Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

My fretless is missing "that something" - any suggestions


SteveC

Recommended Posts

I really like the feel, look and way my Carvin fretless 6 string plays. It sounds ok, but it's missing that something.

 

The electronics are probably the weakest link in this bass. Everything else is wonderful. I don't really want to replace everything and it's been hard to find pickups that will go in the existing cutouts. I don't really want to take "the Dremel" to this bass. It has a "jazz" type in the neck position and a "musicman" type in the bridge.

 

I took a couple pedals from the store today to try this weekend. A Boss LMB-3 and a Boss CS-3 - limiter and compressor respectively.

 

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 23
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I'd recommend a U-Retro - the non-jazz version of the J-Retro. It's the same preamp just designed to fit in any bass not just attached to a jazz bass plate... It's very small and flexible and will fit in without any routing or anything, and has the power to bring any bass to life. I find that the sweepable mid range control is great for finding the fretless sweetspot on a track and really making it sing...

 

http://www.j-retro.co.uk or check into the J-Retro forum at http://www.thedudepit.com to find out more! :)

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do like those preamps. I have the J-Retro on order for my jazz bass. I have used on before on another project and loved it.

 

Will changing the preamp have as much of an effect if you keep the same old pickups? I guess I have always changed both at the same tim eso I have no reference.

 

Instead of changing the preamp, could I achieve a similar effect by using running the bass preamp flat and use an outboard pqrametric EQ or something like that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve, for what it's worth....I think you'd be better off with the U-Retro.

Rackmount EQ's, either graphic or parametric can dial in a tone very well. Parametrics are especially useful in superimposing two bands of EQ, one band within the other, to introduce a narrow notch within a boosted broader band. Such options are impractical with graphic equalizers, which can only provide rough approximations of the needed equalization curve. The bandwidth parameter as well as the center frequency parameter can be precisely selected for each band with any fully parametric equalizer. You can get the exact tone you're looking for.

The drawbacks are:

1) They can be rather costly

2) On the fly adjustments are not practical

3) You have to dial it in again for different

rooms.

They do work great in a studio environment tho..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by SteveC:

Will changing the preamp have as much of an effect if you keep the same old pickups? I guess I have always changed both at the same tim eso I have no reference.

FWIW, I've had basses where I've changed just the pickups or just the preamp, and each time it's had a marked effect. Does the CArvin have a passive mode? What does it sound like with the internal preamp turned off? Of is sounds like a bag of faeces with the preamp off, then maybe you need to change both. If you're getting a reasonable tone like that, I'd go with the pre...

 

Instead of changing the preamp, could I achieve a similar effect by using running the bass preamp flat and use an outboard pqrametric EQ or something like that?

that could also work, but then you're just getting the added noise from the onboard preamp without any of the benefits of having it there. If you're not happy with it, I'd say ditch it.

 

However, there are various stomp box pres you could use, such as the U-Retro stomp, or the Sadowsky, or a half rack parametric like the Raven Labs True Blue EQ or the new D-Tar parametric, both of which are fabulous.

 

But if you're not into the sound that's coming off the bass, an external EQ is just going to be polishing a turd...

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duh - I never even thought of using my bypass and trying passive. :rolleyes: I did get a pretty good tone in passive. But before I replace the preamp.....

 

I spent (am still spending) some time comparing the passive and active and getting them somewhat similar. I foget that it's just as important to CUT frequencies as it is to boost them. I am starting to get a better sound.

 

I then added just a touch of the Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer pedal. Not too much - I still have dynamic control at my fingertips where it should be - but enough to just tighten everything up a bit.

 

I may be on to something here. How easy it is to forget the basics like passive mode and cutting eq instead of boosting all the time.

 

Good suggestions so far. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

fretless is missing something?

well, thats obvious, it must be missing frets! :P

"I'm thinkin' we should let bump answer this one...

Prepare to don Nomex!"

-social critic

"When I install my cannons, I'm totally going to blast their asses back to the 16th century; Black Beard style"

-bumpcity

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey SteveC, I have a Carvin B5 that I've been running in passive mode and through a Sadowsky stomp box preamp/DI. The sound has improved so much that when I compare it to the on board pre, it sounds lifeless and honky. My bass has the same pickups as yours, the single coil neck and MM style humbucker bridge pickup.

