Question from a guitarist

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by JimH, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. JimH

    JimH Member

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    The bass player in my band is a young and talented guy. One problem we have is he's not a real gear expert, and doesn't really know the best way to get a clear and distinct sound out of his gear. He sometimes goes from totally overwhelming the sound to being virtually unheard - seems hard to get a really clear sound at the right level. If we get it right as a band it's like there's some luck involved, which isn't what we want. He uses a Fender Jazz and a relatively small warwick combo - one of the old neodyn wedge shaped things - line out to the PA.

    ...We try to stay quite low on stage and essentially use our amps as monitors - I don't think his small amp is the issue.

    Any general bass settings (EQ?) or ideas/rules of thumb that will help us?

    ...We're a general covers band: rock, indie, rock and roll, clean pop - pretty much all anything bar metal and trad jazz.

    I bet half of you are thinking why the hell is the guitarist asking, he's probably the problem - honest I'm not!

    Thanks
     
  2. tkozal

    tkozal Supporting Member

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    what kind of jazz is it? MIM, MIA, etc..what kind of strings does he have on it? A jazz should cut through for the type of music you are playing. He may be farting out the amp also.
     
  3. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    You really want to make sure- especially with a small combo- that he's emphasizing the mids- that's where you "hear" the the bass instrument. The lows get eaten up by the drums and the highs get eaten up by the guitars and cymbals. And that'll be especially noticeable with a smaller combo- since it can't push too much air.

    The problem is that a good bass sound does not sound "good" when played alone.

    Start with what you think is a good EQ- pull back the bass a bit and play with the band- while you're (he's) playing start bringing up the mids until you (he) can hear what the bass is doing.

    The biggest key and hurdle is that a good, present bass sound will sound crappy on it's own, and that a good bass sound on it's own will not be present in the mix.
     
  4. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Thanks guys - it's a japanese fender jazz bass, one of those japan market only ones I think.

    golden boy - good advice. I think that about all elements of tone, the band as a whole has to cover the frequency spectrum, not one instrument on it's own. I'm a little suprised to hear you give that advice about the mids, but will try it.
     
  5. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    If you think of the songs that you can hear what the bass is doing and think of where in the "sonic spectrum" you hear those notes.
     
  6. KeithC

    KeithC Silver Supporting Member

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    We have this problem too. In our band I and the other guitarist share duties. I play a little more than half the night on guitar and then switch to bass.
    What we are using is a Schecter bass with active pups and a Fender 400 PRO Bass Combo Amp.

    We have been doing this guitar/bass switch off for about 6 years and are pretty comfortable in our playing. We've been playing for over 30 years each and when we couldn't find a decent bass player we decided to do this.

    But, getting a good "professional" bass sound is tough for us.

    Could you expand on what you mean about what sounds good alone doesn't sound good in the mix?

    He plays with much heavier attack than me and thus the settings and such have to be changed a bit. Usually I need more volume as I play with a lighter touch.
    But we both feel like we suffer from not being able to get enough bottom end and still be clear.

    Hope this isn't too much of a high-jack....maybe it will help us all! :AOK

    Thanks!
     
  7. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Thanks golden boy

    ...no hijack mate - it's all for the same goal.... Incidentally I think what he means is what I already do with guitar - i.e. you get your tone at home on your own and it sounds rich and full and so on. - We create a sound that covers the tonal spectrum on its own - sounding good on it's own. however as a band we cover the tonal spectrum between us all - the more we overlap, the more mud. -to cure the mud we restrict the tonal ground we're covering so as not to step on each others toes. So a it's kind of reverse technique - get your sound right for the band and it might sound bad at home, playing alone. Get it right at home, might sound bad for the band ie too muddy.
     
  8. dave s

    dave s Member

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    You have a lot of things going on in your story. Bass player has a 'smallish amp' that is used more as a monitor and goes direct to PA.

    How many watts is his bass amp? Also, he's running direct into what type of PA and front system?

    Also, what kind of music does your band play? Different bass tones are required for jazz/funk/rock/pop genres.

    It's probably NOT his bass, but something else along the signal chain to the overall mix through your band's sound system.

    dave
     
  9. Structo

    Structo Member

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    Bass amps need to be more powerful to get over the mix.
    That's why you see bass players with 300 watt amps while the guitarists have maybe a 50 watter.
    It's all about the sonic characteristics in the bass frequencies.
    Bass frequencies are very long wave lengths that you may not here well on stage but out about 20 feet they will be heard.

    I'd think unless you are running a very good PA system, that the bass needs a bigger more powerful amp.
     
  10. KeithC

    KeithC Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks Dave,

    That makes sense for sure. Funny ( to me! ) how playing guitar for so many years and then having to "get a sound" on bass is much harder than I figured it would be.

    It all fun though!
     
  11. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    +1 for more midrange content (mid-scoop tone sounds good by itself,but disppears in a mix). A few other things to consider:

    1. bass through a PA system sounds considerably different than bass through an amp. That means the player and the audience are hearing two different tones. If the stage blend is the issue, then dial in the amp; if the audience mix is the issue, it needs to be addressed at the mixing console.

    2. Consider running the bass directly into a DI box and avoid using the line out of the amp. DI boxes have a 1/4" parallel output that can be sent to the amp for monitoring. This allows for a clean bass signal to be sent to the PA, unaffected by the amp.

    3. Consider using a compressor. Moderate compression helps the bass to sit more consistently in the mix. Ideally, this would be done at the mix position, but a good pedal has its advantages too.
     

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