Dear fellow bass players, I’m going to speak a bit on the topic that increases our blood pressure. But we must face it, and we must find a way overcome it. It’s the topic of when we take the bass solo, the audience of non musicians don’t care or don’t even know what’s going on.
As i’m currently writing this, I still see the images of the past in my mind. The cute girl in the crowd I was going impress with my bass solo, suddenly started talking to her friends 5 seconds in. The riff I practiced for hours at home, was drowned out by the suddenly decided to talk crowd during the show. And even some of my friends, they’ll ask me after the show if my band will ever give me the chance to take a solo. The set they just watched I had 3.
Now i’m no victor wooten, but I’ve been at it for 14 years nonstop along with a music degree.
My friends should have at least noticed I took a damn bass solo.
This subject absolutely breaks my heart to be honest quite honest. The hours of our life we spend and have spent practicing alone, practicing with bands, studying music theory, playing shows, researching tone, and buying the pedals that still don’t grab the non musicians ear during the bass solo.
The reality is, especially for non musicians, the bass is something you feel. The bass is what makes the listener dance, bob their head, and feel it in their bones. We attach the rhythm to chords, the bass is what makes the music whole. Yet, It’s during the solo we lose them, we are the lower register which is more felt than heard.
I have tested nearly all possibilities to grab the audience and keep them during the bass solo. I have finally found the solution that works for me, and i’m sure it may work for you.
The pedal that was the solution to grab and keep the audience’s attention during the bass solo is the Micro POG Polyphonic Octave Pedal (click to see it on amazon) For bass solos, I turn the high octave to at least 50% while keeping the dry octave at least 50%. This gives the audience something they can clearly hear while the maintaining the low end for the feel. This pedal gives you the ability for a lower and/or higher octave voicing while maintaining a clear blend between the 2/3 octaves being used. Works great for guitar players as well. It can be used in numerous ways depending on how you set the effects up, not just the solo.
You can also possibly find this pedal at your local music store as well. There are also other octave pedal options, but I’ve heard many complaints about most of them which is why I recommend The Micro POG.
The Different Ways You Can Use The Micro POG Effects Pedal
We as musicians understand one of the golden rules of music, not to overuse an effect pedal.
One of the reasons that makes the Micro POG so great is that there are so many ways of using it. Each adjustment radiates a completely different sound. Thus, this pedal a very good investment that is hard to overuse with the different styles.
Below is a video that shows me using the Micro POG pedal. I run through a few different settings as i’m switching back and forth between POG and NO POG. Keep in mind that all instruments are different, you may have to play around with your settings to get the sound you want.
Although there are many settings to choose for the bass solo, typically your going to want to increase the high octave to some degree. There are multiple ways of using the high octave. You can increase it any where from 50% plus to make it very noticeable, or you can have it in the 20-40% range for a nice layer.
It’s important to use the high octave for the bass solo considering the average non musicians ( hearing rather than feeling) auditory range is in the higher pitch register like we mentioned before. You are more than free to change the sub octave and dry octave of what fits your sound and instrument. Pre Production is key.
Slap Bass (1:24 in video)
I’m not the best bass slapper at all, but when I use the micro POG pedal for the few bass slapping parts I have in my bands, the crowd cheers pretty loudly (mainly for a slap intro I have for one of my bands).
I know that deep down I don’t fully deserve the cheers from the crowd during my bass slapping parts, considering the POG is well received by the non musician ear, but I don’t care really care ;). We play music so the crowd has fun, when the crowd has fun we have even more fun and make new fans. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the micro POG makes me as a bad slap bassist sound pretty damn good to non musicians.
These are the settings I use at shows and in the video (to the right). If you prefer more of a subtle sound than what you hear on the video, decreasing the high octave to 30-40% works great.
As a General Rule: Although this pedal may make an OK slap bassist sound better, its a horrible practice to hide behind your pedals. If you want to be good at slapping, practice till your very good, than add the Micro POG, you will become unstoppable.
Funk (3:56 in video)
When I say funk i’m mainly referring to groovy cool bass lines, not only the genre of music.
If not all, the vast majority of popular bass lines are considered funky/groovy what ever you want to call it. If you have a really cool part in a song that you want to be enunciated, I highly recommend one of the 2 settings to the right.
For a more bass part you want to layer a bit more without an extreme effect sound use version 1. If your going for that computerized/robotic high effects sound version 2 is a better route.
Again, this is entirely up to your taste. The fun part begins when you first receive this pedal filtering through all of the different options to use for certain songs at certain parts.
As a General Rule: you will be able to get away with using this pedal way more by using more subtle versions of the effects. That is strictly my own opinion. In the contrary, music is an art, express it as you wish.
One of the most famous uses of this pedal for guitarists and bassist, the almighty organ sound.
Starting off the video, I show the sound of taking a bass solo with the organ sound. It’s not necessarily my go to setting for bass solos, but I adore the organ sound for some of the lighter and more emotional parts of the song.
Before buying, make sure to check the Reviews.
As a General Rule: when playing the organ sound for your significant other, don’t hit a bad note like I did in the video. With the organ sounds bright tone, its far more obvious when you mess up.
Punchy fills (2:26 in video)
In the video, I how some ideas of only clicking on the POG during a fill, than clicking off after the fill. This is a lot easier to do when your at home practicing than being in the moment on stage. But for the musicians willing to put in the work to make it to that next level, there is nothing that can’t be done with ease after putting in the hard work in your off time.