 

I think generally Carvin pickups are quite nice, but they skimp a little on the preamp. I wish it weren't so, since I'm somewhat of a Carvin fan, but that's what I've discovered in my own bass. The Sadowsky pre just brought it to life and made it sound like I think a bass ought to. So I recommend trying a preamp change and see how you like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve, I know I sent you a lengthy PM about changing the preamp and pickups in my Carvin LB-70. I really like my Carvin; I like it so much more w/ Bartolini electronics in it.

 

Your experiments cutting sound like a good way to go.

 

If you really prefer the sound in passive mode, then it does seem to make sense to consider a new preamp, or maybe throwing in a passive tone control for each pickup.

 

Good luck.

 

Peace.

--SW

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am still a Carvin fan - despite my issues at the moment. It is a well made bass and plays like a dream.

 

I am currently using a SansAmp Bass Driver DI for my preamp - into my Stewart 1.2 and then to my Bergantino HT112. The next thing to do is play around with the BDDI and see what I can do.

 

I am going to hold off on replacing the preamp a while until I experiment some more. The tweaking I have done so far, along with a bit of compression, seems to be helping.

 

I think it's also time for new strings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I may try a preamp after all. Since I get a good sound in passive (bypassing the Carvin preamp) mode I think the pickups are probably ok - thanks for the suggestions Steve.

 

I think I may try the Aguilar. Bartolini, U-Retro, Demeter, etc. are all good preamps, but I have had them all before. I like to try new things so I think I may try the Aguilar OBP-3 with mid select switch and passive/active switch. I think that would sound pretty sweet. It would also fill the 7 knob/switch holes in my Carvin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve,

 

You asked about switching pre's but not pick ups. I've used the same pick-up's in my main bass but had to compromise on the pre when my old one burnt out at a very bad time and I couldn't find a replacement. Both were EMG's. Just my original came with the whole mid sweep thing. The newer pre sounds good, but of course in a different way. It does have tone voicing toggles inside the cavity. I'm always fearful of those litte bastards, including my studio monitors. But a pre wouldn't be unheard of and leaving the pick-up's.

 

Good Luck

Mike Bear

 

Artisan-Vocals/Bass

Instructor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I may try the Aguilar. Bartolini, U-Retro, Demeter, etc. are all good preamps, but I have had them all before. I like to try new things so I think I may try the Aguilar OBP-3 with mid select switch and passive/active switch. I think that would sound pretty sweet. It would also fill the 7 knob/switch holes in my Carvin.

Steve, don't be seduced by the cult of novelty! It's certainly worth trying out an OBP-3, cos it's a nice preamp, but don't install it just cos it's new... Find someone else's bass with one in to try out first. It'll only be 'new' for the first two days you have it, then you've got to get on with the business of making great music, and for that you need the best tools not the newest ones. That's how I ended up with U-Retros in both my 6s - it did the job better than anything else I tried, so I got two of them :)

 

FWIW, I pulled an OBP-3 out of my fretted 6 - nice pre, but I prefer the options on the Retro, especially the sweepable mid and bright switch...

 

good luck...

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Steve Lawson:

Steve, don't be seduced by the cult of novelty! It's certainly worth trying out an OBP-3, cos it's a nice preamp, but don't install it just cos it's new...

Oh go on, you know you want to!

 

The U-Retro does have more tweakability, but it is noisier and less transparent. And in the US, much more expensive: $300 for the U-Retro vs $130 for the OBP-3.

 

And personally I think the OBP-3 strikes a nice balance between tweakability and ease of use. On the other hand, for studio recording and looping needs I can see the very wide-ranging semi-parametric midrange on the U-Retro being useful for finding that frequency that lets you sit in just the right part of the mix. Horse for courses.

 

Alex

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The U-Retro does have more tweakability, but it is noisier and less transparent. And in the US, much more expensive: $300 for the U-Retro vs $130 for the OBP-3.

It may well be that Steve ends up preferring the OBP-3... it's a fine preamp, and if it does what you want it to do, is a great price. However, the point was, buying stuff just cos you want something different rather than what's right for the job is not a great idea. It staves off the desire for novelty for a week or so, but after that, you've got to get on with the task of making music, and for that you want the best possible tools for the job, whether that's a Passive P-Bass or a Lightwave with a MIDI output... :)

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I do like to try new things, I don't just get stuff for the heck of it - although others on this forum may disagree. I do think the Aguilar would be a good choice, as would the U-Retro or a Demeter.

