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EQ - don't knock it until...

Discussion in 'Roscoe Basses' started by VroomVroom, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Ok, so not saying this is for everybody, and when I first heard it my inner, "Are you serious?" threatened to pop out and make an idiot out of me. Not like that's ever happened before. :rolleyes:

    Alright, disclaimer aside. Here goes. During the massively awesome hang with Jimmy Haslip, one of us asked him how he EQ's his bass. The answer? Using his word, "Dimed." Keeping in mind that his bass is wired Vol/Vol instead of Vol/Blend, here's a rundown:

    Bridge Pickup Volume: 10/10 (or close to it, for fine tuning).
    Neck Pickup Volume: 0/10, unless he needs more bottom...up to 5/10.
    Bass: 10/10
    Mids: 10/10
    Treble: 10/10

    I kid you not.

    Coming from the School of Flat and Centered Unless Something Needs a Little Boost or Cut, I wasn't sure how to react. Of course, there are two important caveats:

    - 90% (at least) of the tone comes from the hands. Jimmy played many of our basses during the hang, without touching any knobs. On one and all he sounded like....Jimmy.

    - The strings on Jimmy's bass were old. No exact age, but carbon dating puts them somewhere between Gard's boxers and LilRay's last Cowboys victory dance. :ninja: :D

    The latter has an undeniable effect, especially on the treble boost. How do I know, you ask? I tried it. I couldn't resist. Between it obviously working for Jimmy, and then hearing Keith's feedback that it made sense to him, I had to give it a go. The results? Surprisingly good. Damn good, even. I expected harsh, and except for the whole treble/fresh strings thing, it didn't even come close.

    The one-word description that works? FAT. The tone is absolutely monstrous. It may not work for everything, but there is no doubting that it has a place. Three more notes, in my brief experience, for whatever they may be worth:

    - Pad your input accordingly. Whether this is your volume knob, the trim control thru the cavity cover, or an 'active/passive' pad on your amp...you'll quickly discover the need to compensate for the insanity coming from the instrument.

    - Definitely play with the blend knob. IME this EQ seems to work best when favoring the bridge pickup. In the past if you thought biasing the bridge pickup made the tone thin and nasally, I think you may be very pleasantly surprised. Bark and snarl? In spades, but with plenty of bottom.

    - Go ahead, pull that mid knob and boost those low mids. I dare you, I double dare you....(oh, sorry, me and Jules got a little carried away there). If you're running into an amp that's a bit light in the loafers (my Shuttle 6.0 practice rig, for example, or the light Aggie stuff) things get MIGHTY. On the other hand, if you're running into, say, a Steamer and a (ceramic) Berg, this will likely be dramatic overkill.

    I'd be curious to see what everyone thinks about this in a gig setting. Out live, I've only tried it with my boobienga J sixer...with mixed results. While practicing at home, I prefer it with my 'traditional Roscoe' SKB over the basses with the J pickups. It definitely adds some authority to the tone, and is something I'll be toying with in the months to come.
  2. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Hmmm. I will actually try this out this weekend. I have also been of the "keep it centered" mentality for years. But, I am always open to trying something new/different.
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  4. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Yeah, I was puzzled by this at first. I had asked him during the clinic in Bburg how he got rid of treble, and his response was "I do it on the bass". Then I heard about the dimed thing on Saturday, and I was cornfused...

    Turns out he just uses the neck pickup like most of us probably use the bass control. For fatness, he adds a little neck pickup. For thin, he dials out the neck pickup. Being a fan of vol/vol setups, I get that part. I just never would have thought to pair that approach with cranking all the EQ controls to 10. It must go way back to his prior use of passive basses with vol/vol setups.

    What can you say? It certainly works for him!
  5. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I didn't dime everything, but I did boost the lows and low mids. Sounded great. Gave the C string some body without the B string getting muddy. The ash/Wenge combo probably helps the definition a little.

    I have always been a center detent guy but the knobs wouldn't be adjustable if they weren't meant to be adjusted, right? It would just be a hard wired eq.

    We're told so often that boost is bad - especially bass - that I think it's hard to turn that knob for fear of being chastised.

    Turn away and tell us the results.
  6. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    My only personal issue with this philosophy is that I don't care for NOISE, and boosting treble on any circuit runs the strong risk of increasing the noise a bit on the too noticeable side for my taste.

