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Distortion Pedals -- Bass Signal Cut

Rumy73

Senior Member
Messages
474
Hello Everyone,

Would someone please explain this sonic phenomena and offer a solution, if possible:

I have a an MXR Classic Distortion and an Ibanez Tube Screamer, which I place in front of my Blackstar 5 watt tube amp. The amp's gain is gorgeous (to me) on its own. The output is well rounded with a very nice bass response. I want to use my pedals to add a touch more distortion or volume. Basically, I see them as additional "channels" for a wider palette of sounds at my immediate disposal.

Yet when I activate my MXR Classic Distortion (very similar to the DS III) or my Tube Screamer, the bass frequency is noticeably cut. I have experimented with different pedal settings, such as using more distortion and less level; vice versa, too. This is to no avail. Just to make matters a bit more complex, the drop in bass frequency is less noticeable if I am plugged into my Fender Blues Jr.

I understand that distortion is in effect type of compression, but what is the explanation for the signal loss? (Please, I am not looking to hear that such in such amp would be a better choice and/or my pedals "sucks" and go try "brand X" instead.)
 

Jason_77

Senior Member
Messages
7,198
Many drive pedals cut out some low end by way of the input and output capacitors. The reason for this is because the pedal will be boosting the signal and, if the lows are boosted too much, the sound becomes tubby, farty, and lacking in definition and articulation.

So, there's nothing wrong with the pedals or your setup; you may just want a drive pedal that cuts out less lows.

Also, if you're trying to just push the amp, are you running your pedals with the gain down and the volume up?
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I don't know much about the MXR, but the TS intentionally cuts bass and treble. There are components in the clipping circuitry that bleeds off treble and bass, which produces the warm, creamy midrange distortion the TS is known for. The treble bleed off actually increases as the drive knob is turned up. Its a pretty simple mod to remove the bass and treble cut (thus making the pedal more tonally flat or transparent, and it ought to increase the amount of distortion on tap as well).

Its really common people ask about finding a more transparent drive, or removing the mid hump (bass and treble cut) from a TS, but I think that ruins the pedal IMO. Its a perfect pedal because the midrange helps you cut through in a band mix and makes the pedal sound smooth. When you add distortion, you want less bass so that your signal doesn't get muddy. Bass and overdrive that sounds good at home can be a mess live.

Having said that, a Rat has a pretty fat bass. Many fuzz pedals do too, maybe check out some Fuzz Face circuits.

I use a midrange-boosted EQ for my cleans and TS's for most of my overdrive (occasionally a Rat, usually with a TS on before it).
 

Belmont

Member
Messages
3,465
most od/distortion/fuzz pedals cut bass, just the way it is.
in most cases, this is not a bad thing, because a lot of amps when turned up loud can sound bloated when hit with and overdrive, the bass cut will keep the low end tight.
this is less noticeable at low volumes.
the solution would be to get an eq pedal and place it before or after your od pedal.
to me, eq pedals are highly under valued, they open up a whole universe of tones that can make a huge difference.
you can add a loop pedal and put the eq and od pedal in the loop so that you only have to hit one footswitch to activate both pedals at the same time.
the other thing you could do id get a pedal that's known for having lots of bottom end, like an OCD V.1, Colorsound Overdrive and Boost, Boss OD-3 etc.
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
most od/distortion/fuzz pedals cut bass, just the way it is.
in most cases, this is not a bad thing, because a lot of amps when turned up loud can sound bloated when hit with and overdrive, the bass cut will keep the low end tight.
this is less noticeable at low volumes.
the solution would be to get an eq pedal and place it before or after your od pedal.
to me, eq pedals are highly under valued, they open up a whole universe of tones that can make a huge difference.
you can add a loop pedal and put the eq and od pedal in the loop so that you only have to hit one footswitch to activate both pedals at the same time.
the other thing you could do id get a pedal that's known for having lots of bottom end, like an OCD V.1, Colorsound Overdrive and Boost, Boss OD-3 etc.
Thats why I have two on my board ;)
One to add some mids to my cleans or to 'goose' my overdrive pedals and one as a lead boost. For my lead boost, I turned up all frequencies except bass.
 

