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Tone Control(s) -- do you set yours full up?

jay42

Member
Messages
7,082
As a guitar player, I'm used to setting the tones on full and if I will roll off the treble for a jazzy tone or fewer harmonics. On bass, if your normal tone is a full and round without any treble for popping, how do you set it the instrument vs. the preamp?
 
Messages
20,351
For the first 20 years I played bass, you could have taken the Tone control off and I never would have known the difference.

Over the years, I hear descriptions of "thump" and that idea just didn't connect with me. I wanted to hear AND feel the bass. I really loved that springy new string tone- and I did what I thought I needed to to produce that tone (although I didn't like using the horns in my cabs).

So up until relatively recently, the idea of the "fundamental" was a little lost on me. I wanted that bottom end rumble, but I wanted more of a full range rumble along with the bottom.

Maybe it comes with getting old, or just more comfortable with where I sit in the mix, but the more I realize I don't really need that "high" end on my tone. Rolling off the tone and muting the strings is a concept that I didn't ever comprehend- now I get it.

I think it's something you really have to hear/feel and get used to. You can hear all the descriptions of it, you can know how to do it, you can be told to listen to excellent examples all day long- but until you hear/feel it work for you- you won't get it or really understand it. You can shove a mute under your strings and play with it, but you're still really wanting to yank it out and roll the tone back up and re-EQ the amp to make it sing the way you know it should. Nothing wrong with that.
 

jbxFree

Member
Messages
131
My basses have active treble & bass. Treble stays deeply rolled off to maybe 1 or 2, bass gets rolled up out of neutral (but not much). This is for finger style. All room-adjustment eq is done in the preamp.

I used to keep a brighter, more midrangey tone when I was doing small group fretless Jaco-wannabe stuff, but for rock, funk, and African, deeper is better.

[edit] I also use ridiculously heavy strings for maximum tonebeef. YMMV depending on your strings, scale length, and overall resonance of your bass.
 
Last edited:

lpdeluxe

Member
Messages
1,529
I use an amp with a really widely tweakable EQ (Mesa/Boogie Walkabout) and I find that the tone control on the bass can add a lot of personality. I'm by no means tied to a single position of the knobs (guys who talk about "diming" their amps are missing the musical point, in my opinion, and I had the experience of having had an acquaintance doing that to my M/B with dire results) and it's all about getting a sound that fits the ensemble, and the environment, and the material.

In other words, if you are trying to excite a theological discussion, count me out. No one way is inherently superior to another. Be a musician, not a crackpot.:D
 
Messages
20,351
In other words, if you are trying to excite a theological discussion, count me out. No one way is inherently superior to another.
In re-reading the question- I think I was missing the point.

I think it's how do you set your EQ at the amp to allow the controls on the bass to control the fullness/presence. I can't answer that. Everybody does their own thing- for the most part- I set the amp for a usable tone with the tone control on the bass wide open (or as wide open as I'd run it) that ALSO allows the tone to back off to the tone I would actually use.

Usually I don't do a lot of tonal manipulation during the course of a show. Of course, there's more of changing tone in a "variety" set than what I do nowdays. When I do do that, my bass is chosen for that- an active bass, with active tone controls and two pickups- that allows me to manipulate the tone as much as I need to change in the range of songs.
 

tabdog

Member
Messages
116
In 1985 I bought a bass that was so versatile
that I didn't do too much amp tweaking. I just
kept it mostly flat.

My bass has an 18 volt preamp that lets me
dial in what ever I want on board.

When I us a passive bass, I start with it full
on and use the tone control when I want that
in my sound.

Tabdog
 

Thor

Member
Messages
3,364
I also set my amp controls based upon the tone with my bass tone controls dimed. I then have the freedom to shape from the bass as needed.

I used to not mess with them too much, but I have also found that I have moved a bit away from the "zingier" tone and gravitated towards a more fundamental tone. That being said, some songs we play call for a bit more in the highs and mids, and I dial those in, and then back down for the tunes that don't need them.

Unless there is a serious problem that becomes evident during a show, I tend to leave the amp/preamp alone once it's been set after sound check.
 

MickyZ

Member
Messages
400
For me it depends on the music, the bass, and the amp. In the last year or so, I've settled on a couple of settings. When playing my active basses (Musicman Stingray or Carvin LB5, both with 3 EQ knobs) on a standard (non-parametric) EQ amp, I dime the amp EQ and control everything from the bass. If the amp EQ is parametric (like my Eden WT800B) and with the active basses, I set the amp EQ with the bass EQ flat, and then modify via the bass EQ when playing depending on the song. Lastly, with my Rick 4003 passive bass, I dime the bass controls and set the amp EQ for the music - but then, I'm usually playing Rush or Yes, so I usually set it for a lot of zing and can tone it down as needed for the individual songs (doesn't happen very often).
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,359
...I dime the amp EQ and control everything from the bass.
:eek:

i can't imagine a scenario where diming the EQ on a bass amp would lead to anything but an over-boosted, uneven, "out of control" tone.

it would be like diming all the EQ knobs on your home stereo.
 
