Why do all OD Pedals kill the low end?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by traynor_garnet, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. traynor_garnet

    traynor_garnet Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    I've been experimenting with a few different ODs but have come to the realization that many ODs kill your low end. Lately I've been running a few ODs with my Barb EQ and the difference is stunning. If I crank the bass and cut the mids on my Barb EQ, my OD pedals sound SO much better. It doesn't sound like your tone completely changes when you hit a pedal; it just sounds like an extension of your amp.

    Now granted I am using these pedals in a low volume situation so perhaps at jamming volumes the bass drop isn't quite so pronounced. I also realize that the mid boost helps you cut thru a live mix. But at lower levels my RAT and Sparkle Drive are drastically improved when run in tandem with the eq.

    So the million dollar question, why are so many pedals lacking in low end (and why so many with the exaggerated mids).

  2. playon

    playon Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    Washington State
    Play them live with a band and you'll figure it out pretty quick...

  3. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

    Oct 29, 2007
    Canton, CT
    I guess it has to do with the compression that's created when a signal gets clipped, kind of the same way a tube amp's signal get's clipped when you crank it (although the pros outway the cons in that respect), and it creates a saggy low end. Luckily, my Throbak Overdrive Boost (which has an awesome EQ) and Fulltone OCD don't really suffer from that like most od's do. Everything has it's litlle drawbacks.
  4. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    Not an answer to your question, but an observation about a couple of pedals that retain low end.

    I've noticed that cranking the gain on the v4 OCD adds low end.

    And my Blackstone OD seems to have plenty of low end. Maybe a little too much, but the mid control is pretty effective (either in dialing out mids or boosting them for a nice full, cutting tone).

    But yes, most other ODs do seem to suffer a lack of low end. Tubescreamers are notorious for this.
  5. phoenix 7

    phoenix 7 Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2005
  6. traynor_garnet

    traynor_garnet Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    I've played live and realize you don't need the bass when playing loud. However, I mainly use ODs for playing at low levels. My amps sound so awesome cranked up that I don't need to use pedals unless I want something special on a solo (my guitar's volume knob is the main "effect" I use).

    Surely I'm not the only one using ODs because of volume concerns. In this scenario, way too many ODs kill the low end.

  7. PlexiFuzz

    PlexiFuzz I know karate. Voodoo, too.

    Mar 24, 2005
    Plenty of pedals out there that don't fall in this category:

    Skreddy Screw Driver
    Catalinbread Silver Kiss
    Zvex Box of Rock
    Most Menatone pedals (especially the KOTB and WMB)
    MI Audio Blues Pro and Tube Zone (killer low-gain OD)
    etc., etc., etc...

    I, too, am a low volume player, and it takes a special pedal to be able to match the low end of my Sewell Texaverb. All of the above have passed that test for me.

  8. rewog

    rewog Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Perth, Australia
    In a band situation, you'll be competing on the same territory as the Drums and Bass, and you'll lose, getting lost in the mix.
    If you're using it at home, etc, there are OD's around that either have good Bass response, or can be modded to have it.
    The TS and SD-1 type pedals can have full Bass response with the change of just one or two components.
  9. Steven

    Steven Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    Try the NOC3 Pure Drive. It offers great tweakabillity over the low end - and it is a great low/mediun OD pedal with a clean boost that can be added to the overdrive sound.
  10. JamonGrande

    JamonGrande Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    San Diego
    besides the "band-cut" factor, I was under the impression that most od circuits tend to get muddy when there is not significant low end filtering. And thus the reason why ODs with bigger low end sound either congested is due to lack of filtering, or post clipping EQ that boosts a wide range of lows and lower-mids that were filtered out (which results in a bass response unlike that of the original signal). Some OD's seem to side step the issue by blending in a clean signal which allows for some of the natural bass response to peak through at the expense of an "evenly" clipped signal.

    i think... ?