Belmont

Member
Messages
3,465
Having said that, a Rat has a pretty fat bass. Many fuzz pedals do too, maybe check out some Fuzz Face circuits.
I agree with you except on the RAT, great pedal but they cut massive amounts of bass.
I use them in my bass rig and add bass with an eq pedal.
 

leche08

Member
Messages
63
I've noticed that a Box of Rock or Blues Drive don't cut too much bass. But some find the BOR too bass heavy.
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I agree with you except on the RAT, great pedal but they cut massive amounts of bass.
I use them in my bass rig and add bass with an eq pedal.
Lol, I sometimes think my Rat has too much bass! I love the mids of a TS though. I think the key thing in our differing opinion is that you're playing a Bass guitar - what has a fat bass on a 6-string might seem attenuated on a 4-string.
 
Messages
1,454
Tubescreamers are designed to cut bass, and no amount of twiddling with their knobs will mitigate this. The often-bandied-about term "transparent", when used to describe an overdrive, originally arose as a result of pedal makers beginning to offer OD's which did not cut out the bass (nor add in a mid-range hump). Your solution is to either find an OD that is generally regarded as transparent, or to simply use a clean boost instead and rely exclusively on your amp's distortion and its EQ profile.
 

Rumy73

Senior Member
Messages
474
I don't know much about the MXR, but the TS intentionally cuts bass and treble. There are components in the clipping circuitry that bleeds off treble and bass, which produces the warm, creamy midrange distortion the TS is known for. The treble bleed off actually increases as the drive knob is turned up. Its a pretty simple mod to remove the bass and treble cut (thus making the pedal more tonally flat or transparent, and it ought to increase the amount of distortion on tap as well).

Its really common people ask about finding a more transparent drive, or removing the mid hump (bass and treble cut) from a TS, but I think that ruins the pedal IMO. Its a perfect pedal because the midrange helps you cut through in a band mix and makes the pedal sound smooth. When you add distortion, you want less bass so that your signal doesn't get muddy. Bass and overdrive that sounds good at home can be a mess live.

Having said that, a Rat has a pretty fat bass. Many fuzz pedals do too, maybe check out some Fuzz Face circuits.

I use a midrange-boosted EQ for my cleans and TS's for most of my overdrive (occasionally a Rat, usually with a TS on before it).

I use Eq, an mxr 10 band. Where should it be in the chain? Before the od or after?

Oh another question, if I follow your idea, driving my mxr dist with the TS, am i dropping the gain on the ts and pumping the level?
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I use Eq, an mxr 10 band. Where should it be in the chain? Before the od or after?
Depends how you want to use it.
- To shape your distortion, put it after the dirt pedals.
- As a lead boost, put it after the dirt pedals.
- To shape your clean sound and possible 'goose' the dirt pedals, but it before dirt.

I do the two latter of the above with my two EQ pedals.

Oh another question, if I follow your idea, driving my mxr dist with the TS, am i dropping the gain on the ts and pumping the level?
Try both!
If your using your MXR like I use my Rat, what I've resorted to is leaving my Rat cleaner (mild crunch) and usually hitting it with either my cleaner TS or EQ.

 

aaronmcoleman

Member
Messages
309
MXR distortion + and TS have pretty much the same frequency they start to cut as the gain is increased. If you want to use the pedals as your main source of "distortion" you'll probably want to look at something with more bass ((but likely a bit of mud)).

If you just wanna kick the front end of your amp to let the amp break up, a clean boost would be a great choice. In face most of the early overdrives (i.e. colorsound overdrive, univox unidrive) were mostly just clean boosts to "overdrive" the next stage.
 

Belmont

Member
Messages
3,465
Try both!
If your using your MXR like I use my Rat, what I've resorted to is leaving my Rat cleaner (mild crunch) and usually hitting it with either my cleaner TS or EQ.

I like your board, we set and use our RATs very similar, I only like them as a low gain pedal.
you're right about playing it with bass, that's where you really notice the lack of low end.
it's low gain tone is one of the best I've encountered, great pedal.
 

Lullabies

Member
Messages
2,054
I have gone through many distortions both boutique and standard ones... I find some cut bass and some don't it really depends. I'm really digging the Wampler Triple Wreck right now as it has a 3 band EQ and tons of bass
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I like your board, we set and use our RATs very similar, I only like them as a low gain pedal.

you're right about playing it with bass, that's where you really notice the lack of low end.

it's low gain tone is one of the best I've encountered, great pedal.

Thanks!
Keeping it set hat low lets me do the scofield thing or hard rock if I kick on my TS.


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