 

Money is a bit of an issue. I am still waiting (it's been a month now) for my $325 gold J-Retro for my jazz bass. Th eprice point of the aguilar is very appealing.

 

I also like variety and don't necessarily want all my basses to have the same "voice" so to speak. My jazz will - hopefully soon - have a J-Retro, My Yamaha BB605 has that "Yamaha" sound, and I would like my Carvin to have another nice sound, but different from the others.

 

Steve - I do appreciate your advice and everyone else's, too. Trying the bass passive was a great suggestion. I know it seems like I'm not listening when you suggest the U-Retro, but I am listening. I just think other factors are making me want to try something else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by SteveC:

Steve - I do appreciate your advice and everyone else's, too. Trying the bass passive was a great suggestion. I know it seems like I'm not listening when you suggest the U-Retro, but I am listening. I just think other factors are making me want to try something else.

Absolutely - there's no reason why the Retro should be the right preamp for you, I'm just counselling against certain approached to gear buying... there are lots of great reasons to go Demeter/Aguilar/EMG/Schack/Whoever - I happen to like the Retros, but that wasn't the point of the post... :)

 

Good luck finding the sound you're after

 

Steve

www.stevelawson.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've used a lot of things in my time. Coincidentallty I own/use a Carvin LB76 fretless, but I have others. Here's what I prefer:

 

strings: D'Addario Chromes (flatwounds) when I want more lows and a hollowed-out standup sound. The highs tend to get sacrificed, but that what the other controls are for. Lately I've gone back to D'Addario Half-Rounds (stainless steel) because the attack is much more direct and higher sounding for what I call "rock-fretless" playing. More than anything else, the strings are the important selection.

 

chorus/flanging: my first was a Boss CE-1 Chorus (hard to find nowdays) and from that moved on to a DOD Bass Flanger (forgot the model). From that, went to a ZOOM BFX-708 and still use the stock Chorus patch as well as one of the fretless patches, but that pedal needs serious user-tweaking as the preset effect parameters (vol, EQ, noise gate, etc.) are uneven from patch to patch. Lately it's been a Line 6 Bass Pod with two chorus settings, one of which seems to duplicate the one by T.C. Electronics. All of them should be blended with the straight signal as the FX tend to cloud up the notes.

 

EQ: mostly I tend to back off on mid-bass frequencies in the 500-1.5K range because it crowds the curve and hurts the treble end; especially with bass choruses which tend to wash out the high end when you feed them too much lows. If I know I'm going to play a lot of high/sweet notes, I'll back off that low-mid end, or even some of the low end.

 

I won't go into amps or rackmounts because there's way too much out there and most people can figure that out for themselves.

 

If I have the time/ability to split signals, then I'll run a clean signal (back off the mid a bit) through a direct box (SansAmp DI) and put the wet signal (chorus and more lows) through the amp/PA and maybe mike that for ambience.

 

I didn't mean to make this sound confusing, so I apologize if it is.

:thu:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is your technique like? Do you use rest strokes for single lines? Do you play on your fingertips or the flatter part of your fingers on the fingerboard side?

Effects, new amps & pick-ups might help too as stated.

VVV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Demeter, but since the bass is fretted I don't think the comparison is completely valid. I like it. I'd also like to try the U-Retro some day, as well as the Raven-Labs unit.

 

I like Carvin basses, but Steve....really.

 

You know you need a more dramatic way to solve this problem, and I can help. I saw this in a store today (though I didn't dare touch it). This is your answer - toss the Carvin and pick up this...

 

http://www.gbase.com/guitar_pics/558/538220.jpg

 

It's like the Ritter they reviewed in BP. I played a black fretted lower level version, which was just excellent.

 

(Ain't I a stinker?)

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nice, Tom. However, it needs to be a 6 sting. I toyed with going to a different bass, but $$$ is keeping me from that option. I really do like the Carvin, it's just that I think the preamp is a bit weak.

 

I emailed a guy on eBay about a Demeter on-board preamp, but no reply.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...