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Do Bass Players agonize over their tone?


Dr. Ellwood

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I was just thinking, my bass player Jim, never mentions his tone, and either have any other bass players I have played with. He always sounds the same and only occasionally I will see him go back and tweak something! He is a very experienced bass player and a pretty good guitarist too but the subject never comes up about his bass?

 

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b48/ellwood1/jimblondebass.jpg

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Man, triangle players agonize over their tone. But the best bass players that I know spend a lot of time getting it right, then pretty much never have to change it.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

[QB] Man, triangle players agonize over their tone. But the best bass players that I know spend a lot of time getting it right, then pretty much never have to change it.

 

Yea, I'm sure he has got it dialed in and that's the reason. I guess it is because I never hear him talking about it or messing with it much. Yea but he has tons of stuff to say about MY tone :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by Guitar Geezer:

Hey Bill, Do you have a new gig, or just a new name? (Welcome Home Studios)

Nahhh, just getting more personal. The studio is mine, ProRec belongs to someone else.

 

How'dya like the new photo? It's me against the back wall of Studio A at Electric Ladyland.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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If you don't think bass players agonise over tone, go over the Lowdown and hang out there awhile.

 

Bass priorities are different, but no less important.

 

Geoff

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the World will know Peace": Jimi Hendrix

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=738517&content=music

The Geoff - blame Caevan!!!

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Originally posted by greenboy:

Bass players not only agonize over their tone - they also agonize over your volume! ; }

 

OK. No need to get rough - just a joke. Honest.

Yea, no need at all! Well the volume thing is something that guitar players and bass players both have to deal with usually. My guy can crank it pretty good himself! :D
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Most bassists I know are fussy on their tone. One guy I play with brought 3 basses to our NYE gig, and had to air them all out and individually dial them in. He's partial to the Duncans in his JB, but I like his stock 70s P-BASS better. http://www.websmileys.com/sm/sad/533.gif

 

He used an Eden Traveller through an old Fender 2x10 cab.

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Got to say that there's a lot more intelligence on this forum about buying lower-wattage combos than there is in my local area - where so many "rock" guitarists still want to have at least 100 watts and a 212 or a 412, and can't "get their sound" unless the rig is dimed.

 

That makes it a lot easier for a bassist to get a good tone or five instead of just settling for whichever tone that has a chance of cutting through.

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They don't AGONIZE over it, but they DO notice and care about their tone. Otherwise why would they extend the bass' lower range with 5 and 6 string basses? Personally, I've always found "my" settings in the rehearsal room and never fiddled with them again. Not much point really, to most people in the audience, one bass sounds a lot like another.

 

Come to think of it, I also remember being criticised (at the time) by other bass players over my interest in semiacoustic and violin type basses, which they didn't consider "real" basses. The sound wasn't low enough for the average taste.

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

They don't AGONIZE over it, but they DO notice and care about their tone. Otherwise why would they extend the bass' lower range with 5 and 6 string basses? Personally, I've always found "my" settings in the rehearsal room and never fiddled with them again. Not much point really, to most people in the audience, one bass sounds a lot like another.

 

Come to think of it, I also remember being criticised (at the time) by other bass players over my interest in semiacoustic and violin type basses, which they didn't consider "real" basses. The sound wasn't low enough for the average taste.

Is it possiable that some bass players AGONIZE over their tone? These bass players MIGHT be ones you don't know and are in agony constantly sort of like haveing cramps :D
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Rest assured that some bass players do AGONIZE. They post incessantly on forums asking about strings and pickups and EQ settings and preamps (seems like they actually ignore how things work though) and they buy tons of very similar basses and rigs ... but somehow have to keep searching ; }
.
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The "they get it right, and forget about it" idea makes sense. A lot of sense.

 

Many (most?) bassists concern themselves with one good tone, suiting the needs of the band they play with. (I bet that there are more bassists in bands than in bedrooms, compared to guitarists!!) We (electric) guitarists tend to want to cover several "tones" at the least, and aren't always so clear as to what those tones are and how to achieve them.

 

Note that while there seems to be less flashy new bass-gear than guitar-gear trumpeted and trotted out each year in the catalogs, websites, magazines, and forums, there is a considerable amount. That might be a good indicator to gauge by...

 

Post a link to this thread over on the Low Down Lowdown, wouldja, Lee? It'd be cool to elicit some rumbling subterranean responses...

 

Veering a little off-topic (but related, and even relevant here):

 