    But, if it works for Jimmy, and it works for YOU, then who am I to question it? :)
  7. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    That was actually my main concern, too, but there's no noise coming out of Jimmy's bass. I guess the mid and bass boost overwhelm the treble boost. I mean his bass sounds daaaaaa-rk.
  8. RDUB

    RDUB Supporting Member

    OK... gotta try it! Seems extreme for the theatre gig I'm doing this week, but ***! I'll check in tomorrow...
  9. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Given where it’s coming from, I am certainly not going to question the result that this setup yields, as Jimmy’s tone is awesome. There are some fundamental problems with it however as Gard points out – the reason we are “told” not to boost too much is because the preamp is not designed with this kind of use in mind. If you boost all 3 bands all the way, you’re just amplifying everything with some selective peaks and valleys. Everything includes noise. This also eats into the preamp’s dynamic headroom, but the NTMB seems to have plenty and probably handles it ok.

    I will definitely try it, but I don’t agree with it on a technical level regardless of how good it sounds. There are other ways to achieve the same tone (not necessarily onboard) that do not require any compromises.
  10. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area, CA
    According to Keith Roscoe, via Bill Bartolini...incorrect. Keith's exact feedback was that the pre actually was designed this way. If I hadn't had the subsequent conversation with Keith, I probably would have never tried this. He was so casual and nonchalant about it, that I had to give it a go.

    FWIW...no noise, on any of my basses, with the treble maxed. I just find there's a bit too much sizzle with the fresh strings I'm running. As mentioned, Jimmy's bass was perfectly quiet as well...when I played it at Gard's house I was knocked out by this. YMMV with any number of factors, real or perceived, that come to mind...battery life, instrument cable, etc.
  11. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Be interesting to try this with a 2 band, I'm sure the results would vary quite a lot without the mid boost, but it could be good too.

    Might be more useful for slap, I think a lot of the old 2 band MM guys crank 'em.
  12. +12,000,000.00What Jerry just said. And it fortifies what I've kinda known regardless the differing opinions on the tech side. I've essentially been doing the same with my Jazz basses for over 20 years. Favor the bridge pup, bass max, treble is the variable. Amps run flat. View it as a fresh canvas for your sound, now let your fingers define the tone.. Works very well on both my Roscoes, specially when you jack the mids up. Stand Back!! Tone coming thru...
  13. XavidmanX


    Jun 29, 2006
    Bakersfield, CA
    LMAO...that alone was worth the price of admission. Thanks for a good laugh, bud.
  14. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Flat on the controls isn't necessarily flat. Everything has an inherent voice, the EQ is there to tweak it from there.
  15. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs, Jule Amps
    I've been getting less shy about eq as of late as well. I have tended to be a "gotta be flat" guy but a couple of things opened my eyes. First was actually spending some time playing my Sadowsky PJ with some bass and treble boost. Totally transforms the instrument. Second was having Victor play one of my Monarchs. When I got it back the eq was all over the place. And he sounded awesome. I sounded...not awesome but I messed with my technique and interesting things happened. so easy to get stuck in your ways...
  16. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I tried it out tonight on my SKB. Maybe too much time spent listening to passive basses and active basses set close to flat, but it didn't do much for me. I can see how Jimmy gets his tone that way and it's cool, but for my taste it was just too much "preamp sound" and not enough "string" or "wood" sound. It really smoothes out the overtones.

    This definitely serves to at least remind us that it's ok to twist some knobs from time to time, but I will still be sticking to the "flat" detents as a starting point and going from there. I still like cutting in order to emphasize other frequencies rather than boosting what I want to hear (or ideally, a bit of both to end up at roughly unity gain).
  17. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs, Jule Amps
    Did you try it live in a mix? I've found that some eq settings, especially more "open" ones can sound great at home but just get crushed live depending on the band/room/etc. But it also heavily depends on left and right hand technique I think...
  18. DAMON


    Sep 9, 2011
    I too am a fan of subtractive eq. I have not tried it live, but I'm really digging bridge only (duh) on #6340 with midrange flat and bass and treble cut all the way. I adjusted the onboard gain to compensate. It works great for Jaco staccato. It's dynamic without getting ganky when I dig in.
  19. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    I think he's saying there'll be more noise from your drawers than the bass:ninja::help:.

    For me, I add lots of neck Pickup for warmth and to cover up my crappy technique. All bridge brings TOO much clarity:ninja:.


    God Bless, Ray
  20. tleebassist11

    tleebassist11 Taylor Lee

    Dec 21, 2011
    Endorsing: Epifani
    I completely agree with the 10 out of ten thing on every knob but treble...i run my fretless that way with the neck pickup at half and it sounds awesome.
  21. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'm running my bass and low mids at about 80 - 85% and treble flat with a slight bias to the bridge pup. Pretty growly.

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