8 months ago

BassPlayer 2017-05

BassPlayer 2017-05


CS JUAN ALDERETE Mark Guiliana and Japanese guitar virtuoso suGar, is a power trio that’s heavy on the tones. Hero Orbit’s self-titled debut, years in the making, is well worth the wait: Alderete harnesses a barrage of sounds that are wildly distorted on “Subump” and “Angels Flight,” rubbery and elastic on “Love or Lost,” and sandpaper-gritty on the title track. Regardless of the project, the band members, or the genre, though, he is always pushing the boundaries of effects on the bass guitar. Juan Alderete might indeed have a problem, but fortunately for us, it’s a good problem to have. What was the evolution of your pedal obsession? In Racer X, we focused on shredding, and I got the really precise tone I needed by using a Boss CS-2 Compression pedal and my Jazz Bass. But in the ’80s, everyone was using a chorus pedal, so I got a TC Electronic Stereo Chorus Flanger. Then I bought a Boss OC-2 Octave because my bass teacher, Steve Evans, used one while he soloed. In the ’90s, I started getting into Electro-Harmonix Micro Synths. I wasn’t the first to do it—Michael Anthony of Van Halen would use the up bass feature on a Micro Synth when he soloed. Then I got a fuzz pedal, and before I knew it, I was getting into all sorts of distortion, which got me into researching pedals and buying and selling them left and right. How many effects were you using with the Mars Volta? My pedalboard kept getting bigger and bigger until I had four massive pedalboards on tour. My setup got so huge that it weighed more than anybody else’s stuff on stage. Then I built a studio in 2011 for my effects collection, which is 400 to 500 pedals. Which ones end up on your board these days? My old joke is that I put Mexican flag stickers on pedals that make the cut. As for the most indispensible ones, I’d say the Boss CS-2, OC-2, and VB-2 pedals; my vintage Micro Synth; the Earthquaker Devices Hummingbird, Afterneath, Hoof Reaper, and Rainbow Machine; Red Panda’s Context Reverb, Godlyke’s Great Divide, the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl, the new Dunlop Effects Roundtable Top Players & Industry Heavies Weigh In IF A BASS PLAYER COULD ONLY OWN Darryl Anders, bass three types of effects, what would they be, products manager for and why? Dunlop Manufacturing A Steve Lawson, solo preamp/DI is a great bassist For me, it’d be a pedal to have in case the delay, a reverb, and an amp fails, the battery overdrive, but that’s not fails on an active bass, to what I’d choose for a add boost and tone control to a passive bass, wedding gig! In that and to control the tone you send to the FOH setting, I’d go for an engineer. An octave is great for adding more envelope filter, a chorus, and an overdrive—I depth and covering synth bass parts. And can cover a lot of sonic range with those three, distortion/overdrive adds grit and dirt that can and in a band setting they’d be more widely help cut through a wall of loud guitars. applicable than the time-based effects. Andrew Barta, president Jamie Stillman, founder of Tech 21 USA For me, of Earthquaker Devices I it would be distortion/ almost always see fuzz, compressor, and bassists using compression, overdrive, and EQ. depends on one’s chorus. Obviously, it I’m personally a fan of musical style, as it’s fuzz, but I think a lot of unlikely a jazz player would want distortion, bassists avoid it because it annihilates the while other players are rarely without it. A signal. I like that “annihilation” tone. compressor helps even out your sound, Jeff Slingluff, U.S. guitar especially if there’s subpar backline or if your product manager for bass isn’t all that great. A pitch-shifting/ Boss/Roland The first harmonized chorus always adds some nice one is easy: A compressor, like a Boss BC-1X and it won’t waver the foundation. depth and dimension; it’s more usable for bass, Bass Comp. Bass is Jonathan Hischke of Dot inherently dynamic, and Hacker, Broken Bells, it’s important to have a compressor to maintain and Hella Drive is your string levels. Bass distortion, like the probably the most Boss BB-1X Bass Driver, would be the second important category. A most important—it’s a quick way to add fat, good overdrive pedal can interesting harmonics and overtones. The third function as a tone-shaping, always-on effect, or as something to kick in is more of a toss-up, but for me, it would be a bass synthesizer, like the Boss SYB-5, because for a little more power or color, and it can also they’re useful for any style of music, from funk get you into distortion and fuzz territory. These to rock. days, lower octave/subharmonic effects have become important for bass players. And, of course, compression is a vital (and often misunderstood) element of any bass tone heard on record and in most performance capacities. 30 / may2017

