1. Welcome to TalkBass, the Premier Bass Player Community and Information Source. We've been uniting the Low End Since 1998!

    We're glad you've found us. Register a 100% Free Account to post and unlock tons of features.

Help on taming hot 18-volt bass!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Kragnorak, Apr 3, 2014.


  1. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    I'm looking for advice. Background is that I play multiple active basses through an Aguilar Tonehammer pedal (always on) into a Genz Benz ShuttleMax 12.

    I already have issues with the instrument signals being louder or quieter when I switch basses in the middle of a set, and I tend to use the Master volume on the Tonehammer to account for the difference. The Genz Benz has a Low/High Gain Switch that can pad -10dB, and I usually use the HIGH gain setting. Normally this gives just the right amount of growl for me. As the user's manual notes: "If tube compression, growl, or all-out distortion is desired then the HIGH gain setting may be used regardless of the pickup sensitivity. The hotter the pickup output, the more tube distortion can be achieved."

    The problem I'm having is with my newest Tanatos bass, which is powered by 2 9-volt batteries. The output is WAY hotter than I am used to! At low volumes it sounds phenomenal, but I'm looking for a way to tame it in high volume situations without losing good tone. The first thing I tried was the LOW gain pad on the Genz Benz, but for some reason I'm getting horrible "farty" almost digital distortion on my accents and low notes. When I put the switch back to HIGH the tone sounds better although I get almost constant tube distortion and red peak lights.

    I currently have the Gain and Master volumes on the Tonehammer set way low, below 9 o'clock, but it seems like the signal is just really hot no matter what. I don't know if I should be playing with this at the amp level to set the GAIN and channel volume controls lower, or keep lowering volume settings on my preamp, but either way I'm afraid of losing tone. I want to get the same amount of push/resistance that I would get with one of my other basses wide open.

    Ideas please? And does anyone familiar with GB know why I might be getting ugly tones with the LOW GAIN pad? I feel like I need an anti-boost pedal...:meh:
     
  2. negativefx

    negativefx complete hack Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    Pull back on the active bass volume?
     
  3. hasbeen

    hasbeen

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Disclosures:
    Vice President, KMC Music Inc.
    there isn't anything in the amp design that would do this.


    Why not just turn the bass or Aggie pedal gain down?
     
  4. tbz

    tbz Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Location:
    SoCal
    Just thinking through this, something seems off.

    Your new bass would be pushing a hotter signal into the front end of the aggie. You can tame that with the input gain on the aggie. That should be pretty simple to A/B at moderate volumes to match them up.

    Odd part is the problem you're seeing with the low and high gain settings, as they seem to be opposite of how those are supposed to work, per the manual.

    If your signal coming out of the aggie was too loud, and you don't have distortion on the High gain setting (without the -10db pad enabled) then there's literally no rational reason you would get distortion with the Low gain setting.

    That low gain setting reduces your input volume...reduced input volume would turn into less distortion.

    As a result, I'd have to ask, are you sure you are correctly identifying the low and high gain settings?

    If you are....then you have something wrong with your amp as a -10db pad should NEVER cause a signal to distort if it isn't already distorting without that pad.
     
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Does the Tanatos have an onboard volume knob?
     
  7. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    First of all, I am correctly identifying the HIGH/LOW gain on the amp. When the -10dB pad is engaged there is an amber light that goes off (maybe the amber is a bump then?)... When I have it set to Low, the overall volume is lower - the ugly distortion I'm getting is on peaks, like when I hit an accent. That's why it feels like the voltage signal itself is hot even with the lowered gain.

    I usually play with the bass output volume at 80-90% so that I can open it up for a solo part or whatever. But reducing it more than that weakens tone in general so I prefer messing around with the preamp pedal. But it just occurred to me that I might get a well-balanced tone by pulling all the instrument's tone knobs down. For all I know, they could be boost knobs instead of just cut as I'm used to.

    Regarding input gain on the Aggie preamp, I already have it set pretty low. Always hate messing around once the volume is below "2".
     
