there to hold the nine you need at a comfortable distance!:-)

Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1215
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 2:17 pm:   Edit Post

It may not be legal in some venues, especially some blues and country clubs; check your local ordinances to be sure!
Username: beelee

Post Number: 16
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 3:57 pm:   Edit Post

I once used quite a few stomp boxes ( flanger, phaser, chorus, delay, eq, octave etc.) with my bass, but it really killed the tone/signal from my bass to the Amp, so I switched to rackmount units ( shorter signal path) ....... bass to rack to Amp, now I just use one unit in my Amp's FX Loop, sounds much better, I'm not a big FX person but some of the stuff I play requires it, or I add it for a solo ( chorus, octave, delay) and some times I use 3 pedals Crybaby Wa Wa 105Q, Bass Whammy, and Blue Tube, some pro players use all rack stuff, some pedals ( Doug Wimbish) and some have both incorporated with one of those Bradshaw like custom rack systems ( Chris Squire) Its really personal preference and what type of things you play.
I currently use a ART SGX Nitro with 2 of my setups and a Lexicon MPX G2 in the other, the ART is very user friendly and the MPX is a little more difficult , but it can do some insane things, I also have an ART Nightbass that I put my Chapman Stick through for the preamp with some reverb.
I agree with AJ's comment about using FX like a condiment. but in the end there are so many choices.............
Username: basscowboy

Post Number: 1
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 5:25 pm:   Edit Post

I just bought an F-2B preamp and a Stewart power amp for my older (25 years) bass and want to get a reverb unit that doesn't change the great sound I've got. I see this was discussed before, so sorry for the rehash. Thanks for your help.
Advanced Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 354
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 8:41 am:   Edit Post

I've sought for years to create a 'second sound' that would be a transparent mix of light-depth chorus + gated reverb + compression + Aphex expansion . . . I've yet to find the right combination of componenents that did this.

One at a time, it's no problem. But add the four together, it begins to sound like a day at the seashore, wwwaayyy too much noise.

The other effect colors ( distortion, etc.) don't fit what I do, though the wild side of me wishes it did. I'm old enough to remember amps with built-in FUZZ, so I guess everything old is new again eventually.

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1219
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 9:37 am:   Edit Post

Chris; I don't quite understand, are you asking for reverb recommendations?
Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 358
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post

Last night I used the Danish Chorus preset on my bass pod, which was kind of cool for solos (a la Chris Squire on Tormato, but with more of a hack implementation). The pod has a nice feature that you can set a crossover frequency for the effects, thus keeping the low end clear and present. When biamping, occasionally I'll run effects on only the treble side and run separate compression schemes on the low and high end (think de-esser).
Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 26
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:36 pm:   Edit Post

I bought a rack mount line 6 a few years back and found that the tone was completly sucked out of my bass. It did have some interesting effects and a lot of speaker and amp modeling which is useless to me. I then traded it in for a floor BP-8. Just as bad. Traded that in for a few boss efects, still changing tone then finaly I bought a V-bass. I installed the midi pickup on my fretless and when I wanted to use my Alembic I would plug into the back of the unit, bypasing the cosm feature which can only be used with the pickup. This too was doing something detrimental to my tone. Now I use a crybaby bass wah and an electro harmonix q tron. The bass wah is a little noisy when being used but when off it sounds like my bass is plugged right into my amp. The Q tron gives you the option to blend the effect with your actual signal which sounds best to me.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 685
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:46 pm:   Edit Post

FWIW, while the Pod XT may not be everything you're looking for, it is tonally superior to the old Pod model.
Intermediate Member
Username: gare

Post Number: 119
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 3:25 pm:   Edit Post

I'll have to agree with Alan and Joey. Effects should be used to augment your sound and be almost transparent. Many times people use effects as their sound, which also has it's place in given tunes.
About a year ago I saw band in bar called Kopecky, 3 guys, extremely full sound, both the guitarist and bass player used alot of effects. (delays,chorus,reverb) The sound was immpecable , nothing over done or overpowering.
I've given up on stomp box effects..way to noisey.
Latey I've messed around alot with taking direct out of a 400+, into effects, power amp, cabinet(s). I really like this technique, your original sound stays 100% intact, and only a wet signal goes to the 2nd amp. Then it's a matter of adjusting volumes to taste. Of course it's not the most practical setup to drag around..but it is fun to experiment.
Intermediate Member
Username: s_wood

Post Number: 108
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 5:18 pm:   Edit Post

Every once in a while I'll do a project that calls for effects, and over the years I've accumulated a decent collection. Here's what I've learned:

1. Never run your effects on a straight line between your bass and your amp. Most effects don't have a true bypass, so they are in your circuit and killing your tone even when they are off. Invest in a good A/B box with an effects loop. That way, when you don't need the stomp box it's out of the circuit.

