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All About Growl - Megathread

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by EricTheEZ1, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    I feel this is a topic that has been debated long and hard, but never organized. It's not totally subjective, though, so I feel we should be able to categorize it, if you will.

    What I'm looking for is descriptions of what you think growl is and what you do in order to get it. Include video/audio when you can to help us understand.

    Personally, I think of growl when I hear Stuart Zender's tone on this Rapper's Delight video and plenty of other Jamiroquai tunes, of course. I know he uses Warwick Streamers more often than not, but I believe he uses low mids, cuts the extreme highs, and may or may not use flatwounds some of the time.

    When I want to get growl on my bass I always boost the low mids, cut 500 Hz almost completely on my EQ pedal and than boost the mid wideband a lot. This way, I get the punch in that frequency range, but not the harshness. This is for my version of Zender's tone.

    Here's a question to get the rest of you thinking. What growl have you experienced to be the best? Custom bass? MM? P-Bass? J-Bass? Some other type of pickup bass? Share how you get the best growl for your sound. Include EQ tips and info about what bass you use, if you want.

    -Eric Zehnder.
  2. I find I like two forms of growl.

    #1. the classic J-bass, rosewood fretboard, standard J pickups (or DM model J's). I throw a little tube gain on by setting the pre to around 6 on my YBA200, keep the mids centered and boosted, cut the highs a bit, keep the low right around where the mids are to keep the thump in it. This is my smooth growl.

    #2. Now that I have a sterling I can that really bright snappy growl. I keep my amp settings similar to where I'd have it set for the J, but I bring the highs up a little and cut the pre-amp back to around 4. Using the mid and low boost on the sterling and keeping the highs flat. The combination of slinky steels, a maple board, and a light touch to get a nice ringing kind of growl. Excellent slap tone as well.
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    As far as I can tell there are 3 definitions of "growl" on a fretted bass, depending on who you talk to.

    1) the "60's fender J": burpy, thick low mids, with some high mids to define the attack, and a mellow top end. Alternately called punch by some people. (note I'm not saying "only J basses get this tone" ... its just meant as a reference point)

    2) the "'70s Fender J": zingy high mids that stand out in a growly way in the mix, even as the note decays, and a taught bottom end that doesn't overtake the mids.

    3) distortion or fret grind in the highs.

    The only one that I *don't* consider "growl" is the third category. IMO that is an incorrect use of the word. Any way you slice it, growl is in the mids.

    My growliest basses are my Hamer Cruise USA (definition 1), my new Lakland DJ5 (definition 2) the bottom 2 strings on my Modulus Q5 (a combination of both, plus extended lows :eek: ). My friend's SR5 is a growly bass too (though to a lesser extent), more in the "definition 2" mode.
  4. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    IMHO, "growl" is a mid peak, generally characterized with a biting nature, largely influenced by the tone of a bridge pickup, or a pickup located in the "sweet spot" to give the sound that same characteristic. Whether it's a "low" mid or just a mid depends on whether you're talking about the bass' range or general freq range of all the music.

    I hear it strongest when I have most/all bridge pickup on my J, or any of my other stuff for that matter, or soloing the MM style pickup on my Lakland. IMHO, it's gotta' have that bite, and you can't get that from a typical neck pickup (tho blending some neck in (or adding some bass in the preamp) really helps fill in behind the bite/growl)

    P.S. Stuart's tone is killer.
  5. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    So that's 2 votes for the MM pickup in bridge position giving great growl. I've heard multiple times on this board that a J type in the bridge is the only way to get a really good growl. When I think Stuart Zender vs. Nick Fyffe tone, Nick uses a MM bass a lot and I think it doesn't have the quality that Stu seemed to have with his Warwicks (PJ, I believe) as well as other basses he has.

    What do you with MM types think about J vs. MM in the bridge for growl. If you have it coil tapped, you should really have a great handle on that. ;)

  6. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    A growl thread and no one mentioned Rickenbacker yet??

    Growl = Ric 4003. Discuss.
  7. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Wow, I've haven't seen that "gotta have J" comment, but I'd totally disagree with that. The Stingrays are renowned for their growl, as are Warwicks (with various styles of pickups), as well as other basses with soapbars. I REALLY don't think it's limited to J style pickups AT ALL.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Growl, to me, is what Mark Adams [of the funk band, Slave] acheives on tunes like 'Wait For Me' or 'Just A Touch Of Love'!! I'll assume he used his Fender Jazz with both pickups wide open, tone maxed out and roundwounds.
  9. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Oh I played a Streamer S1 P/J, with the blend turned towards the bridge and the eq flat playing through a Trace GP12 SM combo it was growling nicely, with some eq tweaks I had THE Stuard Zender sound, pity I don't have the money for a Streamer, I love the feel and the tone.
  10. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I have nothing to add to that discussion except a +1 ;)
  11. And me a favor.... give us newbies a link to "growl", so I can ehar what you define.... I tried that website, but didnt have the time to hunt and peck for it.
  12. That's curious to me too. The Warwick Thumb (tons of growl) has two J-style pickups close to the bridge. However, alot of people claim that some of the other Warwick's like the FNA Jazzman have tons of growl (MM in the bridge). Maybe someone should order a custom-shop Thumb with a MM in the bridge so we can settle the debate. Any takers?
  13. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    Bingo! don't forget about the Rics though! They may be the growliest. Actually i think of it more of a gurgle. A fantastic gurgle!

    Someone, quick start the gurgle megathread!
  14. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    No, but I bet'd growl like a mother! actually the two j-styles side by side like that pretty much replicate the dual coil MM nature - i think it'd sound very similar.
  15. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    My recipe when I'm trying to get a good "growl" tone is my J bass with 70's P/up placement. Bridge P/up and tone wide open, neck P/up rolled off just a bit to favor the bridge P/up and the EQ on my amp close to flat with a bit of boost in the low mid frequencies - and dig in and play hard for more growl.
  16. I've heard alot of Warwicks that have great growl, corvettes, thumbs, and a dolphin too... all of these that different pickup placements (and combinations for that matter). Wouldn't that suggest that growl has something to do with more than just pickups? I think we're limiting the discussion too much with just pup's. What about the onboard preamps? Woods?
  17. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    if anyone has heard Stanley Clarke's Passenger 57 theme song, before it gets really funky and slappy. from the start before 00:56 seconds, LOTS of growl
  18. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    As I mentioned before, this is totally open to however you achieve your growliest tone. It's never just in the pickups. Digging in without using finger nails is a great way to achieve growl.

    Personally, in order to get a really great growly tone that I would consider "professional" I have to do a lot of serious EQ tweaking. That's is probably due to the fact that I have Active EMG 35Js with an active 2-band pre. So much active takes out the character/soul of a good growl. It takes a lot of careful EQing to manufacture it.

    Then again, I've played stock MIA P-Basses that have great growl no matter what my EQ is set at. One of the many reasons I long for more than one bass.

  19. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    diggin in on the thuddy Ric neck pup or a Dimarzio P

    I can't figure out where everyone got the idea a J sounds growly :eyebrow:
  20. growly J tone = All "mass nerder". check out the tone Alvarez gets on that album.