  8. lz4005

    lz4005

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Most active electronics are boost/cut or boost only. I've never seen one that was cut only. That's what passive electronics do.
     
  9. hasbeen

    hasbeen

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Disclosures:
    Vice President, KMC Music Inc.
    if you have the active bass and treble knobs on the bass boosted, that is a sure way to clip the input.

    Between the Aggie pedal, active electronics on the bass and eq section in the amp, you have a LOT going on.

    I would recommend:

    * Dial in your tone from your amp tone network with your bass preamp set "flat".

    * From there, you can make small adjustments from the controls on your bass and on the pedal.
     
  10. Scoops

    Scoops Vagabond at large Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    Sugar Creek, Wisconsin
    When you say the bass is "active", I'm assuming that you have an onboard preamp. If this is the case, take a look to see if there is gain adjustment on that preamp.
     
  11. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    Upstate, South Carolina
    This. That's why most preamps have gain adjustments and I won't use one that does not.
     
  12. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco user & BOSE Abuser

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    South Texas
    +1 to the above AND use your pickup adjustment screws to lower the pickups if that is possible,
     
  13. agedhorse

    agedhorse Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2006
    Have you tried the bass directly into the shuttlemax?

    Is there an output level trim control inside the bass on the active preamp pcb?
     
  14. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Thanks for the suggestions all. I don't think I have gain adjustments on either the preamp pedal or the bass (or I don't know how to find it). But I will definitely drop the tone knobs down.

    It's been hard for me to experiment with tone because I'm only having these issues in high-volume situations. The bass sounds fantastic in my basement, but I don't play above medium volume there.
     
  15. lz4005

    lz4005

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    If you have one on the bass it'll be a small trim pot on the circuit board inside the control cavity. May have to be adjusted with a screwdriver.
     
  16. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    I've heard other people say similar things, and I just don't get it. What's the point of providing a volume knob if it has undesirable side-effects? I understand that passive electronics behave this way naturally (at least without a treble-bleed compensation), but for a modern active buffered bass, this should no longer happen. So why do most people still treat a volume knob like a switch, and not take advantage of the variations available between min and max? Is there some subtle psychology at work here, that tricks the brain into thinking that a lower amplitude corresponds to an inferior tone?
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps
    That is EXACTLY what is at work there. The psychology of louder = better tone to the average ear.
     
  18. tbz

    tbz Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Location:
    SoCal
    Well you can HEAR it better, so therefore it SOUNDS better, right?

    :p
     
  19. darthplagis

    darthplagis

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    newcastle upon tyne (UK)
    if that is the case could it be the amp/speakers rather than the bass/pedals?

    the amp may handle the more toned down volumes of basement jams, but in a full on live setting may not be able to handle what you are giving it?
     
  20. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    You know what? I just researched this because I've always gone off recording guides that recommend keeping everything wide open when recording. But I see that the advice I paid attention to is specific to passive basses. So here is an example of better advice from probably a more modern recording guide:

    That being said, I promise that I don't use the volume and tone knobs like switches! :p I tend to keep the volume knob at around 80% or so and try to adjust musically. I wish more pots were numbered because I like to do volume swells and such and it's sometimes tricky to go back to a 'reset' position when you're not on 10.

    As far as tone knobs, most of my basses have Vari-mid EQs with stacked knobs, so those are never wide open. I sweep the filters around to get a good tone for the amp/room (at least what sounds good to me, I hope). I'm also aware that some basses like F-Basses are built to sound their best with the tone knobs flat. I'm not convinced that's the case with my Ibanezes as they don't sound that lively at that setting, but it could very well be true for my newest bass.

    "What's the point of providing a volume knob if it has undesirable side-effects?"

    From the manual to my amp:
    I assume from this that there may be undesirable side effects (weaker tone?) at less than 9:00 and I've got a similar prejudice against playing with my other volumes at 8:00 or so. This could be faulty logic which is why I'm here...
     
  21. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps
    Well I'll say this for wanting to leave your volume all the way up...it's a lot easier to find all the way up than 80% on the gig.
     

Share This Page