Greenboy- while I appreciate and gravitate to the lower wattage side of The Force, I've found that it's hard to replicate the sound of a 2x12 open-back, a 4x10 open-back, or a 4x12 closed-back with a single speaker, or even a similar arrangement of smaller speakers. Not because of the wavefront of air moved and perceived volume and kickin' 'oomph', but because of the way the sound from the speakers blend and affect each other, and the attack and reaction time inherent in different size speakers. I will always particularly love the added shimmer and swirl of an open-back 2x12, compared to a 1x12 or even a 2x10 or 4x10, it's very hard to ween myself away from that, much harder than leaving the high wattage and crushing volume behind!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Yeah, Cave, I know about speaker interaction, pressure zones, phase interaction, floor and driver coupling, all that. I'm not suggesting that a guitarist should not have a 412 or 212 closed back or open OR WHATEVER if that's what you like. Just that it's always nice to see some common sense in its use. And that is all too rare still ; }
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There was one bass player that I played with that was always experimenting with his rig. Every week he had different cabs, heads, pedals. I don't think I would call it agonizing though. After a couple of years he settled on a rig, but then I saw him with another band, and he was using something totally different. I have to say though, most bass players I've worked with, have their tone and occasionally (every few years) make changes.
www.myspace.com/christondre
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I've been playing bass for over thirty years and in that time I have had a multitude of cabinets, amps and basses looking for the perfect tone. I settled in to a decent sounding Fender Jazz, a GK head and an Eden cabinet and get a tone to die for. I have not bought any more gear in several years and know I got things right when bass players come up and compliment my sound.

 

When playing I am constantly adjusting the bass controls, how I attack the strings, where I play on the neck and how my left hand works to get a particular tone that fits the song. Just because I don't need a dozen pedals to get "that" sound doesn't mean my tone is not changing. It just means I am able to get the right tone with my fingers.

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Yep, and guitarists can also change their tonal balance immensely by where they pick (or pluck) along the strings. Bill Lawrence has a good post or article about this somewhere - either his site or Fender forums I think.

 

Since many bassists strike the strings with fingers they may be generally more aware of this...

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It's them damn drummers cranking up all us string players volume knob, right?

 

I'm so glad to see a bass thread here on the Guitar Player Forum. So, y'all know we exist, eh?

 

For me (and many bassists I know) we are very concerned with getting a clean bass tone out through the mix without overpowering the group. A lot of the problem we have to solve is to get notes instead of rumble.

 

Once that problem is solved, we (at least, "I") feel the need to give an appropriate tone for the music being played. Many times we (I) handle that by the choice of instrument. When I play in the bluegrass band, I'll use the URB (upright bass,) but if they ask for electric, it'll be a Precision clone.

 

On the other hand, I'll bring my Warwick Streamer to most other gigs...pit orchestra, jazz or pop/rock. I can generally use a pickup selection to change the sound of the bass, and sometimes beef up the bass boost a bit.

 

We change our tone by changing our bass. And if I played guitar, I'd probably have to take a Gibson and a Strat to every gig, and be swappin' them back and forth as well!

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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I'm actually the same kind of bassist as I am a guitarist: I don't like to futz around with pedals and suchlike. I find an easy way to get the tones I like and that work for the band, and I run with them.

 

I wouldn't say I "agonize" over the sound I want for either instrument because I know how to get the tones I like with minimal hassle. I think it comes with experience.

 

This isn't to say that I didn't have a hard time arriving at this point... it took a while before I knew how to get the sounds that were in my head. I'm not saying I am the be-all, end-all of "tone-finders," but I know how to get what I want out of pretty much any guitar or bass rig.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Greetings Guitarists,

 

Many bass players do agonize over their tone. That's why they bring multiple basses to gigs (including fretless and/or extended range), experiment with effects and lug huge cabinets around...I, however, do not!

 

Originally posted by Caevan_O'Shite:

The "they get it right, and forget about it" idea makes sense. A lot of sense.

 

Many (most?) bassists concern themselves with one good tone, suiting the needs of the band they play with.

In fact, Caevan explained my philosophy perfectly. Bass frequencies are the most difficult of the spectrum to control, especially in a live setting. Finding a sound that supports the band (without getting too boomy) while cutting through the mix (without sounding too thin) is not so easy, especially when the acoustic properties of the rooms we play can fluctuate widely from night to night.

 

Effects have a tendency to make this even more challenging, so I don't use them on gigs, myself. I go for a clean tone with plenty of headroom. Some would see this as artistically limiting, but I see it as practical. I've done a lot of experimenting with different strings, pups, and amps and found a combination that I can rely on. I tune up, do some brief knob twiddling and don't touch anything for the rest of the set and that's the way I like it! :D

 

Of course, other bassists have their own approaches...

 

p.s. Thanks for asking! :thu:

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Recently I've made some really good quality purchases in the way of a rig and bass and I've noticed that finding "That tone" came hella easier. I think it took me about 4 hours with my current set up and now I have a tone that not only fills the gap between the drums and guitars but also has it's own voice.

 

I think I agonize over volume wars more than tone. Sometimes, my guitarists will get volume happy and I get lost in the mix because of the room acoustics, but if you step out side the room, you'll say "God Damn, that bass player is too loud."

 

Not agonizing over tone comes with age and experience, I think. I'm sure instrument quality comes into play some what. From my experience, I've found that the less my guitarists screw around with their sound, the less I do. Of course, whenever they do and they start treading into my territory, as in CRANKING 250Hz and below, I have to remind them who the bass player is. I can get away with putting a bit of boost in 1k Hz and above without stepping all over their tone because the voice of my bass is completely different from the voice of the guitars, but they can't do the same because distorted guitars with CRANKED lower frequencies just turns to mud.

 

Anyway, I haven't agonzied lately, but I'm sure another fit will soon be on it's way. :thu:

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