Tim Lefebvre of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Donny McCaslin I would say an octaver and some sort of overdrive. If you’re so inclined, a compressor, too, I suppose. You don’t need any of them in a perfect world, but tastefully used, these effects can help push the music forward without it sounding dated or too “effecty.” Dave Boonshoft, president/CFO of Aguilar Amplification Get a distortion pedal that offers a flexible amount of saturation; that’ll give you the ability to “rough up” your sound with just a bit of distortion or go for heavier sounds. Get a compressor that offers both high- and low-compression ratios so that you can set the ratio (or slope) high for limiting on slap techniques and use low ratios for long notes. And a good octave pedal will give you the ability to add synth-like overtones to your bass lines. In terms of general categories (distortion, modulation, delay, dynamics, filters, reverb, pitch shifting, etc.), what are the best practices for a signal chain? Stillman I tend to go: input > dynamic or octave effects > overdrive > fuzz > filter > modulation > delay > reverb > EQ, but it all comes down to preference. Anything can sound great if you know how to use it. Anders This is really a personal choice, and it depends on the player’s style, but I’d recommend compression, octave, dynamics, filters, modulation, delay, pitch shifting, reverb, and distortion. Lefebvre I would put the devices that drive the signal first. From there, you can put the stuff that modulates for the best overall effect. You can also put stuff after the modulators for “finishing” the sound, like a plug-in. Lawson I’m a fan of experimentation—chain ’em up and see what happens. There are a few “rules” just ripe for breaking. For example, delays often end up at the end of the chain, but put a filter after a delay, and the envelope will gradually close as the repeats get quieter. I do like having a pitch-shifter at the start of the chain, because that can get really gnarly if you have delays and reverbs before it. Sometimes, gnarly is exactly what I’m looking for! Slingluff A good starting point is to place delaybased effects, like reverb, delay, and chorus after compression or distortion. Effects like wah and T-wah tend to work best pre-distortion, and EQ works well in either position, depending on your needs. But the fun of pedals is creating your own order and finding your own unique sound. Barta The basic rule of thumb is that tone-modifying effects like distortion, compression, pitch shifting are first in the chain, and time-based effects, such as delay and reverb, should be last. Filters can be first or last, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. We always recommend trying it both ways. Boonshoft The first pedals in the signal chain should be the ones most sensitive to dynamics and input level, including modulation and filter effects. Next, place pedals that control dynamics, such as compressors and limiters, and then add distortion and fuzz. The last pedals in line should be reverbs. Hischke The general template I keep in mind is: fuzz (if it’s the type that responds differently to a non-buffered signal), tuner, compression, “attack” effects (swell, sustain, freeze, etc.), octave, pitch shifting, distortion, overdrive, tremolo, envelope filter/synth, amp simulation, bass boost/lowpass filter, delay, reverb, and modulation. There are always exceptions, of course, and experimentation is important, but I find that setting up my chain along these lines tends to be both effective and versatile. Do you see any developments in DSP and other digital technologies that will encroach on analog effects? Slingluff Absolutely. The new technologies we’ve developed, like the MDP (Multi-Dimensional Processing) used in the Boss BC-1X Bass Comp and Boss SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer, are only plausible in a digital world. Stillman The biggest way DSP developments are affecting players is limitless possibilities. I think people get more creative when they have limitations; they tend to get more experimental when they have to create new sounds from a couple old effects pedals. With all these do-it-all, rack gear/digital audio workstations disguised as multi-effect pedals, it’s easy to get bogged down in technology rather than actually playing. Lefebvre Nothing really tracks real-time like analog effects, but guys like Owen Biddle and Zach Danziger of Edit Bunker are making serious strides in that area. What they are doing is stunning. Anders I can see DSP being used to control analog effects, making for better tracking and fine-tuning of analog parameters. Boonshoft I think DSP is great when working totally “in the box,” that is, recording directly into computer software. Still, adding analog effects adds a much more complex and musically compelling sound to the bass. Analog effects integrate better than digital into the whole system of player, bass, and amp. Hischke There is so much happening in that digital realm, and a lot of it is really sounding authentic these days. I think analog effects will be safe as long as players value a simple interface and the ability to tailor their sound on the fly, and I tend to be one of those people. If you’re a player doing a prescribed and consistent set night after night, however, current technology’s modeling and signal-chain versatility could save you a lot of headache. And if you have the time and know-how, the digital world has endless effects to explore. But there’s something magical about an analog fuzz or an analog delay that I can’t describe. Barta There are constant developments, but it’s unlikely that analog is going to fade away anytime soon. Digital sound quality has gotten better, it brings costs down, and user interfaces are getting a bit easier, but the biggest disadvantage of digital effects is the learning curve—programming, menus, hidden functions, etc. You’re Continues on page 32 / may2017 31

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