I had a chance to send some questions over to Chad Beeler of BassEFX.com. For those of you don’t know, BassEFX.com is a new site that is providing a great selection of effect pedals for the bass players out there. Chad definitely knows his stuff when it comes to bass, bass tone and effects, and he’s bringing in his knowledge to BassEFX.com.
When it comes to effects, some bass players benefit from one-on-one guidance. At BassEfx.com, you get it. Chad Beeler, a seasoned bass professional, can help you find, modify, or augment any sound. Whether you want just the right amount of balls, anger, funkiness or beauty, Chad gets what you’re talking about. He’s played bass for more than 30 years, used every effect imaginable, and equipped some of the world’s best known bass players.
A few days ago I had a great conversation with him on the phone, and wanted to send some questions his way. Here is the interview:
– What prompted you to start BassEFX.com?
I got frustrated trying to research pedals for not only myself, but for customers who had some specific requests. Google-ing “bass effects” listed the usual suspects: Guitar Center, Amazon, Musician’s Friend, etc…then a laundry list of random pedals. None, as it turned out, were what I was looking for. So the light bulb moment came when I asked my self “Man, why isn’t there a central web site with effects targeting bass players?” With 20 years in bass specific retail, I said to myself, “Why the hell don’t I do it?” So I did it.
– Tell us about your past experience in the music industry.
I co-founded and ran Bass Northwest in Seattle for 15 years, (1994-2009) and prior to that, worked in the bass department at Seattle Music, a rather cool shop downtown. I still work at Bass NW on very limited part-time basis to help out and stay in the loop musically.
– Do you see more bass players using effects?
Absolutely! Some are looking for a specific effect or getting a game plan together, others are just starting to explore, but more and more are pushing the envelope with extensive, well thought out pedal boards that are constantly evolving. It’s a facet of the bass community that’s definitely getting bigger.
– What are some things you would recommend to avoid when it comes to effected bass?
First, I recommend avoiding bad advice. Players, whether bass or guitar, have a sonic goal in mind. It’s a path we’re all on, we don’t necessarily know the direction, but subjective and unqualified opinions make for unnecessary detours. It’s easy to ask and get answers to “what’s the best pedal for this or that?”, but unless you know what instrument, amp, or cabinet the player is using or what kind of style or tone they want to emulate, you can’t offer or get a helpful answer. I work very hard at asking all the right questions and giving thoughtful, professional advice.
Second, (and last) avoid buying pedals to correct your tone. If you don’t like the tone of your bass, amp, cabinet, or any combination of those, fix that problem first. If you can’t afford to do that, make what you have work. Use your EQ, your hands, your mind, your heart, your cojones, whatever, just make it work. If your fundamental sound, (the tone you’re using 95% of the time), ain’t cuttin’ it, fix it. Effects can help create and augment your tone, but if your tone is weak from the get go, buying effects to help will only be frustrating and expensive. In other words, you can put diamonds around a dog’s ass…but it’s still a dog’s ass.
Otherwise, get to it and have fun!
– What pedals do you think are incredibly useful for a bass player?
Given the dynamic and sonic range of the instrument, compressors and outboard preamps are typically the fundamental building blocks to focused, fat tone. Which pedals in particular? That’s a personal, subjective call. You get a good deal of EQing on your bass and/or amplifier and some compressing or limiting capabilities on some amps, but what you create in between, signal-wise, can define your signature sound. Everything else, whether it be modulating, filtering, octave dividing, overdriving, distorting, delaying, etc… opens wide a giant sonic palate on which to geek out accordingly.
– How do you feel about using guitar focused effects on bass? Or do you recommend using pedals tailored specifically for bass?
Everything’s fair game. Experiment with all of it. Some pedal groups: distortion, fuzz, overdrive, for example, may work much better for guitar than bass on paper and in the real world, but that doesn’t mean a bassist can’t incorporate any of those in creating or augmenting their tone. It’s totally subjective and there are no rules. However, bass players are very concerned with “losing low end” when stepping on a pedal. And, since the majority of players have one main rig, there is definitely an awareness of this when choosing a pedal. Bass specific pedals more precisely address the dynamic and sonic range of the instrument and can help minimize low end loss when the pedal is stomped. Therefore, I’m a proponent of having a separate rig for effects and “A,B,Y-ing” the signal to the appropriate rig, that’s the best way to preserve the fundamental low end and use effects you may not try otherwise. But, that’s not a realistic and/or feasible choice for a solid majority of players, economically or otherwise. So, that’s why bass-specific pedals are usually looked at first, though, some pedals designed for guitar fit nicely in the bass realm.