The reason why the dry is at 100%, is because you don’t necessarily want to lose any of the main bass frequency while doing a fill. The goal of this technique is mainly to brighten your fills up a bit.
As a General Rule: If you don’t want to lose any of the main bass octave/frequency, keep your dry at 100% than embellish from there. Reproduction and practice is key.
Sub and high octaves (7:00 in video)
I personally love this one when playing in the high register. This setting creates a big frequency gap between 2 full octaves sounding as if a bass player and keys are playing together.
You can adjust the low/high octaves accordingly to fit your sound, yet this sound will only work if dry is completely off.
As a General rule: This setting works best playing in the mid to high register of your bass, lowest note being the Low B (4 string)
I Call This Effect FAT (2:59 in video)
The video did not give this setting a fraction of what it deserves in real life. Hovering around the mid notes of the bass gives the a fat sound while maintaining the note clarity with dry and high’s at 50%. I recommend not hitting a lower not than the low A, but your music/amp/bass may be different enough to where it’ll works to go lower.
Another great method with this pedal to “Fatten” up your sound without in a non effect subtle manner, is to put the sub octave at 20%, dry at 100%, than keep it on for as long as you wish. You can use this setting for songs that need an extra layer without overkill or muddiness.
General rule: This effect is definitely not meant for bass solo, use it wisely.
Fast Riffs In The Lower note Register (5:10 in video)
If you have a fast riff in the lower note register of your bass, you have a bit more leeway in increasing the high octave effect without making the bass sound to much effect overkill.
This setting works great for prog rock/metal/punk but really any style of music with a fast riff in the lower register. I highly recommend using absolutely no sub octave for fast riffs in the lower register. That’s a way one ticket to muddy everything up.
This same setting also works great for bass solo’s if all your looking for is a top layer of sound to punch through. To some bassist’s, the bottom layer (sub octave) may be a bit overkill for the solo.
As a General rule: I don’t recommend keeping this effect on throughout a long duration of the song. Fast riffs, and bass solos are a good time to use this setting.
Main Riffs (7:45 in video)
I use this setting to create a wall of sound to where the audience will never forget the main riff of the song.
We understand that every song’s “main riff” is different. Speed, duration, genre, and pitch register of the main riff plays a crucial role in which settings for the Micro POG works best. For some odd reason, this setting works very well with nearly all of my blues rock bands main riffs.
As a General Rule: Make sure to test this setting at practice with your band before surprising the hell out of them at the show. It’s possible that certain pitches may not add up with the other instruments, adjustments of these setting may be necessary.
Are There Other Octave Pedal Options?
There are many other options for octave pedals. The reason I highly recommend this one for guitarists and bassists is due to the fact that every other octave pedal I have seen below this pedals price generates a very colored and worse tone. The octave pedals above the Micro POG’s price do have more options with roughly same tone, but the extra options are (for me and most) unnecessary.
The Micro POG Octave Pedal is in my opinion the best bang for the buck. This pedal is well worth the price and I wouldn’t trade it for a more expensive octave pedal even if they paid me.
Can Guitar Players Benefit From the Micro POG?
Absolutely, the guitar players I played with that use this pedal sounded incredible. I’m not a guitar player, but the guitarists that used the micro POG typically played main riffs with sub, high, and dry all at 50%.
In my honest opinion, the POG sounds better than most guitar pedals for guitarists. But who am I? I’m just a Bass player. (;
Pros and Cons Of The Micro POG
- Increase layers of sound
- Great for bass solos when using the high octave
- Fattens Bass tone when slightly increasing the sub octave
- Able to turn your instrument into an organ sound
- Increases a songs dynamics
- With all of the various settings, hard to overuse the pedal if changed settings accordingly
- Ability to make bass fills brighter/punchier
- Very durable, made of metal (I have never had a single issue with mine)
- (Opinion) able to make an OKish slap bassist’s like me sound like i’m good at slapping
- Able to create a choir like effect with dry 50%, sub 50% and high 25% with bass or guitar.
- Works very good with a delay pedal
- Micro POG tracks the notes very good without coloration
- Does not add unwanted distortion (unlike many cheaper octave pedals)
- Does not add any warbles
- Works great with all stringed instruments
- Most claim (including me) highest quality Octave pedal for bass players
- A little pricey at $235 on amazon
- Trying to remember the exact settings for each song you used it on. This process took me awhile. If you don’t get it perfect, it’s really not a big deal.
- Some settings can make the Guitar/bass sound too metallic. Make sure play with the settings as much as you can before a show.
The Bottom Line
Bass is what the audience feels, without the bass there will be no dancing, no head bopping, no feeling in the music and everything is empty. Unfortunately, the Bass is not an instrument that s heard as much as felt to the non musicians ear. The reality is difficult to swallow, but us bass players need a better way to keep the audience during our solo. The Micro POG Pedal gave the audience something to feel with the sub octave/ dry signal while giving the something to hear clearly with the high octave during my bass solos.
The audience reaction to my bass solos radically changed since getting the Micro POG. This time around, every riff, every note that I practiced before the show finally counts when it’s my turn to take my bass solo.
May this pedal bring non musicians to finally compliment you on your bass solo from here on out.
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