Guitar/Bass Effects

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by goddard1824, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. goddard1824

    Thread Starter Member

    Jun 17, 2006
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    Hey everyone,

    I am a musician (bassist), which is why I became interested in electronics in the first place (amps, effects, sound, etc.) and I have a question for some of you. Those of you who may be familiar with guitar effects and amps, would it be alright to use a bass guitar with guitar effects (more specifically, distortion pedals and wah-wah pedals). I have tried them out with the bass and they seem to work fine, but I would like to know if I am doing any damage to the circuit? Also, what is it about a bass amp that makes it different from a guitar amp (electronically speaking that is!).

    Thanks
     
  2. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
    10,138
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    Heat is the thing that does the most damage. Heat comes from several sources including ambient temperature like on a hot summer night under bright lights. Heat is generated when you try to move large amounts of power from the power supply to the speakers.

    I believe the difference between the amps is the frequency response. A bass amp would be designed to amplify signals from below the range of hearing at about 16 Hz. up to say middle C which is at 256 Hz. A guitar amp might overlap slightly and go from 100 Hz. to 10 KHz.

    These answers are guesses and do not have the weight or benefit of first hand experience.
     
  3. mozikluv

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 22, 2004
    1,437
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    hi,

    i agree to what "papabravo" has mentioned about the heat and freq. response. to take it further the difference will be in the preamp and input stage of the power amp. as already mentioned it is designed for low frequency response & enhancement. but it does not mean you can't hook up a lead or rythm guitar to that amp but it won't sound pleasant or should i say it will not sound as it should sound.

    in case you may wish to build your own bass amp, just make sure that all power transistors or mosfets are adequately heatsinked.

    moz
     
  4. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    To give you an answer from a non-electronic perspective. I know several people who have used guitar-effects equipment on bass-guitars for many years, without problems. This would indicate that there is no emprical evidence that it is likely to damage you effects-pedal or wah-wah. That said, I would personally not advise that you use your equipment for this purpose since you are operating the pedal beyond its design, when in reality you (or I) don't know its limits, and additionally are invalidating any warranty or insurance you may have on the equipment.

    Its your call, but don't be surprised if it suddenly stops working.

    The other alternative is to learn the guitar! :p

    Dave
     
  5. kubeek

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 20, 2005
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    It usually is not a question of damaging the effect, but the sound of guitar distortion used for bass is really bad. The same applies for wah, because bass has almost no highs, and guitar wah modulates mostly higher mids and highs, so it just can´t sound how it should.
     
  6. Gadget

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 10, 2006
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    Do what sounds good. Some of the best effects have been accidental.
    Bass with an emphasis on the High frequency sounds very sharp, but with the HF attenuated is very mellow.
    Bass amps are often only different in the Speaker system. Try a standard Guitar amp and feed it into a Bass "Quad Box" and you'll hear what I mean.
    Bass Distortion often needs a fairly low Low Pass filter to eliminate the High frequency harmonics, but try it without....the result might be different enough to experiment further with.
    If Supertramp never played a guitar in an Elevator, then we would not have heard "Give a Little bit". If Peter Frampton hadn't thrown away his Wah, and used a speaker pipe in his mouth, we wouldn't have "Show me the Way". Some of the most interesting music comes from the "inavators"...
    The Who, the Police, Jimi, Jeff Healey......... etc etc etc.....
     
  7. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    To be a little clear about what I am saying. If you read the supporting documentation for a guitar-effects pedal it will warn you against using it for anything else - including a bass guitar. Whilst the actual effect it would have on the pedal itself is open to debate, if you use it for a bass-guitar and it subsequently fails you will not have a leg to stand on in terms of the warranty.

    Thats said, what you say about the sound issues is a valid point.

    Dave
     
  8. goddard1824

    Thread Starter Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    10
    0
    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the replies, they all gave me better insight to the situation. Now, I've been playing bass on many guitar effects for some time now, and I have always wondered if I was really hurting the circuit, but to tell you the truth from experience, the only pedals that really do not respond well to a bass are the distortion pedals, which (haha), are the pedals I wish worked on a bass because every kind of bass distortion out there is pretty much terrible. I have been searching for some time now for a smoother distorted sound, something more like a guitar distortion. Though at the moment, I have been using the natural distortion from the tube and I am actually pretty satisfied with it. Though, I wish I had something else. Which actually brings up a good question; is it electronically impossible for bass guitar distortion to sound smooth like a guitar distortion or could it be done? Does this have anything to do with frequency and wavelength that it sounds bad?
    Also, in reply to Kubeek's response, my bass actually does sound excellent with a guitar wah. Though you are right, it doesn't sound as good on the lower registar tones, but I do not use the wah on lower tones, about 99% of the time of third registar tones, so it sounds great. And also, have not had any problem yet running it through guitar wah (more specifically a Dunlop Crybaby), so hopefully I can move onto the classic Vox soon.

    Thanks a lot everyone!
     
  9. nomurphy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 8, 2005
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    Most audio electronics are designed to operate from 20Hz to 20KHz, however the bass guitar can eat more power in a power amplifier due to its lower register and drive speakers harder. Therefore, one should be a bit more judicious when using an amp that is cranked up (although most amps now-a-days contain protection circuitry, I wouldn't necessarily trust to that).

    As regards effects boxes, the components use so little power that by no means are you going to damage anything because of bass frequency response -- it is NOT an issue. Any decently designed box will have filters that limit the frequency response to that intended for the designed use (a wah-wah is a filter). Ultimately, as you have noticed, if it sounds good and works for you then go ahead and use it.

    The only caveat is the amp/speaker combination; if you use a fuzz or over-drive with the amp cranked up, you are more likely to blow the amp or speaker with the bass (see first paragraph).
     
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