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Bass Guitar and Effects
by CairnsFella on 2012-09-26 23:37:19.0000

Hi all,

I hope that it is okay to post this question here, as although it is not HD specific, it is my recent acquisition (yesterday) of a shiny new HD500 that has rekindled my curiosity regarding the use of certain multi effects units with the bass guitar.

Im sure my attempts to be brief will, as is usually the case, fail. So I apologise in advance, and equally thank anyone that stays the course till the end

"Bass"ically, I have long been aware that there is a common view that most / many / all guitar specific MFX units are not suitable for bass guitar. Now for the moment I would like to leave the POD series out of the equation if I may (and of course the 2 or 3 other examples that Im sure many of you are aware of, such as the old BOSS GS-10"), though I will come back to these.

Referring then to the majority of conventional MFX units that are designed / marketed for guitar only, I come back to this assertion that they are often deemed unsuitable for bass guitar for one of a few oft stated reasons. eg;

- They enhance the frequencies associated with guitar only,

- They cut or do not effect many of the frequencies associated with bass guitar

and the possibly more dismissable,

- the bass may / will damage a guitar centric MFX unit.

I am aware, despite the above, that many bass players use a variety of guitar centric MFX units, stomps etc to great effect (I have done so myself, though regretably without the 'great effect' moniker). However this mere fact doesn't really prove or disprove the true compatibility of these units and the bass.

Now, to bring back the HD, GS-10 and the ilk, one may reasonably assume that because they are 'designed' for use with guitar / bass (and more) that even if the previous 'issues' are true for other units, they would not affect these effects units (sorry for the puns).

But, if there is any truth in the theory that guitar effects are not suitable or are less effective for bass than for guitar for the reasons given (or reasons I have missed) then surely these will have been designed that way for a reason. I would go further and suggest that IF this were true, then it would be reasonable to assume it is BETTER to tune the effects on such units specifically for guitar. I mean you wouldn't do it if it made the thing worse.. would you??

So.... finally... I get to where my question really lies. As you may have noticed, a lot of my curiosity is based upon assumption and unsubstantiated theory. It is that guessing that I would like to put to rest and obtain the input from anyone that knows the facts, because as things stand it makes me think that either:-

1. The is no substance to the opinion that guitar centric effects units are less suitable for Bass, or (and to use the POD as an example)

2. All / Some / Many of the effects on the POD are less specialised, and by implication, less 'good' than those units that are guitar centric, OR

3. POD effects are actually just as unsuitable (or just as suitable depending upon your viewpoint) for bass guitar as any other MFX whilst not actually being designed to be used with, or fully effecting the appropriate frequencies of, a bass guitar.

Now please. This isn't any veiled attempt to deride the HD (or any of the POD line, or indeed any other 'multi instrument' processor. I am already blown away by the unit - as much as one can be after 2 very very weary hours of use, and undoubtedly not yet ideally set up). Furthermore, I primarily purchased the HD to replaced and aged (and more recently 'molten') guitar centric box that I have had for 15+ years!!! Yes, my choice was influenced by the fact that the HD can be used with a Bass as this justified my purchase of one more expensive unit as opposed to two cheaper ones.(as I couldnt update just one unit and be happy with an ancient bass processor). It is literally just a quest to find the truth.

Of course I am sure there are those that may just think, "well you have a bass, and a pod.. so just try everything out and form your own opinion". Well, I certainly intend to do that. But what I would really like to understand are any 'facts' surrounding these assumptions rather than any subjective views (including my own).

Hope this makes some sense, and further hope that someone has some insight into this perplexing conundum.

Edit:- Please note, I am referring specifically to effects and not amp/cab modelling here. Thanks 

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by CairnsFella on 2012-09-30 16:38:34.1460

Hoorah. Seems I can now reply too.

Sadly I am only discovering this by being the only one to post a reply to my own question.

Could I ask, is this an inappropriatte question or something?

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by phil_m on 2012-09-30 18:08:31.4500

I've read through your post twice, and I'm still not exactly sure what you're asking. Are you asking whether or the effects on the HD were designed around electric guitar specifically, and not necessarily meant for use with a bass. I'd say the answer to that is yes. A lot of them will work fine with bass, though. One thing a lot of bass players like to do is to keep a wet/dry setup so they mix in effects into the dry signal, and actually, with the HD500, this can be done pretty easily through dual paths.

There aren't really a lot of bass specific effects on the HD. It would be nice if Line 6 added a few more of these to the line.

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by CairnsFella on 2012-10-02 23:55:36.1070

Sorry, I was still unable to reply previously.

