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What makes a bass sound "honkey"?


PhilMan99

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Is it possible to narrow-down what makes a bass "honk"? I've heard it said that in the under $800 range, most bases have kind of a "honk" to them, but I was wondering if the condition is terminal (buy a new bass), or if there is hope for the financially challenged.

 

In my case, I've got an Ibanez SR496BM 6-string with TI Jazz Flats. The native "honk" was the same with Elixir rounds, so I don't *think* what I'm hearing is the strings. I realize the pickups and electronics in a $600 Ibanez are not stellar (after I bought, Ibanez started using Barts...), but I'm hoping to improve matters.

 

Sorry for the vague question, but I don't have the benefit of years of playing on a variety of different basses and strings.

 

Someday, I hope to afford a better bass, but for now... :(

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What type of amp/preamp/EQ do you use?

 

I hate the way my basses sound dry. Rather honkey actually.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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Originally posted by mattulator:

What type of amp/preamp/EQ do you use?

 

I hate the way my basses sound dry. Rather honkey actually.

Amp: Integrated into my Fender Bassman 200 (and Bassman 25).

 

Preamp/EQ: Integrated into my Fender Bassman 200 (and Bassman 25). Also:

* Native active preamp in Ibanez SR496BM bass

* Sometimes use Fishman Platinum Pro EQ Bass (has 5-band EQ)

* Sometimes use Line6 Bass PODxt

 

The problem is much worse with a Roland 150W keyboard amp I use sometimes at Church. Unlike my Bassman, it's a sealed cabinet, and seems to have a much more "flat" response.

 

With acoustic guitars, I can *really* hear the difference between a $500 Carvin and a $2,000 Taylor. I suspect something similar is going-on with my low-end Ibanez bass, but since I don't have money for my dream MIA Fender P5 right now, I was hoping to "make do". I fear the problem is a function of the wood selection and "cut" of the the body/neck, but in the event the problem is partially electronic, I thought I'd check here.

 

Hope springs eternal!

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Note to self: Use search.

 

I see that I asked this last summer: click here

 

On that thread, it seemed that the pups were the most likely culprit.

 

Still, I'd be interested in any generic comments folks have on "honk". Like "growl" or "punch" I'm sure it's hard to pin-down, but it seems to be generally agreed that "honk is bad".

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Does it honk when you play it unplugged? If it doesn't then I suspect the pickups and amp are ganging up on you.

 

But, if you have a sweepable midrange control you should be able to deal with it. Boost the midrange all the way, and then sweep the frequency until the honk gets really really bad. Then cut the mids as far as you can without sucking all the character and pitch out of the note.

 

If the Q is adjustable, make it very narrow to really notch out those nasty frequencies, if not just be careful to leave some of the mids so you still have tone and not just boom and click. (Doesn't the PodXT have fullt parametric EQ?)

 

Good luck!

 

Alex

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I would say that honkiness comes into play when you get some nice control between your hands and your amp. I think honkiness is a factor of the high mids. The best way to get that honk would be to dial in some high mids and dial out some low mids on your amp if you have that option. YOucan also get a nice honky sound if you turn your amp up and start pushing it pretty hard. Of course over time your amp might react adversely to this. Also you can get a lot of honk out of your hands. I think the easiest way to to play hard, namely with your right hand placed fairly close to the bridge, prabably favoring the bridge pickup of your bass.
Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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what is honking? I own two ibanez basses with dynamix pick ups and they both sound fine to me though I don't always know how to dial in the tone that i want (i'm very much so "pan to the middle" kind of guy.

 

could you post some honking samples?

 

jason

2cor5:21

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"it's the beauty of a community. it takes a village to raise a[n] [LLroomtempJ]." -robb

 

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It sounds like the "honking" is best treated as an EQ issue. Putting my ear to the "horn" of my bass and playing it unplugged does not create the "honk", so I suspect it is electronic rather than physical. Sadly, there's a noticable "rattle" (more like a buzzing) on some notes, but I don't *think* it is the frets - sounds like it comes from the body itself.

 

It is much better with both pickups on - individual pickups sound very "honkey".

 

I've seen a previous post suggest that replacing the pickups helps a lot, but I think this bass is too cheap to bother with. Although it feels good, the nut, bridge, pups & preamp are all "rubbish". Easier to just play with both pickups on, and adjust the EQ until I "win the lottery"...

 

Thanks to all!

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That rattle could be a very easy fix, I would check to see that your tuner bushings are tight. That seems like the most likely culprit.
Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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My bass's control cavity got screwed up, and I took it into shop. A week later, it comes back working but UTTERLY HONKY. Thank God my Ampworks bass modeling signal processor (or "the thingy" as I like to call it) came a few days before - it helps clean up a whole lot.
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Originally posted by musicfiend:

That rattle could be a very easy fix, I would check to see that your tuner bushings are tight. That seems like the most likely culprit.

If my ears are any guide (questionable...) the buzzing/rattling seems to be coming from the body, in the area of the pickup cavities. I tried removing the screws from the pickups and "jiggling" them, but it didn't make any difference (thought it might be a wire). Didn't remove them completely, because I didn't want to remove the strings.
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Originally posted by PhilMan99:

It sounds like the "honking" is best treated as an EQ issue. Putting my ear to the "horn" of my bass and playing it unplugged does not create the "honk", so I suspect it is electronic rather than physical.

I think you make a good point: some basses tend towards "honk" just because of the materials used in construction, and some don't. My swamp ash Carvin sounds a little honky when I put my ear on the horn, to me it has a bit of a nasal sound.

 

On the other hand, I don't think honk is necessarily bad, I think it cuts through the mix better than a very "smooth" sound.

 

Bruiser

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Here's my take on this (assuming I understand the sound you are talking about and I'm not dancing about architecture): I don't believe honk is something that's in the wood. I can't imagine hearing a honky tone with your ear to the bass. To me, it's an EQ issue. That means pickups, amp, and hands. Some pickups (Js mostly) are good at honk (some music calls for that type of tone). Couple that with other factors, and it's what comes out.

 

Try changing where you are plucking, and change the strength of your attack. I'm not saying these are permanent changes - just mess around to learn what increases/decreases the condition. I'd boost the lows just a bit (experiment with the on-board first, then the amps).

 

I don't care for honk in most cases, and I usually need to roll the bass control on my bass up a bit from center.

 

 

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

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