  11. spentron

    spentron Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    The guitar signal tends to be louder on lower notes in terms of measurable level. This is dealt with at the amp but that only makes it worse in terms of the box up front. The need is to temporarily change the balance long enough to distort the signal and then change it back. But then we might also want to overdrive something else with that signal, so leaving it midrangey could be good. Besides, in the TS the idea is also to really aggressively get rid of the highs too, make it smooth, so putting the bass back results in bad balance. So cut at everything below 800 Hz, distort, add in a bit of clean to that, and then cut everything above 800 Hz ... either genius or incredibly stupid, depending on how you look at it. It sounds pretty good, and no one will ever confuse it with a Big Muff, but it totally ignores the subject of matching to bypass.
  12. bestegw

    bestegw Member

    Apr 17, 2007
    In limbo (but still in the Netherlands)
    In answer to your question: Because thay are designed that way.

    As already has been stated above, there are many pedals that retain (or even add) lows to your sound, so the pedals you use have been specifically designed to cut lows and highs.

    Second thing is that most OD's use cheap dual opamps (yes, that infamous JRC4558 is a very cheap IC) that make them sound muffled and less transparent.

    Now, you could buy new OD's that are more transparant, like the Throbak, the Zendrive or the OCD, but you could also try to mod the pedals you already have.

    Which pedals do you use anyway???
  13. MAGICboy

    MAGICboy Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    pick more towards neck than the bridge in low volume situations..

    it helps a lil bit if you need more bass response
  14. CWFurst

    CWFurst Member

    Dec 21, 2006
    Most of the time if you just open up the volume of the pedal you are using you should notice the low end return. Think of the volume knob on your pedal as being sort of a "master" volume. Like most MV amps you need to have the master volume wide open to get the full sound of the amp. The more you lower that volume the more your eq/tone controls will have less effect and the more you will loose the dynamics of how it was intended to sound. Try it sometime and I'll bet you will find that most of your pedals have nicely balanced tonal characteristics.

    I could just be full of it too. :eek:
  15. CryBaby

    CryBaby Member

    Nov 17, 2005
    Gothenburg Sweden
    +1 on MI-audio Tubezone.
    You can dial in the clear firm bottom, to Your taste.
    One of the best pedals I ever have owned.

  16. pgissi

    pgissi Member

    Nov 23, 2006
    Outta Here
    Why do OD's kill the low end?

    Notice my classification of OD - Dist - Fuzz, 3 distinct flavors
    OD to represent the lower end (quantity wise) of Harmonic Distortion
    Dist to represent the middle area of Harmonic Distortion
    Fuzz to represent the high end of Harmonic Distortion

    The answer is not as simple as you would think but is made up of several aspects-

    1) Low freqs are where most of the energy is present both electronicaly and acousticaly, if these low freqs are too OD'riven, doppler distortion is the result at the speaker from requiring the speaker to reproduce these high energy distorted low freqs which presents physical stress on the spkr cone possibly beyond its handling characteristics and trying to do this while maintaining clarity in other freq ranges. This low freq cone bending results in pitch alteration in other freq ranges.

    This is without mentioning what could be happening in the signal chain, i.e. overload.

    Add too much bottom on your home stereo, what happens, and thats with generally clean sine wave with powerfull systems, now imagine most underpowered hom systems, listen for the bottom end distortion, how is the whole audbile range affected?

    Sounds like sheet!

    So the bottom line here is that many pedals in the OD/ lower end of Dist family of pedals filter the low freqs out so they arent being OD'riven or in the case of the TS, there is a freq threshold set where the onset of OD occurs and in the TS9 its about 720hz.

    This preserves the original signal clarity to a greater degree than pedals that do not use this design feature or go beyond this called Dist and Fuzz.

    It is a generalized statement of course and there are exceptions of course but another method to preserve clarity and dynamics is to parallel blend the original dry signal in with the OD signal and there are pedals that do that.

    Pedals of the TS type and beyond into Dist and Fuzz with EQ controls give you more flexibility but how much is dependent on the type of control (Tone Pot versus Low/Mid/High pots) of the center freq, bandwidth/Q and lastly gain of the control.

    Now when considering some pedals called Dist and many pedals called Fuzz, this is where on some varieties you can get wideband or Full Range harmonic distortion, meaning the low freqs are included in the OD circuit and/or are adjustable allowing you to select the amount.

    Needless to say the potential to create some clarity killing uber distortion is there in these pedals but there is a price to pay for this as I have mentioned above (doppler distortion) and just below, reduced clarity or projection in the mix.

