Effects for the Electric Bass
|By Kevin ManieriGeorges Music|
Youre probably used to hearing effects used on electric guitar. Youre also used to seeing guitarists show up to a gig with a dizzying array of stompboxes, pedals, switchers, and other doodads. Sometimes they carry suitcase-sized pedalboards; sometimes they carry two or three of them! So what about bass players? Dont they use effects too? Well, the answer is that while many bass players go direct, some players do use effects to get some great sounds and shape their tone. Heres a quick list of the most commonly used effects for bass:Fuzz/Distortion/Overdrive
Bassists want to get distorted sometimes too! A lot of players simply use a guitar distortion pedal. This can sound tinny, but it will definitely make you cut through the mix. Others will run an effects loop from their amp, so that they can blend the clean bass signal with the distorted one for a slightly fuzzy sound. Of course, there are some distortion pedals made specifically for bassists. These pedals typically have a much better low-bass response than guitar distortion pedals and can provide that full-throated growl. Heres a great example check out the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Sustainer Pedal.
I love this pedal!!!
Heres a tip: try turning the tone or treble knob on your bass all the way down when engaging your distortion. This will give you a syrupy-thick fuzz.Compression
Bassists of all kinds use compression to even out the response of their playing. A compressor makes the super-loud notes a little less boomy, and the quieter notes a bit louder, giving your overall output a clean, balanced sound. A lot of players use compression when playing slap bass to smooth out the percussive pops and twangs.Octave Effect
Your bass is already low imagine playing a full octave, or two, below those notes! You can do this with an octave pedal such as the Boss OC-3 Super Octave Pedal.
This effect provides a unique doubled sound. Be careful when going super low and playing super loud test your speakers to make sure they can handle those big sound waves.Chorus/Reverb
Some players like to add a lush reverb or chorus to their sound for a spacey, ethereal touch. This can sound great when played with a pick or fingerstyle. Be careful, though. Too much of these effects will make you get lost in the mix.Multi-FX
Just as with guitar effects, you can get one device that combines these bass effects and many more, such as with the Digitech BP80 Bass ModelingProcessor.
So there you have it! Bass players of the world, dont be afraid to experiment with effects. Your band-mates may look at you a little funny when you show up with a pedalboard, but the audience will appreciate your variety.
Kevin Manieri spends his time in the Finance & Accounting department at George's Music and when he's not crunching numbers, can be heard blasting out killer bass riffs throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.