2. The big digital multi-effect units suck.

3. Your Alembic will ALWAYS sound better without effects.

4. A good chorus box can be cool, and an good envelope filter (like a Mu-Tron or a Meatball) can be tasty, but see Rule Number 1.

5. A touch of stomp box distortion can be cool...I love my Fulltone Bassdrive, which I call my SVT-in-a-box. It has a true bypass, so you can ignore Rule 1. Better yet is the SWR Intersellar Overdrive, but it's pricey and you have to deal with Rule 1 again..

6. See Rule 1.

Username: basscowboy

Post Number: 2
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 7:04 pm:   Edit Post

Sorry Dave. Yes, I am looking for suggestions for a reverb unit. I just picked up the the TC Electronics M300 unit and it is interesting, with many options. Any other input would be appreciated.
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1230
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 8:13 pm:   Edit Post

I looked at the website for the M300. I really like the use of knobs instead of pushbuttons. I think for an instrumentalist knobs are easier for making quick adjustments in a live situation. That should be a good unit; I've read good reviews of TC Electronic gear. I've been using an Alesis Midiverb III and it has worked well for me. I just purchased a TC Electronic M-One XL which is supposed to arrive next Wednesday. I'm looking forward to seeing how much of a difference it will make. With the Midiverb, I generally run a 50% wet/dry mix. Over time I've made small adjustments; gradually refining the effect.
Username: edwin

Post Number: 46
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 11:09 am:   Edit Post

I used to have a big ass crazy rack and pedalboard, with three different envelope filters, several distortions, wah-volume pedal and a whammy pedal. In the rack were several Lexicon items, including a Jamman. It all worked and sounded great as I used an effects loop switcher to control it all (and change the order, if I needed to). Now I use a Lexicon G2 into a Euphonic Audio iAmp500.

What I find interesting is how people here are talking about getting the straight sound of the bass, yet using highly colored amps like Ampeg, Hartke, etc. For a truly uncolored experience, try just straight into a power amp (my old rig was just that). The G2 when bypassed is essentially a straight wire with gain. the EA amp is very clean and when set flat (which I do) is also pretty much straight gain. It's very different than an amp that puts its own color on everything.

That said, that color can be pretty freakin' awesome if it's the right color!

Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 4:47 pm:   Edit Post

I donít think that there is any wrong way to process or amplify your instrument. The variety of posts proves that. I think itís great that people aim for different sounds. What is the point if everyone sounds the same. Your tone is an extension of your personality and playing style.

I play an Alembic Distillate. I run it through an Alembic F-1X pre amp, a SoundTech power amp and a Bag End 4X10 cab. My setting are flat besides the deep switch on the F-1X. My stomps consist of a MXR octave, a Fulltone Bass Drive and a Dunlop bass wha. Although I rarely use them. It works for me and compliments how I play.

On the discussion of reverb. There are many units out there as we all know. One option I would like to coin in on is a good spring reverb. Spring reverbs have a unique quality that you can not get from digital units. Iíve used my vintage Fender Reverb guitar amp with my Distillate in recording situations and loved the sound of the springs. If I were to add reverb, an idea that had crossed my mind more that once, itís the way Iíd go.
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 452
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 4:04 am:   Edit Post


Spring reverb can be very nice, provided of course there's little or no contact noise.

Then imagine what adding a studio-quality plate reverb would do for your sound ... er, you may need to choose a bigger form of transportation to accommodate that in your rig LOL. Not sure if plate reverbs are a common commodity on the used market these days.
Intermediate Member
Username: dgcarbu

Post Number: 159
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 7:18 am:   Edit Post

It's all about experimenting and personal taste. I run straight to my rig and eq'd flat on the amp.
Intermediate Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 200
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 5:04 pm:   Edit Post

Perhaps we can all say that whatever the song or gig calls for, we are ready to deliver. I'm a bit nostalgic for the days when I played with 2 deltalabs for flange and chorus and only my custom 6's. Couple that with Taurus 2's and later Roland pk5 + korg and roland brains! Now I use my custom Excel 5's, dry with F1X and SF2. The bass is set with all knobs up with both pups on. Dial it in for the venue, Set it and drive the band like a maniac. But at home I love a liite chorus and delay via digitech bass pedal. If enough folks buy my album I'll get that S2 bass and get lost in knobland! See you on the Warped tour this summer.

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