to changing level: ditto the amount of overdrive/distortion that a pedal adds to your sound. Rebalancing
this can make a whole other range of tones available, and especially with multiple overdrives, allow you
to cascade sounds one into another.
My favourite 'gain effect', however, is the volume pedal. I very rarely ever play without one. When
I forget it, I end up tweaking the volume knob on my bass a lot to fade in notes and vary the attack.
Volume pedals allow us to mess with the fundamental shape of the notes we play. The velocity of the
sounds our instruments naturally make is measured in four values: attack, decay, sustain, release - ADSR
for short. Bass guitar design is all about affecting those inherent characteristics of string vibration to
lengthen the sustain or soften the attack. Wood choice, string choice, neck joint design: they're all part of
how a luthier can make decisions about the desirability of those characteristics.
But with a volume pedal we get to explore the affordance (the potential uses) of amplification. What
does having an instrument that is itself perceptibly 'silent' in most settings allow us to do to the signal
that's electronically transmitted? With an acoustic bass, we have to employ techniques with our hands
to change the ADSR, but a volume pedal is a great way to have swells, softer passages and fade-ins, to
lengthen the tail-end of notes that start out quiet and that we boost as they fade, or indeed to cut notes
short without stopping them with our hands.
My volume pedal 'technique' is something I'm constantly working on, exploring the subtle changes to
phrasing and tone that it allows me. If you have one, try sitting down to play with your foot permanently
on the pedal, and allowing yourself to vary the volume in as many ways as you can. See what happens!
ew elements of an effects
pedal system are more
frequently overlooked
than the whole area of
gain. From balancing
the input/output levels
on your individual effects, to
thinking about the possible
need for buffering to prevent
signal degradation, there are
lots of places where giving some
thought to how the volume flow
is matched up will impact your
tone and - crucially - the 'noise
floor'. This is the posh name for
the amount of hiss and weird
freaky background crackling
that's constantly present behind
the noises you actually want
to make. It's measured in a
negative dB value, so -70dB
would be pretty quiet, but -30dB
would be intrusive in a lot of
settings. That said, if you're
playing in a death metal band,
having overdrives that produce
a ton of background swoosh is
probably less problematic than a
crackly chorus pedal might be in
an acoustic setting.
Input gain can drastically
affect a lot of the effects we've
looked at over the last few
columns. For example, envelope
filters are entirely dependent
on variable input level for their
effect, and compressors respond
E l i x i r
Strings for Bass
D r i v e n b y P e r f e c t i o n .
D e v e l o p e d b y B a s s i s t s .
Players tell us that
E lix ir
Strings for Bass with NANOWEB’ Coating:
- Offer a smooth, natural feel, with enhanced grip*
- Provide greater durability and response, even during
hard-hitting attacks*
- Retain their tone longer than any other bass string,
uncoated or coated.
f y i x i r
'Compared to the original NANOWEB Coating
. “e" Icon
, and
other design» are trademark* of W
. L
. Gore &
Associate*. «2014 w
. L
. Gore <>
Associates. Inc. ЯЯК
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