Overdrive can be the friend of just about any instrument in the right settings. Guitarists use it all of the time to add some grit and edge to their tone. Singers will often overdrive outboard gear for some sweet harmonic saturation as well, even if they don’t know it. With so much overdrive flying around a modern recording session, it only makes sense to keep those same options open for a bass guitar, right?
There are plenty of amazing ways to achieve this between outboard gear and tube DIs that can add saturation and grit right from the start, but there are in-the-box solutions and inexpensive bass rig solutions that are widely available as well.
Regardless of if you’re using a virtual bass rig like Toneforge Hellraiser or your favorite amp head/cabinet combo on bass, adding an overdrive to your signal chain can open up an entirely new world of bass tones to experiment with. For the sake of today’s blog, we’re going to focus on one of our favorite – the Horizon Devices Precision Drive.
Why The Precision Drive?
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Precision Drive is a new take on what an overdrive pedal should be. It’s taken the classic circuitry and design of industry standards like the Tube Screamer and turned it upside down with a whole new set of features. These new features are exactly why this pedal works on bass – without them we’d be left with an unsalvageable mess of distortion the minute we try to push the drive a little harder than 0.
With the Precision Drive, there’s a noise gate right up front and an attack setting to control the incoming dynamics. You also gain a Bright knob, allowing you to dial in the upper mids in a way that really brings some shine to guitars or some clank to a bass guitar. From there you just set your drive and let it go to work!
The pedal was such a great, flexible option, we knew as soon as we saw it that it had to go into the Toneforge Misha Mansoor virtual guitar rig. It felt only right that we replicate it to exact specifications so that in-the-box users would have direct access to the same great pedal Misha designed for live use too.
Pairing The Precision Drive
If you choose to stay completely in-the-box as you overdrive your bass DI track with the Precision Drive, there are a few key elements to keep in mind. Unless you’re planning on bypassing the amp, Toneforge Misha Mansoor should be dialed in very particularly to work best with a bass signal. While the plugin is optimized for low-tuned and extended-range guitars, bass doesn’t always fit within the traditional processing of a guitar signal.
For bass, let the Precision Drive be your control for gain and overdrive. The amp gain itself can be pulled down low and left there. Trust me – the Precision Drive has more than enough juice to get the sound you’re after. After that, Compression and Harmonics are going to be your best friends on the amp itself.
After the amp, a large speaker cabinet (I recommend the 4x12) and the Royer 121 mic are going to be your best bet for replicating a bass cabinet. The larger cab size will add to the size of your bass and the 121 does an amazing job of capturing low-end content.
For a full run-through of how bass DIs can be used with the Toneforge Misha Mansoor plugin, check out Fluff’s video tutorial below:
No tool in an audio engineer’s toolbox works in complete isolation – the goal of a mix is using whatever tools you need to get the sound you’re after. For me, the final step in a great DI bass tone will always come with the compression after the overdrive.
The overdrive itself has added grit and sustain to my bass tone, but that doesn’t always equate to consistency. By using the built-in compressor offered by Toneforge Misha Mansoor, you can level out any unexpected or unwanted peaks for a smooth and driven performance.
Bass In The Mix
If you’re ready to experiment with a more aggressive bass tone but you’re not sure how it’ll fit in the mix, how about I give it a listen for you? Every JST VIP member gets access to exclusive mix crits, tutorials & plugins to achieve the sound they’re after.
What are you waiting for? Try your first month out today.