Acoustic Overtones on Electric Bass

Is their a way to get more pronounced overtones on an electric bass?

This is something I miss when playing my electric bass instead of my acoustic bass. If I use a very aggressive attack it helps but still not the same thing.

Maybe using Pedals like a Digitech Bass Whammy or Electro Harmanix POG? I haven’t tried these. I’m thinking they may be lacking in subtlety.

I’m expecting to hear, “No”. That it’s just the difference between playing acoustic versus electric. I’ll take any suggestions y’all come up with.


One thing that might help is trying longer scale basses - 35" and 36". Counterintuitive, but the longer the string, the more harmonic range you get.

There’s also Acoustic simulator pedals - I know little about them though.


use a tube amp … expensive and heavy but you will have some overtones.

sounds pretty bad IMHO


Yeah from what I found online they don’t seem promising.


That was my thought. If it’s just for home and recording weight shouldn’t be an issue.


Especially if it’s just a tube amp sim :slight_smile:


Kind of funny how this guy wasn’t very impressed with the pedal either. :rofl:

@terb I hadn’t even considered that. I’m not worried about the weight but the cost puts this solution out of reach right now. Thanks, this does give me something to start researching.

The piezo pickups I’ve heard on an acoustic guitar or bass don’t seem to do a very good job of capturing this either. Does that also have to do with the amp, or pickups, or both?

@howard Will a tube amp sim really do this or are you just spit balling?


I was totally serious.

There’s some awesome amp sims out there and they can add a lot of tone.


both in my opinion


@howard @terb

I’ve already started reading up on how (and how much) the tubes affect the sound and the capabilities of the current amp sims.

Thanks guys.


I’ve been reading about piezo pickups and that they can be so clear that they really show off all your imperfections.

Then I read that modern (and maybe just more expensive?) piezo electronics use built in compression to minimize this affect.

From there I’ve been digging into how greater force leads to more pronounced harmonic overtones. Which took me into the world of piano hammers. Then I felt like that was taking me in a direction I wasn’t ready to go.

So I started looking more into how tube amps function and why they sound the way they do.

I’m starting to understand why I haven’t been able to find more information on all this as it applies to bass. If you’re recording or playing in a top tier touring band you might be able to capture these nuances for the listener but if you’re playing clubs on a budget the only person that would ever even notice is you and that one musician in the crowd. Who’s response would likely max out as, “Nice tone tonight.”

I’m really interested to see where all this research goes. Not because it seems very practical but just because it’s interesting.


I’m interested, please do share your research. I know a little about tubes ( plate saturation, etc.).