Messages
4
surprised that no one has involved your room or stage in this equation. i've owned 2 vintage SVTs with 8x10 cabs, and now run a 1971 B15s with 15" extension cab, and my eq changes almost every show. ALMOST. haha. it's usually just a bump or cut in the low end. i play an old jazz bass with flat wounds, that are over a year old, so highs are usually not a huge problem. but the way a stage is built, and the way the stage is acoustically treated can play a massive part in your tonal experience. i will say, if your amp has a mid control...especially a sweepable one....make sure you pop that 300 and 900 in there. you can have some really cool moments if your touch is right, and you can work your guitar's tone knob well.

 

MickyZ

Member
Messages
400
:eek:

i can't imagine a scenario where diming the EQ on a bass amp would lead to anything but an over-boosted, uneven, "out of control" tone.

it would be like diming all the EQ knobs on your home stereo.
I suppose it depends on the amp. If the EQ controls are cut/boost type, then I agree with you. If they are simply 1-10 and merely roll off portions of the tone, then diming everything makes sense to give you all the control on your bass.
 

harpinon

Member
Messages
8,975
Its easy to find yourself wanting a little more of something until you find that after a while you've dimed everything.
Many amps will increase certain frequencies with a boost of the master volume, so I try to keep the EQ's lower and raise the volume level. It often will suffice.
The problem with many bass amps is that they just don't have enough power & paper to get the job done right.
I had a killer sounding 200 watt 2 x 10 combo, but after a frustrating gig, I went back to the Ampeg stack. The pain of moving it wears off by the second set normally.
 

eclecto-acoustic

Serial tree-hugger
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,892
Guitar player here, but I do love playing bass as well.

I find that I roll off just a hair normally, and it is mostly to make up for my own bad technique (gross noises).

I find it interesting the number of people chasing the fundamental. The bass amp i was using yesterday has a Low, Low Mid, High Mid and High control at 60, 400, 1k and 10k respectively. With the High Mid and High at 0 (not boosted or cut), the Low Mid boosted by maybe 6 dB and the Lows cut dramatically (thihnk 10+ dB), the sound was amazing. You'd never know the low end was cut without looking at it.

Your ear synthesizes the fundamental pretty well if you've got enough of the harmonic information present. Plus it stays out of the way of the kick drum.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,359
Your ear synthesizes the fundamental pretty well if you've got enough of the harmonic information present. Plus it stays out of the way of the kick drum.
oh, absolutely!

also, the bass itself doesn't really produce much of that fundamental anyway.

when you're hitting that "41Hz" low E, the string mostly just creates the octave harmonic at 82Hz.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,359
I suppose it depends on the amp. If the EQ controls are cut/boost type, then I agree with you. If they are simply 1-10 and merely roll off portions of the tone, then diming everything makes sense to give you all the control on your bass.
i can't see that being the case on anything more advanced than an old fender bassman head or maybe a marshall plexi superbass.

even then, they usually design the preamp around those "subtract only" controls (boosting the signal going into those frequencies, say) so that the knobs sound "right" somewhere in the middle.

whatever works is whatever works (of course :beer) but it really is an odd way to run a bass head that you're not trying to drive into lemmy-style distortion.
 

tkozal

Member
Messages
1,300
Depends greatly on the bass. My G&L is very different than my Fenders. Passive Fenders I do differently than active Fenders. My Bongo demands you use the EQ, as it can make it do a thousand things.
 

BigDoug1053

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,204
For the first 20 years I played bass, you could have taken the Tone control off and I never would have known the difference.

Over the years, I hear descriptions of "thump" and that idea just didn't connect with me. I wanted to hear AND feel the bass. I really loved that springy new string tone- and I did what I thought I needed to to produce that tone (although I didn't like using the horns in my cabs).

So up until relatively recently, the idea of the "fundamental" was a little lost on me. I wanted that bottom end rumble, but I wanted more of a full range rumble along with the bottom.

Maybe it comes with getting old, or just more comfortable with where I sit in the mix, but the more I realize I don't really need that "high" end on my tone. Rolling off the tone and muting the strings is a concept that I didn't ever comprehend- now I get it.

I think it's something you really have to hear/feel and get used to. You can hear all the descriptions of it, you can know how to do it, you can be told to listen to excellent examples all day long- but until you hear/feel it work for you- you won't get it or really understand it. You can shove a mute under your strings and play with it, but you're still really wanting to yank it out and roll the tone back up and re-EQ the amp to make it sing the way you know it should. Nothing wrong with that.
Well said. Playing bass well involves a different way of hearing a band and making the band sound great.
 

xroads

Member
Messages
2,464
I typically set the tone control between 4-7 (a PJ type bass), depending on the room, and song.
 






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