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amplification for 5 string


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I recently bought a 5 string Musicman bass. The switch was from a standard passive p/j configured 4 string. I play/gig through a Peavey 210TX combo. 210 watts as it sits w/out extension cab. I do not have an extension cab for it (for those who are familiar - lugging this thing around is a pain enough w/out having another cab to schlep around). My concern/question is if anyone has opinions on whether my current amp (2 - 10" speakers and a piezo horn) is adequate to handle the 5 string (Low B) that I now have. Is there any 'rule of thumb' on minimum wattage/speaker size to handle the low B? Should I be concerned about pushing the 2 10" speakers with what I have now? Any thoughts/opinions appreciated. Thanks!
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Old-school folks like myself will say you need a 15" or 18" speaker. That was then...


...this is now. Now, the speaker and cabinet design can do quite nicely with 10" speakers. I think you more need to look at the "specs" (if you can trust them) of the completed unit, rather than something simple like 'you need a 15" speaker, and at least 500W'.

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Any thoughts/opinions appreciated. Thanks!
Get more power or an extension cab.

I think you will max that 210 out quickly with a 5 - particularly in a band situation.

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


I have nothing nice to say so . . .


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The question really involves what will deliver your low notes outside of running through the house PA, which is what most performers do anyway. Most house systems worthy of the name are going to have 1,000-2,000 watts available (sometimes more) to cover any band. So I'm assuming you're talking about clubs without a formal stage or a small PA that can't handle bass.


I've had no problems onstage in any instance hearing my low B through a 15" combo or a 2x10" combo as long as I'm running a good 200 watts through it. You can also use an outboard EQ or preamp to juice up the 30-50 Hz range.


For that matter, I've jammed a few times lately on an old Peavey bass combo that can't be more that 60 watts in a small club holding open mike nights, and I've competed well onstage with a drummer, keyboard, 3 guitarists and a sax onstage all at once. In my case, I have active p/ups and an onboard preamp I can use to kick up that low B. YMMV.


So how's your instrument cable? I've heard good basses sound like trash on a cheap cable. If you spent what I think you did on your rig, an extra $40-50 for a premium cable with Neutrik jacks isn't a bad investment and may cure the problem.


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I play a 5, and my rig would probably be considered "old school".. However this is what I have learned.. The answer to your question may depend on what you want to accomplish with your sound. Do you want your bass to be heard, or felt? The fundamental of the E and B strings start bordering on the subsonic. Which means you may not necessarily HEAR 33Hz, but if you have speakers that can reproduce that at high SPL's, you're moving a lot of air, and pounding chests.


This will require the 15-18 speaker and a LOT of wattage.. OR an 8-10 which uses a cumulative effect to move the air volumes needed..


I have found on my rig that the subsonic can and does raise hell with everything.. It saps amplifier power, making setting a tone damn near impossible. It bleeds into every stage mike, causing some very annoying booming problems through the PA, and it was not doing my speaker drivers any good at all.


What you are actually HEARING on bass are the higher harmonics, the fundamental in most cases really get lost in the mix. I am thinking you COULD make your 2-10 setup work OK with your fiver.. IF you do a couple things.. I am a huge advocate of a subsonic filter. I have an 18db/octave @30Hz filter in my effects loop whick makes ALL the difference in the world.. Also consider boosting EQ in the 500-800 Hz range..about 6db or so.. Works for me.. :)

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I'm leaning towards Fred's answer as it is reasonable.


Dhomer I couldn't disagree more.


Tone and volumne are what you carry an amplifier for. Adjust your amplifier to obtain the tone you want, if you can't get the tone you want or the volume you need get another amp. I have a Nemesis 210 amp w/200 watts. I find it is great for rehearsals but not enough for most gigs. Again though it all depends on what you want to hear.


What exactly do you think you are filtering below 30HZ?


Boosting 500-800 HZ may give you the tone you want, but I hate those frequencies boosted on a P Bass. It's very hard to generalize on EQ unless you know the Bass in question very well.

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Speaker size doesn't matter. What matters more is the design of the speaker (be it 10", 12", 15", 18" or 5"!) and the size and design of the cab. Acme does magic with the low end using two or four 10" speakers. AccuGroove does it with various combinations of 10", 12", and 15" speakers. Phil Jones does it with arrays of 5" speakers. Various SR gear manufacturers do it with 10", 12", 15", and 18" speakers.


Also, you need to determine what you really mean by "handling the low B." To hear the fundamental, you need gear that will reproduce down to 31 Hz without losing too much volume. Often we don't need to hear the fundamental, and our in good shape with the overtones.


Power matters. You don't necessarily need tons of it, but I think I tend to agree w/ Fred here that having a couple of hundred watts at a minimum is a good thing. I also tend to be an advocate for extra headroom -- generally believing that having more watts available than you really need is a good thing.


That's all I have time to write at the moment. Others will chime in for sure.






Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by dhomer:

I am a huge advocate of a subsonic filter. I have an 18db/octave @30Hz filter in my effects loop whick makes ALL the difference in the world. :)

Just curious here, since a low B fundamental is 31Hz or so...what do you find that you filter below 30Hz? This is interesting.


I've found that my tone sounds better in general when I cut some of the sub-lows (say 50Hz or so and below) then boost some of the lower mids (say somewhere around 90-120Hz). This is the range where the low frequencies can still be felt to some extent, but not so much that it's an indistinct mass of sub-lows creating standing waves in the room that muddy everything up. I also agreed with boosting in the 600-800 range, depending on the bass itself. That can add a lot of clarity and punch when you're in the mix with all the other instruments.



Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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OK, a little explanation is in order I guess.. When I designed and built my cabs, the 18 I use has a -3dB spec at 29Hz. What I have found with this setup, running a BBE Bmax and a Carvin DCM600, is that this thing wanted to reproduce signal almost down to DC at enough SPL to really cause a problem! Simply putting hand pressure on the strings (I'm mostly fingerstyle) were causing the speaker cones (even my 10's which are in a closed box)to bottom out! Was using way too much power for really useless work, and there was no way I could dial in a consistent tone. Inserting that high pass filter cured the problem. The signal attenuates at 18db/octave under 30, there's no more issues with subsonic "garbage" on stage, and I still have enough fundamental to get a decent tone.. BTW I play an active Peavey fiver.. may make a difference in EQ settings... Just relaying what worked for me.
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The comments above re: tone and low-cut filters reminded me: strings!


I don't switch brands too often myself, but I've read a lot of comments from others reporting "night vs. day" differences in the low-B between different brands of strings.

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