Hi! I’m writing this on behalf on a few of my fellow low-end brethren, who have been receiving queries regarding how we run our effects with our live rigs. So without further ado, I shall explain how I set up mine in order to achieve the sounds, effects and goals I desire. What you will find is that while my setup may differ from some of the other bass players, you will find a thread of commonality amongst us, in that we all have similar goals in the signals that we are sending. I must warn you that my setup has some interesting complications to it, so I will attempt to explain to the best of my eloquence and I pray that you would all receive a gift of interpretation!
I’ll start by listing each pedal that I use currently, and where they sit on my pedalboard: firstly, in the top right hand corner is my custom junction box from my friends at GoodWood Audio. This is where a lot of the magic happens; it is the first port of call for my signal, and the last port of disembarkation, which I will elaborate on later.
To the left of that, is one of my personal favourites: a Sansamp Bassdriver DI. This is a must have pedal for any bass player looking to expand their sound. And although I don’t use it as such, it is also a brilliant Direct In box, much better than st DI’s that are currently on the market. It is value for money and any production engineer worth their salt will agree.
To the left of this is an X-otic X-blender pedal, I will again elaborate more later, but suffice to say this is a handy pedal for one of the main purposes of my rig.
To the left of that is every bass players staple, a tuner! Its like American Express, you don’t leave home without it! I use a Boss TU3 (set to streaming), very accurate. Below the tuner is an JHS Low Drive, and while the effect of this pedal is a very appealing and beautifully low/low mid overdrive (as the name suggests) it doesn’t seem to play nice when connected to the same power chain as the other pedals on the board. So it is currently in the “sin-bin” and not actually plugged in anywhere.
To the right of the Low Drive is a wonderful pedal from some good friends at CMAT Mods, “The Black Plague”: while the name suggests you may want to avoid it, I assure you this is a brilliantly versatile pedal. Able to achieve fuzz, distortion and overdrive like sounds, this too is a great weapon in the arsenal.
To the right of the BP at the bottom right corner of the board is a custom A/B(Y) pedal from GoodWood. And finally sandwiched between the A/B(Y) and the junction box is a no name/clone fuzz pedal, again an absolutely brilliant effect which unfortunately I do not know the name of.
This section shall briefly explain the goals of the rig. These initially sound simple enough, until it gets to actually outworking it! As you will soon see… My goal for the rig was to be able to send 3 independent outputs from one main input for front of house engineer to use, without needing to have rackmounts and a travelling troupe of techs! Specifically, the signals I wanted to be able to send were: one clean/unaffected signal; one effected signal and; one blended signal.
The reasoning behind this is that I believe that effects can have a powerful layering effect in a live setting, most producers will add some sort of effect to the bass on a recording, so why can’t we bass players do the same live! Of course this should only be attempted if it can be pulled off in a way that will sound good as an end product.
OK, so now moving on to how it all works! . As I said earlier, the first point of entry (from the bass) into the rig is into the junction box. The junction box is a hub of activity, where the signal will pass through and be split several times. From here the signal passes straight through into the Sansamp. I use this here to firstly buffer the signal and also to do some mild tonal shaping (the pedal itself has a magical ability to make any bass sound better, even if you don’t touch the settings). From the Sansamp, the signal then passes through to the TU3 (and out the bypass output so I can continuously tune at all times).
From here the signal passes to the A/B(Y) pedal where it is split for the first time. The two on/off switches on the pedal independently control each split, so that at any given moment I can send one, two, or neither of the signals. The first split (we shall call split A) is designated as the clean signal. From the A/B(Y), the A signal returns to the junction box, here, it is split one more time. The first split exits the junction box out of the first locking jack and is sent to a DI as a clean signal for front of house to use, the second split is sent to the input of the X-Blender pedal.
The second split signal from the A/B(Y) pedal shall be dubbed split B and is designated as the effect signal. This split runs on a loop from an out on the A/B(Y) through the chain of effects (fuzz, overdrive(s), etc.), returns and then is sent again to the junction box. From here the B signal is also split once more, with the first split sending to a DI as the effect signal for front of house.
The second split is then sent to the return of the X-Blender pedal, here the two signal are mixed and independently EQ’d using the pedals functions and sent to the third and final output from the junction box. This output is then used to send a blended signal to an amplifier. Conversely if the production setup does not have two spots at front of house monitor for bass, this signal can be used to send a mixed and blended signal via DI.
So there it is.. If you’ve made it this far you have a lot more patience then myself. Hope it makes sense and is helpful!