    So simplistically a good way to file this away in your head is to think of pedals in this order from low to high harmonic distortion output-
    OD's -low HD
    Dist's -more HD (some offering Full Range HD)
    Fuzz's -max HD (many offering Full Range HD)

    Needless to say when you get into the higher end of Dist and then on into Fuzz pedals, it becomes more difficult to project those tones in a loud environment for the same amount of power when using OD since increasing amounts or harmonic dist tends to get buried in the mix.

    Why is that?

    Its the lack of fundamental tones.

    Fundamentals are the low and low mid freq ranges for an instrument where the the meat of the signal is present, the body of it if you will and for an electric guitar its 160 to 500hz.

    When the Fundamental range for any instrument is filtered out or distorted/overdriven its placement in the mix tends to fade proportionaly based on the degree of filtering or harmonic distortion.

    Since the fundamentals freqs for an electric guitar is found on the lower end of the audbile range for human hearing where the low freq's are present, you perceive it as a reduction of bottom end.

    How do you counter this?

    Audition pedals for this and/or use pedals with EQ on board and also realize when using a "Fuzz" pedal you may need to make adjustments in other areas of your signal chain to project the more heavily distorted tone with the same given power.

    Its a fact, 2 live guitars, 1 clean and 1 dirty, playing with the same wattage output and all other things being equal, Mr Clean will be heard he will have a clear and round low end while Mr Fuzz will not have the clarity to compete, he will be washed out in white noise and you will struggle to hear the proper pitch and/or not be able to establish the instrument due to missing funamental tones.

    In order for MR Fuzz to win this, read below and once he beefs up, no one will hear anything else in the mix!

    A good example of this in the real world, synthesizers. They produce these tones with ease but to audbily reproduce them at an adequate volume in a live music setting the proper equipment must be used as in heavy duty drivers capable of full range and 4 times the wattage to do it with clarity.

    Thats a hint for you who want to take the uber distortion of today to the next place, you need a keys or bass players rig and this is not necessary if you just want a little beef, once again audition many pedals.
  17. Dennis Rayburn

    Dennis Rayburn Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2003
    Fairfield, CT
    Not an answer to your question, but a way I manage that situation...

    I'm in the process of rearranging my board to include a Sniper modded GE-7 in the loop with my OD/Distortion pedals. I'll adjust the EQ slightly to give me more low end and it makes all my pedals sound better.

    I've found that by doing this I can free up some real estate by removing my Stage Hog, which takes up a lot of space, since I get real close to the Stage Hog sounds I like with EQ + AC Booster or EQ + Addrock NSOY. I'm sure that will apply to my other pedals too when I get around to trying it.

    But as stated elsewhere, even with pedals that remove some low end, its tough to hear that when playing live.
  18. traynor_garnet

    traynor_garnet Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Been through a bunch but right now I have an early 90s Vintage Reissue RAT, a Sparkle Drive, and a Bad Monkey. I really dig the Sparkle Drive's Clean Blend because it improves the clarity of the pedal. However, I don't find TS pedals to be the greatest at doing low gain, amp like dirt, and also find they have an annoying mid hump.

    I do have a Monte Allums H2O Blues Driver on the way (Owned a stock BD-2 in the past and thought it was good) and I must say I am intrigued by the NOC3 Pure Drive that was mentioned earlier.

    I know my needs are pretty specific: for use in low volume situations playing rhythm. Pedals for leads are much easier to negotiate.
  19. ♪♪♫♫♪

    ♪♪♫♫♪ Senior Member

    Mar 5, 2008
  20. majorledhead

    majorledhead Member

    Mar 5, 2006
    Slippery Rock
    I've been running a couple of BJFE pedals that seem to retain alot of low end. The BBOD and HBOD work pretty well but I almost always run them into a SeaBlue EQ for a boost and a EQ tweek. The problem I ran into was that after years of TS type drives I got used to that low end robbing tone and when you first get it back it can sound muddy or dull to your conditioned ears. I have a MP LGW also that while a TS type circuit, the nature knob lets to dial in some of those low mids and it don't compress as much as other TS designs. I really noticed it when I A/B'd it against an Eternity.

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