Bottom line, (as lame as it may come across,) use what works for you.
– Are there things to consider when dealing with amps and effects. Drawbacks of effects with Solidstate vs. Tube amps?
There aren’t really any drawbacks regarding amps. But solid state and tube amps behave differently, so adjustments on whatever pedals you use will vary a bit. Most bass amps, new lightweight class D amps included, are of hybrid design, with usually at least one 12AX7 tube at the preamp stage to warm things up along with a solid state power section, so again it just comes down to trying out pedals with a particular system, seeing what works best and tweaking accordingly. The biggest drawback is that most bass cabs are full-range with some sort of tweeter or horn. And if you run overdrive or distortion through a horn, you get a harsh bumblebee-ish sound, so the horn has to be dialed way back. Unfortunately, that means when you go back to a clean sound and you want to slap and pop, for example, you lose that crystally high end. So it’s a bit of a conundrum, but still solvable.
– What are the hot builders when it comes down to bass effects?
There are many great builders. The bigger players, MXR, Aguilar, Tech 21, etc.. are making great stuff. A newer company that I’m impressed with is Source Audio. They’re smart, forward thinking, and they’re creating some very cool stuff for bass players including the Bass Envelope Filter Pro, Programmable EQ, and the Hot Hand products. The boutiques I’m digging lately are 3Leaf Audio, Darkglass, and Wren & Cuff.
– Are there any new pedals coming down the pipe that you’re excited about?
Yes. I’m very excited to be the first U.S. dealer for Darkglass Electronics, hand built in Finland. Their Microtubes B3K overdrive pedal has generated a massive buzz and I can’t wait to get my mitts on one. I’m also excited about an exclusive pedal for BassEFX.com that I am collaborating on with Spencer Doren of 3Leaf Audio fame. Spencer is a genius and it’s going to be an amazing bass-oriented EQ, DI, and headphone amp. A “Swiss Army Knife” that’s designed to be a pedal that every bass player would want or need, with all aspects of it delivering at the highest level. I have been in the business a long time and I can say that this will be one of the best pedals ever produced. Price will be under $300.00 and, hopefully, it will find its way onto everyone’s pedal board.
– As a bass player, what pedals should probably be avoided.. if any?
None. Check as much stuff out as you can. Even the crappiest or weirdest pedal may have some attribute that you dig. Maybe it won’t find its way onto your pedal board, but having a range of effects can stoke you creatively for recording or song writing. Just keep your ears and your mind open.
– Who are some of your favorite bass players that are known for using effects to shape their tone?
There are waaaay too many to list. The two that popped into my mind first are:
Dug Pinnick from King’s X. Dude’s tone is epic, giant, and just plain filthy. “Black the Sky” on the “Dogman” album is probably the coolest rock tone ever. It blends a fat fundamental and tube driven distortion that is perfectly executed. Most of it is created through a giant couple of racks of compressors and EQs in addition to Ampeg and Traynor amps. Not a lot pedal wise, by I’ve made it a personal mission to emulate his tone in a downsized rig with the appropriate pedals.
Next is Tony Levin. He wields compression like a broad brush stroke with his Music Man basses and adds bits of other effects, (octavers, chorus, distortion) in subtle but effective ways. Combine all that perfectly crafted bass lines, dynamics, and use of space and you get a phenomenal bassist and musician.
It was great to talk with Chad. I think it’s awesome to have a site that focuses on bass effects. I know when I post bass related products here at EffectsBay.com, the feedback from bass players has been huge. Please check out BassEFX.com on the web and their page on Facebook.
Chad is also offering a EffectsBay.com exclusive coupon code for BassEFX.com! Simply use the code EFFECTSBAY10 at checkout and save 10% off of your order. This offer is good til the 15th of November. Thanks Chad!