I appreciatte your response phil_m, and I understand my post may have been confusing, however I felt a stripped down version would not have covered the 'bases'.

Your statement

"Are you asking whether or the effects on the HD were designed around electric guitar specifically, and not necessarily meant for use with a bass. I'd say the answer to that is yes"

rather illustrates the 'wall' I am hitting with regard to the information I'd like to understand. In other words I take from your comment exactly what you say.. the effects are designed around / for electric guitar. But what I would really like to know is in what way does this negatively impact their use with a bass?

Does it, for example, mean that with many of the effects I would lose a notable amount of frequencies as the 'effect' would simply reject frequencies below a certain level.

Perhaps I can ask this a different way but unfortunately I have to use non pod pedals to make the point. So GT-6 and GT-6B pedals have many 'identical' effects. All other things being equal, if I plug a bass through a GT-6b flanger and then a GT-6 flanger, is there going to be any 'real' gods honest, sceintifically supportable difference?

(Really the above is a subset of what I would like to understand, as I am really trying to establish whether these things are actually coded differently for the different instruments, or frequencies are filtered out elsewhere in the signal path other than in the 'effects dsp itself, etc.. but if the above point is clearer than before I'd be grateful for clarifcation on that point for starters).

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by jimsreynolds on 2012-10-03 00:10:27.9380

I think the simple answer is that some effects will sound good and some won't.  I would expect that many of the the HD Distortion effects would  be filtered to curtail the low end frequencies (those that would make a guitar sound flubby) and may kill bass frequencies.   Those may be the least satisfying though you may be able to pull this back using a dual path (as per notes below).  Other modulation effects may have an emphasis on higher frequencies also and similar filtering.  In some cases, use of EQ should be able to shift the emphasis of effects from the midrange used by guitar to the lower frequencies used by a bass.

AFAIK the HD is essentially a full range effects unit  .... though I cannot see a spec to validate that statement offhand.

Where an effect kills the low end, you can use either the Mix parameter (where available) to mix in some of the dry signal to perserve the bass frequencies.  Also, where a mix control is not available, there is the option for a dual path patch with a 'dry' path to allow stuff to be mixed back in.

Everything will fundamentally work with the bass but some effects may just sound a bit wrong.

I guess you may know much of this but it may be worth restating.

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by CairnsFella on 2012-10-03 00:48:30.9030

Thanks for that reply Jim.

I guess you may know much of this but it may be worth restating.

To an extent... but not entirely no.

The thing that interested me most there is your comment

AFAIK the HD is essentially a full range effects unit  .... though I cannot see a spec to validate that statement offhand.

It made we wonder if I could actually acheive some form of 'quasi' scientific testing of my own, by feeding pure sine wave tones through the machine at variuous intervals all the way through high electric down to low bass notes. I havent looked into it but I guess there must be some sort of freeware utilities to plot frequency responses.

Of course, my question has focussed intentionally on trying to understand the 'facts', though I realise (and as is somewhat implied in your response) from a musical perspective it is how it actually sounds that matters. Im afraid Im just one of those guys that just likes to know how things work...

If I am embarrassingly honest, I was hoping someone that actually designs the gear might pipe up and say "we test all the effects with x and y" or we intentionally filter frequencies over a or under b with y types of effect. I guess I am a tad optimistic there, but of course, such fundemental facts must exist.

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by phil_m on 2012-10-03 06:24:37.5590

Well, most of the effects on the HD aren't really designed from scratch. They're modeled off mostly vintage stompboxes, and those are typically effects designed for guitar. I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I primarily play guitar, and when I do play bass, I rarely use effects other than some compression.

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by jimsreynolds on 2012-10-03 08:25:58.1950

Well there is a video that was put together by Matt Mayfield in the interests of teasing out the response of the HD EQs here -->">">

From what I can tell  from the general waveforms displayed there seems to be a high end roll off around 18KHz but the low end seems to go down to about 20Hz so that should cover the bass end. 

Just my interpretation though and someone may put me straight.

Re: Bass Guitar and Effects
by CairnsFella on 2012-10-03 18:46:40.2020


I actually use pretty much only compression (though quite a bit for the styles I "try" to play) and some EQ too. Maybe I try a bit of experimentation occassionaly, but never usually expect anything that usabe. My questions really were not bourne of practicality (or any lack of) but more of a long term curiosity.


Thanks for the link. sounds interesting and promising. I'll have a look (though I'm no expert either so Im not sure what conclusions I'll draw if it isnt spelled out for me .)

Thanks for all the input. If I find out anything else conclusive on the subject I'll post back here... if anyone is interested.

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.